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.
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  • 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! 🙂

First Week of Early Stages

What a week. Sitting at the computer with a million things to potentially write about but I’ve narrowed it down to a reasonable amount I think. First thing to say – placement is tough but I’d take that over sitting anonymously in a lecture hall; every time. 

Monday was my first day on placement in my new school. I had been out to visit the school the week previously so I knew where I was going but admittedly I was exhausted on the bus out there. The bus journey to Birmingham on the Friday and the return journey were far from ideal preparation for placement. I met one of the class teachers who teaches the class on a Monday. They were very welcoming and gave me loads of little tips to use with early stages and has checked up on my progress during the week which is nice. 

One of the first things I realised is that practically everything is an opportunity to learn for these little kids. They register themselves and then proceed count everyone to see if everyone is in. That doesn’t happen until about 15 minutes after the bell because it takes them that long to get off their jackets and settle in the classroom. It may be the case that that should have been obvious to me but I can assure you I have been on a very steep learning curve this week.

Tuesday was the first day I got to observe the class teacher that will eventually write a report on my progress. Another teacher who is very encouraging and approachable – in that sense – I am very pleased. One of the key things I learned was the incalculable value of laminating sheets. One of the writing exercises involved practising words by looking at words sealed under laminate and then writing over them, wiping out the ink and trying again. I watched each lesson with keen interest and I have a million and one bullet points written in a folder here beside me. The class teacher also had many activities prepared for number bonds. I was to teach the same topic the following day so it’s safe to say there was smoke coming from my pen with all the notes I was taking. After school, I went to a quiet computer room in the university and prepared my lesson and had all my resources ready for Wednesday by the time I landed back in the door. I spent the remainder of the evening writing up observation notes, doing a little bit of research on learning theories (which I am paying close attention to with regards learning theories for the early stages) and I continued with my James Rollins book. Something strange happened that night however – I slept. Sounds silly but I generally don’t sleep well at all. I tend to sleep for an hour or two (max) and then I’m awake for another half hour/hour. I had tried several different techniques to sleep but with the nature of the student lifestyle and the teaching profession (and generally working late nights prior to this university course) I’d tend to up until late on a computer. Tuesday however, I didn’t look at a computer after about 6pm. I woke up on the Wednesday at 6.30am, hopped out of the bed and I don’t think I’ve ever been that bright eyed or bushy tailed! I’m a delight every morning but Wednesday, if you can believe it, I was even more of a delight. That energy was to last throughout the whole day…but…

My lesson on Wednesday was terrible. When typing this, my first instinct was to say that the lesson was a word that begins with ‘s’ and ends in ‘hite’, and that would also be an accurate way to describe how I felt it went. The activities were fine but I kept the children too long on the carpet and I totally forgot to show them how the games worked on the interactive whiteboard (which I had prepared). I started bringing the kids around to each desk to show them the activities and it struck me – my inner monologue went something like this – ‘I’m a gobsh1te’. That was the long and short of it! You have to take those things on the chin though, don’t you? I said to myself and the class teacher afterwards that I wasn’t happy with how that lesson went but I was okay with that in the sense that there was plenty to build on. 

Thursday (yesterday) I took a literacy lesson in which we were practising finishing words by spelling them phonetically, Phonics is a very new thing to me so I’m starting to get to grips with it after a week. Yesterday the lesson went grand, it didn’t set the world alight – solid but unspectacular – for any football fans – I’d say it was a Claude Makelele type performance! Taking the reading groups helped me gauge the literacy levels of the students before I start my continuous and helps inform my planning for next week (which I have started already). 

Friday/Today was a day I was looking forward to – not because it was the weekend, oh no. Today I introduced this guy (pictured below) to the class.

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His name is Benny and he loves good behaviour! Benny told the kids Goldilocks and the Three Bears and quizzed them on it to make sure they had been paying attention. It was nice for me to take a back seat on that lesson 😛 The lesson went quite well but I got a bit of a shock when the class finished the activities very quickly. I thought I had planned enough activities, at the right level of challenge to keep the kids busy but they flew through the activities. Luckily, the class teacher had left trays out with other activities (unrelated to the lesson) for me to use in such an emergency so that was a crisis averted AND a valuable lesson for me. Plan plenty for them to do, and then double it! Hopefully that should ensure you don’t run out of things to do! 

I’ve a bit of planning to do this evening now for this week, especially with another rather busy weekend coming up! 

I think I’ll let ye go here. Hope everyone is keeping well and enjoy your weekend!

Bye. Bye, bye bye bye bye. Bye. Bye, bye bye bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. 

Late post

This post is coming far later than normal but I have had a very busy day! 

Our university’s Gaelic Football team had a game today (which we won) and there was a soccer tournament between competitor companies so I represented my employers in that tournament today aswell. I was exhausted by the end. Thankfully we got food afterwards so that was much needed and went down well. I’m just after seeing in the last few minutes that I passed the resubmission of that essay I had failed previously so I’m relieved about that! Back to lectures tomorrow but no complaints on how I spent the weekend!

The last week was aimed at getting us prepared for our next placement (which starts tomorrow week) and our next assessment. On Monday we had lectures and workshops aimed at preparing our essays. The group I will be working with shared email addresses and we are each researching individually and then pooling everything together which will be very helpful. We had assistance from a tutor who was fantastic help. He really seemed to enjoy our conversations about our topics and helped us fine tune our questions so that it was focused and ready to start. Everyone left that particular workshop praising this tutor very highly. 

There was no lectures on Tuesday and while I got some research done, I spent a large portion of the time reading another James Rollins book – The Blood Gospel. Honestly, Rollins doesn’t know how to write a boring book. As I said, I was doing research but it was rather annoying when after I ventured in to the library and took out some relevant literature, I wasn’t five minutes back at the flat when I got a recall notice from the Library for the books. Others had requested them so I couldn’t hold on to them for half enough time for this essay. 

On Wednesday we had a lecture about storytelling and the usefulness for building literary skills in children. It was an interesting lecture and I can certainly see how it would be useful with early stages. I will be looking to incorporate that in to my lesson planning for the next few week. 

Thursday we had PE and dance and drama and those classes are always good for a laugh. We learn and try useful activities for each of those subjects and it’s especially useful when it will be so fresh in our minds for the impending return to placement.

Friday in ICT we were playing with Beebots but the workshop was meant to be two hours long when a half an hour would have sufficed. The Science workshop was about friction so it was a throwback to my childhood when we were making ramps for Matchbox cars to zip down. It came at a perfect time because the night before I was talking with a friend about watching the Power Rangers as a kid and how my poor mother had to get up at 7am to record them on the video recorder so we could watch them at 8am with breakfast before school. (Thanks Mammy!) Playing with those Matchbox cars solidified my desire to get my hands on a Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Megazord again. I had one as a kid and I lost it. I don’t think I ever got over that loss. 

Again, I feel as though I don’t have a whole lot to say this week. I can’t put in to words how excited I am for placement to start. That has to be a good sign, right? I was initially quite worried about working with early stages. I feared it wouldn’t suit me. While that might prove to be true, I’m no longer worried about that. I’m looking forward to teaching again. If my love of the Power Rangers is anything to go by, I should be well able to relate to the younger kids. 

Tomorrow night is the #edchatie debate so hopefully I remember to keep an eye out for it on Twitter this week. I forgot about it last week and I was quite annoyed with myself. 

Apologies about the briefness of this post. As I’ve said before, there is a vast difference between lectures and placement in terms of how much I can/want to write about. When I’m back on placement, I will have lots to say. 

Hope you all enjoyed the weekend and enjoy the week ahead.

 

Bye bye, bye. Bye. Bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye!