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Friday, December 20, 2013

Comparing England Schools to the US

Many of the things I have seen in my classroom here have been similar to the States. The classroom has stations of activities, much like US classrooms have areas for different activities. The stations in both countries are used for free time or busy time. Some stations are constant, such as the book corner, but others change to supplement learning. For example, there was an Autumn Exploration table when the children were learning about the seasons. I have seen teachers do the same thing at home.
Another similarity comes from the role of the teacher in the English school system. Like in the states, primary school teachers are mostly female. They have trouble recruiting teachers because teaching is not always seen as a highly professional job. I would say that teachers are better respected in England than in the States overall, but it is not a huge different. Teacher in English primary schools also teacher all subjects, and Mrs. Hick’s style was similar to styles I have seen a home. There was a bit more focus on sitting still than I have seen at home, however, part of this might be because of the age of the children, and the number of the children in the class. I have seen my teacher use many of the same techniques for classroom management as at home, and she talks to the students in a similar way as I have seen in the states as well.
I do find it different that letters are first taught as sounds instead of by the letter names. For example, A is taught as ah, and T is taught as tah. I understand the benefit in this when a child is learning to read, because it is much easier to look at a letter and say the sound instead of the name when it’s learned this was. I do not know what is actually more effective, but I have seen the UK method to work very well for most of the students. I really like the way it is taught, and it is something I will store in the back of my mind for future students who might be struggling. I think it makes it easier for children to work on blending letters together, which works well when letters act normally. I am a bit curious about how it will work when they start to learn the “tricky” rules, such as the silent e.
Another major difference is the headteacher compared to a US principal. The headteacher is much more involved around the school in my opinion. My headteacher would teach small lessons to classes, or pull out groups of children to work with. She also led the assemblies most days, and she was constantly in and out of classrooms. Additionally, she did lunch duty. I do not think I have ever seen a US principal cleaning the lunchroom. I think having a person of authority so present is wonderful. It sets the tone for the school, and it helps everyone stay on the same page. It also helps when it comes to school policy making, because the headteacher is still in the classroom and can still see that side of any issue. In the US, I think we lack some of this important leadership as often the principals are more removed. My headteacher made a point to talk to me everytime I was in the school, but I never even saw the princpals of the schools I taught in at home.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Catherine! I really liked this summary of similarities and differences between UK and US schools. I taught in Scotland this past semester, and I saw pretty much the same comparisons, which means English and Scottish schools are run quite similarly. I was also intrigued by the way sounds and letters are taught. I learned the name of the system is Jolly Phonics (or at least that's the program my school used) and with some brief research, I see there are some people promoting Jolly Phonics in the US. I wonder if teaching sounds and letters this way will become more mainstreamed in the future! If it does, you'll be glad to have been exposed to the teaching style already! :)


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