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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Typical Day in Bath, England

My typical Tuesday at St. Andrew's C of E Primary School starts with a one minute walk from my flat to the school, such a great commute! I get to the school at 8:30am and immediately start tidying up the classroom and helping out my teacher, Miss. Sandey, with photocopying, stapling, and anything else that she may need. Then the kids arrive around 9am and they have an hour of choir with the music teacher in their classroom. Music is a huge part of the culture at St. Andrew's and the kids really enjoy getting to start their day by singing goofy songs. After music, the kids have a warm up activity where Miss. Sandey usually asks them to write a paragraph on their individual white boards using adjectives, similes, and other forms of figurative language to describe a picture. The kids love being able to be creative with their responses and usually create elaborate stories around the picture, which is great to hear.

After the warm up, the students have a quick math or literacy review, the subject of the lesson between math and literacy fluctuates every week, but it usually consists of a review of what they have been learning in anticipation for their upcoming assessments. After this, the students have a break where they can go and play outside for about 10-15 minutes while I work with the teacher on setting up for the next lesson. After the students have come back in from break they have at least an hour of guided reading. About a third of the class consists of ELL students, so those students get to sit with either Miss. Sandey or the TA and do specialized guided reading practice. Then my job during this time is to circulate through the remaining readers and listen to them reading aloud for 10 minutes each. I am supposed to engage with them while they read by asking clarification questions as well as give them feedback on how they are reading and what they can work on in order to improve. I find this to be a really helpful practice because you can really tell what ability level the students are at when you ask them to read aloud to you. It also allows me one-on-one time with many of the students, which is always enjoyable for me.

After guided reading, they head to lunch and extra recess for about 40 minutes. During this time I usually work with the TA on getting the art lesson prepared for the remainder of the day. The TA is a little bit hard to work with because she is unaware of the fact that I have taught before so instead of putting me in positions where I could be really useful she gives me all of the grunt work that she does not really want to do. Art is not my speciality, so I don't feel completely comfortable taking the reins anyway, but I usually dread art at the end of the day because it usually just includes 2-3 hours of cleaning and setting up materials when I could be sitting in on teacher development sessions or following around the kids on their day when they are not in art. Then after art, school gets out at 3:30pm, which is when I usually leave to go home, unless I have a meeting with my supervisor or my CT.

Overall, my daily experience at St. Andrew's has been a positive one. The students are wonderful and the teacher, Miss. Sandey, is one of the best that I have seen. It has been a pleasure to get the opportunity to see her run a classroom because she is really great at commanding the attention of her students, using effective teaching tools, and giving her students the personalized attention that they need. One of my biggest challenges with working at St. Andrew's has been my experience working with the TA in the classroom. She is a very nice lady and wants to see me excel, but she gives me so much clerical and cleaning work to do throughout the day that I spend very little time watching lessons. Because of this, I don't feel like I am learning as much as I could be at St. Andrew's, but Miss. Sandey ensures that I am involved in the classroom, which I appreciate.

St. Andrew's reminds me of a Boston Public School in a way because of how diverse the student body is. Almost all of the students in my Year 5 class are multicultural, bilingual, sometimes even trilingual, or are ELLs. This diversity is very much like the schools that I have taught at in Boston, which has helped to make my experience extremely rewarding and valuable. Getting to work with students from a wide variety of backgrounds has always been great for me, and getting to continue this work at St. Andrew's has been an amazing experience.

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