A typical day in my placement at CIS begins with the students coming in at various times and picking a book to read until school starts. There is no bus transport to CIS so students usually arrive with their parents, who often walk them into the building. I’ve noticed that this makes for a strong community feel at CIS- the teachers know all of the parents of their students and see them much more often than at other schools that I have been to. At 8:20, my CT rings a bell so that the students know to transition to the carpet area for the daily morning meeting. As a responsive classroom, the morning meeting in my placement consists of a greeting, sharing, activity, and morning message. Having this set routine every morning sets the tone for the day, and having an activity and sharing helps students to get some energy or desire to talk out before beginning writing workshop. The morning message usually connects to the writing workshop, giving a hint about what they will be writing about today or leading into a mini lesson. After this they separate and go to their desks to work on the writing prompt. In addition to my CT, one of the student’s parents comes to help students with their writing so there are always two adults walking around the room to help. After writing, my CT the bell rings again so students know to clean up and get ready for a 10 minute snack, followed by recess.
After recess, students usually have a 40-minute special like art, drama, PE, or music. The teachers of these classes meet with the classroom teachers often so that the specials follow the same unit as the classrooms and students can make connections between the two. Following the special they go to either Danish or EAL. Students are in varying levels of difficulty for Danish, and those that are still learning English go to the EAL classroom. In a typical EAL class there are just 5 or 6 kids, so they are able to receive very individualized instruction for language learning. After Danish and EAL, students return to their classroom for math. Math usually begins at the carpet with a lesson for the entire class. After the lesson, students generally complete a worksheet or other project related to the lesson at their desk or at the carpet for additional assistance. Math is followed by lunch and another recess. The break up of the day seems to deliberately ensure that students flow between subjects in a way that allows them breaks from the classroom. I think that this allows them to be more focused when they return, however it requires a lot of work towards transitions. In my placement, my CT has built in routines for the students that allow them to come from another area of the school into the classroom and transition quickly back into classwork.
After recess, there is usually reading workshop in which students participate in guided reading lessons, read alone, or read with a partner on various days. However, since I come to CIS on Wednesdays, a shorter day for them, the end of the day varies. On longer days the class would have another full subject after reading. However on Wednesdays dismissal follows reading. On a few occasions, the end of the day reading has been replaced with parents coming in either for cultural celebrations or for a child’s birthday. I think that these are a great way to get parents involved in the classroom to see what their children are working on.
Due to their their 9 day cycle of classes, the order of specials and classroom subjects varies a lot- so it is difficult to describe a typical day at CIS. In addition, my CT often has theme days where the classroom becomes a camp ground or part of Lewis and Clark’s journey across the United States. CIS is never boring and between the specials and themed days the students have so many fun activities to look forward to!
Today was my last day at CIS and I am so sad to be leaving. I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming CT who encouraged me to teach as many lessons as I could and really made me feel like part of the school. I feel so lucky to have been able to be a part of such a special school. My time at CIS has set a very high bar for my next pre-practicum to meet!