It’s been a busy week at school so far this week!
On Monday, we had a weekly school-wide assembly. Together with Taylor and Meredith, two other girls on the trip, I helped lead the assembly. We introduced the students to our American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, we recited an adorable Pledge to Southern Yorkshire that Meredith made up. The kids got a huge kick out of it! By changing some of the words of our American Pledge of Allegiance (particularly by inserting “tea and biscuits for all”), we were able to engage the students and have some fun with both them and the faculty. We then opened the floor to the students to ask questions. Most of them revolved around what we like to eat and drink in America, how we got here, and what our houses are like. The kids were brimming with questions, so our Head Teacher asked us to lead another assembly before we leave in April!
Also on Monday, the other girls and I had the opportunity to meet a Parent Governor of the school. We had no idea what this position was at first, but our meeting was so informative and yet another example of how different the education system is here than at home. Each school has a board of “Parent Governors”, who are regular citizens in the community that typically have a child at the school. Parent Governors are elected by other parents at the school and may have any one of a variety of careers; the Parent Governor we met with worked with law enforcement, but others work in business or accounting, just to name a couple. Parent Governors give input on school policies; an example we discussed was the lunch menu. One thing that Parent Governors do not get involved in, however, is teachers’ methods of teaching and learning. The most interesting thing I learned during our conversation was that the Head Teacher of each school (equivalent to a Principal in the United States) answers to the board of Parent Governors. This is unique to the United States, where it usually seems that the Principal has a great deal of autonomy in school policy matters. We left the meeting agreeing that this system seems like a democratic way of allowing parents to be involved in their child’s education, which makes for a more dynamic learning environment!
Due to the National Union of Teacher’s (NUT) strike today, my regular classroom teacher was not at school. When I heard there was going to be a strike today, I was a bit nervous because it is a rather taboo issue in the United States. However, it was all very matter-of-fact and not a dramatic event at all at the school. The strike’s main objective was to address workload pressure, pay tied to performance, and changes in pensions. Since our class couldn’t come in today, I observed and assisted in the Foundations Unit of the school, which is comprised of Nursery and Reception. Reception is equivalent to pre-school in the United States, and nursery is an early learning opportunity for three-year-olds. I had some qualms about spending the day with such little children, but I had a blast! It was a very laid-back atmosphere where children did the brunt of their learning at self-chosen discovery centers. The teacher observed the children and recorded notes as she did so; this serves as the main form of assessment at those grade levels.
|One last chick drying in the incubator|
Also of note was the class’s new baby chicks! They just hatched yesterday, and after drying off in an incubator, they went into a class cage. The children each took turns holding the chicks and got their pictures taken with them.
|Chicks in the cage!|
The children in Foundations were also hilariously adorable. One student told me she thought she loved me, and another spent the entire day referring to me as “Maury”. It was a great day, and I hope I can spend more time in the Foundations Unit!