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.
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.
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.
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.