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Monday, December 16, 2013

Pupil Pursuit

Since a true Pupil Pursuit was difficult to coordinate in the secondary school setting, I am instead focusing this entry on Sonny, a student I see three times throughout the day in different class settings. In the morning, I see Sonny during Registration, which is the equivalent of the American homeroom. Registration, unlike American homerooms, contains boys from Years 7-11, so the risk for bullying is high.
            As a Year 7, it is understood that Sonny will be one of the quieter ones during Registration. Usually, he is early along with a couple of other Year 7s, and they entertain themselves by tossing things around the room or chatting about something else going on outside of school. Once the older boys Charlie, Joe, and Liam come into the room, the environment changes. The younger boys stop tossing things around for fear of them being stolen and then used against them, and their conversations get noticeably softer. These are all expected when dealing with eleven-year-olds and sixteen-year-olds. The set up does make me wonder how healthy and beneficial this morning and afternoon grouping is for the younger boys though. I think a little mixing of the ages could be great; it gives the younger boys some mentor figures to look up to, but I think the age gap in these classes are too large right now for that to really be happening.
            After Registration, I see Sonny in Drama. This lesson includes no writing or reading and is solely based on speaking and listening, sometimes watching when mime is involved. This class emphasizes listening more than speaking in both the teacher-student relationship and the group dynamic. The boys spend the beginning of class listening to the teacher’s instructions for the day and then are expected to work cooperatively in groups of up to five. Listening is a crucial skill if everyone wants his point to get heard. On this day in particular, I was teaching Sonny’s Drama class. Sonny had plenty of opportunity to talk in this class because the boys had to do all of their planning before their presentation – there could be no talking while they were performing. In Drama, Sonny is much more animated and outspoken than he is during Registration. I also imagine he is this way in his other classes because he was chosen by Mrs. Baker to take the new student, Oliver, under his wing and help him get settled in the Beechen Cliff routine. The Drama lesson allowed for a lot of social interaction, and it was clear to me that this is more Sonny’s “scene.”
            After Drama, I follow Sonny to an academic English lesson where they are learning the Greek myths. In this class, Sonny sits up front, with Oliver, and is much quieter than he is in Drama. While this lesson also does not lend itself to the level of noise that Drama does, Sonny gets noticeably calmer than the other boys do. In this lesson, speaking, reading, writing, and listening are blended almost completely equally. After listening to the teacher’s instructions, the boys pair up to read and discuss the assigned Greek myth together. After reading, the boys must write down a summary of the myth along with its moral or lesson. The mix of these four skills going on continuously makes for a great class – the boys seem to really retain what is being said. I do notice that Sonny does not read very loudly; I wonder if this is because of his own insecurities about reading aloud or reading ability.
            To guide the writing task, the teacher, Mrs. Kearns, did ask the class for examples of morals and to give a definition of the word “summary.” Sonny did not need any additional help, and he seemed to work well with Oliver. The two are both relatively shy outside of the Drama class setting so I think this helps them get along really well.
            Overall, Sonny had a good day. He did well in the Drama lesson and quietly got to work during English. In his English lessons at least, there was a good mixture of different skills being practiced. Listening is definitely one of the top activities taking place during the average day but Drama allows the boys to get that speaking aspect in as well. At the end of the day, during afternoon Registration, Sonny was in good spirits after Mrs. Baker handled an incident that resulted in him getting shoved so hard that a bottle of Coke exploded in his backpack. He was surprisingly calm about the entire thing – handled it much better than I would have!  

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