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In this assignment, I will discuss the relationship between my past experiences and future aspirations and how these relate to my future study whilst considering key areas and theories relating to teaching and learning.
I followed BERA 2018 This includes anonymising names and respecting any participants in the observation. Adhering to Articles 3 and 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989).
I grew up in a loving home where politeness, trustworthiness, and respect were expected of you whilst turn-taking, resilience, and risk-taking were taught.
Having children of my own, made me realise the enjoyment involved in the encouragement and growth of someone else and how proud I become of the smallest things as well as the appreciation of "time" spent together, and the impact of this on a person's wellbeing. I found similarities in Parenting skills and experiences (ST 2, pg. 55). This grew into a desire to help and nurture children which is why upon reflection I went back to college to become a childminder.
As a childminder, I worked independently, used my initiative and organisation skills to continuously create new, rich experiences for developing children. It was important to understand each child's personality, considering different outcomes and opportunities for all whilst running background jobs. I soon moved on to be a teaching assistant-upon my first year, I completed level 3 in Supporting Teaching and Learning and during my third year, I gained Higher Level Teaching Assistant status. Within my role, I have listened, observed, and learned from the teachers I have worked with which has enabled me to enhance my skills from past experiences.
These are all qualities that can help me with E103 as I can prioritise my workload and stay on schedule.
Before this I worked for a timeshare company, that taught me organisation skills, the ability to manage ongoing demands, an awareness of other people's needs and basic understanding of their lives through listening and patience, just like Joyce (ST 2, 2.1, Pg. 52) "Listening to, and empathising with, children are core abilities.", whilst encouraging the right approach and understanding of others in my team always being confidential. Many of these skills were mentioned in study topic 2 as part of Groom and Rose's research, for the skills that teachers look for in a teaching assistant, and Reynard 2000, (ST 2, Pg. 45) identifies them as "soft skills".
My ongoing targets are to gain the skills and qualities required to become a primary school teacher, this comes with a mixture of theory, nature vs nurture and subject knowledge. I want to expand my self-awareness to enable myself not to get stressed as quickly with minor things, to vary my tone when appropriate and to accept help when I need it.
Since the 1980s in the UK, many adults who facilitate children's learning in schools have experienced a notable change in their day-to-day responsibilities. (ST 1, 2.2, pg. 20) Reflecting on my current Teaching Assistant (TA) role, it holds a range of direct and indirect support opportunities throughout the day and continuously changes.
I begin at 8 am before the children arrive, I spend the first 40 minutes completing indirect support with the teacher such as admin tasks, preparing, printing and trimming resources, setting up the classroom, and discussing anything from the previous days learning in regards to the children's understanding, so we are both aware of any misconceptions that need to be addressed.
When the gates open, I go to year 6 and take two English as an additional language (EAL) children on a 1:1 basis for a reading, writing-based scheme. This targeted direct teaching support is to ensure that the learning is tailored to their individual needs, so they become independent readers. At 9 am, I return to my year 5 classroom, and take a small group of children for a spelling booster session, in which I plan and deliver, to ensure that every child succeeds by building on what they already know and giving them equal opportunities to access learning. This allowed me to relate to "The research literature provides much evidence that additional adults in support roles have, increasingly, become involved in the work that teachers do" (ST 1, 4.3, pg. 32). Therefore, supporting the school using my recognised strengths.
For Maths and English, I am a general class TA, where I float, assisting pupils as they need it ensuring engagement and positive approaches to learning or conferencing them on the work they have produced. During conferencing, I sometimes plan on the spot differentiation to help based on the school curriculum, or I may do a joint evaluation with the pupil of their work to embed the next step. After the lesson, I will help to mark books and share my findings with the class teacher and discuss how this can inform future planning.
My responsibilities also included lunchtime intervention TA; this means that I am out with the children being a proactive member of the team and ensuring secure knowledge of policies and procedures to support the school. I make the staff rota, and plan clubs and resources for use during this important social part of their day. I base my clubs on supporting the wider curriculum and life skills so that pupils benefit from varied knowledge and interaction with others.
In the afternoons, I hold intervention-based activities as catch up sessions, run enrichment sessions in cookery to immerse the children into a new experience, set up new displays around the school or in the classrooms, or cover lessons that have been planned by teachers. Taking responsibility for teaching and learning, which as mentioned in reader 1 (Hancock and Colloby 2013), "demands a certain amount of self-evaluation and reflection." At the end of the day, I will dismiss the children interacting with parents as needed. (515)
Lev Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist who researched the social and cultural aspects of learning. He observed children in their social context and suggested that interaction with both adults and peers will encourage more learning to happen. During almost every lesson, this theory is seen today.
In an English lesson, the pupils were learning to write a setting description of a forest. In small groups of mixed ability aged 7-8, they were asked to make a list of vocabulary - adjectives and nouns - using a picture provided. After a short while, two of the five groups were given a basket of items from a forest - one of the groups had an adult with them. One child named an object a stick, then another said a twig. The adult asked the difference between a twig and a branch. The children listened to each other's thoughts and reasoned with each other's opinions, they ended up agreeing that a branch comes from a tree, but a twig does not. The adult then referred them back to the picture and asked them to focus on the tree, a child pointed out the branchlet and said Oh look that is a twig. They can come from trees; they are just a smaller branch! They were praised for their observation.
One of the items did confuse, a brittle catkin from a silver birch tree, the children were told what it was and then asked; Do you think these catkins would always look like this in a forest, explain? After further discussion, the adult introduced the fact that these would flower yellow or green depending on weather, they were male or female.
During the class shared writing, one of the children described the silver birch tree as bursting with colour from catkins hanging from the twigs in the warm spring sun as the scent of flowers filled the air. Whilst another offered, cracked brittle catkins were scattered over the damp mossy, nutty floor in the autumn due. The children were proud of what they had offered and understood that the precise vocabulary built a much clearer picture for the reader.
Reflecting upon this, the children have worked together as a group exploring their prior knowledge and trying to apply this to new items that they may not have seen or identified before. The adult has had an impact on the learners by supporting their discussion with new vocabulary and supplying a physical learning experience. All of this shows Vygotsky theory of social constructivism, "he emphasised the social and cultural context of learning and the role adults play in supporting children's learning" (Cited in, ST 3, 3.2, page 94)
The children also interacted with the physical environment (in a closed way), by being given real-life resources to explore within the classroom. This allowed the children to interact directly with them and extend their earlier knowledge of trees and branches to accommodate new information. This is a practice that was influenced by the constructivism theory of Jean Piaget. "Piaget's theory of learning prompted schools to organise their classrooms so that children could have a rich environment with plenty of materials and resources." (Cited in, ST 3, 3.1, page 91)
The shared write was a chance for the teacher to generate ideas with the pupils and vice-versa to scaffold an example that was the standard expected to achieve the learning outcome for the lesson. As the children were involved in this process, it allowed them to see the work from both the point of view of the audience and the writer, which built purpose to their work, making them feel in control and share the feelings of what a good piece of writing generates. This links to Rogoff's scaffolding learning. "The adults supply the scaffolding, but the building has to be constructed by the learner" (Cited in, ST 3, 4.2, page 102)
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