Help Improve own and team practice in schools sample essay

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The ability to reflect on one’s own practice is crucial because you can evaluate your effectiveness and assess how well you think you are doing and identify any areas that need improvement or development. 1.1 Take a note of children and young people’s responses to own practice My placement is working with year 4 children who I engage with well and I get the general impression from their responses to my interaction with them that they enjoy working with me and that I assist their development. I had written feedback from one of the Teaching Assistants I work with and she has written; “Juley gets on well with the staff and has a natural rapport with the children”. This evidence supports my own belief that my practice is at the right level and style for 8 and 9 year old children. One of the more articulate children in my class said to me a 2 weeks ago “I really like working with you Miss. Hickman, you make maths fun”.

One of the children I work with a lot who struggles with concentrating for any length of time asked me to help them read their book as I have done on a number of occasions. I asked him why he wanted me to help and he replied “I like how you explain things “. My responses to any of the children when I sit down to work with them is always positive with lots of smiling and leaning in to me and at the beginning or end of class the children often come up to me to show me something or tell me something about their weekend which demonstrates to me that the children enjoy interacting with me. 1.2 Ask for constructive feedback on own practice from colleagues For this part of the assignment I produced a document which requested feedback from the Year 4 teacher I mainly work with and the TA I spend a lot of time working with. I handed this in last week and I collected the report this week when I attended school for my placement. I have included the two completed forms in this report.

The Year 4 teacher who I work mostly with also gave me a good feedback report including the comments “Excellent group and 1-2-1 work” and “great support to less able children”. The only development area he has highlighted is “to work with G&T (Gifted and talented) children more” which when I spoke to him he stated that this was not a failing on my part but down to him allocating me such groups to work with and he has written on the form in relation to this goal “Teacher driven” so I know it is for him to allocate to me in the future. Again I am very encouraged by his feedback on the form and in person and this indicates to me that I am performing well and in the right manner.

1.3 Take notes of responses to own practice from others

The Teaching Assistant gave me very positive feedback, including stating “She is very capable and willing to carry out any task give to her” and she also wrote “Juley gets on well with the staff and has a natural rapport with the children”. I am very pleased with this feedback which she has based on examples which she has given in her report. I feel I am performing to the best of my ability and the positive comments give me much encouragement that I am performing my role well and this motivates me to continue in the same vein.

She did not highlight any areas for development but when I spoke to her she suggested that in order for me to get a wide range of experience I sometimes attend school for the afternoon sessions as this is when the children do other activities such as art and science which would be good experience for me. I currently only attend on morning sessions and hence my only experience with regards to subject matter is literacy and maths. I shall make a point next term of changing the sessions I attend to widen my experience and develop myself further.

1.4 Evaluate all aspects of own practice

See attached job description and marked areas evaluating my performance. Section 2 Be able to improve own practice

2.2 Describe the importance of continuing professional development

Continuing professional development (CPD) is almost always crucial in any position in any industry. In order to perform to the best of your ability as a school staff member a key aim should be CPD. This ensures that knowledge is developed and kept up to date and ones skills are honed and built upon. Within education teaching techniques are always changing and evolving and CPD assists in a fundamental way with keeping up to date with these changes. If a school promotes CPD then it is likely that it, as an institution, regularly reviews procedures and practices in vital areas such as safeguarding and Health and Safety. From an individual’s perspective being proactive in ones CPD gives a sense of achievement and confidence will be instilled.

This makes for a good and proficient teaching assistant who is prepared to seek feedback from colleagues and amend or change their own practices accordingly. In terms of an individual developing their career CPD is essential as investing in this demonstrates that there is an interest in progressing and developing the role. It is crucial that a written record is kept of one’s professional development in a file with dates, names of courses, certificates, appraisals and other relevant information. Appraisals are an essential part of CPD and are a way of identifying strengths, areas to improve and ways to improve. It can identify goals and targets which can then be worked towards and development measured using the SMART model.

Section 3 Understand the work of the team

3.1 Describe why team work is important in schools

In all areas of working life team work is of great importance. Team work means that a shared sense of purpose is felt and a common purpose is identified. This bonds individuals into a team and creates the ideal scenario for success and achievement. The identification and understanding of an individual’s role and that of the other team member’s roles is crucial as is the recognition of how the different roles complement each other and work together. Regular meetings with regards to roles and aims of the team are a very important part of the process of working as a team. The meetings enable the team to prioritise ways of working together, it enables the team to reflect on progress to date and to set new goals and identify other ways of getting the best out of being a team.

A successful team can be represented by various characteristics which include respect for one another, a sense of purpose, commitment to the aims of the team which are demonstrated every day by each team member and regular communication between team members. Another very positive factor of a good team with members getting on well together is that it provides a good role model for children, they will recognise the respect the adults have for each other. 3.2 Describe the purpose and objectives of the team in which they work.

The main purpose of team work is:

-To promote children’s learning and behaviour.
– To share both experiences and acquired knowledge in order to achieve better
results with teaching and supporting children.
-To promote equal opportunities and positive attitudes and to support diversity.
– To provide a safe emotional environment for children.
– To motivate children to use their full intellectual potential.
– To support and respect one another.
-To foster the good relationships and links already created with the local community and families.

Within a work role it is highly likely that you will in fact be a member of a number of teams and they will have different specific objectives such as supporting a named child or to give general support within a specific class. However it is usually the case that the more general objectives of all the different teams have at least some, if not all, of the objectives listed above.

3.3 Describe own role and responsibilities and those of others in the team.

Within any team in any industry it is crucial that each team member understands their own role, how it fits in with the team and other team members as well as understanding the role of other team members. Communication is a vital role for all team members and being able to liaise and interact with each other makes for a highly functioning team. All team members should feel that their opinion is valued and regular meetings enable the exchange of ideas and promote team objectives and create a sense of unity. Meetings also give a good idea of how what you are doing fits in with the school or team as a whole. The role of a Teaching Assistant is to work under the guidance and instruction of the teaching staff. Most work is carried out within the classroom during lessons but very importantly before lessons with preparation and the clearing up after classes.

The support of specific pupils who may have special needs is also a key responsibility and working either one to one or in a small group is common place and key. This role description is a supporting role and different to that of a teacher whose main responsibilities include developing lesson plans, teaching, assessing pupils and tracking their development and fostering an atmosphere of learning, promoting essential personal character traits and setting a good role model for pupils to emulate and aspire to. 3.4 Describe the importance of respecting the skills and expertise of other practitioners It is very important to respect the skills and expertise of other practitioners as it enables the development of good working relationships. The recognition that all team members bring something different but equally vital to the team is a core element to a successful team as is the acknowledgement that individuals can in turn learn from colleagues and thus develop.

By listening to others, respect is demonstrated and usually reciprocated and in turn nurtures good working relationships. If all team members have the qualities of self-respect, self-esteem, confidence and the ability to do their role competently then the foundations of the team are strong and the performance enhanced. The fundamental point to be always kept in the forefront is that in order to have good working relationships with other team members you need to show that their opinions and expertise are considered, listened to and respected. A point to note however is that one should challenge and debate any opinions that one does not agree with as healthy debate is both rewarding and productive producing new ideas and solutions to problems. Section 4 Be able to support the work of the team

4.1 Support the purpose and objectives of the team

The aims at Kingston Park Primary school are clearly laid out in the prospectus and on their website. These are “We aim to work together to provide a happy, caring, secure, stimulating learning environment in which children are treated as individuals, enabling them to become independent learners, with respect for each other, pride in themselves and in our school community. We provide a range of extended curriculum activities to develop the whole child and promote self-esteem and personal development “ These aims cascade down to all levels and are seen in the purpose and objectives of the team in which I have been working at the school.

Within my role I support many of these such as promoting positive behaviour by demonstrating consistent good behaviour myself, creating stimulating learning environments by preparing materials for use in class and ensuring a secure environment always being mindful of health and safety issues. I always try to promote a positive professional attitude whilst at school. I demonstrate a strong work ethic by always asking the TA’s if there is anything I can do and show willingness to do even the most basic of tasks because it ultimately supports the schools objectives. I have attended every placement day I have said I would attend and have always been punctual and smart.

4.2 Carry out own role and responsibilities within the team. My role and responsibilities within the team include:

– Supporting teaching and learning in the classroom. For example teaching a small group of less able children how to do multiplication in maths using the grid method. – Provide general support to the teacher in the organisation and management of the pupils and classroom. For example I set up the tables for the lessons by putting out the books and materials needed and ensure the children are sat at the correct tables. – Promote the inclusion of all pupils ensuring they have equal opportunities to learn and develop.

For example last week I took two students for whom English was their second language and read a book with them and helped them write sentences about the book. They needed more focused help and would not have understood the tasks in the larger classroom setting. – To be responsible for promoting and safeguarding the welfare of the children. For example when there was a fire alarm I assisted in getting all the children in the class safely out of the building. A typical morning on placement involves the following:

– Liaising with the teacher to find out the running order of the morning, what the lesson will involve and ways in which I can assist. – Setting up the tables with any equipment
– Liaising with the TA to establish if there are any tasks to do – Working with a small group of less able children with maths or literacy – Working 1-2-1 with an individual child perhaps listening to them read or helping them with addition – Writing up in the relevant document the progress of the child I have been working with and giving the teacher feedback on their progress.
– Clearing up after lessons and doing any admin. tasks allocated to me including mounting work on backing paper, putting up a display or filing work. Throughout all of these tasks good communication is key and I feel I communicate and interact well with the children and staff alike. Overall my placement allows me to support the purpose and objectives of the team in a professional and helpful way and I promote the team ethos needed to work successfully in the school environment. 4.3 Communicate clearly with team members and others, making sure they have the information they need. Communication is a key skill in my role as a volunteer in school and my ability to communicate well contributes to and supports the work of the team.

When I am given a task to carry out by one of the teachers or Teaching Assistants I will always ask questions if I am unsure or if I need to clarify something. I am often given the task to take a less able group of children in maths or literacy and not only communicate with the children well but also feedback how the children have done at the end of the lesson. I also work on a one to one basis with individual children and then not only feedback their performance to the staff but also write up about their progress in their books and in the official pupils record sheets. This good communication is essential for the team to be able to monitor children’s progress and then plan for the future.

4.4 Interact with others in a way that supports good team work

My interaction with staff at all levels has been excellent to date. I have liaised effectively with staff from the Deputy Head to the kitchen staff and caretaker and have been able to support the school team in many small ways through this interaction. One example was whilst in the staff room on a break a few of the Teaching Assistants were folding up raffle tickets, of which there were hundreds, to put in the bowl for the Christmas raffle draw. I offered to help with this in order to get more tickets folded and did this on my coffee break.

This interaction supported the school team and I was thanked by a few other staff members for volunteering. 4.5 Identify and suggest ways in which the team could improve its work, challenging existing practice where necessary. I have not yet identified an issue whereby I felt the need to suggest ways in which the team could improve its work. I do now feel confident enough to do so should the situation arise and I will submit a learning journal to evidence this as and when I have encountered the situation.

4.6 See attached case studies.

4.7 Seek advice and support from relevant people when needed. See learning journal