The opportunity to go to Orléans, France for my placement was first introduced to me in an introductory session for the module. This opportunity appealed to me for three reasons: I have always wanted to experience a period of time living abroad, I had previously studied French at school and have always wanted to continue in my development of it and I am intrigued to see how similar or different the field of teaching is in different countries.
The organisation of this placement has mostly consisted of email correspondence between myself, Susan and Nina, the placement coordinator and my host in France. These emails consisted of information regarding our accommodation arrangements in France, the details of the school and the teacher I will be partnered with and the arrangements for our welcome. I have also corresponded through email with my teacher on placement, Madame Pascale Berthier, before leaving to go to France to find out if I need to prepare anything in advance of my arrival.
Improving my French – Currently, I have only studied French in school and used it for exams and so this opportunity will allow me to practice my French in everyday settings. As I am going to a French speaking school, I will be surrounded by French speakers every day, which will be challenging but hopefully I will improve each day. All of the children will be most comfortable speaking their language and so I will have to adapt and attempt to use French with them and with the other teachers in order to built up a level of communication.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language – I have some experience teaching French to Scottish pupils; however, I think it will be difficult to adapt my teaching of English to non-natives, as it will require some degree of simplification. As the children should already have a level of English, I will be able to learn from the teachers how they approach teaching English, which I can emulate for this placement and then adapt for future placements when teaching a foreign language or teaching children whose first language is not English. I think looking at the basics of the English language will also be an excellent opportunity for me to revise my knowledge on spelling and grammar, which will be helpful for future teaching.
For my Learning from Life placement, I would like the opportunity to experience teaching abroad, specifically the connection with University of Orléans in France. From researching the University of Orléans, I have been made aware of the unique links between the city of Dundee and Orléans, as twin cities, particularly in teaching, where students from the University of Orléans have travelled to Dundee to visit Scottish Primary Schools. I feel as though this experience would have been valuable for these students, as they immersed themselves into Scottish culture and practice, and it is an experience I would like to take full advantage of in Orléans.
Throughout my time at school, I studied French up to SQA Higher Level; constantly updating my French vocabulary, learning about the customs of France and developing my basic skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking. Also, during my first year placement, I had the opportunity to teach a French lesson to my pupils, however I did struggle with the proper pronunciation of some words and accents. Therefore, I feel as though my core language skills and accent would significantly benefit from a period of full immersion in French culture.
Not only will my knowledge of the French language hopefully improve, my practice will also benefit, as I am provided with alternative methodologies, which I believe will provide a broader perspective of our own curriculum, when critically compared with the curriculum in France.
As well as being able to contribute practical experience teaching and a developing knowledge of the French language, I am a native English speaker. Therefore, my extensive vocabulary and comprehension of complex grammar systems will be advantageous in supporting those who study English as a second, or even third, language. Equally, I can provide French children with knowledge of Scotland; her culture, her customs and her history, somewhere they might never get the chance to visit themselves, and I would be proud to be an ambassador for Scotland and Dundee.
- Organisational skills – Previous experience of teaching placements, where I had to construct a folio of work and prepare lessons and resources in advance, have improved my level of organisation. This will be a useful skill for organising travel arrangements to and from placement in a foreign city.
- Communication skills – Previous experience working with different groups of people, such as children, teaching staff, coaches and parents has resulted in a development of my professional and personal communication skills. This development has included an improvement in questioning, explaining and understanding, though this skill will be continually developing in this placement due to the language barrier.
- Self-confidence – Previous experience working in a school environment, where I have to be seen and heard has resulted in me becoming more confident. Constant planning and revision of work to be done is a way in which I develop self-confidence and this is something I hope to continually develop and is a development, which I think, will pose the most challenges to me.
- Teamwork – This is a skill I think I excel at, as I am very good at determining when to contribute and when to listen. I like working as a team as it gives me the opportunity to practice many roles and work in different dynamics. Teamwork is a skill I have developed from working on many school and university projects that required equal contribution and effort from everyone in order to succeed.
Coaching experience – Working as an Active Fife coach in holiday camps was on of the first opportunities I was partly responsibility for a group of children, both in terms of their learning and their safety. It gave me a preview into the level of planning and organisation goes into facilitating activities and learning as I was given specific sports and equipment to work with, which I would co-plan into the day’s schedule with my fellow coaches.
First Year Placement – This was the first time I took full responsibility for a class of children for several consecutive days. Reflecting on this experience, I learnt a lot more about the responsibilities of a teacher outwith the school day from building up my own folio with important documentation, plans for the day/week and examples of assessment and marking to ensure a child’s progression. Despite this placement being a short period of time, I was able to form quite strong relationships with both the staff I worked with and the children I taught, which helped to enhance the value of the experience. As this placement was a big jump from my previous experience, I had plenty of opportunities to practice different teaching styles and techniques, which resulted in me being able to reflect upon these and refine them as I moved towards my forming my own identity as a teacher.