Student Teaching in London

The Fourth Week

Thursday, Nov.26 (Thanksgiving)

Today began with opening the Thanksgiving card I had gotten from home a few days before.

The Unit lesson today was on the history of the continental drift theory: the Catastrophists and Uniformitarians, and the author of the theory, Wegener. Afterwards, I had them write the story of Wegener. I also had them try fitting the continents together the way they think it may originally have been. That part of the unit did not go very well. It was a difficult lesson --- but only because Class 3 next door was extremely loud that day, all during my unit lesson!

Lindsay did a marvelous drawing of a fossil, from memory! In her book, she described what it is by saying it's "like a coffin."

For lunch there was omelet and pudding (pudding=cake).

I gave a music lesson today. I thought it would be helpful to teach something about rhythm, since the songs in their "Swinging Samson" play have such complex syncopations.

I started by showing up on the board how quarter and eighth notes are written. Then I wrote out some simple musical phrases, pronouncing the rhythm (ti-ta) while tapping the beat, while the children did the same thing. Then I wrote some poems and songs up (such as "Sing a Song of Sixpence" and "London Bridge"), and, with the class' participation, wrote the notes above the words. Then I ended up with a couple lines from Samson: "Be guided by this golden rule/ at your age, man, you should play it cool" and "I know you think me rather cruel/ But frankly, man, you just look a fool"), showing how these rhythms are written, then had them try a couple other parts of the song ("According to the teenage plan/ It don't look good on a middle-age man" and "In fact you are mistaken, man/ you look like mutton that's dressed as lamb").

They found it very difficult, because I had to go right into syncopated rhythms, since there wouldn't be time to build up to complex rhythms properly because it was so close to the play! Shuna is the best at it. She really surprised herself by being able to do it! But Nina and many of the others have no idea what's going on.

This was the day I took most of my pictures of the infants, in class 7.

The big event of the day was the big Thanksgiving party at Myra Tingle's house for all of us Americans. The party was scheduled to start at 7:30. I rode in the tube to it with Chuck, Lori, and Denise.

The party began with wine and crackers with dip and things. There was also, as a special surprise for us, Hershey's Kisses!

Then when everything was ready, we went and had the dinner, buffet-style. There was, of course, turkey and cranberry sauce. There was also something resembling filling. It wasn't like real filling, and I never found out exactly what it was, but it was close. There were also brussels sprouts, and real pumpkin pie.

There was also something that looked like sweet potatoes. I knew immediately that it wasn't really sweet potatoes. I couldn't understand how most of the others could have been fooled into thinking they were eating sweet potatoes, when I knew right away that it wasn't. It turned out it was actually carrots, which were prepared in such a way as to resemble sweet potatoes! It looked like, and did taste a little bit like, sweet potatoes. They didn't use real sweet potatoes, because that is extremely expensive in England, though it is liked by the Indians.

During the party, Barbara Pattinson went and got her old coins from her coin collection to show me and some of the others.

Also that day I finally gave Myra the signed papers she had to have from all of us (so we couldn't sue them if something should happen to anybody).

I got back to Kent House at 12:15 that night.

I sent a letter home that day too.

Friday, Nov.27

On the way to school today I took a picture of the water plant that looks like a castle.

I showed the class the pictures I had brought with me of the class from Bridgeport, and took pictures of them as they looked at those pictures.

I worked with them on place value some more, giving out slips of paper for them to write big numbers on, to put in the place-value chart.

I also had them doing a race: 2 at a time would go to the board, seeing who could be the first one to correctly write out large numbers.

The game went well, until the injury. I looked over, and there was John, holding his side and crying very hard. It seemed Priya had jabbed him with her pencil (with the point), and it had gone right through his jumper and through his skin. I drew the game to a sharp halt at that point. They were upset that the game had ended, but I wanted to let them know how serious it is when somebody hurts somebody else that much, letting them know how upset I was.

I also had them sit in groups of 3 writing out each other's numbers. That worked best with the top kids.

I told them my story that I tell talking very fast, a cumulative tale called "The Cat and the Rat that Lived in an Oven".

I spent the afternoon after 2:00 with class 6, mostly listening to the kids reading. Some of them were excellent readers, and others couldn't read at all.

The Indian boy Jignash had some difficulty speaking English, and could not read at all. Working with him, I tried seeing if he could recognize words he had seen before. It worked, he was able to begin to read some of the words by remembering when he had seen them before.

I told them 3 stories: "String of Light", "The Cat and the Rat that Lived in an Oven", and "Jack Rollaround".

After school, I went and bought some more bread, some white bread at the All-Night Shop for 39p.

That afternoon was also when I gave Jill the address of the Corpus Christi Church for her cooperating teacher, who wanted to know where she come go to an old Mass. That seemed terribly funny: giving a Londoner the address of a place in London I knew about that she didn't!

This was the day of the school's Christmas Fair in the hall/cafeteria at 6:30 that evening.

They were charging money to go in, but I was able to convince the person collecting the money that I was there to help with the fair, and he let me in.

The main thing I did there was take over at a ball-rolling game. There was a table with holes, and they'd roll a ball for 5p into holes marked with numbers. For 50 points they'd win their money back, and for 150 points they'd win 50p. It wasn't easy! Only one or two people were able to score the 150 all evening.

I stayed until it ended, between 8:00 and 8:30 I walked back, with Debbie.

Saturday, November 28

This was the day I had decided to make my excursion to Hever Castle, a place I had found on one of pamphlets I had gotten when I landed in London. It looked like it would be an interesting place to see, it was outside London (and I did want to get out of London at least once), but close enough that it wouldn't cost too much to get there.

I left on the train from Victoria station. The round-trip ticket cost £3.90. It's odd getting on a train with no conductor: just open the door and get inside one of the cars, which were very comfortable. The train left at 12:36. There was a change at a town called Oxten. It was about an hour ride: I got to Hever at about 1:25.

It was completely deserted. It was a little cool, and rather damp. I think there was one other person who got off there, who was gone in a moment. There was no sign of anyone anywhere. There was nothing around me but farms and trees, and a single dirt road. I followed the dirt road, trying to find something.

I finally found some sign of a castle, which to my horror I discovered was closed! It's only open during spring and summer. Even the footpath to get to the castle was closed! So I couldn't even see it from the outside.

With nothing else to do, I started walking along the road to Hever. There was a sign for a Christmas sale at another town near-by, at around 3:30 I think it was. I walked part-way to town, which was a few miles away, and finally changed my mind about going all the way to the town (and I also didn't like the possibility of getting lost), and finally turned around and went back.

It was very nice walking around the English countryside though, after being in the inner city for so long. And there were some interesting things to see around there, such as a kiln in the distance. At the time, I had no idea what it was. I still wish I had taken a picture of it!

The train leaves Hever for London every hour, and I wanted to get back in time for the next train, at 2:19. I just missed it by a matter of a few seconds, so I had to wait an hour for the next one. Not wanting to take any chances of missing it, I decided to wait right there for it. It was a boring hour. I had my little guide to London to read, at least it was better than nothing.

I got the 3:19 train fine. When we changed at Oxten, I thought about taking a walk around that town, just to take a look at it, but I wasn't sure if I could do that, and so I didn't try it. There was a bunch of teenage girls at the station with shopping bags. They were going around with pointing a finger from the nose and saying "Ex-ter-min-ate!"

I got back to Victoria Station at 4:15. Then I did quite a bit of shopping there, at the mall at the train station called Victoria Place. I ate a "Country Burger" and had a Fanta orange soda at a hamburger place there, for £1.40. I bought a three-pack set of tapes for £2.49 at a store called Dixon (a stereo store) so I could make some tapes of the kids at St. John's. I also bought some Christmas presents for my family: some English fudge for my mother and shortbread for my father, some candies (with Paddington Bear) for my sister Beth, some tea for my sister Diane, and a Christmas decoration, all at a store called Coventry Gardens General Stores Sideshow.

From there, I took the tube to Oxford Circus and went to the giant toy store Hamley's for a while. It does get terribly crowded on Saturday afternoons, but it's a nice place to go.

I took the little bus called the Camden Hoppa back to Camden Town, and then the 253 bus to Kent House. I finally got back and ended my day at 9:15 that night.

Sunday, November 29

This was just a typical Sunday during my stay in London. I went to the Latin Mass at Corpus Christi at 11:00, then had brunch at McDonald's, and came back and spent the rest of the day at Kent House, watching television and working on lessons plans.

The Fifth Week

Back up to the beginning