Category Archives: 1 Prof. Values & Personal Commitment

Maths: Turning a Negative into a Positive

After my first maths workshop with Tara, I am already feeling much more optimistic about my upcoming experiences of teaching maths in the classroom. My experiences in maths vary between positive and negative. Throughout primary school I greatly enjoyed maths, the challenges it brought and I was always relatively good at it. I found my teachers were always extremely engaging, passionate and positive which ultimately had a massive impact on my performance in the subject. However once I reached mid way through high school, my relationship with maths began to deteriorate. My teachers showed no great deal of enthusiasm, lessons were repetitive and I came face to face with constant negativity when I wasn’t successful in answering a question. My Nat 5 maths teacher told me simply “I would pass” and sent me in for the exam feeling extremely anxious and unprepared; I knew I needed more than just a pass to get to where I am now and after another year and a slightly more engaging teacher I got an A. This put me off doing a Higher as I felt deflated and so worthless as I had convinced myself I couldn’t do it and it was a one off that I had managed to succeed at something I now found so challenging. Without sounding so dramatic, at one point maths convinced me I would never make it into my dream career at uni as we had such a negative relationship.

Moving on to a more positive note, Tara has made me realise that despite these negative experiences I have had, I need to become that teacher that once inspired my love for maths way back in primary school. She made it clear how maths isn’t just about getting to the right answer, but instead how it is important to listen to different ways of working things out. She also taught me that all those Maths Myths such as “You are either good at maths or literacy” are completely irrelevant and these ideas must be abolished from these fresh brains as quickly as possible. This is something that even on my placement I want to achieve as sadly these myths are still relevant in today’s classrooms. Tara’s input has particularly helped me open my mind to maths as I earlier completed the NOMA and scored a much higher score than what I ever expected having not done maths (of that level) in nearly 2 years. It has made me realise that actually I am capable of doing maths and just because I have struggled, doesn’t mean I will continue to struggle. I am feeling very inspired after just a short number of maths inputs and after 5 years of maths “torture” at high school and I am very excited to give maths teaching a proper go on my placement.

After my array of experiences with mathematics, I am determined that I will make a difference to children’s minds and the way they see maths. Unfortunately once they leave primary school, we can no longer control their experiences in subjects but if I can have a significant impact on their view of maths, I will be extremely pleased. Maths for me will no longer be a – but instead a + and that is the main thing I want to pass on. Maths isn’t just about getting to a definite answer.

Reflection upon Semester 1.

Looking back upon my experiences of my first ever semester at University, it reminded me of not only some of the best times but also some of the most challenging. Having come straight from school, a tight knit friendship group and an extremely close family, moving away for the first time was incredibly daunting in the beginning. One of my biggest fears was being forced into groups for activities that I would not get on with or connect with so when I found out the whole idea of the Working Together module, I felt uneasy.

When I met my group for the first time, I was extremely reserved and didn’t quite know what to say or do (probably from a fear of being judged.) Many other members of my group were the same and slowly as time progressed, they all began to open up and in doing so encouraged me to do the same. As I began to open up and contribute more frequently, I felt a sense of confidence. I had always been a relatively confident person but a combination of a whole new surrounding, people and environment just made me feel slightly out of my comfort zone; which in reflection is not a bad thing in the slightest.

For me, I think that coming out of my shell within this group of people was one of the most significant moments of my first semester for me and as a result meant I was able to see a difference in my professional development. I am in no way stating that my groups success on presentation day was solely down to me, however without some of my contributions our presentation may have been missing some vital points. This overcoming of my “fear” also helped my professional development in the sense of it has given me the confidence to trust my answers and views more and not to question or doubt myself as often when it comes to sharing an answer in a similar setting. This is a skill I will be able to transfer to so many elements of my professional practice such as contributing ideas on placements or participating in professional dialogue and conversations. This incident has also affected my professional practice due to it giving me the realisation that groups formed randomly can succeed. We performed well in our presentation together despite only being created a matter of weeks ago.

Reflection is beginning to mean more to me now than it has ever done before. I realise its pertinence throughout my future career as a teacher and its necessity in order to continue to develop as a professional primary practitioner. By continuing to reflect more often, I will feel more knowledgable of my strengths and weaknesses and what I need to do in order to improve upon this.


Health and Wellbeing as Primary Practitioners.

Having watched the videos by Dr Suzanne Zeedyk and John Carnochan OBE, I have began to reflect on the importance of the child’s brain development on their education. The way in which a babies brain develops up until the age of 3 is immensely influencing their experiences in later life. As a young child, their brains develop to whatever environment they are being raised in, which as good as this is for a youngster to be durable to their surroundings, it also means they may be not be as good at handling different environments or experiences as their brains haven’t been “wired” that way; in turn this may have an effect on the way a child acts within the classroom.

Brain development is quite clearly fundamental however it will affect our professional practice. As aforementioned, children’s brains develop to their surroundings (ie their home life) meaning that change of environment may not be handled well by them. If a child is coming from a house of violence, their brain will be in tune with how to deal with that environment but coming into a classroom filled with an abundance of nurture and love may mean a child might struggle in terms of adapting to this. It may mean children act out, not meaning to be malicious but purely out of frustration at not being able to get their heads around this fresh feeling. This in turn, may cause disruption to the teaching and learning of others. However as Dr Suzanne Zeedyk stated our brains are flexible and can adapt to new environments meaning that with a little more consistency and support (from the teacher), it will get better. I believe that relationships are at the heart of this transition.

Relationships are fundamental to the way in which a child’s brain develops. Having strong professional relationships with those in your class will allow children to constantly continue to adapt to the classroom setting. Positive connections with children means they are more likely to succeed academically and behave to a high standard. This is due to the child respecting you, trusting you and understanding you slightly more than if barriers to a positive relationship were in place. The relationship between parent and child is crucial in determining how well skills from the classroom can be transferred to their home life, meaning a more positive relationship may mean a child will perform to a higher standard. This relationship relates to the importance of that of the relationship of the teacher and parent/carer. A confident rapport between the two once again will allow children to build connections from class learning and home learning, allowing for academic progress and their brains to develop more effectively. Relationships are at the heart of brain development and are key for a successful learning experience.


More Than Pirouettes and Leaps.

Dance. The word that was mentioned once and the room was filled with moans and groans. However, having danced myself for nearly 15 years, I didn’t quite have that same negative attitude towards the idea of our dance workshop. I like to think I thrive under the performing element of dance and most importantly I am really passionate for it and enjoy it greatly which is something I would like to pass onto my future classes.

This workshop was one I found to be extremely beneficial. Having danced nearly all of my life, I am confident enough performing but would say that being able to teach dance is more of a weakness of mine. This is probably due to me going to so many classes as a student compared to how many I was present at as a teacher. The session gave me a brilliant insight as to how dance can be taught within the primary school environment. I thoroughly enjoyed finding out some of the different activities that can be used in order to develop creative minds and active bodies through dance.

There were many points of the workshop in which I will transfer into my placement with me. The first being the idea of starting the lesson in a circle, allowing the teacher to have full view of everyone and in turn being able to see everyones creativity within their movement whilst we warm up. The second idea that I will carry with me into school is passing over the leadership to the pupils ie. if you see a child really loving it, pass the power to them for 20 seconds and get the class to copy one of their moves. This relates to the second level outcome of dance which states “I can explore and choose movements to create and present dance, developing my skills and techniques.” This exercise allows to children to pick a dance move and present it back to their peers whilst developing vital skills such as confidence and leadership. And finally, the third thing I will definitely take into the classroom is the idea of using videos or clips of professional dancers to act as a stimulus for children to go away and have a go at themselves. This again relates to one of the outcomes of dance which is “Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express my ideas, thoughts and feelings through creative work in dance.” By using videos of professional dancers, it allows those with less confidence in dance to get an idea of what they could try when they have to give it a go for themselves. 

Reflecting back upon this workshop, I realise that dance has more to it than the technical aspect that I am personally used to. It is much more about building confidence and linking other aspects of the curriculum together. For example if you’re studying Buddhism in RME, you could have a look at dances surrounding the stimulus of the Buddha. Dance will inevitably allow those of a more creative nature to express themselves and encourage those who aren’t so creative to give something new a try.





Managing my Learning – Online Units

Timeline of the next year.

Important dates and deadlines.


Every Friday: History Elective Journal due.

This may become more hard work when other assignments begin to pile in and need done around the one time.


Monday 3rd December: Values essay due.

This will be an extremely busy time of year as we will have to balance both this essay and our group assignment for Working together with others from out with our professions.



Monday 10th December: Working together group presentation.

This will be busy as we will have to allocate time to working together out with our University time in order to produce a respectable end products for the best mark. This will also be a challenge as it is occurring around about the same time as our Values essay is due.  Our own individual poster for this module will also be due around this time.


Tuesday 29th January: Pre Placement visit day.

Lots of preparation and planning will need to be put into this day in order for it to run smoothly and for you to be as prepared as you possibly can be to make a good impression.


25th February – 8th March: Observation Weeks of Placement.

This will be extremely busy as there will be a lot of comprehending the notes you have taken in order to prepare and plan for the next stage of your placement – the teaching.


Mid April – Mid May: 4 weeks of professional teaching. This will be our busiest time in our first year as we will need to plan and prepare lessons most nights whilst maintaining a social life and getting to know the pupils in our class well enough to form good relationships, deliver good lessons and pass placement.


Complete the table below to identify and reflect on those factors and plan actions for each.

Recognition/ Reflection Action
What helps my learning? How can I utilise this?
Example: “Discussing the topic with others” ·       Set up a study group of like-minded peers

·       Engage with the online community

Looking over resources after class. ·       Organise my resources to make them easily accessible.
Turning my written notes into more visual aids eg. mind maps, posters. ·       Makes notes more engaging and the use of colours makes notes more attractive – making them less boring to read.



Recognition/Reflection Action
What hinders my learning? How can I address this factor?
Example: “I’m easily distracted” ·       Study in a place where distractions are minimal

·       Read lecture notes before the lecture and then take notes lectures to keep me focused

Only focusing on things that I find interesting rather than things I perhaps need to work on. ·       Make a list of things that need improvement and work my way through – encouraging myself to do the things I may usually avoid.
Spending too much time working collaboratively and getting used to relying on other people’s opinions. ·       Find an ideal balance between working together to support learning and working independently to achieve an end goal.
Getting too caught up in making an abundance of notes which might not all be relevant – hindering my learning more. ·       Work on summarising my notes and condensing them down into smaller, more refined notes that are still detailed in helping my learning.

My Reflection on Racism and Patriarchy.

Last Tuesday involved an extremely thought provoking lecture on racism and patriarchy. Sadly we live in a society where despite there being positive changes to these issues, they are still extremely prevalent. Therefore, in my role as a future primary teacher, these issues will sadly still need to be addressed within the classroom. I hope that by the time I graduate it will be taught as a negative part of history that is far behind us now rather than a current affair.

Throughout my secondary school experience, I thoroughly enjoyed history and a mighty part of my Higher course was the Civil Rights Movement (which obviously heavily focused on racism.) I always “enjoyed” this subject as it is one which makes you think about how harsh they had it and how brave they were to put up a fight for their own rights; something which in my opinion should not have been essential to fight for. Key figures in this time period include Emmett Till and Rosa Parks and this lecture focused closely on the story of Emmett Till. Emmett Till’s story was one I focused on largely at school and is one that every time I hear about it, it resonates with me further. Perhaps it was because of the severity of his lynching, his bravery to stand up for his own rights at a young age but maybe it was his age.  Especially now I’ve heard his story once again, as an education student this time rather than a school pupil, I feel a greater deal of sadness. To think I will in the future, be teaching people of just a few years younger and that there would have been teachers in this time experiencing deaths like these regularly saddens me and frightens me. Not only that but to think in a career like my future one would have seen such young, innocent children having to sacrifice so much for a sound quality of life. This should never have ever been a thing.

Moving away from the idea of racism (which hopefully our society today can also do, sooner rather than later) the second half of the lecture focused on patriarchy.

This idea focuses on the idea that women are still not fully equal to men, even in the 21st century and never have been. Women in the early 1900’s had to little to no rights and huge part of British history was the women’s suffrage movement. This resulted in women receiving the vote which luckily we still have today – indicating that society has not taken a step back in time in this case. However, in some ways in society today women still aren’t fully equal. Unfortunately the gender pay gap is still apparent in today’s society. Women are still more likely to enter lower paid work and/or work less hours due to childcare commitments and even in the public eye, the BBC have been proven to pay women much less than the men they employ. This then highlights that society maybe hasn’t come as far as we had originally thought.

In order to conclude, I believe that in my role as a future teacher it is essential we continue to teach how to banish differences like these and celebrate diversity to leave an equal, fair society.

No Pencil or a Full Pencil Case – Why Should it Matter?

Last Tuesday saw Education, Social Work and CLD students participate in workshops specific to each individual profession. As an Education student, my workshop group was split into 4 and each group was given a pack with resources to make something for a new student. As it progressed, it became apparent that one group had significantly less resources than the other three. The lecturer then told us we had to present to the other groups and we would be graded out of 10. The group with the most resources scored 9 (and extra time to present), my group scored 7, the next group 4 and the last group with minimal resources 2. When presenting the lecturer gave full attention to those with more substantial equipment and paid little to no attention, with closed body language to those without the same resources. He even told them that “it’s rubbish and lets move onto something better.” This resonates with me as why should someone with less personal possessions be treated any less than those with a wealth of possessions?

Those in the group who scored only 2 were very unimpressed. They admitted to not trying as hard with the task due to the lack of attention paid to them as a group throughout. This highlights the idea that if children feel excluded they are less likely to try as hard – having a negative effect on achievement. This symbolises the key idea that those who may be attending your classroom without a pencil or sufficient resources etc should still be treated equally to those who surround with better access to these such things. It was there to prove that lack of resources for a child in a social situation like a classroom can cause massive underachievement or lack of self-confidence due to them feeling inferior to all of those around them.  This idea links to the GTCS Standard for Registration – Social Justice. As a teacher it is key that I would develop a learning culture whereby everyone is equal and that I am able to engage children in learning no matter what their circumstance out with the classroom is. This idea is further related to the standard of Trust and Respect. This means that I, as a teacher would be required to respect and value everyone within my class no matter what their background or situation outside of the classroom. I would also need to be someone who those with fewer resources could trust and come to in order to get required resources to be of a compatible level to those who are more fortunate.

The concept that those from less affluent backgrounds or even from areas of deprivation with less resources (either physical such as pens etc or even money) will do poorer in life than those from more affluent areas is a sad truth in today’s society. Those with less are probably more likely to end up unemployed or living in poor housing or even both as a consequence of the unemployment. A lack of resources out with the classroom may have serious effects for families etc as they will be unable to provide the most simple of resources for their children for their education, extra-curricular clubs etc. Due to a lack of resources outside the classroom, it can therefore have an effect negatively on a child’s education, mental state and physical state due to them feeling socially excluded. It truly saddens me that something so simple like not having a pencil can mean a child suffers so much as they feel inferior to those who surround. I am extremely lucky to have come from a relatively well-off background where I never needed to worry about whether I had a pencil or not but my personal belief is that those who aren’t as favoured probably do view the world differently in the sense that they look up to others and wish they were like them or feel like they have a negative label attached to themselves. This should never be the case.

To round this post off, I will finish by saying, just because someone doesn’t have a pencil, it does not mean they should not have equal chances and respect. There is no reason as to why someone without a pencil or any other school resource should not be supported to enable them to fly and succeed just as much as the boy sitting next to them who has a full pencil case. Everyone’s opportunities should be endless. No pencil or a full pencil case.

My Reasoning for Becoming a Teacher

For as long as I can remember, my one main ambition has been to become a primary school teacher. I have always enjoyed being a part of a school environment from a young age and to me, it only seemed right to continue on, not only to further education but to become a teacher at the end of my own education. It always excited me to think that I will enter University as a pupil and leave a teacher. I always felt comfortable when in a classroom and want to pass on this feeling of nourishment to the future generation of young people and hopefully inspire others to follow their dreams, just like I have done in order to get to University now.

My biggest reason for wanting to become an educator of the next generation stemmed from my Primary 7 teacher. At the time she had only been teaching a year but I remember the passion she had for her job would consistently shine through. There is one particular thing she said to us as a class that has stuck with me ever since. When asked why she wanted to be a teacher, her response was ” Teaching  gives me an opportunity to not only teach a class but to learn with a class.” This has resonated with me and I believe that teaching not only means you teach your own class but your own class will also teach you so many valuable life lessons. I love the idea of continuously being able to grow and develop myself whilst helping so many others do exactly the same. This is something that I believe to be special and something that is rare in many other professions.

Without sounding cliché, I want to have a positive impact on the lives of young children. I would love to be a positive role model for those not only in my own class but within the whole school community. For so many people today, they don’t have anyone to look up to or rely on in times of difficulty. I have always taken comfort in the knowledge that I could do both of these within my role as a primary teacher. Using my role to positively impact others is something that interested me further in pursuing a career in teaching.  I knew that by choosing such a challenging career path, it will bring many ups and downs. Whenever I tell anyone about what I am studying I always get the remarks of “you’re brave” or “why would you want to do that?” I am determined to change the attitude towards teaching young children by encouraging children to become more well rounded individuals both within and outwith the classroom giving them a wealth of equal opportunities, hopefully changing some peoples perceptions of young people today. I want to be an enthusiastic individual within the school, engaging children in their education and making them feel inspired. I would love to inspire another “me.” I want to have just one person who because of me decides they want to follow a similar pathway in life and enter this profession.

Welcome to your WordPress eportfolio

Welcome to your ePortfolio. This is where you will document and share your professional thoughts and experiences over the course of your study at the University of Dundee and beyond that when you begin teaching. You have the control over what you want to make public and what you would rather keep on a password protected page.

The ePortfolio in the form of this WordPress blog allows you to pull in material from other digital sources:

You can pull in a YouTube video:

You can pull in a Soundcloud audio track:

You can upload an image or pull one in from Flickr or any other image sharing site.

Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

You can just about pull in anything that you think will add substance and depth to your writing.