From Monday 30th September through to Friday 10th November I, and the rest of the first year class, went onto our very first student teacher placement. I had no reservations prior to placement other than being to forward with staff. This is just my personality though and the best way to thrive was to be myself. I had heard raving reviews about my assigned school from other teachers and lecturers, so this alone put me in high spirits with high expectations.
Day 1, the biggest thing to remember was to make a lasting first impression over the 8 hour period of the school day. To be perfectly honest I knew that i would be perfectly fine as I had prepared myself to the highest degree the night before ( I had stayed up to an acceptable time and printed off piece of paper after piece of paper until I had my file ready). I walked through the door at the agreed time of 8.30am and I was feeling professional and ready to begin.
My placement mentor was phenomenal, amazing at her job and also very encouraging with myself – in particular when asking questions. So this made me feel very welcomed into the environment of my school. Focusing on what I have learned throughout the two week placement I can hands down say that I retained an exponential amount of knowledge from staff and pupils alike.
I was placed in a multi-composite school setting where there were only two classrooms. Class 1 contained primaries 1 through 4, and class 2 contained primaries 5 through 7. In total the school role is 22 which means that the children get a very attentive and privatised education. In addition to the small pupil role their is also an extremely small staff role, which consists of; head teacher, principle teacher (depute head), classroom assistant, two class teachers, clerical assistant and a janitor (who also is the cleaner and lunch lady).
Whilst on the topic of staffing, the dinner lady for the school actually doesn’t do any of the cooking. All of the school lunches desired by the children and staff are transported into the canteen via courier as there are not enough pupils for there to be a fully functioning kitchen capable of making its own meals. In addition to this fact, staff and pupils sit together in the detached canteen building where they discuss the weekend and act like normal people not students and teachers. This is extremely different to any school I have ever experienced, and this adds to the family environment and atmosphere the school thrives to encourage.
We did go on two trips with the children whilst at the school, personally I had an amazing time getting to know the children in a different light, yet we still managed to conduct some education on these trips. We went to build a bear at silverburn and then to the cook school of Scotland, this was an epic adventure for some of the children who come from small rural villages and had never been to Glasgow before.
The class structure in the school is just like any other, the teacher organises work based on ability which typically results in children being grouped by class. Although like any school some children are more advanced than others. This means that the children are required to work with the higher age group which for some can be an extremely daunting task, however on the other side of the spectrum there are children who have to work with the lower age group.
The behaviour in the school was impeccable and the children all got on great, which all relates back to the family environment the school attains. However, there were a few mishaps with the behaviour where children with specific support needs had shown themselves up but had not harmed anyone in any way. The school dealt with the specific children in specialised ways which have been developed over the length of time that the children had attended the school. By doing so most situations were diffused very easily. One child in particular is permitted to leave the school if things reach extreme meltdown for him – this didn’t happen often, only once or twice over the fortnight – but he had also had a day when nobody could console him and he was upset so myself and my student teacher colleague were not allowed to let the children leave the lunch hall. He was not violent or intending to harm anyone but he was emotional and the other children may have been afraid if they had seen him. Overall we learned a great deal from that sudden hands on moment where we had to take charge of all the pupils in the school.
Unlike most of my fellow students I was asked to make a statement to the police considering another event at the school. This statement was taken on the last day of placement and was an eye-opening experience because I was permitted to see that education doesn’t just concern the teaching of pupils but their overall welfare inside and outside of school. I will say upon reflection I was extremely upset by the situation but I am glad I had the chance to learn from it.
In conclusion, I adored my placement and learned a tonne of information. I would rush back in a heartbeat even knowing that its not all sunshine in rainbows, but when you start to see children achieve that is when you know you’ve done a great job. I cannot wait until my next placement and even more so to be out there as a fully qualified teacher.