Monday, 21 April 2014

Monday Musing: Kate on Teaching

Education Sunday was on the 16th February 2014. It was a chance for me to stand up yet again and speak to our congregation on why I want to teach. I am like the young lamb of the congregation bounding about with enthusiasm and energy but I do take time to take stock and listen to those who have had more experience than me. For as many fresh new ideas I may have been blessed with there will undoubtedly be more than double tried, tested and successful ones from before my time.

One reading was an excerpt from the German theologian Hans Kung on Education from 'On Being A Christian':

The Christian message gives no detailed information as to how the scholastic and vocational training system is to be better and more effectively organised, how curricula are to be worked out, training and educational programmes implemented, education problems solved, institutions governed and children educated. But the Christian message has something essential to say about the attitude and approach of the teacher to the child and the child to the teacher, and also about the reason for commitment even in the light of the face of disappointments and failures; that in the light of the person of Jesus education can never be for the sake of my own prestige, repute, interest, but for the sake of the one who is entrusted to me. Education is understood therefore as non-repressive, as mutual; service regardless of precedence. This means that the child never exists simply for the sake of the teachers, nor indeed the teachers simply for the sake of the children; that the teachers may never exploit their children, nor indeed the children their teachers; that teachers may never impose their will in an authoritarian spirit on their children, no however may children impose their will in an anti-authoritarian spirit on their teachers. Mutual service regardless of precedence in a Christian spirit means for the teacher unconditional trust, goodness, loving good will, in advance, and without any compelling reasons. And in all this they will refuse to let him deter them.

When it came to my turn to speak I chose to share my personal statement which I used for my Post Graduate Certificate In Education application:

For the majority of my life I have tried hard to be a certain someone or a certain something. I didn't know what or who that was. I just knew that I wanted to be socially accepted and boy what a lot of pressure that was. 

What I didn't realise was that I already was someone. I was the daughter of God and I was someone with a  gift. It was those around me who could see it more than me. That gift was, and still is, working with/connecting with children. I had always enjoyed working with children as a playleader and babysitter but I didn't want to work with children as a professional 'just' because I enjoyed it. 

That all changed when I had my son Joseph. Over the past year I have learnt so much and have been on an incredible spiritual journey. I have really heard God and accepted his confidence in me becoming a teacher. So here is my application for the PGCE course.

I can remember few teachers growing up. One who inspired decades of pupils to pursue their dreams and live for the moment through his commitment to music and storytelling. The Church was overflowing at his funeral, a testament to his character. A second who had a good ear for listening and encouraged students to step outside their comfort zones to reach beyond their capability. I don't want to teach to be remembered I want to teach because I want to make a difference. I wanted to teach when I had experienced life and 'lived'.

When I had my son I realised through teaching him to, walk, talk and now read that teaching is living. It's one experience that I could not do without. My experience as a volunteer TA to key stage1 and 2 has lead me to believe I would thrive as a Primary School Teacher. I have found it fascinating seeing the variation in teaching styles and the ways in which children learn, through my observations I have realised my strengths and weakness in the classroom. For example having created and run my own children's group and Sunday School I am aware of the importance of research and lesson plans/preparation. 

I found that having trained in the arts to be of great benefit in a class setting. Not only in these specialised areas but also when conveying historical stories, literacy and numeracy. I remember learning my Times-Tables to song and performing them on stage in a tap routine when I was a Junior. 

I have taken advice from my mentor at Norton St. Nicholas C of E VA Primary School, and implemented some co-operative learning strategies into my sessions. This has given the children a sense of independence and personal achievement and also teaches them the importance of teamwork and taking control of their own learning. Transferring the skills I have learnt during my time as a TA into my personal life has proved positive which only encourages me to pursue my passion to teach.  

Having completed various courses demonstrates my flare for learning and by my volunteering has given me the confidence that I have the ability to manage a career in teaching and juggle family life. The most recent of external courses relating to children for example was run by the Family Lives organisation which was a course on Dealing With Anger for children. I fed the information back to the teachers at my placement which they are happy to use for training and/or to pass on to any parents who have concerns regarding their children's behaviour. 

Another course was a short course on sign language which was run by The Childrens Centre. My son has struggled with Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia, a speech impediment, which has at times been distressing for him and for those around to watch. Helping him overcome this hurdle has been a credit to my patience and commitment and really helped my compassion for other children who struggle with communication. I found it particularly comforting to help children in differing year groups with differing abilities. 

I have also found reading on a one to one basis has shown how diverse the children's levels/needs really are. It reinforced how important it is to continue working with phonemes when learning phonics especially when it comes to segmenting, blending, decoding and their overall comprehension. 

This has given me a firm understanding on how children develop these essential skills. Working so closely with the children there is nothing more rewarding than seeing them move up a reading level once they have achieved their targets, this making the job extremely satisfying I can see myself trying to make a difference in children's lives for the rest of my working career.

Well they must have liked the application for two days after my interview I was offered a conditional place out of one of the eighty places available. So it looks like I am once again to be a student. Thank you for listening.

Until next time
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

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