Semester 1 Reflection

Following Derek’s input on reflection in practice, I have been reflecting on my experiences and development throughout semester one.

The beginning of semester 1 was challenging for me, as i am sure it was for others, in terms of finding my feet socially and gaining the confidence to speak out and have an input in so many situations that were foreign to me, with so many people whom i had never met. As I began to mingle more with my course-mates and make friends, I felt increasingly more relaxed in group situations and expressing my views in lectures.

The Working Together module was very useful in aiding me in developing my confidence when working with others in a university environment, as we were placed into groups with students studying each of the three professions; Education, Social Work and CLD. During the first few weeks of working as a group we found ourselves forcing conversation to break the awkward silences and hesitating to share our views if they opposed another group member’s – which happened often based on the differing viewpoints from each profession. However, as we became more and more comfortable and got to know each other better, it became clear how lucky we were as a group as every individual was motivated, respectful and open to share, listen and take on board all points shared within the group without making anyone’s input seem invalid. Because I had such friendly group members, this majorly increased my confidence in speaking out in university environments and was an excellent way of making new friends along with learning about the work of all of the aforementioned professions. Because of this, I feel that the Working Together module was the most beneficial for me in semester one as it gave me such insight into work I hadn’t previously considered and made the beginning of university a lot less stressful for me.

The Values module, however, was a lot more challenging for me to grasp as I found many of the subject areas covered in lectures were dull or repetitive. This caused me to often lose focus in lectures as I would find myself thinking of other things, which caused me to struggle when it came to later writing the assignment as I probably missed some valuable information. I did enjoy the seminars based on how interactive they often were. These were much more appealing to me as I was able to hear a range of viewpoints on different topics being discussed and share my own points of view with many different people within the course.

When it came to the assignments for each module I definitely found the Values assignment more challenging. This may be due to the fact that part of the Working Together assignment was completed as a group and so the work was distributed between us all. I definitely needed to put in extra work to complete the Values assignment in order to get the grade I had hoped for, and luckily I received grades that I was very happy with in both modules.

Ultimately, semester one was a great start to the course and I hope that my experiences will be just as positive for the rest of the year!

Resource Allocation Task

Last week’s resource allocation workshop, led by Derek, was an introduction to the idea of equality within the classroom. The task highlighted the issue of class division and lack of resources within certain schools – an issue which we will all face as prospective teachers.

The task set was for each of the five small groups to come up with their own idea for a product to help a new student starting at the University of Dundee. To complete the task, we were each given a large envelope filled with resources to help us make a visual representation of the product we had come up with to present to the rest of the groups. My group were only given a small amount of resources for the task at hand, however we quickly noticed that some of the other groups were given a lot more supplies than we were. This instantly made us feel as though we were at a disadvantage and would not be able to produce a product as impressive as the other groups could.

As the task continued it became clear that most of Derek’s time and attention was focussed on one group who also seemed to be getting more help and encouragement from him. This continued throughout the rest of the activity and it was clear that Derek was favouring some groups more than others. We were given little support during the task and felt as though our idea wasn’t as good as the other groups’ based on Derek’s response.

When we each presented our ideas to the other groups we began with the group who had been given the most amount of resources and support during the task. All throughout their presentation Derek seemed very engaged and impressed by everything that they had come up with. After they were finished he gave them a lot of praise for the work that they had produced and made it clear to the rest of us that he was pleased with their presentation. But as the other groups presented their ideas, Derek’s enthusiasm seemed to lessen and nobody was being given as much praise and attention as the first group. When my group presented our idea, Derek seemed very uninterested in what we were saying and didn’t give us any feedback at all before moving on to the next group. By the time the final group were presenting their product Derek appeared to be completely unengaged and was even using his phone during their presentation. This group was also given no feedback on their work and the reaction that they received from Derek was a lot more negative.

After all of the groups had presented their ideas it was very clear to me and the rest of my group that all of the groups had not been treated equally during this task. Once Derek acknowledged that he had given us different amounts of resources and certain groups had been given more encouragement than the others, it became clear that this is an issue that we will all have to deal with as teachers in the future. We then discussed how each of the groups had felt after noticing the inequality in the task and we realised that the groups with more resources had not realised that anybody around them was being treated differently.

This task helped me to understand the importance of being aware that each child is treated with equal respect within the classroom, despite their background or specific needs. It has highlighted the importance in understanding how each child requires something different in order to reach their full potential and this can only be achieved by giving each child full respect and equal encouragement. The task also emphasised the fact that not all schools have equal resources available – just as each group were given different amounts. So we, as teachers, will need to be able to adapt our teaching to suit the school and to ensure that every child is given equal opportunities in school – regardless of the school’s access to resources or their personal background.