Category Archives: 1.1 Social Justice

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.

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.







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.