Lewis McKenzie ePDP

BA (Hons) Education

Reflections on Placement

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I have just completed my first school experience placement and I cant believe that it is over already. Two weeks within my local hometown primary school absolutely flew in. Me and my placement partner were placed within the Primary 5 class for the duration of our two weeks with the exception of one morning where we were in a Primary 1 class in order for us to complete one of our placement tasks. I was pleased about this as it let us build connections with our class teacher and pupils and really understand where they are with their learning and allow us to see that progress. However it would have been good to get a scope of the whole school by visiting other teachers/classes however this year it was not meant to be. Overall I was really pleased with how my placement went. Each day seemed to fly in and it was 3 o’clock all of a sudden. Through observation, which this placement was based heavily upon, I have been able to define my strengths and areas for development in terms of communication and implementing this within the school setting.

An area of communication that I feel I excelled at and was highlighted to me through my peer observation was my verbal communication in particular my pitch and tone. I was able to change my pitch and tone as I needed dependant who I was interacting with. Within our Primary 1 class I was obviously interacting with small infants aged just four or five. This was a complete difference from working with my Primary 5’s who were mainly 8 however there was one child who was 11. And then again when talking and interacting with staff and assistants around the school, I didn’t talk to them like I would the Primary 1’s. Changing my tone and pitch was also crucial within group work and helping individuals. My peer feedback form highlights that when talking to the group I was more louder and open so that all members could clearly hear and understand me however when helping an individual child I went down to their level and spoke to them one-to-one so they could hear me but I also wasn’t disrupting the rest of the group or class. I feel this is a major strength within teaching and different ages and abilities need to be communicated to differently. It is by doing this that they will understand and eventually develop and grow.

An area that I feel requires progress in relation to my communication is my public speaking. When talking to an individual or small group, I feel confident in what I am doing however if I was to stand up in front of my peers or a whole class, I become nervous and anxious. This has always been a fear of mine from a young age and I have tried many times to overcome it, but to no prevail. I think because it was school children I was dealing with and I only ever had a maximum of six children, I felt fine as I was the “superior” in this situation so my nerves were calm. However I am extremely anxious about my upcoming university presentation as I need to stand in front of adults and talk about this exact fear. I think if I was to overcome this it would probably be one of my biggest achievement to date and it would make me such a better person and in the long run a more effective teacher within the classroom.

In order to overcome my fear of public speaking, I just need to do it. That is the worst thing about it that to overcome it I just need to keep doing it over and over again. Practise makes perfect in this case. By doing this confidence will grow and I will be a better and more effective communicator. Another strategy to overcome this is to basically know what I am talking about. If I know the material, then saying it should come natural and will make me a better presenter for example not reading off the screen or cue cards. Knowing the material off by heart then practising in front of a few people that I am comfortable around will help build confidence also.

My whole school experience was a joy. My class were just full of energy at all points throughout the day and were genuinely sad to see me and my partner leave. I have learned a lot about myself, my future career and the people I will be dealing with throughout this first year placement. I aim to continue to develop my strengths at the same time build upon my areas of development. It is by doing this that I will really become an effective and efficient communicator, not just within the classroom but in life.

Author: Lewis McKenzie

Currently studying BA Education (Hons) at the University of the West of Scotland (Ayr).

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