Restorative Practice

The framework for the restorative approach starts with looking at values which are about the sense of responsibility then we look at skills such as, eye contact and questioning. Then we need to look at the process to find out if anyone is harmed, what happened, and how to repair that. It is important to understand that behaviour is a form of communication that needs to be listened to and understood. The main aspect of restorative practice is about the pupil having relationships which can be created by having a positive school ethos. There must be interactions with pupils involving empathy, emotional intelligence and active listening. This helps with having a non-judgemental and blame-free approach which teaches children that they can make mistakes and they can be open about that without being looked down on. Important aspects of restorative approaches include fairness, equity and consistency. This means that everyone is respected and there are no biases to allow everyone to understand that actions have consequences. There also needs to be planning put in place for the future to minimise the chance of bad behaviour happening again.

Key Features of a Good Science Lesson

With inspiration from Sciences ‘Principles & Practice’ and ‘The Sciences 3 – 18’ here are some of the things that we came up with as key features of a good science lesson.

  • Stimulate interest in pupils and staff
  • flexibility and choice (Variety)
  • Motivation, challenging, engaging and enjoyable
  • Consistency not just random facts
  • Actively involved – Interactions
  • Questioning – to consolidate knowledge
  • Develop thinking and understanding
  • Discussion and reflection
  • Teamwork
  • Learning outdoors (Field trips)
  • Observation, recording and classification skills – Using real materials/living things in real life situations
  • Scientific literacy – Process, summarise and present findings e.g. how to identify reliable sources
  • Confidence in skills e.g. scientific communication
  • Predictions
  • Higher order thinking
  • ICT
  • Effective use of interdisciplinary work
  • Links between science and other curricular areas

Reflections/Evaluations on Professional Practice

In 1983 Schon came up with the theory of reflection-on-action and reflection-in-action. Reflection-on-action refers to reflecting on something once you’ve come away from that situation however reflecting in-action refers to being in practice and reflecting there and then. I think these two ways of reflecting are important to recognise and you don’t always have to reflect on the spot even though sometimes this it is helpful to make these decisions and recognise what is happening at the time of a situation. Dewey was one of the first who identified reflection as a specialised form of thinking.

Reflecting practice is all about keeping up to date with changes and continuing to learn and adapt to different scenarios. It is also about having the right attitude to this in many ways. For example, being receptive to constructive criticism, having sound judgment and following rules and regulations. This is important to recognise and keep in mind especially as I am about to be going on placement and will require a lot of constructive criticism to improve. I also like knowing the fact that in the teaching career professionals are always learning and no matter how much experience or how high up in the career people go there will always be things to learn and all colleagues get to share this experience. This gives us all a common ground and opens discussions about current affairs which everyone can contribute to, which will benefit what goes on in the classroom.

The self-evaluation process is also important as it gives people the opportunity to ask themselves what worked and what didn’t and why. This gives time to take a step back and really look at certain teaching methods that will be useful again and things that won’t be done again. This is time to gather thoughts and make sense of the day or week which is being evaluated. It’s about thinking of the next steps and acknowledging the fact that it’s about the practice and not the children’s performance. I think that is really important because the children can’t control their learning and if they need extra time or support it is the teacher that has to think about what they can do about that rather than what the children need to do.

Health and Well being – Food and Health

We looked at the definition of health and came up with the fact that it includes physical, mental and social wellbeing. This led us to think about the definition of wellbeing which is about individual vitality, meaningful activities, and resilience. Teaching these things allows children to recognise what they need to do to be able to lead a healthy lifestyle. To go into a deeper discussion about how to live healthily we need to look at the food which we eat, and which people give their children to eat, to see if what we think is good for us is just advertisement or if it’s the truth.

Before the lecture, we were asked to watch John Cornochan’s video called sugar rush. Which explored this in more detail and exposed parents to the ingredients that are in the foods which are given to young people. Packaging can be misleading when it tells you a product is fat-free however it is full of sugar or hidden sugars. Parents and children need to be educated on what to look for on the ingredients list of foods and take a bit more time and consideration before buying unhealthy foods. Planning for choices and change gives children the ability and skills to make decisions and personally plan what they might eat or what physical activities they need to do to live healthily.

Why Maths?

In the lecture, I appreciated, straight away, the helpful tip that was given about how to make sure all pupils would have to work together and share answers. This was done by making everyone sit together, rather than being more spread out, and everyone was giving a number and therefore might be chosen to give an answer, rather than having volunteers.  This also gave me the opportunity to sit with people that I might have never spoken to before therefore, I was able to hear different points of view and be involved in more of a discussion. This also kept us all on task as we knew that there was a chance we might be asked to give an answer.

Understanding why maths is so important was interesting, however, something that really stuck with me was the attitude to maths and that teachers need to promote the enthusiasm and joy in this subject. Maths can be expressed in different ways and if the teacher has a negative attitude towards it and portrays this to the pupils they most likely won’t want to participate and it will instill a negative attitude, surrounding maths, within them. If maths can be taught in a more engaging way and all the answers can be explored through different ways of thinking, children might be more open to enjoying maths and wanting to be good at it.

Parents opinions on maths were also mentioned. Sometimes if parents aren’t good a maths they will give up on trying to help their children and agree that maths is just something they’re not good at and never will be. This gives the impression that it’s okay not to be good at maths but as it was mentioned in the lecture understanding maths and having knowledge of numbers is just as important as being able to read and write.

There was also a discussion about myths and anxieties to do with maths, such as “you either have it or you don’t”, “you don’t need maths in later life” and even “women can’t do maths”. These need to be challenged because we can’t accept that one of the most universal languages is so pointless and can’t be achieved through practice and hard working. Children need to know that they can achieve in maths and that getting questions wrong does not mean that they are incapable it means that they can learn and grow and explore what went wrong to better their understanding.

How Society Can Structure The Way People Think

Society has a huge impact on how people think whether that is conscious or subconscious. The media has a part to play in this but in the past people didn’t have the internet and social media to form opinions or hear different people’s views. In the lecture it was discussed how things like racism used to be so accepted in society which sparked a feeling of disgust from me. It was also said that concepts of race emerged in the late 18th century which was used to justify the social order from ht perspective of the European colonial powers.

It was discussed how white people terrorised, abused and killed nearly 4,000,000 black people with little to no consequences. This made me feel upset and angry as I believe that all people are equal and should be treated equally. There are also sociological perspectives of racism, such as resource allocation which is when one ethnic group is said to be in power above another. There is also group closure which is the process whereby groups have boundaries that separate themselves from others. This acts as exclusion devices between ethnic groups. I don’t agree with these terms and think that as a society we need to break down the barriers that are separating people for no valid reason.

This can relate to classroom experiences as no matter what gender, religion or race the children are, they should all be treated equally with equal rights and equal discipline.

Reflecting Upon Resources

In schools children come from all different backgrounds and circumstances and in this became very real to me during the task. Every group being given different resources wasn’t immediately noticeable to me but after presenting our ideas, for something to make for a first year student, I realised that my group had a lot less to work with. The other groups had different coloured paper and the group I was in only had one white sheet of paper. There was one other group who had similar resources to us and they came up with a similar idea to us. Whereas the groups with more equipment had very creative and ambitious ideas.

I felt a bit disheartened after hearing everyone’s ideas but the group I was in still completed the task and presented our final product. Our mark out of 10 was the lowest in the class and the group that had the most got the highest. I felt like that wasn’t fair as we didn’t’ have the same opportunities.

It became clear to me how some children might feel in a situation where, for example, they are given projects to complete at home but don’t have the same equipment as other children or their parents can’t/won’t help them. This is something that teachers need to be mindful of because if the children come into school and get less praise than someone who has a lot of colour and has had a lot of help on their project, it will be demotivating. It needs to be recognised if they have done the best they can with what they’ve got.

Teaching Insporation

My school experience was a valuable and positive introduction to education which promoted a love of learning. Primary school is a defining period in the development of young people. It is an opportunity for communities to come together to provide the education that can instill young people’s confidence, success, responsibilities and effectiveness, as outlined in the Curriculum for Excellence. I look forward to working with children and having an impact on their lives as it would be very rewarding. Learning about the development of children and how to provide the best education is something that interests me. It would be fun to plan different lessons and make them exciting and understandable for children. I look forward to gaining even more skills through further education and when I eventually go to work. I am willing to put in as much effort as I can to become a primary teacher and I look forward to achieving that goal

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Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

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