Within our module, Working Together, an agency visit was set up for each group to attend. There were a range of different places each group could visit. My group visited Downfield Primary School, situated near Kirkton in Dundee. As soon as we walked through the door we could tell it was a very welcoming school – bright, colourful pictures on the walls and a very warm and friendly headteacher. Karen, the head teacher led us into one conference rooms. Our team were really well-prepared with a list of questions and some notepads to write down answers and thoughts. Our meeting was very well organised and we were able to speak to lots of different people throughout the professions – Karen (the headteacher), Stacey and Kirsten ( Family Support Workers), Monica and Kerrie (Social Workers), and many more friendly faces, who played a vital role in this multi-agency school.
I think my whole group would agree how interesting the visit was, and it was fascinating to speak to each of the professions involved in our course. They all had one mutual goal in the school; to get it right for every child (GIRFEC). From the information we received, the whole team seemed to work really well and their best interests were every child involved in the educational environment. It wasn’t for each child to come out on top, achieving 10 out of 10 on their maths test. It was for every child to feel nurtured and safe in the classroom, to reach their full potential and to have every opportunity possible in their short, but sweet, school life. Each child would have an amazing support system around them, which also was there to support parents too. Their ‘promise’ provided children with the knowledge that they were to be looked after, respected and included in the school environment and in the community. To know that both children and parents/carers were involved in creating Downfield Primary’s ‘Promise’ was wonderful. It seemed as if the staff had created a great way of including everyone into the school life.
The visit was very eye-opening and demonstrated how vital it is for each of the three professions (Education, Social Work and Community Education) to work together to achieve that one goal – getting it right for every child, young adult or family that may use any of these services. If we do not work together, we cannot achieve this goal. There needs to be prominent communication and co-operation skills, positive partnership and collaborative working, and a similar mindset of each member of the professions.
Our first session was a bit nerve-wracking yet exciting. We were put in to 4 groups with around 10 people in each. We were handed an envelope per group and told to make a resource that a new student would be able to use. We were only allowed to use what was in the envelope. I’d done something similar to this before in school, so I had an idea of what this session could be about.
We introduced ourselves and opened the envelope. A piece of Blu-Tac, three paper clips, a Post-it note and a pencil fell out. We all looked at each other in question of what in the world we would be able to make that would be a useful resource that someone would feel is helpful. It didn’t take us long to notice that the group across from us had a piece of A4 paper as well as the pencil, Blu-Tac and paperclips. Another group had multi-coloured paper, pens and pencils. The group furthest away from us had multi-coloured paper, coloured pencils and pens and even sellotape! Our group felt like this was unfair as every other group had more things to use compared to us. It was very difficult to think of a resource, and we decided to use the envelope as part of it too. We made a very average looking map and the most important places had a paperclip on top. If I was a new student, I definitely wouldn’t have used our map.
Our group were in shock when we noticed what the others had made : a survival booklet, a box with essentials for uni inside, and another map that was definitely better than ours. Lina then rated each of our groups creations. We received a score of 3 out of 10, which made us laugh as out product wasn’t the best. Lina asked us how we felt about being rated low and not receiving the exact same stationary as everyone else. Most of us agreed and said we felt it was unfair and we were disappointed in our resource. The groups who scored high felt happy and it turns out that they didn’t even notice that they had more stationary to use compared to us.
We soon realised that this was the whole point of the session. People do not have the same things as others. People may feel disadvantaged as they don’t have a fancy house, loads of clothes or toys, or the newest iPhone. There are areas in this world where children are deprived and may not have the best upbringing compared to others. Lina described this as ‘baggage’. And that baggage does not get left at the school entrance. Some children may not even realise that not everyone can afford the same things as them.
This session made me think how important it is to treat everyone equally no matter what their background or situation is. Not every child will walk into the class and feel the same. We all have different thoughts, come from different places and live differently to each other. It is important, as a teacher, to treat everyone with equal respect and to understand that not one child is the same. Others may need a bit more help, but its vital that every individual feels the same level of respect in an educational environment.
Our job as future teachers is to make sure that each pupil feels included and is being treated equally, no matter what their background is.
I left school not really having a clue what I wanted to do. It was quite a lonely and daunting period as all my friends were prepared and had every detail of their plan down to a T. I have always had a great interest in working with children, but as a mere 17-year-old, I didn’t want to jump into something and not enjoy it.
I left school with slightly above average grades, but not enough to get into a teaching course. I knew deep down this is what I definitely wanted to do, but it was now trying to think of ways to get around this barrier. I knew I wanted to get more experience of the world as well as improve my grades, so I attended a night class. It was strange being back in a classroom but in a more informal way. I was glad to get back in to some kind of routine; having not been in a lesson for two years.
I travelled to Thailand – a once in a lifetime experience. I helped out in schools, both mainstream and private, and saw a completely different way of life. The resources, the classrooms, the teachers and their pupils learn and interact with each other in different ways. It was an amazing and exciting feeling, to know I’d made some sort of difference to some of the pupil’s lives – even if it was just knowing their numbers up to 20 in English.
I volunteered in a primary 1 class in 2016 and primary 6 class in 2017. I got the insight to different levels of capability, children enjoying and taking pride in their work and watching them grow as a learner and a member of the school community.
All of these aspects of my life in the past two years have contributed to my enthusiasm and passion to teach and help shape young people’s minds.
Why teaching? I want to know I have had an impact in children’s lives. I want any child to feel comfortable and confident to be able to speak up and voice their opinions. I want every child to feel included no matter what background they may come from. I want children to feel proud of what they have accomplished, whether its acing a maths quiz or shooting two goals in a football match. Knowing that I am going to have a positive effect on a child’s learning and school career is going to be a great feeling.