A Welcome Break

Placement finished and a few days to relax for myself are in order. I am so so tired. That week of continuous was the hardest week of work I’ve ever done. 6am starts and asleep at around midnight; the only time I wasn’t doing anything for teaching was when on the bus or having dinner. Every other minute of the day was spent looking for or making resources, laminating, cutting, printing, writing plans, writing reflections, laminating, cutting, laminating, cutting. I hear the whirr of a laminator when I close my eyes.

Here’s some of the valuable lessons I learned from placement for the early years

  • A noisemaker is a life saver – I used a tambourine to get everyone’s attention – if the kids heard the tambourine – they knew it meant freeze on the spot.
  • Competitions work – I told them it was a competition to see who was quietest person lining up to go for lunch and quietest person walking the line through the school. We had a competition for who was most sensible and quiet when going to wash hands – boys vs girls. We had a competition for who listened best when we were in the gym hall. It worked all the time.
  • 7am is a perfectly acceptable time to be in your classroom getting ready for the day ahead.
  • The puppet is God. Any mention of Benny and every pair of ears were hungry for more info relating to Benny and the magic door he came through for visits. Benny only came through the magic door when everyone was working hard and working nicely with their partners.
  • Image
  • The activities you think will take 5 minutes will take 15 and the activities you think will take 15 minutes will take 5.
  • Over-preparation is the best way to avoid the fear of “What do I do with them for the next ten minutes?”
  • The kids will fight over anything. Be vigilant for hints of a dispute – “That’s my rubber!” or “Timmy Joe skipped the line!” or “Sue Ellen said I am not her best friend anymore”. Ignore comments like that and it can explode. [Names are fake, events are not].

My continuous went well. I learned a lot from it and as I said, it was exhausting.

I had two highlights of the week. First, I had a writing lesson with them on Wednesday morning and to spark the children’s imaginations for writing about a jungle adventure, we listened to a 5 minute clip of the noises of a jungle and we used it to think about the different things we might see. At one stage, one of the children decided we were on a boat on the river in the jungle and they started singing “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream” so I added in “Look over there, a bunch of piranhas, now it’s time to scream – AHHHHHHHHHH”. Everyone wrote very imaginative stories and I was very happy with that.

The second highlight of my week was definitely the drama lesson on Thursday. I learned a lot from the week previously and I decided to try my hand at writing a second story for them to tackle dramatically speaking. The story was called Walking In The Jungle and here it is. Please feel free to comment on the quality (or lack thereof) of the story and certainly feel free to use it/alter it and if you do, please let me know how it goes!

 

“Walking through the jungle, what ever will I see?

My jungle hat is ready, will you come with me?

We will see all the birds, flying over trees.

Parrots, toucans and hummingbirds, pretty as can be.

We will see slithering snakes, sliding on their belly

If I see an anaconda, my legs will turn to jelly!

If I see a python, I think that I will run,

A bite from a pythons fangs I know will not be fun!

Don’t forget the spiders, they are everywhere

They could be on your arms or legs, or even in your hair!

Oh no, we can’t see anything in this scary fog

Everyone freeze! A poison yellow frog!

If we move away slowly, he won’t see all of us.

I know we are all really scared, but please don’t make a fuss!

Look up, look up! Can you see the monkeys?

The gorillas, the lemurs and the chimpanzees.

Go around this tree and down the hill,

What have we bumped into? A lion who wants to kill.

But don’t you worry. We haven’t met our doom.

We’ve been using our imaginations…and never left the room!” 

The lowlight of the week was definitely Thursday evening. I had a lesson planned for looking at Victorian games and a music lesson but the children were in a strange humour and I got so disheartened with them not paying a bit of attention but my class teacher told me that they did not pick up that I felt disheartened and even went as far as to praise me for recognising that the Victorian lesson had come to a natural conclusion and I went on to the music. I was pretty disappointed how those lessons went though and I told the class teacher how I felt about it.

I have done very little today apart from clean the flat a little bit while listening to some Tom Jones and watching House of Cards. Tomorrow looks like it will be much the same to be honest. If I find a good fictional book then I will probably stay up half the night reading that. Tuesday will be the day I start this research essay.

I think I will leave it there for now! Hope everyone had a nice weekend. Grand stretch in the evenings now!

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mammies. To my own Mammy dearest, thanks for everything you’ve ever done for me, which would be a considerable list! About 15 years ago on a Sunday evening like this, you were probably drying your kids hair after their baths and we’d all be watching Glenroe! “Well holy God” as Miley would say.

It’s also the birthday today of someone very important so Happy Birthday to you! 🙂

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TGIF

Wow. This week went well but it was far from easy. It’s not that didn’t enjoy it, it was just tough going. 

My laminator broke at the start of the week. As the placement is with the early years, the laminator is a vital resource. I shouted such a stream of abuse at that laminator. I’ve been using the laminator in the school so it hasn’t been a crisis here but it was a nuisance. My phone broke aswell. Naturally, the only way to fix the phone was to wipe everything off it. That was far from ideal. Oh ya, I also lost my memory stick at the start of the week too. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Some kind soul sellotaped the memory stick to the wall on Wednesday so I got that back!

On the teaching front, it was a very difficult week but I feel as though I am learning from the challenges but these challenges do come thick and fast. Teaching on St Patrick’s Day was weird. I’d never experienced a school day on St Patrick’s Day and my sister living in a different part of Scotland text me admitting she too felt weird working on St Patrick’s Day. 

On St Patrick’s Day I taught a spelling lesson and a gym lesson. The spelling lesson went well but my timing was a bit off. Not everyone got a chance to try each activity. One of the activities was a noughts & crosses style game with the new spelling words which was a cool idea. It wasn’t mine. The person who came up with that idea I know reads this so I’d like to thank them for that idea! The gym lesson…oh my… The activities, my observing teacher told me, were perfect for a gym lesson. The class’ behaviour was all over the place and the class teacher’s suggestion was to use a whistle next time round. I’ll have to! 

Tuesday I was looking at number bonds and then Victorian schools. The number bond lesson could certainly have gone better. It was planned that I’d do the lesson outside but it rained. Thankfully I had planned for that possibility. Obviously, I am on placement to learn but it is remarkable how many little things you learn and realise during a lesson. You wouldn’t believe how often during the course of the day I say to myself “Jesus, how did I not think of that?”. I write things down on my lesson plans to remind myself and then a child runs up to tell me that their working partner won’t share the eraser and these little things slip my mind. The lesson on Victorian schools was a disaster. I just couldn’t get them to focus. I felt terrible after. I’ve had lows on placement but Tuesday was a new feeling of low. My class teacher spent a while trying to cheer me up and gave me loads of tips to help with the problems I had. I left the school, bought a packet of Skittles, returned to the house and just started planning for Wednesday. I’ve mentioned it before but it sometimes surprises me how well I switch off from school. 

Wednesday went pretty well. I had a writing lesson – we were writing about pirates – yaaaaaaar! I used positive praise very effectively on a class I had struggled with the day before and it worked a treat. The standard of the writing was good and it was particularly difficult to select star writers for the day. I felt elated after going from such a bad day on the Tuesday to the writing lesson going very smoothly. I also took a number bond lesson after and that went well aswell. It was one of the children’s birthdays so I had a cake and candles display to learn about the number bonds of 6. The area where I fell down was I had not considered the different ways they could record what they were learning. I had a worksheet from the day previous but the children were mostly finished those but the teacher told me a few ways to record the learning and consolidate the learning and I appreciated that feedback. 

On Thursday I took the class for a drama lesson and a follow up lesson on Victorian schools. The Victorian schools lesson went well according to my class teacher but oddly, I felt it could have gone better. I think if I was to identify one area of my planning that needs particular development – it’s judging how much activities are needed and how long they take. That will only come with experience though so I just have to keep plugging away. The drama lesson was an interesting one, and one I learned a lot from. I wrote a short story about a Pirate called Pete. It went like this – 

Pirate Pete sailed on the sea. His boots were filled with sand.

When he looked through his telescope, he was looking for the land.

He wanted to stop and fix his ship. It needed a coat of paint.

Pirate Pete felt so tired, he thought that he would faint!

When Pirate Pete stopped on land, he found a treasure map.

He got his ship ready to sail, and put on his pirate cap.

Pirate Pete needed help. His helper’s name was Casper.

They found a treasure chest full of gold, and lived happily ever after. 

I had come up with a drama lesson in which we would do actions for some of the story. I thought it would be helpful to scaffold the lesson a little by coming up with some actions to go with the drama but I focused too much on that. The class teacher pointed this out to me and when they said it – I was bitterly disappointed. I had worked hard on coming up with an enjoyable story and I ruined the lesson by structuring it too much. I was proud of the story I had written and I will look to write more short stories for lessons but I will certainly be taking care not to make the same mistake with regards the drama lesson. It’s only after dawning on me now that I know someone who teaches drama to young kids on Saturdays so I really should contact them to bounce ideas off them for drama! How have I only thought of that now?

Today went well. I forgot one or two things with a lesson on patterns, but again, it’s an experience I will learn from. When I make these mistakes, and I normally recognise it myself when I do, it’s always a little kick in the teeth but I do feel wiser from these. The teacher told me that I did well today and this week and I’m moving in the right direction so that is encouraging! 

I’ll leave ye there lads. I won’t lie, I’m going to return to a Criminal Minds binge. Unconfirmed reports of apple crumble and raspberry ice cream in the vicinity but as I said, unconfirmed reports. 

 

G’luck, g’luck, g’luck!