Cross Curricular

Published: 2021-08-27 11:30:07
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On arrival at my placement, I thought I had embarked upon my very own baptism of fire: a school that didn’t have any facilities for textiles, the one area within which I feel most experienced, confident and comfortable. So, armed with a smile and a willingness to learn a lot in a very short amount of time, I decided to focus on the positive, face the fear of humiliation and throw myself into the ring and take the animal by the horns. This animal happens to be all elements of 2 and 3d design on the computers.
During the CAD/CAM lessons at university I had really struggled, firstly with getting my head around using the computers so prolifically, as they were pretty much alien to me as a dressmaker and then secondly, learning a whole new world of designing on 2d Design and Solidworks. However, I was surprised at when push came to shove and I was in a KS3 classroom, with children needing assistance, sparks of useful (well, sometimes, useful) information would come to the fore and help out. I realised that sitting one-to-one with a pupil we could, through communication, analysis, trial and error and stamina work through the process to get to our goal.
I would have been happier in these initial cases to have provided a perfectly succinct solution to the pupils’ problems, but I believe it was actually enormously beneficial to be so lacking in subject knowledge, as I built relationships with many of the pupils and became more aware of their learning styles, needs and also shared their sense of achievement. I would say that I felt more confident working with small groups or in the one-to-one scenario, rather than when I was in front of the whole class, being observed.
For example,I was given ten minutes to introduce the idea of making stands for mdf mirrors that they were in the process of finishing. They had to design their stand in 2d design, which I had spent two nights trying to work out and still needed the help of the technician on the day, who gave me some top tips which made my delivery flow better. I had been in this class every week, so had built up a really good relationship with the children and was aware of those pupils who may need a little bit more support, or help to refocus on their task.
However, I instantly became totally self-aware of being watched, being responsible for the learning and having a very limited ability with 2d design. Suddenly, I was very conscious that should they want to adapt the design I was showing them too elaborately, I may not be able to help them. Unfortunately and quite typically, after revealing that I was going to be teaching them how to draw, measure and modify the stand, I announced that they probably knew more about it than me and so I hoped that we could work on it together…my patient, accommodating and delightfully good humoured teacher, smiled at me, shook her head and mouthed ‘noooo’.
Without wanting to seem arrogant, I had had no fear of standing in front of the children, having taught singing to the same age groups, before, but being watched and assessed, and the sense of consequence and the importance of my ‘teaching’ for the pupils was quite overpowering and I feel that ultimately, I lost some control of myself to nerves.
I had sat down to use the power point and I felt out of touch with the class, a little, but didn’t know how I could illustrate the workings on the system by standing up. To be fair to the children, they were focused and watched me work through the process, but I feel I could have incorporated a little more participation, rather than just ask if they had any questions.
On reflection of this lesson, I realised that I was more concerned about myself and the impression I was giving than I should have been and I hope to overcome this with practice and more confidence in my subject knowledge. Where I feel a little more naturally able is communicating with the pupils around the class; assessing the pupils’ needs, listening to their concerns or wishes for their product and encouraging them to think about their process and the specifications that they are working to.
This has been particularly fruitful in the workshops, where I have been in several classes where the children are working with acrylic, making a toothbrush holder and a picture frame. Both the teachers who manage these classes are very assertive, have strong lesson plans, set out the objectives and outcomes very clearly to the class and regroup the pupils intermittently to discuss where they are up to, give praise and recap what is being expected of them.
It also helps eliminate the monotony of working on one piece for the children, which is something I wouldn’t have thought about previously, but this works really well as the pupils seem to get a blast of encouragement and inspiration to take back to their design/object. I have found that showing a genuine interest in the pupils and their designs and asking questions about the techniques that they are using has reinforced their ideas and enhanced self-confidence in their work.
In essence, I feel I have not had enough experience of taking the lessons to give a full review of what I could have learned from ‘teaching’ so far, but I will push harder to be more involved in this area, as I feel that it is something that needs a lot of work for me to become more confident in front of the class, particularly in the subjects that are taught at my placement. I feel that that the pupils do listen to me and I have been able to capture their attention and help them to be independent in their thinking.
I would like to learn more about what is expected at each level within the classes and be more knowledgeable about the individual students’ needs. This should help me to draw up more comprehensive lesson plans that incorporate differentiation, time for checking that the students are on track for their own levels to which they are working and that they are understanding what is being asked of them, that they understand the project and are confident enough to take some responsibility for their own learning and growth.
My pedagogical knowledge and skills will, I hope become greater as my subject knowledge is enhanced and my confidence in this is improved. It is a comfort, when talking to other student teachers that they too, feel the same way and this ‘baptism of fire’ might be the better way to start my placements, because it has forced me to focus, exploit the opportunities to use the people and the equipment that is available to me and quickly realise that it’s not all about me and my feelings in the classroom and I need to learn very thoroughly and quickly in order to teach wonderfully!

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