Category Archives: 1.2 Integrity

The Impact of Placement

Overall, my placement has been an enjoyable experience and I have expanded my knowledge on several key issues regarding learning and teaching in the primary school, foreign languages and embracing different cultures.  One of the main benefits of the placement, for me, was having the opportunity to come abroad and experience a primary school from a different cultural perspective.  This has led to me making a lot of comparisons between Scotland and France, which has helped highlight to me some of the great features of school in Scotland and some of the aspects we could perhaps adopt from school in France.  I think that having the opportunity to compare two different education systems has helped me to become more critical and reflective, but it had also caused me to become more passionate about education in Scotland and what it stands for.  In France, their educational philosophies different significantly, they focused a lot more on academic achievement and teacher-led learning, as opposed to the more creative and child-centred learning through discovery and play promoted in Scotland.  These differences were even evident from the aesthetics of the classrooms, which left little to no room for group activities.

Before embarking on this placement, I had began to question whether primary teaching was suited to me after worrying whether I had explored every option.  However, this comparison has really opened my eyes and reassured me that I am following the right path.  This was further confirmed to me after experiencing some level of frustration when I was not given many opportunities to develop my practice and build a relationship with the pupils through teaching.  This was perhaps the biggest challenge of the placement, as I felt as though I was not given the opportunity to reach my full potential and grow as much as I did during first year placement.  However, I do understand that the intense period of observation I did in the school was still very valuable to me as a professional, as I was continually receiving new ideas and learning new techniques from more experienced teachers without the added intensity of having to be responsible for a full class for extended periods of time.

Living abroad has also impacted me on a personal level as this has been the longest period of time that I have spent away from home in Scotland.  Living in Orléans has had it’s challenges, even simple tasks, such as going to the supermarket, have been made quite difficult due to the language barrier and French culture meaning that shops are not open as regularly as in Scotland and the concept of convenience is very different from back home.  I think that from this experience, I have learnt how to be more independent and self-reliant, even just by managing manoeuvring public transport to and from school on my own.  My living situation has also brought out more of my communication skills as I have been living in shared student accommodation for the last 8 weeks.  This has involved having to share one small kitchen with 30 other people and also working with the other girls on my placement to coordinate meals and travel plans etc.

As a whole, I am proud of how I have adapted to being away from home and how I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone by working in a school where I had to speak French.  Being a position where I felt frustrated and unused has made me more determined to prove my worth to a team and so I feel as though when I am on my next placement, I will not be as shy and reserved as I might have been before.


Further Learning

Throughout my time on placement, I have learnt a lot about language teaching, specifically teaching a foreign language.  Whilst observing lessons, the teachers advocated using only English in their English lessons, which required some degree of self confidence from them in their abilities.  I think that self confidence is the key limitation for me when I speak French, as I lack the confidence to practice my speaking skills aloud.  Continuing with my own self-study of French using different resources and building on my vocabulary will help me develop more confidence so that I can execute some of the teaching techniques I observed from the teachers on placement.  I am also taking part in the Modern Languages module next year, which when partnered with further reading, will help me develop a more academic and theoretical knowledge of the techniques I saw.

From a personal and professional perspective, I also feel as though this placement has helped me to become more communicative, as the language barrier between me and the teachers meant that I received little guidance from them regarding lesson plans, resources, assessment etc and work a lot harder to express myself and my ideas.  This was very different from the one on one support I received from my teacher in first year and so I had trust in my own teaching ability a lot more, relying a lot less on constant reassurance.  I think this was an important step for me to have taken, as by the end of my placement, I was communicating with all the staff and sharing my ideas with them rather than waiting for them to approach me.  I would like to continue to develop, as I think it will make me a more valuable and integrated member of a team when in school.  During lectures, I am often a person who lacks the confidence to share their thoughts and ideas with the group, therefore, if I work on being a more contributive member in a group of my peers, it will help me build upon the skills and traits I have began to engage with during this placement.

Week 2


Today I have began the week in the CE2 class. For around half an hour, the teacher leads a discussion on the news from the previous weekend to begin the day. This was homework that they were assigned on the previous Friday afternoon and involves them reading newspapers and watching the news over the weekend to keep up to date. I thought this was a great starter activity for a Monday morning, which I plan to use when I teach on later placements, as the classroom was abuzz with discussion and the children were very enthusiastic to listen and share. In the French curriculum, a lot of value is placed on discovering the world around you and developing citizenship skills and this task highlights this and helps to refine some life long skills.

The teaching on Mondays ends at 11:30 because after lunch the children participate in “Les Temps d’Activitiés Périscolaires (TAP), which is extra curricular activities organised by personnel outwith the school and includes activities, such as sports, art and games.


Today, I am with the same class I was with yesterday but with their other teacher. It is interesting to see how the children behave differently for the two teachers, as today, the children are being very talkative and the seating arrangement has had to be changed.

From a personal perspective, I am struggling to reflect upon the day because I am not given anything to do in the classroom or actively participating throughout the day. I have tried to share my thoughts and ideas for lessons on English vocabulary or Scotland but I am struggling due to the language barrier and I am worried that the teachers do not think I can teach the children because my level of French is not sufficient. I ended up contacting Susan for some advice on this, as I am keen to play a bigger role in the classroom but I am unsure how to approach this any other way than I already have. She has advised me to speak with Nina and Nina has ensured me that she will contact the school on my behalf in an attempt to overcome the language barrier. This was great feedback from both of them and I am glad I took this step, as I want to make sure that I am getting the most out of this incredible opportunity and developing my own practical skills as opposed to merely observing and recording.


 Today, I spoke briefly to the head teacher about taking a more active role in teaching the children. She agreed that it was too much for me to continue observing for the rest of my placement, however, she did seem concerned by the language barrier. This has motivated me to practice and use French more rather than relying on the teachers speaking English to me. I am not confidant using French though hopefully the more that I use it, the more I will improve. Equally, the more that the teachers will believe I can pursue a more active role.

I have also realised that I can use some of other communication skills that I have to overcome this language barrier. For example, I can write down my thoughts and exploit visual aids to express my ideas to the teachers. Today, I have made resources that I think I can use in the classroom that I will show to the head teacher in an attempt to put forward my ideas to her.

Today, I was in the CM1/CM2 class. This was a half-day so most of the teaching time was consumed with French and Maths. However, I did get to see an example of the partnerships the school has formed with the local community, as the children had a session outside in the garden where they planted fruits and vegetables with a local volunteer. I was also given an insight into how the teachers at this school teach English, as the teacher I was observing showed me her guidebook that she works from when she is planning English lessons. This book outlined topics and lessons in a very thorough and structured manner and had excellent resources, such as worksheets and storybooks to complement the lessons. However, this type of teaching, for me, felt very prescribed, with little opportunity for personalisation and choice, which is one of the seven design principles of Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence.


 Today, I observed and participated in two new classes, which gave me the opportunity to introduce myself again to these children. In the first class, the children also got to ask me some questions, giving me the opportunity to help them with their grammar when they formed a question. As I introduced myself I used some proper nouns, such as my name, my brother’s name and the city of Dundee. This was the first time the children had heard Dundee and so I had to teach them the spelling of the word. They were also confused by the way I spelt my brother Michael’s name, as they had spelt it as “Mikael” due to the way it sounds. This highlighted to me some of the phonetic challenges that arise when learning to speak a new language that has different sounds from your native language.

In the afternoon, I visited CE1/CE2 where I introduced myself and answered questions from the children completely in French. This was challenging for me but definitely good practice. This particular teacher explained to me how little English she and the children spoke, but expressed a keen interest in me teaching them English over the coming weeks, which is hopeful for my progression.

As for the development of my knowledge of the French curriculum, I observed a history lesson. This lesson was about the French Revolution and the formation of the third Republic. This is an important part of modern French history and its significance in the curriculum was, I felt, very similar to the significance of Scotland and her own history in the Scottish curriculum.

After school, I was invited to the Zenith theatre in Orléans with the school to see “My Fair Lady”. The show was excellent and I had a great time. I had never seen the show before and despite it being in French, the songs were sung in English and I was able to follow the story. I also though that this was an excellent opportunity for me to bond more personally with the children outside of the classroom environment as I chatted to them and asked them questions using a mixture of French and English. Upon reflection, I feel that experiences like these are invaluable to the children involved as they continually expand a child’s cultural experiences in an active way.



 Today, I was asked to assist in an English lesson at the local high school, “college Concerdet”, which is the next school up from the children I have been working with at “école Bel-Air”. We were asked to the school by an English teacher named Sophie, who wanted her children to learn about Scotland and receive some help with their English from native English speakers. Erynn and I helped out in two classes that morning, “quatrième (3rd year)” and “sixème (1st year)”.

In the first class, the children were continuing the work they had started on Tuesday when Briony and Beth visited. This work was about Shakespeare and his life. The element of the English language that they were focusing on in this lesson was question formation as they were tasked with creating a dialogue between Shakespeare and an interviewer.

There were common issues and mistakes arising across the class, such as issues with the word order when forming a question and forming the questions in the correct tense. I was able to go around the classroom and assist the children with these issues much more easily than I could in the primary school, as the teacher had requested that we spoke to them completely in English and that they responded to us in English as well. I really enjoyed helping the students as I could witness the improvements in their English happening right in front of me, which was very rewarding. I also have not had many opportunities to assist pupils with their work because of the language barrier so I really embraced this opportunity to teach.

One thing I did observe was that the class was very reluctant to speak English in the classroom, as perhaps they were too embarrassed or scared that they would make a mistake. Often, Sophie would have to discourage pupils from laughing at other students’ mistakes or mispronunciations, as this could have a detrimental impact on their self-esteem. The attitude of the class was a stark contrast from the attitude towards language present in the primary school, as the children there relish every opportunity to speak to me in English. It would be interesting from a professional perspective to research this in more depth and try to understand why this decrease in language confidence happens as it is something that may affect the pupils that I teach in the future.

In summary, this week has been quite up and down. I am definitely seeing the benefit of observing fully qualified teachers to learn from their actions and experience. However, I am keen to fulfil more of an active role in the school day and feel a part of the school, though this is difficult with the current language barrier.

Learning Opportunities

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.

Skills Audit and Previous Experience

Skills Audit

  • 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.

Previous Experience

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.

Values Module Workshop

As part of our first workshop for our Values: Self, Society and the Professions module, we were split into groups of around 10 people and given the task of creating something useful which would aid new first years arriving for their first week at the University of Dundee. There were four groups and each group was giving an envelop with various materials, such as paper, pens and other pieces of stationery, with the catch being you could only use the materials provided in the envelope; no outside materials could be used.

The first thing that happened was the splitting into groups, a completely random process, where I ended up in group 2. Towards the end of the session, the need for the groups to be numbered became increasingly apparent. As I was in group 2, we were provided with a healthy amount of materials to create our design, though I personally did not realise other groups had less or more materials than us until it came to the presentations. Our design was a “Student Survival Kit” which acted as an essential care package for any student staying away from home, including; a welcome letter, handy tips and advice, shopping list and recipe templates, flash cards and the stationery basics.

After all the groups had shared their designs, it came to the production. There was plenty for everyone to do and all the tasks were divided up efficiently. Throughout the manufacture process, Carrie repeatedly came across to our table, asking questions and taking a real interest in our design. She even commended how well our project was going. It wasn’t until all the final presentation of our products that I noticed the difference between the groups. Groups 1 and 2 had lots of materials at their disposal and they were given great feedback from Carrie. Where as, Groups 3 and 4 had the bare minimum to work with and when they were presenting, Carrie hardly engaged with them at all and looked as though she wasn’t interested in what they were saying.

Most of the group quickly picked up on her mixed attitudes towards each group and began to question it. It was then explained to us why each group got what they were given and why Carrie was behaving in that manner. This short exercise largely resembled today’s society in which we live, where a lot of the time people have more than others yet we are all held to the same standard despite our advantages/disadvantages. Also, Carrie also represented many peoples mentality towards possessions, where many show their keenness to those who can provide them with something in return; in essence, people look out for their own best interests. There is also the point to consider how, in society, it is said that, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”, which was highlighted in this task, as Group 1 were given all the encouragement they needed to be more successful than ever but Group 4 were shunned and not given any form of help to take what little they had and grow on it.

As a whole, the task was very though provoking, which quickly lead to further discussion about how money plays a large part in peoples’ standings in society, something which is even true in Education. Those children who come from affluent backgrounds have the opportunity to join private funded schools, can afford the very best materials and can pay for expensive tutors to further their capabilities. Children from disadvantaged families don’t have the same opportunities and when they realise their position within society they perhaps become disheartened and self-defeatist. It’s therefore important, as teachers, that we do not succumb to societal pressures and treat every child with the dignity they all equally deserve, regardless of their personal situation, so that each child has an equal playing field at least when it comes to their Education and can begin to create good opportunities for themselves in the future.