Category Archives: 1.3 Trust & Respect

Inset Day – Purple Pens and Labelling Lads

Yesterday’s inset day was a lovely relaxing first day back for the teachers before the madness of the children arriving! Moulsford had booked a local teacher to talk to us from a private school in Oxford who are changing their curriculum, like Moulsford, to a more skills based curriculum. As he started I already liked the idea of what he would be talking about and he ended up keeping me engaged throughout his whole talk and giving me fantastic ideas to come away with to put into practice.

Image taken from google – is this really how we want children to feel when we label them?

The first thing which the gentleman discussed was ensuring as teachers we have high expectations of all our students. One of the problems in teaching at the moment can be the way we label our pupils from “low ability” and “lazy” to “gifted” and “clever”. I had never actually sat and thought about how my own thoughts and discussions with colleagues could have such an effect on the child themselves but I am really glad I have because I have realized now that it can really influence a child and their own expectations for their learning. Even the parents start to pick up on children who are in top sets or low sets and it reminded me of the episode of desperate housewives (I know sorry, but it was a good example) where two of the main characters go crazy trying to figure out which one of their children were in the higher maths class by stealing homework to look at from other children.

Image taken from google – what does this image really say about us as teachers putting children into sets?

Now although that is going to the extremes and is from a made up show, there is definitely something there to think about, because labeling our children as teachers clearly has an effect on our pupils. Granted, this can often be positive with children thriving from the praise of being a “star pupil” or an “A-grade student” but those labelled as “weak” or “unable” are, in my opinion far less likely to try to get better grades. The RSA have an interesting article on a system where at the start of the year every child is given an A grade and they have to continually show good academic work to keep the grade. Their research shows in fact that children are likely to try to hold on to the A they have been given rather than being given a C and to then have to try and bring it up to an A.

Growth mindset is everywhere at the moment and is something which was also discussed about in the talk. I can honestly say I didn’t really understand it fully until yesterday, it was just words that professionals kept using and I was reading in academic books and journals. However, now having done the activities in the talk I can say that I understand more of what growth mindset is and how important showing children that they can change is. Intelligence shouldn’t be seen as a fixed point, it should be seen as something which can be developed. Moreover, failure was discussed at the talk as well and how giving the children an opportunity to fail and learn from it, is just as important as giving children an opportunity to learn. This was then continued as the main focus for today’s morning assembly for the first day back. The head master made the point interactive by having children up at the front and re-iterated the fact that failure is something which should be seen as positive as we are able to learn from it. The following video was also shown, in order to prove to the boys that failure can happen to anyone, not just them.

Image taken from google here is an example of the pit

The last 2 points of the talk were challenging children and giving children informed feedback. I always try to challenge my pupils no matter their age or stage, but I dont challenge them to the extremes where children go into the “panic zone”. The teacher leading the talk discussed “the pit” with us and what using this tool could do for our teaching and the childrens learning. When discussing feedback, we looked at many different ways in which feedback can inform the children of ways they can improve on their work. Many different marking strategies including two stars and

Image taken from google – here is an example of the purple pen of progress in action!

a wish, peer assessment, question and answer were discussed in groups, but overall the main marking strategy I will be taking away from this is the “progress pen”. The idea behind this is that the children will be able to write in comments in their books around the teachers comments about how they will progress in their learning and more specifically they use it to answer their next step targets that the teacher has given them. To be picky, the amount of time this may take students to create a target for each piece of work could be lengthy until they get the hang of it, however the idea behind it is something I like and I feel it is a great way of teaching children that they should be in charge of their own learning!

To conclude, I feel that labeling children can be dangerous and the the RSA have come up with something very different with their ideas of starting off every pupil with an A grade. I personally don’t like to label children, however sometimes when discussing the child’s progress and ability in certain subjects I do see how these terms can creep into conversation, even if they are positive! Furthermore, I definitely think the learning pit and the purple progress pen are teaching tools which I like and would  use in lessons, even as just a student myself to make children in my class feel better about their learning and feedback. It is our job as teachers to ensure that all children feel that they are in a safe space to fail and by teaching them these techniques we can get one step closer to making them feel that they are in a safe space.

Image taken from goolge

 

Week 2 – Reflection

Each week on this placement, I must right a short reflection on my time at Moulsford and link it to the GTCS Scottish Standards for Provisional Registration. It was the last week of the Spring term before they boys go off on their Easter break and there was a lot of random days and lessons that there wouldn’t be in the average week at Moulsford. However, is any week a normal week when it comes to school life? Either way, I took it all in my stride and have had an extremely productive second week at Moulsford.

Image taken from google – lovely to see lots of music tuition going on this week and to see what an important part it is to school life

On Monday it was one of these days, where it was a day full of house music and I wrote the blog post Musical Madness at Moulsford all about the day. This is a tool that Moulsford as a private boarding school use to bring children throughout the school to work together on a common goal. As a musician myself I found the day a fantastic way of speaking to the boys and forming a professional relationship with some of the members of staff that were in the house Bering. Furthermore, I found myself having discussions with staff members from across the school, all in different roles, about the work that they do on a daily basis, most of which I found insightful. As a teacher it is important to develop a culture of trust and respect with other members of staff and the pupils and I feel by taking part in the activities here at Moulsford I am doing this. Moreover, Cremin and Arthur (2014) concur, and believe that by managing a team of adults to ensure that all children can access a range of curricular opportunities, adapted to the children’s own needs in this type of culture, it will facilitate a child’s learning.

On Tuesday it was a normal teaching day where I spent the majority of the day with the pre-prep children and staff. This lead me to write the blog post First Time at Phonics, because it was my first ever encounters with phonics in a teaching setting. I had no idea how useful phonics could be to children in the primary classroom and on Friday morning discussed even teaching a lesson on phonics early next term. Furthermore, on Tuesday I also attended forest school for the third time where we did a Gruffalo hunt with the children. The children all seemed to really enjoy it, although by the end of the hunt were getting rather tired. This made me think about the amount of activities in Moulsford which are packed into the average school day which can be immensely fun and rewarding, however the longer days could lead to tiredness. Since my time here I have found that the length of the school day is definitely a big difference between private schools and government run schools with some children attending school from 8am to 6pm. Following Tuesdays excitement, on Wednesday,I was extremely excited to be invited to attend a pupil council meeting with the staff and boys. A one of my goals is to learn about schools from all aspects I personally felt that watching the children discussing matters throughout the school that are important to them was really interesting. Additionally, I was able to see the trust and respect that there needs to be between staff and pupils in a school once again after Monday. The day did make me think a little more as well about my goal which is to learn about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom. Furthermore, as important as the staff members are in a school, the children are equally as important and over the coming weeks I think I will try to speak to some of the boys in the school about their experience at Moulsford to gain an insight into this aspect of a school.

On Thursday I spoke to the lovely team in Learning Support and wrote the post Learning for Support and Support for Learning about the experience. I felt the experience made me closer to successfully completing one of my goals “I want to learn about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom”. The Integrity Standard for Provisional Registration (GTCS, 2012, pp. 5) “critically examining the connections between personal and professional attitudes and beliefs, values and professional practices in order to inform and shape personal and professional development effect improvement” is linked closely with this goal. To gain more of an insight into what a learning support staff members role in the classroom is, I went on to read chapter 8.2 Working together: other adults in the classroom by Cremin and Arthur (2014) in Learning to Teach in the Primary School.

By Friday, the school was in a quick paced flurry of excitement as the term was about to end. Each class was tidying up their individual form rooms, making mothers day cards

Image taken from google – it was great to sit in on Mark Reading where this was a huge theme throughout the morning!

and easter gifts to take home. As mentioned earlier, I myself had a chat with the Year 3 teacher about doing some lessons of my own at the beginning of next term. To start with, over the Easter break I will be planning a lesson on rivers, mathematics and phonics to each last an hour. To help me plan I will be referring to the National Curriculum (Department for Education, 2017). Before the children all left for their break away from education, it was time for Mark Reading which is something I would usually refer to as an achievement assembly.

To conclude this reflection, during 3 of these days on placement I have written 3 critical blog posts about my time here at Mouslford and feel that I am critically examining personal and professional attitudes and beliefs and challenging our own assumptions and professional practice which is also one of the Standards for Provisional Registration (GTCS, 2012, pp. 4). Furthermore, to add to my practice I am completing my goals through frequent academic reading which I am referencing in the blog posts and observations in the school itself. Being away from the Prep school for 3 weeks will certainly be bitter sweet as after a busy term at the University and going in to placement straight away has left me shattered but, I am have the experience of a lifetime at Moulsford and just want to keep going back everyday.

 

 

References

Department for Education (2017) National Curriuclum. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study (Accessed on 25th March 2017).

GTCS (2012) The Standards for Registration. [Online]. Available at: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/about-gtcs/standards-for-registration-draft-august-2012.pdf (Accessed on 25th March 2017).

Teresa, C. and Arthur, J. (2014) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. Abington, Oxon: Routledge. Chapter 8.1 – The changing role of the teacher

Gender Stereotypes in the Media

Waking on Friday morning I unexpectedly found my social media site exploded with claims that in America girls believe brilliance is a male trait. Naturally I was curious to find out more, and the more articles I read, I was horrified to find that the reality is that girls from as young as six truly feel that boys are smarter than them because they are boys… What? The more I thought about it this morning the more I thought about if I had ever thought about boys being smarter than me growing up. The short answer is no. I was brought up to always know that no matter what I did there were people around me who supported me and if there was something I wanted to do I could do it. To be honest if there was anyone I thought was better than me it was “the more academically able” because the school I went to made out that we had to get A’s rather than B’s. It was nothing to do with gender.

Now thinking about it in a professional capacity and having interagency working as a module this year, I am really thinking about some of the female role models children have in their lives. Is this a big contributor to gender stereotypes?  in terms of the media especially, just think about some of the positive female “role models” there are right now? To be honest the only good examples I could come up with were involved in politics like Nicola Sturgeon, Theresa May, Michelle Obama etc and of course Mary Berry (who doesn’t love a bit of Mary). This was all backed up in the 2016 girls attitude survey run by Girlguiding. One of the first points raised from the survey was that there are simply too few positive female role models. I could not think of a single positive female role model involved in science or maths in the media because to be perfectly honest I don’t think there are any that are publicised because they don’t get the interest the likes of the Kardashians, singers and actresses do. It’s all very well and good publicising women being involved in maths and science but it’s not surprising young girls would rather become a singer or actress because these are not the glamorous lifestyles portrayed in the media. Dame Athene Donald, professor at the University of Cambridge confirms in the Guardian that if we are to encourage children to be gender-balanced involvement at secondary school isn’t good enough anymore! Surely discussing stereotypes in Primary Schools to children of all ages is just as important to a Health and Wellbeing right now! I write this just days after one of the biggest Gender Equality and Women’s Rights demonstrations took place in cities all across the world. 

100 years ago our ancestors did the exact same thing for the right to vote in this country. Have we really come that much further since the days of suffragettes if we are aiming marches at the President of the United States, due to misogynistic statements about women being overweight and taking away rights from women who want rights over their personal well being. The newly elected President once said about a beauty pageant “If you’re looking for a rocket scientist, don’t tune in tonight, but if you’re looking for a really beautiful woman, you should watch”. If that’s not an advert for gender stereotype discussions in primary schools, I don’t know what is.

To be honest, I do think that these feelings that men are better than women won’t change overnight – nothing ever does. This feeling that men are better than women has been around for centuries and just by talking to children about it from an early age doesn’t mean there still won’t be an underlying niggling feeling that some jobs are for men and some for women. Referring back again to the work Girlguiding does, The Girls Attitude Survey of 2016 showed that girls also feel that too many adverts still portray girls and women in traditional gender roles. This kickstarted the advert below for the Girlguiding #ForTheGirl campaign, and proves this is a daily struggle in our media instantly with voice overs from real interviews. It’s a powerful video and really makes you think!

My final point is a personal one. We need to as a human race stamp this feeling out completely as soon as possible. I just don’t think it is right that a child as young as 6 can sit there and think someone is better than them because of their gender. I am a strong believer in earning your right to be places and yes, that child might end up in a better paying job, with higher grades and a better lifestyle but that shouldn’t be because they are male. It should be because the male was genuinely better at the job, better academically and healthier. I’m in no way a strong feminist even if this post portrays me as such, I am however a true believer in equality and equal rights for everyone. Especially when it comes to my classroom.

My Peer Education Story

img_3056As an avid Girlguider I was delighted to get a place on the Peer Education training course last weekend. Peer Education is Girlguiding UK’s innovative programme that trains members of The Senior Section (14-25 year olds) to empower themselves and others to make a difference in the lives of girls throughout the UK through different “training sessions”. During the course of the weekend, we were trained to run fun, safe and challenging sessions on many different topics which are tailored to an age range of 7-25 year olds, and which have the right activities and content to make a difference in young people’s lives. We can deliver sessions on Think Resilient – mental well-being, Free Being Me – growing girls’ body confidence and self-esteem, Healthy Relationships – being good and safe friends and being able to tell whether a romantic relationship is healthy and lastly Youth Health – being aware of the effects of alcohol, smoking and drugs. The weekend was truly so much fun and the ladies training us were the most enthusiastic, funny people around – really adding to the atmosphere and learning. And the food was great which was a huge bonus.

I signed up for the Peer Education course initially to make a difference to young people who have been bullied after my own experiences, feeling a strong will to do something to help young people in a way I was never lucky enough to have in my school. This will to help children who have been bullied almost expanded my will to become a teacher far stronger to stop children having the same treatment from teachers I had. Although I feel really let down by the way the school I went to dismissed the way I was bullied I was lucky enough to have a weekly guides group with amazing leaders I am now lucky enough to call friends. Girlguiding has been there for me on two occasions in my life where I felt I had nowhere else to go and got me through, so naturally I feel heavily in debt to the charity and Peer Education seemed like the way for me to repay this at this stage in my life. However, on the course I found that Peer Educators have a far bigger job than just helping young Girl Guides understand365-2 the effects of bullying but that they help children to find coping mechanisms with this mental health and their body. In 2013 7,800 girls had been seen by a Peer Educator and there were over 500 peer educations in the UK.

 

Some of the techniques and activities I learned linked in heavily with many of the subjects I will be teaching in the future as a part of Health and Wellbeing. As exciting and fun as the weekend was it really hit home to me that some of the topics we were discussing would actually be happening to some of the children in my classroom. Although we see children smoking at an early age in the news and hear children say they think they looked fat in those pair of jeans in primark as we walk past them in the shopping center, we soon forget that we ever saw it and do nothing about it. But what kind of a society have we become that this is the norm? What kind of example are we setting for our children in the future if we do nothing about it? This was when it clicked that actually – teachers might have a far harder job in terms of pastoral care than I initially thought…
peer-educatorNow I’m trained up with these techniques I feel a lot more confident to go out into a classroom and talk to children about all sorts of these things. Activities that I learnt on my course like breathing techniques/emotions bucket to show children that even though your emotions overflow sometimes, you can always share feelings with someone/people mind map to show the people the children can go to if they are feeling down to talk are extremely versatile and can be run with children in many different settings – not just at Guides. I honestly cannot wait to start my peer education sessions though and am already taking bookings to run sessions so it looks like I’ve got a busy year ahead of me. Although I’ll be extremely busy it keeps me going to think about the good I will be doing for children across Dundee and the Highlands and just wish there was a way of expanding it to help more children in need of these techniques. But in the mean time I suppose I have to settle with the fact I’m a university student and taking Peer Education all over the world my just be a little too much for my tiny little brain to manage.

Part of a Peer Educators job is to inform the public of the amazing things we do in Girlguiding and spread the word about the sessions we teach so, after reading this if you feel inspired to find out more about the sessions we run and what we do please contact me by commenting below or go to www.girlguiding.org.uk and share this post so more people can know!!

This years newly trained Scottish Peer Educators - a very proud bunch!!

This years newly trained Scottish Peer Educators – a very proud bunch!!