Inspirational talk by a University academic: The Story of Dr. Tim Jones

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Life is by no means a singular, straight path. Nor is it made up of a single career, more often than not.

This was the overriding theme of the talk I had the pleasure of attending by Dr. Tim Jones, hosted by the University’s Psychology Society.

In fact, in the case of Tim, life seems to have been made up of a multitude of paths that never appeared to direct him towards where he is now, but have allowed him to make his way to being a successful academic and highly valued member of the University of Worcester‘s faculty nonetheless.

Tim’s presentation took those of us present through his life journey so far, covering everything from his dedicated breeding of rabbits as a schoolboy, through his University education and PhD studies, all the way into how he ended up in his current position at our University.

It was a witty, charismatic talk which entertained all in the room, but there were certainly some very useful messages us students could take from Tim and apply to our own lives as well …In fact, I got a whole page of notes purely made up of observations on his presenting style, which will hopefully come in handy for me in June when presenting research I have been an academic partner for!

Tim began by talking us through some difficult times he had in school, and how these experiences shaped his interest in psychology (little did he know it was called that at the time!), and drove him to not just accept things at face value, but to analyse why they have occurred as well.

He then took us through the various different jobs he took on in his teenage years, through to when he graduated from Plymouth University, including the aforementioned rabbit breeding, working at a zoo, and dancing (the three key pillars for any academic, I’m sure you will agree!).

tim_jones_rdax_200x300As Tim progressed through his journey in education, including his PhD studies and various elements of research he has conducted, the themes of his talk became evermore clear to those of us present.

There is at no point in life an ultimatum, where you have to choose a single career and follow it all the way through to your retirement. You may take on a number of different roles during your life, in various different industries, but it is never too late to find a new opportunity, or take on a new role you may enjoy even more.

Through various different amusing anecdotes about clearing his desk and walking out of a job mid-meeting (although this method was strongly advised against later on in the talk), there was one message I wrote down from Tim which will perhaps be the strongest of the points I took away from his presentation: do what you enjoy, and do it well.

Though he has worked a multitude of different jobs in a variety of different industries, Tim’s main motivation always seemed to be to follow work he enjoyed doing, with people he enjoyed working for and with, and therefore completed to a high standard. So perhaps this is the message all students could take away from him, especially with the ominous end of the third year coming up for many: pick a career path that suits you at the time, and that you enjoy doing, and don’t think a single missed opportunity will stop you getting from where you need to be.

Tim himself said he relied on luck as well as opportunism on more than one occasion, and he certainly turned out alright!

Mainstream or Special Needs? – My placement update!

the classes visual timetable

Mainstream or Special Educational Needs teaching? Now that’s a difficult question.

A question that is hard to answer, having only experienced a few examples of each.

But I have my own opinions and my own paths of life that I wish to take, as you will aswell. But here’s a little update on how my placement is going so far, and my thoughts over this topic. Also, enjoy my random and irrelevant pictures that I have taken over the last few weeks, that include some of what I have taught and what the children have made!

Christmas competition

Christmas competition

As I briefly mentioned in my specific “placement” blog a while ago; in the second year of the Primary Initial Teacher Education course at University of Worcester, you are offered the amazing chance to complete your placement in a Special Educational Needs (SEN) school.

This isn’t for everyone, and you will be placed in a mainstream school as normal if you choose not to sign up to this.

I never once thought that i’d end up teaching in a school that was specifically for children with educational, learning and sometimes physical difficulties. It was always an interest of mine, but not something that I thought I would pursue.
This was partly because I wasn’t sure I would be the right kind of person for it.

When I joined Worcester University, I wasn’t aware of this pathway. When we were told about it though, and I watched a presentation from students who had first hand experience of this SEN pathway, I jumped at the chance. Like I said, I never pictured myself teaching in anything other than a mainstream school, but I was thrilled to get the opportunity to experience a different style of teaching and work with children that would challenge and improve everything that I knew about how to be a teacher.

I went into this placement just before Christmas, thinking that I would use my experiences and knowledge of SEN teaching purely to help develop the teaching that I would do throughout mainstream schools. Little did I know at the time, that I would fall in love with the school I was placed in and discover a new passion for SEN teaching that I never thought I would.

Shape recognition

Shape recognition

Unfortunately I can’t tell you any specifics about the school that I’m completing my placement at, for obvious reasons.. but one of the great things about the SEN pathway on this course, is that you get to pick your options. We were provided with a list of schools that had available places, and it was up to us to arrange visit days with our chosen schools and pick our first, second and third choice for where we wanted to complete our placement.

During my visits, there was one school that stood out to me in particular. There was also another that was a wonderful school, but I just knew that it wasn’t the right one for me. This is why the visit days are SO important. You may not get your first choice, but if you are unsure about SEN to start with.. then visiting the schools will really help you to learn what type and level of Special Educational Needs will suit you best.

Taking into consideration that I am only about a third of the way through my placement, this is what I think so far..

the work of the day board

The Work of the day board

My main positives of taking this pathway:
- A whole new experience (Obvious, but important.)
- A new understanding of how to handle behaviour and assessment.
- A stack load of new teaching and resource ideas.
- A different feel and sense of community throughout the school.
- Everything learnt can be adapted to mainstream, so if SEN isn’t for you as a full time career, then you will still benefit.

Easter chick puppets

Easter chick puppets

My only negatives so far:
- It is our first assessed placement, where our observations REALLY count. The new experience and style of teaching is daunting and takes some getting used to. Does this effect your assessment? I’ll keep you posted on that, but i’m up for the challenge.
- The possibility that you might be losing out on experience that other students are gaining in mainstream. But it’s all relevant and what we learn is equally important.

I’ve gladly come to the conclusion that I will not choose between the two career paths, because I want to do both!

Of course, I have no idea where I will be in 10 or 5 or even 2 years time. But what I do know is that I will do my very best to experience life as a teacher within both areas.

Science

Science

So, Mainstream or Special Needs? Sorry guys… but there is a different answer out there for all of us that you need to find out for yourself! Good luck, and to all my fellow trainee’s going back into placement soon… have fun! :)

The Misconceptions of a Geography Student – it’s more than you think!

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“I’ve got my full set of colouring pencils ready!”

This is the first thing a friend of mine on another course said to me after selecting an optional geography module.

It was said in a joking manner, but it reminded me of just how wrong the stereotypes of geography at university are. It’s something I want to clear up on behalf of all the geography students!

There are three stereotypes I often hear:

1. “Do you have fun playing with rocks?”

2. “Let me test you on world capital cities!”

3. “I bet you’re really good at colouring in!”

But geography is just not just a mix of the three.  In all honesty, I cannot name many world capital cities and would suck in the ‘geography’ section of a pub quiz, and I’ve only made a few maps since the start of my course! There are a couple of modules that focus on the study of geology, but that is only two out of many choices! (I didn’t actually choose them either).

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Having now studied a module titled Applying Geography, I’ve been considering why such stereotypes of the geography discipline exist.

The subject is said to have one of the most drastic differences between a level and higher level study, and over the years its scope has spread to include…well, almost everything.

We no longer live in the era of cartography (map making!) and discovery, so where are we now?

Geography studies different systems and processes within the world, and the responses to those systems of both human and physical beings.

With both human and physical geographies to consider, we could now say that the subject involves lots of other disciplines, from sociology, health studies and economics, right the way through to ecology, meteorology and natural hazards.

We study a diverse range of topics, learning how to use a variety of research methods and skills that can be utilised in many career paths.

Some scholars also describe the research in the discipline as ‘a conversation’ between different people.

If you consider my independent study topic, then even the unexpected can be made into geography!

In conclusion:

GEOGRAPHY MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND!

A student’s view of Worcester University’s facilities!

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Hello all!

For this post, I thought it may be helpful for some of you to find out a little more about the  facilities that the University offers us, students.

If you are a future student that doesn’t know much about the available facilities, didn’t get a chance to visit them on open days and would like to know a bit more, or are a current student that has been living under a rock… then read on!

For the first (and largest) facility…

The Hive

The Hive is a massive library that is just the other side of the river from the University’s main campus.
It’s pretty hard to miss. It’s a ginormous gold and bizzarre looking building that is supposed to look like the Malvern Hills.

There is an easy route from the Hive to both the city centre and St Johns campus, so it is relatively straight forward to get to, no matter what student accommodation you have been placed in.

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It’s also Britain’s first ever joint library for both University students and members of the public. The great thing about The Hive is that although anyone can use it, there are different floors for different purposes. For example, the very top floor is a silent floor for students only. A great area to get through a stack load of work.

It’s also rammed with every book that you could ever want, for pleasure and for assignments, has plenty of space to work both individually and in groups and has a nice little cafe.
A great little extra for us teachers as well, is the ground floor area that is full of teaching resources and lesson plan ideas!

Next up..

The Riverside Building

The location of this particular Worcester facility is pretty self explanatory… and is directly next door to the Worcester Arena.

This is a facility that is full of rooms and halls for lectures, but also has quiet communal areas full of computers for students to do their work. Its main purpose is for Sporting students doing Performance analysis, but is open to all students.

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I’ve never had much of a reason to visit this building before, but it is a facility that I have recently discovered. It’s never too busy, and has beautiful views of the river because of the ceiling-to-floor windows all around the building.

It’s a great place to go if you need to meet up for group tasks, or use any of the computers or work space. It’s only a short walk to the city centre and also the University campus, and is also down the road from Mcdonald’s, (but that’s just an extra bonus!)

Last but not least…

The Peirson Building

The Peirson Building is very similar to the Riverside facility, as it is also a facility for students, full of computers and work space. But luckily for a lot of us, it is smack bang in the middle of the University campus.

It’s a good place to go to in-between lectures if you have time to spare, and is a nice place to work in the evenings as well. It does get quite busy, but there is plenty of space spread across the two floors, to use the computers and your own laptops. It also has seperate rooms that you can use if you have group presentations that you want to practice.

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My close friend James is a regular at this facility. For some unknown reason, he is the Peirson’s biggest fan. When I asked him to describe the Peirson to me in one sentence, his reply was..
“Other than frozen ready meals and poundland, it’s a students best friend!”
(He spends a socially unacceptable amount of time at the Peirson, but… it is a pretty great place to work!)

I hope that you have found this a little helpful and will begin to use some of Worcester’s finest facilities when you join us at Worcester University!

FREE Student SPSS Package.

FREE Student SPSS Package. 1

For those on courses such as Psychology, Sociology, Geography, Sport, Biology, to be honest any degree that needs to analyse any form of numerical data, students will know about SPSS.

For those who don’t know or haven’t come across it, SPSS is a software package used for statistical analysis. It is used for a variety of statistical analysis methods and is vital for anyone doing a dissertation that uses numerical data!

You will have been taught to use the package in your lectures predominantly using the university computers, as they have the package downloaded onto all machines.

The chance to use SPSS on the university computers is vital for many students but can be a bit of a pain having to walk to and from uni to use the package and only being to open it on university computers! One way to overcome this is to have it available on your laptop at home – but you won’t want to pay the fee to download it straight from the website so university have a way to help!

If you go to the IT support desk upstairs in Pierson Study and Guidance Centre they will give you a slip that provides all the information you need to download it absolutely FREE as the university have a licence that allows students to download it too.

You go to http://worc.ac.onthehub.com and simply use your student details to log on and receive access to the software downloads, key, and installation guide.

FREE Student SPSS Package.

It takes a while to download but if you leave it running it shouldn’t be too long! You simply follow the instructions as they pop up on your screen then input the authentication code that is shown then you finish your order.

It has been very useful for me when doing my dissertation as I have been able to do all my statistics analysis in the comfort of my own home, and work on it whenever I want! For those using it for their dissertations this year, GOOD LUCK!

10 ridiculous photos of a drama student.

c-lo face

You’ve all heard of the stereotypical drama geek at high school – The kid who generates exuberant eccentricity, the kid who has an overactive imagination and – of course – the kid who has a flair for le théâtre.

Pretty much like that at uni, to be honest. I was scrolling through photos I was tagged in throughout my fresher’s year and what I found, absolutely befuddled me.

This wonderful originality will be sure to come through in any photo you get tagged in on Facebook.

I’ll show you some of my most shocking, random… confusing pictures from last year.

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I may be 19 in this photo, but…

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

So yeah… I’ll just keep unleashing that youthful dramatic creativity.

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I actually remember what this photo was about.

As I said in my other blog, I love to take part in films and I was acting alongside a little girl who had this pink…err…moose?

Thought I’d grab it off her and pose for a picture. Nah, didn’t really.

A thing I’ve noticed about drama students is whenever the see a camera they run to it and do the weirdest things or make the weirdest faces.

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Parents usually give their struggling student children  groceries or a spare tenner when visiting.

Mine gave me a tree from Ikea.

Blame the parents!

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Especially if you’re a drama student, you’ll change your style like no tomorrow!

Guys not so much. But I had to nurture a huge beard for the web series I was in.

But now I look back at it, I do look proper Spanish. My Dad will be so proud.

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He wouldn’t be so proud about this one. Looks like I have one leg and the fashion sense was purposely abysmal (I hope).

You’d definitely know how to spot a drama student around campus – They’d wear ridiculous costumes around with complete confidence, like it’s so casual to walk down the corridor with a fancy, flamboyant, feathery Victorian hat.

I remember the guys in our group had to come in dressed as girls for a feminism lecture – Your average Joe wouldn’t do that.

Takes someone who’s rather ‘unique’.

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Some people like to dress up for Halloween, drama students go that extra mile

That’s not the only time I’d be wearing make-up – I’d have to wear it on stage to stop the stage lights reflecting.

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I honestly haven’t got the foggiest clue – What on earth was I thinking?!

It’s like taking Necknominations to a whole new level.

As I said before – Drama Student + Camera = Craziness

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It’s a fast car lifestyle! When I was filming the web show, I got the opportunity to ride the classic Sinclair C5.

The ‘I-don’t-give-a-monkey’ attitude allows these wild drama undergraduates into many different adventures.

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GO COMPARE! As I said, new styles all the time. I do drama, but I don’t do opera…

 

After this post, my employability skills will increase by 20%.

My journey to become a teacher – The Education Show

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I had a wonderful day last Saturday (the 22d March,) at The Education show in Birmingham, and I want to tell you all about it! I know so many people that would benefit from visiting this show, that have probably never been before.

The Education show runs for a couple of days, every year, at the NEC in Birmingham.
It’s super easy to get to on the train, especially for those of us at  University of Worcester.
It’s FREE entry (a sentence that we all love to hear,) and it’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, collect a stack load of freebees and buy lots of teaching resources.

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As the show guide that you receive on your entry states “whether you are a classroom teacher, trainee teacher, business manager or teaching assistant” the show has a variety of things to offer you.

Edu 1What did it offer me and my three friends? Well, we are all enthusiastic trainee teachers and secretly… nothing excites us more than a room full of resources, (don’t pretend you’re not the same.)

What does The Education Show have? 

The Education show was dominated by an array of different stalls that were full of teaching resources, books and catalogues.

As trainee teachers, we were simply enjoying being able to have a look at all of these resources, whilst being attacked by stall workers and their leaflets.

We left the show with our arms and bags full of catalogues, leaflets and samples that no doubt will become of great use in our future careers when we are searching for new and interesting resources and lesson ideas.

All around us there were current, qualified teachers with trolly loads of new stuff. Lucky children!

There was also many local businesses being promoted, that can be easily and effectively used in schools.
My personal favourites were the Guide Dogs company that (unsuprisingly) had guide dogs with them.

We spent a good chunk of time sitting with and admiring the dogs, whilst chatting to the lovely helpers who explained all about how they come into schools and teach young children about how these dogs support the blind.

Another company that was a little less cute and a lot more creepy was The Animal Man. At this stall, we got to hold tarantulas and snakes and look at a variety of other animals. Edu6

Yet again, I left the stall with a bunch of leaflets that I hope to make use of in the future when my pupils are learning all about creepy crawlies. (I don’t think I want to touch that tarantula again though..)

Now they were the easiest two examples for me to write about, because I’m crazy obsessed with animals. But there were stacks of other businesses that were offering great rates and ideas for school trips, school visits and resources.

Another great thing at The Education Show were the various seminar talks and workshops.

A few examples of the different talks that we came across were “Successfully implementing the new 2014 curriculum,” “How do I bring the world into my classroom?,” and “Primary English and Maths implemented in the new curriculum.”

There were way too many talks for me to be able to list them all, and unfortunately we didn’t get to go to them all either.

We did however, attend the Primary English and Maths workshop that was so interesting. It was ran by two very passionate English and Maths subject leaders, telling us all about how to creatively teach these subjects using the new curriculum.
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For many of you, that may sound a little dreary. But for anyone that is even slightly interested in Education, I guarantee that there is a workshop that would benefit you.

Unfortunately The Education Show is over for this year, but if it sounds like something you would enjoy then please go for it in 2015! It’s  seriously worth it.
Keep an eye out for the 2015 show and put your name down when registry opens!

Future Learn: making our seminars really exciting

Future Learn

What I’ve always liked about my course at the University of Worcester is the approach to the seminar activities – very interactive and a lot like the ‘real’ business cases, understanding  theory at its best and evaluating its practical application.

What I really appreciate is that our tutors are continuously looking for ways to ‘upgrade’ the seminars and the self-study activities by adding extra value to them.

This semester I am doing a module called Contemporary Marketing Strategy and what we do for our seminars is something we’ve never done before. I think it is very innovative and can be very beneficial as it gives us many new ideas and points of view on the subject.

Alongside with the wide range of interesting and engaging case studies, written by Graham Cooper, one of two lecturers who lead the module, we were advised to sign up to Future Learn. So what is Future Learn all about?

Future Learn is a system where anyone can register for free and start different online courses – business, programming, dentistry, psychology, sustainability, forensics and many, many others.

It is really easy to sing up to it and even easier to use.  They are about 6-10 weeks long, pretty much the equivalent to a university module.l

All of us who are on the Contemporary Marketing Strategy module this semester are doing a Future Learn course on Branding – each week there is an online session, which includes either a case study, a presentation or a short clip, which discuss different topics in branding.

Even if I can’t watch the new content on the day it is uploaded, I can always catch-up in my own time, making it very convenient.

This gives us not only food for thought, but it also connects us to learners with different experience from all around the world outside the lecture room, which makes it even more exciting.

What’s really great is that at the end of the online course, if we have competed everything, we will receive a certificate to confirm that we’ve completed it successfully, adding even more value to what we’ve learnt in the module! 

This week is the first one that we will be discussing what we’ve learnt from Future Learn in our seminar, discussing questions such as are Online and Social Media are relevant to today’s brands and businesses and is a climate of innovation encouraging creative improvement, rather than conformity.

I can’t wait to see what the other students in my class have learnt about brands and what are their views on the subject. I wish we’ve done more things like Future Learn in other modules before, yet it’s better to do it late than never! :)