Saltford C of E Primary School, Bristol, Placement.
8-19th of January 2018.
Volunteer classroom assistant with duties to observe and assist with classroom activities.
I wanted to have experience within a Primary School to see if I wanted to get into teaching, and if I do, whether I should go into Primary or Secondary School teaching. I arranged the placement through the university stating that it is for my professional practice project. The placements team were very helpful and assisted me in setting up my DBS check and contacting schools for me. I asked the university for help around October 2017, and so it took a while for them to find me a placement.
Every Day at the School, I would assist the teacher in setting up lessons for a year three class, and I would listen to individual children read, and interact with small groups of children, helping them if they found parts of the class difficult. I particularly enjoyed helping small groups of children who found the subject difficult, as it made me feel great once they understood because of my helping them.
I was really nervous to begin with, as I haven’t been in a Primary School in several years, however I was told by my teacher to act confident and the kids will believe you. This message stuck in my head, throughout my placement, and even I started to believe I was confident. It was even quite strange to say, that although nervous at first, once I started helping the children who found the class difficult, as the children we’re quite young, they we’re much more open to wanting help from me, and talking to me, it helped me relax so much and I got right into it.
The last time I was volunteering within a Primary School, I wasn’t given as much responsibility, and so it was quite strange to be pushed to interact with the children, however it made me feel much more valued and helped me to feel much more relaxed and like I belonged. One thing I was quite shocked at, was the level of Technology the children were taught. I had to assist in several classes where the children were learning coding. Just a few years ago, this wasn’t the case, and so I was surprised that children were learning this, and how much the curriculum had changed in a few years.
My teacher was very inspiring for me. She was confident, and forceful yet not too strict. To calm the children down Monday mornings, she would do breathing exercises with them, which I thought was brilliant and they really enjoyed it. The children seemed to respect her, listening to her and I was very inspired by her caring approach.
The school were great at making me feel welcome, and I found it really easy to interact with a lot of the teachers, particularly the teacher in my class, who said I was very helpful and cheerful. The school was also popular with student volunteers and so I took it on myself to interact with these, as they were in a similar situation. To make a good impression, I decided to bake my class some cupcakes, as they we’re learning about the digestive system and how to enjoy and savour your food. The gesture went down great with the children, and it made me really happy seeing their smiles. I also volunteered to help out at the school disco, however my placement ended before the disco.
With my epilepsy I found it difficult to adjust to a new time schedule, and it meant I had to be much more organised than I usually am. This resulted in me having a few seizures, and so I wasn’t able to attend the full placement. This proved to be a problem with the school, who suggested that I don’t return and complete the full placement, which was quite upsetting for me, because I can’t control my disability and I felt I had connected with the children, and wanted to say goodbye. I think that the problem was having a block placement, because I find it hard to adjust time schedules, and with the new long hours where I am active, it meant I did end up quite exhausted, and so prone to seizures. I could have planned better, so I could have time to adjust somehow, however I know now that I shouldn’t do block placements, and it has made me think that I should try and work out a solution to this, if it is something I want to do as a career.
I have gained a lot of confident in myself. I surprised myself with how easy I found it to settle in, and how easy it was to earn the children’s respect. I’m quite shy when I meet new people, however I kept thinking to just act confident, and it helped massively. Working with children in small groups really helped me to build confidence, in controlling the children’s behaviour, getting them to listen to me, and build relationships. Over the placement, I found myself actually visioning myself as a teacher, and to be honest it surprised me, as I didn’t think I had the confidence or skills. By the end of the placement, although still quite nervous, my biggest fear was no longer telling the children what to do, speaking in front of a class. I think being with a younger year group, was really beneficial. The younger children rely on you much more, and want a lot of interaction, which I loved and it helped me to dive right in. Working with older children on my high school placement, I struggled to interact with the children as much, because the don’t seem to ask for help as much. Because of this, I would like to explore even younger year groups, especially as I know that the younger year groups are much more involved in using art materials to learn.
Overall, I had a great experience. I feel much more confident in myself, and I have learnt so much from such a small period of time. I need to learn how to prepare myself more for changes, especially as I know this affects my disability. I need to ensure the next placement school, is fully aware of my condition, and this won’t impact my placement.