Hi, my name is Kelsey O'Neill, and I have been student teaching for the past few weeks with Emmy in a 2nd grade class. As the girls before me have noticed, the school is very laid-back and more free-flowing. One of the most obvious places to notice this atmosphere is actually in the staff room, which has a minimum of ten teachers in it at once. The faculty all just go to socialize, load up on biscuits, cookies, tea, and coffee (which they keep stocked!) and relax during breaks. In most of my other pre-pracs, teachers have often used at least some of their breaks to plan lessons or go over assignments. Here, however, they actually treat their breaks as breaks.
The classroom is also more informal, especially with the interactions between the teacher and students. Often, instead of raising their hands and waiting to be called on, the students will just call out "Teacher!" (they refer to her as teacher rather than Ms. Bogan) or just walk up to the board where the teacher is explaining something. I have found this to be a positive and negative aspect in the classroom. In some ways, it is nice in that the students are allowed to be more interactive in the classroom. They can be heard more easily, and if there is a question or some confusion, rather than trying to explain their thinking to the teacher, they have the freedom to actually show her and point out on the board what is on their mind. In other ways, however, this can be disruptive if it is done too frequently. Our teacher has been careful to monitor the extent to which this is done, but sometimes with second graders, it can be hard if there is not consistency.
As Emmy mentioned in her post, the SMARTboard is in the classroom, and it is used very often throughout the day. It is really cool to see kids that are only seven or eight can easily maneuver their way through an activity using the technology. By using the SMARTboard for things like simple math problems, that can simply be done on the white board, the teacher allows the children to get more accustomed to it, and therefore they are comfortable using it for more complex activities. This is by far the best interdisciplinary use of technology that I have observed so far in my teaching career.
So far it has been very interesting, and I am looking forward to discovering more similarities and differences as I go on!