Where Everybody Knows Your Name

You would think that an in-service day would make the week feel nice and short but last Monday seems like a month ago! By the time Thursday was over, I was goosed! I can’t pick out any moment that was particularly exhausting but it just seems like a lot happened. 

This week was the week that I was supposed to look after a literacy group. Last week I mentioned here that I was going to try a whole class lesson for at least Tuesday – that went fairly well so I worked with the whole class for the week. This week was also the week that we ended up doing about 3 riddles a day because the kids were bringing in pages of riddles for the class with one child even writing the day and time they expected me to use them by! Here’s a sample – 

Q1) If it takes 7 minutes to dye an Easter egg, how long does it take to dye 3 Easter eggs?

Q2) Imagine you are swimming in the ocean when all of a sudden you are surrounded by sharks. You panic. They attack. How do you escape?

Q3) You have 3 bags of coins and 3 empty bags. They are lined out in the following sequence                                                               Bag 1 – Full       Bag 2 – Full       Bag 3 – Full       Bag 4 – Empty      Bag 5 – Empty      Bag 6 – Empty                                                         You can only move one bag and you can only move it once. How do you get the bags in a sequence of –                                                Full-Empty-Full-Empty-Full-Empty?

Q4) What has an E at the start, an E at the end and only one letter in it? 

Answers at the bottom.

Tuesday’s literacy lesson was a debate. I divided the class in to 4 groups of 6. Their debate topics were ‘Can insects be a future food source?’ and ‘Do footballers earn too much money?’. It was great to see so many of the children engaged with the topic with one child getting quite frustrated with the disparity between the monthly salary of Cristiano Ronaldo in comparison to nurses, police officers and firefighters. “Ronaldo doesn’t save lives but he earns over a million pounds a month, how is that fair?” . One valuable lesson I learned from Tuesday was that 6 in a group doesn’t work for this particular class. Too many messers. I also greatly overestimated how long this exercise would take and the moment that had dawned on me, I was so dejected. The class teacher could see it and thankfully came to my rescue – afterwards telling me that the lesson went very well and not to worry and always have a back-up plan. Hopefully I never fall in to that trap again!

Wednesday we looked at poetry. I wasn’t 100% happy with how this lesson went but there was definitely enough for them to do! We first discussed as a group about some poetry terms that they had discussed in previous years with the aim of getting towards themes of poems. We looked at three poems with the theme of bullying in it. I questioned them why they thought bullying was the theme (with evidence) and also to find evidence of how the person in the poem felt. The groups then went on to write their own poem on bullying and read them out at the end of the lesson. What I wasn’t happy with is that in hindsight, I should have gone through a poem with the whole class and identify the theme with them before letting them loose on the three other poems but as I keep telling the class teacher – I understand that none of my lessons will be perfect so I’m happy to write down the negatives because I know I’ll learn from them. 

Thursday we made tourist brochures for Marseille and Paris. Thursday was the day I was least happy with myself. I didn’t differentiate the lesson sufficiently but worst of all, I felt like I lost control for a time. As a class, we looked at photos of Dublin, half cast Dublin in a positive light (Croke Park, Grafton Street, Trinity College, James Joyce Bridge and Phoenix Park) and half of the photos cast Dublin in a negative light. The aim of the game was to identify the photos that would make you want to visit Dublin and ones that wouldn’t be so inviting. They had to justify their reasons for choosing the photos. After, I gave them out info sheets, some on Paris, some on Marseille. They had to identify the pieces of information that were suitable to make a tourist brochure and those that were not suitable, and why. One child told me that they wanted to work alone.I was going to say no but I thought that maybe it would be better to give them the freedom to choose. As soon as I said yes, I regretted it. I felt like I had lost that lesson and it really annoyed me. It took me a few minutes to recover and I know in myself that I didn’t fully recover in that lesson. While I’m not naive enough to think that won’t ever happen again, I’ve definitely learned from that experience and hopefully I’ll see that hazard coming a bit sooner and tackle it before it knocks me off my stride. 

Friday’s lesson went well. I knew it would. I knew it was. I knew it did. I made sure that everyone in that room knew who was in charge. They were given ten minutes (in 6 groups of 4) to come up with a play on a theme I’ve given them. The themes I gave them were a) Honesty is the best policy b) First day at school c) Fire safety d) The good Samaritan e) Superhero f) Respecting nature. It was funny to see two teachers walk in while the groups were practicing their plays in the room, with gusto. The teachers thought I had lost control and I laughed at how panicked they looked. I assured them that I had everything under control. All the plays were thoughtful and pupils asked questions about them at the end. I was delighted. 

I learned a lot during the course of the week and maybe it was all the real learning that was going on that has exhausted me. 

This weekend I’m preparing my continuous teaching lesson plans and last night was a late one – planning lessons about watching Shrek aren’t as easy as it sound! I chilled out for a while too though – caught up on the last two Walking Dead episodes I had missed. I’ve also started watching Cheers lately. Where did I get that idea? Watching this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wzyij-rsXhw This video was uploaded by TodayFM, an Irish radio station and I have listened to it about a hundred times since Monday. 

Anywho, time to get back to work.


Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go. 


P.S. Answer 1 – 7 minutes. Dye them all together.

       Answer 2 –  Stop imagining.

       Answer 3 – Empty bag 2 in to bag 5.

       Answer 4 – Envelope.


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