Everyone knows that work experience is important; it helps you decide what you want to do, it gives you an insight into the job and it gives you an understanding of the world of work. At my school, during the last week of Year 12 we had the opportunity to do work experience / shadowing at our chosen location. As I want to be a primary school teacher I volunteered at a local primary school for children with special needs. I decided to go there for a week instead of a mainstream primary school because I wanted to experience a different school environment (as I had been volunteering once a week at a mainstream school before hand). I have written a log of everything that I did throughout the week so you can get an idea of the kinds of things you may have to do during work experience.
I arrived at the school for 8:30, where I was given a briefing about the expectations of the school and my responsibilities by the Deputy Head Teacher. I was introduced to the Year 3 teacher and two classroom assistants. I work shadowed one of the classroom assistants which meant I was able to gain an insight into the full responsibility that she had. As it was the last week of school, before the summer holidays, the pupils were off timetable all week so they were not doing normal lessons. The pupils had to make a dog kennel by cutting out pre-drawn shapes on paper and then sticking the correct sides together. Some of the pupils struggled more with this task so I helped them to cut the shapes out and stick the pieces together. I learnt you may need to help individual children more than others so that they can complete the task successfully.
I helped wash the sand pit toys, cutters and storage boxes for the sand pit so that when the pupils returned in September everything would be clean and enjoyable to play with. Also, I worked one child who was struggling with an activity. I learnt that you must be very patient when working with children because sometimes they do not get everything the first time it is explained so the information must be clarified more than once. I found the two previous days very tiring because I was on my feet a lot of the time and I was not used to having a big responsibility of looking after children.
The classroom teacher had an inspection in the morning and I understood the pressure of ensuring that her lesson plan was correct and making sure that the lesson ran smoothly. During the inspection I was given the task of working with two pupils, each with individual abilities and learning styles. I found that one of them picked up the work very quickly and finished the activity earlier than the others but the other one struggled to understand what they had to do. This meant I had to spend more time with the pupil who needed more help so that they were able to complete the task effectively. I spent the rest of the morning wrapping pass-the-parcel presents because the pupils were having a party in the afternoon. This took much longer than expected, however, once the pupils started playing the games it was rewarding watching them opening their presents with delighted smiles on their faces.
I helped in a cooking lesson with the pupils as they were making cupcakes. As there was only three of them in this group I was able to help all of the pupils equally to ensure that the cakes did not burn. In addition, I cut out name tags for the pupils who were going to move up the Year 3 class in September. This gave me an insight into the amount of preparation that must be done and it helped me to understand the full responsibility of a teacher.
I spent all of my time with the Year 3 class which meant I was able to build a rapport with the pupils and as I got to know them and understand their individual learning style I was able to help them learn and participate in the activities. My time at this school has helped to build my confidence as well as allowing me to understand the pressures that teachers may face. Also, I learnt that the importance of having good relationship with other colleagues and I learnt the importance of preparation, organisation and flexibility to ensure that the lesson runs smoothly and the children fully understand the work they have been set. I discovered the differences between this school compared to mainstream primary schools, such as the class size being a lot smaller and lessons are personalised more each child / a group of children.
My work shadowing experience by Isabelle Bradshaw.