My pre-practicum is at St. Andrew’s Primary School in Bath, England. I am in a year four classroom.
During my first day at my school, I talked to many students and teachers about what makes up the school and tried to find out what the dynamic of the school was like. At St. Andrew’s Primary School, one of its main goals is to make every child feel welcome and loved. While talking to the teaching assistant in my classroom, she gave me advice on how to ‘nurture’ each child. She has specific strategies that she uses with each child to make him or her feel included and to help him or her love learning. She also stated how important it was to make each child feel valued and truly care about each individual in the school.
In the school prospectus, similar statements were made. The first line in a letter to parents states, “We are a happy, friendly and caring school where every individual is valued”. It also states how they value the Christian ethos of the school. It is clear that the school truly cares and loves each individual student and they want each student to recognize how valuable and loved he or she is.
The atmosphere of the school follows closely to how all the literature and staff talks about the school. While walking around the school, I was greeted by all the teachers and welcomed to their school. I also noticed that every teacher knew every child’s name in the school. Since it is a small school, with only one class per grade, there is not a large amount of students. However, remembering about 150 students’ names and knowing each of the students on a personal level is very important to following the school ethos. Each teacher cares about every student in the school, even if they are not in their own classroom.
I have also noticed that there is a lot of movement around the school. I do not know if this is specific to St. Andrews or to all schools in England, but when students need to get a drink or go to the bathroom, or need to work in groups or individually, as long as they ask, they are just allowed to walk around the school. Back at home, students needed a hall pass and for younger students, there would be a teacher’s aid or teacher that would stand in the hallway to make sure they are going where they asked to go. The students at this school are given much more freedom to move around the school. As a result, there are constantly students and staff walking throughout the school. Students are also the ones to come ask teachers questions. Throughout the day, several students walked in to ask for glue sticks or rulers or other papers. It is a normal occurrence for students to just walk into other classrooms.
The dress code at my school is uniforms, although there are slight differences in every student’s uniform. The girls wear dresses or skirts which tights, or they can wear pants and a polo. The boys wear khakis and a polo shirt. They also all have matching sweaters. Given that the students have a few options on a uniform gives them some amount of freedom. They are also all wearing similar outfits, which is comforting to know that they do not have to worry about what they wear compared to others.
I did not get a chance to look around at a lot of displays around the school. However, in my classroom, there were very few displays because three out of the four sides of the classroom were actually windows.
The response to me at the school was very friendly and welcoming. Most of the staff knew that I would be coming this semester and all had questions about what I was studying and how I liked being here so far. On top of that, the students all lit up when they found out they would be having an American student in their classroom. They cancelled one of their subjects in my class that day in order for the class to have a question and answer session with me and get to know me better. The students and teachers had a lot of questions for me and loved to hear my answers. They made me feel very welcome. When I was leaving, they all came over to say goodbye and said they couldn’t wait for next week when I came back. When we were waiting for their parents to come pick them up, some students even brought over their parents to meet me. The students and staff have all made me feel very welcome and I cannot wait to go back next week.
Although I have only been there one day, the way that the prospectus talks about the school, as well as the way the staff talks about the school is actually just what the school is. They are all friendly and welcoming. They value each individual that steps into the school and knows each individual on a personal level. Each staff member and student walks around with a smile on his or her face and it is a very positive environment that is created.