So yesterday, the 14th of October, marked my first experience with a whole class as a trainee teacher.
As English specialists, my group had organised, with the help of our lecturer, a series of activities relating to the book ‘The Tunnel’ by Anthony Browne. [I feel that if I have to read this book one more time I will scream. There is only so much one can take!] I was in a group with three other girls, and ours was an activity called ‘Role on the wall’, where the outline of a boy or girl is traced onto a large piece of paper, and then impressions of the characters are written in and around the silhouette.
I was part of the group of 11 trainee teachers who walked the 20ish minutes up to the primary school and walked the children back down to the uni, and I really enjoyed it. It is nice to be around children and their strange conversations! The pair I was walking with were very slow compared to the rest of their class, so most of my time was spent hurrying them up, and moving them on past the rubbish bins. I live in a very hilly area ( I was not aware of this when I volunteered to walk them to the university!) so I was very out of breath (how embarrassing!). I was also elected to carry my pair’s water bottles (and on the way back, a coat).
In the classroom/seminar room, we sat all the children down in a circle of chairs (they are so small their feet didn’t reach the floor!) I didn’t say, but this is a class of 29 year 2s plus their class teacher and TA so most of the trainee teachers (TTs) had to stand at the back (exhausting business let me tell you, especially after the walk that I had done!)
The first group of TTs had to read ‘The Tunnel’ to the class ( I may or may not have zoned out, not my favourite children’s book I must say) and one of the girls has an excellent reading voice, I think she could give us some tips, I would be very interested in how she deals with the voices etc. The only problem, well not problem, that’s a bit of a strong word, is that they tended to only ask the children at the front questions, missing out the ones at the back.
My group was second, and I was so aware of the speed of my voice, it made me really nervous and uncomfortable. While practising this last week, our lecturer picked me up on how fast I spoke and now I’m trying to make the effort to slooow down. Easier said (ha ha) than done to be quite honest! But the children all understood and did a really good job with our task, we had lots of answers to choose from! I’m also very aware that I have never been in charge of a class on my own. At least not in an educational setting; when I was a dance assistant I took charge of groups of children and at least twice the whole class, to teach dances. But I have never been given that amount of responsibility/power during school experience, and I am not sure that I am comfortable doing that yet. Obviously I will learn this, but it is a daunting thought!
I really enjoyed going round (in all the activities) helping out the groups of children, the only problem was that there were so many of us and not enough of them, for us to work properly. I felt that I was intruding on the other TTs time with the students, but I never had a set group to work with so I floated around, and I even did some acting out, and some pretend phone conversations as well!
I think that the day was a success; I saw with my own eyes that there are many different ways to get children engaged in a text, and I’m excited to try them out based on a different book!
The day also reminded me of why I’m here 4 and a half hours by car (7 by coach) from home, 3 and a bit from my boyfriend and 4 from my best friend. It reminded me that I’m here because I want to become a primary school teacher, that I want to have a class to teach and help inspire.
It reminded me that in three years that could happen, and this is just the start of that journey.