Category Archives: My educational philosophy

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.

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.

Moulsford. History. Common Entrance.

Its no news to anyone back home, at university or even here at Moulsford that I love my history and its definitely an area I am really interested in teaching. Mouslford are about to go through a whole curriculum change which will happen in the next few months, but for the next few weeks I am seeing the curriculum as it stands now which is with the Year 6 boys and up working towards their common entrance exams. Obviously, there are exams in Scotland but not until the children are working towards their nationals and highers etc.

Image taken from Google – Children at Moulsford can take a common entrance exam in history

So how structured are the two curriculum? We all know how much “free reign” teachers in Scotland get under the Curriculum for Excellence. As long as each child in the class hits the Experiences and Outcomes in the social studies subject, the teachers are able to teach what they like, when they like and how they like. Here at Moulsford the same goes for Years 3 to 5. Children study The Vikings, The Egyptians, World War 2, The Aztecs and more with a range of different methods in which they teach it. When it come to Year 6, everything changes slightly as the boys are working towards their common entrance exams for private schools. The history syllabus for common entrance includes Medieval Realms: Britain 1066 – 1485, The Making of the United Kingdom: 1485 – 1750, Britain and Empire: 1750 – 1914 where they must cover topics like the Black Death, Henry VII, American war of Independence, seven years war and the English Civil War. I certainly think there is a lot to cover in 3 years for boys so young, but if the boys are to go onto do history at a higher level, the lessons that they have now will prepare them. The 60 minute common entrance exam for history in compiled of 2 questions, 1 unseen evidence based question and then 1 essay based question from the common entrance syllabus. They would usually have at least 7 questions to choose from. Schools will then take candidates depending on their score, for top school 65-85% or above.

Image taken from Google – I know many teachers who wish the Government had nothing to do with education. What are your thoughts?

More recently in Scotland, there has been a slight shake up in the way history is being taught. Although this does not affect primary schools as much, the curriculum for exams in high schools has in the past few years changed to include a lot more about Scottish history, rather than history of the world. Many have stated that this is just part of the SNP trying to rewrite history books to create propaganda for their pledge for independence. Personally, I agree that if this is the reason they have changed the curriculum, that is utterly unacceptable to teach children based on something that a political party wants, rather than changing the curriculum to benefit the children being taught. Either way and no matter what the reason was for changing it, this does show just how much power the government in Scotland have over the curriculum. My personal feeling on the matter is, no matter where you are in the world, that we should teach children about what they are most likely to be interested in and most likely to equip them for adult life. As a child, I was sick to the back teeth of Culloden by the third time we studied it, let alone the fourth! There was no need for me to learn 4 times about the Battle of Culloden. Yes, it happened only 70 miles away from my house and yes, it is an extremely important moment in history, but 4! Really! When have I ever used my knowledge that I know about the Battle of Culloden in everyday life? I have written about this subject before, explaining my disgust and anger when a lecturer told us that we should only be teaching about Scotland in Is Scottish history the only history that matters in the classroom? So I won’t bang on about it anymore.

Image taken from Google – The famous Battle of Culloden!

To conclude, I am certainly enjoying attending history lessons here at Moulsford and when discussing history with the other teachers feel very enthusiastic about teaching history on the whole. I do feel that there are history subjects out there which are more important to teach that others, especially when it comes to engaging children and teaching them at age and stage appropriate levels. The Scottish curriculum is really basic and allows teachers to teach what they wish up till secondary level when it becomes a more structured tyrant of constant Scottish history, with little scope to go by. At the end of the day though, there is not much difference here at Moulsford. The boys learn a range of historical topics, until Year 6, when everything changes to make room for that dreaded common entrance exam. However, the topics with this are really broad, so do give teachers more scope to play with when planning for the children. At the end of the day, I could write for days about my love of teaching history and the fact that we teach history to equip our children to learn from the past so they can plan for the future, and no matter how much we as teachers may protest, for better or worse, the one thing we can never change is the say that the governments will always have in the way we do this.

Week 3 – Reflection

Week 3 has been a 4 day week due to Easter Monday being a bank holiday. I’m so used to being in Scotland where most people work and most things are open on a bank holiday but down here in England everyone closes up shop and takes the day as a proper holiday for family time! I think its lovely.

Image taken from Google – this was something discussed at the inset day. We need to ensure we teach in the learning zone and not send children into panic

So Tuesday I turned up to Moulsford bright eyed and bushy tailed, very excited to be going back to the school and found coming back after 3 weeks off, rather a breeze. Tuesday was only an inset day but really productive as the school had booked another teacher from “teddies” school in Oxford – also known as St Edwards – to talk about their skills based curriculum. It was really interesting and gave me some fantastic ideas which I would love to put into practice in the future and highlighted some important points like labeling children, giving the children challenges that are suitable but not in “the panic zone” and how important failure is to children so that they can learn from it. Moreover, as it is a goal of mine to find out about the school from all aspects I attended the staff meeting where, although opened and lead by the headmaster, many of the teachers took part in the discussion by putting forward comments or reminders about certain aspects of the school, their department or their class as well as comments from the bursar, office staff, learning support staff, cleaning staff and boarding staff. By attending the staff meeting I was able to demonstrate my professional commitment to my role as a teacher (Medwell and Simpson, 2008, Chapter 4) which is also a vital part to being a teacher in Scotland according to the GTCS (2012, p. 5) and also picked up on some valuable discussions taking place about the school in the summer term. For example, a discussion was held about the new boys who will be joining at the beginning of this term and it was lovely to see how much emphasis was put into this, to ensure it was a smooth transition from previous schools and happy term for the boys from members of teaching staff and office staff. Another discussion was held about members of staff across the school who would be joining the cleaning department and

Image taken from google – there is a real feeling of teamwork here at Moulsford which I love. Everyone works together and shares any information they can with their collegues.

boarding department which showed me just how vital these role are seen as in the school. Following a whole staff lunch I was kindly allowed to attend the English departmental meeting by the head of English. The meeting was putting emphasis on making English lessons creative and which books children would be reading from each year group. A member of teaching staff from each year group attended this meeting along with a member of the learning support team. There was a huge feeling of shared information and team working which I personally feel is important. I went back home at the end of the day to read Pollard et al (2008, chapter 10) about how teachers should implement a curriculum and found that team working and senior management meetings like the ones I have attended today are key to ensuring a curriculum is delivered to a high standard.

Wednesday was a rather full day for me with classes all day but starting with a whole school assesmbly. The topic for the assembly was faliure after the previous days training for teachers and I wrote more about this in Inset Day – Purple Pens and Labelling Lads. My timetable is set now and I will be doing the same things almost every week and my second lesson on a Wednesday will be in Language where I will be helping a pupil with some additional support needs. This is great experience for me as I be continuosly working with them and hopefully, accross many Language lessons in the following weeks, I will be able to see some improvement in their Language work. To help me with this set of lessons in my remaining time at Mouslford I have read the chapter, providing for special educational needs by Noel Purdy (cited in Cremin and Arthur, 2014, p.372). One interesting piece which I read in this was about individual education plans and how important it is to keep the children involved in their own learning. SEN, Ofsted (1999) found that many primary schools believe that not involving the pupils in the formulation of their IEP targets was a weakness to their own learning. I know that here at Moulsford the children are heavily involved in the creation or their individual education plans and therefore the child I am working with, will be informed in how they can work to help their learning. Furthermore, if I can read this, I will be more informed in how my attendance to the English class can benefit their learning to the highest standard.

Image taken from google – Moulsford understands how important sharing a childs IEP is with them, in turn allowing them to benefit more from their learning

Wednesday continued with my first ever proper music lesson which was with the Year 7’s. They were singing and the teacher has asked if I would like to prepare a song for the boys to sing next week. I am racking my brains but so far have not found anything I deem appropriate for this age group. It is times like this that you realise how much swearing and inapropriate subjects are used in music these days. Moreover, after lunch I spent the rest of the afternoon with the Year 3’s who were doing Language and Humanities. The languages lesson was really active with kung fu punctuation a huge part to what could have been a dull lesson about full stops.

Image taken from Google – I loved this idea of Kung Fu Punctuation!

Moreover, in preperation for my rivers lesson with the Year 3’s next week I was able to prepare slightly more by seeing what level some of the children where at already. This week they were foucssing mainly on Britain and I was able to have some very in depth disucussions with the children about Scotland. Most of the children were interested in the typical Ben Nevis, shortbread, whiskey and Gaelic conversations however much to my amusment a few of the boys challenged my football abilities “as a scottish woman” and were surprised to find I know my way around a football pitch rather well. As funny as I found their suprise, it was nearing the end of the day and I helped the class teacher prepare the boys for home time and even met a few of their parents when sending them out the door.

Thursday was very quiet with me meeting teachers across the school to arrange my lessons for the next 3 weeks, so rather exciting for me! I did attend 3 lessons today though and a assembly about cricket, which was great as I love cricket (I know its weird because I’m Scottish but I can’t help it) and its cricket season at Moulsford so I am definately going to try to attend a cricket tea at some point before I leave! In regards to my lessons, the first of these was Year 4 maths. The children were learning number lines and playing games and standing at the front of the classroom to make themselves a number line. Doing a physical number line with the boys meant they were actively engaged and participating in their lesson and I really liked one of the boys techniques of remembering what to do when rounding. This was 5 to 9 climb the vine, 0 to 4 to the floor. Me and the class teacher were both very impressed with this and both expressed our wish to use this again. As the lesson ended the class teacher had some time left over so played a “guess my number” game where the children had to guess which number the teacher had written on their wwhiteboard in only 20 questions. This meant that the class were using mathematical language which made me think back to the mathematics and science module I took earlier in the year where making maths fun and using mathematical language was actively encouraged by the lecturer in order to

Image taken from Goolge – this was the rhyme one of the boys said in their maths lesson on Thursday. Fantastic!

make their learning significant. Furthermore, 90% of pupils in Scotland feel that the mathematics that they are learning in school is significant to them outside of school (Scottish Government (Scotland), 2014) which means in Scotland teachers are teaching mathematics in a fun and engaging way. I feel that these statistics would be similar here as every mathematics lesson I have attended has been engaging and relevant. My day continued with another fun Latin lesson – I am certain I’m starting to pick up a few words. Break and lunch followed, with a history lesson about King John after with a lot of question and answer for the assessment methods. I will be with the Year 6 history group until I leave and look forward to seeing them continue on with this subject with the magna carter being a heavy feature.

Image taken from Google – Completely throwing it back to the absoloute classic magic key books which I learned to read with (so they must be old!)

Friday was my last day of week 3 at Moulsford before the weekend where I spent a morning with Year 3 doing reading and Science and an afternoon with pre-prep doing games (P.E.). The first thing I was doing, was listening to Year 3 readers individually with the class teacher. I really like to do this because you can have a quick conversation with the children about their book and get to know them a bit better. Reading here at Moulsford isn’t done with reading schemes but in Year 3 the children can choose their own stories. I have never seen this done, the schools I have previously attended have always ran with reading schemes. The difference in the two ways that the schools in England and Scotland encouraged me to go away and read some of Primary English: Knowledge and Understanding (Medwell et al. 2014). I found that although reading schemes can be extremely useful in helping teachers reach their children’s experiences and outcomes and equivalent in England, sometimes they can not be particularly interesting or have controlled grammatical and vocabulary structures (Medwell et al, 2014, p.141). Moreover, I personally feel that by giving children the opportunity to learn how to read by allowing them to choose their books the children will be more likely to pick stories they think they will like and therefore enjoy reading, which may give them a positive view of reading in the future. The difference between the way Moulsford teaches reading and Scotland does really interest me as you can see the difference between the children I taught this year compared to last year and the children at Moulsford definitely enjoy reading more. Furthermore, after my previous post which mentions the negative effects of labeling children, many reading schemes such as the Oxford Reading Tree and Read Write Inc do in fact encourage children to be put into reading groups with their books for differentiation. As much as teachers may like this, surely it is better for the children to learn from books they have chosen where they are not feeling pressured to go onto the next book or be in the “top reading”?

Science followed with lots of interesting expeirments taking place about soil. Some exciting question and answer games took place with an active true and false game which I really liked and discussions in pairs. Following this, the children had brought in their own soil and were putting it into a table under appearance, texture and moisture. This was great for me as next week I will be taking their science lesson where they will be continuing this and growing some broad beans. My afternoon was spent with pre-prep in the games hall where the children were playing active games running around and the discussing the skills they were practicing after. This was something that I compared with giving children their success criteria in Scotland which we know is important for their future development. I am really enjoying games lessons and intend to observe a couple more lessons next week and write about the way that Moulsford does games here compared with Scottish education. Although it has only been 4 days it has really been a busy old week for me here because I have observed loads which can be seen in this reflection alone! I am really excited for next week where I will be teaching my first lessons on my own and also seeing the boarding side to Moulsford!

 

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).

Medwell, J and Simpson, F (2008) Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years. Exeter: Learning Matters. Chapter 4.

Medwell, J. Wray, D. Moore, G. Griffiths, V. (2014) Primary English: knowledge and understanding. London: Learning Matters

Ofsted (1999) The SEN Code of Practice: Three Years On. The Contribution of Individual Education Plans to the Ihe Raising of Standards for Pupils With Special Educational Needs Ihe Ihe . Available online at: www.ofsted. gov.uk/resources/sen-code-of-practice-three-years (accessed 20th April 2017).

Pollard, A., Anderson, J., Maddock, M., Swaffield, S., Warin, J. & Warwick, P. (2008) Reflective Teaching. (3rd ed.) London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Scottish Government (Scotland) (2014) Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy 2013 (Numeracy) [Online]. Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0044/00449212.pdf   (Accessed on 24th February 2017)

Religious Instruction

Image taken from Google

Image taken from Google – Moulsford teach morals in every subject throughout the school

Moulsford, as with many other schools across England prides itself in being a Church of England school. This means that during assembly the boys are expected to pray, sing religious hymns and uphold christian values. I have myself observed this in practice and remember prayers and assembly singing, well from my own school days in Ullapool. The children do not only learn about Christianity at Moulsford but all faiths and with a specific Religious Instruction teacher at the school who is also head of Year 7. Morals are also taught throughout the whole school at all times with the every teacher ensuring this is upheld throughout all classes.

Image taken from Google – a lovely example of a wall display for R.E.

With Easter being a large part of the previous term, an Easter service was held with hymns and narratives from the bible read by the boys themselves. The school choir directed the singing with the orchestra playing the music for the hymns and I felt that this was a whole school effort to make the assembly a big part of the school year. Children do also attend regular assemblies every week where praying and hymns will take place in each one. Furthermore, even though the school as a whole caries out some christian practices as a Church of England school, it strives to not only teach about Christianity but about world religions, contemporary issues, historical figures, current affairs and moral dilemmas in weekly Religious Studies classes. As a subject from Year 1, the boys with learn through active discussion, media, ICT, external visits and outside speakers. This continues until common entrance in Years 7 and 8. There is a Common Entrance Religious Studies syllabus which is followed at Mouslford and prepares the boys for their common entrance examination to their senior private schools which is sat at the end of Year 8. I myself have looked at a Religious Studies past paper where the questions follow subjects such as Elijah, the 10 Commandments, Jesus, Cain and Abel etc. They are nearly always from a subject surrounding the bible which interests me as in my opinion, as it is a Religious Studies paper, shouldn’t it have questions from all world religions and not just Christianity?

The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) in Scotland does not have that many experiences and outcomes for religious education and is actually titled “Religious and

Image taken from google – an example of some of the things the children following CfE will be taught

Moral Education“. It focuses on christian beliefs, practices, traditions and values, expecting the children to explore Christian stories, images, music and poems from early to fourth levels. Furthermore, practices and traditions in CfE will include things like Christmas and Easter which is very similar to the practice I am seeing daily at Moulsford. Additionally, having the values of what is fair and unfair and the importance of caring for, sharing and cooperating with others is again, similar to Moulsford’s values and there are certainly some comparisons between CfE and the National Curriculum in the way they teach Religious Studies. CfE do not only focus on Christianity but also all religions, with “World Religions” being the buzzword for this topic, so that teachers can focus in on any religions they wish and again teach about beliefs, practices, traditions and values of other religions. The National Curriculum in England actually sees religious education as another curriculum subject, as opposed to a programme of study by subject, where the subjects are more structured by key stages. There are some guidelines, but there is no specific content which needs to be studied at each key stage. The National Curriculum definitely contrasts with the common entrance exams for private education which do have a syllabus for Religious Studies.

Image taken from Google

To conclude, as one of my goals is to work with a different curriculum, my research into how Moulsford carry out Religious Instruction has been extremely interesting for me. The school as a whole teaches fantastic morals and although practices Christianity through the Church of England, encourages all religions. There is very little difference in the actual teaching of Religious instruction when it comes to the Curriculum for Excellence and the National Curriculum, so it is important the schools feel that they do what is right for their students. With regards to Moulsford, I see how crucial it is for them to stick to a syllabus that will not only enhance their learning but give the boys a better chance at passing their common entrance exams. Overall, I think Religious and Moral education is taught to a very high degree in all curriculum’s I have looked into to write this blog post, and certainly feel we as teachers, are equipping our children to live in the fantastically diverse country that we have in this modern age.