Category Archives: 1 Prof. Values & Personal Commitment

I know the caterpillar is hungry but do I need to know why?

Another fun filled expedition with my Ruby to delve into the world of science. This time it was another impromptu discussion brought up by the world around us. The location was the cycle path along by Barry Buddon (army base), a lovely contrast of environments: golf and a train track on one side and gunfire on the other with a wildlife rich walk slap bang in the middle. We often walk along here to watch the trains, identifying the company names and cargo we think they might be carrying and to where. Ruby’s keen eye spotted something large and furry as she rode her horse Star (bicycle) along the path. I was welcome of the break as her four wheels move much faster than my two legs.

The following video is of her recalling knowledge, the catalyst for this being the presence of the caterpillar. Ruby appears to be hanging like a cocoon in this video and Ollie the dog is a bit out of puff (it isn’t me). My mini scientist then went on to discuss the different appearance of the cocoon and caterpillar in relation to whether the insect would be a moth or a butterfly. The brighter or greener the outside then it was more likely to be a butterfly. The darker or hairier the outside it was more likely to be a moth. Every day is a school day! Ruby deduced that our fluffy caterpillar would most likely become a moth but we would have to come back to see because it would be unfair to take it home.

As a child I learnt about the butterfly life cycle, read the Hungry Caterpillar, was able to dig and explore outdoors whenever I wanted at home and was amazed by their delicate but intimidating presence on a trip to Butterfly World in primary 1. Considering that was 24 years ago I believe this shows what a profound effect the whole topic and the teacher had on my love of creepy crawlies. Spiders are even included in that. I understood we were much bigger than them, we should care for them and they have very important jobs to do. Within the science benchmarks for early years, SCN1-01a discusses consideration of growth and sorting organisms by features. I find this a tenuous link really, which made me question why the humble butterfly’s life cycle is one regularly taught, what children gain from this and why did this work so much better outside.

Instruction from Education Scotland in the Science Benchmarks is to allow children to develop understanding and skills in a practical manner(Benchmarks, pg2). My memories are vivid due to hands on experience outside of a classroom. But does real life experience in the outdoors engage learners? Currently the Association for Science Education, a UK organisation, champions the need for outdoor education in the field of Science education. In Scotland specifically, Education Scotland have the Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning document, that encourages “planning for spontaneous local visits when weather is favourable.”(pg13) Slightly confusing terms: having to organise something spontaneous and only head outdoors if it is sunny?! We live in Scotland. Furthermore, science education is explicitly mentioned once (pg8) in the outdoor education document and the outdoors are mentioned only once (pg2) in the benchmarks. Consider also that a recent (2016) paper by the University of Edinburgh, Outdoor Learning in Scotland:Issues for Education, identified that not enough was being done beyond policy making to insure children had true engagement in outdoor education. This was due to a lack of training, provision, awareness, facilities and accountability (pg3).

I am just doing as I am encouraged at University and questioning the didactic methods in the hope that this will help me be the teacher I want to be within the Scottish education system. I know, from experience in classrooms that last minute trips do happen whether it is a trip to the playground to read a book or wandering in the local area to discuss homes. I can’t however, help but think that maybe more teachers would feel more confident in utilising the outdoors if they felt wholly encouraged and at times told. Theorists such as Pestalozzi and Froebel championed outdoor education, an area I am passionate about. However more recently and most succinctly, Priest (1986) established outdoor education as a system that was dependent on six factors: it was a method; it utilises the wealth of knowledge from experiential theorists like Dewey and Pestalozzi; it is essential for learning; it provides learning opportunities across cognitive, emotional and physical development; it highlights that our curriculum is naturally cross-curricular and a key component is that many relationships contribute to a child’s education (Watchow, Brown, 2011, pg18). This encourages me to pursue my pedagogical stance whilst teaching science.

How could the butterfly engage children in outdoor learning? How can it not? The butterfly is just so magical! The charity, Butterfly Conservation have an interesting breakdown of the scientific and educational value the butterfly and moth hold within the UK, all under the heading Why Butterflies Matter. This got me thinking of a stimulus for a topic about extinction, migration and adaptation in the natural world. The butterfly is a prime candidate.

The gems are probably the best-preserved fossils of any butterfly  photo credit New Scientist

Imagine the conversations and investigations that could occur from placing this image or even better an imitation of this in a small wooden crate surrounded by shredded paper and handled with white gloves delivered with a stamp from the Scottish Museum? Or bury it in the play ground or shallow trough for children to excavate. Taking the children butterfly spotting in spring, can we find any? Why not? What can we do to bring them here? You could possibly explore life cycle, adaptation, extinction and most importantly conservation. The E&O being SCN2-01a the survival and adaptation of a species. I would be interested as an adult, let alone a child.

Whilst meeting Es and Os is important and guaranteeing progression enables life long learning I cannot help but feel a prescribed curriculum could occur if sole focus of meeting E&Os is stringently followed. I understand it is discouraged within the Benchmarks and that they are not for assessment but I had to scour the Experiences and Outcomes to shoe-horn the butterfly life cycle in when I know it is covered so frequently and how exciting it can be. There is no doubt that science lends itself to inquiry-based learning, in the outdoors with field work and that is aided by interest, opportunity and passion. Not ticking of boxes.

As Ruby and I discussed her bike may well have ended that caterpillars hurried journey to safety and food. Being outside, being aware of the human role and responsibility in the world of nature is one that is dear to my heart. An area I believe science in the Scottish Primary can really uncover and have lifelong impact upon.



Learning a new skill is sometimes daunting. Applying the skill gives you that wee bit more confidence then showing others gives a degree of confidence in the skill.

This week I learnt how to upload a video from my iPhone to YouTube then to my eportfolio, in a somewhat seamless manner. Although I am not scared of technology I think that I truly lack enough knowledge to say I’m an expert. Put it this way, I’m not scared to crash a few computers and reboot a couple more in my quest to become a techno master.

The video I chose was my daughter’s first ever book review. She is 5, an avid reader and I tend to buy her books from charity shops (Oxfam often have children’s books for 49p), eBay or TKMaxx. The book she picked for this review seemed to fit nicely with my current elective, Science. The book was Albie’s First Word by Tourville and Evans. The book is about Albert Einstein and how for being the father of relativity and scientist extraordinaire he did not speak till late into his childhood. It is an interesting read for children and adults alike, with a short biography about Einstein at the back. I feel it would encourage children to question the world of science and allow them to imagine they can be the next Einstein. No matter what. There is an undertone of Autistic behaviour described but in such a nonchalant way. Ruby picked up that, although he did not speak, he was trying. He communicated in his own way.

The way my own daughter reads has made me question the language I will use in a classroom. Why should I aim low or underestimate the children’s comprehension or grasp of language. Adams (1999) discussed that teachers aim to use words they believe the children will easily understand but that if they are not stretched or exposed to more subject specific language and a  wider vocabulary then teachers are doing them an injustice(pg37-38). In saying that Moyles (2003) argues that in order for children to feel confident attempting and using newly acquired vocabulary they must be put into comfortable situations where trial and error are embraced (pg40). When a challenging word is said by the teacher, it has to in turn be explored and the children’s connotations of word meaning addressed for it to be beneficial. I find reiterating the word, adding a sing song voice to it, pretending I have forgotten the meaning, using a visual prop and also parroting the word helps it sink in.

Personally, I feel that books are the door into extension, experience and engagement with new exciting words. As a teacher I hope to provide the chance to engage with the written word as often as possible and in as many medias as possible. I understand that reading a book (even if that’s make believe), is a very personal and private experience. Reading aloud to peers is daunting and often detrimental. I want them to be Charlie Cook in the Julia Donaldson novel where all they needed was to “curl up in a cosy nook to read their favourite book.”

Adams, R., Ali, S., Bassi, K.L., Hussain, N. & Brock, A., 1999. Into the enchanted forest. 1st ed. Wiltshire: Cromwell Press Ltd.

Moyles, R.J., 2003. Just playing? The role and status of play in early childhood education. 1st ed. Suffolk: St Edmundsbury Press Ltd

Science or… Magic?

Third year… how did that happen?!?

This year I have chosen to take Science as my elective and you will all be lucky enough to see me vlog my encounters as I rediscover knowledge and inquire further into the world of lab coats and STEM subjects. This will help me to enthuse the children I will one day teach and reflect on areas I must improve to enable a passion for science to grow. I am lucky enough to have my own child (here’s one I made earlier) and even luckier that i can ask her weird and wonderful questions that she just answers.

At university we got stuck right in conducting an experiment with various unnamed substances, water, test tubes, spatulas, safety goggles and gloves. All the fun stuff. The reactions all differed and got more exciting as we worked our way along. This evoked plenty of discussion and speculation, therefore it would be an experiment I could use with a class to judge the level of the children’s understanding and scientific vocabulary.

Crawford and Capps 2016, believe that in order for teachers to engage children in science there needs to be a level of metacognition, where the teacher challenges children’s interpretations through questioning (pg16) insuring they are thinking about how or why they think certain things. So that is where I started, asking Ruby questions to discover what she knows and scrape the surface of how she thinks, in order for me to challenge her appropriately and give a sPark to science.

I have none of the fun stuff at home, so i just asked questions as we went about our day. Ruby responded without prompts or helps and I tried my hardest not to impact her thoughts too much.

I believe she is roughly at first level regarding some materials and there is room to explore further impact upon soluble and insoluble substances, “I can make and test predictions about solids dissolving in water and can relate my findings to the world around me. SCN 1-16a”

Leading on from our discussion Ruby became fascinated with coffee and what would happen in different water temperatures. I promised her we would try her experiment, she informed me that it is of utmost scientific significance.

The next video is where we explored this concept with Ruby’s experiment about coffee, which plays a very large role in her mothers life. School days are long and she is very giggly…

To be honest, this ties in with me realising how little of the scientific vocabulary I could use with confidence. I need to brush up on my knowledge of what I want her to gain from these experiments, the learning intention if you will. As far as I am concerned I wanted Ruby to consider the effect of the water temperature on the changes in the coffee granules. From what I see looking back she understood that the hottest water gave the quickest change and from this understood that the cold water would be the slowest. Also we used mathematical language with volume and number or size of things. Inter-disciplinary learning is happening, not to any great degree but conversations allow for us to explore so many subjects. It was fun and we introduced some new words; soluble, granules, prediction.

Moving on I feel I need to further explore what children gain from science and specific lessons that I could provide them within a classroom. I think I struggle to comprehend how important and individual science as a subject becomes for each child. For every 5 children that love categorising living and non-living things there are 5 more who prefer to explore conduction. if they have passion for an area and we need experts in these fields surely I should nurture that? For me, science is all around us and it should be explored as children discover it, so I would prefer to allow children to learn through real-life encounters. These can be what I facilitate and then step back, becoming part of the scaffolding, watching and extending their discovery of magical science.  Opposed to, “oh what experiment will tick my Science Experience and Outcome box.”

What I have gained is a respect for the new world that children are constantly learning from, the more they explore the more questions they have. I think the magic of science can help open more doors and allow for many questions to be asked.


I’m telling on you….

We have been learning about stage theory as part of the Thinking Child inputs with Carrie. Automatically as a mum your mind races to your own child. Ruby is three and has spent nearly all of her life with myself and significant adults; only recently starting at a nursery for 3-5s. I was lucky enough to warm to Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development when I studied my HNC, so this unwittingly became part of my parenting style.

The key root being that age old, nature v nurture debate. Vygotsky introduced the concept of becoming ourselves through interaction with others. The basic concepts within the theory resonated with me because they made sense. Of course children will pick up on how to do things from adults and peers around them but they must be given an encouraging environment to practice these themselves, then a knowledgeable adult to guide them onto new challenges. We take for granted how child-led teaching, indeed parenting is today. It was theorists like Vygotsky who highlighted the importance of positive reinforcement and the support system it takes for children to reach potential.

This concept of cultural and interpersonal forces impacting on who we are was clearly seen in a recent documentary on Channel 4, The Secret Life of a 4 Year Old. Baring in mind my own daughter is not 4 till April, I wanted to snoop to get a heads up on what I should expect from my already flamboyant toddler. The fly on the wall style and minimal adult interaction was the perfect situation to breed peer relationships and witness behaviours that adults can somewhat impair. Piagetian Stage Theory, appeared to me, to be contradicted.

The children all being 4 would fit into the pre-operational stage; remaining egocentric and unable to see thing’s from another’s perspective. This was not the case for a few of the children, you could see those who grasped empathy, were shaking the schemas of those who had not quite got there. Unlike how an adult would approach children being negative to their peers, a sense of self governance took over and moral justice had to be served. Creating a ZPD between children and allowing progression through adverse situations often persevering with the quieted children in the group to form budding friendships. From a teacher’s perspective this could well support the concept of peer learning but refute the claims that it is age we should be grouped by?

Well aware of what is right and wrong the young girl Tia told the boy Jake that he shouldn’t be repeatedly shouting that the girls won’t win a race because it will hurt the girls’ feeling’s. Showing a level of empathy for her peers. The group was then given a task to not leave their seats as the adults went to get them presents, if any one moved none of the children would receive their presents. The looming threat did not deter both Tia and Jake who left their seats… then Tia understood she wouldn’t be getting a present (watching the idea dawn on her face was priceless) so tried to bribe her peers into not telling. A healthy debate ensued between Tia and another morally robust little girl named Charlotte. It was fascinating to watch as they brought in the mild threat of not being each other’s friend, then onto “no one will get a present then”, that then escalated to “I’ll tell my mummy, daddy, granny and santa clause”. The girls knew that the idea of an adult backed their argument. Adults are seen as morally just and they will agree with me!

charlie brown

This machiaveillian approach shows a small step into understanding the Theory of Mind. By introducing mild threat then escalating into mild bullying, Tia wasn’t showing empathy she was using her knowledge that adults and deprivation of presents can insight fear. Ipso facto Charlotte will then do as she is told and not tell the adult’s myself and Jack were out of our seats and we will all get presents. It’s this juxtaposition of empathy and apathy that surprised me, arguably one cannot be grasped without the understanding of the other. The understanding of the Theory of Mind was further supported when one of the children queried another child on how to approach the situation; asking advice on how to move forward from a peer opposed to an adult. This shows a distinct understanding that people act differently, therefore they think differently and their way of thinking might work best for me here.

My own daughter is quick to correct the wrong doing’s of others when they impact upon her or those she deems close. She has such extreme moral views that she is confident enough to question and correct adults. If a child doesn’t want to play with her friend at nursery she can easily tell me how that must have upset her friend and that she told the teacher but she will easily dismiss a friend if they don’t “fit in” to her game.

Just to clarify the video above is an example of what I see as wrong in today’s classrooms and early years settings. Children’s feelings should never be quashed or deemed unimportant.

This must be seen so often in classrooms, especially in early years. I believe that instead of imposing ourselves as the governing official and keeper of all knowledge we should attempt to impart morals and then allow the children to reach their own outcomes; settling any disequilibrium with their peers. Showcasing ourselves as morally just and honest. Quite like Piaget advocating children being active in their learning, not passive. As a teacher I hope to be able to give quarrels or disputes the credit they deserve as an invaluable learning opportunity. When a child comes to me with a problem I want to be able to engage in meaningful dialogue to explore why? how? what? and where do we go from here? Being able to introduce children to the theory of mind would open doors for the whole curriculum.

I don’t know, let me find out.

An enquiring practitioner is ultimately an individual who seeks to gain more relevant knowledge. They further research aspects of interest or need and are then able to relay these to others. This allows the investigative work to become more than reflection, while also consolidating information that has been learned. For us on our journey to becoming teachers, it is of benefit to fully immerse ourselves in this ethos, as it is hoped that practitioner enquiry will become a day-to-day occurrence in Scottish schools.

As a student teacher the concept of being an enquiring practitioner seems to fit nicely with the theories and inputs we have heard so far and indeed what we do as university students- learn. If we expect and encourage student autonomy we have to also be ever improving as teachers. Learning and sharing of information should be on going. As students we use the eportfolios to highlight and hopefully discuss areas of research and interest. It is reassuring for me, as a student teacher that as a qualified teacher there are guidelines in place to justify and encourage ongoing knowledge. We are in a modern society and teachers can come under scrutiny; we are not the once entirely trusted “do as the teacher says,” profession. To have documented and shared research to back up our teaching and methods, will help us fair against any doubts or insecurities parents or colleagues may have. That is of double benefit as through practitioner enquiry we adopt a more critical eye and will therefore be in the position to improve our own practice. An enquiring practitioner can foresee possible routes of research and further study; for pupils and teachers alike. Another benefit is the impact our research can have on the curriculum, to make change we must be the change. It is through collaborative and engaged research that those suggestions lead to action. Being an enquiring practitioner will open the door and be a direct link to the passion we have for our chosen line of work. As a student teacher our grasp on being an enquiring practitioner can benefit us on placements; being able to engage in the wider school community and contribute to any meetings, parents evenings, in-service days, workshops etc. No teacher should rest on the laurels of past techniques, without knowing that is the best current method.

So lets look critically at the concept of the enquiring practitioner. To me, a student teacher, there was that level of assumption that this idea of on-going learning and evaluative investigative research was a given. So giving it a name and a section of GTCS was a bit of an eye opener. For me this highlighted that not all teachers engaged in on-going research or peer interaction and valuable development. Another disadvantage or critique would be the self-serving role of individual research. The want to highlight new ideas and thinking without a critical and professional approach; not engaging deeply enough with these. As a student teacher we will also have to question and practice becoming an enquiring practitioner on placement. This means we will have to take into consideration that what works for one school may not work for another. Don’t blindly adopt techniques without doing further situational research. Indeed it may be hard to focus on research coming to a productive end. Pulling in research when necessary and not allowing tangents, unrelated to teaching, to occur. Also, thinking from a student teacher, perspective; imagine going through hours of engaging research to then be told by peers or higher governing bodies that the work is of no significant value or to go back to the drawing board. It is throughout our student lives that we will gain the expertise to cope with this constructive criticisms and keep the drive.

I’ve found as a student teacher that most lectures are new and exciting, but what can’t be covered in the hour long lecture is up to us to research. To practice becoming an enquiring practitioner I have to take the initiative and engage in conflicting ideas/methods/theories as well as my peer group. By doing I can become.

…if we are to achieve the aspiration of teachers being leaders of educational improvement, they need to develop expertise in using research, inquiry and reflection as part of their daily skill set.’ (Donaldson, 2011:4)


Children come to teachers, on average, at 5 years old. This is just after a big growth spurt, just as they have learnt the right word for that odd looking fruit in tesco, just as they have established that first ‘best friend forever’, just as they can kick that football as far as the park gate. The trepidation they must feel walking into the classroom full of somewhat unfamiliar faces, a crisp white shirt on and some itchy trousers. Then the added assumption that these 5 year old’s are walking into that classroom with what is deemed a “normal” family and a secure attachment .

Now imagine you’re that 5 year old, who for no fault of your own, have had a far from “normal” childhood. Walking into yet another unfamiliar space, another adult they have to listen to and another environment where they lack control. Many theorists believe healthy, predominantly maternal, attachments create a balanced adult: Bowlby, Ainsworth and Harlow. But what happens to those children who have lacked this prior to primary school? Do they become insecure, vulnerable children who we can’t help?

The psychoanalyst Francoise Dolto went through a difficult childhood herself and created a theory based on a lack of adult understanding and sought to help children release and discover their individual inclinations. She believed the adult should be a role model and example opposed to imparting methods. This approach resonated with me, children today will experience and be savvy to much more than even my generation would have known. Dolto believed the educator’s role was to teach children how to lead themselves. Amazingly a nursery was opened in Paris in the late 20th century that was based on Dolto’s theories. The Maison Verte was a nursery setting for the child and their parent, to help create a stepping stone into the education system and reduce separation anxiety. These settings are still around today. Indeed it is a setting I would love to experience myself. I believe it is best to facilitate a child’s own interests, engage in their positive aspirations alongside them.

There are other psychologists who advocate multiple attachments. Bruno Bettelheim helped give insight into childcare systems, he studied children living communally in what was called a kibbutz in Israel. The children all lived away from the family home in special houses. This may have developed less one to one attachments but they thrived socially and built meaningful friendships. Contrary to his presumption that the children would become mediocre adults they, on the whole, thrived and became successful individuals. So peer relationships can help form meaningful attachments.

If a child’s attachment isn’t insecure but is enough to cause occasional ambivalent behaviours what challenges do educators face? There is little chance that in the 35 hours teachers have a child each week they can reverse or overshadow the home environment. It is therefore crucial school can be a place of trust and understanding, where a child can be a child. Encouraging play in the classroom as much as possible, engaging with the outdoors and allowing education to occur as naturally as possible. Indeed psychologist Michael Rutter, who refuted Bowlbys claim of a single secure attachment to the mother, voiced that family discord was the source of antisocial behaviours, not maternal deprivation. I have to side in favour of Rutter, a child may have always lacked a steady, loving mother. In no means does that label the child as unloved and lacking attachment.

Virginia Satir also highlighted the importance of the family unit on attachments. Her study delved into the role a person plays and adapts at times within the family and the seed this plants for adulthood. She voiced the importance of positive emotional connections in order to stay true to ones authentic self. This, to me, shows the compensatory role some children adopt when they feel unsure of an attachment. They want to feel included, loved and their needs attended to. So if a mother lacks the drive to provide all of these the wider family can. Families come in all shapes and sizes, even foster families. I have been witness to the wonder of a good foster setting, the turn around in that child within a short space of time was so encouraging.

Being exposed to attachment theory and all it’s complexities it’s hard not to notice obvious lack of meaningful attachments. When we hear the horror stories from Romanian orphanages or see grave images of children systematically left to fend for themselves on the streets of other countries we are shocked and appalled. This stark need for care and love may not be as apparent in a small council school in Dundee but it may still be there. 1 in 5 Scottish children are living in poverty, in Dundee that becomes 1 in 4 and in the worst affected areas within Dundee that becomes 1 in 3. Half of these children are from “working families”, the effect this can have on family dynamics and the level of stress and anxiety within the home is cause for concern. Away from the home the teacher can adopt the Social Learning Theory advocated by theorists like Bandura, where positive interaction can lead to healthy attachments.

It is hard to disconnect our own experiences and childhoods from those children we come into contact with. Expecting their lives to mirror our own, in some strangely ingrained manner. Not all children will have a mother at home. Not all children will have a sole attachment. That doesn’t discredit the attachments they do have and the ones they deem beneficial and important.


Aspects of a Professional


A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns their living from a specified activity. This could mean having a professional manner to their work or being part of what society deems a profession. Not to get into debate or start my assignment early, I am going to reflect upon 5 key aspects that help construct the teacher as a professional.


To be able to show concern for the misfortunes of others is such a meaningful attribute to have in the teaching profession. As a teacher you work and come into contact with people from all walks of life; relating to them in a compassionate manner puts yourself in a more favourable light. There is a wariness to not become condescending but this is learnt with time and I believe it is better for a teacher to show compassion than indifference. Hopefully if a child is shown compassion they are more likely to mimic and display this in their own lives and the wider community.


This is a harder characteristic to reflect upon but an incredibly important one. A teacher must first and foremost be honest with themselves, true reflection is needed to be a better teacher. To be honest with pupils and families is to give meaningful input and constructive criticism but never to pass judgement. The community needs to see a professional manner and to be brutally honest may become detrimental.

Moral Courage

This leads on well from honesty as morals can be so varied between the teacher, her class and indeed colleagues. When it comes to a child’s safety, moral courage is paramount. Being able to justifiably protect the children in our care is so important. Even if the outcome isn’t of great benefit personally, there should be no doubt when it comes to doing the right thing. Corresponding closely with the GTCS Standards for Registration and beyond.


Teachers should give respect but also hope to be treated with respect. When the teacher is treated disrespectfully it is within their power to act in a manner becoming of the profession and our regulatory body. No respect can be given if it is not deserved: it is the regards for the rights, abilities and qualities of others. Gaining respect as a teacher must be so valuable in their job and the wider community. Respected professionals are listened to, confided in, needed and trusted by those around them. It must be a very rewarding feeling.


Justice (fairness in the way people are treated), namely Social Justice (distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges within society) should mean so much to today’s teacher because the world is increasingly interdependent. The GTCS standard put Social Justice at the core of Professional Values and Personal Commitment (GTCS 1.1.1). It is my hope that I can help create a Just Society; help to create an informed and Socially Just generation, so atrocities are not repeated. Teachers have to predominantly teach in a Socially Just fashion; fact independent from opinion and that is what they are entrusted to provide. As a teacher it is vital to help children act in a Just manner, therefore they must educate children with various theories and a holistic approach. The Curriculum for Excellence relates to this with the idea of a global citizen but the concept of justice resonates in the four capacities; Successful Learners (openness to new ideas), Confident Individuals (secure values and beliefs), Responsible Citizens (respect for others) and Effective Contributors (enterprising attitude). Providing a Socially Just education in a Just manner.

Teachers on professionalism

What makes a teacher who makes a difference?

The following values are taken from the GTCS Standards;

Professional Commitment

  • Engaging with all aspects of professional practice and working collegiately with all members of our educational communities with enthusiasm, adaptability and constructive criticality.
  • Committing to lifelong enquiry, learning, professional development and leadership as core aspects of professionalism and collaborative practice

It is stated how important commitment is to being a teacher, in Video 1 the similarities between doctors and teachers are highlighted. I understand the viewpoint but must disagree on the severity of life and death used. There are many successful, functioning human beings who lacked a professional teacher in their lives. There are not as many individuals alive and well after being at the hands of an unprofessional doctor. The teacher makes a difference when their is accountability and commitment but more so if the child, family and community are behind the teacher. The teacher must adapt to her surroundings and meet the needs of her students and their families. It is this hark back to the respected teacher that is highlighted in the video.  These teachers only know they are making a difference because the feedback from communities and the impact they have on the entire education system. Going above and beyond is an understatement, the willingness to actively engage, challenge and develop the system as well as themselves. This commitment to the profession is about knowing your place within it is subject to change. You are responsible and accountable for the education you provide. So to be a teacher who makes a difference you must want to first BE that difference.

Teachers on professionalism

In the second video Miss Long highlighted the introduction of benchmarking, the across board way to see if a teacher is succeeding. I can see the stress this may cause but it is mainly a benefit. Children deserve equal opportunities and the access to efficient teachers. Mrs Chemmi discussed the importance of a professional personality. Children imitating the actions and words of the teacher. This made perfect sense but local dialogue or a relatable accent can be of benefit when talking with parents. Adaptability is key, children should have a positive, polite and professional constant with their teachers and the teacher herself should be professional enough to adapt to that. It was Mrs Walsh and Mrs Smith I related most too. Speaking to children in a manner that won’t offend their home life is something I have first hand experience with. It takes a great level of professional conduct to approach an incident of profanity in a nursery setting! The child should never feel ashamed of their background, if it is difficult it is to build upon, if it is entitled there is scope for diversifying. I have always been intrigued with early years language acquisition and the little importance based on professional manner in private nurseries. It is a pot luck. Professionalism is about the teacher embracing the profound influence they have on the children they teach and also encompass the impact the have in the child’s wider world. With teachers now being a child’s likely Named Person, as part of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, the teacher’s influence is solidified both inside and out-with the classroom.

Worker or Professional?

As this a purely personal reflection on the message this video sent to me I feel I can be honest. From Mr. Christie I saw an idealised view of a teacher, the message that teachers should be appreciated and should be carried on our shoulders. They were all wishes, not reality. This mollycoddling perception, publicly voiced to reiterate the notion of the teacher as a valued member of society: but only when they do a “great job”. It is unjust to assume all teachers do a great job, as in all professions it is hard to equate. It is then easy to brand them all the same and in knowing not all are great, the pay can stay the same. Why pay more when not all teachers deserve to be carried on shoulders.

Karen Lewis saying she was an “educational worker” upset me. I am aware that too many teachers don’t just punch a clock and do a job. They have passion and commitment to their profession. The career itself demands extra hours, further study, planning and continuous development. A union is important and I am unsure as to whether Karen was pretending to be obtuse, as that is how she feels she is treated; or whether she genuinely thinks teaching isn’t a profession. No matter how she felt she is clearly a teacher currently within the system and if her morale regarding her chosen “profession” is so low it leads to many questions. This quote resonated with me and relates well to Karen and the message I took from her speech.

“The system which makes no great demands upon originality, upon invention… works automatically to put and to keep the more incompetent teachers in the school. Where their time and energy are likely to be..occupied with details of external conformity”

J.Dewey 1941

There’s reading, then there’s reflecting



Reflection is paramount when it comes to education. Philosophy and theory are underpinned by it. As a teacher, it is needed for: improvement, justification, worth, position and the ability to adapt. As teachers we become part of the GTCS, it is the body we must adhere to and in the Standards for Registration section 3.4 they state that student teachers must, “reflect and engage in self evaluation using the relevant professional standard.” If, as a student I can grasp reflection and utilise this appropriately I feel I will become a better teacher.

It is however, not sufficient to reflect only from a personal viewpoint or to make assumptions about outcomes. It is so easy to over personalise reflective writing, this must be avoided with the input of other sources and the ability to step back from a situation.  If something goes awry it is through reflection it can be avoided again. How did it impact upon others? What would others do differently? Are there theories to support or refute my findings? Reflection leads to adaptation and change and without that we would become stagnant. Honesty and a willingness to step out-with our own values and views is necessary for effective reflection. Education must flow with the times and be a reflection, in itself, of the world we exist within.

To encourage reflective thought in children it is best to practice reflectively. The philosopher Maxine Greene stated “to present oneself as actively engaged in critical thinking… one cannot accept any “ready-made standardized scheme” at face value.” This idea of questioning and being seen to adopt an open standpoint is vital. As a teacher I need to evolve and reflect just as each and every student must. The philosopher goes on to discuss the concept of concious engagement with inquiry. Reflection is about being pro-active and it always leads to something more. Being patient enough to follow up and act upon outcomes, then lead onto action.

In short, reflection is the process of improvement. This blog has helped me tremendously with my reflective approach towards my own education. I can only imagine how reflection will impact my teaching.


Me, Me, Me

Completing a questionnaire about learning styles seems borderline irrelevant when we are geared towards creating holistic individuals, however, I was keen to find out what type of learner they thought I was. I have been reading more and more about how learning styles are detrimental. One of the reasons being, you are catering to a child’s strength not improving upon a weakness. I can see how this can be a hindrance but I found it beneficial to highlight what areas I need to work on.

There are many learning style theorists; Gunn and Gunn, VAK learning styles, Gregorc’s mind styles and Kolb. The questionnaire I took was the Honey and Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaire, influenced by Kolb’s experiential learning styles. The questionnaire has 4 basic experiential learning style outcomes; Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist. Out of 80 questions I related to 34 and these are my results

Activist = 14              Reflector = 4           Theorist = 8               Pragmatist = 8

These show that I have, according to Honey and Mumford an Activist learning style. I am in short, a do-er. My criticism’s towards this sort of questionnaire were that I found the questions very non specific and they were hard to give a definite answer to. There was only one question I answered with a whole hearted YES and that was “I prefer to respond to events on a spontaneous, flexible basis rather than plan things out in advance.” Now I know very well that I cannot and do not approach my university work like this… I’d say I utilise aspects of the 4 and want everything as perfect as I can make it.  If I had answered these questions in my youth or prior to having my daughter I know my answers would be very different.  So it is correct in the sense that we all have different ways we think, regarding our overall learning style, but it is not definitive of who I am or the only way I learn. If I reflect, so far, on my time at University I know I have come into contact with at least 4 different teaching styles/methods/approaches. If I didn’t have the skills to decipher those “styles” with my learning style I would be in a pickle.

Children should be seen as individuals and exposure to varying approaches and involvement within their community will hopefully shape them to be all types of learners. They will develop, change and expand their learning the more “styles” they use in their enquiries and as they grow. If a child is solely taught in one teaching style you are not creating the opportunity for praxis and collaboration of ideas. It is imparting on the children a sense of how to do things in the wider world. Take an onus for their holistic learning, not “training” them to seek out chances to use a specific style.

This appears to be a bash at learning styles, maybe my inner Activist took hold. Joking aside, compartmentalising a child is a restriction. That restriction may also apply to the teacher if learning styles are focussed on too heavily. Understanding of learning styles should be used as a primitive base for teachers to comprehend the vast responsibility that is: teaching. We are aiming for inspirational stimulation in the classroom and I believe that concentrated focus and labelling of learning styles detracts from this.