How to prepare for Primary Education with QTS at Edge Hill 👩🏽‍🎓

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Hello!

September is edging closer and closer, and while I urge you to enjoy this time off as much as possible it is important to keep in mind that you are soon going to be a university student and organisation is absolutely paramount. If you are going into the Primary Ed course then look out for summer tasks as last year we had a pre-course summer booklet to work through. I am unsure if this is the case this year but do check. We did use them in our first few weeks – especially the reading.

Read read read:
Whether or not you have a pre-course booklet or whether or not it is included in any task you receive, you must read some children’s books over the summer.  It was part of our summer task but then ended up being part of a requirement for the English subject: to read 10 children’s books. If you can get a head start during the summer then do that, you will thank yourself later – trust me!
These are some great ones to start with:

Books

Get onto Pinterest and start looking at teaching ideas:
If you haven’t heard of Pinterest then I may be about to change your life. Pinterest is a sort of social network where you can find inspiration and ideas for hobbies and stuff, however, if you just type in ‘teaching’ you will be bombarded by hundreds and thousands of teaching ideas. It is important not to become a ‘Pinterest teacher’ where you can’t make anything up from your own creativity but it’s great to go on and find some inspiration.  I would have a look before you come on the course and before your first placement!

Click the image below to have a quick look at some ideas ☺️

Pinterest Screenshot

Social Media and EduTwitter:
When you arrive in September the tutors will talk to you about your social media presence and how it all needs to be privatised and carefully checked to ensure you aren’t being unprofessional. I can’t stress how important this is because teachers from your placement will absolutely check your social media before you arrive so making a good impression is important.

Tutors will also direct you to Twitter, EduTwitter to be precise. This is kind of like Pinterest but on a different format. It’s teachers helping other teachers. There is a lovely welcoming atmosphere to trainees, which to be honest with you I didn’t expect, but they all want to help. So set yourself up a new professional account and get involved in teacher twitter. Follow me on Twitter if you are interested and I will contact you with more advice in this area!
https://twitter.com/EHUMissWindross

Twitter Screenshot

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you in September ☺️

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Running a School Club

Hello! How are you?

I am SO close to the end of my final placement of primary education… and I know the last day is going to be a sad one! Not only because I will miss the children, but because I will miss everybody who works at the school. I have never been in a place so welcoming with so many smiley faces. By knowing there is a lot of support around me, it has really made the placement work a lot easier!

In order to meet the criteria for teachers’ standard 8, it is extremely important to take on more responsibilities. For example, helping out at a Christmas fair or simply working cooperatively with colleagues and parents. Since I am very passionate for art, I have been running my own art club for pupils in year 4. Getting involved with messy art activities has been a lot of fun – for me and the children!

If you are also on professional practice, or know you will be soon, I definitely recommend creating your own club! Obviously, it depends on the school and which type of clubs they are already running. However, if you have the chance I 100% say go for it!

Last week the children began to create ‘galaxy jars’ by sticking tissue paper on a glass jar like a mosaic. It was a pretty simple activity but VERY effective. We will be finishing them off with a bit of glitter tomorrow! Who doesn’t love a bit of glitter?

I would love to hear about any clubs you are, or soon will be running!

Speak soon,

Placement Magic

Hi everyone!

With my placement drawing to a close, I am starting to feel quite sad! 6 weeks have flown by and I only have 2 weeks left of teaching my year 4’s… but I hope to visit them again when they’re in year 5! So, here are some of the many reasons why professional practice is the best part of my Primary Education course:

1)The children

After teaching the same pupils every day for the past few weeks, I have gotten to know each and every individual – their personalities and unique quirks. One of the most worthwhile parts of teaching is watching a pupil understand a new concept or overcome an individual struggle within a certain aspect of work. Knowing I have helped to make a small difference puts it all into perspective. Not only is it amazing to help children learn, assisting with social or community events like a school disco, sports day or club allows children to simply let loose and have carefree fun – laughter and smiles are enough to make anyones day!

2) Developing yourself as a teacher

With every placement, comes new lessons learnt. I cannot begin to explain just how much I can take with me from just 6 weeks of professional practice. This is mostly down to the teachers, mentors and every adult who works there. Their guidance and support has been brilliant and inspires me to become as supportive as they are when I eventually have my own class!

3) The creative side

This professional practice has allowed me to recognise the opportunities for creativity in everything I teach. In Religious Education we recently made stained-glass windows for their topic of the church. In Literacy, the children have put themselves in the roles of Boudicca and Claudius for their Roman topic (also relating it to History). Overall, it has been wonderful to deliver these lessons and watch the children participate with enthusiasm.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to ask any questions if you’d like to know more about my second placement within Primary Education! Speak soon,

Anna 🙂

Lesson Planning

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend and you are feeling refreshed for the week ahead! My two weeks of placement so far has gone super fast, I can’t quite believe it! Since I should be planning my lessons right now… I thought I would procrastinate and tell you how I plan them! (hopefully this might help you teachers out there!).

  1. Understand children’s prior knowledge

I find that the most important thing is to find out what the children know, and what they want to find out. Questioning children at the beginning of the lesson is really helpful to get an idea of the extent of their understanding. Whether it’s more or less than expected, it makes it easier to adapt the lesson content when you teach it. Prior to the lesson, looking at previous lesson plans and written work / evidence of learning will allow you to be more specific in your planning.

  1. Use your feedback

Being a trainee teacher involves learning from mistakes and knowing what is effective to a child’s learning. By thinking about your feedback to your previous teaching, it will allow you to personally evaluate your teaching methods and approaches to improve for next time.

  1. Adapt to different needs

Always have a plan B. Consider the differentiated abilities within the classroom and plan for different learning styles – visual, auditory, kinaesthetic. Make sure you have extension tasks to challenge pupils in addition to considering the help from teaching assistants, children with special educational needs, and children with English as an additional language.

  1. Be Creative

Ensure you use varied teaching approaches with a variety of resources. Children can only concentrate on one thing for a certain amount of time – as for any adult! Engaging them with creative tasks will encourage the use of their imaginations and active learning.

  1. Have a read over the teachers’ standards

Familiarise yourself with the Teachers’ Standards to ensure every standard has been/will be met.

I hope these few ideas are useful to you, drop me a comment if you have any questions! Thanks for reading, have a good Monday!

Anna 🙂

Placements in Education – Tips!

Hello everybody! I hope you’re all having a lovely Easter (and Pesach)! In my first year, professional practice took place from the end of November to the beginning of February. Throughout this placement, it taught me a lot of things and made me realise how I can improve this year. You may feel nervous or overwhelmed when given all the information for your placement, but this is completely normal! I thought I would list some tips to help calm your nerves!

Introduce yourself to other teachers

No matter how nervous you may feel, once you talk to teachers at the school you will feel more comfortable I guarantee! They will be welcoming and are there to give advice!

Don’t be afraid of the staff room

Following on from this, you should not avoid the staff room! You are there to get to know the teachers, and they also want to get to know you.

Ask, ask, ask!

One of the most important aspects of placement is to ask questions. You are there to learn and improve your skills as a teacher, so it is important to ask your mentor any questions you can think of. For example, I feel I did not find out enough information about assessment on my last placement. So this time around, I know to question what types of assessment are used and how often they are implemented.

Get to know your school

In your first week, try to find out where everything is – which classroom is which, where the toilets are, where the head teacher’s office is etc. Throughout your time on practice, it is important to know where to take the children if you are asked to guide them to another place.

Go to staff meetings and events

Yes, these things may make your day longer… but when you have less planning to do one night, you should take advantage of every opportunity. It is important to observe the structure of meetings, to find out what types of preparation is necessary when teaching a class of your own. In addition to this, attending and helping out with school events will provide you with a varied and unique experience (as well as contributing to your Teachers’ Standards).

Be reflective

Professional practice isn’t going to be perfect… teachers expect your lessons to flop sometimes. But the important thing is to know how to pick yourself up and improve for next time. Analyse how your lesson went, make notes and talk to your class teacher/mentor about aspects of your teaching that went well and those aspects that didn’t.

Make the most of it

And finally…make the most of your experience there! Celebrate your achievements, learn from your mistakes, and remember every moment is leading up to teaching your own class one day!

Feel free to drop me a comment if you have anything you want to ask. Thanks for reading, have a good weekend and bank holiday!

Anna 🙂

Opportunities I’ve had this year

Being a Student Ambassador

In a post a few weeks ago, I talked about becoming and being a Student Guide. I’ve been a Student Guide for both of my years at uni and has been a big part of my experience, so I thought it deserved it’s own post. However, I also thought I’d talk a little bit about being a Student Ambassador too.

You have to be a Student Guide to become a Student Ambassador. You are also required to have an interview and write an application, that are completely separate to the Student Guide training and, as such, you also attend an extra day of training. As a Student Ambassador, we are paid a little more, to reflect the extra work we carry out, and the level of professionalism required of us. As a Student Guide, you will often be on shift on campus with one of the managers, who will guide you through the day. As a Student Ambassador, you are usually with only one other ambassador (this could be more or less, depending on the event) and are required to travel. This may be 15 minutes down the road, or it may require you to catch a plane; it really varies.

Student Ambassadors carry out very similar jobs to Student Guides, just off-campus. Obviously away from campus, you cannot give a tour, but you may be expected to give a talk or workshop. You may also be required to work on a stand, giving and receiving information to and from potential applications.

I love being an ambassador, as it means I get to speak to so many different people!

Being a Digital Leader

In January, after my trip to Bett (British Educational Training and Technology Show) in London, I spoke briefly about being a Digital Leader. It’s been a while, but I thought I’d expand upon what being a Digital Leader means to you and me.

So, I don’t know if any other courses have people like us, but the #DLEHU team (check us out on twitter) is specific to the Primary Education degree. We are a team of 12, all from different year groups, and we are guided by Senior Lecturer Sarah Wright, in order to make the best possible impact we can.

Our main goal this year has been to encourage lecturers to get more involved with our discussions on twitter; use different types of technology (and avoid powerpoint as much as possible). We still have more progress to make, but I’m more than confident for next year. I can’t tell you too much about our future plans right now, but we have a really exciting year ahead, that I know I’m looking forwards to.

Being a Student Representative

Now, I’ve used the umbrella term ‘Student Rep,’ because I was not only Group Representative this year, but also Year Group Representative. Think of the Group Reps like your School Councillor, who collect information from you to feedback during a meeting. This is similar to how we work, although instead of feeding back to a meeting, the Group Rep will send their feedback forms to the two Year Group Reps, who will then take it to a meeting, usually with the Year Head and some other members of the faculty. I’ve also had the pleasure to attend a Programmes Board meeting, which helped me to see what was happening to our feedback, and the changes that were being made as a result.

I hope that has given you some insight into some of the roles you may have the opportunity to take on at university. Until next time!

6 top tips for surviving placement

So, as my life is currently taken over by placement, here are 6 tips to keep in mind that will help your survive.

  1. Be willing to ask for advice.
    1. My behaviour management was one of my weakest areas last year on placement, partly because I refused to ask for advice. I walked into that placement, feeling confident that I knew what to do, but in all honesty, I didn’t have a clue. The worst part about it is that I thought asking for advice was a weakness. My mentor knew those kids better than I did! There was no shame in admitting I still had a lot left to learn.
  2. Be open to feedback.
    1. I have friends that hate receiving feedback from their mentors, but like I said before, we still have so much left to learn, and it really is in your best interests to listen to it – especially if they’re grading you!
  3. If there’s more than one EHU student on placement, support each other.
    1. A lot of trainees I know spend their first placement in particular, acting as if it’s a competition, but having that support and friendly face there can really combat your nerves and make you feel better when you’re having those bad days.
  4. Make sure you have at least one day off.
    1. Everyone needs some downtime and if you’re completely overwhelmed and stressed out, that means you’re not going to be efficient. Take some breaths, put on a movie, eat some ice cream or go for a walk and just chill.
  5. Talk to your friends / colleagues.
    1.  There are days when I really want to throw in the towel, because my lesson hasn’t gone as I’d planned, or someone was particularly disruptive, or I was just feeling generally overwhelmed. Firstly, I probably should’ve kept in mind that I was still training, and everyone makes mistakes when they’re training. However, without my course friends, I’d potentially continued to feel that way, but a gentle reminder that everyone has bad days can really ease the situation and help you to think with a clearer mind.
  6. Remember the biscuits for the staff room / your co-workers.

It’s worth it in the end

I won’t lie to you… second year has been incredibly tough for me, for a whole range of reasons. Now, it’s a Sunday evening and I’ve just finished my lesson planning for the following week; I’m busier on placement than I am in the entirety of the rest of my degree, yet it’s the best kind of busy. And being on placement reminds me why I’m here in the first place.

When a child asks you if you’ll be their class teacher forever; or you see another child, who doesn’t really respond much in lessons, get excited by a topic you’re teaching… the overwhelming sense of pride and love for this career is enough to put you through the stress of assignments ten times over. It’s enough that you don’t care that you’re up late planning, because if you get that one child to smile at something, to connect with something that you teach next week, it will have all been worth it.

My best kind of advice for all of you, is to find something that gives you a similar feeling. That may not be teaching; that may be seeing people respond positively to some media you’ve created, or at the very least to have felt like they related. It may be seeing kids get better and go home from hospital with their parents. It might be doing a particularly satisfying bit of maths or coming across a piece of research that will one day change the future.

In an entirely different context, Taylor Swift said, ‘If you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you need to say, you’ll know it.’ Of course, this didn’t mean what I’m twisting it to mean when she originally said it, but I do think it can be applied here. If you love something so much, I 100% think you should study it, or make it your hobby, or whatever it is you decide to, because life is too short not to do things that YOU want to do.

And I know, as a result of my placement, that this is something I 100% love. Some of you may not know what it is you love, but that just means you get to spend more time trying new things to figure it out.

How to get ahead in Primary Education

As I have spoken about previously, Primary Education is a course that can be seriously underestimated. It is one of the most popular courses at Edge Hill with a cohort of around 300 students per year, meaning that it is important to get ahead wherever possible. The course is demanding but there a few things you can do to help you reduce stress and get as much of your experience as possible.

Before you even consider choosing a Primary Education or Education based degree it is important to get as much experience as possible working or volunteering with children. Some people can volunteer in one class and absolutely love it and base their career on this experience and then find themselves shocked when faced with different circumstances in different schools. Having this range of experiences allows you to see teaching from all angles and make an informed decision. As well as this if you do decide to pursue teaching the experience is excellent to boost your CV as teaching jobs often prioritise teachers who have experience in different local authorities. The more experience you can gain the better, as being in school with children is the best place to learn. It is important to get experience before you begin a course but also to consider maintaining this experience during your course. Between your placements the time you spend out of school can be considerable and you can quickly find yourself feeling a little rusty when it comes to returning to the classroom.

Once you begin the course organisation is key. I would highly recommend investing in a good planner or diary. When you are at school and college you get used to teachers telling you things multiple times or having letters given out to remind you. Once you are at university a lecturer could say something once and you will be expected to remember this and action it. This is not the case for everything but I feel it is better to record dates, to do lists and important events in an organised manner to save a last minute panic when you realise that you may have forgotten. As well as a diary I would also suggest buying folders and wallets, as a teacher you can never have too many and knowing where exactly that one piece of paper you need is will save you time and stress in the future.

As part of your organisation an important thing to consider are the dates of your assignments and the time you have between hand-ins. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is to get your library books well in advance even if you are not reading them at that moment in time. As the Primary Education cohort is so large the library can often be overwhelmed around assignment times. To overcome this plan out when assignments are due, look at the content and get your books as soon as possible. This saves you going to the library a week before the assignment and seeing a dreaded empty shelf. Once you have the books keep renewing them so you have them when you are ready to use them. Another thing to consider is that if you are living in halls or with other people who study Primary Education share books as much as possible, it means that you’re accessing two or three times as many books as you would be if you were sourcing on your own. As well as this I have wasted many hours walking up and down the library looking for books without really knowing what I am looking for. Using the library service online allows you to search for books based on release, content and type and shows you how many are available and where they are in the library. Through searching online you can spend a few minutes noting down the location and simply going to the library to pick them up saving you time.

Lastly take as many professional development opportunities as possible. As a trainee you are able to join as many unions as you wish in order to get a feel for what they offer and how they can support you as you begin your career. These unions often provide training days or lectures that are available for free to trainees. The content varies from subjects such as safeguarding to special educational needs. In addition to what the unions offer the university also has many opportunities for students to expand their experience through things such as TEL, science under the stars and volunteering to support clubs.

Overall as a Primary Education student one of the most important things to remember is to stay organised and stay calm. The sooner you can do something the better and I would recommend taking on what you can but never do more than you are capable, don’t let your academic side suffer as a result of trying to boost you experiences or CV.

So, what do you learn as a trainee teacher?

Monday

  • Science (2-4)
  • Computing (4-6)

A lot of the Science we do is incredibly practical. One of the key things in the National Curriculum at the moment is ‘Working Scientifically’ which includes all of the skills that you use when you carry out an investigation. This can be anything from observing to measuring to evaluating, so we make sure that we know how to cover these topics. Within this, we cover both the subject knowledge (the WHAT we teach) and the pedagogy (the HOW we teach).

Computing is a relatively new subject in the curriculum, having been brought in during the changes in 2014. Last year, we covered why the changes were made and what they were, and got to grips with the software and equipment we would be using to teach.

Wednesday

  • The foundation subjects – Art, DT, History, Geography, PE, RE, Languages etc (9-12)

The foundation subjects varied each week, so we spent 3 hours on a different subject. This tiny glimmer into each subject is nowhere near enough knowledge to help us go out and teach it, which is why we are given independent time to do more work and strengthen our subject knowledge, but it gave us a starting point to help us in those weaker subject areas.

Thursday

  • Maths (9-11)
  • Academic Professional Development (APD) Lecture (12-1)
  • English (2-4)
  • APD (4-6)
  • Optional session: Technology Enhanced Learning (Tel) (6-8)

Our tutor for Maths last year worked in a Year 6 class one day a week, much like many of the tutors here at Edge Hill, so the experience she brought to our sessions was fresh and relevant. We worked with lots of different materials, learning how best to break down some of the most basic Mathematics principles for early years children, and how these would help for children still struggling later on in their schooling.

In English, a lot of our work was discussion-led, talking about different ways we would introduce work to children. Sometimes we would read a story and then put this into our reading journal. We used a lot of stimuli and story prompts, which then helped us to create our own class story, about a mermaid.

APD touches upon the important topics we wouldn’t necessarily cover otherwise, such as behaviour management, learning theories and children with SEND and/or English as an additional language (EAL).

Friday

  • Minor Specialism: Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) (3-5)

For your minor, you get to pick from the foundation subjects, EAL, SEND and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). In SEND, we covered different learning styles and how to adapt to these in more depth, and were offered the opportunity to attend an Autism Drama workshop carried out by some 3rd year dissertation students, who were on the spectrum. This was incredibly useful.

So there you have it! A lot of people might tell you that we spend our time playing, or colouring in as Amber mentioned in an earlier post, but all of what we do is to help us prepare for teaching. It is proven that most children learn better kinaesthetically, which is why we get to do so much fun stuff!