Author Archives: Shanice Wilkie

A Whirlwind First Week in Slovenia

I have now spent a full week in Slovenia, and despite the mostly rainy and dismal weather, I am loving living here!

When we arrived on Friday, after a rather quick 2 hour flight from London, we were driven to the house that we will be staying in during our time here. It is situated in a rather quiet part of Ljubljana, but a very short distance to the centre (and a 1 minute walk to a very nice pub!).

Myself and the 2 boys from my course are sharing the house with 5 other people from the University of Minnesota. It has been great getting to know them and spend time with them, and realising how they are just as crazy as us Scots. What I find hilarious is the fact that half of the time they do not have a clue what we are saying. On the other hand, I myself feel like I am in an american TV show when listening to their amazing accents.

We did not have much time to unpack on Friday as we quickly had to head in to the centre to sort out some documents. We had to walk to the centre, and whilst the walk was longer than I anticipated it to be, it was nice to be able to see the city of Ljubljana, and learn about the city from the teacher who was showing us around. We had to collect our bus passes which we needed in order to get to and from places and also collect our meal vouchers.

An amazing scheme Slovenia has is that they pay certain restaurants to allow students to have money of their meal prices. This will come very handy when it comes to eating out, and already I have managed to get a pizza for 5 euro and a giant tub of noodles for only 2.50 euro!

I have noticed quite a lot of difference between Slovenia and Scotland already having only lived here a week. Firstly, they drive on the right side of the road. This took some time to get used to the first few days, as myself and the boys would find ourselves looking the wrong way down the road to look for traffic. Another thing that is different is the custom of greeting people. We were told by the headteacher at DKIS that, in the country, people always greet each other when entering a room. I found this very interesting and, whilst I found it strange to begin with, I have grown to like this idea and has made me feel more welcomed into the community of Ljubljana.

The chocolate pudding ‘hot chocolate’

The final difference I noticed from home is what Slovenia define as ‘hot chocolate’. Now, in Scotland, hot chocolate is a hot drink with cocoa powder and milk. In Slovenia however, I can only describe as a chocolate pudding type consistency. I was quite shocked when I tried it for the first time but I love it indeed!

I have been researching and talking to people whilst I have been in Slovenia about all the places and activities we need to do whilst we are here. I plan on visiting the caves, other towns in Slovenia, the museums, Lake Bled and I even fancy venturing out to a neighbouring country.

 

The group of 8 of us decided on Wednesday that we would try out one of the suggestions and so we ventured out on a day trip to Lake Bohinj. It was beautiful!. We had picked a lovely day to go and were able to spend time walking around the lake, taking in the gorgeous sights and we even got to have a look in local church which was being refurbished. The place was so peaceful and I could have spent even more time there. I would love to be able to visit it again in the Summer time and go canoeing on the stunning water. The lake can also rise to a comfortable temperature in the summer so it would be a perfect place to have a swim.

The real reason I came to Slovenia was to teach at Danila Kumar International School. I have been loving this so much! To get the school everyday, we have to take 2 buses. I was very shocked at the size of these buses, as they are pretty much two regular sized buses connected together! I can only describe the journey on the first bus as a cattle market. You are squashed up against strangers and it can get very stuffy. Luckily, a lot of people get off before we do so we can actually breath near the end of it. I will still have to get used to the bus journeys!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have had an amazing first week, and look forward to what the next seven weeks bring. I have lots of plans to visit different places both within and outwith Slovenia.

 

 

 

 

Ljubljana- Here I come!

I sit here, in my comfortable house in Scotland, where I am surrounded by what I would call ‘the norm’. However, it is all about to change as on Friday I go on an 8 week adventure to Slovenia!

The reason I am going to Slovenia for 8 weeks is through our course module at university called ‘Learning From Life’. This module allows us the opportunity to experience a different placement experience to a Scottish Primary School. When I first heard about the module, I was not very excited about it. I didn’t like the idea that, with doing a teaching course, I would be spending a full year of it not teaching at all. However, once I read up on the module, and heard from older peers’ experiences of the module, I quickly changed my views.

So why Slovenia? I had originally chosen to stay in Scotland, and either go to an ASN school or an outdoor education facility. I would say that I am someone who likes home comforts and prefers being around people that I am used to. The module leader, Susan, however, kept telling us to ‘go outside our comfort zones’. Upon reflecting on this, I realised I needed to get out of my own comfort zone and do something I would not normally do. Talking to some friends, I decided I quite liked the idea of going abroad, and so Ljubljana in Slovenia was where I chose to go.

I am very excited for this placement for many reasons. I am looking forward to staying in a different country and experiencing different cultures, food, people and life in general. It will be my first time away from home for a prolonged period of time as, although I live in Dundee for university, I often drive home every week to go home, so I am excited to grow in confidence and gain more independence.

I also look forward to the placement in Danila Kumar International School. I am excited to learn about a different school curriculum and experiencing an IB school. The school has pupils from over 50 nationalities, so I am very eager to see how they manage to accommodate and facilitate such a vast difference in cultures and nationalities.

I am working with grade 1 children in the school who are around 6 years of age. I am very excited to get to know the pupils and see how they learn. I find it very interesting that, although the school is an English spoken and taught environment, many of the children are from different countries and English will not be the first language.

I feel through this placement, I will get to develop a wide range of skills which include confidence, organisation, empathy and problem solving. I feel that, although the curriculum is different from CfE, I can still develop my SPR and can bring new or developed skills  back to Scotland and use at home in a Scottish school.

Overall, I am really excited for my next 8 weeks in Ljubljana exploring the country, meeting new people and all whilst doing my favourite thing- teaching!!!

Poetry can be fun?

Last week in our languages module with Anna, we were learning about writing poetry. When I heard that we ourselves were going to be writing some poetry, I was dreading it.

From my experiences in school, poetry was not in the slightest bit fun. It was all about analysing the poems and writing essays on them. I do remember enjoying poetry in primary school, but it was only covered once a year at the annual poetry competition. I feel that secondary school almost ‘killed’ poetry for me, so when I found out we had to do it in a workshop, and then have to actually teach poetry, I knew it would not be something I enjoyed.

However, I was very wrong.

We learnt that poetry should be based around fun and enjoyment in both early/ middle and upper primary, as shown below;

Early/ Middle- enjoyment/ playing with rhyme and nonsense

Upper Primary- exploring the way language is used/ experiment

secondary- deconstructing/ analyse

We learnt that it was very important to encourage children to explore their feelings in poems, so that they can develop empathy and self awareness. At the beginning, I was not too sure as to how to do this, but having read some children’s poems, I know have a better grasp on how to teach this.

 

Image result for poetry quotes

During the two hour workshop with our lecturer Anna, we had the opportunity to write lots of different styles of poems. I was used to the types of poems such as acrostic, limericks and haiku’s in primary schools as I had learnt about these as a school pupil, but we spent the time learning about different styles of poems. We learnt about a number of new styles and had the opportunity to try writing some ourselves and I feel like I enjoyed it so much I had to share my poems.

Daisy Chain- word begins with the last letter of the previous word.

The elegant turtles eats salad daily.

The end draws straight with haste.

Dreamers Dream

A flower dreams of warm sunshine.

A grey cloud dreams of escaping darkness.

A pencil dreams of a clean piece of paper.

Categories- Adding a theme into a category.

For this, we chose to do great ‘food’ dogs

Yorkshire Pudding Terrier, Border Collie-flower, labranoodle, golden nugget retriever, bischon fries, leonburger, chewhuaha.

To end the workshop, we had to write our own poems, either those with a ABCB rhyme scheme, or a repetition scheme.

ABCB rhyme poem

I like to eat

Yorkshire Puddings with my beef

But I have to be quick

For my brother is a theif

 

I like to eat

Scrumptious chocolate flaky cake

But I only eat one slice

Or I’ve made a huge mistake

 

I like to eat

A hearty big scotch pie

But I can sometimes eat two

For I really cannot lie

 

I like to eat

All munch, this and that

But I can’t eat too much food

For i’ll get really fat.

 

Repetition poem

Teaching course

Medic course

English course

Physics course

 

History course

Spanish course

uni, uni, uni.

 

Coming away from this lecture, I have realised that poetry can be fun, both to learn and to teach. I now have more appreciation for poetry and have so many more ideas as to how to teach in the classroom and look forward to teaching it in the future.

 

Reflection, what is it good for?

In today’s lecture, the focus was largely on the importance of reflecting as a teacher, both in and out of school. The General Teaching Council (Scotland) have the Standards for Provisional Registration, which outline that engaging in reflection is key to becoming a striving and beneficial teacher.

3.4.2 Engage in reflective practice to develop and advance career-long professional learning and expertise Professional Actions

Student teachers:

 reflect and engage in self evaluation using the relevant professional standard;

 adopt an enquiring approach to their professional practice and engage in professional enquiry and professional dialogue;

 evaluate their classroom practice, taking account of feedback from others, in order to enhance teaching and learning;

 engage where possible in the processes of curriculum development, improvement planning and professional review and development;

 work collaboratively to share their professional learning and development with colleagues;

 maintain a record of their own professional learning and development, culminating in an Initial Professional Development Action Plan.                                                                                                                                                                                       (GTCS standards for provisional registration,                                                                                                                                                                 2012)

We were asked to think about a key moment about our professional development in semester one and reflect on what we learnt from this and what the processes of reflection are beginning to mean for ourselves.

A very striking memory from semester one which I feel covers this is during the working together module. For the assignment, we all had to reflect on how well we thought we worked together as a team, and what we all thought of each other as peers. It became very clear as we progressed with this task that we did not work as well together as we first thought. We began to identify gaps in our learning and communication with each other, and how we did not reflect on this and try to solve it straight away, but instead, kept it quiet, ultimately not solving the problem.

I feel I learnt a lot about the importance of reflection from such a small, somewhat straightforward task. I learnt that it is so important to reflect on collaborative working in particular, as, by reflecting on how you work well with others, you can identify any issues and resolve them as quickly as possible.

This made me realise that reflection is very important in the teaching profession, as it can help me to identify what  I have done particularly well on, but also, what I need to improve on. Without reflection, the same mistakes will be made and they will never be changed or thought about. By reflecting, I can identify issues and work on these to ensure I become the best teacher I can possibly be.

“Unless teachers develop the practice of critical reflection, they stay trapped in unexamined judgments, interpretations, assumptions, and expectations. Approaching teaching as a reflective practitioner involves fusing personal beliefs and values into a professional identity” (Larrivee, 2000, p.293)

My thoughts on working together

I cannot believe that semester one at university has went in so quickly. It feels like only yesterday that I was matriculating during freshers week.

I thought that I would write a few blogs in the coming weeks before semester 2 begins on my experiences and thoughts of semester 1.

During first semester I have made so many amazing new friends, understood myself better and also learnt so many new skills and abilities I never knew I had. I particularly enjoyed the 3 modules I took part in during the semester: Working Together, Values: Self, society and the professions and British Sign Language. With all of these modules, I have learnt so many different things and, even though the modules were not fully directed to teaching, I feel I have learnt valuable information that will help me for when I go into the profession.

Working Together

With working together, I had mixed views on the module. The module was a joint module, so education, social work and CLD were all taking part, alongside those who chose it as an elective. I felt what was valuable in the module was learning about how important and complex inter=agency working really is and how I will use it to ensure I progress successfully throughout my career. I also felt that learning how to reflect was important and beneficial to me, as it has helped me understand that, by reflecting on my work, I can understand what I did well on, and what didn’t work as well, so I can improve in the future.

In the module, we were split into group of 10 to complete tasks related to the module. I couldn’t have been given a better group. Although we had some difficulties in the beginning, I felt that we worked well together. What I found particularly good about working in peer learning groups was the fact that I was able to gain a deeper understanding of what the different professions are, and how I will work closely with both social work and CLD during my career.

With going forward for the module for next year, I feel that the activities given for the peer learning group activity need to be explained more as sometimes we were not completely sure as to what was being asked of us to do.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the working together module and felt that it was beneficial in helping me understand inter-agency working

Managing my learning

This blog post relates to the online units and I will reflect on factors that aid my learning and also hinder my learning.

Recognition/reflection                                                                          Action


What helps my learning?                                                                         How can I utilise these?


Revision                                                                                   I should look over notes that I am                                                                                                                unsure of and ask peers to quiz me/ use                                                                                                    flashcards.

Organisation                                                                         I should organise my time by timetabling                                                                                                   when I have lectures, and set aside time                                                                                                     to complete work.

Team work/discussion                                                      I should ask peers about anything I am                                                                                                      unsure of, meet with them outside                                                                                                              lecture hours and engage in the blog.

Placement opportunity                                                    By going on placement to a primary                                                                                                            school, this will help me get a hands on                                                                                                      experience of teaching and will help me                                                                                                    gain better skills to become a teacher.


What hinders my learning?                                                  How can I address these?


Distraction                                                                      I will ensure to study in places that do not                                                                                                  cause distraction, such as going to the                                                                                                        library, or studying in my room.

Not reflecting enough                                                  After completing tasks or replacements, I                                                                                                   should reflect more to see what I can                                                                                                         improve on or what I did well.

Studying without breaks                                            I will ensure to study for short times and                                                                                                    have breaks in between to ensure my                                                                                                        revision is more rewarding.

My first NOMA AND OLA

A couple of weeks ago, I fully attempted an OLA and a NOMA. I had tried before in the past, but the OLA was not working properly when it came to the sound, but finally it started to work.

When I found out we had to engage with the OLA and NOMA I was not sure what to think. However, I soon found out that they were only for our personal progress and to help us on improving our basic literacy and numeracy skills.

I firstly attempted the NOMA. Whilst at primary, I was fairly good at maths, but when I got to secondary school I struggled with it a lot, so was not sure on how I would do on the NOMA. In the end I scored 47/56 (84%). I was very shocked at this as I didn’t think i’d get such a good score. I found that I need to practice the area of certain shapes and also congruent cross sections. Luckily, I have a couple of books to help me with this.

Next, I did the OLA. I loved literacy at school and went on to do advanced higher English in 6th year. However, I had not brushed up on my grammar, spelling and punctuation since primary school so was not sure how I would fair. I scored 25/35 (71%). I feel that this is a fairly good score for my first attempt but in the next few practices I want to aim for higher (hopefully reaching at least 85%). I found that I was particularly good at the spelling, but that I need to work on pronouns and adverbs.

The ‘ugly’ doll

During our Values lecture this morning, we were discussing the ideas of racism. During the presentation, we were shown the history of racism towards African/American people from the 19th century up until the present day.

It was seen that racism was a big part of history and a story in particular we spoke about was Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered by two white people. During their trial, they were found to be not guilty, despite all of the evidence against them.

What really struck me about today’s lecture was the vast amount of racism still ongoing today, particularly in America. Although black people do have more freedom and rights now as opposed to the 20th century, racism is still a large issue.

We found out that over the past couple of years there have been a large number of incidents in which unarmed black people in America have been shot and killed by the police force. This really shocked me as, although it is shown on the news a lot, I did not expect the number of these cases to be so high.

At the end of the lecture, we were talking about how racism can be seen in our profession. I feel that with children in education, other people influence their views, for example, their parents, who may express racist views and opinions in front of their children. This means that the children  may pick up on these views and express them also.

When I arrived home, what really struck me was that I found a video that was shared on facebook called the ‘doll test’.

 

In the video, a group of black and white children were asked their opinions on the dolls in front of them. When asked ‘which doll is the ugly/bad doll’, almost all of the children chose the black doll. When asked why, they replied because it was black. On the other hand, when asked ‘which doll is the good/pretty doll’, again almost all chose the white doll.

What really struck me about this video is that the children who were darker skinned chose the darker skinned doll as the ugly doll. This gives the perception that they are lead to believe that their own skin colour is ‘ugly’ and that they are considered to be ‘bad’ because of their colour, and that their white peers are more ‘pretty’ and more favourable in society.

This really got me thinking and shocked and upset me quite a bit, as even young children are exposed to racism in today’s society, and proved to me that it is having an effect on not only adults, but children too.

Structural Inequalities

Last week marked the first full week of having modules, and I loved it!

One of my modules is called Values: Self, Society and the Professions. On the Tuesday afternoon, we had a workshop for this module. When we arrived in the workshop we were all sat in to four groups and each group was handed an envelope numbered 1,2,3 or 4.

Derek, our lecturer, told us that our task was, using the resources inside our envelope, to create something that would be useful to a student starting at Dundee university.

On my group opening up our envelope, we found:

A post it note

A rubber band

3 paper clips

A pencil

We were all pretty confused as to how we would manage to create something with such little resources. However, we continued on and managed to create something with the little amount of resources given. (We managed to create a pencil topper that was complete with a map of the campus on it). On doing the task, I looked around at the other groups and noticed how different each groups resources were.

Group 1 had loads of resources such as pens, paper, post it notes, scissors, sellotape to name a few. Group 2 had very similar resources but of a fewer number. Group 3 had even less than group 2 and then our group had the least.

What I also noticed was that Derek highly favoured group 1 whilst being very ignorant to our group and not helping us in any way, which made our group feel embarrassed, dissapointed and jealous.

In the end, the whole point of the exercise was to identify strucutural inequalities in communities. Derek was showing that people, generally higher class, get treated better and have better resources whereas people of a lower class do not have access to as many resources and often fall off the radar.

Upon reflecting on this workshop, I thought about how children in schools may be like this, where some children have a lot of support and money for resources whilst others struggle and do not get the amount of support they should. If I were a child who was of a lower social class and wasn’t getting the support I deserved, I would feel very isolated and would feel like I had less chance of succeeding than those who were better off.

Overall, I feel that the exercise was really useful in helping everyone identify that there are structural inequalities everywhere, whether it be in school, work or in everyday life. It is in our profession to try and overcome these structural inequalities and ensure everyone has equal chances in life and that all are able to succeed and do whatever they want to do, regardless of their personal lives and upbringings.

I would also like to apologise to Derek for all the dirty looks that Danielle and I were exchanging between the workshop about the way in which we were treated. At the end of the workshop, he actually told us that he had to leave the room to stop himself from laughing at our expressions.

Oops…

Why teaching?

When I was in the process of applying for university in my last year of school, I was very much set on choosing Primary Education as the profession to follow. However, when I told people what I wanted to be they always asked the same question.

 

Why?

 

Whenever someone asked me this question, I always replied with ‘I just always have wanted to do it’. When thinking back to being a child, I always said that I wanted to be a teacher, yet I never really knew the real reason as to why I really wanted to be a teacher.

When I was writing my personal statement I had to write a section on why I chose education as my choice of career. Honestly, I struggled so hard with this, and spent weeks trying to figure out what I wanted to write. When I was doing this, I had second thoughts. Was teaching really the profession I wanted to follow or was I just choosing it because it was embedded in my head from being a child.

I can remember sitting in the library whilst trying to write my personal statement, still struggling with figuring out why I wanted to teach. As cheesy as this may sound, I stopped writing and looked around the library when I saw a quote on the wall.

quotefancy-1308-3840x2160

On reading this quote, I suppose I could say a light bulb switched on in my head. I wanted to be able to make a change to children’s lives. I had a very good upbringing, and an excellent education, and I have realised that I have chosen teaching because I feel every child deserves a good education like me. Being a teacher means I can educate children, and help them to become well-rounded adults who can be whatever they want to be, regardless of background, race, religion or gender.

Also, I want to be a teacher because working with children is generally something I have always enjoyed doing. I love engaging with children and learning about how they learn and work, and being able to part of that is something that really interests me.

So, if anyone ever asks me now, ‘Why teaching’ I don’t say it’s because I have always wanted to, I can say that it is because I want to be able the change the world, even if it is just by teaching a child their ABC’s.