It's taken me a couple of days to debrief, as I have had a psychosomatic moment in the past couple of days....
Tuesday was my 2nd day at the volunteer school. It hasn't been raining for the past few days, so the weather had been really clear. It took me about 20 mins to walk from home to the school.
I would say that helping out as a volunteer is good, as there is not the stress that is there when one's role is as a student teacher, vs to that of the volunteer.
Debriefing here (anonymously that is), helps me to look at things from the perspective of both a volunteer, a student teacher, and to put things into perspective especially what I know about learning skills of Year 3 students.
In the morning when I came in, the teacher had changed the morning reading groups from after morning tea to before morning tea as she had extra help (which is me! he he). It was good to have experience working with students who displayed diverse skills in reading (from beginners, to intermediate, and to one entire group of advanced readers who could read, write and answer well).
Since this weekend is Fathers' Day (in Australia as far as I know), Mrs. M did guided writing with the children. They discussed about the fathers, and Mrs. M wrote some sentences in regard to fathers on the white board, and then copied that again on the blackboard.
Some of the children started their writing with "he is... he does"... Mrs. M addressed this problem by saying, "is this how you write an essay? How can anyone reading your essay know who you are writing about? It could be about the postman or the milkman that you are writing about if you don't address who it is you're writing about in your writing".
The children quickly changed it to "My father's name", "My father works as a"....
As usual after that, we went to the library thereafter.
During morning tea, Mrs. M. asked me if I wanted to join them for the staff meeting which took place during the morning tea. it was an enriching experience. There were a couple of student teachers and volunteers too from my varsity.
The principal addressed some issues of which were included planning of literacy topics for the 4th semester which included learning and working with spelling strategies, as well as behavioural issues for this child who had newly enrolled in Mrs. M's class the week before. The only thing I noted was that quite a number of the staff did not bring any planners, or something to write notes in..
(so I am still wondering how they were going to remember any of those things that were addressed during the staff meeting....)
Anyways one of the main things I noted about this school is that after a few hours (I'd say it takes at least a few hours to be able to get a feel of the environment), as a student teacher, I could feel a difference in the way the school is run.
There seems to be a degree of freedom that Mrs.M gives to the children in the way she manages her class. It's not as strictly controlled as the one where I went to during my pract, and I could perceive the way that she demonstrates the trust in the children. I would say that I could see that the children are a bit more relaxed and are not as "guarded" with what they say to the teacher.
I only perceived this after having attended the staff meeting, as there seems to be a general sense of "camaraderie" and friendliness. It would have been fair of me to have made any judgements when I was in class, without having seen the rest of the staff at work.
I was discussing this with an acquaintance later that day, where to compare an environment where the context is so tightly controlled and highly disciplined, and another where the children the teacher demonstrates and gives a degree of freedom to the children, and trusts them to not get into trouble...... I prefer the latter.