Today marks my 3rd full week of teaching at St. Saviours Primary School in London! The best 3 weeks have been wonderful and I have learned so much already!
I spent a lot of my time over the past 3 weeks working with key stage 1, which is nursery – year 2, and got to experience the ways they teach phonics! Growing up I don’t remember ever learning phonics the way they teach it here. I have found phonics to be challenging for a couple of different reasons. The first being that I never was really taught phonics myself, until the one class we had in college. I know I learned the rules over time but we never directly had “phonics” like they do here. The 2nd challenge of teaching phonics here in London is that as an American, I pronounce things very differently than they do here! Each student has a phonics book that is done one-on-one with the teacher or TA to evaluate what level they are at. I had the opportunity to help with some of these however it was quickly brought to my attention that I would have to be very focused on the way I pronounced things! The students are very good about correcting me or just laughing at the way we say things 🙂
Something that is very surprising to me is the way in which the students put on their PE kits (AKA gym clothes). They wear uniforms at my school and they have uniforms for PE as well. My second week of school here I was in year 2 and Eloise, the classroom teacher, told the children to go get their PE kits. Once the children were back in the classroom she started playing the song “eye of the tiger” to show them how much time they had to change. Once the song started the children began to change IN THE CLASSROOM with EVERYONE THERE boys and girls!!!! I was shocked!!! I did not know that was going to happen and could not believe it! I asked Eloise about this and she said they do this in every classroom except for in year 4, 5 and 6 the boys and girls split. For example, the boys stay in the classroom to change while the girls go into the bathrooms.
As if I wasn’t already thinking about how crazy different this was compared to anything back home, I then got to experience taking year 4 to swimming. They go swimming once a week and split into two groups and each get a half hour of lesson in the pool. Before we left for swimming the children changed into their swim outfits in the bathroom. However at the health center where they take their lessons we don’t use the locker rooms. We go into one of the rooms where they hold fitness classes, walls covered with windows. Once the kids are done with their lessons, they change back into their school uniform for the walk back to school. They all change, boys and girls, in this big room covered in windows. For them it is normal, but I am still freaking out about it!!