So.. I thought I would give you a day in the life of room 8, the first grade equivalent class where I work. While all of these pictures aren’t from the same day, they come together to give you an idea. And, of course, I had to throw in some ‘blog worthy’ material as well.
8:10 Teachers are supposed to arrive around now. But of course, some are here much earlier (and leave earlier) and some roll in closer to school starting.
8:30 “Backpack bell” tells students when they can go into the classroom and hang up their backpacks and do thier jobs to get ready for school. Before then they are supposed to play outside but many teachers let them in before- especially as the days get colder.
8:50 School begins
Role call. In case you can’t tell, the students all have uniforms so it’s that much harder to identify them— and even harder when they have their bucket hats on. I’m always lifting up the brim to see who I’m talking to.
After taking role and doing announcements, etc., there is about an hour of instructional time before we stop for “Brain break.”
8:50-9:50 In room 8 we use this hour for phonics and writing– flashcards, white board writing of what sound you here, shared writing (where the teacher models whatever they’re working on in their writing) and then writing groups. Most children are writing in their writing journals at this time, and some groups have guidance from a teacher, or another activity once they’re finished.
Students in room 8 writing furiously (Get back to work, Caleb.):
It’s interesting how much the teachers are focusing on classroom noise level now, after just coming back from a workshop were they were told that New Zealand classrooms are the noisiest ones in the world. Sometimes it feels like noise can also be a sign of productivity and learning, so when it’s dead quiet I have to resist the urge to make silly noises or something….
9:50-9:55 til 10:00- 10:05 Brain break (Teacher can decide at a natural break but around the ten oclock hour and never more than ten minutes.)
This is where children are instructed to bring fruit or water for this time of day to have outside as a morning snack. Any other type of food isn’t allowed- only fruits. This is sometimes the only fruit the child will have in a day, and since Frimely, just went from a 4 to a 3 on the economic scale, it was implemented school wide this year. (Prior to that, some teachers where doing it at their own decision.) Schools that are a level 1 are provided fruit daily for all the students- although they never know what it is until they go get it that morning.
Room 8 students enjoying their brain food.
10:00-10:05 until 11:00: After brain break, there’s about another hour until morning tea (ie recess). This is the time we focus on our reading. They read ‘big books’ everyday for a week, where the teacher reads and then the students learn to read/follow along. This is the first thing that I’ve taken over in the class and it’s helped to have me build rapport with the children and ease into instruction. Although it’s hard to keep up the enthuasism by Friday. Afterward, the children might do an activity or something to journal about relating to the book, while the teacher or I calls up and works with the groups we haven’t heard read yet in guided reading. Right now, I just take the same group every day for a week to give me some consistancy in planning. If students finish the journal activity then there is a ‘reading board’ that tells them literacy related activities they can work on (writing a letter, practice spelling words with a white board, word games, etc)
The week I started reading, the Big Book was Going on a Bear Hunt and the children worked on a book review. The frist day they were told to illustrate the cover of the book.
The next page they were supposed to draw the characters, and as I was going through correcting them, imagine my surprise when I saw a character that I didn’t quite remember from the story!
11:00-11:25 Morning Tea All the kids go out for recess and another snack, and if a staff member doesn’t have duty they report to the staff room. While I’ve never seen all the staff there for lunch time, all the staff come out for morning tea. There is coffee, tea, milk, and ‘biscuits.’ (ie. cookies…) Everyone is especially excited when it’s “cheese and cracker day” and I’ve already heard rumors of the games staff members see trying to see who can take the most without getting caught and then a reprimand in the announcements the next day. (ie. “Let’s remember to try and share and leave enough for everyone, etc.”) Apparently the standing record is 13. Regardless, it’s a pretty nice thing to have every day. At the end of morning tea is when the staff bulletin is read, or announcements simply made by the principal, or if he’s off site, then the most senior staff member.
11:25-12:30: Another hour block before lunch. Here is when room 8 does our math and handwriting. The math groups are similar to the reading where some groups might work directly with the teacher and others on a activity, and then once completed get activities out of their specific groups bin- which is leveled appropriately but labeled like ‘pyramids,’ ‘cubes,’ etc. Currently we’re working on a measuring unit, focused on capacity. Direct teaching of handwriting is something new to me, and in fact they from some of thier letters completley different, like lowercase k’s! (Too hard to explain.) This next week, I’ll be taking on teaching all the handwriting as well.
12:30-1:20 Lunch time! Lunch late in the day breaks up the day so nicely, so that it feels like it flies by! The duty for lunch time is split into two shifts so that teachers can still grab a bite. On sunny days, the staff room on the second floor opens it’s veranda doors and I can look out on Te Mata peak while eating on a picnic table. Often, I’m the only one out there, but I’m not going to let any of the rays pass me by.
1:20-2:50 Back to the classroom for the last hour and a half. This is usually split up into two 40 minute sections or so. Often we use this time for catch up, art projects, physical ed (which the teacher is responsible for teaching.)
Here is Johann showing off some art we did after the Redwood trip:
His bare feet is a common trait of New Zealand school kids, who come to school with shoes, but take them off within minutes and go without for the remaining of the day- including tea and lunch time.
2:50 Home time— well for students, anyway.
Again, there is no busing, so when school is over children wait for parent pickup, get taken to day care or walk or bike home. Teachers are supposed to stay until 3:30 at the least, with most leaving around 4 until 4:30…. I work with my host teacher planning as much as possible, preparing for the next day or week. Heidi is also my ride home, so I try and let her do as much as she needs and we’re usually some of the last to leave and home by five pm.
So that’s a day in room 8! I’m sure I left things out, but with ten more weeks, I can only imagine the stories to come.