I have reached a halfway point in my time at Widcombe Infant School, but still find it hard to pinpoint a typical day of teacher. The first three times I went, Reception was still split into half days. After that, I’ve been with the full class, but we have had field trips and special assemblies that interrupted the day. Today was our first day without interruptions.
The day starts out with register, which is repeated after lunch. Then, the children have writing and phonics work on the carpet, before going into groups for activities. In the groups, some kids have writing work or phonics work with a teacher or assistant, while others have activities related to the story of the week.
After phonics work, the children have assembly. Tuesday’s assembly is the Celebration Assembly where they celebrate the good things done over the week as well as any birthdays from the week. After assembly, they have a 15-minute outside playtime before they have busy time in the classroom, where they can go to any center. Maths comes after busy time most days, but this is normally what is moved around if something special is going on, like the week Bibles were handed out.
After Maths is lunch and playtime. Reception eats lunch first, and then they go outside. At this time, I eat lunch first and then help in the lunchroom with the year 1 and year 2 students as well as clean up. When eating my lunch, I am in the staff room with about half the other staff in the school. It is nice to be able to ask questions about things I am confused about at that point.
After Lunch, we normally have a social studies or science mini-lesson before going to busy time. Then comes play time outside again. After playtime, we have story time before home time.
Last week we went on a field trip for the science lesson. We brought the children to the park to look for autumn things. It was really cute to see the children all running around excited. One girl kept coming up to show me all the concords she found. By the time we went back to school, she had 27 of them. Another little boy showed me a leaf that had dew droplets on it, and my CT made sure to get a picture of it before he put it in his bag.
The biggest challenge I’ve seen is trying to get all 30 children to listen at one time. If one student sets off another, there is a whole chain reaction that means we are almost always running a little behind despite best laid plans. For me, the challenge can be the small language differences that are enhanced by children still learning the rules of English. For example, it took me a bit to understand one child who was asking where to “bin it,” by which she meant where was the bin (trash can) for her lunch trash. Other times, I confuse them, by saying something like “it’s a nice fall day.”
Most things in the school are very similar in teaching styles as to what I have seen at home. My teacher does a lot of full group response, small group work, and individual assessments. She has similar expectations, like raising hands, and she expects children to sit nicely and pay attention during lessons. Playtime, which is recess, is also similar to home, however, they get more breaks than children at home, and they are all outside together, which you don’t see as often at home. The first few weeks, I had a little boy who stuck with me throughout all of playtime because he was unsure what to do with all the other children, but as he’s grown used to it, he’ll go off and play more often now.
At some point throughout the day, the Head teacher normally pops in to see how everything is going, or to take a few children to work with individually. She also always checks to make sure I’m alright and have everything I need as well, which is nice.
Overall, the typical day here is much like my experiences at home. The children interact similarly, just with different accents!