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Lesson one: observed lesson by my university tutor. The lesson was meticulously planned for due to the underlying significance of the lesson. This depended on me passing my second placement. This external regulation (i.e. to pass or fail PGDE) was the extrinsic reward I used to motivate myself to prepare for the lesson. This type of motivation is comparable to pupils' motivation towards external examinations.
Lesson two: lesson to be delivered subsequently after my observed lesson. Due to overtiredness; preparation for the lesson was not in as great depth as my observed lesson. To intrinsically motivate myself, I knew that as a student-teacher all lessons must be prepared for sufficiently. This introjected regulation motivated me to prepare for the lesson. This type of motivation depends on the individual's psychological state and whether they perceive the task to be important or to bring pleasure. Pupils need to be self-disciplined or interested in the subject in order for them to be intrinsically motivated.
Just as I was motivated by various external and internal factors, pupils are motivated in the same manner, through final examinations and self-discipline. Both these factors will be taken into account during my teaching practice.
Account for how one group/class has been constructed in your placement experience and identify any assumptions underlying its creation.
A set credit class was constructed using class tests, project work, performance reports and an element of professional judgement from the class teacher.
Judging individual intelligence through class tests is an independent, unbiased means of assessing intelligence, however, it only assesses intelligence at a given period in time.
Project work is a more accurate assessment of intelligence. It allows the individual to demonstrate intelligence over a given period and in a number of learning styles.
Performance reports provides an overview of how the individual is achieving elsewhere in the school. It is important to assess intelligence across all subject areas as this provides a more detailed profile of the individual.
Professional judgement is a subjective outlook on the individual, based on their performance in class and elsewhere in the school. However, professional judgement can incorporate elements of bias. This is based on the frame the teacher has set about the individual, which is dependent on teacher's beliefs and values in life.
Some pupils will achieve better in some classes than others, due to a number of environmental and social factors. It is therefore important that teachers look past academic achievement and assess the individual's psychological traits when setting classes.
CLIMATE FOR LEARNING/ BEHAVIOUR MANAGEMENT 2
Consider a lesson you have taught where conscious preparation was a significant factor in establishing an effective climate for learning.
Delivering a lesson through cooperative/ active learning methods requires conscious preparation to deliver a well structured and challenging lesson that will engage the learner from start to finish. A well planned lesson supports an effective learning environment. Pupils are less likely to present disruptive behaviour when they are sufficiently challenged throughout the entire lesson and there is an element of interdependence and collaboration with their peers during activities (Kagan & Kagan, 2009).
The lesson entailed a role-play activity to discuss the land use conflicts in Loch Lomond National Park. Each group were assigned a specific role to play during the group presentations. The activity was carefully structured to ensure that everyone involved had an active role. The assigned roles were carefully planned to be more active, demanding roles, such as writer or note taker rather than submissive roles, such as time-keeper or encourager. This helped to remain interest and participation during the activity. There was an element of group collaboration during the task to ensure that everyone collectively shared their ideas and agreed on the final outcome of the activity. Before starting the activity, all pupils were asked if they understood the task and their responsibility. This helps to discourage any confusion during the lesson, which can lead to disruptive behaviour.
CURRICULUM FOR EXCELLENCE (CfE)
Identify a particular challenge you have seen in relation to implementing CfE and the ways it has been addressed in your placement school.
A particular challenge in relation to implementing CfE is delivering a coherent learning experience in the context of secondary education (Scottish Government, 2010a; 2010b). There is challenge to address clear links between subject areas at secondary level, where departments have been traditionally segmented, working in isolation from one another. To overcome this, school 'X' delivers a series of interdisciplinary projects for S1 pupils, which forces departments to work collaboratively with different subject areas. The interdisciplinary project focuses on a similar theme so that clear links can be made between subjects. The benefits of the interdisciplinary project, provides pupils with a connected learning experience that draws strands of learning together under one theme. However, stand alone projects are not enough to deliver a coherent learning experience. Departments need to routinely work together to identify strong links between their subject areas and provide a connected learning experience for pupils. Pupils must be aware of the relevant links between subject areas during lessons. From my observations during placement, it seemed that interdisciplinary learning was an ad-hoc initiative, infrequently implemented by motivated teachers. Time constraints appeared to be biggest challenge for teachers.
Identify a member of staff who has specific responsibility for some aspect of transitions and outline the key issues informing their work.
A deputy head at school 'X' is responsible for the transition of pupils from primary school to secondary education. There role is to ensure curriculum continuity, progression in pupils' education and pupil support. The keys issues informing their work include:
Discontinuities between the school and the previous setting (Fabian and Dunlop, 2002):
The physical context (size, location, number of pupils/ teachers, transport)
The social context (social network, children's identity changes, pupil-teacher relationships)
The academic context (different approaches to teaching and learning, in particular curriculum continuity)
Liaison between parents, pupils and secondary school
Liaison and cooperation between primary and secondary school
Identification of pupils within the transition group that require additional support and guidance
From my observations, it would appear that the school could improve transitions by operating a fixed timetable for S1 pupils. The school currently operates a rotation system for all subjects in the S1 timetable; as a result pupils experience a number of teachers, sometimes up to 17 different teachers in one week. HMIE advocates that pupils' should experience as few teachers in their weekly timetable to smooth the transition to secondary school, ensure continuity and progression in learning (HMIE, 2006). Research suggests that rotation systems impact attainment in early stages of secondary (Boyd, 2008, p. 326), which negates progression in pupils' education.
THE EDUCATION OF LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN
Find out which member of staff has responsibility for looked after children and briefly outline their role.
A pupil and family support worker at school 'X' has responsibility for looked after children. There role is to provide support and guidance to the pupil during their time at school.
Identify any mental or physical health problems which may impact the education of a looked after child (LAC) and ensuring that such needs are supported internally.
Monitor school attendance and absenteeism and highlight any issues to senior management and outside agencies.
Encourage participation in school activities, events and outside programmes.
To act as advocate for a LAC to ensure that their educational needs are prioritised, assessed, evaluated and met.
Identify any social and emotional issues (e.g. bullying and drug-use) which may impact the education of a LAC.
Ability to work in partnership with school staff, carers and outside agencies.
Ability to deal effectively with child protection issues.
Understanding and application of Additional Support Needs programmes and resources.
Ensure that the individual is provided with stability, continuity and normality during school.
Give an example from your own teaching where formative assessment could be seen to have improved learners' performance.
At the end of a unit test, formative assessment was used to provide individual feedback to each pupil. The test marks were set aside until the end of the activity to ensure that pupils focused on the formative feedback. Pupils were asked to reflect on the comments and provide feedback on whether they agreed or disagreed with the comments. They were also asked to summarise what they could do next time to improve the quality of their answers.
The use of formative assessment was effective at highlighting the pupils' strength and areas for improvement. During classroom discussion it was reported that the exercise helped to develop the pupils' examination skills, knowledge and understanding of the subject area. It was too early to state whether the exercise actually improved future test results; however it was apparent that the pupils enjoyed the exercise. Formative assessment supports Assessment is for Learning (AiFL) strategies, which Black and Wiliam (1998, p. 7-74) had demonstrated in a wide-ranging research review that such an approach could improve both learning and examination results.
SCHOOL, FAMILY, COMMUNITY
Comment on aspects of school life in which parents'/care-givers' involvement is encouraged and areas where it is not.
School 'X' submit monthly tracking reports and yearly school reports to parents'/ care-givers' about their child's academic performance. Parents'/ care-givers' are encouraged to provide written feedback in response to their child's school report. This exercise is used to encourage parents to reflect on the comments provided by teachers and share information about their child to support learning and teaching.
Parents'/ care-givers' are encouraged to get involved in school life by actively participating in the Parent Council. Parent Councils are recognised in law under the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006. As a statutory body, the Parent Council has the right to inform and provide advice on matters which affect their child's education.
Areas where parents'/ care-givers' involvement could be better encouraged is through departmental open days, where parents'/ care-givers' are welcomed into the school to visit each department and talk to the teachers responsible. In the past, this initiative was common but due to time constraints and budget cuts, it is seldom put into practice.
Identify a difficult aspect of your placement and suggest how practice from another school system you know of may have helped.
Raising attainment is a key priority at school 'X'. To support this objective and develop my own professional development; I immediately looked towards the Finnish education system, as an exemplar of international good practice. Finland; once poorly ranked educationally now ranks first among all the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessments) (OECD, 2010).
A recent analysis of the Finnish education system summarised its core principles as follows (Laukkanen 2008; see also Buchberger & Buchberger 2003):
Masters qualified profession
Resources for those who need them most
High standards and supports for additional support needs
Balancing decentralisation and centralisation
Continuous evaluation of education
In review of the core principles, the latter can be incorporated into my teaching practice to raise attainment. On further investigation, Finnish teachers are encouraged to provide formative and summative reports both through verbal and narrative form (Darling-Hammond, 2010). The feedback is used to emphases the progress made by the pupil and areas for further development (Sahlberg, 2007). The Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE, 2010, n.d.), state that the main purpose of assessment is to guide and support pupils through their learning. To strengthen teaching and learning at school 'X', incorporating formative assessment methods will be encouraged where possible. It is important that pupils understand their areas of strength and areas for further development to support progression in learning.
Give an example where democratic principles have been exercised effectively or where they could be better exercised by pupils/students in your placement school
To comply with the rights of the child (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) Article 12) and give pupils the opportunity to express their views on matters which directly affect them, school 'X' runs a pupil council. The pupil council provides pupils an opportunity to express their ideas, concerns and feedback on the strategic planning and management of the school. Representatives from each year group are elected by peer members from senior years to avoid partiality and favouritism. The aim of the pupil council is to make a positive contribution to the school and its pupils. An overview of the roles, purpose and agenda which pupils have sole responsibility for are clearly defined at each meeting. This provides pupils with the sovereignty to manage issues independently, which the school commits to follow through on. This provides real power to pupils, which helps to prevent feelings of tokenism. The pupil council supports other educational benefits, such as, the means to learn about democracy and leadership. This was advocated by the work of John Dewey's, Democracy and Education (1916, Chapter 7).
Consider any dilemma you have faced on placement and how a notion of 'professionalism' informed your response.
During my placement, a behaviour management situation that I was faced with was a challenge to address; however a notion of professionalism enabled me to deal with the situation in a controlled manner.
An exchange between two pupils during class was disruptive but rather amusing in context. However, my response to act in a composed and authoritative manner defused the situation and confirmed that their behaviour was unacceptable and not in compliance with the school rules. My professional disposition throughout the exchange helped to avoid further disruption and enabled me to impose an appropriate sanction as a result of their behaviour. This response did not discredit my sanction or undermine their behaviour. As a teacher, you must uphold a professional temperament in any situation, particularly when faced with a behaviour management issue. Professionalism should be part of a teacher's everyday habits, values and attitudes. It is increasingly important to maintain such high professional standards in teaching and throughout your professional career.
Consider any example where two current issues have created contradictory demands for your placement school.
Issue 1: Promotion of information and communications technology (ICT) in schools to bring education into the 21st century.
Issue 2: Censorship issues - restricted access to various websites on the internet.
The Scottish Government encourages the use of ICT in schools through computers, access to the internet and other new technologies to support learning and teaching in the classroom. To make lessons relevant, interesting and current; teachers should have full access to the available resources online. However, there are restrictions imposed by the Local Authority which limit access to various websites. It would therefore seem contradictory to promote the use of ICT in classrooms, yet prohibit the use of internet resources, such as Google Earth and YouTube. Some people would argue the quality of resources such as YouTube; however, having used YouTube in previous lessons, the variety of up-to-date and high quality video clips is vast. Access to a variety of internet resources helps to create more interesting lessons, which can engage pupils during lessons.
Outline an example of curriculum content/activity you had to adapt specifically to counter-act, or to avoid reinforcing, discriminatory attitudes.
As part of a role play activity, through cooperative learning methods, pupils were divided into groups of four to act out the planned activity. The scenario included a number of people from Scotland from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. To avoid reinforcing discriminatory attitudes, each character was given a different ethnic profile. This helped to present a more inclusive and multi-cultural representation of Scotland. No ethnic group was given priority over another. The pupils' cultural experiences were also taken into consideration while planning the activity to ensure that the exercise was culturally relevant to all learners. As a result, all pupils were able to participate in the lesson based on their cultural identity and experiences. To avoid reinforcing discriminatory attitudes you must be aware of different cultural experiences to ensure that all pupils can access the curriculum and feel included in their learning. This philosophy of education supports the core principles of an inclusive school (Hamill, 2008, p.67; and HMIE, 2002, p.4).
Black, P., and Wiliam, D. (1998) Assessment and Classroom Learning. Assessment in Education, 5(1), pp. 7-74.
Boyd, B. (2008) Primary - Secondary Transitions. In T.G.K. Bryce and W.M. Humes (Eds.) Scottish education, beyond devolution (3rd ed., pp. 326-332). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Buchberger, F., and Buchberger, I. (2003) Problem-solving capacity of a teacher education system as a condition of success? An analysis of the 'Finnish Case'. In Buchberger, F., and Berghammer, S. (Eds.) In education policy analysis in a comparative perspective (pp. 222-237). Linz, Austria: Trauner.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2010) The flat world and education: how America's commitment to equality will determine our future. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University. This excerpt originally ran as 'Steady Work: Finland Builds a Strong Teaching and Learning System' in the Summer 2010 issue of Rethinking Schools, Volume 24, Number 4.
Fabian, H. & Dunlop, A.W. (Eds) (2002) .Transitions in the early years: debating continuity and progression for children in early education. London: Routledge Falmer.
Finnish National Board of Education (n.d) Background for Finnish PISA Success.
Retrieved on the 15 February 2011 from http://www.oph.fi/english/education
Hamill, P. (2008) Challenging behaviour - understanding and responding. A teacher's guide from Primary to Secondary. Hodder Gibson.
HMIE (2002) Count Us In - Achieving inclusion in Scottish schools. A report by HM Inspectorate of Education.
HMIE (2006). Ensuring effective transitions. A report by HM Inspectorate of Education.
John Dewey (1916) Democracy and Education. An introduction to the philosophy of education. The MacMillan Company. Chapter 7.
Kagan, K., & Kagan, M. (2009) Kagan Cooperative Learning. San Clements, CA: Kagan Publishing.
Laukkanen, R. (2008) Finnish Strategy for High-Level Education for All. In N.C. Soguel and P. Jaccard (Eds.) Governance and Performance of Education Systems. Springer: Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2010) PISA survey of education performance. Education: Korea and Finland top OECD's latest PISA survey of education performance. Retrieved 01 December 2010 from: http://www.oecd.org/document/12/0,3343,en_2649_37455_46623628_1_1_1_1,00.html
Sahlberg, P. (2007) Education policies for raising student learning: The Finnish approach. Journal of Education Policy. 22 (2) pp.147-171.
Scottish Government (2010a) Curriculum for Excellence Building the Curriculum 1 - the Contribution of Curriculum Areas a Guide to Developing Professional Practice. Edinburgh, Scottish Government.
Scottish Government (2010b) Curriculum for Excellence Building the Curriculum 3 - A Framework for Learning and Teaching. Edinburgh, Scottish Government.