I met my mentor teacher let’s call him S--. I had not been able to talk to him beforehand as there had only been a week between us being informed of our placements and going out to the schools, however that was alright. I had at least talked to the student teacher co-ordinator and found out the most important information.
S—is one of the grade 6 teachers at the school. When I called up the week before I had been informed that the grade 6 students did not stay with their class teacher all the time but rather moved around in groups to different teachers. At the time I was confused about this concept, having S—explain it and then seeing it in action was so much better as a means of explanation. The students are arranged in different skill level groups for numeracy, reading and writing. For an example let’s look at a writing lesson, all the grade 6’s take writing at the same time, there may be a whole group mini lesson and then the different groups will split up and go to a different classroom. This system means that all the students of the same ability level are together so that they can all do the same activity. I like this idea, it is so much better than what I was originally envisioning which was that each teacher would teacher a subject like in secondary school i.e. One teacher might take all the kids for maths and another would take them for English and they would move to the appropriate classroom when it was time to have the subject.
Another thing that I liked about the school was that the teachers were called by their first name so I was able to be called by my first name. I was surprised to find that it kind of shocked me each time that I heard the teacher being called S—by the students rather than Mr.--.
One thing that I was shocked at was that the students as year level had to have a meeting because they were having problems with doing homework, meaning that they didn’t do it at all. I was further shocked to learn that things like staying in at lunchtime or recess did not work to rectify the problem, even the punishment was extended to the whole week. Things like missing out on interschool sports didn’t work either. If it was me I would (and this is without all the experience of knowing the kids) would limit the amount of homework given but I think that at this stage it would be more of a reward and confirm to the students that they have ‘won’ especially since this is a problem that has carried on through their schooling so far.
This first day I spent my time observing and roving around helping where I could. The lessons that the class had today were reading, writing, maths and spelling.
At the day’s end my mentor teacher said that on Wednesday I could run an activity for a small group in reading. I have to think of something that I can do with them on the topic of figurative language. Oh wow, really wow, I was expecting that I would get to lead some activities in small groups but at this stage I am kind of freaking out worrying about actually coming up with an idea and implementing it. The one thing that I am worried about is time; will the lesson be to short? Also will the students listen to me? I know from my experience gained at UPPS (mainly through conducting group spelling tests) that students will try and lead you off on tangents. S—also said that on the Thursday that if I feel up to it I can introduce a lesson to the whole class. I said yes. He then said that I could also come up with an activity to follow. I am so nervous about doing this. I thought that leading small groups or even teaching in front of the whole class at this stage would just be implementing the teacher’s lesson plan, obviously not. Maybe this sounds strange to you but I am more worried about the small group lesson than I am the whole class lesson at this stage I think this may because I am confident that I will be able to find something good to introduce the topic to the class where as the class already has started learning about figurative language. One thing that I don’t really want to do is just do a boring worksheet from a book because I want to show my mentor teacher that I can be a good teacher, that I can do this. I want to also confirm that sentiment to myself. I can do this. I still would prefer to be in a class of say grade 2's. I adore the lower grades, but I am liking the grade 6's as well.