Category Archives: 1.2 Integrity

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

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.



A Messy Divorce

The GTCS code regarding social media and its use is clear in conveying the importance of conscientious contribution to the world of Social Media. For all the perks of the profession and the reward, it is also in the GTCS’ best interests that the teachers of Scotland conduct themselves in a manner that instils trust within the pupils, parents and society.

In my opinion I feel teachers would be perceived as out of touch and reluctant to be forward thinkers themselves if they didn’t embrace Social Media in some-way or another. Social Media should be seen as an extension of the classroom and if the teacher is willing to marry their private life to that professional space, they are doing so against guidance. Social Media as an entity is judgemental and self-involved. Understanding the intense pressure there is to be involved in Social Media is the first step. It is everywhere! Instead of adopting a “retreat!” attitude, as teachers, we should be innovating ways to make it benefit the pupils. If you want your private life to stay as such, insure you have the correct settings. I know myself that I have a private Facebook and Instagram account, however my Pintrest is public. I find Pintrest a positive space, devoid of too many trolls or negative comments and enjoy searching recipes, fashion design and rainy day projects. Social Media has the power to portray the teacher as holistic, human, relatable and approachable. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram cannot help but become personal, the line is blurred before the first post is even created. It is all about how you feel and what you think, the temptation to blurt a rant on Facebook is all too easy. Emotions are at the core, “liking”, “reposting”, “#selfie”. Marrying the private and professional aspects exposes the teacher to scrutiny and to befriend a pupil or parent goes against the guidance laid out for us as part of our regulatory body.

So, if I feel Facebook and twitter are too personal and places like glow are too professional or not inclusive of parents then what space do I use? If Social Media is to be a positive experience for all involved, what can I do to get it incorporated?

Pinterest and YouTube are easily accessible, BoB is useful for keeping track of educational programmes. I think many of these social media platforms bring the real world to the classroom. Live connections that can change the setting instantly; evoke instant emotion and discussion. Insuring first and foremost that you are well versed in the lingo, savvy about safety and aware of the omnipresence that Social Media has become. If use of social media is approached in the same manner a teacher would approach a book or a project; well planned, concise and relevant, then there is no detriment to the pupils.

We are now part of a culture that sees children exposed too young, to so many inappropriate images. The need for them to relate and conform to society is a growing pressure and instead of teachers shying away from the subject of social media they need to be seen as a guide. In saying that they also have to guide parents. Why can’t social media be used positively to bridge the gap between home and school? Indeed, between personal life and school?

I looked into this and within a few searches I found a site called Edmodo, a space for pupils, teachers and parents alike. It claims to keep parents in the loop about upcoming assignments, eases use of on the go learning and makes class comprehension something you can analyse mid lesson. For teachers it has all the benefits of social media in a professional context. This appears to be catered to the English curriculum but it’s very interesting how sleek and appealing it looks. Could it be the Facebook for teachers?

As a parent my-self the horror stories regarding misuse of Social Media seem to be splayed everywhere. This doesn’t deter me from encouraging Social Media use in the classroom but it does highlight the need for dialogue. Attitudes will not change if the horror stories are continuously repeated and then documented, ironically, on news sites and Social Media. We teach children how to cross the road, how to construct a sentence but when it comes to Social Media it appears to be them teaching us. Children are all too aware of the independence they can feel on the “big bad internet” and it is our job to show them how to handle that independence and use it to a positive end.

Children have created the frame, catapulting social media into the classroom and we must help them keep within age appropriate boundaries but make the content engaging and beneficial. They will see massive changes in their lifetime. When I was 5 I never imagined I’d be using the internet to converse with people all over the world instantaneously. Actually, when I was 5, there was no internet! If I can’t resist using Social Media in my personal life then surely I can utilise it in my professional life? By following the Professional Guidance on the Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media as guidelines we can help shape the positive use of Social Media in the classroom. There is opportunity to bypass media hegemony and use Social Media to mould a more Just society