And so the first week draws to a close. I’ve dealt with some kids with ADHD, dyslexia and other learning difficulties. I’ve also dealt with their support staff who are awsome. As are the kids, frankly.
I’ve been handed a pile of paperwork for use when I’m actually teaching. This ranges from toilet passes, to attendance registers to official Punishment Exercise slips.
I’ve been shown how to take register.
I’ve been invited into other classes, and to join in some of the lunchtime clubs (one of which I will definitely be signing up for next week).
I’ve been to one of the feeder primary schools (more later) which has opened my eyes further.
I’m still not put off. If anything, I’ve been even more impressed than I have been over the last few days. I wish I could name the school simply as I’m overwhelmed with the attitude of the staff and the results they’re achieved over the last few years. If I had kids I’d be trying to ensure my house was within the catchment area.
Enough hyperbole. What have I actually been doing? Well, mainly gathering notes and sheets of information. I also now have a small pile of past papers with which to test myself to ensure I know what I’m supposed to be teaching. This is Very Important. The handful of meetings I’ve attended have been of that rare breed: useful. So much information has been thrown my way it’s hard to take it all in, but it’s all good stuff.
Pipping the experiences of the week, though, was this afternoon’s visit to one of the handful of primary schools that feed into the secondary I’m at. We were warmly welcomed by the head teacher who’d arranged for each of us to be ushered around by a P7 child. My guide was Ross, and believe me if there were more kids like him then the world would be a significantly better place. A little shy, but quick to talk once you hit on a subject he was interested in and very polite. He really took it as quite an honour to be showing one of the guests around. If I happen to see him around town with his parents I will be more than happy to say “hello” and tell them how good their son is.
Ross dropped me off at the Language Centre, a department reserved for struggling kids and used by several nearby schools – not just for pupils of the host school. Any children who are having communication problems are directed here and given special tuition to bring them up to a level where they can fit into their peer groups.
The three children in this class were just lovely, as was their teacher. We did a couple of simple exercises, the first of which involved sitting in a circle and each telling “news” stories – things that had happened to us in the last week. The others then got the chance to ask questions or make statements relating to the subject matter. The idea of this is to encourage them to focus and hold their attention and also to learn to take turns. In a small group such as this, keeping control is relatively easy but still the children were a credit to themselves. Sitting with them was like kicking back with friends. Very comfortable indeed.
While we were doing some word exercises on the blackboard, Ross appeared to take me to a Primary 2 class which was sat on the floor learning about parts of the eye when I arrived. I sat at the back and kept pointing towards the teacher whenever little stares focused on me.
After five minutes, someone came to the door and the teacher was called away. “Would you mind taking over for a couple of minutes?” she asked. I was handed a sheet with some Braille type on it and left to fend for myself.
OK, so I didn’t keep the best of control but the children didn’t know me. Familiarity, in the Primary environment, seems to breed respect. Within reason, of course. The kids certainly didn’t try anything on, it was more that they wanted to ask so many questions and tell me all their little things. The important thing is that they were all still alive when “Miss” came back in and set them on to a more practical task.
I helped a few of them with this and then their little arty project before they were all sat down to have a quick chat before the end of the day. The teacher asked them what they were doing over the weekend. One of the boys piped up “having a baby!”
It turns out his mother was due with his first sibling and had been taken to hospital that morning. By the time he got home, chances are he’d be a brother. How cool is that?
Just before 3:00, my guide appeared to ensure I made it to the front door in time for the bell. I thanked him and shook his hand and received a beaming smile in return. All of the PGDE students gathered in the hallway before setting off home and every single one of us had a silly grin on our faces.
Again, we had all been impressed with the organisation by the staff and the welcome we’d had from the children. It was only a quick visit but the impression I got of this school was overwhelmingly positive. The catchment covers a wide variety of social standings and next week we’ve got another visit to one in a more generally affluent area. It will be interesting to compare.
Considering the relative chaos of sorting out my Disclosure in a panic on Monday, this was a superb way to end the week. Very much from middly-low-ish to high. I am actually looking forward to school next week.
Never in my life did I think I would utter those words.