Example of Log and Critical Incident
The teacher standards have been referenced in these examples, as they have been written in the context of a junior school. The specific standards referenced (TS 5.6, 7.8 for example) have been COMPLETELY made up as a display tool to show you what they need to look like in your writing. Do not attempt to copy these in your reflective accounts, you will discredit your work and lose valuable marks. The references throughout have also been fabricated so do not attempt to find these sources to reference… They do not exist.
EXAMPLE OF A REFLECTIVE LOG ENTRY (100-200 WORDS)
Area of Focus: Social and Emotional Development
During a PE lesson I was supervising, the children were playing in a football match. PE is a weekly activity for the children in the school as physical activity is an important part of the children’s education, contributing to their physical, emotional and social wellbeing (TS 3.4, 3.5, 2.4). During the last minute of the game, one team scored and won the game. One boy in Year 6 was angry his team had lost and began kicking the cones and the footballs in agitation, and then started to cry. I led the rest of the group away to the teacher, and continued to try and calm the boy down (TS 5.6, 5.7, 4.3).
He kept crying, initially upset about the game and then informed me that he and his girlfriend had split up, which was the real reason he was upset. This can link to work by Budlin (1999) who argue that by age 10/11 children can often process single events, amplifying them to cause a variety of feelings. This was evident in the incident, and is reiterated by Band & Weisz (1988), who suggest that older children can interpret that a social situation can pose different states of emotions. As children grow, they acquire more refined knowledge about coping strategies, and which coping strategies work best for themselves (Keenan, 2016) (TS 3.8, 4.2, 1,1, 1.2). This incident clearly links to the area of focus ‘social and emotional development’ for children and young people, and the role of the professional in being aware of this to support children.
EXAMPLE OF A CRITICAL INCIDENT (1500 WORDS)
Area of Focus: Social and Emotional Development
To provide structure for this critical incident, I believe Gibbs (1988) model of reflection can help me to fully reflect on an emotional incident, and to allow me to understand how to make meaning for use in future practice. This reflective model allows for emotional feelings to be expressed and recognized. Gibbs (1998) paper ‘learning by doing’ is also a guide to teaching and learning, so accommodates the incident as it stems from an educational background.
Every afternoon on one day of the week, I taught the children their PE class. It was raining outside, so I took half the students in the classroom to play table tennis, and the teacher took the other half to the small sports hall. I arranged the children into groups, so they could take it in turns to play each other (TS 6.7, 4.5, 3.2).
I noticed one girl (Child X) stood in her group, and looked like she was about to cry. I asked her if she was ok and her eyes started to well up (TS 4.6, 5.7). I suggested we go outside to chat but I was apprehensive to leave the other children, so we stood just outside the door (TS 1.1). When I asked her what was wrong, she said ‘I don’t know’ and began to cry. I tried to support her in a personable, but professional manner (TS 2.3). I explained if she wanted to talk to me she could, and she replied ‘just things’ and continued to cry. I felt very emotional seeing her feeling so sad. I had never had any experience or interaction with her before as this incident was only in my third week of placement. I asked her if she wanted to play myself at table tennis, and joked who she thought would win (TS 4.5, 6.7). Her eyes lit up and she smiled, she went to the toilet to dry her eyes, we played – and I lost.
When I spoke to the teacher about this, he said that she gets upset quite a lot as the other children do not include her, and her behaviour is sometimes ‘odd’. I tried to make a conscious effort when I saw Child X, to include her in my remaining time in my placement (TS 5.6, 5.7). Quite often in PE she was picked last, so I always offered to go with her in a team if I could, or I sat with her when the teacher was talking to the students, always engaging with her. It made me question the practice of allowing children to ‘pick’ others, as this can often lead to exclusion, and a socially unsafe learning environment (TS 4.6, 4.7). One child said in a PE lesson, ‘Child X, we don’t want you in our team’, which I instantly pointed out to him was not kind, and on numerous occasions I witnessed her being isolated by her peers. Goleman (1995) suggests the feeling of being rejected or friendless, is one most everyone goes through at some point of childhood and adolescence. Goleman (1995) also suggests two kinds of emotional productivities tend to lead to children being rejected. One is angry outbursts and hostility, and the second is being timid, anxious and socially shy (TS, 1.3, 1.4). My interactions with Child X suggest that she is timid and socially shy. Goleman (1995) highlights that children feel they are helpless to do any better at making friends, so their social incompetence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Children who miss out on friendships, miss out on emotional growth, and Goleman claims, one friend can make all the difference (TS 4.5, 4.7).
In this incident, and many interactions including Child X after the incident, I felt empathetic towards her. I witnessed Child X experience multiple emotions in the interactions, and I personally felt I wanted to give her more time (TS 1.3). I was unfortunately unable to do so, as my placement was limited and I was there to support all the children. I believed my limited time on placement was best spent engaging with her, as this encouraged mainly her female peers to join in with us, and witness her difference emotionally and her behaviour, to encourage them to start building friendships, and enjoying each other’s company (TS 4.5, 4.6).
Child X expressed numerous times that she thought I was kind to her. Bethune (2018) suggests that when we take part in acts of kindness towards others, our brain’s reward systems release happy hormones like dopamine, which in turn, makes us feel good and boosts our own happiness (TS 4.8). King (2016) found in a study of 1,700 female volunteers, that they experienced a ‘helpers high’ and after felt a complete sense of peace. Lyubomirsky (2007) also found people who completed five acts of kindness, compared to the control group, reported happiness for many days after in comparison to the control (TS, 5.6). In helping Child X as a professional, I felt the rewards of working with children and this has prompted a stronger desire to fulfill a role in education (TS 5.7).
I believe showing kindness towards Child X could potentially have many impacts. Aknin et al (2011) suggests carrying out acts of kindness creates a virtuous circle of positivity. When we help others, it makes us happier, and when we are happier, we tend to help others more, resulting in trust and connections between people (Bethune, 2018) (TS 4.5, 4.7). I hope that Child X’s peers continue to show kindness towards her, which they witnessed from myself, and involve her more in activities (TS 4.5). Topnik (2016) argues that children actually learn more from the unconscious behaviours of their caregivers and how they act, rather than anything they consciously teach them, so behaving in a way that models wellbeing to children is most beneficial (Bethune, 2018). I believe this was effective in my interaction with Child X, rather than simply ‘telling’ other children to include her.
Dix (2017) describes the term ‘botheredness’ in relationships between teachers and students and clarifies that students do not want dramatic displays of affection. Dix (2017) also proposes it is the small stuff, the daily acts of care, generosity of spirit and interest you show in their lives that matter the most (TS 4.6, 4.8). My interactions with Child X were mainly for only one lesson per week, and this creates limits on our rapport and my feeling of being able to help her fully (TS 5.6). If there were times where she was consistently last to be picked, I would go in a team with her or include her with me in another team. If I saw her, I would always communicate and interact with her, and include her in conversations I was having with other children (TS 6.7). Dix (2017) states that human beings have a deep desire to be appreciated. Whilst including Child X, not only did it make her feel appreciated, but outwardly changed her emotional expression, improving her social skills. It also demonstrated to other children how differently Child X behaved when she was included. Dix (2017) concludes that positive recognition and being ‘bothered,’ means that you know how to make each child feel appreciated and important. I believe I helped Child X feel this way in my interactions with her and feedback from people close to her.
Bauman (2012) argues children are usually well informed about bullying behaviours of their classmates. I experienced on three occasions, children being directly unkind to Child X. Smith et al (2019) showed that 60% of children are bullied by their own classmates, and bullying mostly occurs in the classroom and on the playground (Basman, 2014) (TS 4.6, 8.7). Jones (2018) discusses successful integration into a new peer environment, and that it comes down to: Vocalization, physical contact, engagement and cooperation. Jones (2018) found eye contact was highly important in interactions (TS 5.6). I noticed Child X would look at the floor a lot, or distract herself by playing with her shoe. I feel this is because she has continuously been rejected and she may have a fear of building a relationship with a peer (TS 4.6). In relation to my experience with Child X, I hope that those negative behaviours were not continuous for her when I was not present (TS 6.7). I was also concerned how the exclusion Child X encounters would not only affect her emotional wellbeing, but also her academic performance. Goleman (1995) highlights the important link between the prefrontal lobes of the brain which control emotions, and also facilitates working memory and learning, with the limited attention capacity of facing emotional feelings and high levels of stress (TS 5.6m 7.4). Goleman (1995) signifies that when children experience anxiety, anger, and upset, these feelings intrude on children’s thoughts, so there is less available memory to process what they are trying to learn (TS 4.7). This links into my area of focus ‘social and emotional development’ and has given me a further insight into what can occur in children’s brains.
Dix’s (2017) ‘botheredness’ counts on relationship building in small daily acts which are kind and caring. Expectations of an immediate effect are not realistic, as consistency is most effective (TS 4.5). The effort of small thoughtful interactions is minuscule from the teacher, but the impact is huge for the child. Children want to feel valued, feel important and that they belong (TS 6.8). Baumeister & Leary (1995) also support ‘belongingness’ with their hypothesis that the need to belong is a fundamental human motivation. I believed that Child X did feel like she belonged in our interactions with each other. On reflection, my only regret was that I could not continue to support Child X’s positive behaviour changes at lunchtimes. In conclusion, I argue that children need to adapt to being role models as much as teachers, especially in the playground. I also reflect now, I could have made more effort for Child X to interact with her male peers, not predominantly her female peers. However, the incidents I witnessed Child X being treated unfairly was by her male peers, which may have unconsciously navigated myself to strengthen her relationships with female peers (TS 5.4, 5.5, 3.1).
The main plan of action to support other children like Child X is to implement a child support system. In my interactions with some of the female students of Year 6, I found out that they ‘buddied’ up with the Year R children at lunchtimes (TS 5.6). Having past experiences with Year R, this was a great way to build rapport between children (TS 6.5). Hague (2019) estimates approximately 62% of UK schools use a peer support system (Wallen et al, 2017). ‘Buddying’ is designed to set an example and encourage younger children towards positive behaviours. Bitel & Roberts (2012) indicated there is little evaluation of the effectiveness of peer mediation. However, the NICE report (2019) argued that peer mediation programmes were effective in promoting social and emotional wellbeing, and can be effective in reducing bullying (Wallen et al, 2017). Buddies often befriend isolated children, however Watson (2013) argues that friendships should be freely chosen, and there is a danger of consequences of promoting peaceful aspirations in schools, that stops children being children. I suggested to Child X that she could look into becoming a ‘buddy’. I felt this would give her purpose at lunchtimes, allow her to improve her social skills, and allow her to build more meaningful relationships with her fellow Year 6 buddies.
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