Monday morning, the first day of orientation placement for the PGDE and there I was sitting at home waiting and wondering, with no school allocated to me: no room at the inn it would seem. Slightly frustrated, and one of the last seven students on the course not to know, it was difficult to focus on using the time productively and not succumb to the allure of catch-up TV on BBC iplayer. After some half hearted attempts to read over material for on campus classes two weeks into the future, I decided to take myself to the gym and let out some steam in a ‘box fit’ class, which was thoroughly enjoyable (my arms were feeling it the next day).
Back home from the gym in time for tea and an email from the University to say they had finally secured me a placement, and that the sooner I could get myself to Inverness the better for getting started. Well, some three hours drive northwards (to a new driver/car owner) Inverness is really not a commutable distance so it was a pretty quick turnaround to amble together printed out paperwork and think “right, who do we know in Inverness?”, and get myself there on the Tuesday.
That was then, and the first placement week has passed smoothly. I was successful in securing lodgings with a friend of my mother’s who kindly took me in at twenty-four hours notice and I managed to drive there by myself, singing all the way and following my senses to get there and find the school.
The school is a lovely place, with nine classes and a nursery, and it has a really bright and colourfully organised feel about it, which is a very good sign. All of the members of staff at the school that I have met so far are kind and welcoming, and my ‘mentor’ is encouraging and confident. Her practice is one which I can relate to and learn from, and I think I will do well in her classroom.
The first day went passed in a blur, though I scribbled down plenty notes, as we were covering for the primary five teacher who was off ill so it was a good opportunity to be in with that age group, and interesting to make comparison with the primary seven class which I will be working with for the majority of my time in the school.
The thing which caught my interest first at the school was to find out more about the very prevalent promotion of ‘eco awareness’ across the school, primary six pupils collecting recycled food stuffs from the kitchens and staffroom to be cold or hot composted (who knew there were different composting methods), to the ‘outdoor classroom’ and the raised planters outside each classroom which each class is responsible for.
On the Thursday I joined in with the ‘Gardening Club’, and it was with much delight that I was given a tour of the grounds by the five children and shown the rhubarb, brambles, plum trees, and potatoes, all of which had grown rather wild over the summer holidays. It will be our job to get things organised over the coming weeks. This week we had the smelly task of checking the hot composter and the teacher drew to our attention that more sawdust will be needed when the ‘composters’ add the food scraps on a daily basis. One primary five boy, the ‘head gardener’, agreed that he would take on the responsibility and join the ‘composters’ on their daily rounds and check they knew exactly what they should be doing.
Although the ‘outdoor classroom’ is a little overgrown after the summer holidays, with a little love and attention it will be back in business in no time, and I think it’s wonderful that each class has their own raised box for planting produce including tomatoes, pumpkins, carrots, parsley, strawberries…there is even a grapevine, it’s tendrils needing a little encouragement to wind round the framework of the tunnel structure. It was a lovely sunny September afternoon and there we were, five children and two adults, picking plums from the trees to sample there and then and to take away home too. On the Friday one of the teachers sent her class outside during ‘golden time’ in the afternoon to pick all the ripe plums, which were then piled up on a table in the corridor for anyone to take home. I just think it’s a lovely atmosphere to in, and I’m looking forward to finding out more about the goings on at school.