Volunteering in Cyprus – Amie Turner

As part of my Year 3 on the Primary Teaching QTS 4 Year course, I had to complete a 3 week alternative summer placement. I decided that I would like to take the opportunity to work in a school in Cyprus. I used the money given to me by The Eleanor Peel Trust Fund to help towards the flights.

There were many reasons as to why I thought gaining this experience would be beneficial to my career. One of these was that I have thus far not experienced a private school nor an international school, where speaking in English was encouraged. It was interesting to see the interaction between the parents and the school and how they overcome what can be a potential barrier to learning when children are learning an additional language. Another reason why I wanted to experience this school was because it is a large school, as there are three classrooms per year. I was interested to see how they plan, in terms of individually or collective planning.

The first week, I worked alongside a Year 1 teacher. I enjoyed spending the week in the class to learn their routine. Within this class there was a student who had recently joined the school and needed support with his English. This is the first opportunity that I have had to work with a student with EAL student. Over the week, I learnt some strategies and gained some ideas on how I may begin to support an EAL student in my own class in the future. I had also discussed with the teacher ideas and strategies that she had, so I can also trail these.

During the second week, I moved around Year 2 classes. This gave me an opportunity to see three teachers working in the same year. It was interesting to see how different classrooms in the same year can be very different, yet still very effective. Being in Year 2, also gave me the opportunity to help on a school trip. We spent the morning at the beach. I was particularly interested in knowing the stages that were taken to organising such a trip, as I have not yet had the opportunity to organise a school trip.

In the third week, I wanted to look a range of strategies to manage behaviour in the classroom, as this was something that I wanted to develop. The head teacher had advised that I go into a different Year 1 class. This was due to two of the students had been placed on behaviour plans and various strategies had been tried beforehand. It was interesting to see the current behaviour plan and how the student relate to the plan. I was able to consider and discuss with the teacher a way of adapting the plan for the children to reflect on their own behaviour and record this on the plan.

Throughout the placement I was given the opportunity to work alongside the Key Stage 1 English co-ordinator. This was a great experience for me as I am specialising in English, so I was able to gain further ideas, strategies and knowledge on how they deliver their Literacy lessons so that it is accessible for the EAL students.

Overall my experience at the school in Cyprus, has taught me to ensure that both student whose first language is English and EAL, that they understand the meaning of new vocabulary. In particular to my teaching, I presume that the students understand a lot of the words and phrases used. However, it may be appropriate to spend time to ensure that time is spend to explain definitions. Another aspect that I have learnt from this experience is the knowledge of maths games that I have acquired from this placement. At the time there was a focus upon Maths, and used the program Big Maths. Many of the games were very effective in the classes, so I would like to adapt them and use them in my own teaching, as maths starters.

I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the school for the 3 weeks and gained a great reference which I can use when applying for jobs. Through the placement I have extended my knowledge of a different school in a different country and many strategies and ideas that I can use in my own teaching.

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