Pre-Interview Work Experience Part Two: The Nitty Gritty

14th March 2016

For those of you wanting to read about my work experience, we’re finally here! Fast forward to 8:00am on Monday 14th March, my first day. Admittedly, I was slightly anxious, but more excited than anything else. I checked for the usual before I left: My DBS check, a snack, my glasses, and my coat. I got the normal positive “have a good day” from my mum, my dad on the other hand gave a typical dad joke. Before I left all I heard him shout was “make sure you write your name in your coat, and don’t forget your packed lunch!”. As you can imagine my sides were splitting at this point at such originality…

I arrived a little early, but rather early than late. I signed in, explained who I was, what I was there for, and the year group I was going to be placed with. I was taken across to the junior building and introduced to the Year 3 teachers-Miss Baugh, and Mrs York the teaching assistant for the class. Both were extremely welcoming and lovely, as were the class as they filed in. It was slightly bizarre to be introduced as Miss Young, and to hear a full class of 7-8 year olds chanting it after the usual “Good Morning”, but it was pleasant to hear and I hope to hear it for many years to come.

Many of my days began in much the same way: Registration, lunch choices, personal reading, and then an assembly given by the Headteacher. Often whilst the children were in the assembly there would be sheets that needed sticking into books or books that needed handing out. On a couple of days I was also asked if I’d like to listen to a child read. I of course jumped at the chance and found it very easy to tell who enjoyed reading, and read at home, and who didn’t. Most of the children read beautifully, and those who didn’t read so well tried very hard. I also saw a boy reading two books, swapping between them each day, and some were reading incredibly advanced books.

One thing I without a doubt took from my work experience, is that children’s potential has no simple restraints, I was incredibly taken aback when the children were asked to spell ‘signet’ and the majority could effortlessly. At the ages of seven and eight I think that’s incredible, and what’s expected of children has increased hugely over the years. As a Harry Potter fan, it filled me with so much joy to see how excited and incredibly knowledgeable the children were about it, after using the books as the basis of their English lessons. It really did spark their imaginations and kept them captivated every lesson.

I worked a few times with a little girl, she was lovely but struggled mostly with her maths. Even with help she was trying so hard but struggling to grasp some things straight away. Her determination and positivity was refreshing and eventually she got there. For her, and a few of the other pupils, I feel it would’ve been more beneficial for them to have practised their times tables more frequently at home, however I am very aware that this isn’t always possible. I wonder whether they would have benefitted from an after-school club on the basics, presented in a fun manner. Yet the issue there is how many children-or in fact parents for that matter-would be interested.

I found it very interesting that at the school I was in (I’m unsure whether this is country wide), the main class teacher did not teach P.E. or R.E. One reason I was told for R.E. being taught by a different member of staff, was that all teacher must have at least one hour a week away from their class and teaching, in order to plan, prepare, and assess (PPA time). The class was also invited on a school trip to Tesco to learn more about where their food comes from, as well as a trip to the church, I was kindly invited to both, however unfortunately I couldn’t attend, but the children had a lovely time, and I was made to feel more than welcome to join them.

My final morning involved going with the children to the book fair set up in the infant school hall. Their excitement was enough to explain why it continues to be so successful every year. The children looked through all of the books, some on their own, some in pairs, some even asked me to walk around with them, or to help them to look for a book. We then all sat down to listen to the teaching assistant read a story, the children really did love that, and it was a perfect time for me to take in all the time I had spent with the teachers and children and just how much love and warmness there was in the room.

And then came my time to leave. It was coming up to the Easter holidays and I wanted to give the teachers and children a little something to say thank you for being so helpful and pleasant. In true future-teacher style, I bought a multi-pack of sealable eggs from Hobbycraft (whilst on sale of course!), and filled them with sweet treats. And for the teachers, two Easter bunnies. The disappointed groan from the children when they were told that it was my last day was truly heart warming, their spirits were soon lifted back up however at the sight of the gifts for them and they were incredibly grateful, making it worth every penny. The teacher I was placed with also gave me a gift to say thank you of all my help with the children, it was a lovely gesture but the thank you’s alone from everyone were more than good enough. The class teacher also told me that I was welcome back at any time, and I intend to take her up on that offer closer to summer.

Most of my time involved practical interaction with the children and actively helping them with their learning. I really appreciated the fact that I didn’t spend my time just doing menial tasks. So if you’re about to begin some work experience or are thinking about it, go for it, its one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. And don’t worry if you work, or still have classes, most schools are very flexible with their times and availability. It’s also worth remembering that schools in particular, always finish after colleges and universities, giving the perfect time to volunteer.

Please make sure you have allowed time in advance to get your DBS check done and sent off to save any disappointment, and contact schools as soon as possible about the potential of work experience with them. If you’re starting to get disgruntled by the amount of schools without places and the unsuccessful communications with schools, don’t be disheartened-be patient, keep trying, and stay enthusiastic, you will find somewhere! Whatever you do, don’t panic!

I hope this post has cleared up a few things, or at least settled a few potential fears any of you may have had, or that at the very least it has been interesting for those who are just curious. I’d like to close with a few humorous, and some touching lines from the children during my time with the class:

  • “It doesn’t matter that you don’t like the subject, it’s about learning, and when you learn, then you’ll be good at it.”
  • “Your hair is like my neighbours.”
  • “Excuse me Miss, she’s still got her coat on.”
  • “Holy Communion involves bread with butter, and a knife on the side”
  • “I will get you back for this and get you out next time, just you wait and see.”
  • “If we have 28, but need 29, we need 2 more?…4?”
  • “Let me start again so I can make sure I get my pen license.”
  • “These are muggle pictures, they don’t even move!”

I do hope that I’ve captured you enough to be interested in reading further into my blog, and following me in each stage of my journey. Thank you very much for reading, and see you soon!

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