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.
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.
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!