The module, Teaching in Art and Design has been such an amazing experience to have taken part in. I feel grateful that I was able to go to a school and get a feel for teaching. It was definitely an eye-opening experience. Within the first week I had realised the job was not just a simple art teaching job. There is so much literacy that needs to be included in the lessons, more than the practical art, there is the behaviour that needs to be dealt with, a form class, assembly, pupils who have problems at home, the teachers described themselves as an art teacher, but also an english teacher, a nurse, a social worker, and a friend. There is so much work that goes into teaching. I think the job would be very rewarding but challenging too.
I was placed in Cyfarthfa High School. This school is about 30 minutes drive from my home, so it was easy to travel to. It is placed in Merthyr Tydfil and is a mixed site for 11-16 year olds. There was approximately 1200 pupils in the school. The school has had a brand new extension, however, the rest of the school is very aged and traditional. The area is quite deprived and society isn’t good. Some of the pupils family lives were really awful. It normally effected their behaviour.
My time observing the lessons was useful as I picked up techniques of how to control the class. I also saw examples of how to get the pupils focused by counting down, or by simply waiting.
The opportunity to observe year 8 pupils came up. I couldn’t believe the difference in the pupils. In art they were very disruptive and loud. They were challenging the teacher and a few of the boys were put down for break time detention. Math’s was completely different, the pupils were silent as soon as they sat down. They didn’t challenge the teacher once, the maths teacher didn’t really have a different teaching approach, he was quite blunt but still had an informal relationship with the children. I think this change in behaviour was because maths is a very academic subject, art isn’t. I also think maybe it’s because the maths teacher was a male.
I planned lessons for year 8 to year 10. I didn’t really get much time with year 7 which was disappointing as I found the younger pupils were the more responsive pupils. Year 7 were looking at pirates which was the topic running through out English, Art and Drama.
Year 8 were looking at pop art food. They were in the middle of painting a cupcake with water-colour paints. I am a painter and use a lot of acrylic paint in my work, I decided to plan a lesson to teach a small group of pupils how to use acrylic paint. I prepared resources for the lesson, outlines of food for the pupils to paint. There was a broad range of abilities that I taught, each time I gave the lesson, I gained confidence and had a positive response from the pupils.
Year 9 are eventually going to be making snow/ surf/ skate boards. They were looking at tattoo designs and graffiti to start thinking up some designs. There was a lot of literacy in year 9 Art, the pupils were constantly analysing artists work or correcting spellings. I planned to screen print with the year 9s as it could be used to create the designs on their boards. I cut out tribal design stencils, however, I only got to demonstrate screen printing once. The pupils seemed excited that the work was made for them by simply dragging ink down the screen. I then got to demonstrate how to use stencils to create a similar print. The pupils cut out their own stencils, the stencils were grouped as easy, medium and hard. The pupils had a choice of what difficulty to go for, the ones who chose to cut out a hard stencil also had the challenge of learning how to use a craft knife. Stencilling was successful, I got the chance to demonstrate and teach the whole class which I am glad of. It also made me much more confident.
I decided to teach year 10 how to screen print too. They are choosing their themes for the next year, natural or man-made. When looking through their books I found that there wasn’t much experimentation. Their books were perfectly set out, with hardly any mistakes or materials. I wanted to try to break them into learning that its ok to make mistakes and leave their comfort zone. I found year 10 very difficult to engage with. They would not give their all in the task and were simply not bothered about creating work. This frustrated me as I had cut out all of the stencils, and prepared the paint. They only had to pull the squeegee over the screen to create an image. I think most year 10s had taken art as a GCSE to mess around.
I got on well with most pupils and most pupils reacted positively to me. I got to the point where I felt confident enough to tell pupils off or to talk to large groups of pupils. I think if I could improve, I would go back and attempt to be more confident and prepared to teach screen printing. I would also have liked to teach more pupils as I taught small groups and only a full class twice.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, we had to participate in a chat to talk about our teaching experiences and problems we had occurred. This was useful when I had a problem or an enquiry.
I learnt about ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’, this was useful when I had to plan out my lessons. I also learnt a new word, Pedagogy. Pedagogy means the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.
I attended every Pedagogy and Teaching seminars on Mondays at Cyncoed. These seminars were useful as I had the chance to listen to PGCE students talk about their time in their placements at Primary schools. This has given me an insight into what Primary school teaching is like, and made me interested in teaching at a Primary school.
Overall, I have enjoyed my time at Cyfarthfa High School. It was an eye-opening experience, and definitely one that I needed. I must take into consideration where the school was, as the pupils were much more challenging and the society wasnt good. I think I’d definitely like to try out teaching at a secondary school again, just to see if the behaviour is any different else where. I am thinking maybe going into Primary school teaching isnt such a bad idea as I found most of the younger ones were the most enagaged. They wanted to get involved more and I think this is what Primary school teaching would be like. If I don’t think Primary school teaching is for me, maybe College teaching. The pupils who choose art will be more interested in it than those who chose it for GCSE. I think this was the problem I found at my allocated secondary school, the pupils didn’t like art, they wasn’t excited about it.
I think this module has given me an amazing insight into teaching and the university should definitely run this module next year as it gives students who want a taste of teaching exactly that. My experience has been positive in my allocated school.