I have struggled with maths, even feared it my entire life. No matter how hard I tried I struggled to grasp many of the basic concepts and building blocks of it. I struggled through it in primary school, my class often moving on with topics before I had time to understand it thoroughly. I understand now that they had to obviously teach us the whole curriculum, but I always felt like I was lagging behind my peers.
This then moved into high school where I was streamed into one of the lower sets in my year group. By the start of third year our class was already labelled that we would be ‘unable’ to cope with sitting the national 5 exam, at the end of fourth year. Luckily at this point my parents got me a maths tutor, as despite always struggling with maths I really did want to do well in it. I knew I needed at least a B in my national 5 to be considered for teaching, and really wanted to sit 5 Highers in 5th year. In my school this was expected and any less they was a slight stigma around as they wanted as many higher results as possible. I failed my national 5 maths prelim miserably (with an enormous amount of work) and it looked like I could never raise my grade to even a pass. When my school advised me I should not sit my exam, I began to believe that no matter how much work I put in ‘I just had more of an English brain,’ and would never succeed in maths.
After a pity party, I started going to tutoring twice a week and maths club at lunches. I still had the mentality that I would give it my best shot but looking at my track history this did not always mean success for me. Anyway, exam day came I cried between the two papers felt that it was the WORST exam of my life. A couple of days later I visited my tutor, cried some more. My tutor had seen the paper and told me from my strengths and weaknesses I had a B or even an A. I did not believe this at all and prepared my parents for me resitting my maths again. On exam results day I was still dead set on a fail, and like my tutor said I had a B. I literally still don’t even know how that happened, as I was so convinced I had failed.
After my 5th year results I got tested at dysguise in Edinburgh, turns out I had dyscalculia and processing issues. I was entitled to a calculator in non-calculator paper, extra accommodation and significant amount of extra time. This did not actually impact the rest of my education as I passed my national 5 and left maths there. So now, knowing I have dyscalculia and haven’t done any maths since 4th year in school, I am worried about teaching it. I know this is probably more in my head than anything, but now having the ‘label’ of dyscalculia and no recent maths experience freaks me out about the responsibility of teaching future generations. I know I lack confidence in it but I know that the best I can do is learn the maths before teaching the children so I can try to be comfortable with it, so that my lacking maths ability does not affect theirs.
One of the most important moments for me in my professional development in semester one was the realisation of how important working and communicating with other professions is. I always knew the bond with other professionals was essential in getting it right for every child, but in my working together group I saw its true value.
I learned that understanding each other’s roles, wether that’s community learning development, social work or other professions is essential so you know what you can reply on other professions for. This is crucial for a teacher to know how they can rely or turn to other professions, to help to get the correct support for individual children. For example when doing the case study of Jack, as my group had all three professional within it and we were able to work together to get a deeper insight into Jacks potential background. Reflecting back on this task I can now appreciate how my group would have been unable to see the wider picture without the other professions.
I am beginning to realise the impact that personal reflection can make upon me. In Dereks lecture where he talked about his own personal reflection around his class in the nineties. His reflection about technology in the classroom really made me think about the impact a teacher reflecting weekly on their teaching can make. It allows time for the teacher to think about how their class responded to their teaching and lessons. Wether it was a success or their was room for improvement. I look forward to placement where I can reflect on my lessons and my week as I can the benefit it will have upon me teaching and helping me develop as an educator.
On Monday my group visited the Flexible Childcare services in Dundee. This organisation runs a day-care centre for children ranging from babies to sixteen year olds. However there is no set price per child, the cost of the child care depends on the parents income. Therefore this makes this organisation unique from others as it can support families of every social class by making childcare accessible and affordable for all. The centre therefore does depend on funding from charities and the government to operate and pay the staff. The staff also go to different schools in Dundee and pick up children to bring them to the centre. I think this is great for working parents who cannot do the school pick up, or the after school clubs is too expensive. There was a lovely sense of inclusion in the centre and all the staff are viewed as equals not in a hierarchy form. During our visit everyone we asked questions too were lovely and gave us very honest answers about how communicating with other agencies can be difficult. As the centre does take social work referrals they need to try work with social work closely to ensure they are getting it right for every child. However they have had some difficult cases where social work have not passed on detailed information about a child and receiving the essential information can be hard. I really enjoyed the visit, I feel like I took a lot from it and I am looking forward to the presentation about it.
Tuesday lecture on Racism and Patriarchy gave me a lot to think about.
The racism aspect of the lecture was the first hour, it involved how racism occurred from the late 18th Century. Derek told us about social construction and how people can use this is used to perpetuate inequalities. We also discussed the Critical Race Theory which gave me an insight into how people of colour live with racism around them every day. These inequalities exist in most aspects of their lives; from applying to jobs, to buying houses (as they may find it difficult to buy a home in a predominantly white area) and education. In governments the majority of people of power are white, and black people are the minority, an example of this is Barack Obama who was the 1st Black President of the USA. Despite having 43 Presidents before him. This lecture gave me a deeper insight into some of the inequalities that people of colour face on a daily basis.
We also discussed Patriarchy which is when women face inequalities in society as they were once viewed as inferior to men. Women were expected to stay at home, raise the children, cook and clean and be a good wife for their husbands. Women did not work nor were they expected to as they were seen as too fragile and incapable of doing a good job.
Why get a woman to work when a man can simply do it better? Propaganda from war time (which is only 70 years ago) strongly shows these views. Luckily women were able to prove and show their skills when the men went to war and then it became more socially acceptable for women to have jobs. This is also due to the work of the Suffragettes during the war who campaigned for women’s rights. Overtime they were allowed more freedom and social lives. Despite these massive progressions for women in society it’s clear that in today’s age women still face inequalities.
The pay gap is still a huge issue in some professions with women getting paid significantly less than men for doing the same job. Recently it came to the media’s attention that the BBC was not providing equal pay for men and woman, and had not for years. This was not in one sector of the BBC but ranged across the board from TV presenters to sport editors. These inequalities can also still be seen for women sporting professionals, only recently in Wimbledon are women winning the same prize money as the men. This is a step of progression but in 2017, there should be no reason a woman should be winning less than a man for being equally talented. More equality needs to be seen for women and Derek’s lecture gave me a deeper insight into this.
This is my identifying skills and abilities task
A_Identifying Skills and Abilities (1)
Tuesday’s session about equality and fairness in the classroom allowed me to experience how a child would feel whilst being at a disadvantage in the classroom. I personally was in the group that was given less materials to form the product, which in a classroom setting would give a child less opportunities to excel.
The resources we were given included:
• 1 pen
• 1 pencil
• 2 paper clips
• 2 elastic bands
• Blue tac
• A single sheet of paper
Other groups had more than enough resources and were spoilt for choice when having to come up with creative ideas for their product. This showed that a child from a potentially underprivileged background is already at a disadvantage compared to some peers. This emphasises the importance of the class teacher providing equal supplies on each table for the children.
As the tutor was discouraging my group whilst encouraging and praising others, it knocked my group’s confidence when creating our product. He ranked our product a 2/10 and called it rubbish. This made me realise how damaging this type of behaviour would be on young children and how it would badly effect their development. This knock of confidence on a young child will not only weaken their bond with their teacher, but make them less likely to ask for help when it’s needed. Not all children are supported adequately at home and with some coming from deprived areas the classroom needs to be a place where all children feel safe, included and free to be themselves.
Another thing I noticed during the task was that as my group were struggling due to being deprived of resources, the other groups were blissfully unaware. This is due to them having the support of the teacher and resources to help them. It shows how children may not notice others struggling due to them having positive experiences with the teacher and assuming that everyone was receiving the same treatment.
As society inequalities exist in every aspect of life, the task can be related to many of these. People who come from a more supportive background and not an area of deprivation, as unfair as it is, they are more likely to do excel in school exams and reach University. Often this is due to parents who push their children to always be the best version of themselves, however as not all children have this in their lives; their Classroom teacher is the next person who supports all their pupils in their education. Therefore this task really opened my eyes to how body language and positive praise is so important in the classroom, to keep encouraging children to do their best.
As clique as it may sound, from no age I have wanted to teach. I used to play teachers with my friends in early primary school and this soon evolved to me working hard in high school to make my dream become a reality. I think my passion to teach came from the love I have had for my own education, I have always found learning fun and interesting. Therefore I wish to create an environment as a teacher where my pupils can feel the same enthusiasm for learning. Having found out only last year that I have a processing issue and dyscalculia, as a teacher I want to try put the correct support in place for each child and spot the early signs of hidden learning difficulties. By identifying these issues the correct support can be put in place for the rest of their education, not just their final year of high school like me.
The reason Dundee stood out to as the University for me was immediate welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff and students. The placement in first year appealed to me as not all Universities offer this. I felt this would really enhance my prior classroom experience and help to give me key skills to become a well rounded teacher. I love to travel and experience new countries and cultures the elective for IB in second year and the opportunities to travel abroad immediately caught my attention and made Dundee stand out from other Universities.
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