Exploring the wider classroom

This weekend has bought two educational trips to explore possible locations for science visits; Think Tank in Birmingham and Leicester Space Museum.

Both places really made me think about the value that they bring and the potential for taking a class there when I am teaching. Whilst I think that trips are a really important part of children’s education and experiences, seeing other groups at both locations highlighted the importance of having really focused learning intentions, along with effective behaviour management. The cost, distance, helpers, facilities and impact are all key things for teachers to consider when planning such a visit. Leading to huge amounts of paperwork! Also, it really is true that you aren’t just managing a class of children, but also a group of assisting adults! 

However, despite the paperwork, arrangements and media increased paranoia of something dreadful happening, the trips that I have arranged and assisted with have all been completely worth it! The sight of children’s faces as they interact with new environments, absorb new information and seeing/touch/hear things that would not be plausible in the classroom is simply amazing!

Think Tank had a variety of exhibits and workshops to offer! Some of which I felt could easily be recreated in the classroom with a little imagination, but I particularly liked the idea of the kids donning lab coats and doing cool chemistry experiments in a lab classroom. I wanted a go myself! Leicester Space Centre didn’t have quite as much appeal to my partner and myself on Saturday afternoon, however when teaching space would be a great place to visit! Lots of things to see and read about, with some interactive elements but not as many flashy buttons as Think Tank. Generally, I felt that it would really support explaining some of those tricky space concepts that children just find difficult and abstract to comprehend. And the planetarium was fantastic!

So, overall the visits reminded me that there must be a clear focus; an advantage to the children’s learning. That the trip should be prepared for not just in the paperwork and arrangements, but also in the classroom before and after the trip, adopting the inside-outside-inside approach. Social development is also an important element of school trips, encouraging children to work together and support one another’s learning. Visits should offer new experiences, equal for all, not just new environments to run around, pressing every flashing button as they fly by!

A picture paints a thousand words…

Right now, I’m hoping that a thousand(ish) words can paint just the right picture! After several re-writes and multiple proof reads by myself and various members of my family, my first teaching job application is printed, signed, sealed and sat awaiting postage. I know that I tick every single box on their person specification, I’m just hoping that they see that too! As a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, I am trying to stick true to that motto through the applications process; if that job is meant to be, it shall be, if not, one that is better for me is around the corner. But I am rather hoping this is the one. This school stood out to me  from all of the others I’ve looked at and I already have so many ideas from the website! But for now, there is little more that I can do than post my application and wait…

FINGERS CROSSED!

Escape the Classroom

Attended an inspirational conference today at Derby University called “Escape the Classroom”, organised by Opal. A great chance for networking for many, but more importantly, I’ve developed lots of fantastic new lesson ideas for teaching maths and science in exciting, outdoor contexts. I just want to get back into the classroom full time now and try them out!

Read this little quote in TES tonight and felt it quite relevant:

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”
-A
lbert Einstein

Back in the classroom

Day two of the research project, I spent my afternoon teaching science. SO so good to be back in the classroom teaching again, it has been far too long. The lesson was really practically and investigative and all of the children loved it, grinning from ear to ear. There were lots of penny dropping and quality scientific question raising moments too; the sort of moments that remind you exactly why you want to be a teacher.

My to do list continues to grow. The workload seems to multiply itself over night. Part of me wishes I could just go and secure a job for September straight away and then focus on my degree and further masters credits for the remainder of the year. Get my head around the job and be excited for it to begin. Part of me worries I will spend far too long applying for one. I know it’s all very “right place at the right time”, but being new to the game, it’s so hard to know what people are looking for, how to sell myself, how to prove that I’m exactly what they are looking for. Every now and again I feel myself begin to panic. Just a little. Then I stop, breathe deeply, and remember that I’m a teacher (almost) and actually, this organising, multitasking, prioritising, well it’s what we do best!

Inspirational nudges

For the first time in a while, today I have left university still smiling. Usually I am tearing my hair out as I add another twelve things to my never ending to do list. But, this morning we had a really interesting lecture from an ex student about his role within leadership and management, the use of social media among teachers for sharing ideas and CPD and how it is possible to make a difference from day one, even as an NQT. Certainly empowering. Then this afternoon, we had a really inspirational lecture from a local Head Teacher regarding the interview process. My head is full of ideas, questions and wonders… Now to go and think about how I can ensure that I “stand out from the sheep” when I begin to apply.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others” -Jack Welch.

One step closer

Following this mornings Professional Development File oral assessment, I am now only one 3,000 word assignment away from completing my degree! (Plus the Independent Study and Leadership and Management reflective assignment and group presentation towards my extra PGCE masters credits… but that’s technically not part of my degree). Anyway, I am trying to be positive and catch a glimpse of that ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

The assessment itself went well, I think, although these things are always hard to judge and I have to wait around three weeks until I receive any feedback. However, I mentioned all of the points that I had planned to and feel that I gave it my best shot! It was quite a surreal formal situation to be in at university, with my professional tutor and another lecturer I had not met previously sat on the opposite side of a large conference table to me, but it shall no doubt prove to have been valuable experience towards interviews. Fingers crossed, the result will boost my overall grade and slightly relieve the pressure for my final assignment. But, regardless of the result, focusing on the bright side, at least I didn’t go off on a mental tangent when describing my Italy teaching experience and daydream about pizza, gelato and glorious sunshine!

When you think you know everything, it’s time to give up

Today, I have officially begun the research for my inquiry project, which focuses upon how to better my own practice in a particular area. My choice: How can I increase girls motivation to engage further in primary science? The project shall contribute towards the 60 masters credits I have opted to take this year, whilst also completing my degree. Safe to say, I like a challenge! 
After the extensive amount of reading that I have been doing towards the literature review, it was quite exciting to actually get going with that practical first step. Although I’m yet to fully analyse the results, some clear trends are already emerging. Now for a long few days of statistics, analysis and planning before heading back into school next week.

However, the process really made me think about how important it is, as a teacher, to always be open to new ideas. To defend what we know and believe, yet be willing to adapt and build upon that. As a not-quite-yet officially fully qualified teacher (for the sake of a few bits of paperwork and the finalising of my degree) I certainly appreciate that I have got a long way to go and a lot to learn! I have always been quite a reflective person- academically, personally and during my teaching placements- and I hope that this continues throughout my career. I intend to be the sort of teacher who is always willing to take risks, try new things and better my own practice. In life, I never want to stop learning and living new experiences. Next year, I want to be the NQT who can learn enormous amounts from the others that I work with and in years to come, I want to be the teacher eager to learn the ‘new ways’ from the NQT’s coming into the school. No one is ever too old to learn.

Nearing new chapters

It may sound cliché but teaching is what I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember. From playing school with my brother or friends as a young child and watching my primary teachers with admiration, to shaping my GCSE and A Level subject choices to meet that ultimate destination and now, my four year Primary Education degree. My values, beliefs, knowledge and understanding have changed and developed numerous times along the way, but that has been my ultimate goal for as long as I can remember.

So now as I sit in my flat, surrounded by to do lists, Research Methods books and Primary Science journal articles to be read, it hits me just how long I have actually been on that journey for. Far beyond the four year degree. Furthermore, how soon that career, that life even, that I have craved for so long shall (hopefully) soon be reality.  All of the hard work shall have paid off and finally, I shall be in that position to inspire and open young minds, igniting creativity among a future generation. Yet, whilst I know I can do it and that I can do it well, the mere thought of applying for a real ‘grown-up’ job is somewhat terrifying. And whilst that sounds almost like the end of a journey, in truth, it shall only be the start of an even greater one.