Over the last two weeks I have had one of the most rewarding experiences out on placement and it has given me tools and skills to work with as I further develop through my time in my course. The school I attended was very warm and welcoming, with teachers that were willing to help me achieve the most out of the short time I was there for. During my time in the school I got to observe a couple of different classes but was mainly based in Primary 7 and Primary 1. This was valuable as it allowed me to see the contrasting teaching methods used at different ages and levels.
Before starting at university, I had previous experience working with children from the age of 3-16. This helped when entering the classroom as I was aware that I had to change my level of vocabulary to suit the child’s level to ensure I was not confusing them by using words they did not recognise or understand. Adding to this some children needed words enunciated more than others for example, in the infant school, so they could recognise their sounds and letters. I furthermore varied the pace I would speak at, for example Primary 1 children need some extra time to process what you are saying so I spoke slower than I usually would to allow them that time.
Area of most progress
One area I believe I progressed most in during the weeks of placement was building the confidence to speak to teachers and in front a whole class. Before starting placement I was nervous about having to speak with the Head Teacher and other teachers in the school. However, once I had settled in after the first day I surprised myself as I became more and more confident in speaking to everyone in the staff room and in front of all the children.
Area requiring progress
When reflecting back on conversations I had during my time in placement I would say I stuttered quite a bit and used words “like” and “um” a lot to fill in gaps. This is something that I must be aware of from now on as it can look unprofessional in a work setting. Also, I noticed that when I was not doing anything with my hands I did not know what to do with them so ended up fidgeting which could convey as a sign of uncertainty in what I am doing or saying.
To tackle my stuttering, I should try and take my time while speaking and be very aware to use other words or use silence instead of “like” and “um”. While tackling this I should also research different ways to stand while presenting or teaching to see if I can discover the most comfortable way to stand whilst not fidgeting.
Overall, I had a great experience at placement and it has allowed me to discover my strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to develop these for future placements.
During our time outside we were to work as a team to build a shelter, which had to meet certain criteria. In the group a leader was established, they were chosen as they had the instructions and it was easier and cause less confusion to listen to one person while they were reading the instructions. They also took a leadership role by choosing the area where we would build our shelter. Everyone in the group was included and everyone voiced their opinion on what they thought would be best. The thing I found most challenging working in the group was being clear of what everyone was doing, as we naturally sectioned off into smaller groups to work on different sections. To tackle this in the future I need to ensure my communication within the group is better.
The task was explained very clearly as only one person was reading the task with everyone else listening. Any confusion was cleared as we all had the opportunity to voice any questions or thoughts we had. On reflection the preparation stage from Hargies 5 Ps of Explaining (Hargie, O., 2011) may have been missed as we did not have much time to prepare what resources we were going to use. This meant it was more difficult to explain why we used certain resources when presenting to another group.
The environment played a major role in the type of communication and how we communicated due to the large outdoor space. It was slightly more difficult talking over the noise of the environment as it was a large, open space and sound got lost easily. This could be made easier by bringing the group closer together when we are communicating to try and minimize any loss of communication. Listening was also distracting at some points as other groups were nearby and shouting over to each other. We can overcome this by moving groups further apart or concentrating on blocking out any outside noise from the environment.
Our negotiation was not very successful as we had to get someone from another group to come and help us for at least ten minutes. This meant that they would have to leave their own group and help another team. It was challenging as everyone was focussed on building their own fort that they did not want to help as they wanted to finish their own. Eventually we managed to negotiate and get help towards the end when people were finishing their shelters.
Overall It was a great experience as it clearly displayed how communication needs to change in different environments.
Hargie, O. (2011) Skilled Interpersonal Communication. 5th Edition. London: Routlege
Last week I started my first year at the University of the West of Scotland, where I will be studying education for the next four years. Before starting I was apprehensive as it felt like I was starting school all over again and the task of making new friends was slightly frightening after being comfortable with your friends from school for so long. However, starting this new chapter of my life was exciting and I am looking forward to what the next four years at the university will bring. When starting the course, I was glad that the lecturers went into detail about each module as it provided me with a clearer insight to the course, it was also useful to hear from two of the BA2 students that had went through the same experiences the year before. After the induction week I was very excited to start each module specifically the modern foreign language as Spanish is something I have never done before and will help me develop my skills in foreign languages.