In Belfast we are doing our student teaching at the Harberton School, which is for children who have moderate learning disabilities. When we first heard about our placement we were not sure what to expect, since some of us did not have previous experience in a special education classroom. We have already been there four weeks now and it is going very well. There were some bumps in the road, but thanks to the flexibility of the classroom teachers we were able to smooth those bumps out. Every Monday we go to the school for the entire day. We usually teach literacy for about an hour and the rest of the day we help out around the classroom. All four of us are in separate classrooms. Michelle and Kati are in a P4 class (similar to 2nd grade), Maggie is in a P7 class (5th grade), and Colleen is in a P2 Class (kindergarten). All of the classrooms have 13 pupils. In Ireland they refer to elementary school children as pupils. The classrooms have one head teacher and two classroom assistants.
The first two weeks we observed the classroom, becoming comfortable with the pupils and the teachers. During our days of observation, some of us were lucky enough to attend field trips with our classes. We enjoyed being able to interact with the pupils in and out of the classroom. On October 27th we all taught our first literacy lesson. We were all a little nervous, but mostly excited for our first day of teaching. Fortunately we were all pleased with how our first lessons went. I think I speak for all of us when I say the students and their Irish accents are too cute! It has been exciting having the opportunity to teach at a school in Ireland. Overall we are all enjoying our time at the Harberton Special School and are looking forward to the learning experiences!
Colleen’s reflection on practicum teaching: Although we have only been to the school four times, I can already see the differences and similarities between schools at home. Since it is a school for students with learning disabilities, the experience as a whole is quite different to our previous student teaching experience. However, the layouts of the lessons have been relatively similar. I began my lesson with reading a story to the class, and then discussing the plot. I was glad how interactive the students were during the lesson. During practicum last year I noticed how popular the use of centers were in the classroom. I was excited to see that centers are used in most classrooms at the Harberton School.
Colleen, Kati, Michelle, and Maggie
In Belfast we are doing our student teaching at the Harberton School, which is for children who have moderate learning... MORE