Community Project

For my community project I volunteered at Glasgow Association for Mental Health (GAMH) .I volunteered at one of the groups set up for young carers. These groups are set up for children who are the predominant carers at home due to their parent/guardian suffering from a mental health issue. The organisation runs these groups so that the young careers can have time away from their daily responsibilities to relax and have fun with people in similar circumstances. The group sessions provide several activities for the young people surrounding physical activity and creative arts, as well as offering health and wellbeing workshops so that young carers can get support GAMH, (2019). I really wanted to get involved with GAMH because of an input we had in Inter-professional Working that shocked me with the number of young carers that exist in Scotland. Before the input I was completely unaware of the roles and responsibilities that these young people take on so it was a complete eye opener for me. The roles that they take on force them to grow up at such a young age and because of it they miss out on lots of opportunities especially socially. When I was speaking to my peers about how shocked I was, one of them suggested that I contact GAMH as they knew someone that had a positive experience volunteering there. So I contacted the project leader and set up a date.

Prior to my day of volunteering I done some research into the GAMH project and had a look at their social media to gain some insight into what kinds of events and activities the organisation takes part in. I also communicated with the project leader to ask what activities they had planned for the date that I was volunteering and if they required me to bring anything along. The General Teaching Council, (2019) highlights the importance of having professional knowledge and understanding in enquiry and research which I clearly demonstrated by extensively reading their website and social media accounts. I done this to help better my overall understanding of what the organisation does on a daily basis with/without the children. I also demonstrated the skill of enquiry when I asked the project leader what activities I would be taking part in for my visit and what I would need to bring, I done this so I was prepared for the visit.
Prior to the group arriving I met with some of the volunteers that work with them on a regular basis. I helped to set up the activities and took this as an opportunity to ask the questions I had about the group to see if I could gain any insight. They told me that some of the children were more reserved than others but that overall that they were a lovely group to work with. The volunteers were very welcoming and helpful, and I really enjoyed conversing with them about their experiences of volunteering with GAMH. When I was volunteering it was Halloween season, so the group was carving pumpkins and completing a Halloween related crossword and quiz.
Here is the process of carving and some of the finished results.

The group I worked with consisted of 10 carers aged 12-15. At first, I was nervous because I had limited experience working with older children however when the group arrived, I was instantly put at ease as some of the group started chatting with me and asking questions. This surprised me as I was preparing for everyone to be be distant /wary of me at least to begin with due to me intruding into their weekly sessions however I instantly began to bond with a few of the young people. Whilst the group were completing their activities, I tried to mingle with everyone, but I found it quite challenging interacting with a few of the children as they were more reserved. I think this was particularly challenging for me as I’m not used to working with older children, so I struggled to communicate with them especially when they were reserved. I was afraid that I was too condescending. Although this was challenging, I persevered and tried to find some common ground that would allow me to connect with the few reserved people.
Overall, I think that this experience was good for me as a student teacher and as a person. Although I will be working with a younger age group, I will encounter young carers in my classroom at some point. Research by Young Carers Services and Carers Trust Scotland shows that within every class in Scotland there is at least 1 carer in every 10 people Carerstrust, (2019). This experience has allowed me to gain a newfound understanding for all the selfless work that young carers do for their families and the cost this comes at. Volunteering at GAMH has also enlightened me into just how wonderful the organisation is. I now know first-hand how phenomenal the work they do is. They not only offer a wealth of support for both young carers and their parents, but they also provide young people with opportunities to socially interact with others who are facing a similar situation to them, without GAMH these children would otherwise miss out on a great deal of experiences.

Carerstrust. (2019) Scotland’s young carers come together to celebrate and learn more about their rights [Online] Available: https://carers.org/press-release/scotland’s-young-carers-come-together-celebrate-and-learn-more-about-their-rights [Accessed: 20 November 2019].
GAMH. (n.d.) Young Carers [Online] Available: https://www.gamh.org.uk/project/young-carers/ [Accessed: 20 November] .
General Teaching Council for Scotland. (2019) Overview of the Standards. Available: https://www.gtcs.org.uk/professional-standards/engaging-with-the-standards/overview-of-the-standards.aspx [Accessed: 20 November 2019]

Energy

Energy is a topic that is being heavily debated right now especially amongst world leaders. In recent years people have gained an awareness of the inevitable end of fossil fuels with most people realising the importance of using renewable energy. Although there is infinite evidence for the extinction of coal, oil and gas some people are still in denial that they will run out.

Within the last two hundred years the fossil fuel intake has majorly increased causing irreversible damage to supply and the environment, especially in respects to climate change. Around 90% of carbon emissions is due to fossil fuel human activity this emission is having effects on issues like pollution which has majorly increased in the air and ocean Ecotricity, (2019).

In the lecture we discussed that this subject could possibly scare children so as teachers we must also always remember to ensure children not to worry because Scotland is one of the most environmentally forward countries in the whole world.

However, teaching this subject to children is still incredibly important as they must understand the severe damage that society has caused to natural resources. Curriculum for Excellence, (2006) highlights the importance of teachers developing responsible citizens. Teaching a subject like energy allows teachers to inform children about their significant responsibility to promote a greener world which can be done by using alternative energy sources. As teachers we must encourage children to realise that these issues affect their present and future which is why they should take a stance in fighting for a greener tomorrow. However, in order to encourage this, we must first educate children by creating experiences that allow them to develop a sense of duty. Teachers should also encourage children to think local and act global. A good way to promote this to the full school is through the eco hooks award. This allows children to gain an insight into how their small decisions can have negative and positive impacts on the world, for example a negative small decision to drop litter is adding to a huge environmental problem.

The first input and lecture gave me a good insight into how I can teach children about energy. The lecture inspired me to introduce the topic to children they can make a list of all the things that they do everyday that requires energy like taking a shower, walking/driving to school and brushing their teeth this can help them to realise that energy surrounds us and is vital to everyday life. The first input also gave me some simple ways that I can teach children about energy through science. Curriculum for Excellence, (2006) highlights that learning through science allows children to investigate their environment, realise the influence that science has on their own lives and others as well as its impact on the environment. It also highlights that science allows children to gain skills like enquiry, investigative and analytical thinking. This car activity shows simply to children how new energy sources like light act as a force of power to move things.

In the second input we had a debate about wind farms. We began by researching the set articles independently and writing points for both advantages and disadvantages then presented our findings in groups of four. We were then put in larger groups to repeat this process then finally we were given our side of the argument and had to combine all our information to make our five strongest arguments.

Education Scotland (2019) has an exemplar of a debate that took place in Douglas Academy with viewpoints from teachers and students. In the exemplar one student speaks about the benefits the debate experience has had on them like gaining transferable skills such as analysing, structuring and confidence. Across the teaching staff they highlighted that it is helping the students to develop their confidence, sensibility, organising and political literacy skills as well as gain an awareness around global issues. For me as a student I felt that this learning experience was very successful for me as not only did I have to find my own information, but I also learned a great deal from my peers which for me is a bit easier and I take more in. From researching about debating in schools and experiencing it from a learner’s perspective I now know the pedagogical benefits that this method of learning has on children and their skills. Which is why I will be using it in the classroom especially when teaching about controversial global issues. Reflecting to the micro-teaching experience where I used the Kolb (1984) Experimental Learning Cycle I identified that I wanted to improve my public speaking skills so I set a goal to practise public speaking whenever I could. This experience has allowed me to do this in small to large groups. Reflecting on this experience and asking my peers if they thought I had improved we all agreed that I was more relaxed and clear this time.

In the second week the cohort was split into two groups and put into separate rooms where each section was both asked to make a car but with different approaches:

Structural

Tinkering

The structural group were given instructions whereas the tinkering group were just asked to use their creative thinking with the materials set out. When we came together as a cohort, we discussed some of the benefits and costs that each method had. The structural side agreed that they felt relaxed and as future teachers this approach allows you to know the resources required. However, we agreed that with this approach you need to be precise meaning no room creativity. The tinkering side agreed that we had a great sense of accomplishment as we made our idea come to life however it was stressful, and from a teacher’s perspective it is complicated to facilitate. The GTC standards (2019) highlights the importance of having good working relationships with your peers/colleagues. The tinkering approach allowed me to work collaboratively with new people and build new relationships.

Curriculum for Excellence. (2006) Building the Curriculum 1 Available: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/btc1.pdf [Accessed: 20 November 2019]
Ecotricity. (2019) When will fossil fuels run out? [Online] Available: https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/our-green-energy/energy-independence/the-end-of-fossil-fuels [Accessed: 20 November 2019].
Education Scotland. (2019) Douglas Academy – Debating and public speaking. Available: https://education.gov.scot/improvement/practice-exemplars/douglas-academy-debating-and-public-speaking [Accessed: 20 November 2019]
General Teaching Council for Scotland. (2019) Overview of the Standards. Available: https://www.gtcs.org.uk/professional-standards/engaging-with-the-standards/overview-of-the-standards.aspx [Accessed: 20 November 2019]
Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of learning and Development. New jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Matthews, P. Scherr, I. (2019) Annual Compendium of Scottish Energy Statistics Available: https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/publication/2019/05/energy-consumer-action-plan-putting-consumers-heart-scotlands-energy-transition/documents/annual-compendium-scottish-energy-statistics/annual-compendium-scottish-energy-statistics/govscot%3Adocument/annual-compendium-scottish-energy-statistics.pdf [Accessed: 20 November 2019]

Disasters

Prior to this input I had little confidence in my abilities to teach about natural disasters especially as it can be considered a taboo subject in the classroom environment due to the sensitive content that it entails. However, after discussions with my peers, I can now see the benefits of teaching this subject to children. They gain knowledge of not only how these disasters occur but the inequalities within different countries when these disasters take place.
In the lecture we discussed different infamous natural disasters and the destruction that they caused.

In the first input we were introduced to different experiments/tasks that can be used when teaching about disasters. One task that stood out for me was the baking soda and vinegar volcano.

 

This activity allows children to follow instruction, visualise the eruption, and have fun. It also required children to use their measurement skills which links in with maths. Teaching science in schools is very important as it allows children to develop certain skills that are required to cope in such a fast pace world, as well give them a deeper understanding of global issues like disasters (Harlen, Qualter,2014).

In the second input we discussed the major inequalities that exist between different countries when affected by a natural disaster, specifically the earthquake in Haiti and tsunami in Japan. We compared how these countries prepared and responded to the disaster. Japan was better prepared than Haiti as it is a much wealthier country with a supportive government. Majority of the buildings were still standing in Japan which was due to the strong infrastructure. Haiti is a very poor country where not everyone’s basic needs are met only around 54% have access to clean water, so they were in no way prepared for the earthquake. The buildings in Haiti were destroyed due to having a weak infrastructure. The UN reported that the earthquake took 230,000 lives across Haiti. Although the Tsunami caused a massive amount of damage and fatalities Japan have since managed to recover from it whereas Haiti is still recovering almost 10 years on Scott-McKie (2016).

In the session we discussed the importance of teaching children about these inequalities. Two of the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence, (2008) are Responsible Citizens and Effective Contributors. This makes up half of the curriculum. Therefore, it is our duty as teachers to inform and inspire children to take a stand in the world around them by raising awareness of the impact that natural disasters have on different countries, people and the environment. It is important that we teach children that it is everyone’s problem and not only those affected by the disaster and that we all have a duty to sustain our planet. When teaching children about these inequalities we allow them to develop empathy and a sense of duty to help those who need it. It is incredibly important that children know these inequalities exist in our world it allows them to be empathetic for those affected and gain a sense of duty to help. We must teach children that their voice matters and they can make a huge impact with it.

In the second session we were given a natural disaster topic to deliver a microteaching presentation on to the rest of our section. We received tornadoes. During my education I have never learned about this topic before, so I knew I had to invest a lot of time in educating myself in order to give a knowledgeable lesson to my cohort. The GTC (2019) highlights the importance of professional learning for both teachers and children. When teachers broaden their knowledge and understanding it will improve the quality of learning within the classroom and inspire the children. My group and I worked together to analyse the information we researched for the benefit of the cohort’s education. The GTC (2019) also highlights the importance having the ability to work collaboratively with colleagues. We decided to present a lesson on creating a news report on an infamous tornado.

We discussed that this lesson would be a follow up lesson as they must already know what a tornado is and how it affects people, places and the environment. We discussed the skills that this lesson would develop for children like collaborative, research, performance and assessment. Reflecting on my presentation I will use Kolb (1984) Experimental Learning Cycle. Whenever I present to a large group of people, I begin to increase my pace due to being anxious. During the presentation I struggled to slow my pace down which resulted in my peers telling me they struggled to understand some of the information I was giving. I believe that this is due to a lack of confidence within myself and a fear of public speaking. My next step approach is to embrace public speaking opportunities whenever I can whether it be answering out in lectures or delivering a short lesson on placement.

References
Curriculum for Excellence. (2008) Building the Curriculum 3 Available: https://www2.gov.scot/resource/doc/226155/0061245.pdf [Accessed: 5 November 2019]
General Teaching Council for Scotland. (2019) Professional Learning. Available: https://www.gtcs.org.uk/professional-update/professional-learning/professional-learning.aspx [Accessed: 5 November 2019]
Harlen, W., Qualter, A. (2014) The Teaching of Science in Primary Schools. [Online] Available: Dawsonera. [Accessed 5 November 2019].
Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of learning and Development. New jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Scott-McKie, L. Case Study 1: Japan Earthquake 11th March 2011 [Moodle Resource] Available: Sustainable Development Disasters [Accessed 5 November 2019]
Scott-McKie, L. Case Study 2: Haiti Earthquake 12th January 2010 [Moodle Resource] Available: Sustainable Development Disasters [Accessed 5 November 2019]