It was the last day of term today so things ran a little differently, and as I'm in it, there's so many things I think of that I want to remember and talk about later, but then so much else happens that I forget the original things.
Originally, when I got there, I got stung by a bee. Awesome. Luckily it was like: OW PAIN!! FLAIL!!! And then like: there's a bee on the ground! I think cos of my super-quick-awesome-ninja-reflexes, I flicked the bee off before his stinger got in me. He got me on the wrist, and bee-stings I've had in the past have puffed up massively. So, like a little kid, I went to the sick bay and got some lavender oil and tried not to cry (remember that thing about how I cry at everything? Yup. Prospect of super-puffed-up-hand all day? Not a happy camper. But I didn't cry. Go me.), and watched it and watched it, and lo-and-behold, it didn't puff up. You can actually hardly tell I got stung at all, which has made it the least dramatic bee sting of my entire life. Sorry bee, but you died for nothing.
So, the kids tried to figure out what tasks on their little programs they had left to do, and it highlighted a problem with how the system is set up.
Most schools, even primary schools, have say... 2 hours of literacy in the morning, an hour of numeracy, then maybe science, or whatever. This school has programs for the kids to work through at their own pace, which include spelling sheets, math sheets, math games on the computer, and their 'project' which is usually sort of an inquiry-based thing. All good.
Except only, doing their projects is more important/exciting, so half the time their numeracy or literacy stuff doesn't get done. So, although it's great that they can choose to do these things as the mood strikes them, maths is often done begrudgingly, and rushed, so they can do more interesting stuff.
One kid today had to think of 8 words with a short 'e' sound (thing pen, pet, etc), and 5 with an 'o' sound. As a little kid who can't really spell and is working on phonetics, and doesn't really know letters, this is super hard. Even as adults, if I ask you right now to think of 8 'e' words, unless you pick a common ending (et, ed, en) and go through the alphabet, it's really hard, right? He did the 'e' ones without me, but was struggling with 'o' (short o, like in dog and hot). He had cross, dog and hot and couldn't think of anything. I said: "What if I just write 'ot', and you pick any random letter from the alphabet board, and tell me if that makes a word." He peered over at the board, scrunched up his face, and ventured: "b...?" (I think it was the first letter he saw, at least he didn't try 'aot').
"Well, what do you think?"
"B-o-t... B-ot... Bot!?"
"And, is it a word?" (And, ok, bot's a tricky one and he would have done well to start with a different letter, but anyway)
"How about... ro-bot!?"
His eyes lit up.
"Try another one."
"Ok, so what would that spell?"
"L...o...t... L-ot... LOT! LOT!!!!!"
It was a game. Which letters could we put with 'ot' and make words. It suddenly made this task easier. He could finally do it. He was making the words. We ended up getting 8- 3 more than he needed, and he went proudly to show the teacher.
Later at lunch, we played it again, just for fun, but with 'at' sounds. We got a couple more down before kids were running around and suddenly word games weren't so important.
During break I had come into the classroom and found 4 kids playing shop with play money. They invited me to join in, and doled me out about $150 in different denominations, plus a heap of change. I gave them 90c and told them to give me $1, which they almost did, before I suggested they might want to check that I wasn't ripping them off. Quelle horreur! I then started to buy things. Items that cost $5 would be paid for with a $20 note. Things that cost $10 would be paid for with $100, just to get them thinking. That being said, the 'shopkeepers' were the two kids in class who were best at math. Later, a different girl wanted to play and I made it easier on her... however when she said something cost $26, I gave her $30, and she tried to give me $26 change. Look, in a perfect world, that would suit me fine... Similarly, when I tried to pay for something costing $10 with $50, she wanted to give me $14 back. Often she'd pull out random guesses at the amount without thinking it through.
I think this is something that gets me. A lecturer from last year used to have her own school, an independent, democratic school, where there was a strong focus on Critical thinking. She said, kids used to take longer than normal to learn how to read, but they always did, and then they always loved it, and they all went on to do really well academically because they could think for themselves, and they loved learning. So, this is what I want. Kids who don't have to rely on me for the answers. Who ask questions, because they're curious.
Later we were playing games on the oval. I watched the year 5/6 kids help explain the games and be 'buddied' with either preps or year 1/2 kids. I watched them act like older siblings, and speak with patience and fondness to their 'little friend' (they have a 'little friend/big friend' buddy system for the preps coming in to the school). I loved watching this. I wonder if this occurs at every school, or if, by year 6, kids are already (usually) disillusioned, and being a 'buddy' to a 5 year old is just a chore.
Also, at the end of whole-school assembly, the principal announced that somebody with long ears and a puffy tail had been to visit while they were at the assembly, and had dropped little chocolate droppings all over the school for kids to find. If you ever want to see 50 kids go BALLISTIC, tell them the easter bunny has been, and that they get to go on an egg hunt. There were 4 eggs per kid, and the big-friends had to look after their little-friends and find eggs for them first, then themselves. And they did. Tall year 6 kids were seen sprinting across the yard with a little curly-haired girl trailing behind, doing her best to keep up. Once they had 4, they kept looking, but just for fun- never picking up the eggs they found, or calling their friend's attention to the exact location of an egg.
Then all the parents brought in food and there was a massive feast, and now I need to go for a run.
Yay! Now I have about 3 weeks off from School before Term 2 starts.
E., the teacher I've been spending most of the time with gave me a hug goodbye and thanked me for my help. I honestly don't feel like I help that much, most of the time, though thinking back on the 7 kids today jostling for me to help them read their programs, that was 7 less kids she had to read for...
Anyhoo. Next term I should go with the year 3/4s, see what it's like at that next level. For now though, a run, and assignments. Roo souvlaki for dinner tonight. om nom nom.