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! 🙂

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Busy Weekend

This week’s post is a bit earlier. Thanks to Niall for reminding me that I wouldn’t get a chance to write a blog post during the weekend.

Today, the university Gaelic Football team sets off for the British University Championships which will take place in Manchester and Birmingham. We’re setting off fairly soon so I have the iPod library updated, movies and another James Rollins book put on the tablet. Hopefully that will be enough to keep me entertained! 

This week in university, all the talk has been either related to this weekend’s championships or to the fact that we are starting placement on Monday! 

Monday’s lecture was notable for it’s bluntness. The lecturer spoke about the potential shark infested water that is otherwise known as a staff room and that if we still had doubts about teaching that now was a good time to call it quits. We then had a workshop to finalise our essay topic for the next assessment. I believe my topic is good to go so I will hopefully be getting the research and reading done over the next few weeks! 

On Tuesday, there was no lectures so I took the opportunity to call back to the last school I was in placement for. I had to collect a Shrek DVD I had left there from previously but I also called in to the classroom in which I had been based. It was nice to see that when I knocked on the door and the pupils looked up, they all sprinted across the room and jumped over tables to come over to say hello. It was reassuring to know that I left a positive mark on the class. With regards a positive mark, do you remember me mentioning previously that I showed the head teacher that photo with the times tables stickers on the stairs? It was done. Here is the proof – 

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On Wednesday I met my tutor for placement. They were most encouraging and told us what areas they will focus on especially, so that was appreciated. With Wednesday afternoon free, I decided to visit the school I am starting in on Monday. Thankfully it’s only about 15 minutes away on the bus so I can’t complain about distance to travel. The teachers I met were all very welcoming and again, I am looking forward to working with them. 

Yesterday (Thursday), we had two workshops with music being particularly funny and using songs is something I will try over the next few weeks, even if I sound like a seagull when I sing. I got a puppet to be my assistant for the next few weeks so I will just tell the kids that it’s the puppet who is a terrible singer and I will use the old excuses of “I’ve a tickle in my throat. The acoustics aren’t right, blah blah blah”.

I’ll have to leave ye there. There is a need to take the aul Shake N Vac to my sports bag and hoover it out. 

Mind yourselves.

G’luck, g’luck, g’luck. 

…And A Poet

Strange title for this week’s post but today was a strange day. So many kids seemed in bad form for a Friday but one of them came up with an absolute gem. We were preparing fact sheets on interesting Scottish people for our topic work and one student chose Robert Burns (of Auld Lang Syne fame). Here is what was submitted to me –
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I couldn’t contain my laughter I must admit. The student and I both agreed the photo was certainly on the lesser side of suitable for our class display but they could see that they were not in trouble. I thought it was creative so I didn’t think it would be right for that child to feel as if they had done something wrong.

I am delighted to be back in school. I have missed it. It’s a million miles an hour in comparison to the lectures but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monday was a nice introduction to my second block of placement. I was asked to look after one group for maths – we were looking at area. I enjoyed working with them and for both Monday and Tuesday we got to grips with area using graph paper – we linked multiplication to the counting squares method AND we calculated the area of our names by drawing them on graph paper using block capitals. They all really enjoyed it with one pupil who never engages with anything ending up helping everyone else!

On Wednesday I took maths and English for the whole class. We continued on with area in maths but as a whole class, we were calculating the size of Tetris shapes. I was happy with the learning but disappointed with the behaviour of a minority so I made sure to express my disappointment before allowing them to leave for lunch and sure enough, everyone who hadn’t behaved returned after lunch with an apology for me. In English, we were looking at grammar and punctuation. I wrote sentences and a story with atrocious grammar and punctuation. They enjoyed correcting me on all my mistakes so I turned it round and said that if they were this good at correcting my mistakes, they should take care in not making the same ones I had made.

Yesterday we spent the majority of the day in a science museum. The class has undertaken a science challenge in which they have to carry out science experiments and then show these experiments to younger children and essentially pass on their knowledge. While the trip was enjoyable, I saw the amount of organisation involved in a small excursion so it made me grateful for the trips to Dublin, Bundoran, the Aillwee caves or the cliffs of Moher. That must have been a nightmare for those teachers! I spent last night watching Youtube videos of science experiments to try and carry out with the class.

Today then was a strange day as I said. I spent the first part of the morning correcting homework and then I did the ICT lesson with the class. Myself and the class teacher then discussed next week at a bit of length. We had previously agreed that I would start my continuous teaching a week before I was due to because it suits everyone for me to do this. I have prepared plenty worksheets and exercises for us to do next week but I will have to spend some of this weekend making lesson plans. The aim is that I get everything ready in advance so the only work I will have to do each evening is alterations to the plans I already have, as opposed to starting afresh each night. That’s the plan but let’s see how that one pans out.

Anywho, I might just make a burst on a few plans now before retiring to bed kinda early tonight. I’m so boring I know, but up at 7am tomorrow for work so an early night tonight will give me a better chance of a late night of planning tomorrow! I’m also in the early stages of developing an app for schools (for smartphones/tablets). My initial attempts at building the app hit a stumbling block but a contact I have made through the school I am in on my placement has agreed to help me. Luckily, he has a background in that field so hopefully things will take shape over the course of the next few weeks and months!

Anyone looking for a nice break from their work – you could do worse than having a look at Brooklyn Nine Nine. It’s a very funny TV series about New York detectives who have an unorthodox approach to their work. I’m currently reading Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale but I probably should be reading some of the course recommended reading. Ah well!

I’ll be off so now. Right. Bye bye, bye. Bye. Bye bye, bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye.

Work In Progress

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Another week done, chalk it down. Big weekend coming up – championship final weekend. That’s the main focus for this weekend (and to be honest, for the last week aswell).

This week was a busy one in university though – lectures and workshops.

Monday we had two lectures and two workshops. The first lecture ended up with us practicing how to say hello to a classroom and how to breathe – riveting stuff. The two workshops were very helpful. I’ve always found the Monday workshops to be excellent to bounce ideas around and discuss and debate opinions and potential lesson plans with the other student teachers. One of the ideas I suggested was for the children to record their own learning through video logs or keeping blogs that would be accessible only to the teachers, parents and the child. The theme for Monday was inclusion. We discussed the difficulties we will face as teachers in ensuring an inclusive environment for the children when society by nature is exclusive – the haves and have nots.  

Tuesday and Wednesday passed by in a blur but one thing we practiced which I found very useful was something the tutor referred to as jigsaw lessons. We were separated in to groups and each group was assigned a certain part of research for a topic. After 5 minutes or so, we were scattered in to other groups (number 1’s from first groups all together, number 2’s etc) and from there we each shared our findings on each area of research to give a detailed overview of the given topic. I thought it to be an excellent method and one that could be used to create an environment in which the children are happy to discuss ideas and theories about whatever topic is being covered among themselves. This, one hopes will lead to them coming up with their own ideas and not being spoon-fed information from a teacher all the time. 

Thursday was RME and Maths. We had a lecture and workshop on each. I mentioned it last week but I’m really not convinced about the usefulness of the lectures.

Today was cool. Today we looked at ICT and Science (both workshops) which we haven’t done in a month. In ICT we were asked to design games for kids that related to some part of the curriculum. The group I was part of tried creating one related to healthy eating and it’s a work in progress. We’ll be coming back to it over the next few weeks so it will, no doubt, be an internationally acclaimed blockbuster just in time for Christmas and maybe The Late Late Toy Show. For those of you who are not familiar with The Late Late Toy Show – I urge you to check in to it. It’s one of these things that Irish people will ramble on about, especially when living abroad – “Blah blah blah TEA BAGS…blah blah blah blah MIKADOS…blah blah THE LATE LATE TOY SHOW. 

In Science, we played CSI – we looked at a way for children to learn about science and it’s applications in the real world. We had to use forensic science (really basic forensic science) to find the culprit. Luckily, we caught him within the hour. Horatio Cane, eat your heart out.

One thing that’s been bothering me since the start of the course, is the readings. I asked a few people in my groups about them and they agree with my judgement of them. I find the academic gobbledygook that all the readings are written in to be so frustrating because I always feel so stupid reading them. Apparently I’m not alone on this though. I must admit, as stupid as I feel when reading these texts that are supposed to help us – it does not make me doubt my potential ability as a teacher. 

And that was the week that was.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this. Hope it’s proving to be helpful/informative or at least entertaining! If you have any feedback or opinions, don’t be shy, I’d love to hear them!

Right so. G’luck, g’luck, g’luck. 

 

Standing – Part 2

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Week 2 of observations are done and what an interesting week it was!

Monday and Tuesday were spent in a secondary school. That was ‘insightful’ to say the least. I noticed something in the secondary setting that I hadn’t seen in the primary. In the primary school I have been observing in, the children who aren’t necessarily interested in being there tend to stay quiet and just not try. In the secondary school however, the teens who have no interest in being there aren’t simply disinterested but disruptive aswell. I was stunned to see these teens put a huge effort in to ensure nobody in the classroom could learn anything. Perhaps I’m naive but I couldn’t believe the extent of this disruptive behaviour. I hope this does not come across as patronising but I genuinely hope those that want to learn get the opportunity to do so or at least are not put off by those that try to stop them. 

Wednesday – back to the primary school. It was quite an experience to see the children excited to see me back. They all had a big hello and asked me where had I been. It wasn’t long before I was asked for the answer to last week’s riddle (What word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it? Short) and for some new riddles too. I asked them “What’s as big as an elephant but doesn’t weigh anything?”. I got some pretty amazing(ly wrong) answers and again, told them they’d only find out the answer if they did their work and behaved. 

Wednesday was also the day that I introduced the puppet (whose picture I believe should appear above if I’ve uploaded it correctly) to the nursery groups. Towards the end of each nursery group’s day, I landed down to perform a puppet show for them. The nursery staff were very appreciative when I offered the week before and told me there was no need but I reassured them that even if I didn’t have an audience, I’m still such a child that I’d probably still play with it around the house (To be honest, I’ve even replied to a wedding invitation using the puppet by making a ten second clip and emailing it to the bride and groom-to-be).

The first group liked the puppet show but were stunned at the puppet’s appearance more than anything else. The second group LOVED it. It was such a nice experience. The puppet was called Mr McDonald, and he was old. And he had a farm. Naturally, we moved on to the nursery rhyme and the puppet asked them what they knew about farm animals and what type of things happen in farms. I had known from the week before that the nursery staff were planning on covering farm animals for this week so I thought an Old McDonald puppet would complement their work nicely. 

Thursday – Back to reality – no puppet shows today! Thursday I spent my final observation day with the group I will be teaching in November. I was plagued with questions all day long – “Are you moving back to Ireland?, Are you coming back to us?, “Can you stay and teach us?, “Why do you have to leave?”, “Can you give us one more riddle before you go?”. The riddle I gave them was a visual one. I lined nine pencils up on a table and told them they weren’t allowed break any but they had to make ten. The whole class looked puzzled until a girl who had never appeared to be bothered with the previous riddles walked up and rearranged the pencils in to the word ‘TEN’. She looked at me nonchalantly and said “Mister, that was easy” and walked away. When I asked her had she seen it before she said “Nope, but you said you had to make ten; not ten pencils”.  

No school today. I’ve caught up on some sleep, on some reading (James Rollins – The Devil Colony), some Breaking Bad and I’m typing this! This afternoon I’m dedicating to getting my house in order for next week – the return to the lecture theatres. 

This Sunday sees my beloved County Mayo take on Dublin in the All-Ireland Football Final. Here is a Youtube link to the highlights to last year’s meeting between the two sides http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9AOY7-JVyA. It’s a long clip but if you haven’t seen Gaelic Football before, you’ll witness what I see to be the second best sport in the world (behind hurling). 

And that’s my summary of the week that’s been. I’d better make a start on putting my notes together and getting some work done ahead of next week.

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go….

P.