Yesterday was my first day back at school in 22 years. I shadowed various other teaching assistants as they went about their work. I saw 4 very different lessons, all involving at least one child that had been identified as needing extra help (providing that help is what teaching assistants are for). It was all rather confusing for me: going into a class in which the children were continuing some work which had been explained to them in a previous lesson, and me trying to pick up what was going on and what the teacher was trying to achieve. However, when I get into the job properly this confusion should disappear.
I started with an art lesson in which the children were assessing each other's work, using checklists that looked as if they had been photocopied from the National Curriculum literature. It reminded me very much of 'going through the motions' on various software development methods from the 1990's (CMM in particular). Then there was a maths lesson on number place value (hundreds, tens and units). One of the boys several times misread 'four' as 'five' and 'eleven' as 'seven. I wondered if he wasn't seeing clearly. He was already wearing quite thick spectacles. However, he still managed to complete the worksheet and seemed very pleased to have got a complete column of ticks. Then there was a reading lesson in which the teacher had the children taking turns to read sentences from a rather surreal story about a woman who ran a boarding house but had a laboratory in the basement in which she did experiments in paint technology. (Yes, this does rather seem like desperate attempt to break stereotypes and promote science both at the same time.)
In the afternoon I was in a chemistry lesson (reactivity series) with older children. I was impressed with how the teacher coped with difficult circumstances, the room was cold, rather dark, and some of the girls were rather restive. He seemed to keep control of the simmering chaos in quite an impressive way, and I quite enjoyed this lesson.
At the end of the day I walked all the way home which took me 55 minutes. Later that evening I suddenly felt very tired and went to bed early.