As usual, I went into school after lunch, signed in as a volunteer helper at the office and made my way to Mrs A’s classroom. It’s at this point I always feel like I’m in the way, not so much interupting but they’re busy and have to stop for me.
I waited for the children to finish their phonics and words which they practice before splitting up into their groups for Science, Art and ICT. Mrs A grabbed a piece of plain paper and a tub of printed number squares, then called a child over to show what I was do with them during that week. The child was asked to take six numbers from the tub and put them into sequence, to tell us what sequence it was in, if they could change the sequence and then place them into groups of odd and even. I had to mark on the paper if they could or couldn’t sequence and group; I wasn’t asked to do anything else, maybe this was a test to see if I’d use my initiative on making notes but I could not see how I could mark them as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without giving some observation notes on what they did, their reaction to the questions and how they placed the numbers down.
Of course I thought about whether I was doing too much, was I giving too much information for a simple test, was I taking too long, was I doing it right? 😳 I wasn’t told I was doing it wrong at any point which I’m sure they would have raised with me after the first day if I had!?
I took the paper, tub and a pen to a quieter place then went to find my first child from the class lists. Over the course of four days I worked with 50+ children, watching and listening, making notes on whether they could sequence, if they even understood what sequencing meant, whether they could change the order and tell me what order it was and if they could group into odds and even, explaining why and how they had grouped them.
There were a few children with Special Needs (Autism, Dyspraxia, Developmental Delay, ADHD, Anxiety issues and even Gifted) and during this 5 minute session it was easier to see from their reactions and way in which they interacted compared to the previous occasions when they had only read to me. Overall, it was wonderful to see how all the children’s little hands moved, how they interpret certain words and how broad their abilities are as a class/year group.
There were a few children with difficulties placing the numbers in order, confusing some yet recognising their mistake when asked a certain question such as ‘is x bigger than y?’. However, there was one child with a significant number problem and he read numbers backwards, got them jumbled and had little confidence, not wanting to discuss ‘how’ to do something.
Where possible I explained details to the children, such as using counters to visually see how an odd number doesn’t share and that they were to look at the units and not the tens. It isn’t my job to teach them and I won’t go past the boundaries, so when I met the problems faced with this child I knew it was out of my area of knowledge, I didn’t push further but wrote my observations and raised my concerns with his teacher.
I’m enjoying my time at school, quietly waiting for the time I can go in and help; I even remember a few names – five to be exact but its a start 🙂