My First School Placement

Ok to begin with I know that it has taken me a while to get around to actually writing about my placement (seeing as it was before Christmas), however this post is all about the time I spent at a local school; documenting my experiences good and bad. My placement began on 14th of November and ended on 2nd of November 2011.

My first day at my new school was one of mixed feelings and new experiences, the night before I had laid out everything that I needed for the following day and had set several alarms just to be sure I didn’t sleep in. Nervous wouldn’t have even described how I was feeling the next morning; I kept thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong, would the children like me, would I get on with the class teacher and would I even get much interaction with the class ; these were all questions running through my head. but I had to put all of these worries to the back of my head and press on, at the end of the day this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, of course I would be nervous but I couldn’t let my nerves get the better of me and effect my first day.

The journey to my school wasn’t far, but very different from the routes that many of the other students would take. My journey required me to get a bus/taxi and then a ferry, yes I had to cross a body of water to reach my school; weird I know but I thought this was great. Eventually along with the other students that would be attending this school for the coming weeks I finally arrived. It was quite early in the morning so the school was practically empty except for a few of the senior teachers and reception staff. Nervously we all ushered through the main entrance but very quickly we were made to feel at home by the staff. After receiving a tour of the school and meeting the vice principal who explained all of the school’s policies etc, the four of us divided into our pairs and were shown to what would be our classroom for the duration of the placement.

By the time we were directed to our classroom the children had already arrived and had begun to settle down into their daily routine; on entering I was in awe of the atmosphere, engulfed by everything I saw and the different activities taking place in the classroom. The best part was that no matter where i looked everyone had a smile on their face, immediately I knew I was going to get on just fine here. After introducing ourselves to the class teacher she quickly gathered the children onto the carpet to explain to them who these strange adults were and why they were visiting. The class teacher introduced us as Miss Short and Mr Nesbitt, for me although only a small gesture this was amazing, I wasn’t going to be known as a helper or a student; to these 23 children we were both teachers there to help and assist them for three weeks.

Over the next few days we began by observing the class teacher while she taught the whole class, understanding how she managed the class and the individual children. These observations as well as working with the children in small groups allowed me to better understand each child in terms of ability, behaviour and how best to interact with each individual. This meant that when it was my turn to lead a larger group or the whole class I knew what to expect and how to control the class in different situations whilst still relaying the message that I had planned to with minimal disruptions. The class that I was in was a year two class, I got to know the class very well during my time in the school; quickly building up relationships with each child and gaining their approval as part of their teaching staff. However taking a moment to reflect on this I believe that despite being recognised as an adult in the classroom and a figure of authority, I didn’t really gain the complete respect of the class until I took my first session leading the class. This was the first part of the morning which included letting the children in, settling them into their morning challenge, stopping the class, bringing them to the carpet, taking register/dinners and beginning then next task. I feel that after this I was viewed in the eyes of the children as more of a teacher in the school rather than an assistant to their normal class teacher.

At the beginning of each day the class teacher would take me through the lesson plan for the day and explain each task, detailing my role for the day. In addition at the end of each day the class teacher would discuss her plans for the following day, but what I really appreciated was how she involved me in her planning, asking my opinion and what Miss Short and myself thought of different activities. This simple involvement really helped me to better understand the planning process and aided me greatly when it came to creating my own lesson plans.

Throughout my placement I encountered different scenarios or incidents that really gave me an insight into situations that can arise in your typical year two classroom but more importantly by witnessing and helping to solve some of these incidents it taught me how best to deal with similar situations. This experience will be invaluable when I am on placement in the future and indeed when I qualify.

Over my placement I have learnt so much about teaching and what it takes to be a teacher, you hear so much about the different theories behind teaching when in university but until you actually get out into the classroom and experience the real thing you don’t realise the commitment and enthusiasm that is required not only to teach but to be a good teacher. In hindsight when I look back on my first placement I visualise all of the experiences that I have had and realise that each one is a building block, slowly, with time creating a great teacher.

Christopher Nesbitt

Cnesbitt

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100wc

This is my second post and wont be a very long one. I have recently been given the privilege of getting involved with the 100wc or the 100 word challenge. to quote from their website “Every week young people will get the chance to write a creative piece and share it with others. This is a weekly challenge for children under 16. You will receive a prompt of a picture or a few words then can add 100 words to write a creative piece. It is then published on your class blog and then linked.”

This provides young people across the United Kingdom to create and share their blogs to the world.; with the added benefit of having loads of teachers and people involved with education commenting on them. Imagine as a young child putting all the effort in to write a good piece receiving a comment about their work from the other end of the country. What an encouraging message this would instil within them; to continue producing a high level of work in return for the praise of another. Maybe from a trainee teacher’s point of view this could be seen as something to do with what skinner was talking about all those years ago when he talked about operant conditioning; suggesting that learning can be increased by providing reward or punishments depending on the child’s behaviour. In this case the reward would be receiving a positive comment about the work they had posted online.

In addition I remember hearing about blogging and its benefits in University and one case was that of Heathfield CPS; they created a string of blogs to record what the children did each day and the results are as follows.

In 2009 9% of year 6’s got a level 5 (level 4 is the average)

In 2010 after the blogging began 60% of the year 6’s got level 5

The key point we want to make in education were ICT is concerned is ITS WHAT YOU DO WITH ICT NOT WHAT ICT YOU HAVE ACCESS TO!!!!

I just wanted to use my blog as a medium for expressing how good an idea i believe this is; 100wc is the perfect example of how ICT can be used in the classroom.

Chris Nesbitt

I can Animate + Primary School Children = Brilliant experience

For the last two weeks the student teachers of the University of Plymouth have been working hard to create a lesson plan for teaching a small group of year 5 children an Indian faith story, with the aid of the I Can Animate software.  this has been a process in which we have all put in a lot of effort to ensure that our first teaching experience provided not only a fun/exciting experience for the children but conveyed a message of learning; embedding a story in the minds of the children that make up each of our groups.

We began by first researching a story, ensuring that it was suitable for the children that would be reading it and in turn being careful to select a story that can be animated easily. If the story was to complicated or difficult to decipher, therefore becoming a very time-consuming process of explaining to the children how they could go about animating such a story. The next stage of the process was to sit down and think, “how do I want to teach this story?” furthermore “How will I meet the requirements of the curriculum?” and “What methods could I use to ensure that they fully grasp the idea of animation?” To do this I created a lesson plan, researching the areas of the curriculum that I would cover and explaining how the children would meet these requirements. Furthermore considering the question of, “How will I teach this story?” I decided that the purpose of this exercise is to teach the children a story through the medium of animation; completing the task was irrelevant. As long as the children knew the story by the end of the allotted time with a basic knowledge of I Can Animate I would be happy as my goals will have been met; i will be leaving the school knowing that I have made a difference, even if only minuscule, a difference none the less.

This being the first time I would have the chance to act as a teacher in a primary school environment since getting to University I wanted to set the standard for future experiences and provide the children in my group with the best animation exposure possible by putting in as much effort as possible. I decided that like all of us, these children will want a choice; to make a decision as a group on their film and what it entails. So when creating resources and characters I created a large variety so that the children could pick and choose what they wanted to do. However i was also aware that i have a time constraint and the children can only achieve a particular amount in any given time; so i created the background for the animation, basing it upon the images that accompanied the story.

Organisation was a quintessential part of this task, one mistake or poor organisational skills could have proven detrimental to the entire day, I am confident that if something had gone wrong i could have adapted to carry on with the task. however I do feel that it would have meant a poorer experience for the children in my group; which seems unfair given that those mistakes would have been my own. So it was important that i remembered all of the resources on the day and in turn remembered to order those that I required to be delivered to the school for me.

The day finally arrived today, we travelled to the primary school by taxi and I was met at the door by my peers; all eager to get started, maybe slightly nervous too. once we were inside the atmosphere was brilliant the children from all over the school we wondering about getting to their classrooms, returning books and fetching registers etc. we were divided up into two classrooms, I was placed in a year 5 class with two children; both of whom were incredibly bright, so excited to see what I had brought with me. we began by reading through the story, with myself reading the first page and the two children taking turns to finish of the final page. I then quizzed them to see that they had a rough idea of the story and were able to begin to storyboard the film. I would note at this point that the two children in my group did only have a vague idea of the story but I believed this would then provide me with a platform from which I could test their knowledge after today’s session had reached its conclusion. I provided each child with a storyboard and gave them five minutes to fill in six boxes, this would be the chronological order of the story. when the time had expired we cam together and discussed both storyboards, which led to the creation of another storyboard; a combination of the two, creating a much better sequence to follow.

Animation was next, the children set up the area the we were to use; this included placing the camera, the background, sorting out their characters and deciding on roles for the animation process. finally with one child manning the laptop and the other the film area we were ready to begin the animation. Through the entire process the children were coming up with countless ideas on how we could improve the film, the best ways to move characters and sounds that could be added at the end; they were a wealth of knowledge. it inspired me so much seeing two kids work so well together, if one struggled the other offered assistance; and the encouragement they gave each other throughout the animation process was incredible.

The final product was very good, the children created a film that told the entire story and they managed to space out each action well enough that they can narrate the story in lesson two. just before the lesson finished i did a recap with them; asking the a variety of questions about the story and the process of animation. when quizzed on the story as a team they were able to answer al my questions accurately, proving that teaching in this way, with this medium does work. It is a fun and exciting way to teach; the children love it; with the end result meeting all of the requirements previously set before the lesson. In terms of animation I simply asked how they would improve what we had done in the first lesson. I was impressed with some of the points raised; one child spoke about how we could have taken more pictures to give more time to speak next time, the child also said how we could have moved the characters around the board better, so they didn’t jump. The final improvement given was the position of the background, sometimes it moved and this meant that the shot was ruined; one child in my grouped suggested the use of blue tack to hold it still.

To conclude I was very happy with today and the experience that I had. I feel like I contributed to the learning those children undertook and that I have managed to do so using a medium that would not be seen very often in primary schools. It proves that when used correctly ICT can be such a beneficial tool for facilitating learning.

Christopher Nesbitt (University of Plymouth)