Category Archives: edushare

Dancing Queen? Not so much.

I’ve never found the thought of dancing particularly inspiring. In fact, I decidedly dislike the idea. Unless we’re talking about a good old ceilidh, there’s nothing about the thought of having to dance in front of people that I like. I’ve always been into sport and I don’t really have a problem with performing, particularly in front of children, so it wasn’t like I had major anxiety when I learnt that dance is a part of the curriculum. It’s more that I just didn’t really fancy it- I have absolutely no experience in the field and consequently, didn’t have the foggiest idea what we might have to get up to. I envisioned myself in years to come trying to choreograph dance lessons for my classes and truth be told, even in my imagination it didn’t go exactly…swimmingly.

However, good news! The tutorial was neither as odd nor as discouraging as I had anticipated. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I’ve learnt that the learning outcomes for dance are remarkably do-able and actually make a lot of sense. Where I previously questioned whether or not dance belonged in the curriculum (extra curricular undoubtedly, but is it really necessary to be part of the school day?) by looking into it further and exploring the experiences and outcomes in more detail I’ve come to accept that dance does indeed hold its own.

Despite my admittedly limited experience, I have always valued the idea of interdisciplinary learning and I think dance is a good example of when this can be achieved. For example, I have always been passionate about story telling and in the past I have found it hard to bring it alive for children who perhaps don’t share this interest. I think the E’s and O’s for dance provide an opportunity to introduce story telling in a completely new light that could potentially spark an interest that wouldn’t be possible in a classroom.

‘Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express my ideas, thoughts and feelings through creative work in dance.’

EXA 0-09a/EXA 1-09a/EXA 2-09a

As I slowly become more familiar with the Curriculum for Excellence it’s becoming clearer and clearer what is trying to be achieved in Scottish classrooms and I honestly think it’s an exciting time to be entering the profession of teaching.

Is it time for a shake up?

One of the most thought provoking podcasts I’ve listened to since coming to study Education at university was one by a Sir Ken Robinson, a man who along side other things acts as an international adviser of education. During a talk titled ‘changing educations paradigms’, he compares our current education system to that of a working ‘factory’. He comments on the idea that we are still using a system designed for a completely different era to that of which we’re experiencing now- the industrial revolution- and he asks the relevant question of ‘why is it we put our children through education by their age?’ In reference to this he states ‘it’s almost like the date of their manufacture is the most important thing we have to consider!’ and for me, it was this that sparked a personal revolution in the way I view our year groups in this country.

Although it seems natural to accept the fact that different children learn at different speeds and therefor achieve milestones at different points both academically and emotionally, I’ve never considered that our education system should model this truth. Up until recently, having only ever experienced the Scottish education system, it seemed only natural to me to go through school along side children my own age. However during my year teaching in west Africa, I was exposed to another style of ‘streaming’; each year group varied in size, ability and age. Initially this struck me as being disorganised and made it even harder to set appropriate work for the whole class. However upon reflection, and considering Sir Robinson’s comments, this idea of children being grouped together by something as meaningless as age seems more and more bizarre.

Perhaps it is time to shake up the way we educate our children. As Sir Robinson states, we’re no longer living in times of industrial revolution. Does that mean our whole education system is obsolete? However if we were to stop putting children through school with their peers, would that potentially create a void for social development…would it create a system where the ‘more able’ children excelled but the ‘less academic’ were left behind?

Should our personal online presence merge with our professional one?

After reading the GTCS code regarding safe use of social media as a teacher, my initial thoughts are that everything stated in the guidelines are both fair and just. I feel that the quote at the start of the guidelines sum up perfectly the over arching issue of why it is important to take the use of social media seriously; ‘Maintaining the public’s trust in the individual teacher and in teaching as a profession sits at the heart of being fit to teach, and this can be undermined not only by behaviour occurring in a teacher’s professional life, but also within their private life, including activity online.’

I’ve come to learn that how one presents themselves online is vitally important. I think it’s easy to forget how quickly others can judge your identity solely down to what they see on the Internet. For example, when working for a local company in my hometown, it was brought to my attention that the employers first looked through the Facebook of each and every prospective employee before even inviting them to interview for a post. It was at this point that I registered how important it is to keep my online persona as real and true to myself as possible and I started to evaluate everything I did online with a new vigilance.

It’s through understanding the weight and importance of maintaining a professional online appearance that leads me to believe I, at least initially, won’t be marrying my professional and private presence on social media. I am of course without doubt that social media and resources found on the Internet have a well-deserved place in the classroom when used appropriately, but I am yet to see the benefit of merging your personal and professional image online.

Where in some situations it might be appropriate e.g. using one’s Twitter account to share information related to their work etc, I feel that generally speaking merging your professional and personal activity online unnecessarily exposes you to a number of challenges as a professional that you might not be faced with otherwise. Through experience, I am very aware of how easy it is to be misinterpreted online and to have your intentions completely lost in a muddle of misconceptions. I would imagine that for this to happen in a professional environment- and as a result to have you fitness to teach queried- could potentially be extremely damaging to both your professional and your self image.

However regardless of what I believe in terms of using my private social media for professional use, I am fully aware that social media will be used in the classroom. And I believe that it should be! With social media playing such a massive part in the lives of pupils, parents and in our social culture, I believe it would be catastrophic for educators to ignore the movement online and not to embrace the developments. Therefore, I think it is vitally important to have an understanding of how to be a professional online so that both qualified and perspective teachers know exactly where they stand in this new and advancing online world. In fact, this is absolutely necessary when it comes to equipping not only ourselves, but our children, to navigate this potential mind field. I feel that the fact that GTCS have outlined specific guidelines for this issue sufficiently highlights the relevance of understanding how to have a professional presence in the online world and that the penultimate section in particular, ‘how can teachers minimise risk when using electronic communication and social networking?’ helps to make it clear how to avoid having issues in this area.

I look forward to the challenges ahead regarding my role as a teacher. However, I believe there is vast importance in equipping oneself to be able to avoid unnecessary battles, and being well versed in how to maintain a professional image online seems like the perfect place to start.

Why teaching?

When I was 16 I was desperate to leave school. I felt that I had ‘outgrown’ the education system and wanted to experience something completely new and different. Instead of studying, I found myself researching all the different things I could be doing with my time instead of being in school. I was quickly drawn to all the various overseas projects offered to under 18 year olds. In particular, one charity encouraged me to believe that I could use the education I’d already been given to benefit someone who didn’t have access to the sort of information that I had. And that really appealed to me. So the more I researched and the more I read about the opportunities I had access to, the more appealing the thought of leaving school and becoming a volunteer became. So as soon as I finished my Highers I immediately applied for a 12 month placement working in an impoverished jungle village in West Africa.

I was almost completely ignorant to the responsibilities I would have as a volunteer teacher, and even more so to the challenges that this would bring. However I slowly became more and more involved in the local primary school and as a result became more attached to the kids. As I got to know the local primary school teachers better, they became more and more willing to give me different responsibilities within the school. Naturally, the more time and effort I invested into my teaching role the more I gained from the experience and over the course of the year, I began to realise what a unique opportunity it is to be a teacher. As I watched different classes and how different teachers worked, it became evident to me that your influence as a teacher into a child’s life can go well beyond the classroom. And I wanted to be a part of that!

After spending this year working alongside qualified teachers but with no actual training myself, I decided that I really wanted to continue this journey, return home and gain the necessary skills and training that I needed to enable me to become a ‘proper teacher’. Through watching different professionals, both at my home primary school and in Lolobi Ashiambi, I’ve gained an understanding of what it looks like to create an exciting learning environment within a classroom and the profound impact that that can have on a child’s life. And now I find myself striving to become a teacher that does this every day, and I can’t wait!