Something I noticed within my first few days at my placement in Dublin was that the class operated in a smooth fashion because of my CT’s emphasis on routine in the daily schedule so the students always knew what was expected of them. Quickly, I began to pick up on the same routine that the students were expected to know and be prepared for. A typical day in this third grade classroom started with morning work and catch up. Every student had their own math activity book with activities by day that they were expected to finish during this time. The worksheets built on whatever math material the class happened to be learning at this time and served as a practice guide for a basic assessment each week on Friday. This routine was pretty well established by the time I began visting the school in October and most of the students did not require a reminder. Establishing a routine for the morning time when students are slowly trickling in to the classroom helps to avoid common problem behaviors that arise during transition times. With this procedure in place, my CT and I could focus our attention on those students that needed a few extra reminders and a push to get into the school mindset.
The rest of the day was divided into typical subjects as literature, writing, math, social studies, and languages. I noticed that my CT had established a classroom in which the students always knew what was expected of them – when one subject ended and it was time for a new one, students knew what books and material to put away and what to take out. There was a very well established sense of order in the classroom, created by my CT through his enthusiasm and love for teaching that was infectious in his students and in me as a student teacher.
One thing I found very interesting to be a part of the curriculum of this classroom was a drama period. This was never a subject I experienced in my elementary grade schooling in America but it was something that was emphasized in this school. Even though this was not something I was used to seeing in a third grade classroom, I grew to appreciate why it was a useful lesson for the students. The lesson split the class into different groups who were each given a different prop and had to create a television commercial for it; after each performance, the class gave each other constructive criticism. The lesson was beneficial for the class to use their imagination as well as to practice giving feedback. The lesson was also eye opening for my CT and me because we were able to see students working somewhere other than a classroom environment. It was interesting to see some students who typically do well in the classroom not perform as well in this environment and on the other hand see some students who struggle in the classroom flourished in this dramatic setting. In particular, one student my CT and I were watching one student in particular who took charge and showed us abilities we had never observed before in the normal classroom environment. My observations in this classroom showed me the value of having routines and procedures and place while also sometimes using different methods of teaching to appeal to all different learning styles.