Tag Archives: teaching

Discussing Politics in School and Beyond

Hello!

Two posts in 48 hours – guess I’m feeling inspired!

It’s just a short post, but I imagine that a lot of schools and workplaces (in the UK, and further afield), and any other places where people congregate, will be concerned about the outcome of the UK’s General Election, and I just wanted to write a little post on it.

I sincerely hope that people do not abuse each other for whichever way somebody they know voted. In terms of school pupils and sixth form/college students, those under the age of 18 may feel frustrated if the party they would have voted for, if they could, do not win, and even young children may worry about the result, and what effect it will have, too. They may also worry about what others will say about whichever way their older, eligible family members voted for.

Ideally, people (across ages) should be able to have conversations with each other about the result of the General Election, without worry about potential repercussions in their relationships if they differ in opinion. For surely it’s an opportunity to learn about other points of view?

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As always, I’d love to know what you think about this, please: is there anything you would like to comment upon?

Thank you for reading,

Jessica

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Filed under Politics

A Reminder

Hi!

I felt compelled to write this post, because if I can help somebody through a tough time, or remind at least one person that what I’m about to write is true, it is worth it:

You matter. You deserve respect, and so do others. Your struggles do not define you. Please don’t give up, as even if things are bad right now, there will be better times ahead. It is okay to ask for help. Some people might dismiss your struggle(s), as they don’t understand, or know how to help, but there will always be people who try to understand and help you in whatever way they can. You are not a burden, or just an arrangement of atoms – you are a person with dreams, hopes, fears, likes, and dislikes. You can achieve. The world might not be the nicest place, but you can make your world great by finding things that nourish you, and being kind to yourself and others. You matter.

Go through the paragraph above again, and change the word ‘You’ to ‘I’, or ‘me’, where appropriate, and ‘your’ to ‘my’. Repeat as much as you need, and even say it out loud – you might feel silly at first, but it could help you to realise the weight of these words, and how true they are.

Feel free to share this with the people you care about, and remind them, too.

_______________

Jessica

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Filed under PSHE

Understanding and Helping the ‘Quiet’ Students

Hi!

Yes, I’ve been a bad blogger again and haven’t posted in two months. So, happy New Year, everyone (it looks strange to write that in February)! I hope 2017 is going well for you so far.

I’ve started my second, and final, semester of University. It’s going to be my busiest semester, as I went against advice last year and chose to do four modules this semester and two modules last semester (I have to do a total of six). Why? Because I found there were more interesting and helpful (the latter in terms of teaching) modules in this second semester, and since the two modules I were interested in in the first semester were both quite heavy in terms of reading (Shakespeare and Jane Austen), I thought it might balance out okay. The modules are fascinating, and I’m really excited to complete my dissertation (I’m going to enjoy the process along the way).

What am I writing about today? Well, I’ve had a few ideas for posts which aren’t fully developed yet, but it struck me that I could write about engaging the ‘quiet’ students. I’m not trained in teaching yet, so you might want to take this post with a grain of salt, but I am writing conjecturally, and from my own experiences and observations. If you do teach, and if you don’t, please feel free to comment and let me know what you think – you might agree or disagree with me, and I like hearing (or, rather, reading, in this case!) different perspectives, as it helps me to learn.

Without further ado, let’s consider the engagement of ‘quiet’ students.

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What is going on in the minds of quiet students?

They could be thinking any of the following (or similar):

  • ‘Okay. This is okay, I’m content with what we’re doing, and I don’t really feel the need to say much.’

 

  • ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. Everybody else seems to be getting on okay, maybe I just need to think a bit more, look back at my notes.’

 

  • ‘Ooh, I have an idea/ response to the question the teacher just asked! But what if it’s wrong? What if I raise my hand, and then everybody turns around, and then I mess it up, and turn out to be wrong anyway? Even if I’m right, why would I draw attention to myself? I’m just going to write it down, and when the teacher marks it I’ll get to find out what they think – that’s okay, isn’t it? I’m still engaging, just not verbally… I wish I could be more confident.’

 

  • ‘I’m just going to try to get through the work, never mind saying anything.’

 

  • ‘What does it matter? It’s not like anything I say matters.’

 

Why might students think like this?

  • They might just be naturally quiet people. This doesn’t mean they won’t have numerous thoughts whizzing around their head.

 

  • Something, e.g. bullying, their home-life, their mental health, hormonal fluctuations (in teenagers), their previous experiences in class(es), has affected them, their self-esteem, and/ or their ability to engage in class.

 

What could we do about this, to make sure students are coping okay with their work, and progressing?

  • Keep a check  on how they’re doing – both academically and personally. Liaising with support staff, other teachers, personal tutors, and family/ carers (if possible) should help in this respect.

 

  • Remind your students that there is no such thing as a stupid question. No matter if a student asks the most basic question, they deserve your patience and encouragement. If you’ve just told them the answer to their question five or ten minutes ago, it can be frustrating, but instead of giving in to the frustration, you may want to consider their concentration level, or the possibility that they may like to ‘double-check’ something, for fear they’ll do their work wrong.

 

  • Create a culture of positivity and acceptance within the classroom, and around the school. This can help their confidence to flourish. In class, some students will think ‘I really hope the teacher doesn’t ask me a question’, and squirm when you do, but by encouraging their self-esteem, and working on easing them into class discussions, they may eventually become a student who volunteers to give an answer/ answers.

 

  • Potentially run, or encourage students to join, an after-school club. For example, if a student shies away from reading aloud in class, running a reading club, which might not be attended by many, and encouraging them to read a section aloud, even for a little bit, and even if it’s just to you at first, might eventually help them to feel more comfortable reading aloud in front of multiple people.

 

A little anecdote: When I was ten years old, I remember my Year 6 teacher talking about a Maths and Literacy class she was going to run after school. I suffered from low self-esteem through primary school, and though I loved Literacy, I hated Maths, and I remember thinking something like, ‘Well it’s optional, I don’t have to go, and so I don’t have to do extra Maths!’ As I worked alongside my classmates in an IT room, the teacher was in a corner going through who she was going to send letters home with, to let their parents know about the after-school class. I thought, ‘Aha, she’s not going to say me’, and then she eventually called down to me, ‘Jessica’. I thought ‘Oh no,’ and went up to her, and we talked about how it was my confidence with Maths that was affecting me. So I started going to the after-school classes, and you know what? I started getting more comfortable with Maths, and I eventually started feeling a bit more excited to answer Maths questions during the school day. If my teacher hadn’t encouraged me to go to those after-school classes, what would my confidence with Maths have been like by the end of primary school? During secondary school? I only wish I could tell her I chose to do Maths at A-Level – the primary school me would never have dreamed of doing Maths post-compulsory! It just goes to show the effect you can have on people.

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What do you think? Is there anything I’ve missed? I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading!

Jessica

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Filed under Education

One Year

Hi there!

A year ago today, I started this blog. I’ve written fifteen posts (with multiple planned and draft posts – I really need to finish those!) since then, on a variety of topics related to education in some way. This isn’t a lot, compared to what some fantastic bloggers  do, but I’m proud that I managed to write them anyways. It’s been an interesting year:

  • I made a Twitter account for my blog, which allowed me to connect with some interesting bloggers and educators. It always surprises and excites me when somebody comments on my blog, or keeps up-to-date with me via my blog/ Twitter/ Facebook page, or replies to or re-tweets one of my tweets. I appreciate it. Tweets and Twitter chats always prove thought-provoking, and help me to consider what I might do as a teacher.

 

  • I started to consider postgraduate options other than going straight to do a PGCE after I finish final year. I still want to complete teacher training, but I have been thinking about whether I want to do an MA in English or an MA in TESOL before, or after, I’ve gained QTS. It doesn’t help that I get enthusiastic about a lot of different things, and a conversation at a Postgraduate Open Day I attended (there will be a blog about Open Days to come!) left me wondering about doing a PhD, for the second time in my life.

 

So what’s coming up? Well, apart from blog posts, I turn twenty next month, and in two months’ time I will finish my second year of University!  I’ll also be choosing my modules (classes) for third year, discussing my dissertation idea(s), and writing my personal statement for post-graduate courses. Exciting and nerve-wracking times.

Have a great day!

Jessica

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Are you celebrating a milestone in blogging, or a milestone in education? I’d love to hear from you!

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Filed under Career Planning, Education, Personal

Mental Health Awareness

Hello!

I’m very sorry for my protracted absence.  ‘What have you been doing?’ you ask? Well I have been working away at University (I just received official confirmation of my semester one results yesterday, which make me happy), keeping up with family and friends, reading, learning a bit more Turkish (though I must confess I learn more how to sing Turkish songs than I do my basic words, but I did recently learn how to say ‘great’ (‘harika’) and ‘congratulations’ (‘tebrikler’)) and more! I’ve also recently signed up to a short online course, which excites me. I have essays due in the not-so distant future, and revision to do for an exam in the Summer, so I’m going to be very busy. That won’t completely stop me from blogging though! I just need to manage my time well.

Without further ado, I shall now give you a short blog post:

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Did you know that today, the 3rd of March, is University Mental Health Awareness Day in the UK? This post will not just be directed at  University students though – it’s directed at anybody and everybody. Your mental health is extremely important, and should be treated as such.

If you’re having worrying thoughts or changes in mood, I highly recommend that you talk to at least one of the following people:

  • A family member/ carer
  • A friend
  • Your doctor
  • Support staff at your school/ sixth form/ college/ University/ workplace
  • A colleague/ manager
  • Your personal tutor at school/ sixth form/ college/ University
  • Your Programme Leader (at University)
  • Your Student Representative (at University, though a similar thing exists in schools as a school buddy).
  • The Samaritans

There is such a wealth of support, and these people should be willing to help you, even if it’s to direct you onto a more suitable person. You have nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about, although I understand it is easy to feel that way. If one of these people dismisses your issue, please don’t be disheartened. They just might not know how to respond correctly. Instead, talk to somebody else.

But how should one respond, ideally? This is something we need to learn how to do, if we don’t already naturally do it. We need to be patient, attentive, and unassuming. This means listening to the person, not rushing them, and not putting words in their mouths. In fact, talking might not be the method somebody wants to use to initially communicate a problem to you. They may want to write it down, or even draw a picture instead. What should then happen, is that you direct the person onto somebody more suitable e.g. a support staff member or a doctor. If you don’t know who to direct them to, it’s okay to ask somebody, ‘If you’re having a personal issue, who do you go to?’

Always remember this: personal issues do not define you, or any person. There are many inspiring, good people with fantastic aspirations who struggle – they just need some extra support to help them.

__________________

Jessica

P.S. – The end of this month will mark one year since I set up this blog, so you can expect a post on the one-year date too, and maybe another post for good measure!

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Filed under Education, PSHE

Equality and Diversity

Hello!

I have finished my first semester of second year studying BA English at University, and how fascinating a time it was. It is quite astounding that I am halfway through my degree now… I have three essays to write over Christmas, and I am going to read ahead for next semester, in addition to numerous other things, but you will also be seeing me here more, hopefully!

Tonight, I wanted to write a short post on an issue I hold strong beliefs about: equality and diversity.

I have always had an interest in learning about, or observing, the way other people lead their lives. Not in a pesky or overbearing way, but just a simple curiosity, because I like to understand people. For example, in my secondary school they created a multi-faith room (whilst I was doing my A-Levels in their Sixth Form) and it was, to me, the most beautiful room in the whole place. It was wonderful to know that those who were religious could practice their religion there, as well as any other place they ordinarily attended. The room was also open to those who were not religious. This room of respect was, and is, rather inspirational.

Another source of inspiration was my holiday this summer, where I found hearing calls to prayer and the Turkish language beautiful. Once I returned from my holiday, I started to research CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses. Why? I researched these courses because I am sure it can be overwhelming, and alienating, for people who go to a country where the primary language used is English and they do not know it well. I want to be one of the people who help stop the alienation. (I might even try to learn some words and/ or phrases of some of the other languages I am sure to come across in my future career, because why should I not try? I will create an atmosphere of positivity, of acceptance, in whatever way I can.)

This aspiration applies to so many other areas too, areas that should not cause us to make assumptions about other people:

  • race
  • age
  • sexuality
  • religion
  • language
  • social status
  • culture
  • education
  • disability
  • family history, etc.

Such a statement is very optimistic, given how many opinions and assumptions we hear/ read every day, but I believe in it. Everybody is an individual, and deserve to be treated as such. We need to try to discover somebody for themselves, and not who we think they may be.

These values of equality and toleration are just two values I hope to promote when I become a teacher, amongst my students, my colleagues, and other people I know (though I already do it).

We need to care for each other, because we are all human.

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Jessica

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Filed under Career Planning, Education, Languages, Personal, PSHE, Religious Education