I went into St. Vincent’s Primary School for a mixture of both half and full days. Therefore, I experienced two very types of days. On the days that I went in for the second half of the day (due to having my own classes in the morning), I would miss the slightly hectic morning schedule.
A typical full day at St. Vincent’s was honestly not extremely structured. I would walk to the school, which was about a fifteen-minute walk from my apartment, and buzz in from outside the front doors. A cheerful secretary would buzz me in and the doors would unlock. Every time I entered Room 16 first thing in the morning, the students were always still settling in for the day. They didn’t appear to have a very strict morning routine. They would take off their coats and hang them on their hooks near the front door. However, their backpacks would stay under their tables. The students were seated in groups, of about five to six students, at clustered tables. My CT would often have the children work on items they did not complete the day before or read while she organized herself for the full day ahead. There was no formal roll call. My teacher would write the attendance in her attendance booklet that she kept on her desk. I thought this was very interesting because in my past experiences, attendance was taken on the computer and sent down to the main office early in the morning. Another interesting point that stood out to me was the fact that there was no rug for the children sit on for a morning welcome. It appeared to me that the CT would just ease into the day, in a typical relaxed Irish manner. My CT would teach various lessons throughout the day, including math, grammar, Gaelic, and history. My CT also liked to incorporate creative arts projects that went along with lessons. She would often review what was taught during a previous lesson in each subject. She utilized her laptop and smart board very often. She would present images to the children that corresponded with the lesson. For instance, in October, the students were learning about the history of Halloween, and the tradition of making Jack-o-lanterns. My CT utilized the board to show the students images of Jack-o-lanterns. In December, there was a lesson on Lent, so the Internet was also used to present images to give the students a visual. Additionally, students would be have opportunities to come up to the smart board during lessons to solve math problems or spell out a word during a grammar lesson. Once a lesson was introduced, the students usually were given an activity to supplement that particular lesson. These activities included worksheets, coloring sheets, and working with partners. My CT and I would walk around and assist the students whenever they needed help! At times, whenever appropriate, my CT would ask me to share how things were different or similar in America, relating to the lesson. For instance, one time she asked me to explain the American flag so I told the students about the stars and stripes and the meaning behind them. There was a break before lunchtime when the students were able to eat a small snack before heading outside for their first recess. Once the students completed their snack, my CT and I would walk the students downstairs and outside where there were three teachers on duty. Then, my CT and I would go back inside to the teacher’s lounge for a snack and tea. There was about an hour and a half after this break until lunchtime. At that time, a similar routine occurred. Lunchtime was great because I was able to meet and speak with some of the other teachers in the school. They were always very friendly and often asked me questions about America and the school system we have here. Sometimes, I would go to recess with the children to spend more time with them in a different environment. After lunch, my CT resumed with various lessons and activities for the rest of the day, very similar to the morning schedule. Nearing toward the end of the day, my CT would write that night’s homework assignments on the smart board, while the students copied the assignments into their homework journals. I would go around and help the students complete this. I would also write the homework for those students who were taken out of class to go to a reading specialist. The students would clean up, pack up, and put their chairs on top of their tables. As the children lined up, my CT would do some prayers with them, in both English and Gaelic. We would then walk them downstairs and outside for their parents to collect them at the end of the day. My days at St. Vincent’s always seemed to fly by because I was so involved with the children, walking around, talking with them, getting to know them, and assisting them as much as I could. They were very fascinated that I was from America and LOVED to ask me questions! I loved speaking with them and getting to know them and more about their culture!