(301-2.1 & 2.2)
Jessica Towers 17/09/18When creating a safe and supportive learning environment in the auto engineering industry, I find that in a workshop particularly you need to be able to bring a group together so that they can effectively work on practical tasks as a team. When first meeting the students, you can feel the nervousness radiating from them, they find themselves in a new environment with people that they have never met before. The majority of students would come from different backgrounds, be of various ages, and be of different genders. Especially in the auto trade where for the most part it is classed as a male dominated industry, so a female happening to find herself with a group of males can be a rather daunting and intimidating experience. However, I realise that by introducing myself in a warm and friendly manner, I find a way to break the ice, by giving the students a task where they suddenly find themselves communicating and interacting with each other, often relieves most of the tension and anxiety.
Most teachers would use ice breaker games, but sometimes this isn’t practical in a workshop – it would be great for a classroom but in a workshop, there is limited space because of cars, equipment and tools. So, what I find that works for lecturers and technicians is to use something simple, like how to connect an airline safely, while at the same time I would inform the group about the hazards and dangers that compressed air can lead to. It is a practical skill that all auto students will need, but it is also one that I find students are able to have a laugh with each other – even though they might never have met before, just because they are all learning this new skill together. Airlines do have the effect of making students jump, because the noise of the connection and release takes them all by surprise – hence why the majority will laugh and communication then opens between them all. They all have a go at connecting and releasing the airline and we hear the students then discussing with each other what they found difficult or what they found easy about that simple task, and the majority comment on the noise it made. Yes, it is only a small thing, but I find it is a very effective one it seems to relax the atmosphere. I find then that other little practical tasks done one after the other where the students are split up into small groups and then mixed up again has a way of opening more lines of communication, whilst at the same time I would explain all the health and safety measures that need to be under taken whilst they preform each task.
Other things that I notice, is how I communicate myself has a huge impact, I always try to maintain eye contact with the students when I am talking to them, I am aware of my body language – I smile so that they can see that I am warm and friendly and genuine. I find that promoting this makes the students feel like they are in a safe environment and it helps to show that I am supportive of them. If they feel like I am approachable they will have more confidence to ask for help which allows themselves to work in a more safer manner. I also try and use positive reinforcement, when they have impressed me with their listening skills and taken notice of some information that I have given them – I tell them that I am impressed with them and that they have listened and worked well. I find that this builds up their confidence and then they are more eager to learn more skills and will focus more on their task, instead of messing around and possibly causing a hazard in the workshop. I have also discovered that patience is key some students who come into the group may have learning barriers, and therefore I may need to go over things several times, especially so that they can complete their tasks safely. I try my hardest when this happens to show that I am willing to work with them and support them, I try to be aware of how I say things too.
I think it is important to promote appropriate behaviour and respect for others by understanding that most of the students are very well behaved and conduct themselves appropriately. Sometimes students can get quite boisterous or over excited, which can lead to causing a disturbance or friction in the group, it also shows disrespect to the other students. When this happens, it can affect and distract other members of the group from learning, or can cause a breach in health and safety and may cause an accident to happen in the workshop.
How I get this under control would be to take the student/s to one side and explain the ground rules and code of conduct within the workshop, I would go through what is allowed and what is not and if I feel that it is necessary I would also go through the health and safety policies again with them. I would encourage students to have respect for each other and for their technicians and lecturers by helping them to realise how their behaviour and actions have an impact on others in the workshop. Another way I would encourage the right behaviour and respectfulness would be to promote all the British values, which consists of democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law, mutual respect and tolerance for people of different cultures and their beliefs. I would also encourage students to be aware of the Prevent strategy which is to reduce the threat to the U.K from terrorism, and radicalisation, stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.