After signing in we walked through the school hall (which felt tiny!) and walked into our classroom for the first time. The lesson was on the Romans and the Celts and it involved us dressing up in togas which was great until I realised I had no idea how to wear one. After basically throwing a sheet over my shoulder we were ready to have our first interaction with the pupils.
The tables in the classroom are set up based on ability and I was placed at a table with average ability. The pupils were very interactive straightaway with one of the pupils introducing himself by saying “Hi, my name is X (name left out) and I live in a church”. The pupils then had to ask me questions while I was in character playing a Roman Senator. Almost instantly I found that although it was difficult to build a strong conversation with these pupils who had a very little attention span, this made it very rewarding when you did spark discussion.
The rest of the lesson involved moving around the tables which showed me how varied your teaching has to be. At the back of the class is a table of 4 who were probably too advanced for the work we were presenting while the table at the front that requires extra attention were really struggling with basic comprehension tasks. The four of us took turns at each table and after a while we had done two rotations of the room and had a strong grasp of which pupils in particular required extra help.
The final activity of the day involved us getting out of our togas (finally!) and allowing the pupils to dress up a nominee from each table. This gave me the opportunity to stand back for a minute and absorb the environment. Laughter and smiles filled the room and there was a sudden realisation that this was because of us and the lesson we had taught.
I feel this module has confirmed what I already knew, that I want to teach secondary students. However, this opportunity to go into a primary school has not only been nostalgic but it has taught me a real lesson in patience and it has shown me that in a community first area, the importance of developing these pupils is paramount. I am proud to say that I have been a part of this experience.
Written by Alex Dyer, 18 November 2014