Friday, October 26, 2012

A Day in the Life

This week has flown by, and I feel like I have been here forever! I am settling into a routine at school, despite my busy schedule moving between classrooms. I thought I would try to give you a look at my typical day with a few details about school, but it's tricky because my schedule is different every day. I spend most of my time with the junior infants, but also float to the senior infant, 3rd, 4th, & 6th classes.

7:00 - Wake up, get ready for school, catch the double-decker Dublin Bus at 8:05...or seems to come at a different time every morning (and afternoon). Also, my bus only comes every 45 minutes, so missing it is not an option. Luckily, the Dublin Bus website has a real-time information page that tells what time the buses are expected at each stop.

8:55 - School starts. Begin the morning with the junior infants, assisting with lessons and teaching English or maths (as it is called here). The junior infant class is working on letter sounds, handwriting, and math concepts such as more/less.

10:45 - Break - Students eat the first part of their lunch, then go outside. Teachers go to the staff room for a "cuppa" (tea or coffee). They really do drink a lot of tea here!

11:00 - Back to the classrooms... If I am with the junior infants, I assist with their stations, which are based on a different theme each week (harvest, farms, ocean, etc.). In the older classrooms, I assist with lessons or grade papers.

12:45 - Students finish their lunches, then go outside. Teachers eat lunch in the staff room.

1:15 - Junior and senior infants go home, and I spend the afternoon with the 3rd or 4th class depending on the day. With 4th class, I assist with art on Wednesdays, and teach P.E. on Thursdays. Beginning this week I teach music for 3rd class on Fridays.

2:25 - School ends. I finish up anything I need to do or just stall for a while because my bus doesn't come until after 3:00 (and it's cold or rainy or both!) Eventually I walk to the bus stop, and head home - my bus ride is only 6-7 minutes long.

School Highlights of the Week:
-It has been fun to have the opportunity to do some more teaching this week! I think my favorite thing was teaching music in 3rd class this afternoon. While half the class went to the computer lab, I did music with the other half, and then they switched (or swapped, as they say more here). I taught the song Sarasponda, and we sang it as fast as we could, which the kids loved, and we played a rhythm game.
-The junior and senior infants have been learning Halloween songs for the past couple of weeks, and today they did a little concert for each other. Most of the kids wore Halloween costumes, which was very cute.

As of this afternoon it is half-term break - no school next week! This weekend I am heading out on a bus trip to Northern Ireland with three other student teachers in my area. We stay overnight in Belfast on Saturday, visit the Giant's Causeway on Sunday, and return to Dublin Sunday evening. We're hoping to do some more travel throughout next week, but there aren't any other specific plans yet... I'll keep you updated. Talk to you soon!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The American Teacher

One of the first things one of the junior infants (4- & 5-year-olds) said to me on Monday was, "Ms. Walsh, what is it like in America?" How in the world should I answer that question, especially for a five-year-old?

Also, how in the world am I supposed to choose what to write about in a blog about my life in Ireland? There are so many details I could share, but I can't spend all of my time blogging... For this first post of my trip, I will just give you a brief overview of several aspects of my life. I have been here for one week, but it feels like forever and no time at all. I had safe and easy traveling, and quickly made it through any jet lag by staying awake for an unreasonable number of hours and going to sleep with the rest of my Irish household on Friday night. My host family is just wonderful! I have three host "sisters" - Laura, 20; Emma, 17; and Anna, 14, who are all amazing singers, and who are involved in so many extracurricular activities. There is hardly ever a time that the whole family is home at once. (But, right now as I prepare to post this, the extended family of 10 is taking a family photo, and it is great entertainment!)

I am staying in Killiney (pronounced "kill-EYE-nee"), which is sort of a suburb of Dublin. Since I got here on Friday, I had the weekend to relax and explore a bit before starting school on Monday. On Friday I took a long walk up Killiney Hill, a big hill that has beautiful views close to my house. Friday and Saturday were incredibly sunny days - unusual around here, of course. Saturday, Laura drove me around, showing me important landmarks and places of school, bus and tram transportation options, some shops down the street, and shopping options a little farther away. Then she dropped me off in Dun Laoghaire (pronounced "Dun Leery"), and I wandered around the shops and the pier there for a few hours. And I managed to find my way back to the house on the bus on my own!

On the pier in Dun Laoghaire

Beautiful view from Killiney Hill
Monday was my first day of school, and the week has flown by! I am working mostly with the junior infants, but I also have small chunks of time every day in other classrooms (including the senior infants and 3rd, 4th, & 6th classes). I have mostly observed and assisted this week, but I did teach a couple of lessons, including one on poultry with the senior infants, and a P.E. class - yes, I, taught gym - for the 4th class. It has been great getting to know my students, and their comments and questions about my "Americanness" have been very amusing, beginning with whispers of, "That's the American teacher," as I walked by on Monday. Today a little boy in 3rd class told me that he likes my accent, and yesterday a girl in 4th class asked if there are scorpions where I live because her family has been to Texas. It is fascinating to see this outside perspective of the United States...

So, thanks a bunch for checking into my blog! I'll post again soon.
In Irish, slán go fóill - goodbye for now

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

This is the start of something good...

Last week I finished my preschool student teaching in Bloomington. I told the kids at group time a few days in advance that it was my last week and that I would be going to teach at a school in Ireland. On my last day, as we sat outside at the picnic tables eating homemade vanilla ice cream, one little boy looked at me with furrowed eyebrows and asked, "Do you live in Ireland, Hillary?" As I brainstormed blog titles this question seemed I have experienced on other, shorter trips overseas, even a place very far away can come to feel like home. Now, after much planning and anticipation, it is finally time for me to head to Ireland to student teach! I look forward to finding a home in Ireland with my host family and in my school, and I cannot wait to share my stories with you here. I am not sure how well I will be able to keep up this blog, but I will try to post every once in a while to keep you all updated on my life in Ireland. I leave tomorrow(!), and I'll try to check in sometime next week. Talk to you soon!