I aim to build up trusting relationships with the pupils in my class so, if they have a problem, they can come to me. I would also like to become an active member in the school, both with the children and staff. I want to be an enthusiastic teacher who motivates and engages my pupils, also challenging them to become more effective learners. I also want to further my knowledge of the curriculum and be able to adapt different lessons for different subjects to suit what I am teaching- while also bringing in new methods and teaching styles to my lessons in order to engage the pupils- e.g. bring in relatable and relevant content for the children to my lessons. I would like to put the foundation steps to becoming a well-rounded and enthusiastic trainee teacher. I want to have my first exposure to training to be a teacher. To be honest, I really aim to survive the workload and pressure that comes with placement.
One of the most important moments in semester one for my professional development was actually at the beginning of semester two when we received our results for the values essay. For me, semester one was full different emotions. In the beginning, I was quite relaxed, I understood the majority of what was said in the lectures. However, it was clouded by the fact that the essay I would be submitting in December was my first university level, academic piece of writing I would have submitted. I was a confident enough writer- when I knew what I would be writing exactly and when the topic of the essay was one that I found remotely interesting. There was a lack of control and uncertainty surrounding this essay which really daunted me, so put me off writing straight away. I lacked an enjoyment of the values essay as I felt like there was little to no link to primary education because of the vagueness and variety of stuff we covered. I was not used to having to make vague connections between my learning and my chosen career path which is probably why I found the particular module quite difficult, although this may be my own fault for just expecting things to be really simple and in black and white for me. However, once I made the connections and started to link what was being covered in the lectures to what may be happening in a child’s life and how, as a primary teacher, I would deal with this, I began to enjoy the module more. This, therefore, pushed me to do further in-depth reading into my chosen area of study and through an extensive planning stage, I felt more confident with what I was writing. It was this uncertainty and insecurity of mine that pushed me to take more responsibility towards my own reading and learning. However, I was doing this to purely get through the module. I did care in some way what grade I received as it was my first academic piece and wanted to make a good ‘impression’, however, by the point of submission, I felt defeated and uncaring towards the essay. I was then very surprised by the grade I got back. At first and as cheesy as it sounds, I thought there had been a mistake. I was reading it on my phone so thought there was an error with my phone and it was only by checking with my flatmates and double checking on my laptop that I saw that it was correct. When I saw the mark, I was overwhelmed by it. There was confusion but there was also a huge sense of pride. I had outdone what I expected to get- I expected to barely pass let alone receive a high grade. After everything had been confirmed, I took a minute to reflect on everything that had led to this grade. I realised that even if I don’t like or find it difficult, I need to carry on with the reading I am set and become a more active learner because if I put the time and effort in I will learn to enjoy what I am doing as I am linking it to what I do enjoy. I have learned about the value of reading, determination, and engagement because of my journey through the values module.
By taking the time to reflect on my grade, I learned about what had led me to success and what I needed to continue this semester. To me, reflection is the process of evaluating what went right and what went wrong and determining what you will carry forward. It has to be highlighted that I am not reflecting on this because I did well, I am reflecting on this because I needed to see what I did well in order to try and continue this on.
So this is my second blog post but my first proper reflection post. We had a lecture on Social injustices and the biases within our culture in the morning and then the seminar in the afternoon. I have to say the morning lecture did knock me sideways a little bit as I was not expecting to be basically called homophobic at 9 o’clock on a Tuesday morning. However, it was that initial shock that really made me think. The Unconscious Bias was a running theme throughout the lecture and it was the definition that really stuck with me: “Regardless of how fair minded we believe ourselves to be, most people have some degree of unconscious bias. The means that we automatically respond to other (e.g. people from different racial or ethnic groups) in positive or negative ways.” (Equality Challenge Unit, 2013, p1). I realised that I hadn’t recognised what had been going on in my own mind and it took an impowering and moving speech from Panti Noble for me to see. I realised that in normal society the unconscious bias is not recognised- as it says- it’s unconscious. People are oblivious to what is actually going on. In my case this lack of awareness was highlighted in the task we were set in the seminar.
We were separated into 4 groups. A random selection, groups being chosen purely based on where you sat. Each group was given a task and one envelope to complete said task. Unbeknownst to the whole class, our lecturer had given two groups envelopes with less and inefficient items to complete the task. In my case, I was given one of the more affluent envelopes. During the presentation part of the task, it came to my attention that there was a feeling of disadvantage within two of the groups due to their lack of resources. When it was revealed to us by our lecturer that there were two groups given a considerable amount of resources less than the others, I realised I hadn’t clocked onto the inequality that had gone on right in front of me. Groups 3 and 4 (the “less affluent” groups) went onto explain how the behaviour of the lecturer and the negative feedback and body language he presented to them made them feel. As they talked, I realised that I hadn’t picked up on any of his negativity towards these groups. Like the unconscious biases within culture and people, I had become oblivious to the inequalities of the teaching setting. I am not going to lie to you, it got to me a little bit because I have always seen myself as someone who is quite perceptive and can pick up on people’s social ques easily, however I had been just shown that I was as unaware of my own unconscious bias as I was of inequalities within a situation. As a teacher, you should be seeing what other people may or may not see and so by not picking up on the inequality, I felt like I had almost failed before I had begun.
In reflection, I have concluded that people may be unable or be unwilling to recognise that there ways of combating the biases within society. As a teacher, we have to be both aware of the backgrounds children from and how that may effect their confidence and future with their own abilities. We also have to tackle any pre-existing stereotypes or preconceptions about a child do not effect their learning and your relationship with the child. In many ways, teaching is about building positive relationships with pupils in order to build a positive member of society. Through the workshop, it reiterates to me that all children must be treated the same no matter the unconscious bias that may be there. So therefore to combat this, we need to neutralise ourselves and our feelings in order to level the teaching ground.
Reference: Equality Challenge Unit (2013) Unconscious Bias and Higher Education London: Equality Challenge Unit Available at: http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/unconscious-bias-in-higher-education/ (23th September 2018)
Einstein once said: “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education”. An odd quote, perhaps. However, I have never claimed to be Einstein and will never claim to be. To me, Einstein was wrong. Education inspires, enlightens and drives children to prosper and be the best they can be and as an educator, we are the driving factor that molds society’s future generation. We inspire learners to fulfill their full potential and blossom into positive contributors to society by the means of education. So therefore, in my opinion, Einstein was wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, if you had asked me when I was primary school aged whether or not I enjoyed school, you would have probably gotten a shrug of the shoulders and a “I don’t really know”. However, I did spend my evenings and weekends making class registers and preparing lessons for my sister. I was the teacher, of course. I enjoyed the learning aspect of school to an extent but it was the admiration and esteem I had for my teachers that drove me to where I am today. Take my first teacher, for example. My first bit of exposure to education-a daunting experience for a 5 year old. However within the first few moments in her class, any anxiety that I had had was gone. This was transferred throughout the rest of school career. I found school a nurturing and enabling place, although some subjects were not my favourite but that comes part in parcel with life, doesn’t it? However, even in areas that I was not the most confident, I was offered help and guidance to assist my development. Therefore, it is this guidance and positive experience that has crystallized teaching as the vocation for me.
Many aspects of teaching appeal to me, and positively influencing a child’s development is a major factor. Primary education is fundamental to a child’s intellectual and social growth and it is through their education that children develops. So therefore, Einstein was wrong about education.