This week I spent Monday through Thursday as a teacher's assistant. I was at an Islamic school in Tooting Broadway working in a Year 6 classroom. It was interesting to see how the school brought religion into the daily routine - the students had Islamic studies every afternoon, Arabic lessons twice a week and Salut (prayer) before each lunch. It was a pretty good couple of days - I basically supervised, marked, and ran errands. All of the staff members were friendly and helpful; a good thing since the school was a freaking maze and I ended up needing to ask for a lot of directions. The hardest part of the whole experience was probably putting up with their attitudes - those kids took disrespect to all new levels! Oh, also the photocopier in the staff room was, no question, the single most evil piece of technology I've encountered to date. Every time - each and every single time - I tried to copy anything, the darn thing would misfeed and I'd have to open it up, play with its knobs and yank out the paper jam only to try again and get another misfeed. I finally figured out that things went easier if the paper was fed from tray two instead of one but still - yuck.
Today I went to a school in Slough. I had to pay an extra £9 for the transport fare because Slough, being outside of London, requires that you switch to the national line services and then another £5 for a taxi to the actual school. I'll be reimbursed for the taxi but still - quite the chunk of change, you know? The school was lovely - it had a quaint small-town vibe going on although, once again, had innards like a maze. I was in a Year 2 class for the morning that went pretty well - I finally got my groove back and was no longer caught up in worries or home sickness which made teaching all the easier. In the afternoon, I did an hour in a Year 4 class where the students were sketching dinosaur bones based on randomly passed out photocopied images provided by the teacher. One boy got very upset when I told him he had to do the femur bone he and his partner had been given rather the skull being shared by the two students on the opposite side - he cried and said I was being mean to him. I explained how much more of a story you can get from a femur bone - you could see the scratches made by one of the creatures that ate him, see the wear at top of the bone that denoted the age of the dinosaur. It really got him interested in the importance of the bones in telling the story of the one particular dinosaur. I ended the day in a Year 6 class who, again, had the attitude - it's really shocking just how much attitude these children have; my mother would have killed me for treating adults with such disrespect at their age...or any age, for that matter! They were working on geometric art with an emphasis on acute, obtuse and right angle.
It was a good day overall - even if I did get hit by a car on my way home. I was crossing when a car pulled up and the driver looked both ways but forgot to check in front of him. No worries though; it was basically a tap and my cane took most of the damage (a little dent, no big).
I got paid on Wednesday although, naturally, mistakes were made and I've been talking with my consultant since trying to work everything out. I can't wait (Note: Sarcasm) to fill out next week's expense claims - should be ever so much fun after last week's fiasco. The online expense claim went awry and...well, let's just say it wasn't pretty and JSA had to cancel the form and resubmit one on my behalf. Thank the gods I got to be a faceless nitwit over the internet instead of in person or over the phone. Monday, when I fill out this week's form, I'll have to call them while I do it to be sure I get it right. Gah, bureaucracy - such hassles!