In-Service Day – ACEs

Today I attended a talk and workshop based around ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). The talk was carried out by Chris Kilkenny who himself had many ACEs in his childhood. Now at 24, Chris talks about his experiences and how as teachers we can take 5 minutes out of our day to speak to children, find out how they are feeling and hopefully help them feel even a little bit “normal”. We can show these children we care, we respect them and build a good relationship with them. It could be something as simple as providing a slice of toast in the morning or offering a hug to somebody that needs it.

Chris’ talk was thought provoking, interesting and a great insight in to how some children are feeling and how they are living. Poverty can play a huge part in their school day and it is our job to try and make sure they have the best experience they can whilst at school.

Today has made me think about my practice and what I could do to help in my future career.

Placement: Part 1

For 1PP1 i am in a small village school with no more than 130 pupils total. I have 17 pupils in my P7 class. I feel I have started to bond well with the children in my class. The one thing I really struggled with at the start was not gaining the classes attention but managing to keep it. Now I am in my fourth week of placement however and I feel that it was not the fault of the class but my fault. The children could feel my panic and my lack of confidence when teaching lessons. This was why they stopped listening or got distracted. Since starting 1PP1b I have more confidence and I have a more authoritative voice rather than just shouting to gain attention. I am building a rapport with the class and I know what they are capable off and how long I can get away with talking for before they start to lose interest.

The good thing about the class is they are very varied in ability. As I have pupils who are working across first, second and third level I have been able to differentiate most of my lessons especially Maths and Literacy. This gives everybody in the class the opportunity to succeed with the work they are given. I have so far taught lessons from most areas of the curriculum. I still need to do a Technology, Science and a PE lesson but I have covered all other areas of the curriculum.

Last week I feel the most successful lesson was an RME one based around Easter and the Easter story. I started a whole class conversation by using questioning and to try and find out what previous knowledge the class had. I then used a short 5 minute Lego version of the Easter story to gain some interest with the children which they all enjoyed and then they could use their imagination to draw their own pictorial timeline of events from the Last Supper to the Resurrection. I attended Catholic School so I knew the story well but I did not want to teach it as dryly as i had been taught in the 90s. The class got really involved with the lesson and produced some good imaginative timelines.

This week I have a Maths lesson based on Perimeter and Area where I will be taking the class outside to get hands on. I am hoping getting them out of the classroom will mean they enjoy this lesson and it can help them understand the concepts in a real life situation.

I also have some Health and Well-being, Art, Literacy and French lessons planned. I enjoy whole class lessons and feel more confident with these than group ones. I am hoping the more group lessons I do the more confident in these I will become.

Semester 2

Another semester that went too quickly!

As expected, I have given up my job to concentrate on University and to be able to focus 100% on my placement.

Semester 2 was spent focussing on Pedagogy and the Curriculum. I already knew a bit about pedagogy but mostly in an Early Years setting. This did give me a slight head start when it came to research and starting my reading list.

As i said in my last post we had spent a little time doing dance and ICT classes. I really enjoyed learning more about the content of the curriculum and the different subject areas. I have always enjoyed Social Studies and I was looking forward to being able to teach those parts of the curriculum when I started placement. The Maths classes were informative and we were shown ways in which we could make Maths fun for our pupils. Science and Technologies were interesting, informative and enjoyable. The cakes we made in technologies may not have gone to plan but they were edible!

Another subject I really enjoyed when I was at school was Modern Languages. I started learning French in Primary 3 and continued this until Sixth year. When I saw the elective module choices last semester I straight away decided to pick a language. I initially went in to French but due to the large gap I had taken away from speaking the language I found it too fast paced but due to my school qualifications I could not drop down another level. I decided to switch to a language I had never really come in to contact before and that was Spanish. I missed 3 weeks which made me a little worried that I would fall behind but I had nothing to worry about. I found out that I still enjoyed learning a new language and actually, I am really good at it. I can’t wait to start bringing Modern Languages in to the classroom and hope I can ignite a spark in another child who may enjoy languages too.

I’m a walking cliche. I have always wanted to teach and now I am almost through my first year with just 3 weeks of placement to go!

First week back

It’s the start of semester 2. There were a couple of timetable glitches which immediately sent me in to panic mode….”How will I work”, “when will I spend time with my own children?”. Luckily my employer has been accommodating and my husband has the flexibility in his working day that he can help with the children and the general household duties.

My New Years resolution is to spend more time with family. We’ve been spending much more time outdoors, at the park. We’ve introduced board game night so that I have time to chat to my children about their week and when my timetable allows I can still attend that karate class or school assembly. I’m already a very organised person but I will have to be a lot more organised in my home life this semester.

My placement is in a smaller school in a village. This terrified me to start with as it is something completely different to what I am used to. However,  I have now done some research on the school and I think I will enjoy the small school aspect where the local community has lots of involvement and less children who’s names i have to remember.

So far I have had an animation class. This was fun and different. When I was at school our IT didn’t exist until secondary school. That’s me now showing my age! To have all of these resources at our finger tips is fantastic and I look forward to bringing these lessons in to my own classroom.

I’ve participated in a dance class. First thing on a Friday morning is not what I expected but it wasn’t too hard going and seeing where classes like these can slot in to the Curriculum for Excellence is good.

We’ve had some overviews of language and literacy and professional practice. Going through these lectures has made me think more about what I remember from Primary School and that parts of that I can bring in to my own lessons. It has also helped me to become more reflective.

When I first saw the timetable I wondered why I decided to do this as a mother of two and I am sure this wont be the first or last time I feel like this in the next four years. I just have to keep remembering that it is a very short period of time in the rest of my life and what I can bring to children in my future classes will far outweigh the work I have to put in to my degree.

I will be practicing my lesson plans on my daughter to see how well they go so hopefully that gives me a head start!

Year 1, Semester 1

Semester 1 went so quickly!

I had 2 main modules to complete. Values and Working Together were the modules.

I was looking forward to my values module as the content interested me. The lectures were sometimes powerful and moving. The lecturers were passionate in what they were talking about and that came across during each lecture. I enjoyed attending these lectures. Learning about different cultures and how others deal with prejudice will definitely come in to my learning throughout my whole degree and career.

Working together was something as a mature student that I was familiar with. I have to do this everyday in my job and last year during college I had to put a presentation together with a group of people for a module with the same name.  I wasn’t as panicked this time around as I knew what to expect. As a group of 10 we visited an outside agency who deal with children with Additional Support Needs and their parents. It was great to get information from the perspective of a Speech and Language Therapist and to find out about her day. As a group we jelled well and felt that our presentation flowed well.

These were great starting modules and I will miss my group work and the quieter weeks!

Stereotyping and Structural Inequalities

When you think of teachers most people have that stereotype of “they don’t do much”, “They play all day” and the most common one “Teachers get lots of holidays!”. These are exactly that…stereotypes! I have occasionally thought about the stereotypes teachers have but I had never, until attending this lecture, thought about other stereotypes from other professions such as Social Workers or Community Learning & Development workers.

As a group we discussed the stereotypes we had heard or even thought ourselves and we tried to dispel those. In reality it boils down to the media and the way in which these professions are portrayed. Google “Social worker” and you are faced with a barrage of news articles about how they have failed such and such a child. We never see the good only the bad. What about those hundreds and thousands of social workers every day who give support to the families that need it. Nobody mentions the social worker who is so involved in her cases that he/she continues to think about it even when at home.

Teachers. Yes, they get long holidays but even though they may not spend time inside of their classroom they are spending their spare time buying new resources for their classrooms, discussing which books or movies their pupils would love to see, worrying about that child who is struggling….It isn’t just a job but a vocation.

CLD…What is CLD? Nobody knows and that is the problem. CLD workers need to be given more limelight. They are a precious stepping stone in between a teacher and a social worker. They provide a lot of frontline help and support for thousands of families and children around the UK but they never seem to get the appreciation they should.

Structural Inequalities… Well what can i say apart from I felt bullied, picked on and not good enough because my group didn’t have the same tools as everyone else. Of course! This was a test. Well it worked! My group did the best with what we could but it didn’t stop us from feeling like we weren’t good enough. No child should ever feel like that but they do. As a student teacher i need to build on the foundations i am given to ensure that none of the children in my classroom ever feels worthless, not good enough or picked on. Equality is hard to achieve as a whole but if I keep it simple and let my pupils use their imagination and start them off on an even footing then I will be happy that they are equals in the classroom even if they aren’t equals at home. I’d love to change the world and make it fairer but I cant.

I am now understanding these other professions better. I’m thinking about how we can all work together to provide a better future for the next generation of adults in Scotland. The media has a lot to answer for! I want to be a big part in providing the best opportunities I can for children when they are in my care.

A 20 year old dream…

It was 1998 and my ultimate goal was to become a teacher. My Primary 6 teacher at the time was inspirational, developing my skills, teaching, encouraging and enabling me to help others. He had a thirst for life and was always singing songs, reading us adventure stories and I loved going in to school. Since then I have been building on this foundation to improve on my teaching and communication skills. Throughout secondary school I had planned to continue on to uni to study for a degree in Education. I achieved good Standard Grades but as I was studying for my Higher exams my parents separated and it affected my ability to concentrate. I stayed at school but I let my studies dwindle, preferring to spend time with my friends. Then I realised I could make a lot of money without a degree…

I spent 12 years working, bringing up my children and doing the “family” thing. However, something was always in the back of my mind…I still wanted to be a teacher! Was it too late for me? My husband didn’t think so. Following the birth of my second child I was offered redundancy and this was the opportunity to change our life for the better. With my children in full-time education, I went to college and finished my Highers. Look at that… It turns out I do know what I am doing and I can pass exams. As well as attending college four days a week, I helped out in a primary school, one day a week for a whole year. I was allowed to take small reading and comprehension groups and I also got involved in Maths and in P.E. lessons. I continued to work in a pre-school two afternoons each week, which has given me a good overview of the curriculum for all ages from three to twelve.

As a parent I have enjoyed watching my children achieve something new, learn to read, write or count and to continue developing their skills. Watching my own children has given me a great sense of achievement, knowing that I have helped them to achieve it has confirmed that teaching is for me!

My confidence in my own ability is returning! I will use this second chance and I will work hard to achieve my degree and finally achieve 9 year old me’s dream not only for me but for my children!