Category Archives: Professional Studies

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.

whitelight-trainwreck.tumblr.com

whitelight-trainwreck.tumblr.com

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?

bbc.co.uk

bbc.co.uk

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.

 

 

 

 

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!
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  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.

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.