Tonight I have decided to share the original Personal Statement that I wrote during my final year of University when applying to be a primary school teacher. I think it says a lot about me and the teacher I wanted to become. The teacher I became. I think it gives a sense of the parent I might be too. It is quite long, I am glad that the Head who employed me took the time to read it!
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Lao-Tsze CIRCA 600BC
I began my teaching degree just after my 26th birthday having spent 8 years working in various administrative positions, including two years as a clerk for the Royal Signals Corps of the British Army (stationed in Germany), two years as a Consular Clerk in Düsseldorf, Germany and two years as a hotel receptionist in the English Lake District. I feel that these opportunities and experiences have provided me with vital life experience that is necessary to be a successful and creative teacher. I can also speak, read and write German and I am looking forward to being able to use my language skills in my role as a primary teacher. During my last teaching practice my Year 3 class was twinned with a class in Germany. I helped the children and their teacher write a letter to the class in German explaining what we had been doing in school that term. I was also asked by the Headteacher to teach the children a German song and some basic German phrases.
My degree is Primary Education and so I have experience of all primary subjects. I have enjoyed and achieved at all aspects of my course and I am looking forward to extending my learning in my first teaching post. As well as my college studies and teaching practices I also gain voluntary experience in schools as often as I can and attend local inset courses. I like to keep up to date with educational developments and find that what I am learning at college makes more sense when I am able to put it into practice regularly in school. I attend the inset courses to keep up to date with initiatives and I hope to give me a head start before my induction begins. It also allows me to meet teachers and other school staff, and I gain a lot from sharing practice and ideas. The courses that I have attended have given me a range of ideas, skills, knowledge and understanding that I am looking forward to sharing with colleagues and children.
I am enjoying my ‘teacher education’ and have gained a first in all assignments and exams during my second and third years. Working for these grades has involved a lot of detailed background reading and reflection on my teaching and classroom observations. I believe this provides me with a secure and in depth knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a primary school teacher and what I can offer the children that I teach.
I decided to specialise in English as it is a subject that I have always been passionate about. I love to read, I also write poetry and have been involved with amateur theatre since I was six years old. I enjoy all aspects of English and I believe that my own passion for the subject can inspire and motivate the children that I teach. I hope that through my enthusiasm, my knowledge of children’s literature and my ability to meet educational objectives through that literature I will inspire children to love English as I do. It is a strong belief of mine that children take something from every story that they read that moves them further on their journey to discovering who they are and what they want to be. As part of my subject specialism I am currently working on my dissertation which involves classroom-based research. I am exploring the use of picture books to develop children’s higher order reading skills at key stage two. At a later date I would like to carry out further research into using picture books as an assessment tool in key stage one, in particular using wordless books to assess children’s knowledge of narrative structure. Linked to picture books I also enjoy leading Philosophy for Children sessions and would like to complete my SAPERE training during my NQT year if I do not get the chance to complete it this year.
As a person and as a professional I am flexible and I can adapt to new ideas. Having moved house every three years all of my life I am open to new experiences and believe that I am confident at trying new things. I have a positive outlook on life and my varied life experiences have enabled me to understand the value of diversity. One of my underlying rules for my classroom will be that diversity should be valued and difference celebrated. It is important for children to share their similarities and explore and value differences. To enhance my knowledge and understanding of diversity in the primary classroom I have recently completed a voluntary placement with a multi-cultural school in Medway and also attended various courses that have dealt with issues such as inclusion and racism. From these different experiences I have learned many things that will influence my practice once I have a classroom of my own. For example, I believe that racism and other inclusion issues can and should be tackled through the curriculum. To implement this we can use resources such as Persona dolls and multicultural books and music. We can also show role models from all cultural groups in different curriculum areas, different activities and sports to enhance children’s knowledge and understanding of the diverse society in which they live.
I believe that it is important to use activities such as Circle Time and Philosophy for Children and role-play (drama) to build moral courage in children to respond to incidents that may happen in and out of the school environment. Building respect for others in children, and in adults, must be an ongoing concern as it takes time to move hearts as well as minds.
I have a real passion for ensuring that children are given an opportunity to learn through real and meaningful first hand experiences that are relevant to their interests and their needs. On all of my teaching placements I have built strong relationships with my pupils by taking time to talk to them, discover what interests them and is important to them and I have then used that information to help them in their learning by making lessons relevant and purposeful. For example, I was on placement with a Year 5/6 class when the last Harry Potter book was released. The buzz of excitement in my class over this new instalment was electric and so I channelled the children’s energy into a creative writing session. I came into school dressed as one of the characters from the books (Professor McGonagall), we looked at the film trailers from the films and we listened to the theme music as we recapped on Harry Potter’s life so far. I then gave the children a choice of writing tasks with the promise that we would share our work once it was complete dressed in wizard regalia and to the accompaniment of music from the film. Every single child in that class was on task for the whole of the extended session and they produced some wonderful pieces of writing. This is a lesson I am very proud of and I believe that it shows my ability to connect with my pupils and to use their interests to enable them to enjoy and achieve in the classroom. Many of the children chose to complete a prediction task, on the following Monday almost every child in that class arrived with the new Harry Potter book in their hands. I had stayed up most of the weekend reading the book to be sure that if any of the children had managed to finish it I would be able to discuss it with them. This is a lesson that will stay with me for a long time. My aim through my teaching is to ensure that every child leaves my classroom with a buzz of excitement about their learning, which stays with them on their journey home and sticks in their memory. With this lesson that was achieved.
It is my belief that life is a learning journey. I think that it is important for teachers and pupils to be co-learners in and out of the classroom and I believe that this leads to a mutual respect between adults and children. I also feel that through children seeing that their teachers are still learning and can make mistakes, it means the children will be more willing to make mistakes of their own. It is important in the primary classroom for children to feel confident to participate even if they are not always getting things right. Children learn most when they are motivated and when they are in an environment where they feel it is safe to fail. My own classroom ethos is reflected in the words of Samuel Smiles, “He who has never made a mistake never made a discovery.’
As a teacher it is important to make the most of all available resources including human ones. During my recent teaching practice I planned and taught a topic about ‘Habitats.’ One of the areas we focused on was the rainforest. To enhance the children’s understanding I invited a guest speaker into the classroom, who had recently visited the Australian rainforest, to share her experiences with my Year 3 class. The children and I enjoyed and learned from her talk, and from the pictures and artefacts that she brought with her for the children to explore.
One of my main interests and strengths lies in physical education. I have qualified to coach netball, tag rugby and tennis and this term I will be taking an extra PE module that will cover athletics and gymnastics. I also enjoy teaching dance and movement, which I like to combine with my passion for singing and drama. I find that my drama experience helps me in the classroom, with my confidence, using my voice and developing creative activities. Once fully employed with a school I would like to be fully involved with organising and directing school drama productions. I use drama in my lessons as a means of teaching, learning and assessment. I enjoy using drama games and also using role-play to explore different scenarios. With the current emphasis on developing children’s speaking and listening skills I find that drama can be an innovative way of developing these abilities, across the curriculum, with children of all ages. I also strongly believe that role-play areas can be used effectively to enhance children’s language skills in all classrooms right up to year six. This can be linked to a particular text or topic and can be made for the children or with the children. If the children are involved in designing and setting up the area then this in itself can develop children’s ability to communicate with others and use their language skills to work together as a team.
Outside of the classroom my drama experience has helped me with presenting assemblies. I enjoy taking assemblies and have been fortunate to gain valuable experience of planning and presenting assemblies in a range of schools for a range of age groups and purposes.
Outside of the classroom I believe in the value of extra-curricular activities and would like to offer my support to school initiatives that offer children opportunities outside of their lessons. My ideas for extra-curricular activities include a Problem Solving Club, Drama group, Philosophy club, Reading group and Conversational German. I would also love to assist with or coach a netball team. I also believe in the values of Outdoor Activities and parachute games as team building ideas. These kinds of activities can be used as a foundation for forming a socialisation group, which brings together children who find collaboration difficult and builds up their skills through games and group activities.
To date I have had experience working with all year groups throughout the foundation stage, key stage one and key stage two, though my main placements have been in a Year 5/6 class and in a Year 3 class. My final eight-week block will be with a reception and key stage one class. I believe that this final teaching practice will develop my ability to differentiate as I have 3-year groups in one class and it will also consolidate my knowledge of the Foundation stage, which is essential for all primary teachers. During my teaching experiences I have planned and taught all core and foundation subjects and feel that I am a confident and detailed planner and create exciting and innovative lessons that enable all children to achieve and enjoy. I believe my strengths to be in literacy and in RE. RE is an area that I particularly enjoy and that I would like to develop further during my teaching career. During my first year block placement I planned and taught a five-week project on Islam for a mixed year 5/6 class. The project was a real success in terms of teaching and learning. We combined AT1 and AT2 through a range of activities including looking at special books, making our own five pillars in relation to our own lives and considering what qualities make a person a good leader when learning the story of Muhammad. A range of methodology was used including drama, art, artefacts and a range of ICT resources. I enjoy using ICT in all my lessons. I have experience of working with interactive whiteboards and have completed successful cross-curricular projects using Intel Blue Movie Makers. I also use ICT for my planning and my personal and professional development.
Within my planning and teaching I incorporate multi-sensory activities that enable all children to access the lessons. For example, in numeracy I always endeavour to include visual aids and resources, practical activities, such as human number sentences, and auditory activities, such as using stories, songs and rhymes. With children of all ages I find that concentration and achievement is improved if the day is broken up with Brain Gym activities and if certain activities are accompanied by music, such as morning arrival, art work, some writing and when children are tidying up at the end of a lesson. When tidying up I like to use the same song so that the children become familiar with the music and know how long they have to complete their task. As children and as teachers we spend much of our time in our classroom and I believe that it needs to be a fun place to be, a place we are looking forward to going to when we wake up in the morning. Classrooms are fun when the learning is meaningful, when the ethos is positive and when you know that you are valued and that the contributions that you make, as adult or child, can make a difference.
I aim to ensure that teaching and learning in my classroom goes above and beyond the expectations of the national curriculum. I believe that the National Curriculum offers a starting point for teachers but it should be taken for what it is, a statutory minimum. As teachers we must use our own knowledge, understanding and experiences, and all available resources, to go above and beyond this foundation.
I am a strong advocate of enabling children to become independent learners and thinkers. I have recently completed a small-scale research project into the importance of developing thinking skills in key stage one mathematics. I have learned a lot from the assignment and it has encouraged me to learn more about thinking skills and strategies to enhance these across the curriculum and beyond it. I also believe in providing children with the skills and tools to think creatively and to take responsibility for their own learning. There is nothing more rewarding than the look on a child’s face when they know that they have achieved something, big or small. I believe that all achievements should be recognised and celebrated.
I know that the profession I have chosen is demanding and that it is essential that I never lose sight of the importance of my role and the responsibility that I have been given. It is a tremendous privilege to teach. It is challenging, rewarding, ever changing and extremely influential.
I am a hardworking and enthusiastic teacher who is consistently seeking to improve my own performance and I take responsibility for my own professional development. I do this by taking advantage of all opportunities made available to me and using my initiative to create further opportunities that will help to develop my knowledge and understanding. I am always seeking feedback about my performance at college and in the classroom and I always reflect and respond to advice and feedback given.
I am now looking for a school and community where I can take the first step on my journey of a thousand miles. I hoe to find the right place where I can feel that I belong and where I can make a real contribution to the teaching team and also to the children that I teach. And as I take my first step on the journey of my teaching career I will remember something we were told in our very first college lecture. Neil Simco reminded us that how we are with children will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Each moment that we spend with our children is so important because they can never have that moment again. Everything that I do as a teacher means so much to each and every child that I teach. I know that these children may take something of what I have said, what I have taught them and use it someday, in a way that will truly make a difference to them in their lives. That is why I want to be a teacher.