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.
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.