As I have stated before the students in my class at Scoil Bhride do not switch classrooms or teachers for different subjects, rather all the instruction is given by my CT within the classroom. On Wednesdays, the days that we visit, the students do not even leave the room for specials. They have two breaks from instruction during which they eat a snack and their lunch and then play outside. In addition to this they also do art in the afternoon, but this is taught within the classroom by my CT, and because it is last in the day is often only rewarded to the students if they were able to get through all that was planned for the day.
There is no rigid schedule that the teacher must follow because the students spend the whole day in her classroom. This allows for maximum flexibility in planning and scheduling instruction for the day. My CT tends to follow a general schedule doing Spelling and Religion in the morning, followed by Irish, Science, Math and Reading. While this tends to be the general pattern of subjects, several of the days that I have observed, she has strayed from this pattern. Therefore there really is no typical day. Some days she will spend more time on certain subjects as she feels necessary, while other days subjects will not be included in the daily instruction at all. Sometimes she will incorporate Handwriting practice into the schedule as well as Creative Writing where time allows. She generally does a homework check as the first thing in the morning, however, on some days that are slower getting started or more kids arrive tardy she will complete a homework check during break rather than wasting additional time. Her instruction also varies greatly from day to day using various techniques and methods such as reading and math stations, partner activities, class activities, direct instruction, instruction using the SMARTboard, work in workbooks, etc. The variety of instruction is used to maintain the students interest while also choosing the best method to fit the objective and available time of the lesson. She tends to do a lot of group activities and stations on Wednesdays also to take advantage of having Kesley and I in the classroom.
From my observations I feel that my CT has done a great job of keeping a flexible schedule in her classroom to allow for distractions of special days and school events. Last week for example, the students spent a large chunk of the day practicing for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Because of the extra time dedicated to this practice, there was less time spent in the classroom. Therefore my CT decided to do review practice in many of the subjects, rather than attempting to cover new material in a shortened period of time. Today was also a less typical day, as it was Kelsey and my last day, and the class was also preparing for a school assembly on Friday and their First Communion which is quickly approaching. Despite all of these interruptions to instruction, she embraced these distractions. In the morning the students took the time to practice their songs and skit for the school assembly. They also then had a practice for their First Communion in the church during the afternoon. Despite the busyness of the day she still managed to fit in a small celebration for our last day. Rather than trying to fit in all of the subjects, she decided to cut out Science, Religion and Art for the day, and focus more closely on Spelling, Math and Reading. I think this flexibility helps the day to run more smoothly and benefit the students more directly. I hope that I will be given such flexibility in designing my schedule and planning instruction, because I think this is often the best way to meet the students’ needs and teach to the class rather than following a rigid curriculum and schedule.
Today was my last day at Scoil Bhride. It has been an amazing experience and I am lucky to have been given the opportunity to work in such a wonderful school community. I have learned so much about the education system in Ireland and will benefit greatly as a future teacher from the insight I have gained. It has been a great journey. Thanks for reading, I hope you have enjoyed!