The last two weeks I spent at an amazing Primary school for my placement. Before going into the school I was really nervous about whether or not I would enjoy the experience, if the staff would be welcoming and if I’d even be able to do well. Honestly speaking I have never had a previous primary school experience and realising that this could be the placement that shows me whether or not I would enjoy this profession was quite daunting. However, I can happily say that I absolutely loved my experience and this is something I wish to pursue.
My partner and I were paired together to assist P2 where we witnessed a lot of different tasks. Being still in the infant stage a lot of Numeracy and Mathematics was based through songs such as Counting to 100, Counting Robot or 3D shapes I know. These songs not only got all the children involved but allowed the teacher to ask related mathematical questions afterwards. The children then chose which activity to be a part of, for example, playing numeracy games on a chrome book, completing maths question jigsaws, making sums on a white board or with play dough. Since the pupils were still young a “fun factor” was very important in the activities to keep the children engaged.
The subject of Literacy was much more varied as each week the pupils had a list of new words to learn. These words would not only be put into their homework jotters but also sound out loud as a class regularly in preparation for their weekly spelling test on Friday. Activities such as rainbow writing (writing the words three times in three different colours), diamond poems, singing songs, writing words on white boards and using play dough were regularly used. I believe the teacher truly made an enjoyable atmosphere for the pupils while ensuring the learning content was covered and revised.
As I mainly assisted in a P2 class the subject of French was orally done through YouTube songs and recitation of, for example, the months, days of the week and numbers up to 10. Being able to participate and sing a long to encourage all the pupils to participate was something I enjoyed and regularly did.
The class I was primarily in was very well behaved and were lovely to be with. The class consisted of a child with mild autism, a pupil from a different country who was behind in the language and a child with learning difficulties all of whom sometimes did not participate in all tasks as the other pupils. I found that during, for example the spelling test one pupil would instead read a book and the other two would complete a different word sheet. And if the class was using calculators to complete calculation from the white board the pupils would complete another work book with different sums. The children were also regularly taken out of class with different teachers to help their additional needs. Being a part of this environment where I witnessed support for every pupil was very encouraging and something I enjoyed being a part of.
Although I was mainly in P2 I did a assist a P7 trip where they had planned and organised a debate against one another about the importance of bringing in personal devices (I.e. mobile phones, ipads). The trip and watching the pupils present each of their cases was enjoyable to watch but made me realise how different my communication and interaction with P7 is in comparison to P2. When talking to P7 you have to speak to them like adults and give them respect as such, whereas with p2 they are still very much young children where they sometimes still need help to zip up their jackets. I found it interesting how different years require you to change how you act and talk while still maintaining a professional attitude. I won’t lie, I found it hard at first to adjust speaking differently to older children and felt like I had lost my equilibrium. But through time I definitely found my way and realised I could do both well. Although I do personally feel I prefer the infant environment more, it was a good experience none the less.
Finally the staff at the school and in particular the teacher we assisted for the two weeks truly helped make this an enjoyable experience. You hear about students experiencing a bad placement due to unkind staff and that initially made me quite worried before starting. However, the fact that they were all kind and friendly enough to chat to my and my partner and share their own experiences and tell us what the job really entails made us not only very welcomes and comfortable but gave us an idea of how a teachers life really is.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my primary experience and it truly did make me analyse and reflect on my own communication skills and participation, for example in situations when helping individual pupils spell words or singing along with songs or even just having a conversation with staff. I was also very pleased to be surrounded by such kind and supportive staff who made this primary school experience even better and gave me an insight of what it would be like as a teacher.