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Monday, January 4, 2016

Breakdown of a Typical Lesson in a British Classroom

Unfortunately, my international practicum with the Rokeby School in London was delayed to mid-November so I was not able to fully include myself in the school as I would have liked to. Since I really only had five weeks left in the semester and finals took up the last week, I completed my practicum in three weeks, attending for four and a half hours a day, three days a week. The Rokeby School is an all boys secondary school in an eastern borough of London called Newham. The ages of the boys range from 7th graders to 11th graders. I thought that the different cultures and attitudes towards education would lead to enormous differences in the Rokeby School, which would be entirely new to me. Rather surprisingly however, much of the education system was the same, but just had different names for things. Once I was able to get over the language barrier, I was able to easily slide right into the classroom. The school itself was recently opened and boasts an incredibly diverse group of students. The closest comparison I can make for the school is Brighton High School, where a number of students have either just recently immigrated to the country.

Unlike a normal practicum, the head of history, David Cole, assigned me to work with several cooperating teachers over the course of the three weeks I was there as well as nearly every year of student. What I found was how similar the basic format and template of a lesson was throughout the school. This may have been a department decision or simply minds thinking alike, but each lesson I participated in used the format of a warm up activity, which outlined both the topic and learning objective of the lesson, followed by the teacher lecturing briefly. In that lecture, the teacher would bring up the previous couple lessons and the entire unit they are learning so that the students are able to have an idea of where that lesson fits both within their unit and within history. After the lecture, the teacher will turn to the class and give them an activity usually involved with sources, which will round out the lesson. Throughout the entire lesson, working with others in emphasized as any student is free to answer a question asked to the teacher and much of the work done in the lesson is done in groups. This is the best implementation of student taught learning that I have witnessed so far in my practicums. The work usually goes until the end of the class, which lasts an hour or a double lesson lasting two hours. The weekly schedule ate the Rokeby School resembles that of a college rather than a high school, as some classes meet fewer times per week but those class times will be much longer and some classes will meet as little as twice a week.

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