I thought I’d share with you some of my thoughts about my week at primary school. Although I’m there mainly to observe, I’ve been involved in some of the teaching, such as working with small groups, helping with problems and questions, and even telling off the class for misbehaving in the teacher’s absence.
As part of my assignment for this course I’ve been asked to write a reflective journal, and the main thing that I’ve realised through the writing of this journal is that I DEFINITELY couldn’t teach primary school. The Year 6 classes are nice enough, but then they’re a well behaved group who will soon be year 7s. Today with younger children I really realised that small children often can’t sit still, are always telling tales (please miss, so and so is doing it wrong) and take loads of time and fuss to do anything! I know that teenagers may well not be any better, but at least I can then say “year 8 I’m very disappointed, with behaviour like that I’d think you were still in year 3!”. I also know I’d find it frustrating teaching children to say ‘bonjour’ and ‘mon frère’ over and over again.
What I did find satisfying though, was kneeling next a child at their table and explaining a maths problem to them and watching them grasp it. That is lovely, but I can get that in secondary. What I won’t get is the happy little children who are sad when they hear I’ll be going somewhere else the next day. Teenagers do not ‘like’ their teachers, are not happy to see them, don’t wave at them in the halls and don’t sit with their fingers on their lips when asked to.
What I am learning are some very effective behaviour management techniques, including stopping the class to repeat instructions, giving lots of praise and rewards and being consistent in following the school’s sanction policy. I can also see the benefits of not being too friendly. As soon as the children stopped seeing me as a lady in the back of the class (they thought I was from the local secondary school) and started seeing me as ‘Miss’ they were much better at doing what I told them to. I believe that this is a very important thing to grasp and that it’s important to grasp it early on. I’m sure some of the teachers who read this blog could have told me this, but nothing beats learning it for yourself.