Pivotal Moment

At my AoS meeting yesterday my adviser explained writing assignments in an alternative, or more broken-down way than I feel it has been explained before. Her specific way of explaining it worked so well for me personally because, as a friend rightly pointed out; I seem to understand things best when they are broken down into a systematic order. She explained that first you will do wider reading (which can be easier said than done), then you will collate common themes that feature in multiple of the documents. This should mean that you will start to notice a pattern of popular topics emerging. The more a particular theme or idea is referred to, (generally) the more useful it would be to address in your own writing. I felt like this was a pivotal moment for me, despite the fact that this concept may have already been grasped by others. It might be obvious and solidly formed in their minds, but this was the ‘it has just clicked’ moment for me. Following the meeting, and along with feedback I received on my assignments in the second semester of first year, I feel much better equipped to tackle the upcoming Languages and Social Studies assignments. This is partially down to viewing my previous assignments’ weaknesses as practice for future ones, but it is certainly also as a result of the meeting and subsequent discussion I had with my peers in the library. The discussion linked together what I had talked to my Adviser of Studies about with learning styles; both my own and those of the children in my future classes. For example, analogical, visual, kinesthetic and exploratory (many of which we identified are up for debate on their level of applicability). I find the group discussion areas of the library beneficial for this reason. I often find myself going to the library to read or write and will end up talking for the entire time – usually a healthy mix of chat and academic conversation. I can sometimes come away from such library visits questioning whether my time wasn’t used to full effect due to lack of reading, however if I think about it more, a good amount of discussion can be as, if not more, motivating and evaluating than reading pages of a text. I often wish later on, that I had recorded various discussions at the time as I feel that significant points have been raised that I can’t always remember when it comes to the time to refer to them. Discussion works so well for me personally, as I can consolidate my learning by talking to my peers to gain their perspectives and further my own, then arrive at deeper understanding of lecture content more effectively than passively listening or even note-taking. Despite this, I do not mean to speak against the importance of reading to progress your learning in university, as this is obviously significant and I will continue to pay attention, take notes in the lectures and research and read academic writing. I just felt as if I should share this time on my ePortfolio as its tagline is ‘My MA (Hons) Education Journey’ and I felt that this was an important step in my journey towards achieving academic success.

Mathematics Workshop TDT 22/01/19

I enjoyed maths at school because I like the idea of being clearly ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ as I feel that, for me, it helps me to progress and improve in a more direct way. I also love the feeling of that ‘Eureka!’ moment that you can often feel in maths when you have been confused about a certain aspect, until suddenly you realise what you have been doing incorrectly or incompletely the whole time and what you have to do now to change to the correct answer. As such, I rated myself a seven on the confidence scale of zero to ten, zero being the least confident and ten being the most, at the beginning of the workshop. I hope to pass this enjoyment and enthusiasm of maths onto my future pupils.

One of my favourite things I will take forward from this maths input is the pupil identification technique that Tara used to ask specific students questions. It involved giving each table group a name, in this case names of famous mathematicians, and then having us number ourselves within each named group. This then means that the teacher select pupils at random to answer questions, avoiding anyone being left out, without yet knowing every single child’s name. I think this will be helpful for me in the first few weeks of each new school year because it will give me time to learn all my new pupils’ names.

Reflections & Evaluations Lecture TDT 18/01/19

There was a lot of information and pedagogic knowledge to be gained from Derek’s lecture. I now know that John Dewey was one of the first people to identify reflection as a specialised form of thinking. He believed reflection comes from doubt, hesitation and challenge from an experience or experiences. I have also learned that Donald Schon developed Dewey’s ideas into the concept of reflection in, and/or on, action. Schon felt that reflection is the core of ‘Professional Artistry’.

Reflection is all about attitude. It is essential to have a positive attitude towards professional development and a crucial part of that attitude is to be open and receptive of constructive criticism.

There are seven main ways in which to evaluate your own professional practice that we have learnt about in this input. These include verbal and written feedback from the class teacher or tutor.

I think when reflecting on your work as a teacher personally, it is important to be realistic. There is no point in pretending to yourself that a lesson went well if it simply did not. It is human to make mistakes, it is just important that we learn from them to develop our strategies and ultimately continue to improve. For example, I like questions such as ‘What went well and why?’, ‘What didn’t go well and why?’ and ‘What will I do next time to improve?’.

An example of when I have used reflection to further my professional development is the academic poster for the ID10001 Working Together module assessment. One of the criteria was “Reflect on the learning you have gained through your collaborative practice enquiry with your peer learning group.” and another involving reflection was “Evaluate the collaborative practice of your peer learning group in undertaking your collaborative practice enquiry.”. I achieved a B2 in both of these criteria because I looked critically at my group and I’s collaborative practice, pointed out the positive and negative aspects of our partnership working, and explored what I could take with me from the experience in order to improve in the future.

Expressive Arts- Drama TDT 15/01/19

The lesson in the video is very clearly structured. It has an obvious beginning, middle and end for the children. This is important because it shows the pupils the purpose of the activity and helps to keep the class on task. The lesson begins with the ‘Agreement’; the confirmation of a set of rules for the class to stick to that are physically posted on the wall. I think it is interesting that a point is made about the literal poster of rules, this relates to the fact that it will be a very literal lesson, with the children presenting their ideas in a physical way. The class then take part in a ‘Warm Up’, this confirms that learning is going to occur and this is not just ‘playtime’. The ‘Focus’ of the task is then established with the children, telling them the purpose of what they are about to do, so that they can establish some context for the activities due to it’s potentially exciting and so distracting nature. Now that the starting section of the lesson is complete, the teacher moves on to the middle part. The next stage is ‘Development’, the teacher will progress with the lesson by listening to the children’s ideas and having them build upon the possibilities of what could be happening in the images they are looking at. Now they move on to ‘Visualisation’, this involves picturing the scenarios and sharing with the group what you see using the five senses. This introduces the physical element of the activity to the children. The next tests for the children are ‘Soundscape’ and ‘Bodyscape’. They will now be moving around and interacting with one another through movement and sound. Expressing both actions and emotions. The next element is crucial; ‘Performace’. This is a key outcome of teaching drama, the kids must understand how to convey their story to others, but in turn how to understand the ideas of their peers. The performances may be instructed by the teacher using ‘Frozen Scenes and Thought Tracking’. ‘Frozen Scenes’ involve the pupils using their bodies to represent objects and characters to create a story line with differing still images. ‘Thought Tracking’ simply means for the teacher to go around the scene and tap particular students on the shoulder, asking them to vocalise what they imagine their object to sound like or their character to be thinking. Possibly the most key element of this whole class is the very end portion; ‘Evaluation’. The class teacher will talk with the students about what they have learned, why they think they have learned it and what they hope to do next time. It is also important to end with this task as it is great ‘cool down’ time, the children have burned off some energy and now they need to return to a resting state appropriate for the classroom. I like this structure of separate instructions that still flow well together to create one end product, almost like a recipe for cooking. It keeps children focused and engaged, whilst maintaining that fun, energetic element too.

Nikki mentioned an activity that she did with one of her classes that involved emotions. The children had to use facial expressions to show how they felt about certain elements of life. For example; vegetables or chocolate, and maths or games. This was a very simple task, just done standing up in the classroom with no extra objects or materials. This was intriguing to me as I had never thought of drama in this way before, this is it being integrated into the everyday teachings at desks, and also children’s personal lives and what they do at home. It can be so easy to incorporate drama into English, history or even maths. I feel much more confident about teaching Drama, even just in day-to-day discussions, after participating in this first workshop and watching this video.

Health & Wellbeing- Relationships TDT 14/01/19

These videos were very interesting in terms of the viewpoints that Dr Suzanne Zeedyk and John Carnochan OBE had on babies’ and children’s development.

Dr Zeedyk made some thought-provoking points, particularly about the physical and mental development of newborns. New information about babies’ brains suggests that, at the point of birth, growth and change are only just beginning. This sheds light on the fragility of the human child compared to the offspring of other species. It also goes some way to explaining the extremely long dependency period that humans have (zero to eighteen years) and the high level of parental investment required to raise a child into adulthood. I have also learned from this first video that some reasoning for children behaving in a seemingly non-conforming and ‘challenging’ manner can be due to the fact that they may have been raised in an unpredictable, hazardous living situation. If abuse and terror is all they know, then that child will forever go into every situation with their defences on high alert, in anticipation of danger. This cause-effect relationship will only continue to strengthen in the child’s mind until a responsible adult steps in and proves to them that the world can be full of more than just “sabre-tooth tigers”, and that actually there are so many good people on this planet that are ‘on their side’. One of my main goals as a teacher is to have my pupils feel confident and happy, and know that they can come to me with any issues they are facing in their lives, in school or at home, if they are not.

John Carnochan also provided some very useful insights into a possible cause of abrasive behaviour in adolescents. He suggests that it can all stem from environments that the infant’s brain has been exposed to, and had to cope with, in these formative ‘early years’. After watching John’s video, I have realised the importance of implementing routine and consistency in my classroom so the children have a degree of predictability and calmness in their lives, particularly for those who are not experiencing any level of peace in their home environments. Despite all of these negative experiences in a person’s life, it only takes one person to “smile at them”, “say the right things”, “do the right things” and “spend quality time with them” to show them positivity and guide them off the path of distress and upset. Listening to Suzanne and John has reaffirmed in my mind the importance of teachers in children’s lives, not just for education and learning, but for development of the ‘whole child’; their personality, their experiences, their emotions and their attitudes.

My final thought after this task is summed up well by what John says in his video; “loving kids is what it’s really about”. I feel that a huge part of the primary teacher job description is to be passionate about what you do every single day, but also, even more importantly, to be passionate about who you are doing it for; the children, now and in their futures.

Languages TDT 11/01/19

I feel that you would know a child had met the outcomes for ‘Listening and Talking’ if they often request to watch films and videos, particularly ones that have been played in the classroom previously. I believe that this outcome is particularly simple in the 21st century because of our easy access to technology and video streaming platforms such as YouTube and Netflix. I think it’s highly likely that children will be having these experiences outside of the classroom too on their personal devices due to the vast amount of child-friendly resources available online. It is also obvious that humans are inherent listeners, however perfecting the art of truly listening is an entirely different matter. Almost every child knows how to listen, it’s just the want to listen that can be missing. The best way to encourage children to want to listen is to make content interesting and engaging.

In terms of the ‘Reading’ outcomes, my experiences in primary school myself definitely met them. We had, on average, monthly visits to the local library during which every child would select a book of their own to loan from the library and read both at school and at home until returning it at the next visit in return for a new one. The class was also split into reading groups by ability so those who excelled could progress through the assigned reading at an accelerated rate, and those who struggled could move at a slower, more concentrated pace. As well as reading books, we would talk about them and evaluate what we felt about the stories by writing regular book reports. One way in which I feel schools may have improved since my early education however, is the range of themes in books and a wider inclusivity of minority groups or differing living situations. This is because a large quantity of the reading materials my school could provide in my time featured straight individuals, white characters, and ‘nuclear’ families. This is a topic that has also been addressed in the recent Health & Wellbeing lectures.

Learning to write is one of the most important skills a child can hope to take from their early years education. Letter formation, spelling, punctuation, grammar, and more all play into the learning and teaching of writing. A child has achieved the ‘Writing’ outcomes if they can write legible, punctuated sentences, paragraphs and stories that have a point. They may also feature a clear and concise beginning, middle and end.

In my personal experience of language in primary school, I loved to read and write and so excelled in those areas. As I grew up, I have become more involved with the ‘Listening and Talking’ side of things. Thus, my passion for reading has gone unfulfilled for some years. The introduction of technology in the middle of my childhood, I believe, contributed to the decline in frequency of my reading as the lure of playing games and beating high scores was rarely weaker than the fun of reading. Despite this, reading is something I hope to get back into the the years to come as I feel I got so many benefits from reading so confidently as a child.

Expressive Arts- Dance Workshop TDT 09/01/19

The dance workshop was quite intimidating to me at the beginning because I do not feel confident in dance, whether that be teaching it or doing it! I had expected the purpose of the class to be how to teach a routine to a class, and perhaps perform it. However, as the class got going I realised that there is no need to jump straight into performance or practicing for a show.

The first main point I take away from this practical is that it works just as well, and can be even more beneficial for the children, to take baby steps. Dancing doesn’t have to mean routines, practices or shows, it can simply represent an understanding of rhythm and sequence and how to apply creativity through body movements to music.

The second thing I have learned after this activity is that dance classes can come to life through the children themselves. With minimal prompts the pupils’ creativity can flow and they can soon grow the confidence to teach each other moves, routines and expressions.

The final main point I have taken away from the dance workshop is that dance is not, and should not be, a separated classroom activity. The concepts of music and singing are used often in classrooms and so too can be dancing. A dance video has many uses, from introducing to children an alternative way to express yourself, to a behaviour management tool- children will soon gather round with undivided attention to observe a video of professionals, or even other children, dancing.

I now feel more confident about teaching dance to a class because I have learnt that there are many tools and videos online, and also, providing I create an enthusiastic learning environment, pupils can really run away with instructions and bounce off each other to create an art form other than drawing or painting. I also love the idea that those who struggle to express themselves by speaking or writing can flourish and convey their emotions through movement.

Introduction to Pedagogical Studies TDT 08/01/19

The Official Curriculum

The ‘Official Curriculum’ is the planned programme of objectives, content, learning experiences, resources and assessment offered by a school. Also named the ‘Formal Curriculum’.

The Hidden Curriculum

The ‘Hidden Curriculum’ involves all the incidental lessons that students learn at school. Includes the lessons of behaviour, personal relationships, the use of power and authority, competition, sources of motivation, etc. that are also learned. Also called the ‘Unofficial Curriculum’.

The Experienced Curriculum

The ‘Experienced Curriculum’ is the formal learning actually experienced by students. It is more concerned with the learners; what experiences, knowledge and perspectives they bring; their ability to learn; and their interactions with the curriculum.

Content Knowledge

‘Content Knowledge’ is the facts, concepts, theories and principles taught and learned in school.

Pedagogic Content Knowledge

‘Pedagogic Content Knowledge’ is a type of knowledge that is unique to teachers. It is based on the manner in which teachers relate their pedagogical knowledge- what they know about teaching- to their subject matter knowledge- what they know about what they teach.

Curricular Knowledge

‘Curricular Knowledge’ refers to a teacher’s understanding of their school’s learning programmes.