My last week here at Moulsford was going to be hard because I have loved it so so much. I will have no doubt at all that at some point in the future I will be back. But before I write about the painful goodbyes I must go through the week and reflect on what I have learned.
So my week started with a lovely assembly from the headmaster on strength, and although it is for the boys, even gave me something to think about. I thought about how my weeks here have given me the strength to be confident in my teaching abilities and that one day, I will be (hopefully) a great teacher. Moreover, after this I went to an English lesson. Now, I’ve said before that this teacher is excellent but I REALLY MEAN IT! I learn so many games and resources from him (most of which he invents himself) and ways of dealing with children who are just not interested in being at a prep school anymore and ready for a higher level. Moreover, By joking with the children and creating fun and active resources this really seems to keep them engaged. Medwell and Simpson (2008, chapter 3) concur, saying that with any activity, providing the children are interested and engaged they are generally said to be easier to manage. Unfortunately, my lovely calm morning was brought to a halt by the headmaster announcing that there will be an inspection this week on top of the open day on Friday which sent most of the teachers into panic mode. I was a bit worried that the inspectors would come into my lessons, but at the end of the day it is good practice for me and to be honest I am used to having to be observed anyway on placement, so it should make no difference. I “should” be fine. My last lesson of the day though was my own science lesson with Year 4, which went really well and was at the best time possible because the teacher was able to do things within the classroom getting ready for the inspection. I had some slight problems when it came to the boys chattering but used techniques which meant that they were quiet. You can read all about it here…
Tuesday was just as hectic as Monday with the fact that the inspectors were due in only 24 hours. Its quite good actually for me to see in practice what it is like in a school for the inspections. I had been briefed on what I may be asked and prepared extremely well by the whole staff team at Moulsford. For example, I now know that school inspections take place more frequently in private schools than in state schools, but that there is not Ofsted etc in private schools. The way this particular inspection will go is that the staff upload a list of policies onto a system and then the inspectors around 48 hours before an inspection will announce they are coming and which policies they will be looking to see in action. Now, I’ve already said about Moulsford not being a particularly culturally diverse school through no fault of their own, however they do have to prove that they are teaching British values and different cultures. So, this morning I was helping to create a Magna Carta display in the history classroom as I went to see it in Salisbury at the weekend previous in Salisbury church. My idea was to print out an English version of the Magna Carta and to highlight the parts that we still have in place today for example, no slavery and fair trials. The history teacher liked this idea so through a team effort of photocopying and resource hunting we created this. Disappointingly, I only managed to grab a photo as we were taking the display down to make room for something more educational, but you get the idea.
Unfortunately, Tuesday also brought sorrow as this was my last EVER forest school with the Moulsford boys. I have spoken about it in every single weekly reflection I have written and just hope I have put across how much I completely loved my time. The staff were amazing with the boys, and I was so happy to have learned so much about outdoor play from them. Some reading of my own made me realize just how much learning outside the classroom can build vital and engaging experiences in learning for the Early Years (Cremin and Arthur, 2014, p.231). Furthermore, I have learned that where children can have the freedom to just play and have no activities set for them it is valued more by the children and the constraints on learning for teachers out of the classroom effectively taken away as they do not have to plan a lesson. I will miss forest school but will engage with social media and the school and staff themselves to see what the boys get up to and to learn new techniques in outdoor learning.
Wednesday was another set of lasts for me, my last chance to work with the boy I have been supporting with English and also my last lesson with Year 3N. You can read up my lesson and how it went here… It was interesting having the inspectors around because everyone looked far smarter than I had ever seen them before (and they looked pretty smart to start off with anyway) and all the teachers had lesson plans. I am used to writing up lesson plans myself but I am sensible enough to realise that although lesson plans are a vital part ensuring your lesson runs smoothly, as you grow as a teacher and start to repeat lessons you have taught before, you do not depend on them as much. Furthermore, Hayes (2010, p.38) states how useful lesson plans can be to remembering your resources, keeping your lesson organised and being clear about the purpose of the lesson including the outcomes the children should gain.
Thursday was FANTASTIC because I went to see STOMP! with the Year 5’s and as predicted it was AMAZING. I completely loved it as you can imagine, even if I got loads of stick from the rest of the staff for being the student who goes on all the good school trips. What can I say? I am very persuasive.. Once again though, this trip got me thinking about culture. I have never driven into London, I’ve never even been on a bus into London, I always get the train. It took a lot longer but would have been cheaper for the school but we passed so many houses and sky rise flats which looked unloved and as though they needed some sprucing up. London was filled with people who were different nationalities too and my thought was how lucky these boys are to be exposed to so many cultures. I didn’t go anywhere like that until I was at least 8 or 9 and even then, where I am from originally, I can’t say I was exposed to many cultures then either. I do think it was the inspectors being in that triggered these thoughts, but I am glad that the boys have the amazing experiences that they do as it will really aid their learning and development.
Now, I don’t really want to write about today because it has been an emotional rollercoaster ride of saying goodbye to pupils and staff who I would like to now call friends. I was teaching this morning and as it was an open day parents were walking in and out of my maths lesson, asking me questions and to my delight not batting an eyelid when I said I was only a student. I felt a real sense of being a part of Moulsford when the parents themselves accepted that I was a part of the Moulsford community because I think it was then that I realised that I had made an impact here on my placement. Break followed with loads of hugs goodbye and the MASSIVE chocolate cake that I bought, becuase I have always been taught that you can’t say goodbye without a decent chocolate cake. I even bought some crossword books for the staff room so the teachers never get bored as crosswords are a huge break passtime in the Moulsford staff room and some pens because I am sure there are pen pixies living in there stealing all the pens you take in and never come out with! After the rest of my lessons and lunch I have been spending some time ensuring everything is set for my blog and presentation on Monday. I’ve loved it here, truly and I really dont want to leave. Driving out of Moulsford this evening (after the goodbye visit to the local public house *ahem*) I will certainly be fighting back the tears.. Goodbye, Moulsford….
Cremin, T, and Arthur J (2014) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. Routledge
Hayes, D (2010) 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.
- How is space allocated? Who has space
All staff have a space whether that be a classroom or a desk to themselves or a room to do work in. It depends on the job of course and how much space they will need but each member of staff in the school has their own space to do work. Outdoors space is vast with the school owning a lot of property within Moulsford and land in Moulsford itself. The land is mainly used for activities/games/outdoor learning, as is the river.
- What is displayed on the walls?
There are lots of coulourful bright displays like the one oppostite, whether it be of the childrens work, pointers to help the children remember facts or about growth mindset which the school (and I) think is really important. As well as this, there are lots of things about British culture, as this is not a very diverse school due to the catchment area, it considerably helps to teach the children when the staff can display posters and boards expressing British culture in modern life. Many teachers choose to have a small display of posters or pictures about them so that the pupils know them a bit better. For example which football teams they support, photos of goals they are proud to have acheived, their favourite theatre production or a book they enjoyed as a child. Furthermore, in the dining room there is a huge display of every single school photo ever taken since the 60’s along with the house trophies which I think is really nice because it means a lot to the children as many of their own fathers may have gone to Moulsford and it shows just how long the school has been around for. Additionally, as you walk into the schools entrace there is a huge (and I mean huge) cabinet of awards that the school have won through sports, academics and music. This shows just how proud of its pupils Moulsford is.
- Bulletin boards with positive messages, general information, promotional contests, expired information
Bulliten boards and messages for the teachers are just outside the staff room as this is where everyone congrigates at break and lunch times. Inside the staff room there is a huge whiteboard where the teachers write on a calendar of events over the coming weeks and can add to it as things crop up and trips/matches get booked. After looking, there is no expired information on the boards. If something has happened it is either wiped off or taken down, the school are really good with this.
- What is displayed on desks? Lockers, other areas
Desks in the classrooms vary from room to room. For example some classrooms have ordinary tables and chairs, in music the are chairs with a small flat peice of wood that comes up for the boys to put work on, in Year 3 they are “old fashioned” desks where the lid lifts up for the boys to store their work and in design technology there are some stools (like in the art classroom) and their desks which have equiptment built in to help the boys in lessons. When it come to games, the boys store their things in the home changing rooms in lockers. If there are lots of games or like when it comes to cricket season there is a lot to carry around and store, the school may also suggest use of the away changing rooms if there is not a match on. Moreover, in the dining hall, there are tables and long stools going along the width of the hall for easier access for teachers to be at the head of the table when it comes to family service.
- How are common areas used
The staff use the staff room on a daily basis, it is very rare that a member of staff wouldn’t go to the staff room at least once in a day. Another common area is the lunch hall which, again all members of staff will use in a day, especially the boarding staff and boys who will have breakfast, lunch and dinner there. The outside areas (astro turf, fields, river etc) are used daily for playing at break and lunch and then in the afternoons for games, p.e. and then junior/senior after school activities. The boarding boys and staff often use the outdside area as well after school. The boarding area has two seperate common areas on with a tv and sofa and another area with a small kichen and table games, which they are welcome to use at any point after 5.30 when boarding begins.
- What is the norm for communications?
Communications are usually done via email or via conversation in the staff room. As everyone congrigates there, it is really easy for staff to discuss any concerns or to praise a pupil to one of two members of staff, however if there are lots of members of staff needing to be told something this would be done via email or staff meeting. There are regular staff meetings where information may be shared where the headmaster will attend and there will also be an admisitrative staff member taking notes. Communitcation for the boys is generally done in assembly 3 times a week or during registration where it is vital the boys know where they are to go at the end of the day (games, bus, prep or home etc). Furthermore, at the end of each assembly there is time given to all members of staff who need it to just quickly say anything they need to to a whole year group, house or school.
- Conversation vs. email – tone of messages
Everything in email is done very professionally. Everyone is polite, however some of the members of staff are married or related and therefore I would imagine that it would become a more realxed tone. Everyone at Moulsford is really friendly and conversation is really informal unless discussing a pupil. Although, I am saying everyone is friendly and relaxed, nobody ever crosses the line when disucssing pupils or situations within the school, everything remains really respectful. Aditionally, I would however say the staff are a lot more relaxed and informal than you might find in other state schools, but this is just because of that family feel, friendly tone the whole of the school gives off and I think it is really nice to be somewhere that feels so warm and welcoming. All staff members converse throughout the day in the staff room at breaks and lunches so it is very easy to communicate with members of staff throughout the day. Every member of staff also has their own email as well, most of which are hooked up to their phones so if they get an email from a parent they can answer straight away.
The past 6 weeks have been the most incredible, humbling and educational weeks of my life. Throughout the 6 weeks of this placement I set out to complete my goals to the best of my ability. Here is what I think about how I have done;
I want to work with a different curriculum.
I have been really sucessful with this goal and can prove it with the many lessons I have taught. By teaching lessons, I have not only gained valuable teaching with the national curriculum but also have gained a great amount of experience as a student.
I want to learn about private boarding schools and government run schools and the difference between them (if there is one).
By being at Moulsford I have been lucky enough to have the full support from the school of going into a huge range of new expriences for like forest school and school trips (STOMP!, Harry Potter Studios and The Twelfth Night). Including this, I have also been lucky to have spent a huge amount of time with the boarding staff and children and written up about these experiences in my blog in section 2. I have really enjoyed it and as I have said already, this is an area I would like to work in, in the future. As for the private aspect, I think there are similarities but there are mainly differences, especially when it comes to sport, curriculum, working day and fees. A private school is able to give more opportunities to the boys thanks to the money the parents pay and also because of the length of the school day, the boys are able to learn more.
I want to learn about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom.
I have spoken to many different members of staff including teachers, heads of department, the matron, groundsmen and learning support. I can absoloutley say that this has been the part that has humbled me the most and also taught me to respect all areas of the school and respect the people that do these jobs, because they are difficult jjobs to do. Furthermore, I have spoken to the boys themsleves about being at a private school as a pupil and each time they expressed a lot of positivity. The boys enjoy being at Moulsford and I think this is down to the trust and respect everyone has for each other.
Before I arrived at Moulsford, although I was nervous, I was pretty confident in my teaching abilities and knew that I was a kind teacher who won’t take any messing. However, this placement has taught me that from a professional angle, in teaching you never stop learning. Additionally, Year 3 teachers have taught me that you can never be too organised and showed me many ways of organising my lessons in an easy quick way to save time in the future so that teaching doesn’t take over my life. They’ve also taught me that being crazy and fun in a lesson is ok! Additionally, Year 4 have taught me that sometimes the best thing that you can do for a child with additional support needs is to just sit with them, scribe and let their ideas flow. Children are so creative and just because they can’t write, doesn’t mean they can’t take part! The culture of Moulsford is incredible. The family feel is something I will never forget and constantly be searching for when I am in schools in the future. In regards to my professionalism, this has grown from strength to strength from talking to other members of staff to dressing appropriately.
Overall, for me personally the experience has been life-changing. It has made me consider where in education I would like to be and private education is absolutely the way forward from now. Furhtermore, this experience has taught me to be confident in my own teaching and that making friends in the staff room can make your job a whole lot easier! Moreover, I have gained once in a lifetime experiences, visiting Harry Potter Studios, meeting people I never in my life thought I would, going to the theatre and teaching in an outdoor classroom overlooking boys rowing on The River Thames. But most of all I will never forget the kindess of the staff (and pupils) in the school and the teaching teqniques they have taught me. I think one day I will definitely be back at Moulsford applying for a job… THANK YOU MOULSFORD!!
Word Count – 747
Unfortunately, this was my last ever lesson with Year 3N and it was devastating to say my goodbyes to them. I was genuinely nearly in tears when they all started clapping and shouting “3 cheers for Miss Whitham, Hip Hip Horray”. I could sob here and now writing this but I won’t I’ll just talk about the lesson. It did go really well and the activities were all my own ideas. I wanted to do a table rotation style lesson were the boys could practice different activities and do it in a really fun way. They did really well, especially with the games but unfortunately the money dominoes were not as successfull because they didn’t have enough time to complete the full game. However, each game gave me a full insight into how the boys were getting on in each area of the curriculum before their exams and topics that they may need to revisit, even in only 5 minutes an activity! So theis is absoloutely something that I would do again as a teacher, and a teaching method that I think the boys enjoyed because they expressed that they would like to do it again, which I was delighted with.
Class/Group: Year 3N Lesson: Mathematics Date:10.05.17
Experience in division, money, multiplication, word problems and shapes.
|Working towards outcomes of a National Curriculum
Solve problems, including missing number problems, involving division.
Add and subtract amounts of money using both £ and p.
Recall and use multiplication and division facts for the 3, 4 and 8 multiplication tables.
Measure, compare, add and subtract: lengths (m/cm/mm).
|Literacy/Numeracy/ICT/HWB (where appropriate): Literacy – For games and extension exercises children will be reading the questions and the instructions on the games.|
|Learning Intentions||Success Criteria|
To know how to divide
We are learning to count coins to make a whole number.
We are learning about measurement
We are learning about different mathematical operations
I am able to divide numbers
I am able to count coins to make a whole number.
I am able to measure objects in cm using a ruler
I am able use different mathematical operations
|Worksheets, games, dice, projector, online timer, pencils, whiteboards, whiteboard pens, whiteboard rubbers, Smartboard, computer, post it notes, internet access, counters for games, polypockets, toy coins, lego.|
|Setting the context/ Beginning the lesson (Introduction)
Discuss the LI for the lesson with the children and explain all of the activities for each table and that each pair will be going to a new activity after 15 minutes until all activities are complete
Separate each table into pairs.
Teaching the learning intentions (Development)
Play the board game. Help with any problems they may have and reinforce the division they do not understand by using Lego and working together in their pairs.
Play the dominoes game, each pair using a different set of cards and use the real toy coins with any children/pairs who are having difficulties with the money pictures on the cards.
Children will go around the room/school measuring objects with rulers in cm and write answers down on worksheets.
Noggle (number boggle). Glue sheet into maths book and by using any mathematical operation (add, subtract, multiply, divide) the solution must make 20 and 36. Write answers into book.
Ending the lesson (Plenary)
End the lesson by tidying everything away back into their polypockets. Ask the children to sit at their desks.
Go over learning intentions. Write on a post it note about something 3-7 words about something you learnt today. Hand over to class teacher.
Throughout 35 minute lesson class teacher will be working with Child 1 as a TA for differentiation purposes where Child 1 will taking part using Numicon through games etc.
Peer Assessment and Teacher Marking
Observation and Peer Assessment
Observation and Teacher Marking
Teacher Marking the worksheets.
|Success Criteria Results||Next steps for the children|
|From the first game at the first table, I now know that the boys can divide using real life examples
From the second game where the children were learning to count coins to make a whole number, I observed that this was going well for most groups but they would have benefitted from more time.
The scientific measurement game was successful, with correct answers on the sheet after me and the class teacher discussing width with the majority of the class.
The Noggle game was really successful with the boys showing through their sums that they knew their different mathematical operations well enough to create their own sums.
Children 1, 7 and 13 need to continue to work with the money dominoes because I was not convinced that they were able to count the coins well enough to play the game.
I am confident for all children to move on to harder division questions except for Child 1 who would benefit from using Numicon further.
EVALUATING MY PRACTICE
|Going well (what worked and why?)
The lesson overall went really well with children listening well and there were no behavioural issues. This was most likely down to the amount of activities going on in this fast paced lesson, which allowed the children to be constantly busy, moving around the tables and active.
Most children engaged well with the activities which I think is possibly down to them playing games and not quite realising they’re learning.
|Areas for development (what didn’t work and why?)
I would in future only do a lesson like this if I had more time. Some of the boys just didn’t have enough time to finish their activities and this was a shame as they could have benefitted with the practice before their exams.
|Next Steps for Me
In future I will be more aware of what the children have already learned in maths lessons and the way they describe certain methods in mathematics.
I will also try to plan more time into the activities and choose and hour and 10 minutes lesson as opposed to a 35 minute lesson.
As our placement is completely up to us as students, we do have some structure as to what we have to include in our folios. One of these is a piece on the culture of our placement and how we do this piece is completely up to us. I have decided to conduct interviews and questionaires from various members of staff from accross the school and collate the answers in a blog post on here for confidentiality and fairness. I am aware that I wanted to do these interviews but not name any names as so many member of the school look on my blog frequently, so this is the best way I could think to do it. So what did I ask, and what were the answers?
What would you tell a friend about Moulsford?
Most people were really positive saying things like “you do something different everyday” and that the school is amazing for sport/socialising. From my observations, that school is amazing when it comes to sport with the boys doing games/p.e. nearly every day though classes or activities. Sport is something that the school highly values and feels that the children should have regular access too. Additionally, someone told me that the one thing they would tell a friend about Moulsford is how passionate the staff are. From experience in my time here, I was instantly shown just how friendly an environment this is to work in. Everyone is so friendly as well, they are all willing to help and want me to do my best and even with this here, staff that I hadn’t even come into contact with were willing to talk to me and answer my questions. There is such a family feel here and for the time I have been here I have been delighted to feel a part of it. However, with any job there are highs and lows. Some of the staff were not quite as positive, mentioning the fact that the school can become political, feeling that if you’re not in the crowd you’re clearly left out. I have not personally seen anyone being left out, in the staff room everyone is always very chatty and happy to talk to anyone, however I am only seeing a snapshot of life here for 6 weeks.
What would you like to change about Moulsford?
I asked the staff this question, because I feel that there are always ways of improving everything. The staff all said that they would like to see a more diverse range of students i.e. class, disabilities etc. Although you can walk around and in each class there is nearly always a child with a form of disability e.g. dyslexia, I fully see why they brought up class in this questionairre. At least 95% of the boys at Moulsford are English white middle/upper class but this is most likely due to the catchment area and the fact that it is only people earning a certain wage bracket that can afford a private school for their children. Moreover, other things mentioned were the astro facilities, the elitism and the fact that whole school decisions should not be parent led. Some staff members even said that there was genuinely nothing they wanted to see change. Additionally, there was a lot of talk about the amount of support for the pastoral side of the school. With a designated head of pastoral care and also a boarding house, I am seeing a tremendous amount of pastoral care being given to the boys compared to what I see in Scottish state schools. However, I do also feel that sometimes there is a culture in the school of “man up” as an all boys school. If a child falls over I am used to the rush over give him a plaster and ensure he is feeling well. Although here all of the staff are exceedingly caring and kind, there is a man up attitude from most teachers which could be considered harsh for boys of such a young age. Lastly, one member of staff wrote that they would like to see less of the “if your face fits” culture especially in terms of favouritism. Unfortunately, some staff said that they would not be willing to say if there was anything, which did not really help me, however I do understand that some staff would like to keep their ideas private and respect this fully.
Who is the hero around here and why?
There was a huge response to this question, with everyone having different answers, but I couldn’t write everyones names because of confidentiality and the fact this is a public blog. So I am going to write their job title insted.
- The staff on their Gap Year, because they always goes the extra mile.
- One of the sports teachers Mr O, because he’s great at teaching sport.
- Headboy and scholars, “A” team sportsman.
- Anyone putting their trust in us when we do things differently.
- Mrs R because she is very calm, takes her time to get to know everyone and always gets involved.
- Head of pre-prep because they lay the groundwork for future educational sucess.
- All the staff who come in everyday
- The sports teachers
What is your favourite characteristic of the school?
Naturally, every single answer to this question mentioned the setting. Just look at it though! There is a beautiful riverside which the school utilise, especially in the summer and not only that it is only an hours drive away from London so the boys can go on loads of school trips to the theatre, museums and art galleries. I wrote about learning support and the amount of work they do throughout the school, so I was glad when a member of staff told me that they felt there was a lot of support for students with dyslexia. Moreover, I have mentioned the family feel before and the homelieness of Moulsford which is down to the friendly staff and the fact that staff bring their pets at school. The pets go on outdoors learning trips like forest school, I have mentioned Bosun the dog before in my posts. Moreover, some teachers felt that the oportunities for academics, sport and other for the students and the staff were their favourite parts to the school.
What kinds of people fail in your organisation? (Students/staff)
Staff felt that it is quite hard for students to fail. This is most likely down to the fact that there is so much support for the boys and everyone will happily rally together to help any child in need. Some said that if anyone was to fail, it would be the less able/academic or non sporty boys who could become overwhelmed by workload and fail at their exams. However, we must think about failure as something with isn’t always academic, and someone can be a sucessful classmate as apposed to a successuful scholar.
Staff wise, those who may fail in this environment would possibly be those with a lack of confidence or anyone that fails but doesn’t try again. Unfortunately, some staff members said that some staff are not given the individual attention they need, so if they were to fail, they didn’t feel supported. This is absoloutley the opposite of anything I have seen here, with the amount of heads of department and a real heirarchy of staff, I think if staff members really felt that they needed support, all they would have to do is ask for it. However, everyone is fully entitled to their opinion and obvioulsy as I have said before, I am only seeing a snapshot of life at Moulsford as a teacher.
What question would you ask a candidate for a job?
Questions were varied and are as follows;
- What would you bring to the school/staff room?
- What evidence do you have of team playing?
- Outside of learning what skills/talents do you have that will enhance the staff body?
- Describe an aspect of your personality that you feel would benefit the school?
- Are you flexible?
- Tell me something unusual about yourself?
- What do you condider makes a successful teacher?
I think it is extremely interesting to in fact see that the questions here are mostly based around the staff body. This is clearly something that the school feels is important when choosing a candidate for a job, mainly to consider what kind of person this particular school is looking to employ. This will help me in the future also, when I am looking for jobs in this field.