Category Archives: 1 Prof. Values & Personal Commitment

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.

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.

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.

Equality & Inequality

Last week I took part in my first values seminar. As we went in, we were separated into four teams. Each team was given a brown paper envelope with some unknown items inside and we had set time frames in which to plan an idea, make the idea using only the objects inside the envelope and present the idea . My team took the brief about making a useful tool for a new university student very literally and decided to physically use the items; including pens, coloured paper, Blu Tac, paperclips, and tape; we had been presented with to create a pencil case and a detachable campus map. After presenting our idea for the helpful tool to the group, each team was given a score out of ten that ranked each team from best to worst. In my particular group; one team scored one point, another scored three points, my team scored seven points, and the final team scored ten making them the winners. The winning team, and my team, as we came second, were given prizes.

The teacher then asked us various questions about the task, such as did we enjoy it (to which, of course, the winning team answered yes) and had we noticed anything about the competition side of things. Neither my team, nor the winning team, were grasping what she was getting at. Then the other two teams started to pipe up and say that they had noticed the teacher spending a lot more time with the teams that came first and second. At first I thought this had just been a coincidence, but then the two lowest scoring teams began to offer up more examples of inequality that they had experienced during the task. They said that the teacher had been less encouraging of their thoughts and ideas, less involved in their design process, and less respectful and attentive when listening to their presentations.

The penny finally dropped when the teacher said to look at the other teams’ tables. Whilst we were looking around, the bottom two teams were saying things like “Yes, I knew it!” and the top two teams were exclaiming “Oh wow, I didn’t realise that!”. The scores that the teams received not only corresponded with the attention and help that they were given, but also the supplies that they had had inside their envelopes! The team that scored one point had only a couple of items like a pen and a white piece of paper, but the team that scored ten points had an abundance of products to take advantage of; from staplers and hole-punches, to rainbow pens and sticky notes.

The thing that has shocked me most about this seminar is the fact that I, and everyone else in the two ‘best’ teams, didn’t notice the blatant inequality and unfairness that was occurring in the other two teams. We were all oblivious. We had just assumed that the task presented the same challenges to the other teams as it did to us, however they were having to think twice as hard because they not only had to come up with a plan, but also had to problem solve to work out how to accomplish it with their very limited resources.

I think this class that we have been involved in is not only a powerful metaphor for the many imbalances across the country’s, and even the world’s, education centres, but it also speaks volumes about how as both societies, communities, and individuals, it can be far too easy to go about our business and live our lives oblivious to the struggles of others. I had no idea of the other groups’ positions. Just because I had made that assumption that we had all been treated equally, I concentrated on my own team and our task at hand. If I had just looked up from what I was engrossed with, I could have realised that, although we had a challenge to complete, other people around me had further hurdles to overcome before they could even get to the challenge I had.

I can see how the wider meaning of this task relates to financial inequalities in schools everywhere that may impact on students’ education, but also on a more personal level that, as a teacher, you must take time to consider which barriers each different child may have standing between them and their potential accomplishments. Each child is unique and will have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to both school and life. It is so important to recognise and adapt to these differences to help everyone to reach their full potential.