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! 🙂

Counting down

Another week done and one week closer to probationary year! A fellow student teacher told me this week that there was just over 5 weeks left of lectures and the rest of the time on the course is either holidays or placement. That sounds good to me!

I’d like to thank the Degree Source website for listing me as one of the top 10 influential student bloggers. It was a pleasant surprise and once again, I feel honoured that people read this and think it is worth reading. That was certainly a highlight of the week.

http://www.degreesource.com/top-10-influential-student-bloggers/

This week flew by pretty quickly. 

Monday’s focus was the next assessment. Another 5,000 words. This time it’s a topic of your choosing (well kind of, you choose a topic and then you have to get the university’s permission to research it) so my approved topic is collaborative learning and it’s effect on engagement with numeracy in the early stages. If any kind soul happens to have related literature or feel as though they can send me a few nuggets of wisdom/info on such a topic, or one closely related, please feel free to email me at spellingitoutblog@gmail.com.

Tuesday we had our second of two language workshops. Those two workshops were probably the best organised and most engaging we’ve had thus far. While the tutor was focusing on French in the classroom with the early stages – they passed on truly practical skills, materials and suggestions. We used an application called Sock Puppets to create funny videos of sock puppets with cartoon voices speaking in French. Everyone left with a smile on their face and everyone also recognised that what we had learned over the last hour or so was not only a fantastic way to teach French but also, you could utilise this in your classroom in any subject area.

Wednesday seemed to fly particularly quickly. We had a lecture at 9am in which we sang nursery rhymes and then had a two hour workshop on the usefulness of those nursery rhymes for building literacy skills. It was interesting to see how the nursery rhymes you sang along to as a child can be looked at through the lens of a teacher and see the benefits for building literacy skills.

On Thursday, we were brought up to a building far away from the rest of the buildings and then left there to engage with materials on computers with no sound. There was an instruction to bring headphones but we didn’t see the instructions until we got there! Thursday I also found out who my placement tutor is for next placement so that was a relief to find that out. I was one of very few who didn’t know. The tutor is very highly regarded by the students for being polite, approachable and helpful so I am looking forward to meeting them and getting an idea of what they are looking for from us on placement.

I knew in advance that there was no lectures on Friday so I offered to do a few hours for my employer. I thoroughly enjoyed working Friday. It was a nice change of pace before the weekend and meant I did not have a million emails to look at when I went in to work Saturday! Grand job.

Today I am supposed to be Skype-calling my good friend who returned home to India a few weeks ago. He swears in an Irish accent but that has nothing to do with me! 

I mentioned being listed as one of the most influential bloggers was a highlight this week. Another highlight was the #edchatie debate last Monday night. I’ve mentioned it before but Twitter is an incredible tool for student teachers and qualified teachers (or anyone with an interest in education). The #edchatie debate was on the use of the Irish language in schools. I ended up writing/typing/speaking Irish for the first time in six or seven years and while my grammar was slack, it was remarkable how much of the vocabulary comes back to you. I miss speaking Irish. I really miss it. I didn’t think I’d ever say that as a gasúr doing the Junior Cert but here we are!

 

Good luck lads. G’luck, g’luck, g’luck!

Essay Week/Football Manager Week

First of all, I’d just like to express my gratitude to @NL_84 and @merrybeau1 for your support for the EduBlog awards 2013. I’ve been nominated in the best new blogs. I’m thrilled to be nominated because it means people are reading the blog. As I said from the start, one of the ideas behind it was I wanted to give people considering a HDip, PGCE, PGDE or undergrad in teaching, an insight to what the course was like and what the job will be like. Thank you both; and thank you to anyone who has voted for me. 

This week has been ALL about the essay. 5000 words. My most recent word count, about an hour ago has me at 4499. It must still be there because the pen fell off the couch an hour ago and I haven’t picked it up. There were lectures this week, and workshops, but understandably, nobody was too fussed about those when the essay has to be in by Monday. I still have to type mine. I’m perhaps old fashioned in the sense that I have to use a pen and paper for an essay. Typing off the top of my head is a no-go. 

The essay is about inclusion and a learning theory that you worked with during your placement. I’ve gone for Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. I was inspired to work with this one from two TED talks. Sir Ken Robinson’s Do School’s Kill Creativity? (which you can see here, if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend that you do – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY ) and Sugata Mitra’s Build A School In The Cloud ( you’ll find it here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3jYVe1RGaU ). Without boring you to tears with all the details – my argument is that schools are not inclusive because we place a higher value on maths and literacy skills as opposed to ICT (which may soon surpass everything else in importance) and Religious Studies and every other curricular area . I’m arguing that if we want to inspire a more inclusive society, then we need to remove the old fashioned hierarchy of subjects. In the case of Religious Studies, knowledge of other world cultures and religions are vital to eradicating society of intolerance and ignorance. As it stands, Religious Studies takes place no more than once a week, if even that, in your average classroom. There’s nowhere to fit it in when you have so much ground to cover in literacy and maths. Sir Ken Robinson says in his TED talk that there is no country in the world that places the same value on the expressive arts as they do for maths or literacy. Why? I won’t go in to it any further than that but this is one small part of my argument for the idea that there’s a long way to go before we get the all-inclusive classroom. 

I did two very silly things this week. I downloaded Football Manager 2014 for my tablet. Mistake. I started with Boston Utd in the Skrill Premier Division and got them promoted handily enough. Now the club’s hierarchy think I can do two promotions in a row. It’s very difficult with a shoe-string budget but I was stunned when David Bentley signed for the club on a free transfer. The second mistake I made was downloading Word Soup. It’s like a moving wordsearch game. Here’s a screenshot of it – Image

It’s very addictive and I can confirm, neither have helped me with my essay in any way.

On Monday, after six years of listening to his music, I finally got to see Foy Vance live. He was absolutely fantastic and if his ticket was five times the price, I’d still go, every time. 

I’d better get back to what’s important this week, Football Manager the essay. Thanks for reading!

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go.