Going into my first placement, I was quite nervous as I was given a primary 7 class. I had never experienced a primary 7 class before. I was always with an infant or middle class so this was slightly out of my comfort zone. However, once in the class, getting to know the children and teaching them I really enjoyed it and I started to develop confidence. I had the pleasure of working with two teachers and I took this as a positive as I was able to see two different teaching styles.
The first few lessons I delivered it quickly became clear to me that for my lessons to be more effective the children need to know what they are going to be learning at the start of the lesson. Education Scotland (no date) state that in order for children to learn better they must understand the intended learning so the learning intention must be shared with them.Through observing the teachers, they both shared the learning intention with the children. This worked well as the children were engaged from the start as they knew what they were going to be learning. After taking this feedback on board and through self reflection I started sharing the learning intention with the children. Since I did this I could see the children were more engaged than other lessons I had delivered.
During the first week of placement I realised that classroom presence is vital and I need to develop this as a teacher. Cremin and Arthur (2010) state that being able to manage a class is down to you. You need to ensure the children understand what is being said and are listening to you. The children need to know you are there and you are in charge. During the first week I felt the children were not listening to me and their was low level disruptive behaviour occurring which I was not dealing with. After carefully analysing the situation I realised that my classroom presence was not being seen by the children as important. I spoke with one of the class teachers and she explained by varying my position in the classroom will force the children to look at you and they will listen better as you move. She also explained that I need to project my voice more so the children understand what you are saying and know its you in charge. After taking the feedback on board, the next lesson I delivered I tried projecting my voice more and moving around the class while talking. I felt the low level disruptive behaviour had reduced, the children were listening to me and looking at me when I was talking. With regards to the low level disruptive behaviour I stopped this from happening by telling children to stop speaking when I was speaking. This allowed the children to see that it was not acceptable and I was in charge. These little things helped improve my classroom presence and I am able to manage the class a lot better now. As said in me lesson plans I need to keep working on this.
By the end of the first week going on to the second I had adopted a hand clap with the children in order to get their attention. I felt that this helped my classroom presence and allowed me to get the children’s attention without having to raise my voice. In order for this to be effective I had to practice it with the children first so they understood the purpose of it.
By the third week of my placement my classroom presence was well established. Both teachers explained my classroom presence has developed hugely and my voice is well projected. With regards to projecting my voice, in the third week I found it hard to project my voice when doing athletics outside with the children. In order to overcome this I used a whistle. This helped a lot as it got the children’s attention so I was able to explain to them what they were to do next. This also meant I was not having to strain my voice. These various resources help classroom presence and gain the children’s attention. However, it is important that you explain to the children what it is for and you practice using it with the children, as if this is not done it will not be effective.
During my placement it was clear to me that planning lessons to suit every child’s needs was essential. There were a couple of children in the class with dyslexia so it was important to take their needs into consideration. Since there was a child with an additional need in the class I made it a priority to research the additional need and find out more about how to support the children. I believe that if there are additional needs in the class it is important to research the need in order to fully support the child/children. To support the children with dyslexia in writing lessons I would ensure I sat with these children and gave them support. However I was also aware that one child did not like to be treated differently and liked independence. To ensure I met this need I ensure that I provided the appropriate support for the child and then allowed them to work independently. I was also aware that other children in the class may need help and support so it was important to give them attention too and not just focus my attention on the children with an additional need.
Groupings were extremely important when planning to meet all children’s needs. I could see the benefit of using ability groups and also mixed ability groups. Ability groups worked well in maths when doing activity stations as support was able to be provide to a group of children that needed that extra support. However, it was important that the stations had differentiation, for example there was more challenge for those children that need it but they also had to be designed so the less able children were able to do the activity. It also allowed more time to be spent with children that found things slightly more challenging. Having children seated in mix ability groups for maths worked well as the children were able to explain to others how to do things. Mix ability groups worked well in topic activities as it gave children the opportunity to work with others they may not have worked with before. It also means that children are not constantly seen as being in a specific group for everything and are not constantly seen as being in the high or low group. This then gives the children more confidence in themselves.
Overall this placement has taught me so much about teaching and I have taken many things away from it that I will continue to use in my teaching career.
Arthur, J. and Cremin, T. (2014) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. New York : Routledge.
Education Scotland (no date) Sharing Learning Intentions and Success Criteria With the Learners. Available at: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/video/m/video_tcm4658766.asp (Accessed: 21st April 2016).
Pollard, A. (2008) Reflective Teaching (3rd ed.) London: Continuum.