Category Archives: 3.4 Prof. Reflection & Commitment

A September to remember

Wow, what a month! It’s been a busy Summer preparing for the month just past but I have to say it has been one of the most amazing months.

First, its back to the grind with my Second Year at Dundee studying Primary Education, yes you heard right, I passed first year! First year was quite a jump from first to second semester as we were thrown into preparation for our Professional placement. It was a lot to cover in 3 months, but something must’ve clicked for me to have come out of the other end. My placement was a fantastic experience, and nothing can fully prepare you for that first lesson! I learned so much about classroom management, the pupils and myself over the course of the six weeks and I can’t wait to get back into in next year!

MA2 is an exciting one as well! Our placements this year will not take place in a traditional Scottish School setting, we’re being let loose on the world! Most of the year group will be taking part in a placement completely different to a standard school and will be exploring education in other areas and the rest of us are being given a unique opportunity to teach in an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. Studying this curriculum which is both very different and similar to the Scottish CfE is really interesting. While we shouldn’t compare the two curricula too much they had such a different outlook and structure on education and I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge on these different principles and all the new ‘jargon’ we need to understand!

But university has not been my only opportunity of teaching and education this month! On the 13th September OpSoc (Dundee University Amateur Operatic and Musical Theatre Society) began auditions for their annual weekend show, Popstars! The 90’s Musical, which is brought together in 72 hours!

I took on the role of choreographer for the production and its quite a change from teaching 20 Primary 7’s to 30 University students! It was a jam-packed weekend full of 90’s shenanigans and fun and it really made me aware of how I handle myself under stress (The answer is not well, it’s a skill I am now actively working on!). I always think its such good experience to branch out and teach something not in a classroom setting to be able to work on those basic, transferable skills. I believe that this weekend has given me different elements teaching that you would normally see in a traditional setting. It was a weekend of long days, little sleep and not a lot of time to eat but it was worth it when I saw what we’d managed to produce go up on stage on Sunday at 7pm.  Big thanks to our amazing cast and my fellow production team member for making that weekend so phenomenally exciting, fun and worth it.

But the fun didn’t stop there! Roll on the next weekend and I found myself helping lead a Brownie Camp Holiday in Fife for 2 days!

What better way to recover from a long sleepless weekend than with another long sleepless weekend! I tagged along on a fellow Brownie Packs Camp to take charge of their first aid for the weekend and it was another experience to work on my management skills, while out of school clubs should be nothing like school, behaviour management is still called for with this particular role. I find guiding a great place to try out new techniques I’ve learned in class and a great way to work on that tricky balance between being approachable but still having authority when working with kids. Our theme for the weekend was Robin Hood so we had a chance to take part in some archery, themed crafts and even had time for a medieval banquet in the middle!

My next adventure (which also happened to be with Girlguiding) involved working with University of St Andrews on their #Explorathon18 in conjunction with Dundee Science Centre.

I am an advocate for promoting STEM with girls as I believe it is so important to encourage girls to excel whatever they choose to. The Guide group I volunteer with had an excellent opportunity to work with University of St Andrews to find out about research happening at the university, take part in activities relating to sea monsters and we even found out why M&Ms are banned on the International Space Station! This all happening while staying overnight in The Byre Theatre in St Andrews. It was great to see a university being approachable to youngsters who might not have the opportunity usually and see how research can be used to find out so many different things. Dundee Science Centre hosted the event on the Saturday which saw the girls vote on their favourite research project in ‘The XX Factor’ and explore different elements of STEM. A big shout out to Calum, the Public Engagement Team at the University and the researchers that made this event into a fantastic opportunity for all involved.

Finally, September saw me leave my job with the National Trust for Scotland this Summer.

I spent my Summer working in Barry Mill in Carnoustie, Angus helping people engage with local history and amazing feet of engineering. For those that aren’t aware, Barry Mill is a 19th working (oat)meal mill on the outskirts of Carnoustie. The site is 800 years old but the mill standing there today was built in 1814 and is a snapshot in time of the lives we used to live.

While it’s not the most conventional job, every day was a learning day and the conversation I would end up having with people were fascinating while they told me about their childhood or professions or just genuine interest in Scottish heritage. I took this job to also help Barry Mill expand on an educational programme for its site and rich history. While I spent most of my time giving tours and stocking our small shop. we found sometime to start developing a more interactive experience for children to come and engage with and look at where in the Curriculum for Excellence the mill could slot into. My favourite tours where always ones that had children on them as I could gauge the tour towards them and keep them engage (which the adults were more than happy with). Many comments made about me were regarding my engagement with children and how I kept the content interesting and relevant to them (lovely comments to get when I’m heading towards a career in education!).

So that was my September. My plans for October are far less adventurous but I do (hopefully) plan to engage with this e-portfolio more and reflect on my work within and out with university. There are lots of exciting things to come out of this year and the cogs are being set into motion now. While this month has been a busy one, I truly believe it has helped me work on my professional practice especially in developing my teaching technique and my confidence, I can’t wait to continue my reflections to further explore this.




International Baccalaureate Introduction Module

This post includes my reflections from the International Baccalaureate Introduction module which I am very excited to be starting this semester!

Reflective Activity 1

The International Baccalaureate identifies one of its main characteristics as centring on the learner which I feel is also prevalent in the Curriculum for Excellence which I have no become more comfortable in teaching. Focussing on the individual learner appears to be a strong theme with both programmes as well as using and developing effective teaching techniques to achieve it. Another clear link between the two is the aim of significance/relevance. Both programme outline the importance of relevance in their curriculums in their aims and is clearly an important element for both.

While on my teaching placement earlier this year I did experience aspects of the IB aims during my practice. One that sticks out for me is the aim regarding creating a challenging programme for the learners. As I was in the Upper stages for my placement I quickly learned that the learners responded better to more challenging tasks than simple ones as they were able to use different strategies to overcome the challenges and gain a deeper understanding of whatever I happened to be focussing on that day. Another that I noticed in the CfE classroom was the focus on creating lifelong learners. While teaching you want to equip the learners with the skills they need throughout life and to ensure their learning experience is positive so they continue to learn and develop in their later lives.

Reflective Activity 2

The wording between the IB and CfE programme may differ but it appears their core values have the same goal, to create well balanced, responsible and confident learners. Both curriculum strive towards helping a learner become as equipped for the world as they can be. I became to automatically sort the 10 core values of the IB programme into the 4 capacities of the CfE curriculum and quickly came to the confusion that while there are clear links between then (e.g. thinkers & successful learners, principled & responsible citizens) I found that a lot of the core values fitted into more than one capacity showing that both programmes are almost parallel to each other.

The IB programme, to me, seems like it has the kind of outlook in that endeavours to prepare its learners for the outside world. This is something that is in the CfE but seems to be more emphasised in the IB. I have certainly observed areas of the IB learner profile when working with children and how important they are in ensuring the children enjoy their learning. Helping them discover skills they need for later life and giving them life experiences that will shape them into who they will be is a big part of the work I do with kids outside of teaching and elements of that can be found in the IB programme.

Reflective Activity 3

A range of the progressive trends align with the CfE. The one to jump out at me first was the trend of student choice as personalisation and choice is one of the principles for curriculum design within CfE, aligning perfectly with these trends. Open plan classrooms are also a trend in many schools (my primary school included) however this is not printed within the curriculum itself. Transdisciplinary relates to the emphasis on interdisciplinary in CfE and encourages a lot of learning to be put into context for the learners this way. Lastly the emphasis on being child centred is prevalent throughout the CfE as well as being pushed by the Scottish Government with GIRFEC. Education should of course be child centred to make sure the learning is tailored to the needs of every child.

Reflective Activity 4

The subject areas of the IB PYP and the curricular areas of CfE are not much different. The only difference is that the CfE Curriculum also identifies technologies and religious and moral education as subject areas. However, the IB programme focuses on transdisciplinary learning which would account for the missing curricular areas. The IB programme also focuses on international learning and culture so I believe this accounts for their version of RME. In addition to the subject areas, IB also have 6 disciplinary areas which support the PYP. Personally, I think these act like the Experiences and Outcomes of the CfE as each subject area needs to relate to a disciplinary theme. The aims of the IB programme are strong throughout the PYP as there is a real focus on international learning and preparing the learner for the world we live in. This is the main difference between CfE and IB as the CfE has more of a focus on each subject whereas the IB seems to have more of an overview of their subjects. The IB programme have 4 clear concise aims while the CfE has a more in depth explanation of how its goals. A lot of the themes introduced in the IB aims come up in the principles of curriculum design so both curriculums are built on the same morals it seems. Each one needs to be tailored to its learners but upon doing the reading for this module it seems that the curriculums have more similarities than differences.