'This is giving class teachers recognition'

21st May 2004 at 01:00
Jim Breen

Support for learning teacher

St Bride's High, East Kilbride

"Schools are learning organisations where everyone is a stakeholder, including parents and pupils. Glasgow's first module links you to the way schooling is being approached today. It links you to a vast amount of new information and knowledge.

"I think you have to learn face to face. It's how you pick up on non-verbal communication, nuances, expressions. I believe in it absolutely. Remote learning is just that - remote.

"The only thing I do online is my General Teaching Council for Scotland log book.

"I've enjoyed the sharing of ideas in cross-sectoral groups. You can pick up on ideas from colleagues across the west of Scotland.

"I'd recommend this programme but you'd need to be financially stable and have the time and energy. It's not worth doing for the money. You'd give up.

"It's only worth doing for its intrinsic benefits. It's about marrying practice with theory. I think it will make me a better teacher."

Donna Inglis

Class teacher

Harestane Primary, Kirkintilloch

"I've been teaching for 22 years and I'm doing this because I don't want to leave the classroom but want my practice to be up to date. Things are changing so rapidly in education.

"The face-to-face experience at Glasgow has been fantastic, relaxed but charged with enthusiasm. I've felt well supported and enjoyed sharing ideas with colleagues; it's something I think we'll all continue to do outside the programme.

"The cross-sectoral experience is fascinating. You learn a lot about shared difficulties and difficulties which are different. It's made me more reflective and more critical of theory and practice.

"The biggest strength is the supportive staff and the welcoming ethos of the building, right down to the jannies!

"The biggest drawback is the financial outlay, but you don't do it for the money. I'm committed to continuing."

Margaret Ziolo

Class teacher

St Vincent's Primary, Carnwadric, Glasgow

"I've completed the first Glasgow module, which has made me more aware of both my achievements and what I could improve upon. I found it very supportive.

"Module two (Teaching and Learning) is even better. It's made me look at how I teach, how children think and learn and how I can motivate them.

"I've put new initiatives into practice in the classroom and I can see them working. The Primary 1 children I teach know what to aim for and when they are achieving success. This has come from my reading for module two.

"I find it exciting to see this immediate effect. The P1 children will now ask what the criteria are for a particular lesson and they can talk about assessment and self-assessment. And they can do peer assessment in a supportive way.

"This programme is important, because you want good teachers as well as good leaders. Improvement should not necessarily be about promotion. This is giving class teachers a deserved recognition."

Sarah Mear

Support for learning teacher

Papdale Primary, Kirkwall, Orkney

"I like the online delivery from Paisley University because you can do it when you want to. I didn't find it isolating at all, because of the support from tutors and other students. I never missed face-to-face tutorials.

"Had the module consisted of guided reading and tasks to be carried out independently, it would have been useful. However, the impact of the module is far greater with the incorporation of online discussion.

Geographically I'm isolated, so Blackboard helped to expand discussion.

"One gains a sense of belonging through the discussion forums. Also, because there is anonymity to some extent, opinions and ideas can be expressed more freely in that they are not necessarily influenced by the agenda and culture of the place of employment.

"I'm quite computer literate but you could get technical help quickly if you needed it. When glitches arose people posted notices and things were sorted pretty quickly.

"I'm eight years away from retirement, so I suppose more money and a better pension was part of my motivation, but it has got me interested in my own practice. I became an EIS learning representative at the same time, so I had a lot of work to do.

"It's not an easy option when you're working full-time but the flexibility of online learning is what makes it successful for me."

Fiona Duff


Highland's Tuition Service, Inverness

"I've completed Paisley's first module and am now doing the personal communication module. Working online when you live 14 miles out of Inverness is tremendous. You can communicate with the whole of Scotland any time during the day or night, so you never feel restricted or isolated.

"The support level is high, quite superb, and would certainly make me want to stay with the University of Paisley. If you send a tutor an e-mail in the morning, by the time you're home it's been answered.

"Support from other students via the Blackboard learning system is huge. It can be overwhelming. You get ideas, support, advice from other students, either on the open Blackboard or to your private e-mail address.

"Technically I've had no major problems, though the system can be a bit slow. I'm told broadband is much better but we don't have such a thing up here yet.

"Assignments are marked very quickly, which helps a lot, and our group had around 20 colleagues from different sectors. I learned a lot about classroom management - I often work in offices or children's homes with young people with behaviour problems, ill health or phobias or school refusers - and I learned a lot about primary schools.

"It broadens the outlook.

"Financially I'm lucky in that I can afford to pay for the course myself.

If I didn't have a certain private income at the moment I couldn't afford it. It's very expensive, even as an EIS member who gets 15 per cent off because of the EISPaisley University partnership.

"I work part-time and have been on supply for 11 years, up until last year.

I feel I have to go for chartered teacher status to give me a chance of getting a full-time post, which I'd like when my daughter goes to secondary school in a few years' time."

Monika Dick

Class teacher

Kilsyth Primary

"The Paisley course is wonderful and the staff very supportive. It's hugely informative and relevant. It's giving me academic knowledge, keeping me up to date and at the cutting edge.

"I've been teaching for 10 years and this has absolutely made me a better teacher because it makes you secure in your practice, based on the theory behind it.

"I want to be the best teacher I can and this makes it feasible. Sharing ideas with colleagues gives you a roundness you don't get in a single school or sector.

"I've learned a whole lot about secondary education and can appreciate the differences."

Gerry Deeney

Technical studies teacher

Loudoun Academy, East Ayrshire

"For me the main thing was Paisley's flexibility, especially as we have a young family. So I could really only do this online, because I couldn't commit to time and place. I also appreciated not having to travel.

"The Blackboard learning system gave very useful access to downloaded materials and discussions with colleagues across the country on any course-related issue, as well as through e-mail and the discussion boards which involved either your own group of about 20 or the whole cohort.

"Another great thing was the virtual classroom, a chatroom where you communicate in real time with everyone online together, at the same time. I did miss face-to-face communication but the benefits outweighed this.

"The course was rigorous but there was a lot of collaborative learning, tutors were supportive and course leaders responded very quickly to any issues raised.

"After 20 years of teaching, the programme has made me think in depth about my teaching practices."

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