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Reflections

Having two weeks off has allowed me to spend some much needed time with my son and with my family. My son will be starting school in August and thinking about what the future holds has resulted in me being quite reflective, possibly also to do with a new year approaching! Also, my friends will be laughing as I approach my final months in my usual three years in any job!

I love my job, I love the relationships with the kids, I love seeing someone understanding or catching onto an idea or even enjoying a chapter of a story we are reading aloud.

To clarify, I have worked in various posts: in retail, in Community Education (youth work), Social Services (drugs worker and development officer- mentoring with vulnerable young people). Then moving onto my teacher training, not the best two years of my life, struggled through and questioned myself and my abilities throughout. An absolute angel of a Pupil Support Teacher helped me through, I owe my career to her. She saw potential and helped me realise it! A true educator and inspiration.

Finally finished my teacher training and I worked in an independent school with pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties- combining my previous experience and my teaching- I loved it but think that I reached the end of my shelf life, having a child in between times, made me really question whether I could continue in this career. I moved to an ASN school.

However, I still have doubts stemming from my previous experience during my probation year. I so want to be the best I can be but still the doubts creep into my head- can I do this? I plan different experiences and activities to motivate and engage my pupils- I have good relationships and, in the main, the kids enjoy being in my classes.

But how do I get better? Where can I learn more about teaching and learning particular to my environment? I have scoured pedagoo and #pedagoofriday, I have attended teachmeets, attended research ed, talked to teachers, watched teachers, organised teach meets and followed a wide variety of people on Twitter. This has been very helpful and shown a huge variance in approaches to education.

I want to know more about how I can get better in my day to day engagements in the classroom, what methods to use, what resources will work, how to organise my classroom! Building upon what good practice I already have!

This whole post might seem ridiculous to many, but I want to do the best for the kids who sit in front of me, day after day. Classroom observation, either peer or SMT, can be helpful when done in a supportive and encouraging way, other staff making suggestions on different ways to approach things.

A very good friend of mine who visited my class when I was doing my probation year, gave me a great piece of advice, well, two but I will focus on the one where she advised me to move around the class and stand next to pupils who are causing disturbance, move things out of their reach if they are fidgeting- don’t stop doing what you’re doing to address it! The other was to make sure teenage boys always had their hands above the table, but the least said about that the better!

Reflecting daily on how my classes have gone, provides me with the opportunity to beat myself up about all the things I could do better. But I learn from the not so good bits and try again each day!

A conversation with my best friend on Saturday contributed to my reflective mood. She had been speaking about how educators need to concentrate on teaching and learning and what happens in the classroom. Too many things interfere with this. Perhaps time and more experience will help me learn more ways to engage my pupils and make it the best it can be!

Please be kind with comments, suggestions always welcome!


  1. Hello Polly
    Thanks for this honest and very interesting post. I think that the very fact that you have written it is evidence that you are a reflective practitioner and doing all you can to be the best you can be; learning from the pupils and from your own successes and challenges, self-evaluating and looking for example of good practice from others.

    I have written in a recent post about the challenges of being a ‘good enough’ teacher and in another about the crucial place of relationships in what we do.

    The fact that we work with groups of individuals where dynamics can change on a daily basis mean that we will always be faced with challenges to our effectiveness and skill as teachers. Our class today will never be quite the same as it is tomorrow. What works today may not tomorrow because child A may have fallen out with child B or child C’s dog may have died.
    If I were a master baker, I would be able to bake a perfect cake today and repeat it tomorrow, next week and next year. But as a teacher, it is my craft to bake a new cake every day with slightly varying ingredients.

    To me it sounds as if you are well on the way to mastery of our craft!

    One small tip that changed my practice a few years back (and embarrassingly late in my career!) came from AiFL and was around the question ‘do you plan activities to fill time or do you plan for learning?’. I realised that I was guilty of doing the former and made some significant changes.

    Other than that, I would congratulate you on what you are doing and urge to keep going, keep connecting with others and keep positive!

    Lena

  2. Oops…. Sorry if I have called you Polly when it should be Pauline! I thought I had seen Polly somewhere on the Facebook post but maybe not!

  3. Thank you for your kind words, Lena! I do get called Polly sometimes, so please don’t apologise!

    Pauline

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