Ok to begin with I know that it has taken me a while to get around to actually writing about my placement (seeing as it was before Christmas), however this post is all about the time I spent at a local school; documenting my experiences good and bad. My placement began on 14th of November and ended on 2nd of November 2011.
My first day at my new school was one of mixed feelings and new experiences, the night before I had laid out everything that I needed for the following day and had set several alarms just to be sure I didn’t sleep in. Nervous wouldn’t have even described how I was feeling the next morning; I kept thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong, would the children like me, would I get on with the class teacher and would I even get much interaction with the class ; these were all questions running through my head. but I had to put all of these worries to the back of my head and press on, at the end of the day this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, of course I would be nervous but I couldn’t let my nerves get the better of me and effect my first day.
The journey to my school wasn’t far, but very different from the routes that many of the other students would take. My journey required me to get a bus/taxi and then a ferry, yes I had to cross a body of water to reach my school; weird I know but I thought this was great. Eventually along with the other students that would be attending this school for the coming weeks I finally arrived. It was quite early in the morning so the school was practically empty except for a few of the senior teachers and reception staff. Nervously we all ushered through the main entrance but very quickly we were made to feel at home by the staff. After receiving a tour of the school and meeting the vice principal who explained all of the school’s policies etc, the four of us divided into our pairs and were shown to what would be our classroom for the duration of the placement.
By the time we were directed to our classroom the children had already arrived and had begun to settle down into their daily routine; on entering I was in awe of the atmosphere, engulfed by everything I saw and the different activities taking place in the classroom. The best part was that no matter where i looked everyone had a smile on their face, immediately I knew I was going to get on just fine here. After introducing ourselves to the class teacher she quickly gathered the children onto the carpet to explain to them who these strange adults were and why they were visiting. The class teacher introduced us as Miss Short and Mr Nesbitt, for me although only a small gesture this was amazing, I wasn’t going to be known as a helper or a student; to these 23 children we were both teachers there to help and assist them for three weeks.
Over the next few days we began by observing the class teacher while she taught the whole class, understanding how she managed the class and the individual children. These observations as well as working with the children in small groups allowed me to better understand each child in terms of ability, behaviour and how best to interact with each individual. This meant that when it was my turn to lead a larger group or the whole class I knew what to expect and how to control the class in different situations whilst still relaying the message that I had planned to with minimal disruptions. The class that I was in was a year two class, I got to know the class very well during my time in the school; quickly building up relationships with each child and gaining their approval as part of their teaching staff. However taking a moment to reflect on this I believe that despite being recognised as an adult in the classroom and a figure of authority, I didn’t really gain the complete respect of the class until I took my first session leading the class. This was the first part of the morning which included letting the children in, settling them into their morning challenge, stopping the class, bringing them to the carpet, taking register/dinners and beginning then next task. I feel that after this I was viewed in the eyes of the children as more of a teacher in the school rather than an assistant to their normal class teacher.
At the beginning of each day the class teacher would take me through the lesson plan for the day and explain each task, detailing my role for the day. In addition at the end of each day the class teacher would discuss her plans for the following day, but what I really appreciated was how she involved me in her planning, asking my opinion and what Miss Short and myself thought of different activities. This simple involvement really helped me to better understand the planning process and aided me greatly when it came to creating my own lesson plans.
Throughout my placement I encountered different scenarios or incidents that really gave me an insight into situations that can arise in your typical year two classroom but more importantly by witnessing and helping to solve some of these incidents it taught me how best to deal with similar situations. This experience will be invaluable when I am on placement in the future and indeed when I qualify.
Over my placement I have learnt so much about teaching and what it takes to be a teacher, you hear so much about the different theories behind teaching when in university but until you actually get out into the classroom and experience the real thing you don’t realise the commitment and enthusiasm that is required not only to teach but to be a good teacher. In hindsight when I look back on my first placement I visualise all of the experiences that I have had and realise that each one is a building block, slowly, with time creating a great teacher.