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So, It’s day four, and I cannot believe how quickly this has all gone! I have successfully remembered everyone’s names in year 2, my main group of children, and I know a handful of year one and Reception’s.

My day actually started with sorting out the class library; up till now they have just been in messy piles on a table, wobbling precariously, and falling on children as they attempted to grab a book. It was not far from seriously maiming somebody! We were asked to sort the books into piles of non fiction and fiction (harder said than done, as I find it incredibly difficult to remember what means what, so I stuck to ‘made up’ and ‘not made up’) We also tried to group poetry together, annuals and series of books also, just to make it easier to manage. I have never seen so many children’s books! To be fair, I haven’t really been looking, but it was good to see them, as I could write down titles which seemed interesting so I can maybe read them later. During the rest of the day, we moved bookshelves from the other side of the room, and set up the library properly, which was really exciting; I love to sort things out so this was really fun to do!( sad I know..) but also it means that we have actually made a difference to the way the classroom runs, and that we are useful! yay for usefulness!

While we were sorting books, a male teacher came in to take the class, and he seemed able to settle the class very very quickly, using a 5 4 3 2 1 method of making sure they were ready to listen, and were quiet (yet another way of getting the children’s attention. I was talking about this with another student and she mentioned that it is just very inconsistent, so no wonder the children are confused about what to do!) Handwriting was first, and the sentence was ‘Ben has a new bed’, and the teacher actually made sure that the lines on the board corresponded to the lines on the paper that the children are given, and this was really good, because it avoided most of the usual confusion as to where and how the letter is written on the page. I need to get myself some of this paper, to practise my writing myself! While year 2s were doing this, year one’s went to a pub (ha ha) and did singing practice with lots of instruments etc, and so the English focus of the day for year 2 was to write a persuasive poster about the proposed gig.

The teacher (different one this time! Actually, that is a good point. There are so many different adults all the time taking the children for class, I think that also may confuse them. The class teachers are forever changing, which might also have had an effect on behaviour as a whole, as they can get away with more things with certain teachers. Although it is nice for different adults to be in, i think this has caused confusion for the children who do not really know what – or who- to expect!) -again, sorry for such a long bracket!!- the teacher put up a poster onto the board and then asked the children to discuss what made it eye catching in partners. One boy came up to me and asked me to be his partner, so I did most of the asking of questions, to really get to the root of the issue, and when the teacher asked the class for their ideas, his was the first hand up, which was lovely to see. The comments and feedback from the class were actually written on the poster next to the particular point picked up on, which is a nice way of showcasing the children’s ideas. The class then went away and did draft, practice posters, which were then built on after play. During this time, a group of about 6 children were taken to the side, and joined a music producer who recorded the sounds they made on instruments and put them together to make a soundtrack, which we all heard after playtime (or toilet duty as it should be called). They were all so pleased with themselves; it sounded very very good, and one boy was so proud of himself that he actually nearly started crying! Awh bless him! I think it is really important for children to feel proud of their work and of themselves, I have been saying it a lot to them this week; ‘ah you should be proud of that drawing!’ or ‘are you proud of yourself for your excellent handwriting? I would be!’ It is just good to be able to be in a position to build up their self esteem, which is what a lot of children need at this age, to continue progressing with their good work.

Going back to the persuasive writing, and the posters, the teacher brought them back to ‘base camp’ (an area of the carpet designed especially for year 2s) while they discussed how to ‘upscale’ their sentences to make them really really persuasive. So ‘Go to the show’ became ‘GO TO THE SHOW!’ which in turn became ‘GO TO THE SHOW AND HAVE FUN!’ and then ‘Go to the show or revenge will come to you’ , and then ‘Don’t get bored, go to the (awesome) show’. Very persuasive if you ask me, especially one of them! During this (agh I need a wider vocabulary, I find myself repeating the same few words over and over) a child persuaded (ha) us to let him type up some maths on the teacher’s computer. This turned out to be 100-1=? 101-1=? and so on until 110, which then turned out to be homework for the entire class. This boy did not think enough homework was going out (which could actually be true, I don’t think I’ve seen any homework at all, I may have to ask about this!) After persuading (ha!) him that we couldn’t possibly print out copies for everyone, he eventually chose another child to be the recipient. Asked why this particular child, he replied that “he’s not very good at it and I want to make him better” The thought is what counts i guess!

Speaking of thoughts, I had a very surreal moment while going around checking people’s posters and their sentences; when I hear a conversation about I’m a celebrity get me out of here….. what is the deal with that? They are 6 and 7 year olds! Having never seen I’m a celeb, I can’t for sure say that it is inappropriate for this age group, but I am guessing so! It is crazy what children are exposed to, and I feel very old saying this, but it is true! It is not nice to see little ones dancing in very provocative ways, or talking about very adult things. As usual, the media is to blame, as is culture and I think that schools bear the brunt of this, as it is most often to teachers that the task of re educating children about what is acceptable, is left to. I can’t think of an example, but I am sure there are many that you probably can. Today I also had a bizarre one line from a child, completely out of context “miiis! My mummy doesn’t believe in Jesus”  Thanks for that information! Not 100% sure what I am going to do with that though! I thought that religious education was compulsory in all schools, but as of yet I have not seen a sign (teehee) of it, so maybe another thing to ask about!

For lunchtime, we helped to hoover and set up the classroom for the next activities, and I popped next door to see if any help was needed (just setting up tables with various things for example paper and scissors, pegs and most strangely, sticks and twigs….) and ended up in a conversation with the school governor, who is very nice. She was just saying to me that there is extreme pressure on this school to succeed, what with the tide turning against free schools again, and that because of such a drive, the PTA is absolutely huge. I think this is lovely, as in ‘normal’ schools, the pta generally consists of  a few dedicated parents who are very tight knit and this makes is difficult for others to join in . However here, the parents are more artistically minded (being a creative school) and they have great enthusiasm for the school and are therefore more likely to get involved in helping. The school are also a lot more free to invite parents in, and use their talents, for example painting, or, which is what happened recently, a Polish parent came in a took the whole class for a day about Poland and the Polish language, etc, which I think is a really lovely way of including parents as well as including different cultures into the classroom.

After this lovely conversation, the year 2s did science, with bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, and predicting what would happen. Yet another method for calming the class was used; singing ‘stop look and listen’ (I think I like singing as a method for getting children’s attention, as I personally quite like to sing…..) Another point I will make is that the teachers keep asking the children to be good listeners, however, I am not 100% that they have explained what being a good listener is. I think that if they had posters and reminders on the walls, which the children had made themselves, good listening would be much more present in the day to day classroom life. I would love to make this suggestion, as Johnny Depp did ask us to, but I am worried that I will seem slightly too forward. Oh I forgot to say but Mrs Governor suggested that I come back to visit the school for a day or two in the summer, to see the changes in the school, and to the children, which would be a really nice thing to do I think! She also suggested I come back next year, to see the new buildings, and the atmosphere then as well, which I am really looking forward to being able to do!

While science was ongoing, we were given a short introduction to reading assessments, which was really interesting. It will be really helpful for us to actually assess children, as if we photocopy the sheet and get it signed, we are ticking off something in our university files, but also for the experience of grading children’s reading. I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I shall say it again, I have done reading before, with year 3 and 4, and did some rough assessments on them, but  think this will be a lot more focused and I will be giving the children a proper SATs like grade, which is exciting and slightly nerve wracking at the same time!

I finished my day off at 6 today; I stayed for the afterschool club, and helped out in the Craft club, which i loved! The lady who runs it is lovely, and very crafts actually, I was talking to her about things that she has made, and she did clubs in her old schools where they made clothes, and patchwork things, and it sounds so cool! I actually think this gives her a bit of a disadvantage, as she is so used to older students, who are able to doing things quickly, correctly and efficiently. For example, the craft for today was making elephants (soooo cool, I so enjoyed myself!) however, the children took a long time, as they got stuck to the tissue paper, and put too much glue everywhere, and then didn’t finish and instead did drawing, which was very disheartening for her, sadly. I’m thinking of having a look at some crafty things which could be done at some point (when i have the time…ahahaha)

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(imagine this with ears, and there you go, a DIY elephant!)

The after school care is actually really lovely to be in, as I get to interact with children in a non educational way, which I really enjoy. I think this is because I have had more experience with the less educational side of caring for and being around children. I was actually asked by one of the year 1 children to look after her and her cousins while her aunt was at a parent’s meeting, which was very sweet; I got to look after a 2 ish year old as well and she was so much more obedient and responsive than a lot of children in the class!

I have some points from yesterday, which I was too tired to write about. During the meeting with the class teacher, she talked about Pie Corbett, and his talk for writing, which is basically, spending several lessons making up a story orally, and only then spending time transcribing it. This means that the child does not have to make up the story and at the same time think about how to spell each word. This makes the actual story very good, and also the writing side of it very good, for example, spelling, structure and vocabulary. It will be interesting to see this in action, as this is another thing that we have been talking about in seminars with our lecturers.

The other thing I was going to mention, was the use of wheely chairs in the classroom. They drive me mental. They are only supposed to be used for the computers, but there are always children who insist upon sitting on them, after being told not to. At the start of the week they were very reluctant to get off them when I told them to, however as they have got used to me, and I think have clicked that what I says actually goes, they will generally always get off them and sit on the carpet. There are, of course, always exceptions. Yesterday during carpet time, a child was sitting on a chair, when there was clearly space on the floor. So I asked him again and again to sit on the carpet, and get off the chair. It came to point where it became apparent that he would not move, however out of principle, I could not let it go, as it would have been inconsistent of me to just let him sit on the chair when I had been asking him to sit on the floor. I finally managed to cajole him into moving by saying ‘Will I have to tell ‘Class Teacher’ that you haven’t been listening to me?’ (which I had said a few times), and is sadly, my go to threat as it 9 times out of 10 will result in movement. The most frustrating thing was that he just sat on another chair, and slouched, even after my asking him/telling him to sit up properly if he was to sit on the chair. Its in situation like these that I just do not know what to do, and is why I need to read up on behaviour management. It was an overall very irritating and frustrating time for me. ugh.

Darn it, i think I had something more to add, but I cannot remember (other than that I had cake in after school club tonight…). It will most probably come to me in the night, and I will add it to tomorrow’s blog post. Oh wait, I had a situation where one of the reception children tried to kiss me, but I diffused the situation by telling him that it was not ‘kissy time’, but ‘lunchtime’…being anywhere near a mouth smeared with jam was not very high on my list this morning, so I am glad that I was able to overcome this without making anyone upset! I don’t think that was my missing point, but it may well have been ! Anyway, tomorrow is Friday, which means that the weekend is not far, and that I will be able to speak in my normal voice (i.e. a lot lower than it is for placement) , be able, if i so choose, to use expletives, and most excitingly, be able to go to the toilet whenever I want! Oh the luxury