Category Archives: 3. Prof. Skills & Abilities

Who Am I?

Who am I?

This weeks social studies TDT looks at identity and asks us to read a chapter of Woodward (2004) and look at the role it plays in our world today. So reading this, you might wonder who I am? Well I’m a university student, a Girlguide leader, a Manchester City fan, a blogger, British, a lover of all things chocolate and an avid baker. Already, just putting these identities out there puts me as being the same as some people and different from others, and this isn’t a bad thing. Furthermore, as a person I have changed over time. For example, I wasn’t always a university student and I won’t be one forever, at some point I’ll be able to add qualified teacher to my identities and this will put me in a whole other category. Identities change constantly, which adds to who we are as people.

I think it is important to be part of these categories because they identify my similarities in me, my friends, my family and my boyfriend. I love who I am and think more people should be confident about who they are. I have had to go through tough experiences, the death of my father and the bullying at school but these have formed who I am as a person and I can’t escape this. This doesn’t mean that I always think of myself in this way though. George Herbert Mead (Woodward, 2004, pg 11) suggests that we are who we are because of how others see us and I can certainly relate to this. Although I am quite a confident person in who I am, I will still stand at my wardrobe in the morning wondering what the most appropriate thing to wear that day will be so people don’t judge me. This is completely normal, and I know for a fact that I am not the only person to do this. I also hold my hand up and say that I started wearing make up because of what the girls at school used to say. I didn’t want to be the odd one out or to be judged for being different. Although now I wear make up for completely different reasons, I can look back now and think “oh how ridiculous”, but it just proves that Mead is correct by saying that I see myself by how others see me.

Identities change over history too. Although we have no idea what we would be like 100 years ago, we know that we would be a lot different because of the difference in society. If I think of myself, I might still be a Girlguide leader, but I most likely wouldn’t be a university student and certainly wouldn’t be a Manchester City fan. Technologies change constantly, look at the iphone, they bring out a new one every 5 minutes (so it feels) but they are always adding to it and that’s how I like to think of identities over history. As technologies grow so do identities and what people identify themselves as, change to move with the times.

 

So I hope reading this has made you learn a little about me and think about who you are as a person.  No two identities are the same but this is a great thing. Different identities are what makes the human race so incredible.  Just think how boring we would be if we were all the same..! As a teacher this is something I would always want to teach my children and not only can it relate to geography as a curricular area but also health and wellbeing. My job in Guiding as a peer educator is all about teaching girls to love themselves for who they are through the free being me resourse and I love going out to show the girls just how incredible they all are individually so I am sure as a teacher I will be passionate about this in the classroom too.

 

References

Woodward, K. (2004), Questioning Identity: Gender, Class, EthnicityCh.1 Questions of Identity in London: Routledge [Online] Accessed on 4.5.17 

The History in Castles

This week I have been lucky enough to have visited not one but TWO castles, have been learning about history teaching in lectures and have frankly loved every second of it. I went to visit family for the weekend in Northumberland and with them knowing how much I love history, going round the castles seemed the best activities to undertake. The first was Bamburgh Castle – the ‘King of the castles’ which looks over the sea, was built in the medieval period and is now home to the Armstrong family. Sunday’s stunning castle was Alnwick castle – home to the Duke of Northumberland, has some magnificent state rooms and is some of the inspiration to the outside of Hogwarts, including where the broomstick lesson scene was filmed in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (absolutely not the reason I went *ahem).

However, my week of history started on Thursday with my first social studies lecture based around history. As I aspire to someday become a history teacher in a prep school, I was eager to get started and learn what I can. But, I am very aware that history can be one of the more challenging and emotive subjects to be teaching in a primary classroom and some teachers will keep as far away as possible from the subject and for as long as they can. Furthermore, one of our first tasks has been to ensure that we fully understand the constraints when teaching history and what good practices we can keep to help ourselves as professional practitioners.

We have been asked to look at the The Historical Association (2007) TEACH booklet which has some very useful tips to teachers who need some guidance when it comes to teaching history and also what the constraints are that teachers find the most trying. Moreover, one of the more regular constraints I saw popping up was that there is not enough time given to the subject. But I honestly cannot blame some teachers! The amount some teachers have to do is incredible and then the government have the cheek to pile more on. It’s quite ridiculous. But at the end of the day, none of this would be the problem that it is if teachers had the training in history they needed because they would be more willing to find the time. We all know how good history is at falling into the themes that teachers know (and usually love to teach), but teachers have inadequate subject knowledge.

Bamburgh castle was simply gorgeous!

Moreover, although self study would help this quite considerably, teachers do not have the time to simply buy books to teach themselves what happened here and watch lengthy documentaries about what this person did there and it is unfair to ask teachers to give up their time to do this! If schools and councils were able to give suitable training and information sessions on certain history topics, I am without a doubt that teaching history would not be quite as much of a chore to some professionals as it seems.

Resources are my bug bare in schools, I love creating them and the laminator is my ultimate best friend, however as before I constantly find there is just not enough time to be cutting and laminating a whole topics worth of resources (and I applaud those who do) every couple of weeks. Some teachers will read this gritting their teeth and minds screaming “but its your job!”. However, I am not the only trainee on a placement to be hunting around the school’s resources to see what I can borrow for my “mini project” and know from speaking to other professionals that it is all to easy to slip into the routine of grabbing that box off the top shelf, dusting it off and rifling through the same resources used in the eighties for something to teach the children with. I hold my hands up and say I am a hypocrite because I have done it, but am very aware this is one of the worst things that you can do! All of these old resources will have some value yes, and I’m not in anyway saying we should bin them, all I’m saying is we should be not relying on them but mixing them with newer ideas. The Historical Association (2007, p.21) TEACH booklet suggests using puppets, music, films and cartoons that will appeal to today’s children and can also encourage personal engagement with the topic.

I would teach children about cooking in different times and the challenges big banquets would have brought!

Walking around both castles, I also saw many different ways in which you could link different periods of history with other curriculum subjects. Both castles had libraries which I would take as an opportunity to explore some of the books that were written years ago but are still read and thoroughly enjoyed today. Health and wellbeing could be explored through how people would prepare meals and which foods they would eat. I might even attempt to get my class to prepare their own meal from this era to see if they would like eating/prepping foods from these times – if taught the right way, it would certainly relate to their lives today! Finally, I might take a look at some of the scientific findings that have been discovered – for example Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb in 1879 – and do some experiments, involving light, of our own. It would all take a little more thought than little old me typing away at my keyboard for 5 minutes, but you all get the idea that it can all be linked together if you try..

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my weekend, and I would go to both castles with classes of children to give them a close up view of how people used to live. Moreover, I feel that getting the children out there to see these castles on school trips is a vital part to learning, something which is concured by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2004, pp. 4). I see the value in teaching history greatly, and cannot see my opinion changing but only becoming stronger on my social studies course which I am really happy about and excited for. The upcoming weeks will hopefully provide me with many more good practices and recommendations to help me with the constraints that teaching social studies can prove. I might even force myself to visit a few more castles…

References

Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2004) Inspiration, Identity, Learning: The Value of Museums, Leicester: RCMG.

The Historical Association (2007) T.E.A.C.H: Teaching Emotive and Controversial History 3-19, London: The Historical Association.

Powerful Knowledge in the Social Studies Classroom

So, after a wonderful summer of work, work, Paris, work, its back to third year and within my first day I have been subjected to TDT’s! Nothing quite like getting into the swing of things, is there? My elective module this year is Scottish Studies (unlike me I know, but when I signed up to it, it was called social studies and it sounds like this is what it will be) and will have main focuses on geography, history and politics – just has social studies does in a primary school. It looks as though I will be updating this blog on a more regular basis again (yay) because we have to create a portfolio which will have pieces of writing which reflect on what I am reading, thinking and learning. So lets start as we mean to go on!

I am starting off by comparing two very different articles which are referenced at the end, on a knowledge based approach in the classroom setting. Young (2013, p.115) throughout the article, has argued that a knowledge based curriculum is not a workable solution to any problems arising in our curriculum, but would highlight the issues in our modern society. Roberts (2014) on the other hand has written positively about knowledge in the curriculum, feeling that the knowledge children bring in to the classroom from past experiences can be an asset to the classroom for pupils. Now I’m going to be honest here. I found the article Young wrote quite a tricky read, putting it down and thinking “what does knowledge even mean anymore”? It could have been the fact it was the evening and I just needed some sleep and it could have been the language he has used, but I decided to find out exactly what is meant by  a knowledge based curriculum. The Great Education Debate (2013) has stated that a knowledge based curriculum is based primarily on knowledge as opposed to the skills a child will need for going out in adult life to work. Currently, our curriculum’s are based on the skills needed and not the knowledge, but some people feel that knowledge in the classroom is far more important.

Now we know what a knowledge based curriculum is, what are my thoughts on what I have read? I personally think there is absolutely a case for knowledge in the classroom. At the end of the day knowledge is already a huge part of the curriculum, we are teaching knowledge everyday – I am slightly confused as to why we are believed NOT to be teaching knowledge already, but rather skills. Roberts (2014, p.192) discussed Vygostky throughout the article and points out how Vygotsky values knowledge learned at home and supports children’s everyday experiences. On the other hand, Young (2013, p.111) disagrees with Vygotsky, claiming that a child’s experiences growing up can limit their education. Personally, I feel a child’s previous experiences can benefit the child’s learning in the classroom because I have seen first hand how enthusiastic some children can be about sharing personal stories from home and the joy on their faces when they realize they already knew something. The children can feel smart and accomplished with is really positive for those pupils with low self esteem.

Don’t we find out what children already know as teachers everyday from their old books?

My argument is also that, do we not as teachers get taught to understand our children when they join our classroom, which I have always believed to mean, understand how much knowledge they already have AND the skills they already have. Furthermore, the first thing most teachers will do is grab the child’s old books and see what they have learned previously or talk to the child to gain an understanding. Young (2013, p.111) reports that students don’t come to school to learn what they already know from experiences and frankly I completely agree. It seems stupid in my head to teach children something they have already learned, but at the end of the day, as a teacher if you do not explore what knowledge children have already learned then how will you know what it is you need to teach them in the first place. Therefore, previous knowledge can benefit the teacher in the classroom as well. 

I think when it comes to social studies, we need to draw on these experiences. Children will have a wide range of ideas of what, for example, geography means and this includes from direct and indirect experiences Moreover, as Roberts (2014, p.193) suggests, a schools curriculum should not exclude a child’s everyday knowledge, it should be utilized. The problem with this is that every pupil is different and with that, every child’s experience will be different, so how can you possibly design a curriculum which can include the millions of different experiences a child will have. This argument against a knowledge based curriculum continues with, Young (2013, p.112) believing, this curriculum will not be practical for all students, leaving the proportion of students failing left to increase. Although, this is a rather bold statement to make, I see that Young believes the knowledge based curriculum is not a solution for the faults in the current curriculum and may add to them.

To conclude, with the many arguments for and against from Young and Roberts’s articles, I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to class sharing activities, it is vital for a child to have knowledge in the classroom. I don’t feel it is right for the current governments to suggest that we only prepare students with skills for the working adult world either, because on a daily basis teachers are using the experiences that children have brought into the classroom with them positively. Children are leaving our education system into a modern society very different from the societies we have seen before, with knowledge at our finger tips from just one click of a button. We need a curriculum that will take both skills and knowledge into account to equip our young for the working adult world of today.

 

References

Roberts, M. (2014), ‘Powerful knowledge and geographical education’, The Curriculum Journal, Vol.25, No. 2, pp.187-209

The Great Education Debate. (2013) ‘The Curriculum’, [Online] Available at: http://www.greateducationdebate.org.uk/debate/debate.the-curriculum.html (Accessed on 13th September 2017)

Young, M. (2013), ‘Overcoming the crisis in curriculum theory: a knowledge-based approach’, Journal of Curriculum Studies, Vol.45, No.2, pp.101-118

Science Lesson – Year 4 – Week 6

Image taken from Google – The boys really like the Twinkl resources

Monday’s lesson was my second science lesson within the school and I am really confident that it went well and know that the boys enjoyed it. Unfortunately there was no real opportunity for the teacher to observe me but did give me some informal feedback that was really positive. I think something that I can take away from this lesson is that I need to work on my assessment skills throughout lessons and that although there are many ways of assessing children it is best to ensure that you are taking it on board as you are teaching, not after you have taught. Furthermore, the boys have been working with twinkl and I continued this in my lesson by workiing with twinkl resources and teaching them what twinkl feel they should know with the added tweak to make it my own lesson. I really like the twinkl resources and think that when I am a teacher this is a website I would like to use more often.

Individual Lesson Plan Format (Primary)

 

Class/Group: Year 4GS                    Lesson: Science                                Date: 8.5.17

 

  Previous Experience

In previous lesson, children have sorted animals into a variety of groups in lesson 1 using different keys.

 
  Working towards outcomes of a National Curriculum

Pupils should be taught to explore and use classification keys to help group, identify and name a variety of living things in their local and wider environment

 
  Literacy/Numeracy/ICT/HWB (where appropriate): ICT – to work on Ipads for extension, Literacy – for reading work off board and on worksheets, Numeracy – working with classifications keys and tables.  
  Learning Intentions Success Criteria  
  To be able to generate questions about animals.

To be able to use questions to sort animals in a key.

To see similarities and differences between vertebrates.

I can generate questions about animals.

I can use questions to sort animals in a key.

I can see similarities and differences between vertebrates.

 
  Resources Photo cards, worksheets, science books, smartboard, pencils, rubbers, glue sticks,  
  Timing Assessment methods
10 mins

 

 

 

 

5 mins

 

5 mins

 

10 mins

 

 

4 mins

20 mins

 

 

 

 

10 mins

 

Total

64 mins

 

Setting the context/Beginning the lesson (Introduction)

Read the information on the Power Point Presentation to introduce children to the concept of classification and ask questions about it.

Teaching the learning intentions (Development)

Introduce the classifications of vertebrate and invertebrate, asking children to give examples of each. Explain that vertebrates can be further split into five groups: amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles.

 

Explain the broad characteristics of each, asking children to note their similarities and differences. Explain that we will be focussing on vertebrates only today

 

Hand out Vertebrates Photo Sorting cards one per pair. In pairs, sort the cards into animal groups.

Tidy away cards.

Hand out worksheets, glue into science books, answer, ‘yes or no’ questions to sort the vertebrates into animal groups. When children finish they can do the key questions classification sheet.

 

Ending the lesson (Plenary)

Play “20 questions” game from maths but instead of guess a number its guess the vertebrates.

Question and Answer

 

 

 

 

 

Peer Assessment

 

 

 

 

Teacher Marking

 
Success Criteria Results Next steps for the children
I could see that the boys were able to successfully generate questions about animals after marking their classification keys.

From observation and the boys shouting out answers to questions I can see than the boys can all use questions to sort animals in a classification key.

After going over as a class the photo sorting activity game I am confident that the boys can see similarities and differences between vertebrates as each pair got them correct.

Child 5, 8 and 9 did get at least 1 question wrong in the classification keys and would benefit going over this through revision before the Year 4 exams.

It think as a class as a whole the next steps for the boys would be to create their own classification keys from the beginning by going outside and doing some outdoor learning by exploring the outdoor wildlife.

EVALUATING MY PRACTICE
Going well (what worked and why?)

I am pleased at how well this lesson went considering how unfamiliar I am with this topic. It worked well to use twinkle resources as the boys are familiar with these and the resources are bright, colourful and engaging.

The boys were really engaged throughout the lesson, answering questions when asked and volunteering to read off the board.

The boys all, except 3 successfully reached their success criteria and I would feel confident in them moving on to the next stage which I think is great as I feel that I taught them what they needed to know.

Areas for development (what didn’t work and why?)

The boys were quite chatty throughout the lesson and I did have to stop the lesson to tell the boys they were being too noisy and to quieten down. I think this was mainly due to the lesson being at the very end of the day, however this is no excuse and the boys should be listening from the beginning.

I don’t think the boys really needed to do the first classification key as a practice as it was slightly easy for their level and they already knew what to do. On the other hand, 3-4 boys did find this rather tricky let alone the sheets after but for the bulk of the class in was unnecessary.

Next Steps for Me

In future, I will try to assess the children as I am teaching a lesson, as some children already have a good idea about what I intend to teach them and there is no sense in wasting valuable class time teaching them what they already know.

I will continue to use engaging activities in my lessons as the boys are far more engaged in the lesson.

 

Moulsford’s Matron

Image taken from Google

I honestly have to say, when I was at school one of the places I frequented the most at school was the sick bay what with whooping cough, a bad back and then the general clumsyness of falling over. So when I came to Moulsford and found that they have their own matron, I knew I had to go and speak to her about her job. A matrons average working day at Moulsford is between 9.30 and 5.30, so 8 hours. She has her own office which also doubles up as a sick bay and spends all of her time in there. This is unless it is rugby season and we can all imagine how difficult that must be for a matron with loads of boys crashing into each other and vilontly tackling other players. As everyday is different there are no set number of boys she may see, but an average of around 14 was what she was happy to say. I think thats quite a lot for a school of only 350 pupils. Furthermore, the range of things she may see in a day are massive, from sore throats to bumped heads to cuts that need stiches. Moreover, should any child need further medical attention like stiches, it is school policy for the boys to either have their parents come to collect them or alternatively go to the local A+E walk in centre in Wallingford.

Image taken from Google – just some of the things school matrons/nurses have to do day to day

On the whole the chat was really positive and the matron expressed her love for the job and the school. She said that the only thing that makes her job particularly difficult is when boys do not follow the rules and then get hurt in the process. To be honest, there aren’t even that many rules at Moulsford and what rules there are, are simple ones to follow, but “boys will be boys” as they say. The majority of injuries will happen at break and lunch when boys are messing around so the matron will sit in her office during break and lunch just incase she is needed so that everyone knows where she will be in a crisis. I felt that although it is great to have someone there at all times and you know where they are going to be, it was a shame as the majority of other staff members take their break and lunch at the same time in the staff room, so therefore she is unable to interact as much with other members of staff.

Image taken from Google – definitely my motto when I was at school after I had whooping cough!

To my surprise, when I asked how the matrons job differed to that of a matron in a state school, her reply was that most state schools do not have school nurses or matrons. Even my school, which was in the back of beyond, used to have a school nurse, but apparently down here in England, state schools to not deem it nesesary to have a school nurse or matron on site at all times. It is most likely another expense that governements are trying to iradicate in order to save money in these trying times. However, for me, this is a total benefit to private school, especially if you have a child who is ill a lot or with a weak immune system like I had after my bought of whooping cough. I literally picked up everything going in the 18 months after my whooping cough and was often sent home with bugs or colds or coughs, but without the school nurse there to help my mum out with what to do, my mum would have most likely taken me for emergency appointments at the doctors etc. So I can absoloutely see the huge benefits to having matrons or school nurses becuase they can cut down work for teachers and doctors and make everyones life a lot easier.

My last question for the matron was what advice would you give to a trainee teacher like me. She expressed that being first aid trained was helpful for teachers so that they can spot when children are not feeling very well at all or just pretending for a bit of time of their least favourite subjects. Taking childrens temperature can also be really helpful to see if what they are saying matches up with how they might be feeling and for the children who are younger and less able to explain how they are actually feeling, this can give a better indication that they feel unwell. Moreover, we joked that having a spare bucket on hand was always helpful, especially on school trips, but even though we said this as a joke, I think I will always heed her words and make a bucket my new classroom staple. Additionally, the matron also had some words of advice that were not medical. Working as a team, espeically in this environment is vital and your job can be made so so much easier when you get along with everyone. Naturally, not all of us will always get on with everyone, but trying to be a team player and working together for the sake of the children is vital. I am really pleased I was able to speak to the matron about her job and the amount of work she has to do in a day. It has given me a new found respect for school nurses and matrons accross the country.

Image taken from Google – I have a new found respect for what school nurses/matrons have to do!

Boarding Life at Moulsford

Image taken from Google – what is your first impression of parents who choose boarding schools for their children?

Here at Moulsford, boarding is offered for boys Year 5 and up, Monday to Friday, 4 nights a week. It is flexible and boys can choose to stay for 1, 2, 3 or 4 nights in a row if they choose. There is also the opportunity for some boys to actually stay until 8pm if they’re parents work late as “day boarders” and leave when the other boys go to bed. When I was the boys age now, I was reading the st Claire’s, Malory Towers and Naughtiest Girl in the School books by Enid Blyton and daydreaming about going to a boarding school myself. For a time I was even considering giving up the idea teaching all together when I was told I would never get the grades required, so considered becoming a house mother. However, that dream was shattered when I was (falsely) told I needed a nursing degree of some sort, so gave up the idea and fought even harder to get the right grades needed to become a teacher. This week, I was lucky enough to spend an evening with the boys to talk to them about their experience boarding and also discuss the work needed to be put into making the boarders life as comfortable as possible by the house parents.

Many people that I know, have the opinion that boarding schools are for children who’s parents are too busy to look after them or for children with disciplinary concerns. Now I am here and experiencing the boarding side to private schooling, I see that it simply isn’t the case. I did ask the boys why they were here and received many replies such as “because I enjoy it”, “because its great practice before I go to a full boarding private school” and “because we can use the schools facilities”. The schools facilities are incredible and the boys could truly want for little more each night. The majority of the boys parents live little more than 15 minutes away from the school as well, so if they needed anything or felt home sick they are only a phone call away which is so handy for the boys, the families and the school. Moreover, the boarding facilities not only include activities areas, kitchen spaces, comfortable living areas but also a sick bay run by the matron each night between 5-10pm and after that the boarding parents, who also live in a flat on site. This is rarely used according to the boarding parents, but they are glad they have somewhere that the boys can go should they feel unwell or unable to sleep.

The routine is structured enough that the boys always have free time, dinner, extra prep, free time and then hot chocolate and reading before bed. However, their free time is their free time and the boys change into their home clothes and choose to do whatever they want. The boarding parents put on daily activities for the boys in both sets of free time, however there is not obligation to participate, although encouraged. In the run up to exams and if the boys have a test the next day, like any pupil from a state school, the boys will sometimes choose to revise for that subject rather that to spend time doing activities. There are two communal areas with sofas, TV’s, kitchen area and games tables as well as their own rooms and the school grounds which they can use. The boarding parents like to take the boys down to the sports hall to run around and play active games with the schools equipment and often even join in with their games. No other state schools that I know of run after school sessions where the children can literally do as they please, it is usually a structured activities program, so I quite liked seeing what the boys got up to in their free time after school.

Tuesday nights evening activity was actually run by me. I took irn bru and shortbread for the boys and I did a short talk on Scotland and taught them some words in Gaelic. I wasn’t expecting much as it was only a very short 15 minute talk with some questions at the end so I was really surprised when the boys loved my talk and even asked me to go back. I was quite delighted to say the least that I had successfully run an activity for 35 boys where they all had taken part and enjoyed it. Not in a million years did I think I would have even 10 boys show up to my talk, let alone all of them! I truly thought there would be a certain knack to getting them engaged in participating but after speaking to the boarding master, he said himself that the boys usually choose to go to the boarding house and take part in any activity going, so getting them engaged isn’t as tough as I’d originally thought. This is definitely a difference to what I am used to in state schools. Regularly, there is a battle between teachers and pupils for engagement in activities – even the fun ones – so I would definitely be interested to see what kind of reaction my talk would get in a state school.

Before I left the boarders I was just able to spend some free time down in the games hall with them playing football, wall climbing, playing tennis and talking to them all about boarding life. The boys bed times are staggered by year group and as they each go off they get their hot chocolate as they get ready for bed. Once ready, the boarding prefects go and listen to the younger boarders read, and are often rewarded with a stash of sweeties hidden away in the boarding masters cupboard (I absolutely didn’t have any *cough cough*). So once all the boys were away to bed, that was my evening with the boarders over. Once I would be leaving, the boarding parents would do their usual rounds of checking bedrooms for chatterboxes and any suspicious behaviour before going into their flat and most likely doing marking or lesson prepping themselves for the next day. I asked the boarding parents why they chose to become boarding parents and they said because they loved the school, the pastoral side to education and because it is great stepping stone to go on to greater things in education. They didn’t mention their degrees and especially didn’t mention they had a nursing degree. Further research since then has confirmed that in fact no boarding school dictates that a nursing degree is essential to being given a job as a house parent and only matrons require this on certain applications.

I honestly had never thought about becoming a house parent or working with boarding houses since the time I thought maybe it could be a career opportunity when I was around 10. However, I can honestly, from the bottom of my heart say that Moulsford has changed my mind about boarding and I might even be as bold as to say that becoming a boarding parent is something that I am really interested in as a career move. They are so close knit here at Mouslford (staff and boys) and I honestly get a strong family vibe from them, as though they are all here for a common reason and just want to enjoy what time they have at the school. It takes something massive and life changing to change my mind about becoming a teacher and I think the boarding staff at Moulsford would be proud to know they have had that lasting impact on me. I am so so looking forward to visiting them again before my time here at Moulsford will be up.

Image of the boarding school itself

 

Week 4 – Reflection

Image from Google – the Year 8 boys have started studying this classic

Most people moan about Monday mornings and having to get up at quarter to 7 to get to school on time, but I am having such a fantastic time that when my alarm goes off I seem to get straight up! Monday of my week 4 was great with me attending an English lesson with the Year 8’s who have just begun the Sherlock Holmes tale “The Sign of Four”. Once again, I observed some fantastic teaching practice where the teacher was getting the children really involved by reading allowed and explaining to them why he wanted them to read certain points. For example, reading one sentence at a time going around the room with all the boys taking a turn, means that the reader is able to see the punctuation and sentence structure a little clearer in certain situations. This is really good practice for me to see and I was especially impressed when the teacher showed some of the film to help the boys imagine the setting etc. When I was at primary school the teachers only brought out films for end of term treats or if they weren’t feeling well, but I can absolutely see the benefits to analyzing films in the classroom with the pupils for English purposes. To continue this, I then went on to a drama lesson with the Year 8’s again. The boys were definitely testing the teachers patience and this is the first instance of anything you could remotely call bad behaviour that I have seen, and compared to what I have seen in other schools or guide meetings, it simply didn’t compare. Not once did the teacher raise their voice throughout the whole lesson, but they used a lot of eye contact with the pupils to make them aware that the teacher was not pleased and when this didn’t work with certain pupils, talking to them individually about their behaviour did. These techniques are things I have read about in many teaching books and is a way I can see me being able to save my voice as a teacher when I graduate where I won’t be shouting to gain attention as much (Hayes, 2009, Chapter 5). The drama lesson content was really active and had elements incorporated that I remember from my own drama school days. Every element of the lesson was explained to the pupils and they were also encouraged to be respectful when watching performances and constructive when giving feedback to peers – all elements which may help them in later life. My day ended with a science lesson which is one of the only lesson the Year 4’s will get before I am teaching them science. I picked up on the children who need some extra support in the lesson, especially as this is the last lesson of a very long day for these boys, and I will factor them into my planning, ensuring that they have the support they need from myself and the teacher. My Monday fully ended with a trip to Tesco to by irn bru and Scottish shortbread for my talk to the boarders the next day.

Image from Google

On Tuesday, I was at the school for in total 14 hours. It was a very long day but I was so excited to be finally seeing the boarders and what boarding life was like at Moulsford. However, I couldn’t do any of that until I had spent a day observing lessons and preparing my own. Although my day began with a history lesson, it was science I was looking forward to the most as I wanted to see how the boys got on recapping what they had learnt the previous lesson the day before. Most of them fared well, needing very little help from me on the whole, but it was still interesting going around the room and observing the way that the boys solve their questions, especially seen as I will be working with this class a lot more, teaching the science and maths in the coming weeks. Tuesday’s school day ended with a trip to forest school when the forest was “alive with faeries” and “a kitchen for wood cookies!”. I love how imaginative the boys are when it comes to forest school, with the forest being something completely different every signal week. Rich (2012, preface) states that spending lessons like forest school outside is not only great for the school because it’s free, but also educational for the children because it enriches their environmental knowledge base. My Tuesday then continued with a fantastic evening with the lovely boarders which I wrote about it Boarding Life at Moulsford. As this was one of my many goals, I was glad to be completing it and answering all those questions I had about whether or not boarding life is just like it was in all those school stories I read as a child. Feel free to read it to find out more.

My Wednesday was tiring, naturally after such a long day previously. I was really pleased in the morning when the teacher for ICT and me had a discussion that in my last two weeks at Moulsford I may be able to teach that class some ICT. The were working with Google Sketch Up which I hadn’t seen before, let alone used, so I may need some practice before I teach a lesson in it. My English lesson was great, with me working with the same child I have mentioned in previous reflections, who I am helping in English lessons for added support. I started to adopt a “you write a sentence, I write a sentence” strategy with them to save time, so they could get more written down, so I was delighted when they expressed their love for writing and how happy they were with me allowing them to write half of the work themselves. I feel this is important to allow the child to take control over their own work and to show the class teacher that all of the work is their own and even though I am there to aid the student, I am only enhancing his education. My day ended with my first lesson at Moulsford and needless to say I was really worried! I don’t know why because I am usually an really confident person when working with children, especially when it comes to social studies subjects, however maybe it was the fact I had all day to worry about it and maybe it was the status of the school, because I was extremely nervous. But, there was no need to be as the lesson went really well with some extremely helpful feedback. You can read about what I did and an evaluation of the lesson here. I was also keen to write the post about history teaching in private schools in England in comparison to those in Scotland. I published this on Sunday night for everyone to read and as it is one of my goals to work with a different curriculum and learn about private schools. Both of these goals, I consider to be completed in terms of history education in this post.

Image taken from Google – I have really enjoyed looking at history education at Moulsford

Thursday was the day of my second lesson at Moulsford, slightly different working with Year 4’s. I wasn’t as nervous as Wednesday, possibly because I had already done a lesson the day before which went well too. The lesson plan and evaluation for the Mathematics Lesson – Year 4 – Week 4 is there if you click on the link. My day continued by attending another Latin lesson were I was a lot more active (yes me, the girl who speaks no Latin, active in a lesson, stop laughing). The children where deciphering a piece of text from Latin into English and this was my opportunity to go around the class talking to the boys about what they had done and how they had done it. The boys were extremely confident in explaining what they were doing and most boys were able to explain to me about the 7 different tenses that Latin has as well as reading out pieces of the text. I feel that the Year 7 boys were able to work with me quite confidently because they trust and respect me which is one of the main sections of the Standards for Registration (GTCS, 2012, p. 5) that we must achieve on this student placement. Furthermore, I would even be as bold as to say that the boys

Image taken from Google – I am thrilled that I am gaining pupils trust and respect when it comes to my lessons and observing lessons. This model shows how trust and respect can be acheived.

throughout the school trust and respect my position as a student teacher from the way they stand up when I enter the room, listen to me when I am teaching a lesson and do not display any challenging behaviour when I am teaching. I have worked hard to get to this level with the boys after I read that trust and respect can come from children on placement when you know their routines and behaviors (Medwell and Simpson, 2008, chaper 3). I did pick up on the trust and respect that the teachers and boys had, as the teachers mostly left the boys to do their work on their own. He was there and walking around the room but he trusted the boys enough to work together and get the work done in the time given, which they did. Trust and respect is a huge thing in this school where the staff members do trust and respect each other massively. There is a huge amount of trust and respect between the staff and parents too at Moulsford, with the parents “paying for a service” which they trust the school with provide. However, on the same point the staff trust the parents to back them up and enforce the schools rules in the home environment as well if a child was displaying challenging behaviour. Thursday ended with another history lesson about the Magna Carta. Some of the boys were extremely off task during the lesson so I was glad to be able to wander around the room and keep the boys on task where I could.

Friday was another lesson day for me where I was teaching science. More specifically, I was teaching about how plants grow and what uses roots have on plants. The children stayed really engaged throughout the lesson and on task which I was delighted with and overall I feel it was a really good lesson. You can read my lesson plan and my evaluation here. After my lesson I attended an English lesson with the Year 8’s where they had a spelling test and continued on with “Sign of Four”. It was clear that very few of the boys had revised for their spelling test and as they are a class full of pupils with places sorted when it comes to private high schools and no more exams to take, it is frustrating for the staff who are trying to teach them when they are

Image taken from Google

not interested in learning. The teacher in this class spoke to the pupils as though they were adults which really impressed me and is something that I see often at Moulsford. Even though the children are from 4-13, they are all spoken to in the same manner rather than being spoken down to because they are children which you see at some schools. Moreover, by modelling this type of behaviour as teachers, it can develop the way that students talk to one another in typical conversation (Cremin and Arthur, 2014, chapter 12). The GTCS (2012) also state in their professional commitment section how vital it is that a teacher demonstrates commitment to their role through collaborative practice, which I feel the staff do here by treating the children like adults, so this could be considered collaborating with them. Furthermore, my afternoon was spent conducting culture interviews for my social justice section of my folio where we need to demonstrate an understanding of the values, role and culture of the placement. I will write a separate blog post on the culture of Moulsford early next week. Next week will also bring a Harry Potter Studios tour with Year 4, more teaching and another bank holiday! I cannot believe there is only 2 weeks left on placement, I am having the time of my life and want to stay forever!

 

References

Cremin, T, and Arthur, J (2014) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. Routledge:

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 17th March 2017).

Hayes, D (2009) Learning and teaching in primary schools. Exeter: Learning Matters

Medwell, J and Simpson, F (2008) Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Rich, S (2012) Bringing Outdoor Science in : Thrifty Classroom Lessons. Vancouver: Arlington.