Author Archives: Lynsey Petrie

Five values which are important in the teaching profession…

I’ve chosen to consider five different values which I think a teacher should possess to develop as a successful professional. It was difficult to chose five specific values to discuss, but these are the ones which I thought were most important to me.

 

Patience

Have you ever watched the penny drop? Have you ever seen the look on a child’s face when they finally, truly, understand? I have and I believe that’s down to exercising a little patience. There is no greater feeling than working with a child to find a way to create a deeper understanding of a subject area they have been struggling with. We want all of our pupils to succeed in school and some pupils may need a little extra guidance to do so. Some pupils may not be able to learn a subject using the materials you have provided for the whole class, this is not a failing of the child and I feel as a professional you need to have a little patience and work out a way to facilitate each individual child and their learning. There is no greater feeling than knowing that you have taught something well, and there is no greater feeling for the child than truly enjoying their learning & understanding what is going on. I will always take the time to do this!

 

Respect

As professional teachers, we need to show respect in a variety of different areas of our work and personal life. Firstly, we need to respect our pupils and their individual differences to allow them to work and learn in an appropriate environment. We also need to exercise a considerable level of respect for parents and create a good relationship between the school and the family home. I feel this helps to keep everyone in the loop with what is going on with the child and prevents conflicts further down the line. And of course, we need to learn to respect our colleagues – those we work with from day to day as well as those that we are required to work with from time to time. This is particularly important when working collaboratively with other organisations such as social work, CLD, police, health care etc to provide the ideal setting and circumstance for the individual child at the centre of concerns.

 

Integrity

I chose this value because I think it’s really important to be honest about what you want to achieve in your role as a professional. What do you want to achieve for your pupils? What visions do you have for the school as a whole? What visions do you have for yourself and your future progression? By laying down your principles and ideas, you can have strong vision and work in the direction of achieving your goals based on what you value. By being honest with your pupils about your expectations of them and how they can achieve their own goals, you can cultivate an environment which promotes constant development. I think that when you have integrity to your own goals, you are much happier as a person – you know who you are and where you want to be. I would like to see that rub off on my own children in the classroom, to allow them to be honest about who they are and to design the future that they really want for themselves. Integrity is a hard one, and I’d like to address this further in the future as I gain practical experience in the work place.

 

Moral Courage

As I have stated in my previous blog posts, I think being a professional teacher is very much about creating a positive role model for young children. Therefore, I think it’s important to believe in yourself, your own morals and display a strong sense of self worth. I’ve always considered it to be important to stand for something and I’d definitely like to encourage my pupils to consider what they value and stand up for it too! As a teacher I think it’s important to be able to voice your opinions when you think something isn’t right. This is particularly important when dealing with the welfare of children, I think you should be able to confidently address your concerns if you feel that a child isn’t in the optimum settings for achieving their full potential. (GIRFEC idea)

 

Fairness

A teacher should always be fair. When I asked my little brother what he thought was the most important thing for a teacher to be, he said fair. I agree completely. It’s very easy to have a favourite, a teacher’s pet if you like but I think it’s important to consider all of your pupils in the same light. This way you can give them what they deserve in terms of teaching and allow them access to all they need to achieve their full potential.

What it means to be a professional… (VIDEO)

This video documentary gives us the views of several teachers on what it means to be a professional. I feel they only skim the surface of some of the issues relating to being a professional, but nonetheless I do agree with what they have to say.

Largely, I have considered that being a teaching professional you have to present yourself in a way, which allows you to be a good role model for your pupils as well as the broader community. The teachers in the video say that this can be the achieved in the way you speak, dress and present issues to the children. I do agree with this, but think that this role model should come across in everything you do, not just in certain aspects of your job/life.

One of the teachers talks about the role of the teacher as professional in a negative light; noting that there is more benchmarking, more need for accountability and more focus on teachers as professionals in society. I think it’s important to remember that how you view this directly correlates with how it impacts on you as a teacher. I think it’s great that there’s a lot of benchmarking/ranking as it allows you to show your strength as a professional by displaying great attainment. It also gives you the chance to reflect, allowing you to grow in your role.

One comment suggests that teachers shouldn’t pass judgment on pupils based on their class etc, even with the best intentions this can be extremely difficult to achieve. However, true professionalism can be seen where teachers overcome the ideas of stereotypes to allow their pupils to achieve all that they are capable of regardless.

The idea that a teacher should be able to communicate effectively is also conveyed in the video discussion. I think this is incredibly important, you must be able to communicate with pupils, parents and staff appropriately. Parents should be involved in the learning of their child and I feel a teacher should actively achieve this by finding a route to communication which suits the family and child.

I am surprised by how little the teachers talk about development, it is mentioned at the end of the video but only briefly. It is important to keep up with changes to curriculum, new research, engaging with new technology and focusing on constant professional and personal development. I feel this is integral to the role of the professional in any job field and should have been considered in greater depth in the video.

The clip certainly gave me food for thought. It has helped me to consider my own views on professionalism and, while I agree with what they mention, contemplate the deeper aspects of what it means to be a professional.

What makes a teacher who makes a difference?

Having watched the video input on ‘What makes a teacher who makes a difference’, I felt really inspired to put some deep thought into that question. I found the clip very interesting as it was focused on teaching in South Africa, where I have volunteered in a primary school setting. South Africa is still very much a developing country and it is the individuals which go the extra mile who really make the difference to the lives of those in the communities.

The video clip begins by comparing the role of the teacher to the role of the doctor; the narrator addresses the need for dedication and professionalism within the work place in both job roles. What I find most interesting in this section of the video, is the way the idea that teachers and doctors both deal with life and death is portrayed. Doctors deal with life and death in the literal sense, but it should be noted that if the teacher does not execute their role efficiently, then the result could be just as damaging to the quality of life experienced by their pupils.

The video focuses on the views of the teachers also. It assesses what qualities are deemed as important for excellence in the role. To name a few, the teachers convey the need for teamwork, understanding other staff, accountability etc. One teacher notes that it is not enough to rest on your diploma/degree, and that you should always seek new opportunities to further progress in your learning of the role of teaching such as workshops, joining online communities and so in. I agree that this is extremely important when delivering an amazing service to our pupils and will always be keen to expand my repertoire of knowledge on graduating.

The video then focusses on a few individual teachers and how they have gone the extra mile, beyond their job description. I love the way the narrator reminds us that they all have ‘the xfactor’ in “different ways”, it points out that each individual was able to achieve something in their own way, rather by following a textbook example of how things should be done. I’ve split the next section into three parts to address each teacher and their positive impact.

Teacher 1

The first teacher gave a lot of her time to education within the local community. This included adult language classes, which allowed those attended her class to pay bills & fill out forms without the need for help. I think this is really important for creating a sense of ‘can do’ attitude in the community, it will inspire the younger generations and also allows parents to get involved in the education of their child by having a greater understanding of the written word. When I was in Rwanda on a volunteering trip, I realised that the work you do with adults is so important as these are the role models for the children in the communities. I loved her approach and passion for making the community a better place.

Teacher 2

The second teacher we meet in the video has addressed her need to improve in maths to keep up with the changes in the curriculum. I find it inspiring that after 35 years of teaching experience she doesn’t rest on her laurels and continues to make progress for the greater good of her pupils. She actively involves other teaching staff in her discussions to implement change and allow improvement workshops to take place within her community. By creating support groups for teaching staff, the pupils will benefit in the long run!

Teacher 3

This teacher has given up her time for the benefit of the teaching staff around her. I think this is a great thing to do to allow progression of the whole school and ensure all teachers feel comfortable within their role. By allowing teachers to continue to learn and gain support from their peers, I feel a great working environment can be established which facilitates continual positive change.

In summary, all of the teachers in the video took the initiative to go above and beyond their role to make a difference. The narrator notes that, “the system is not going to create those miracles” and that if you want to see change you have to go for it. I felt like it was a really inspiring documentary, which showed that the role of a professional is not about just ticking boxes, but rather continually progressing with your learning for the greater good of those you are working with. In this video example, we looked at Doctors and Teachers but I am sure there are many other professions that follow this same idea. I am really inspired by what I’ve watched today and I feel like it’s really informed me as to what sort of professional I would like to be.

Social Work Module

I am really enjoying my elective module, ‘Working together to achieve social justice’ as part of the Social Work course. There are lots of interesting ideas being shared within my study group that I can reflect on. It is interesting to work with Social Work and CLD students as I will likely be working with them in the near future.

We have recently been looking at collaboration; in particular collaborative advantage and collaborative inertia. By looking at two case studies, one which showed advantage and the other inertia, i feel like I was able to fully understand the meaning of these terms and will be able to use them appropriately in future academic response.

We are heading out to a placement on the 26th of this month, my group will be based at Baldragon Academy while other groups have different placements within the community. I am looking forward to being able to feed back what we have learned in the ‘world cafe’ presentations but more so to see what the other groups have to say on their placements.

The module is a really great addition to my core modules and I am glad I was able to change over. It ties in so well with things we are currently studying as well as some of the content in the online modules. I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks on the course.

A personal life online…

We all know that whatever you put on the Internet is subject to criticism from all sides. You have to be wary about what you post so as not to offend anyone or spark negative discussion. This becomes even more of an issue when you become a professional in the limelight and particularly for us as student teachers. However, it is our choice how we look at this, will we see it as a negative or positive for our career/personal life?

I have to admit, I was very daunted when I first considered how sensible we have to become when posting on social media. It made me rack my brains through every post I’ve ever shared; instagram, Facebook, twitter, snapchat and so on. It is scary to think that the things you say could be open to so much scrutiny, and that parents, pupils and colleagues may look to find you on your personal social networking sites.

I’ve always had public profiles, but following our lecture with Derek I decided to go ahead and make most of my profiles private. I use my networks to share posts with my family & friends and I can still do this on a private platform, rather than allowing the world to look at me living my life out on the internet. I’ve done this purely to let me have a personal life as well as a professional one.

However, working in a marketing role I use my Facebook quite regularly to discuss my service with potential clients and choose to make certain posts public and others completely private. This is an extremely useful aspect of Facebook.

It would be very easy to take a negative view towards social media and the challenges it creates but I like to see opportunity in everything. It has allowed me to investigate ways in which I can moderate my social media, something I can share with pupils, parents and colleagues to promote safety online. I have looked at a variety of different online platforms, which I can see would allow my pupils to share their work in a safe environment online. I feel we have to be open to move with the times in terms of the ‘Digital World’ to best accommodate for the every growing minds of our pupils.

Things that help/hinder my success…

Complete the table below to identify and reflect on those helping and hindering factors and plan actions for each. Record this in your eportfolio or professional learning journal.

Download document: Unit 1_B_managing my learning.docx (Word 15.8KB)

 

Recognition/Reflection Action
What helps my learning?

Example: “Discussing the topic with others”

How can I utilise this

  • Set up a study group of like-minded peers
  • Engage with the online community
 Keeping organised notes on lectures  – print off slides prior to lecture

– create a system to be followed for all lectures so that it is easy to understand notes. For example, using different codes etc.

 Having appropriate knowledge of subject ares to be discussed in lectures.  – set aside a set time for use of the library

– engage with set reading lists and extra reading of diverse sources.

 Being in ‘the right place’ for successful learning.  – Big one for me. Get in the zone; eating well, sleeping well etc.

 

Recognition/Reflection Action
What hinders my learning?

Example: “I am easily distracted”

How can I address this factor?

  • Study in a place were distractions are minimal
  • Read lecture notes before the lecture and then take notes lectures to keep me focused
 I sometimes concentrate too much on work rather than studies.  – Have set times to deal with work marketing & emails etc.

– Turn off phone during set study periods, so I have shorter but more focussed time.

 I leave everything until the last minute.  – Create visual to do list.

– Complete tasks as soon as possible and prioritise by importance. (UNI FIRST)

 

My thoughts on ‘The Study Skills Book’…

 Having read the book ‘The Study Skills Book’ by Kathleen McMillan and Jonathan Weyers, I have come to a variety of conclusions about what it means to be a student & what skills I should like to posses by the time I’ve graduated.

There is a lot to be considered when starting out as a university student, I for one am fully aware of this having started out on a very different university course 2 years ago. The start of the book discusses the importance of goal setting for the long term and asks the reader to contemplate where they see themselves in 5 years time and 10 years time. I feel by looking at your long term goals you can make better informed short-term goals, this idea is backed up by the questions asked in the book, ie; ‘what subjects will you need to study to achieve your goals?’

This time around, I am staying at home while studying. I feel like this is a much better choice for me in terms of finance and being in an environment that is appropriate for my learning. Page 8 of The Study Skills book provides information comparing the pros and cons of living at home or moving into student accommodation. I feel like the thoughts laid out in the book are very similar to those I had when looking at accommodation options. Right now this is what’s best for me, but I have considered looking at shared accommodation in the future.

The book dedicates a considerable amount of time to talking about financing university. Every student has a different budget to work with as well as different out goings. The majority of my expenditure this year will be on travel, parking and materials for study (books, stationary etc). While university can be expensive, the long term benefits far out weigh the short term costs. As a Scottish student, I am very lucky to have the support of SAAS for tuition fees and indeed a loan should I wish to take up that option.

One thing I found particularly interesting from the book was the mention of the need for mental change, I agree completely with this. University can be a wonderful enlightening experience or a negative one, dependant on how you view it. My first experience of university was the latter, but having returned I have a completely different mindset and attitude towards achieving my goals as a professional.

University is very different from school or the workplace, it requires a lot of self directed activity and intrinsic motivation to get things done. As a whole, the university has general expectations of it’s students some of which I will go on to discuss. It is generally accepted that communication is vital to the progression and success of students, a student should aim to complete all administrative tasks such as matriculation in a timely manner. It is also imperative that student make regular use of IT and email accounts to keep up with any important information. Furthermore, personal organisation is expected of all students – this encapsulates time management, keeping note of important deadlines and creating a balance between work and play. A student is expected to embrace university life by being open to learning new skills and ways of working while assessing how they can plan their studies to get the most out of the course. As an institution, the university has a broad wealth of services available to students to ensure their university experience is both enjoyable and productive. It is expected that when issues arise for a student they will make appropriate use of these services before reaching a crisis. I have looked at these points mentioned in The Study Skills Book and have outlined the areas which I personally need to consider further and organise more efficiently. The book has opened me up to some new ideas surrounding how I can get the most out of my education.

As previously noted, University life is far removed from school life. The text asks the question, “What makes university different?” There are lots of answers to this question. Firstly, attendance is not monitored as rigidly as in school. For the teaching course, 80% attendance is required which gives quite a lot of room for the odd day off. However, a motivated student would look to keep attendance as high as possible. The teaching style also differs a lot from school, with a large proportion of input being directed in lectures rather than classroom situations. Typically, a student will work a 40-hour week on a full time course – however a lot of this time should be made up of self directed study, this is very different from the school learning environment. In terms of assessment, a student will receive a grade on the piece of work they hand in. Essays or assignments are not proof read by lectures/tutors and so the student should take ownership of having this done by peers or relatives. University is largely about learning to learn in a manner that can be continued throughout life, and allows the individual to embark on continual personal development.

On a whole, university is not just about passing exams or attaining a qualification in one subject area. It is about preparing a student for employment as a graduate. On leaving university, the learner should aim to have gained a repetoire of skills including; personal development skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, technical skills and intellectual skills, all of which are desirable to the employer.