Week One: Students & the Learning Environment
On the first day of my field placement, I was very nervous because I was put in a different surrounding and did not know what to expect. I was excited to be placed at Sacred Heart Community School and was extremely lucky with the teacher I got placed with. She allows me to work with her students when they are struggling and she puts me in groups with students she knows that will need extra assistance. I am in a grade 4/5 split classroom, which has a great amount of diverse students. I would assume that the majority of these students are Aboriginal and come from low-income families. The teacher had told us that she was talking to a child’s mother and that the student and his mother were living in a shelter. She then told us that at the end of the school day she tells her students she loves them and gives them hugs and for some of the students that is the only support they have until they come to class the next day. She also told us that the things these students experience in their everyday life is something that we would never be able to understand or be able to relate to.
The learning environment in the classroom is set up a lot different then what I experienced in elementary school. My classroom was set up in rows of desks, with two chalkboards on the wall. We kept all of our books and papers in our desk. My teachers always had their own desk too. Majority of my classmates were white middle class students. In my field placement classroom, the teacher did not have her own desk. She had a desk that the students could sit around her. By having this in her classroom, it is easier for the children to ask for help and get help. The children sat at tables with 3 other students, instead of sitting in desks. There were also no chalkboards in her room. She had one white board at the front of her classroom. I also realized her room was very organized, all the kids have there books in the same place. The one issue I seen in this classroom was that students had to share textbooks. There was not enough for them to have their own, so when they wrote tests or did assignments they had to take turns with their partner to look at the book. Overall the learning environment looks awesome to me, I love the idea of students sitting at tables with each other and the idea of having all there books set aside. At the end of the day the students either give their day a thumbs up or a thumbs down and if the majority of the week is good the teacher brings a treat on Friday. It was interesting to see the students decide if the day was good or not and most were completely honest.
Week Two: School and Community
In my classroom, the teacher is from Regina. She told us she grew up here and lived here all her life. She is a white middle class woman. I have not observed all the teachers and staff members in the school, but the ones I have seen I believe are white Canadians. The school is located in North Central Regina. It is an older neighbourhood and I would assume most people living there would be of low-income which links to the idea of some of the student’s background. There is lots of garbage on the streets and side walks outside of the school, it does not look like the nicest area to me. The students have no place to go for recess therefore they have no recess. Since the students have no recess, the teacher does Brain Breaks. Brain Breaks are an online website that the students follow someone dancing to music. On the bright side of things, the school is getting rebuilt and they are adding on to it. Since Sacred Heart Community School is part of The Regina Catholic School Division, they are incorporating religious aspects to the rebuild process. On their school homepage, they have access to school events and the textbooks online. This allows parents to know what their children are doing at school and can have access to textbooks at home.
Week Three: Teachers & Knowledge
In the classroom, all the students are always excited to answer questions. Before the teacher finishes asking the question, most of the student’s hands raise. Even if the student is wrong, the teacher will not tell them it is wrong, she will ask other students to help him or her out. She imposes concepts in an inductive way. This allows the students to build on their classmate’s knowledge and their own knowledge. She also contributes Treaty Education into her classroom. During story time, she gets all the students to sit on the ground around her as she read a picture storybook. This story was about Indigenous knowledge and culture. After she read the story to the class, she then played it on a CD player. The difference between her reading it and the students listening to the tape was that on the tape Indigenous music was played in the background and it was an elders voice telling the story. The teacher promotes knowledge by giving the students ideas and by asking them questions. They also do AR (after reading) tests online after each story they have read. When she approaches an idea to the students she lets them question it, then builds off their knowledge and extends it. This gives her an opportunity to understand what the students know and allows them to interpret it their own way. The teacher said the most important thing to running her class is procedures. She said that her classroom would fall apart if she did not follow procedures. She relies on her day planner and told us that majority of the time she does not get everything done she has planned, but she continues to push the students. The teacher is also learning new things every day from her students and colleges. Her professional knowledge is always gaining due to new technology being introduced into classrooms. Since the curriculum is also always changing she has to adjust to it and find new ways to teach her students.
Week 4: Inclusive Education- Diversity & Difference
There are many different forms of diversity I observe at the school. The children in the classroom are visibility from different cultures and backgrounds. Many of the student’s background are Indigenous and some are Philippine. The teacher’s backgrounds I have observed are majority white citizens. In the classroom there is no visual learning differences, but if you dig deeper into the students learning, you find various learning differences in the classroom. The biggest difference is that many of these students cannot stay focused; they are always playing with stuff on their desk or wanting to leave their seats. The teacher also picks out students she knows will need extra help and gets me to work with them in groups of two or three. Another form of diversity that might be amongst these students that is not visible could be language. Being in the classroom, the teacher is teaching and has her assignments in English but some of these students might have a different first language that I do not know about. Language is something to consider in this placement because of the majority of Indigenous students. Some might have Cree as their first language or another Indigenous language. To honour inclusive practices in her classroom, she always gives students a fair amount of time to work on an assignment. The students are able to sit at her desk when they need extra help or with the teacher’s assistant that comes in everyday after lunch. She has a standing desk and a bouncy ball chair for students who can’t sit comfortable at a desk. The school has a Quiet Room for students that are having a bad day in the classroom and need to be alone.