Overall Evaluation of 4th Year School Placement
Holy Family Secondary School is a non-fee paying Catholic secondary school for girls, with an enrolment of 712 student for the 2020 year. The school has 46 classrooms including two Art rooms, a Home Economics room, a Lab, a PE hall and has converted a lunch hall into 4 more classrooms to accommodate for base classes for students. It is perfectly situated just past the bridge in the town, adjacent to the Linear Park and Newbridge Library and on the opposite side of the road is the Patrician Brother’s Secondary School for boys.
This has been quite a challenging final year in Education and like everyone else, it’s not how we imagined it was going to turn out. Remote learning, not being on campus in a room with other student teachers and missing the social interactions or moments of learning that can only come from being around one another, has been a big loss this year. But looking at it as an educator, I was seeing and learning what 21st century teaching could be.
Our tutors stepped up to the challenge and we carried on regardless, with all the information we needed on Google Drive or Google Classroom. I have come away with so much experience, not just from the school placement but also how to teach a class online. Content creation and activities, opportunities for team work, ways of presenting or new ways of learning using breakout rooms, online quizzes, different apps to use and even teaching live in a Powerpoint presentation. Experiencing this has been quite beneficial, as teaching and learning from home becomes more widespread. From what I have seen in the Holy Family, teaching a class from home when not being able to physically be there will soon become a normal practice (with good wifi).
Being on placement in the Holy Family was nerve-wracking, hard work and an entirely enjoyable experience. I have loved every placement so far, every challenge that NCAD have put to me, but in this SP in particular I finally felt that this was a natural vocation for me and one that I have spent more than four years working towards. Although there are areas I still struggle with in terms of planning and time management, it’s when I am in front of a class now that I feel entirely confident that this is what I want to be.
I feel like I have progressed greatly as a teacher over these last few years, becoming more of a reflective and adaptable teacher. I have become a lot better at questioning students, discussing topics and letting students guide the conversations about art through analysis. I do my best to be relatable and good humoured, to be generous with my time and work hard for the students, to be mindful of differentiation and not leave any students behind.
I felt in this placement that I focused on my lesson plans more, to provide lessons that were adaptable and for students to voice their opinions about what they were learning so that they wanted to participate and not just because they had to. I have improved in my assessment of learning, providing feedback and giving advice for how to move forward. I praise student’s work while also encouraging students to give their opinions about their peer’s work.
I would still need to improve on planning units of learning, I need more practice in breaking down projects so lessons have clear intentions and success criteria and be aware of time constraints and the school timetable. Success criteria and learning intentions need to be displayed and referred to constantly for students. I feel like I am not using the time in class effectively that there’s no defined beginning, middle and end. Classroom management is still a big issue for me and will be a focus for me going forward but I know it also comes with experience. I need to improve on evaluation of learning, testing students during learning is more effective than testing them after and to adjust teaching to reflect my assessment of the students. To continue to make sure students have an active involvement in their own learning which means maybe having more flexible UoL’s for students to contribute content.
Overall, this placement wasn’t perfect, I made mistakes in the planning that fed into the classroom and could see what the effects were. I spent a lot of time planning my classes, sometimes with too much content and sometimes with not enough or not simplifying tasks or not having moments where students could evaluate their work. I would have liked to have double classes to properly spread out the learning and to slow down, because an hour can be fleeting with the disruptions of a normal school day. I am a reflective learner, I have learned from these experiences and know that these mistakes will be addressed as I move forward in my career.