Today is my last day of a ten day volunteer teacher placement with the RSPB in the Youth and Education department, completed as part of my fourth year teacher training. I was instantly made to feel welcome by everybody in the department and given a regular work station, with a fluffy red kite for company! I was keen to learn more about the education for children the RSPB provides, we didn't hang about, Faye very quickly introduced me to The Big School’s Birdwatch. I was really pleased to see the amount of information and resources included, definitely an activity I will get involved with in my first teaching position. Faye also showed me the learning community. I am not a blogger myself, in fact, a self confessed technophobe so this was all new to me. It looks like a great place to share ideas for learning spaces, activities, photos and a point of reference for questions.
Following work with Faye I met Carolyn who explained about the Quality Badge. Before this placement I didn't know anything about the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom or their Quality Badge. I ignorantly believed taking children on a trip to a reserve meant the field teachers explain about the reserve and it would be up to me as the teacher to make links with children’s learning in school. I could not have been more wrong! With the Quality Badge the field teaching has so many parallels with classroom teaching. The day is tailored to the school, with Lesson Objectives laid out and Learning Outcomes. National Curriculum links are made, SEAL and ECM are both met also. The field teachers engage in assessment for learning to ensure they are suiting the needs of the group. All of this practice is monitored by an inspection schedule, with resounding similarities to Ofsted.
Once I had swatted up on the Quality Badge it was time to see it in action. Carolyn, the Field Teaching Standards Manager took me out to visit Rainham Marshes reserve. Rainham was one of the reserves to be awarded an outstanding for their provision. Here I saw a Year 6 group taking part in a range of activities, pond dipping, teamwork floor puzzle, observational drawing and compass reading. Seeing the field teaching in action has given me some really valuable examples of best practice and ideas for my own teaching.
Following the Rainham trip I was fortunate enough to also visit Minsmere reserve with Carolyn. Although very different in style to Rainham the standard of teaching there was still fantastic. I learned a lot about effective practice and certainly would use ideas with my own class which I gathered from the day. The teacher doesn't need to worry about linking the day with prior learning; this is done by the field teachers, as is the risk assessment.
During my time with the RSPB I also spent a very interesting morning with Phil learning about policies. It was very interesting to see how the work done here can influence the practice in the classroom from above.
So ten days over, it has gone so very quickly and I have learned a huge amount in the time. I know for a fact my teaching practice will be improved thanks to the experiences here. I have gained far more than I had ever expected to and will be sad to leave. However, now I am by far better informed to become an environment ambassador in school and inspire enthusiasm for the natural world within the children I teach :-).