This semester is certainly the most different prac experience that I’ve ever had. On top of the fact that I’m teaching in a different country, I am also placed at a pull-out program for “high ability kids”, called the ALM’s program. Although I only have one SP, I technically have two different classes—one with fifth graders, and another with fourth graders (There is also an ALM’s program for the sixth graders, but they do not have ALM’s on my prac days). The ALM’s program focuses more on critical thinking and communication instead of content knowledge, which makes the lessons very interactive and hands-on.
Since the ALM’s program is a pull-out program, the students do not stay with my SP the whole day. Each grade level only has 2 hours of ALM’s every week. However, they still receive homework and assessments for this program (most assessments would be based on projects and reflective worksheets, like the 3-2-1, instead of tests since content knowledge is not the focus of the ALM’s program). Although I only spend 2 hours with each grade, I somehow find myself more overwhelmed at the end of each session that I normally would be after a whole day of prac in the US. Maybe it’s the fact that the past two weeks I have been there there is always something “chaotic” happening, such as making sure all 8 boys in the fourth grade properly and quickly painted their castle walls or making sure all the food for the Medieval feast are warm and neatly placed. My SP also has a very face pace and a scattered mind, adding to the “chaotic” vibe. She has set classroom procedures, such as morning greetings and starting the lesson on the classroom carpet, but she also still struggles to identify each of the students by names (she would openly do so as well, asking the students to remind her of their names).
Even though I have only had two visits, I can already tell that I am going to learn a lot from this experience. My SP is very welcoming, introducing me to the other teachers and sharing with me the school’s history, and is very willing to help me meet the ACTions standards (even though she is legally not supposed to do so). Her not knowing the students that well also does not seem to affect her teaching at all. The students respect and listen to her, and she is able to still keep them at high expectations. Although I do feel like the 4 short hours can be crazy, I am excited to see what other adventures I will have with my SP!