PGDE interview preparation – what I want to say

February 24, 2008 at 8:08 pm Leave a comment

Group discussion – 3 topics

[1] “Think of an example of a good teacher you have known. What are the qualities he/she displayed?”This is based on more than one good teacher…

  • Respect for all pupils and parents.
  • Evident enjoyment of working with young people.
  • Belief in the value of education and learning for all.
  • Energy.
  • Humour.
  • Slight eccentricity!
  • A storyteller – good stories told with passion and without notes.
  • Authority.
  • Confidence.
  • High expectations of pupils.
  • Active and positive approach to solving problems and to their own learning and development.
  • Commitment to evidence based practice, but with a good amount of flexibility and creativity.
  • Dedicated and caring, but not consumed by the job to the detriment of their health.

[2] How inclusive are Scottish schools?
These are the points I want to make…

All schools are expected to support children with a variety of support needs. Some schools foster belief that all pupils are part of community, all can learn & develop, all have right to be there. These are the inclusive schools. Others will have pupils who need support, but without the ethos, they are not inclusive. Can come down to the leadership in the school. Some schools are doing what others would say is impossible.

Glaitness School example
Mainstream and special primary schools merged – now a mainstream school that includes pupils with range of support needs including pupils with complex/multiple disabilities. The ethos is that anyone can need extra help at some point, as a result all pupils feel comfortable asking for help and there is no stigma attached to learning support.

Being there is not enough
Many schools have been physically improved to make them more accessible to disabled pupils. But accessibility strategies are about more than physical adaptations to the building. Pupils can be present in school but not feel included.

Inclusion Squad example
A primary school pupil in South Ayrshire who is a wheelchair user asked his teacher if he could do something about missing out on PE – she encouraged him, he identified a group of pupils who wanted to help and they worked together to make sure he got alternative sports to play. He got what he wanted, which was to be “treated like any other person”. This group’s role evolved to helping anyone in the school who was feeling left out. The members of the Squad said it helped each of them in lots of ways, and they noticed that lots of other people in the school were happier too. They’re now in secondary and it’s harder because they’re all in different classes, but they really want to carry on.

Inclusion doesn’t have to mean full-time mainstream school
All children have a right to a school education that meets their needs and gives them opportunities to develop their potential. This may not mean full-time mainstream schooling. Many children get flexible timetables in school with part-time spent in a support base. Others have split placements between two schools, or school and college. Some special and mainstream schools have made connections with each other so they can use both resources, widen social opportunities for pupils etc.

    [3] What are the differences and similarities between the role of a parent and that of a teacher?

    • Teachers have professional duties and a code of conduct. Parents have parental rights and responsibilities. Some of these are to support each other. For example, parents should follow school rules and teachers should involve parents in children’s education. However, they are independent – a teacher must carry out their professional duties whether or not parent is fulfilling their responsibilities.
    • Teachers must be concerned with the education of all the children in their class/the school. Parents need only be concerned with the education of their own children. Teachers need to recognise this difference when they are working with parents. For example, it doesn’t answer a parent’s concerns to say, ‘other children need more help than your child’.
    • Children do better when their parents and teachers work together.
    • Power balance. Each can think the other has more power. Parents can ‘say what they think’ unrestricted by policy and procedures. But many parents feel teachers/headteachers have all the power: the authority associated with the profession; the backing of union, employer and colleagues; control over a child’s opportunities, support and general experience of school; the power to exclude… Many parents are intimidated by the school building and the teaching profession, perhaps because of their own school experiences. However, any parent can find dealing with issues at the school very difficult, because for teachers, it’s professional, but for parents, it’s personal.

    Interview – key messages

    Qualities I bring…

    • Commitment and passion.
    • Experience working with young people, teachers and assistants.
    • Professional attitude – SLT course taught professionalism, reflective approach to own practice (eg keeping learning log), commitment to active ongoing learning and development.
    • Skills
      • verbal and written communication skills, including ICT literacy
      • organisation, planning and prioritising
      • developing and delivering creative workshops for children and young people
      • providing advice and guidance
      • working independently and as part of a team
      • problem solving.
    • Knowledge
      • child development
      • human communication (development and difficulties)
      • Scottish education system, particularly the system for providing additional support
      • issues and challenges for pupils, parents and school staff
      • sources of information and support for children, parents and school staff.

    Why I want to be a primary teacher

    • Sense of vocation – I enjoyed Speech Therapy course and am glad I did it, but didn’t have the passion for it that I feel for education. I know the impact education can have, and particularly the importance of early education experiences.
    • Excited about developments in Scottish education, particularly Curriculum for Excellence literacy experiences and outcomes, Assessment is for Learning (talking partners, feedback style, personal learning planning), inclusion, active learning and rich tasks.
    • Love my current job, but want to expand knowledge and skills. Primary teaching is extension and development of what I enjoy – working with children, mix of planning and delivery, own responsibilities and team work, busy, varied, creative. Want to work with children on longer term basis rather than one-off visits/short projects. Want to work across the curriculum.

    Top experiences to mention

    1. Story project – working with a group of young people with significant communication difficulties to develop a character and story. All done through images as all young people in group have difficulties understanding language and three of five communicate almost entirely non-verbally.
    2. Conference (young peoples events) – including working with school and education authority staff, finding and booking venues, providing information for teachers, assistants and young people, planning and delivering activities, filming and editing, presenting results at conference for professionals and parents.
    3. Observing talking partners – I watched primary school children really enjoying short discussions with talking partners, reflecting on their experiences.
    4. Blogging – experience of setting up blog and working with young people on it, also great to talk to P5’s who were so enthusiastic about their joint blog with a school in Finland. General benefits of Scotedublogs – great for information and ideas, lots of educators and pupils getting and giving encouragement.
    5. Theatre and festival experiences – box office, front of house and production roles required and fostered organisation skills, customer service, problem solving, being able to work independently and co-ordinate work with rest of team, and enjoyment of busy and fast-changing environment.

    Other examples to slot in if relevant

    Importance of high expectations – young person who said when she was taken into care teachers stopped pushing her as hard as other students because they felt sorry for her. She thought people were no longer bothered about how she did in her education, so she stopped trying.

    Curriculum for Excellence for everyone – one young person’s definition of a confident individual: “someone who is as independent as they physically and mentally can be”.


    Entry filed under: PGDE.

    Idea for an ongoing class story Take risks!

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    February 2008
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