Dance is a universal language…

Increasingly, I am becoming more and more passionate about incorporating dance into the curriculum in new and inspiring ways. Dance really is a universal language, anyone can dance – any where, any place, any time – and I find there is something beautiful about the telling of a story without the need for words.

I feel that within the curriculum, Expressive Arts are greatly overlooked and considered to be of minimal importance in comparison to areas such as Literacy or the STEM subjects. In my opinion, the role of the teacher is to engage pupils in their learning and to help them to ENJOY what they are studying and by regularly incorporating Dance, Drama, Art and Music into everyday lessons that key enjoyment can be readily achieved.

During the dance workshops, I was pleased to realise that all my previous experience in teaching dance was pretty spot on in terms of what we are expected to do as a teacher – pat on the back for Miss Petrie. I’m not really scared to teach dance in the primary schools, in fact it’s probably the are I’m most comfortable with. I have always loved teaching and learning in relation to literacy through dance; unpicking the key elements of a story, poem or play and recreating it to make a short, stimulating dance drama piece.

My favourite experience as a dance leader was creating a short dance-drama piece on the poem Havisham by Carol-Ann Duffy. I studied Duffy at both Higher and Advanced Higher level in English and LOVED her work and the prospect of bringing her words to life inspired me. I worked with around 40 girls from 1st year to 6th year, presenting the poem in a new & exciting way – bringing the words out of the paper and making sense of them on the stage. By the end of one month of practice, we all knew the poem word for word and the story behind the words inside-out. The best part for me was seeing young girls who ‘HATED’ English, actively engaging with and enjoying great Scottish literature. How many English teachers could have inspired that simply with a few annotations to the side of each verse on a page?

I’m a huge advocate for literature through dance, anything through dance for that matter! I would really encourage any one who feels they couldn’t teach a dance lesson to give it a go. In my opinion, there is no ‘right’ way to dance – you just go with the flow and do what you feel. I find it empowering to express my thoughts and ideas in creative ways, and I would love to encourage my pupils to feel the same.





Congratulations on your engagement….

Over the past few months, my interest in blogging on the e-portfolio has ceased to exist with my last blog post dating back to October. Even then, as I read through the page it becomes increasingly apparent to me that not one post is demonstrative of my passion, commitment and desire to do well within my teaching career. To an onlooker it may seem that I am underperforming, not engaging with the TDT’s set by lecturers and failing to show any insight into the world of teaching through reflection on external reading – but this is very far from the truth. I am continually inspired by what I am learning from day-to-day on the course, I just express this in different ways. I prefer a more creative approach than just words on a page, I feel as though when I am writing the blog posts I am just churning out information and thoughts with no real connection to the subject at the heart of them. I haven’t engaged with the e-portfolio because I have increasingly felt that it didn’t mirror my own creative style and therefor was not conducive to my learning – just a case of ticking a box set by the university.

Photo by Master isolated images. Published on 30 March 2013  Stock photo - Image ID: 100152582

Photo by Master isolated images. Published on 30 March 2013
Stock photo – Image ID: 100152582


However, our latest input on the e-portfolio really did get me thinking about how my own considerations regarding the online blogging portal were similar to the experiences of children within the classroom. Not all children learn in the same ways and this fact doesn’t dissipate as we become adults. When a child is struggling to learn in a certain way do you give up? No… You find new and interesting ways to engage the child in the subject area and help them to understand and enjoy what they are learning. To cut a long story short, I’ve decided to apply the same technique to my own learning in relation to my participation in the e-portfolio and find new ways to engage with the content of the lectures, workshops etc to allow me to feel inspired again. Expect colour, vibrance, pictures, videos, crazy mind-maps and scribbled annotations – when I am creative I am most engaged, and to develop as a professional and connect with my education I really need to get under the skin of things in a way that reflects my personal learning style best.

Photo by zirconicusso. Published on 07 September 2015  Stock photo - Image ID: 100356695

Photo by zirconicusso. Published on 07 September 2015
Stock photo – Image ID: 100356695

Congratulations, Miss Petrie – you are FINALLY engaged.


Making sense of the SPR (Part 4)…

PART 4: Professional Commitment

  1. Engaging with all aspects of professional practice and working collegiately with all members of our educational communities with enthusiasm, adaptability and constructive criticality.
  • Focussing on all areas of the curriculum with equal enthusiasm is important to allow children to develop their understanding of which areas make them tick. If you portray maths in a boring fashion, chances are they will probably find it boring too. However, if you approach is with positivity and enthusiasm and constantly look at new ways to help the child engage, you may help a pupil find their forte.
  • Working collaboratively with different agencies to provide support for individuals. Putting the child at the core of what you do and pooling resources to the benefit of the individuals. Being confident in your own strengths and knowing when you need extra support from senior teaching staff or external bodies.
  • Being able to adapt your teaching styles in line with the abilities and needs of the pupils in your class. As previously mentioned, looking at technology etc and dedicating yourself to learning about new advancements so you can share them with your pupils. For example, video technology… I have a basic understanding of how to use software such as imovie etc but what more can I learn? What other resources are out there that the children could enjoy using?
  • Being able to provide constructive criticism when practice is not working effectively. For example, if a support worker is coming into school to see a pupil and he isn’t forming a good relationship with this professional how can we address this? Discuss with the support worker and other appropriate bodies to bring about POSITIVE CHANGE.
  • Also having the confidence to provide constructive criticism to pupils. Encouraging the growth mind-set. Rather than looking at a piece of work and saying it is ‘good’ because it fits certain criteria, look at ways in which that pupil can make their work even better. By constantly encouraging this, the pupil is more likely to work towards reaching their true potential.
  1. Committing to lifelong enquiry, learning, professional development and leadership as core aspects of professionalism and collaborative practice.
  • Looking at your strengths/weaknesses and continually developing. For example, I know I struggle with maths more than any other subject so I would address this and work out a way to develop my ability in this subject. Is there a course I could take?
  • On the flip side, I really enjoy modern languages so I could look into developing further understanding of different languages which could be offered within the school.
  • Also, looking at different extra-curricular things the school could get involved in. I know I loved working on the Rock Challenge dance/drama project while I was in secondary school and this is something that is now open at a junior level. I would like to commit myself to looking at new opportunities which would stimulate the children.
  • Continually looking to develop within your career. I know I have considered Educational Psychology as a career path as well as Primary Teaching. Is there a way I could develop this? What do I need to progress into this career etc.
  • Never settling. Setting yourself goals for the term/year. Considering what you want the next 5 years to look like. What skills do I want to develop? Which areas do I have for improvement? What role would I like within a school in the next 5 years?


I really enjoyed looking deeper into the GTCS Standards for Provisional Registration as it really got me thinking about how I should act as a student teacher and what sort of goals I want to achieve. I will revisit the standards as I go along, as I am sure I will see things which spark my interest that I can add into this. Creating targets for myself in line with the standards will help me to be the type of teacher I really want to be.

Making sense of the SPR (Part 3)…

Part 3: Trust and Respect

  1. Acting and behaving in ways that develop a culture of trust and respect through, for example, being trusting and respectful of others within the school, and with all those involved in influencing the lives of learners in and beyond the learning community.
  • I’ve always believed that ‘with respect, comes respect’. Mutual respect for whoever you are working with be it pupils, staff, parents etc. is really important in creating a good working relationship.
  • Beyond the learning community: Engaging with parents as to what is going on in the child’s school life and looking for feedback on how the child is getting on at home. Providing the link for parents to talk to you directly will be something they respect you for. Parents will be able to address issues with you in confidence and trust that they will be dealt with effectively.
  1. Providing and ensuring a safe and secure environment for all learners within a caring and compassionate ethos and with an understanding of wellbeing.
  • Taking areas such as bullying very seriously within the classroom.
  • Looking at areas of mental health, self-esteem etc. and displaying an openness to talk about these issues regularly.
  • I’ve always really liked the idea of a ‘happiness high five’ in the morning, with each pupil giving their teacher a ‘high 5’ it would be very easy to see which pupils weren’t coming into school in a good state of mind from this. School should be a happy place for pupils and as a teacher I would endeavour to provide this environment.
  • Promoting the idea that struggling with work is a GOOD thing as it shows you are challenging yourself and learning. Being open to discussions about how to improve in certain areas and not get stressed over work. By creating this relationship at primary school level, they will be more likely to discuss their struggles as they progress into secondary school.


  1. Demonstrating a commitment to motivating and inspiring learners, acknowledging their social and economic context, individuality and specific learning needs and taking into consideration barriers to learning.
  • REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED. I think as you progress through any career it would be very easy to start seeing it as ‘just a job’. I think it’s important to keep in mind the reasons you want to be a teacher.
  • Commitment to looking at new and exciting ways of getting children to engage with their learnings. Lots of pupils will not be able to engage with traditional learning methods. What else can we do?
  • Allowing children to express individuality in their work. Encouraging pupils to be who they are throughout life.
  • When receiving a new intake of pupils, discussing the children with the previous teacher to have an understanding of what works, and what doesn’t, for individual pupils.
  • Letting children express themselves and their likes/dislikes by encouraging ‘who am I?’ work. Examples, allowing pupils to give presentations on their hobbies to the class.
  • Taking into account particular barriers to learning. Does this pupil have access to research resources at home? If not, will I contact the parents to ask them to take them to the library? Will I offer extra time on the computer during break/lunch etc.

Making sense of the SPR (Part 2)…

Part 2: Integrity

  1. Demonstrating openness, honesty, courage and wisdom.
  • OPENESS: It is important to be approachable as a teacher. One way of making this possible is by being open to new suggestions and questioning. We are now in a very digital age, where changes in technology are happening at an intense rate and we need to be open to this change for the benefit of our pupils. If we live in the ‘stone age’ with this, then we are not allowing our pupils to investigate technology and all its great uses.
  • HONESTY: It is important to be honest with your pupils, other teaching staff, external agencies, parents and also yourself. In doing so, you create the best structure for positive relationships. By being honest with your employer about your strengths and weaknesses, you can allow them to support you in your progression for the future. It goes without saying that it is important to have an honest nature for this profession and to convey the importance of honesty to pupils across the school.
  • COURAGE: Having the courage to stand up for what you think is right. I think this incredibly important in areas where you feel a child is not receiving the support it needs either at home, in the community or even within the school. This could also include having the confidence in your teaching methods, the confidence to address issues in school with parents and so on.
  • WISDOM: Having an in depth knowledge of the curriculum subject areas and being able to conceptualise them for greater understanding by the pupils. Also, being able to share ‘life lessons’ with pupils, parents, staff etc. that are not included in the specifics of the curriculum. For example, if a parent is struggling to get their child to engage with homework tasks – you are able to provide information on how you would do this from previous experiential learning.
  1. Critically examining personal and professional attitudes and beliefs and challenging assumptions and professional practice.
  • This could include looking at literature and critically analysing the writing – something we will do often as teachers. Looking at professional practice and assessing how the literature may not correspond with what you experience from day to day.
  • Looking at your own beliefs when it comes to education and assessing whether they are sound beliefs. Ie is there a better way of looking at something than the way you currently do.
  • Looking at school rules/standards and how they work for staff and teachers. Do they work? Is there a better solution to certain problems? For example, is the sanctioning of pupil’s really effective in eradicating poor behaviour? Or do we need to be looking at more positive reinforcement for the child.
  • I think this is the idea of constantly challenging what you think you know and what you have been told to bring it in line with the current situation/circumstance.


  1. Critically examining the connections between personal and professional attitudes and beliefs, values and practices to effect improvement and, when appropriate, bring about transformative change in practice.
  • I think much of this point links in with the points I have noted above.
  • Emphasis on the fact that having challenged a point of view, to do something positive about that. For example, if you feel that the links between social work and the school are poor, why not look at setting up a meeting or attending discussions with external agencies?
  • Taking your concerns to your head teacher or depute to bring about positive change within the school confidently.

Making sense of the SPR (Part 1)…

As individuals entering into the teaching profession, we are required to make ourselves aware of the standards for provisional registration as provided by the GTCS and begin considering what they mean to us and how we might achieve them. I have looked at the four areas covered; Social Justice, Integrity, Trust and Respect and Professional Commitment and given some thought as to what each section may mean. By looking at each are in depth, I have been able to consider what may be expected of me as a student teacher on placement and also as a registered teacher in four years’ time. Assessing the standards has helped me to create clear goals for myself and further consider what type of teacher and professional I would like to be.


Part 1: Social Justice

  1. Embracing locally and globally the educational and social values of sustainability, equality and social justice and recognising the rights and responsibilities of future as well as current generations.
  • SUSTAINABILITY: as a teacher I could be looking at areas such as recycling, renewable sources of energy and sensible use of current resources with pupils. Sparking interest in these areas could help children to understand the part they play in the issues of the world at present and what they can do to benefit future generations. By actively involving children in their learning of these areas, they can start to implement behaviours which are beneficial for both themselves and future generations. For example, inviting pupils to bring in used bottles/packets and looking at how they can be recycled will encourage pupils to adopt these positive practices out with school and in their family homes. A good way to promote this is to look at what plastic bottles, for example, can actually be turned into! There are many areas for consideration when it comes to sustainability, waste of food is another one which may interest pupils as they can look at countries which have food deprivation etc.
  • EQUALITY: looking at different cultures, social backgrounds, genders etc and promoting equality for all. Examples: looking at the progression of women in the work place to inspire girls within the class to have higher aspirations for themselves, areas such as the working effort of land girls during the war could be covered, the suffragettes and so on. It may also be an idea to investigate different jobs which are stereotypically male or female roles, and allow pupils to look further into them and tear down the idea that they are for one gender only. By promoting this now, we give rise to a fairer and more equal society for future generations as the current generation will be more open to equality.
  • SOCIAL JUSTICE: I definitely need to look a bit further into the idea of social justice, as if I’m completely honest I’m not confident in its definition. However, I feel that this would be the area where as a teacher I would encourage pupils to look at themselves within society, their rights and entitlements and how they are governed. I’m not entirely sure on this one so I’m putting a big star here for further reading!
  1. Committing to the principles of democracy and social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive and sustainable policies and practices in relation to: age, disability, gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion and belief and sexual orientation.
  • I feel that this point looks into the idea that the teacher should not be seen to discriminate against pupils in any way. They should provide equal opportunity experiences for all and should promote this idea for their pupils. As a teacher I would like to inspire my pupils to see that success should never be defined by the above factors. It might be an idea to look at topical issues here, such as the inspirational story of Malala Yousafzai and her work in promoting equal education for all.
  1. Valuing as well as respecting social, cultural and ecological diversity and promoting the principles and practices of local and global citizenship for all learners.
  • It is important for the teacher to address the idea of the importance of diversity. Big area here is looking at religion and how many people may have different religions but this does not mean one is wrong. While I was getting experience at a primary school prior to university, the teacher I was working with invited 5 of his friends – all of different faiths – into his P7 class to discuss their differences and similarities and focus on how you can learn to be respectful of each other regardless.
  • This point looks at getting pupils involved in being a part of society on a local, international and global scale. I would be encouraging pupils to look for ways to get involved in citizenship within the local community – what is already set up? Can we organise a trip to a project and help out in some way?
  • To create an idea of global citizenship it could be an idea to look at setting up a pen pal system for pupils. Many schools are linked with an international school so this could be relatively easy to do. It would allow pupils to take the initiative to find out about different cultures and what goes on within different societies.
  • I would also encourage pupils to become part of societies of their own; sports groups, drama groups etc to generate the ideas as to what it means to be part of society and how each person has an important role to play.
  1. Demonstrating a commitment to engaging learners in real world issues to enhance learning experiences and outcomes, and to encourage learning our way to a better future.
  • Important that the teacher looks to educate pupils in an unbiased manner as to the issues developing within the world. Often, a child’s view may be distorted by the views of the parents and it’s useful to help children create their own views on topical issues.
  • It is extremely important to encourage children to engage with the news in a positive way. I have always thought that it would be interesting to do this by creating a weekly ‘news bulletin’, mimicking BBC news or the like. This would be held each week by a different pupil/group, they could document the issues they have seen on the news during that week and then they could be discussed openly within class. By providing lots of time for questions and ENCOURAGING pupils to ask questions, they can become better informed on topical news issues.
  1. Respecting the rights of all learners as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and their entitlement to be included in decisions regarding their learning experiences and have all aspects of their well-being developed and supported.
  • This could involve looking at areas of the curriculum to be studied and giving pupils a certain level of autonomy in choosing what they would like to study. This helps pupils to engage in their learning as they are actually interested and involved.
  • This could be as simple as letting a child choose their own reading book from the library based on their own interests.
  • I would as a teacher, look to provide a topic area ie; World War 2 and ask pupils to research this area. Looking at what they already know, what they would like to know and any burning questions they may have.

Baldragon Academy Placement…

As part of our social work module, we are required to undertake a placement within the local community in order to develop an understanding of working together across different professions. This is a really great way of conceptualising the work we are doing within our lectures & group work. This morning our group attended our placement, working with in the pupil support zone with Yvonne and Elaine, who have backgrounds and extensive experience in CLD and social work. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and have summarised the key points from the visit below.

Baldragon Academy is situated in the Kirkton area of Dundee. As is stands, Kirkton is in the top 5% of deprived areas in the whole of the UK and so the need for additional support for pupils within the school is very extremely high. Yvonne and Elaine have worked as Pupil Support workers within the school for 12 years and 11 years respectively, and so were able to share a vast amount of information with us on the progression of the school and the importance of inter-agency working. At the core of everything they do is the individual pupil and their specific needs for successful development, and I personally found this incredibly inspiring.

Within the school, the support workers use a referral system which then allows them to timetable visits for pupils. They have managed to establish a great relationship with the school teachers through this and note that they will never be a ‘dumping ground’ for children with poor behaviour. It took around two years to establish this working relationship, prior to which there was an element of collaborative inertia; in that the teachers were not fully aware of the role of the support workers, and so did not want to utilise the service. Now, all staff within the schools as well as external agencies work together and play to their strengths to allow for the best support for the young people involved. Yvonne and Elaine focus specifically on filling gaps in the needs of the school and this seems to work extremely well for all involved.

In terms of working together, Yvonne was able to explain to us lots of the ways in which all of the agencies and professionals stay in focus with the common goal. She noted that as support workers, they work closely with the guidance team and are involved in school house meetings and depute rector meetings. Yvonne and Elaine can provide a link between parents and school staff, as sometimes parents feel more comfortable to talk to them as they can discuss issues more informally and they feel that their children know the support workers very well. Furthermore, each month they meet with external agencies such as the police, social work and CLD to look at any issues which may be arising that will affect the child. This could be something within the community or a situation where a child may be vulnerable – these issues are discussed in total confidentiality to allow Yvonne and Elaine to support the individuals.

The pupil support workers are very confident with their particular strengths, but are also aware that there are areas that they do not excel in. In this case, where they feel they cannot offer something ‘in house’ they look to external organisations such as ‘Kick it Kick off’ and Fairbridge to provide appropriate programmes/services for the young people. ‘Kick it Kick off’ has proved largely successful across many schools in Dundee and Angus and it is great to see that Baldragon Academy have such excellent links with this programme.

As an Education Student, I was particularly interested in the transition work carried out by Yvonne and Elaine. They go into catchment primary schools and work with Primary 6&7 pupils to facilitate a smooth transition into secondary school. During this time, they identify children who may need extra support for whatever reason and place them in ‘nurture groups’. These nurture groups usually only run for the first term of the child’s first year of secondary school, but often it can be seen that they will need further support and so the groups remain active for those who need it. Each day, the support workers meet with a different nurture group from across the school. The set up for the nurture groups is very informal, Yvonne and Elaine look at how they can help the individual and so it varies from group to group. The nurture groups receive breakfast, usually toast, and have the opportunity to chat, dance or take part in tasks with the support workers. The main aim is to help calm the pupils so they can settle in to the school day.

As well as nurture groups, Yvonne and Elaine offer one-to-one support for pupils who need it. This could be in the form of bereavement counselling, restorative practice, anger management or focussing on greater self-esteem. Addressing these areas can be vital in allowing pupils to progress and reach their full potential as a learner. It is often the case that pupils who have received one-to-one support go on to receive extra support in groups with external agencies. Today, we were able to speak with Helen Smith who was working with a group of young girls on promoting ‘confidence’. I thought this was amazing as often a lot of young girls lack confidence and it may stand in the way of their success.

As I previously mentioned, Kirkton is a very deprived area and so a lot of the parents and families within the community lack basic skills such as the ability to read and write or cook. This can be detrimental to the child as support from home is very important for their progression. As part of their role, Yvonne and Elaine have previously conducted ‘survival cooking’ workshops for parents – this allows them to learn to cook basic meals and promotes better nourishment for the children. They said that this can be achieved through simplifying recipes or providing instructions in picture form. In doing this, the support workers have created a way in which parents are able to help and interact with their children which is essential for their development, both on an academic and social level.

With a budget of only £500 per YEAR, you would think the pupil support workers are limited to the services they can provide for young people. However, I was impressed to discover that they do not let this low budget affect what they do. Each day at break, the pupil support room operates in a very inspiring way, around 200 pupils come along to the area and are given a mid-morning snack of toast and juice. This is open to all pupils across the school and helps to ensure that pupils are not facing the day hungry. Since introducing the service, there have been massive improvements in children’s behaviour. The expenses of this are met by fundraising and donations, and the bread is always bought for reduces prices from super markets late at night. This huge commitment made by the families and friends of the pupil support team, allows this service to continue to benefit the children coming along each day. I am so inspired by this that I will definitely be furthering my research in this area and considering how this could benefit other schools, both primary and secondary.

Overall, I found the visit to be very encouraging. I loved hearing Yvonne and Elaine’s stories and also seeing the children in the pupil support room environment, they were all very comfortable and I can really see how this service is of benefit to them. It was great to see the way in which the work of Yvonne and Elaine is respected through-out the school and discuss the positive changes they have already made for pupils of Baldragon Academy. They work seamlessly with school staff and external agencies with the child at the core of everything they do and in doing so provide a great model for working collaboratively. I am very inspired and will take all they have said into consideration to allow successful working collaborative through my studies and career.