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I did my placement at University Christian Children's Centre , Miami, United States of America. The Centre is a Miami-Dade County licensed by the Department of Children and Families (License No. 11MD0567) for 75 children. It is a pre-school or an early learning centre for children ages between 1 to 5 years. The Centre emphasises on the golden rule of ethical training. Children's feelings are acknowledged and respected while learning to be in command of their own behaviour. The school has a Christian environment respectful to all cultures and beliefs. [Ref]
Parents need help from the professionals in caring and educating their children as in today's challenging and demanding world women are also joining the work force to support the family. The other benefit of this sort of Centre is that more people are involved in the care and career building of a child. As Hillary Clinton frequently said "it takes a village to raise a child." (Eberts, Gisler: 2001). That is the reason why I had chosen this Centre as I used to be a working mother of 3 children and had to rely on relatives and child minders for my children's care and education. The preschool teacher does not teach children how to read and write; instead she enhanced their concept of numbers and words through their involvement in playing activities.
Since late 1980's, the educational coaching, programmes, organisations, structures, teachers circumstances and statuses have all been changed. The most significant objective was that to make the more effective education system in order to sustain economic performances and to stabilise employment level. (Wilson; 2009)
employers are looking for a much widened set of skills from their employees, apart from their special knowledge or technical proficiency. Thus the necessity to be aware of all the abilities and skills the graduate has developed during his time in the degree programme, and how he developed them further, has increased enormously.
The purpose behind this placement module is to gain the skills and abilities that will help to find employment and to fulfil the ambitions. Transferable skills are defined as "an ability learnt in one context, can be applied to another". In 1980's The National Advisory Board for Public Sector Higher Education and the University Grants Committee (UGC) supported the same view in a joint statement, "The abilities most valued in essential, commercial and professional life as well as in public and social administration are the transferable, intellectual and social skills". (Assiter; 2
First of all I would like to discuss some of the most important and specific skills which I gained from my studies and helped me in my work Placement as well. Then I'll discuss how my studies of a religious degree helped me in acquiring those skills.
The first and the foremost is the skill of communication, both oral and written. There are many benefits of communication because it enhances so many aspects of one's life. Once Rudyard Kipling said that, "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind." quotationsbook.com/quote/42044/Â -10TH NOV 3;20Â
Communication develops when one person sends a message to another and that message is accepted and understood (Butterfield & Arthur, 1995). It is not necessary that a person who is communicating is also being aware with the formalized system of a language. A person who is requesting for a direction in any foreign country, with the foreign language is a good example of this kind of communication. In the same way, sometimes communication does not occur even when language is present. For example, a restless child who wants to go to the bathroom can easily be recognised. For all these kinds of situations knowledge of language is not essential. In fact, according to Evans, Hearn, Uhlemann, & Ivey in 2003, about 90% of any messages which are exchanged between two people can be referred to nonverbal behaviour. In addition, there are many unspoken behaviours which are recognised universally, despite differences in culture and languages. (Ekman; 1980; Izard, 1994).
Communication skills include many things - to use the language effectively,Â the ways in whichÂ we are speaking to the person, our bodyÂ language, our facial expressions, our voice, its pitch and tone, our interpersonal skills and a lot of other things. It is now required to show effective communication in every aspect of our life.
In a study done on entry-level employees by Tanyel and Mitchell(1999) report an account of those communication skills which are expected by employers, includes team skills, presentation skills, both oral and written communication, leadership communication, and interpersonal communication.
According to a USA 2004 census, about 45% of children under the age of 5 are not white and 25% live with parents of languages other than English. (Maxwell; Lim; Early; 2006) As a teacher of preschool children, my supervisor's job was very complex. She had to work closely with children, their families, as well as all the colleagues. One of the greatest challenges for her was to communicate with children from diversified cultural background and languages. Every child has his unique personality which shapes his relationships and behaviour. Children also differ in temperaments, which reflected through their approach, mood, sensitivity, adaptability and their reaction to the situations. Every child comes from a culturally nested society. They differ from each other not only culturally but also linguistically. In order to build relationship with them I also had to start with love and nurturing feeling. By following my supervisor's example I used children names frequently in order to show them respect, spoke in a calm voice, by expressing pleasure and consideration. Along with the barrier of language I had to rely on body language, and in order to gain their trust or confidence, I used hugs and loving assuring voice. For example, the quiet child who needed a warm hug would show his emotions by intimate talk while playing or by personalized attention. I sometimes found her to be bit frustrated and exasperated by the behaviour of the children who seems to know how to push her buttons. This required extra effort and patience from her and helped me to learn how to deal with more maturity in order to understand their negative feelings or aggression.
With the growth of electronic communications and service industries there is more stress on the creative and intellectual capabilities along with the physical and general energy of an individual. As Seltzer and Bentley in 1999 suggested that the learners and the workers must use their entire learning experiences and apply them in new creative way.
The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) specially provided guidance for making the curriculum more adaptable in order to improve student's interests and achievements. They stressed that creative teaching should be the important element of the curriculum, so that the children can be able to explore their creative and imaginative parts of brain. (Webster; 2001)
Â According to UNESCO, "the encouragement of creativity from an early age is one of the best guarantees of growth in a healthy environment of self-esteem and mutual respect - critical ingredients for building a culture of peace."
The Centre was planning for the annual summer party and they asked me to help in doing preparation for the party. The theme of the party was Hawaiian, so I have to make sure that children will learn something new about that culture. I engaged them in making masks by giving them paper plates and paints. I allowed them to take part in decorating the hall for the party and asked them for their own views on how to decorate the hall. Children came up in dressed-up clothes of Hawaiian theme and had fun by dancing, playing and eating. This provides them with opportunities to express their own imagination as well as increases awareness of differences among cultural groups, their customs and tradition I read them stories and get themÂ to talk about the stories or let them to make up their own. There was one day fixed for water play where I watched them playing in the pool with all their things they want to play with. I accompanied Centre staff to the recycle ware house to get various kinds of stuff like; bottle and caps of different shapes and sizes, jars, paper, cards, ribbons etc. All of the material was given to them during their activity workshop, so that they can use their imagination and create new things.
There is a famous old proverb, "there is no 'I' in team".
This saying emphasizes the significance of sharing, working together and managing different roles in the team. We cannot call a group of people working together, a team. In fact, team is a group of people who agreed on the achievement of one goal by working together. It is necessary for everyone who is working in any environment to be able to work with others and to co-operate in order to work effectively. Effective teamwork contributes in achieving goals and accomplishing tasks in every walk of life. There is always a possibility for a conflict to arise when people from different values, ideas and philosophies came together under one roof. The ability to listen to others, their viewpoint, and their problems and also to reach for one common solution will automatically lead to the emergence of successful team. (Parker; 2008)
I had to develop good communication as well as trusting relationship with the whole of the staff and the parents of the children. On the very first day I was introduced to all the staff members of the Centre and they all welcomed me warmly. I felt myself to be very well supported and valued by everybody at the Centre. My supervisor gave me an opportunity to work freely by sharing in the classroom activities. She involved me in group activities by letting me lead during the circle time. I observe her as being a busiest person in the classroom- greeting, guiding, motivating, helping and listening to each and every child, as well as providing comfort to an uneasy one.
TIME MANAGEMENT; Time management is a key to perform number of functions. Its purpose is to make plans and act accordingly in order to complete them. These plans help one to foresee when he will have time and when he is most busy so that he can plan to do things ahead of time. It also helps people to become more punctual, as it helps in reminding commitments like our appointments, meetings, birthdays or other special events. Having learnt from my degree programme, I used my time management skill, very successfully. I have to complete 70 hours within two weeks time, which I did in the allotted time. I was also remain punctual and fulfilled all the targets effectively. My observations helped me in developing my time management skill, as the class teacher organised and developed the lesson according to the time. She had to take extra effort to fulfil and maintain all the activities within that time without wasting any minute. I helped my supervisor in organising the classroom by clearing the cupboards from unused and unnecessary material, by creating more space in the room, and by labelling files and boxes. I also assisted the staff in taking inventory of all the summer supplies of the Centre by arranging, labelling and stacking it class wise.
Different people have different reasons for joining any degree programme. Some think that they will get good jobs after getting a degree or some just want to gain more knowledge. My aim for joining this religious degree is to learn about different religions, different experiences as well as to become an RE teacher.
Religion and education are companions since the beginning of the Universe. The fundamental concept of religion is to explore the world in which we live and to enquire how people live their lives in one way or another. Religious education is the way that supports children's belief system and their understanding of themselves. In 1780's Thomas Stocks and Robert Reiken started church schools and set up the moral way of training for disorderly children( Webster;2001).Teacher is the one who aids and facilitates education to the individual student. Teachers are considered as a first brick in the structure of social development of a child. Researches done on the process of education and teaching and the way it occurs suggested that the teaching profession is highly complex and challenging. A teacher is one who is responsible to motivate students into learning by transforming knowledge into learning activities. (Moore; 2005)
My work placement enables me to experience the real situation in the classroom. I saw my supervisor was the centre of focus in the classroom. All the time she was busy in planning, preparing and organising activities involving children. She plays different roles by becoming a parent, counsellor, disciplinarian and a friend to children simultaneously. I've learned to communicate with children by observing her and by applying all the skills gained from the studies, for example; time management, creative thinking, and team work etc. I've found myself growing intellectually as I interact with people of different cultures, languages, religions, socio economic groups, nationalities and ethnic groups other than my own. The most important aspect about my degree course is that it develops my competence, as I set myself some goals and put all the effort to fulfil them. For example, I set the target to achieve an average of 2.1 in my second year and will plan everything accordingly. I'll have to manage my time as well as organise myself mentally and physically. University is a place where we learn and think productively and critically. It is a place where we stretch our minds by evaluating, criticizing and problem solving with solid evidence. In order to be successful in my goal I need to learn many skills. First of all I need to know the art of taking good notes, how to collaborate and interact with other fellow students and teachers and how to participate in the class. I have to engage in learning by listening carefully, asking questions, providing answers and doing discussions. When I don't understand anything I ask the Professor to repeat it or to speak slowly. Sometimes I go to the Professor during office hours or after class if I need any help, all of these involve good communication skill. One important thing which I learned from the very first day of my university studies is how to solve my own problems. I have to find my own way to the campus, finding all the resources available to me and to find the right person who can answer all my queries.
Managing time is always very complex in universities because of the classes which meet on various days and at different times. With additional commitments, which include family, work, sports and other activities, it is becoming very difficult for anyone to manage the time properly. My studies helped me in taking up this challenge and managing my time effectively, as I always tried to be on time in class and to be on time for my appointments. I tried to write essays, submit them before deadline, which involves lot of investigation and research. In order to prove my point of view on a certain topic I spent extra hours in investigating and researching for it. To manage our own time is to show respect to others. Another positive aspect of my studies is that it enhanced my trait of creativity along with the collective learning. The degree involves number of presentations which require producing constructive ideas while working in the team. In order to research on the assigned topic we have to work in group of 4s and 5s, by dividing the tasks among all the members. In this way we learn to help and praise each other for our efforts and also work together towards achievement of the same goal. All of this requires some interpersonal skill of leadership, good communication, imagination and creativity, trust and decision making, so that whenever there is any conflict we should resolve it successfully.
The concept of employability has become a symbol of performance in the foundation of higher education now days. In this technological and bureaucratic society those who do not acquire any specific skill along with their degree are most likely to be unemployed. But many British scholars are doubtful about the debate which is based to develop the importance of transferable skills. A large number of institutions in UK have regulations and policies that maintain their obligation to the skill programme. (Drummond; Nixon; Wiltshire; 1998) There remain the fear that training and instruction might replace the education and that instead of intellectuals, there would be more technicians, strive to transfer their skills. Cameron in 2000 argued that all this skill debate is only to make the workers more docile and compatible to the government policies. This has caused anxiety about the purpose of higher education. This debate of integrating key skills in higher education has proved to be more practical. The key skills which already exist in the curriculum in the form of oral presentations, essays, and group work and information technology become favourable to students in all kinds of profession. These are all transferable skills which increase the chances of career opportunities available to anyone and can be applied to teaching as well as all other careers like managers, office clerics, lawyers, doctors and entrepreneurs etc.