Life Education Van Incursion
This is a description of my experiences of participating in the class incursion to the Life Education Van with a composite grade one and two class while on professional placement. I was provided with the opportunity to observe the incursion from a teacher’s point of view, rather than that of a student, which I am mainly used to. After the class attended the Life Education Van, I held a follow-up lesson titled ‘I Am a Superhero.’ Here I will first describe the context of the incursion and the follow-up lesson I held. Following this I will rationalise why I think it is relevant as a professional portfolio item, demonstrating how I have developed as a professional, as well as an overview and documentation of student learning. I conclude with a final reflection on my experience from attending this incursion and holding the follow-up lesson. All names mentioned on this page have been replaced with pseudonyms to protect the individual’s privacy.
I attended the Life Education Van with my placement class and mentor teacher Sandra during my first full week of teaching. The theme of the Life Education Van incursion was ‘Harold’s Heroes.’ For one hour the students were educated on different superheroes and their qualities as well as healthy lifestyles. The students watched a video about Harold the giraffe’s superhero friends and helped provide solutions to solve the superheroes’ problems.
After attending the Life Education Van, we went back to our classroom and I held a follow-up lesson called ‘I am a Superhero’ which was based on an activity in their Life Education Van workbooks. This lesson was a whole class lesson based on level 2 VELS. It involved students discussing in further detail what the term ‘superhero’ means to them, including what qualities superheroes possess, what superheroes they already know of and who can be a superhero. The lesson structure from the ‘I am a Superhero’ lesson plan is outlined below (see Attachment 1 for full lesson plan).
- Main component of lesson:
How the item demonstrates my development as a beginning teacher:
Attending the Life Education Van as a teacher, rather than a student, has provided me with a number of learning opportunities. Firstly, I was able to experience an incursion from a teachers’ point of view and see the responsibilities one holds in relation to this event. These responsibilities include:
- Organising students’ payments and permission slips for the incursion: Sandra had to keep record of which students had brought back their permission slips and which had brought back their money. For the days leading up to the incursion she made a regular effort to remind students to bring these back if they hadn’t done so, and even rung their parents in the end. Only one student didn’t end up paying for the incursion and therefore could not attend. Sandra then had to organise for her to be placed in an alternative classroom for the duration of the incursion.
- Allowing time for follow-up lessons: Sandra informed me that after an incursion it is important for teachers to make time in their schedules to hold follow-up lessons. These lessons expand on what was taught during the incursion and extend students’ knowledge on the topic, and they ensure that the incursion’s full potential is provided. Every student that attends the incursion is provided with a Life Education Australia workbook that has eight follow-up activities in it. The lesson I carried out was related to activity 1 (see Attachment 2 for a copy of the worksheet). Sandra had every intention to hold more follow-up lessons relating to other activities in the students’ workbooks but unfortunately she did not end up holding any more due to a tight schedule and unexpected interruptions.
As well as learning about a teacher’s responsibilities during an incursion, I also learnt what the Life Education program was educating the students about. I was informed of a number of interesting things about healthy eating, healthy lifestyles and superheroes that I did not know before, such as what vitamins are in certain vegetables and what these vitamins do for our bodies. This shows that incursions are not only beneficial and informative for students but also for teachers.
After every lesson I held during my professional placement, I saw myself change and develop as I evaluated and reflected upon each lesson. In my self evaluation/reflection of this lesson I stated that:
“I feel more comfortable sitting at the front of the class, stimulating and encouraging discussion, than I did when I first begun placement. It is evident that I am keeping the students attentive and interested as they were all very responsive to my questions. I was a very inclusive teacher, and ensured all students had the opportunity to provide information to the discussion. I managed the students’ behaviour well and feel I am becoming better at this each lesson.”
This shows that I am continuously developing as a beginning teacher, and that each lesson I hold, including this one, helps contribute to my development as a professional. See the lesson plan in Attachment 1 for the full self evaluation/reflection and supervising teacher’s evaluation.
Overview of student learning:
Every student contributed relevant and expansive information to the class discussion and it was evident that they had learnt a lot, and retained the information after attending the Life Education Van. Students provided the following ideas during the class discussion and brainstorming on the whiteboard:
- Who/what is your current superhero? Spiderman, Superman, Cat Woman, Sonic The Hedgehog, my dad, my mum, my teacher, myself.
- Who can be a superhero? Parents, family, friends, teachers, yourself, firemen, police officers, ambulance officers.
- What qualities do these people have that make them superheroes? Brave, clever, caring, good listeners, considerate, helpful, friendly, supportive, kind, loving, thoughtful, loyal.
Every student was enthusiastic about carrying out this activity and completed their work to the expected standard or higher. Samples of two students’ pieces of work can be seen in Attachment 3. The first student, who I will call Carl, gave himself the name “Collector Carl.” When I asked him why he called himself that he said, “Because I collect the rubbish and put it in the bin.” This shows that Carl had a great understanding of superheroes, especially in relation to helping make our environment a safe place, which was taught in the Life Education Van. The second piece of work, by a child who I will call Nick, displays that his hero is his father, because his father is helpful. This shows that Nick has developed an understanding of superheroes outside the animated world that most students are used to, and is aware that everyday people can also be heroes too.
Attending the Life Education Van was a great experience as it allowed me to view an incursion from a teacher’s point of view, rather than a student’s point of view, which I experienced during the 13 years that I was a student in primary and secondary school. The incursion also taught me a lot about healthy eating and lifestyles, which demonstrates that learning during an incursion is not just limited to students. From this experience I have learnt an extensive amount about a teacher’s role during an incursion, including the importance of organising and managing students’ payments and permission slips, and allowing time for follow-up lessons. Holding the follow up lesson has contributed to my development as a beginning teacher in relation to planning, implementing and reflecting upon lessons.