In my early education, reading and writing were a challenge, at the age of nine I received a diagnosis of dyslexia bringing with it extra support from the school. This gave me a real determination to overcome my disability. It drove me to study hard, achieve high GCSE and A-level grades and go on to achieve a 2:1 in criminology at the University of England. Although this is not a national curriculum subject, working through and coping with my dyslexia at university helped me nurture my own love of learning. I was able to take more responsibility for my own learning, leading to a deeper understanding of how I and others learn. I developed the ability to work to a deadline under pressure both independently and in groups, something I feel is directly relevant to teaching. Other relevant skills I have gained are data analysis, essay writing, critical analysis and researching.
I began spending one day a week, then two days a week in a primary school which has strengthened my love of learning. I spent time in both Key Stage 1 and 2 classrooms and have so far completed 40 days in a school. I observed lessons such as English, maths, Spanish, science and art, listened to pupils read, and went on to work with small groups. I started to grasp lesson planning and discuss with teachers current educational issues such as the changing curriculum. I was able to observe how different teachers handle classroom and behaviour management, particularly picking up on the importance of maintaining an assertive yet sympathetic style. All of this shapes my classroom practice to become more effective, for example seeing someone moving up a reading band as a result of the extra time I gave to them. Recently I saw a child making good decisions with their behaviour as a result of the plans we made together. I am gaining experience currently with a year three class of 30 children, working with them one to one, in groups and leading the whole class. Learning to think on my feet numerous times a day is challenging but rewarding especially when I receive positive feedback on my lessons. Picking up on some of the skills learned at university I have been able to train a number of staff in the effective and confident use of ICT.
This summer I worked as a camp counsellor in America with a group of nine girls. I shared their cabin and was responsible for all their needs including their physical and emotional wellbeing. I needed many of the skills I had seen in the classroom to be an excellent counsellor and I was able to use my singing skills to set up a choir who performed to the rest of the camp. Resilience, good judgement, enthusiasm, energy, patience, creativity, responsibility, leadership, reliability and stamina were all essential. Looking back I can see my time at ‘Camp Wonderful’ grew my confidence, leadership and communication skills, which I look forward to bringing back to the classroom.
In my studies, classroom work and at camp I continue to see the rewards of inspiring and teaching primary school children. I chose to specialise in Key Stages 1 and 2 as I feel it is demanding but hugely rewarding to work with children at this vital formative period in their educational development.