Both senior infant teachers are excellent at engaging their students and using their culture. The teacher today exemplified this with the use of a cheese sandwich for writing. She actually made cheese sandwiches in front of the class. Although this doesn't sound very appetizing to me, this is a favorite of the Irish children. She made sandwiches with bread, butter and cheese then sliced it up for the class. They had to write step by step instructions focusing on words like "spread" and "bread." The students loved it, especially since they got to eat cheese sandwiches as they wrote!
Although the activities were similar, especially with math and the smartboard, the atmosphere in the classroom is completely different. First off, the desks in this classroom are in a horseshoe. Any teacher knows what a different dynamic this creates than a classroom with desks in groups like the other class has. The students all face the teacher which creates less distraction, but also discourages group work. The students do not work in groups unless they are moved to the back table. This is very different than my other class which has a group activity for almost every lesson. As I mentioned in a previous post, my other CT utilizes the space in front of the smartboard, even though there is no rug space. Since the class is in a horseshoe, there is no need to do this, so the students stay in their seats. I would assume this would make the kids fidgety and inattentive, but the atmosphere in the classroom is quiet and orderly. Where my other CT gives the students a little freedom to be silly before putting a stop to it, this CT scolds any behavior right as it begins. While she does this in a nice way with a look or gesture, she still makes sure every student is in line. I think this makes the class run smoother and helps to manage their time, but it definitely takes some of the excitement out of the activities.
While I think both teachers are excellent, it surprised me how different their classroom atmospheres were. It was really fun to get a chance to compare the two this week!