Student Teaching in London

The Fifth Week

Monday, Nov.30

This was a day I got a bit of mail when I came home from school: a letter, and the Traveller's Checks from home that were soon to cause me so much trouble.

The Register (Roll) was explained to me this morning, so I would be able to take over that. It's not too different.

While Class 2 went to assembly, I went to Class 6 and heard some of the little kids read. (They have assembly at a different time in the morning.)

The first thing with Class 2 this day was helping some of the children with their autobiographies (one part of the whole-year project). I was to work with Steven, Simone, and Joanne out in the hall. But it turned out I had 4 different children, one of whom left for something else first. I ended up working with Juliette, Huseyin, and David.

Also changed was the topic for it. It was originally to have been "earliest memories", and I had made up some questions for this. But it was changed to the earliest memories of the Christmas Fair! That made it a lot harder, because I couldn't help them remember things because I didn't know what previous Christmas Fairs at St. John's were like.

The biggest problem was trying to keep David and Juliette quiet.

I also did more with rhythm in another music lesson. We went over the symbols and syllables I was also using to teach rhythm (ta and ti). Then we went to work on the rhythm of one of the most difficult songs in the play, "Delilah", one line at a time. They slowly did begin to catch on to the whole thing. Nina was still having a lot of trouble, but she was beginning to see what was going on at least. Shuna's clearly the best at it. I also began to notice that she is getting to be much better behaved than she used to be!

The unit lesson was a review of Monday's lesson, and the history of the continents, in four stages. This was a good lesson: everyone actually seemed to understand it! I had four nice big pictures I taped up onto the blackboard to illustrate it, which I think helped a lot. I had the children draw (copy) them in their books. I made one big mistake: I told them to color in the pictures (which turned out to take them much too long).

Nicola couldn't wait to get to do her reading with me. I like the way she keeps asking me if it's her turn to do reading yet. She really enjoys reading with me. I think it may be because she knows she is finally getting better at reading. Anna is surprised that she enjoys it so much now. She did do very well today too, her comprehension was excellent.

John finally remembered his reading book! But now he forgot his card! He did alright today, though.

David was a bit too chatty out in the hall today, talking to Juliette too much.

Steven was absent today.

Joanne was complaining a lot that she wasn't able to do any of the work for the unit lesson because she was out for recorder. She did well in reading today.

Leyla was very interested in the Greek words I was showing today, which make up the word Pangaea. Her last name is Greek; I suspect that may have something to do with that!

Georgina is finally back in school again; it's so nice to see her back. I never saw anybody look as intense as she did while I was going through the review before today's unit lesson. Simply by listening to that, she was able to catch up to the rest of the class! That was amazing.

In Georgina's reading book now we're doing excerpts from "Alice in Wonderland". She found the French in it ("ou est ma chatte") very interesting.

The teacher was telling me about one person in class, whose parents she worries may be abusive. She said his mother told her he has trouble with bed-wetting, and he's absent once in a while, and she doesn't think it's always necessary. Just because of that, and he's a nervous type of boy, she's suspicious. I personally don't think there's anything to it. She really doesn't seem to like parents anyway.

I went to the Tridentine Mass at Corpus Christi that afternoon, as usual. Before returning, I stopped and bought some post cards, 8 of them, for 5p each, at a little store there.

There was an old Mr. Magoo cartoon on that I watched when I got back. And, of course, Dr. Who: part 3 of "Dragonfire".


Tuesday, Dec.1

Today was the first time I took over taking the register in the morning. It wasn't hard, taking attendance and checking on who was getting what for lunch.

The kids were not very well-behaved that day, until the end of the day.

I gave a maths lesson on co-ordinates today. I reviewed the meaning of "horizontal" and "vertical". Then I had them make 10×10 grids in their notebooks. Then the lesson was how to find co-ordinates when given location, and to find locations from coordinates. Then I showed how this can make pictures. I showed an example of one, and then had them make a picture on their grids and write down the coordinates, and swap papers.

Most of the class didn't have too much trouble with it, except that there is some trouble in knowing which coordinate is listed first.

Then there was a creative writing lesson I gave. I wrote on the board: "If I could have a book about anything at all, I would like a book about..." And the children finish it.

There was another music lesson. We continued the rest of Delilah, from where we had left off yesterday.

The unit lesson was about Earthquakes and volcanos. I reviewed the previous lessons, and demonstrated the table-across-the-floor and rubbing-hands demonstrations of earthquakes, and explained earthquakes and volcanos.

I had found some pictures in a book, but they didn't like that, just as they hadn't responded well to the picture of the fossil. I should have had bigger pictures to show.

A lot of them seem to think that earthquakes are hot for some reason. Maybe they were confusing the two topics of the day's lesson.

For R.E. I read the story of St. Andrew from "Head Teacher's Ideas Book", and was going to have them rewrite the story. They listened attentively, but then, at the supply teacher's suggestion, I had them illustrate rather than rewrite the story.

Nina got into a little bit of trouble today for continuing to work when everyone was told to stop. Well, if somebody's going to get in trouble, that's not such a bad thing to be in trouble for doing!

John was talking to David during the story today. When I told him to write out the story, he got very upset, so I let him draw it instead.

Salah simply would not stay in his seat today; I don't know why.

Juliette was carrying on during the lesson today, so I made her stand up for half the morning. That seemed to help.

Lindsay went to the eye doctor today. She missed the lessons, and her vision was blurred. She was very upset about the picture.

Jessica doesn't seem to be doing as well as she should today. She is one of the smartest ones in the class, and I always expect a lot from her.

Georgina did well in the geography lesson, except that she forgot to write out the questions.

I took the last traveller's checks to try and get them cashed at Piccadilly. But when I said that I wasn't the one who signed the backs of the checks, he said that meant he couldn't cash them!

While I was there at Piccadilly, I bought a one-week pass.

I went to Hamley's for a little while that night. I got an ice cream soda while I was there.

I called Fr. Dodd that evening, to ask him about going to visit the Catholic School he had told me about. He gave me the principal's name and the phone number of the school.

This was also a Laundry Day at the laundromat that evening after I got back.

That night, there was a programme on called "Hot House People". It was one show of a series. On that night, they had an interview with a home-schooled girl, Ruth Lawrence, the one who was the youngest person ever to graduate Oxford.


Wednesday, December 2

Today was very cold. It was the coldest day I had spent so far in England; in the 40's that morning.

Assembly was a "Good Effort" Assembly.

I took over just about the entire day day, except for the maths lesson. Nina, Juliette, and Lindsay keep having a problem with putting numbers between lines. The teacher has a very specific way in which the children are to write the numbers in the sums on the lined (graph) paper in their notebooks. It's a good system, but those three girls needed a lot of help to make sure they did it properly.

The unit lesson today was on how mountains are formed. I had them do the modeling clay-folded-mountain experiment in pairs, then demonstrated the other two types of mountains, and then had them draw and describe the three types in their notebooks. They didn't have very much trouble understanding the three types of mountains. Nicholas seemed to have an idea about how the mountains were formed even before the experiment. The only ones who were a minor problem during the experiment were Dipash and David. The lesson went well, with at least half the class doing a very fine job in their notebooks.

I gave a final music lesson today, a very short lesson. I reviewed the rhythm patterns, and wrote some poems on the board, from the class' book "Fontana Lions Book of Young Verse", and showed how to find the rhythms. Nina still doesn't understand it, sad to say, but just about the whole class does at last.

I gave a listening lesson too, like Anna would do, only by telling the story, instead of reading it from a book like she would do. I told them one of my favorite stories, "Castle of Fortune". Then I asked them questions, like she would do. They enjoyed the story very much, and did a very good job answering the questions.

I gave an art lesson too. The teacher said she doesn't like structured art lessons very much, she usually likes to have the art lesson be completely creative, but she was willing to give my lesson a chance. I showed them the symmetrical pattern and how to draw it. Blank paper was distributed, and they divided the paper into nine squares. I showed them where to start, and they continued with it on their own. Most of them had trouble doing it. A few people got it perfect, though. Shuna drew one that was rather good and gave it to me, writing: "To Mr kephart, I think I got the pattern slightly right! from Shuna" at the top of the paper.

We had chicken and rhubarb pie for lunch, which was very good.

Out in the schoolyard at lunchtime, my little friend Philippe gave me a chestnut and told me, "Now you have your own knocker."

This was the day of the big park adventure. There was a tank in the room with snails, that I wanted to use for the experiment for the ending of my unit, so it needed to be cleaned out, the snails released in a pond.

Near the school there was a park, Gillespie Park, next to the Arsenal tube station. It wasn't much of a park, very small, but with a little pond where the snails could be dumped.

I picked Nina, Huseyin, and Lindsay to come with me. Esther kept begging to come too, so I brought her along too.

We all left in the afternoon.

On the way, Huseyin came up with a game he called "Spot the Baldie". Everybody had to look for people with a bald spot, and spotting one meant you get a point. So all the way to the park the kids were looking for bald people.

We went through the park for a couple minutes until we found the little pond where we could dump the snails. There were some older boys who were yelling things at the kids. But they weren't really causing any trouble, and I told them to just ignore them.

On the way back from the park, Huseyin saw a couple ladies with strollers with babies in them with hats. He said, "I wonder if that baby's bald. Miss! Miss!" I stopped Huseyin before he got to her and asked her if her baby with bald!

When we got back, the class was drawing winter scene pictures with colored pastels (which they accent on the first syllable) on black construction paper, or what they call "card". I took several pictures while they were drawing. I also took a lot while we were at the park.

Huseyin was talking to me about mountains in Mexico today, after we came back from the park.

Priya was a little better behaved today than she has been lately.

Juliette was much better behaved today; maybe because she had been punished yesterday.

Paloma was having some trouble with the questions about the mountains.

Leith had some totally unintelligible answers written in his notebook. But of everybody here, I'm least surprised to see that from him. It doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't know it, though.

Lindsay did a complete picture after we came back from the park.

After the kids had left, I started cleaning out the tank in preparation for the big experiment. I used a net to get out most of the green slime that was all through the tank. Then I took it into the boys' bathroom to clean it out. It was the first time I had been in there. It's not as nice as an American bathroom: pretty dirty, with old exposed pipes all through it.

Back at Kent House, there was some TV program for teen-agers on that afternoon that I watched before going out for the evening.

I rode the 29 bus almost to Leicester Square, and got off the bus and went to some stores, including one bookstore near Leicester Square.

Then I got on a bus near there and came back, and I went to the Late-Night Shop for some more food. I got some Danish bread, Irish cheese, ham-and-pork meat (which was not very good at all), some cookies, and some cider soda.

Even later that night, I got back on the same bus (with some money this time), and went to try and find the same store I had just been in. It was already pretty late, but I knew that if I didn't go right back that night, I'd probably never be able to find that bookstore again, and there were a couple things I had seen there that I wanted to buy. I did find it. I bought a lovely Nursery Rhyme book for £4, and a couple inexpensive books: a book of things children wrote about pets: "Dogs (and Other Funny Furries)" for £1.25, and one of letters kids had written to Santa Clause: "Dear Santa" for 75p. I also got a book called "Monk's Hood" for a present for Diane.

I got back to Kent House at 10:15 that night.

The Fifth Week: Thursday-Sunday

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