The Importance of a Positive Attitude When Teaching Maths

Before attending my first maths input with Tara, I was quite nervous regarding whether or not I would be any good at teaching the subject.  Although, my opinion on teaching maths very quickly changed as I progressed throughout the workshop.

As soon as we began the lesson, Tara initially discussed the ‘maths anxieties’ that many individual’s deal with, especially as primary teachers and as a result this suddenly eased my nerves.  Although there are some aspects of maths that I feel comfortable with, there are also many areas, such as algebra, that I feel I may struggle with in the near future, as a primary school teacher.

Tara also expressed some of her own concerns as a fully qualified maths teacher, such as struggling with mental maths and how she prefers to write down her working out on paper.  This assures me that just because I may struggle with certain areas of maths, does not mean that I can’t effectively and enthusiastically teach the subject.

One key point that Tara addressed within the workshop, consisted of the importance of enthusiasm and positivity that all teachers should direct towards maths.  If a teacher displays a negative attitude towards the subject, then it is most likely that this will be passed on to the children in relation to learning maths.  Whereas, if a positive and excited approach is used when teaching maths, it will reflect on the pupils and positively influence the outcome of their work.

The Value of Reflection as a Primary Teacher

In relation to, ‘The Standard of Provisional Registration,’ section 3.4.2, the professional action of, ‘working collaboratively to share their professional learning and development with colleagues,’ specifically linked to my own experiences within semester one.  One of the key modules that I was required to complete within semester one consisted of the ‘Working Together’ module.  Throughout this module, I was required to work alongside students from CLD, Social Work and fellow Education students.  We had to work in a collaborative manner in order to create an assessed presentation.  Approaching the end of the module, we were required to provide peer feedback to each member of our group.  This process of reflection really allowed me to gain an insight into the strengths and weaknesses that I brought to the group.  It gave me the opportunity to reflect on my role within the group and my relationship with my peers.  Also, through this process of reflection, I was made aware of the importance that reflection has within my role as a future primary school teacher.  It provides me with the chance to improve upon my practice and work towards becoming a better primary practitioner.

The Impact of Relationships on a Child’s Brain Development

In relation to the video entitled, “Pre-Birth to Three: Doctor Suzanne Zeedyk – Brain development,” Doctor Suzanne Zeedyk outlines the importance associated with relationships, as a baby’s brain will develop as a consequence of the relationships that they maintain.  Their brains develop based on the various kinds of relationships that babies have with other individuals and the responses that they receive in return.  One of the main aspects that Doctor Suzanne Zeedyk referred to, was the importance regarding the environment that a young child resides in.  She used the example of domestic abuse.  If a baby was brought up in an environment where domestic abuse was a regular occurrence, the baby’s brain would soon learn to associate other environments, such as the classroom, as a threat.  As a result, a young child at school may be constantly focused on detecting threat rather than learning new things.  However, babies’ brains are very flexible, they continue to develop after a child turns three, which many people are unaware of.  Therefore, a child can still be positively influenced in a positive environment, such as within the primary school.  When key pathways are established in childhood, especially as a baby, these are carried on throughout a child’s life and as a result, is why so much more attention is now given to individuals in their early childhood.  Children react to the environment that we give them to react to, therefore as primary practitioners, one of our most important roles involves creating a safe, happy and inclusive environment for all children within the classroom.  We can aim to build positive relationships with the children and act as a role model, positively influencing the pupils.  Due to gaining the pupil’s trust and creating strong relationships, it allows for a more harmonious and encouraging atmosphere within the classroom.

Creating an Animation

As part of my ICT input, we were introduced to a program which allowed us to create animations that would act as a useful resource within the classroom.  In order to produce the animation, we were asked to compile a few clips of various shapes of different sizes and colours displaying different patterns and images.  We then were required to add a piece of music alongside our animation which really enhanced the overall effect of our presentation.  The process of creating an animation has allowed me to witness first-hand the positive benefits that it could bring to students within the classroom.  It has the ability to enhance their creativity, develop their confidence and also provide them with the opportunity to have fun whilst they learn something new.

My animation can be found linked below:

The Importance of Dance within the Classroom

Before attending the dance class, I was exceptionally nervous, as I am aware that dance is not one of my strong points.  I also was unsure of how dance could benefit children within the classroom.  Although, despite this, my perception of dance has widely changed since completing the session with Eilidh.

At the beginning of the class, we were shown multiple, child-friendly resources that could be used effectively within the classroom to teach dance.  Eilidh also outlined the range of benefits involved with dance, such as increased confidence and positive determination and aspects such as learning from each other and working together, either in pairs or as groups.  Within the session, we then proceeded to gather round in a circle to carry out a warm-up activity.  This allowed everyone to get over their initial anxiety in relation to dancing in front of others.  We were later placed into pairs, which allowed each individual to feel more comfortable, as they had someone they could rely on and share ideas.

Within each pair, we were asked to create a way in which we could travel across the room.  Each pair took a very different approach to this, which made the lesson all the more interesting.  Following this, we were asked to split the room in two and each side of the room had their chance to travel across the room in their pairs.  We then had to demonstrate our routine to another pair and likewise follow their routine.  In our new groups, we had to create a routine that we performed in front of the class, which allowed us to develop confidence whilst also having fun.

There were many aspects that I took away from Eilidh’s class that I will take forward into placement, that I feel would be beneficial within the classroom.  One key message that I took away from the dance class, was the importance of a safe space, free from prejudice and where the children feel supported by their peers.  An idea that I also took from the lesson, consisted of the use of videos showcasing different styles of dance at the beginning of the lesson.  This allowed children to see an example of what they were asked to do and enabled them to access a variety of cultures.  One of the main aspects that I took away from the dance lesson consisted of Eilidh’s persistent enthusiasm and passion for dance.  This is how I aim to act towards dance within my own classroom, as I feel it puts children more at ease and allows them to express themselves and have fun!

Structural Inequalities within the Classroom

Following our workshop on Tuesday, we were asked to reflect upon the task we were set and how it displayed the structural inequalities present within the classroom.  The task involved being split into five groups, where we were all given an envelope containing resources such as card, pens, paperclips etc.  We were asked to make a resource that would aid in facilitating a first year student’s transition into university.

Within our group, we collectively decided that we would construct a poster containing helpful sources of information, such as a campus map, matriculation events and city bus times, all within one place.  The aim of the poster was for all first year students to find the information they required in one compact resource.  As first year students ourselves, we understood the difficulty involved in our first week and managing to attend the correct events in the most efficient way.  Also, whilst creating our resources, we designed an ice-breaker game out of the leftover card for students to play in order to get to know one another better.

Once we had completed our resources, we were each asked in turn, as a group, to present our ideas to the rest of our peers.  As our group presented our ideas to the class, we noticed that the lecturer did not seem overly enthusiastic with our idea, unlike how she acted with other groups.  We were later graded on the activity and were very disappointed in the results, as a group whose idea was very similar to our own, scored quite highly.

We later learned that the workshop had an underlying purpose.  As each group was so invested in their activity, they did not recognise the structural inequalities happening around them.  Two of the groups actually had more resources than anyone else, and as a result, the lecturer purposely helped them a lot more and showed more enthusiasm whilst they displayed their ideas.

The purpose of the workshop was to indicate the inequality that can sometimes take place within a classroom.  The workshop directly relates to the GTCS SPR’s four main areas including Social Justice, Integrity, Trust and Respect and Professional Commitment.  Social Justice reflects how we should treat everyone  equally and be inclusive within society. Integrity refers to how we should demonstrate traits such as openness and honesty.  In reference to Trust and Respect, the workshop highlights the importance of the commitment a teacher must have in order to inspire and encourage all pupils to succeed, regardless of their individual needs and barriers.  The final area relates to  Professional Commitment, which addresses how we must engage with all members of the educational society, which was particularly emphasised within the workshop activity.

My Journey to Teaching

Throughout my teenage years growing up in school, I was always unaware and unsure of the career path that I desired to follow.  Despite this, I always knew I had a keen interest and passion when it came to working alongside children.  A career in teaching was always a thought at the back of my mind, despite being from Northern Ireland where there are limited primary teaching jobs available. Although many people had my best interests in mind, they would always try to put me off the idea and guide me to a career with more employment opportunities at home.

Regardless of everyone’s doubts surrounding me pursuing a career in teaching, I knew it was the correct path to follow as soon as I began to volunteer for ChildLine.  As I was a switchboard volunteer, my main role involved being the first point of contact and a voice of comfort and reassurance for children in distress or despair. I began to volunteer for ChildLine in May 2017 and continued right up until I moved away for university.  I can honestly say it was one of the most valuable and worthwhile experiences that really helped me to gain key knowledge and insight into a child’s mindset and some of the issues they may face daily, both at home and in the school environment.

One of the main reasons why ChildLine enhanced my passion to become a teacher relates to the volume of calls indicating the importance of school being a safe and comforting place for many children to thrive.  This especially inspired me to embark on the journey of becoming a teacher as I gained an in-depth perspective into the crucial need for children to be treated equally and supported whilst in the school environment.  I hope that in the future my experiences and the passion that has flourished from my work with children can aid me to succeed in my journey of becoming a primary school teacher.  I aspire to be a teacher who can help to motivate, inspire and hopefully become a lasting role-model for many children.