"I Can’t Do My Learning!"

Today was my first full day at my British school placement here in Sheffield. The education system here is very different from the education system at home. I have been placed in a combined year one and two classroom, which is equivalent to kindergarten and first grade in the States. 

It has been very interesting to observe how the two classes work being in the same classroom. There are two teachers that teach simultaneously on opposite ends of the classroom. Teacher assistants come in at different times during the day to help. This is completely unique to our education system in the States, where classes are separated by grade level. The layout of the school is also very different; it is much smaller and doesn’t have hallways to organize classrooms by grade level. Instead, each classroom flows into another classroom.

The outside of our school, Reignhead Primary School

The classroom! 

Reading nook

School here starts at about 9:00, with students arriving starting at 8:40. Parents walked the students into the classroom and got them situated with their morning work today. Another difference between the two education systems is that the students do not go to a specialist teacher for special classes like art or music. Instead, the classroom teacher teaches these subjects. Today, we had P.E. Half of the class stayed in the classroom and did an activity that helped them practice giving directions. The other half went to the gym, which they call a “hall” and worked their way through a maze of benches and mats using directions. The two groups then switched. After P.E., the students went to lunch. This was another surprising difference! The teachers do not have lunch or recess duty, and the students have an hour long break to eat and play. Back at home, we had a twenty-five minute break, which always seemed shorter because we needed to walk the children back and forth to lunch. Here, assistants come to the room and assist the children with handwashing and getting lunch. The teachers eat lunch together in the faculty lounge. Today, I forgot to bring a lunch, so one of my classroom teachers showed me to town where I got some “chips” and a meat pie. It was very strange to leave the school during school hours, but the food was very worth it. 

After lunch, the second half of the school day commenced. Attendance, or “register”, was taken again in the afternoon. The teacher says “Good afternoon, _______”, and each student says, “Good afternoon, __________.” It was so sweet to listen to! The school day today focused mostly on reading and writing skills, with math and science content integrated into it. The subjects are much less rigidly structured here, with each time of the day flowing together to make a fairly seamless day. 

The children’s accents are so cute, also. They have such unique expressions. The best thing today was when a student told me he couldn’t concentrate because another student was distracting him. He said to me, “I can’t do my learning!” in such a concerned voice, I could feel my heart melting. 

After school, we helped tidy up the classroom and started our trek home. We have about a ten-minute walk from the school to the tram stop, which is through an adorable residential area. Then, we have about a forty-minute tram ride; it is first through the countryside and then becomes more urban as we get into town. The tram stops fairly near to our apartments–only about a five minute walk. I spent the morning tram ride eating breakfast, chugging coffee, and chatting with the other girls. This afternoon, I picked back up reading a book I bought for our flight that I didn’t end up reading. I sometimes feel like I’m in a movie here with this breathtaking backdrop! 

Tomorrow, we are planning our weekend trip to London. We have a lot to coordinate between our train rides, accommodations, and everyone’s London bucket lists! I’m so excited for this adventure! 


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