Monday, July 8, 2013

The London Aquarium and Dublin

My goal at the start of this blog was to update it about twice a week. It seemed to me I'd have plenty of time, but I don't think I realized just how busy the life of an intern and Londoner could be! My goal is still to update about twice a week, but for now, this post will have to cover two very different topics. I hope you like them both just the same.

This past week was the second full week of summer school for me and the staff of the York Terrace East campus of ICS. This week brought excitement, confusion, stress, and overall the feeling that I have picked the perfect line of work for myself. At the end of every day, I was absolutely beat, but I don't think anything else could give me the rewarding feeling that's mixed in there with all the tiredness. The week started off crazy for me being placed and replaced into different classrooms however, I was thrilled when I was told I would be working in the 5-6 year-olds advanced class. I had a great time last week in 7-8, but I have to say, I much prefer the younger children most of the time. I was placed with another teacher who told me on Monday afternoon that he believed in co-teaching and said if there was something I wanted to teach to just let him know. This being said from a proper teacher to an intern was pretty amazing. Being thrown into the class obviously made it hard for me to plan with out first getting to know the students in my class, but it was really comforting to know that I would be able to practice the profession that I love so much.

Our focus of the week for their class was sea creatures. They were learning all about fish, whales,
dolphins, sharks (the favorite of almost all of the boys), crabs and so on. On Wednesday we took our excursion to the London Aquarium! The Aquarium is centrally located just down from the London Eye and across the River Thames from Big Ben. This made for a really interesting bus ride and trip just to get inside. For students who are learning English as a second language, it's really important to get them to talk about anything, and boy did they want to talk about Big Ben and Buckingham Palace as we went by. It was wonderful to hear them talking about visiting those places with their families and finding the words to express their excitement. When walking from the road to the aquarium, we walked right in front of the London Eye. The area was absolutely packed with people and combine that with 40 five and six year-olds who keep stopping to look at the London Eye, and you have recipie for craziness. Getting them all inside took loads of stopping, counting their blue ICS hats, and sometimes, even dragging them along. But it was well worth the effort once inside. We split into groups to avoid crowding the other patrons at the aquarium and I had about eight of my kids in my group. Keeping them all together wasn't easy, but it was really cool to hear the collective, "WOAH!" at every tank we came to. We saw loads of sea creatures and I even got a few pictures. The kids loved when about half way through, they got to pet a starfish. It felt like all too soon when we were rounding them up and heading back down the crowded street to the buses. I was so excited I got to go on this trip. The animals there were so interesting!

On Thursday I got to school to find out that because of an emergency with one of his friends, the teacher I worked with wouldn't be in for the last two days of the week. They asked me if I felt comfortable teaching some of what was planned for those two days with help from other staff members. I of course said that I had no problem doing so, but with the school day starting in thirty minutes, I had a lot of planning to do. The schedule worked out so that I had most of the morning free because my class had PE and recess. Within two hours I planned for the next two days, printed off worksheets, made slide shows, found interactive videos and pulled about 15 books on sea creatures from the library. If my college classes have taught me anything, it's how to pull together lessons under pressure. I had a lot of help from other staff members as far as being my extra set of eyes or reading the kids a story, but I was most excited to be in front of a class actually teaching. On Thursday we learned about coral reefs and why they are important to fish. By the end of a video on youtube and a class discussion, almost all of them could tell me that fish need coral reefs to use as a home. We did a few drawings and writing activities about coral which turned out fantastic! On Friday, our focus was parts of a fish and relating those parts to us. Throughout the two days that I was in charge of the class, I felt like they really learned. I was so happy when I did their writing assessment on Friday and saw that most of the students understood what they were writing and could talk to me about it as well as ask how to spell what they needed. What began as a hectic planning time on Thursday, ended with a very rewarding afternoon on Friday.

This next part of my blog is really quite bittersweet for me. Since I've been living in London, I've
Dublin Castle
traveled to Paris and Amsterdam. This past weekend was spent in Dublin, Ireland and was the last international trip for me as I only have two more weekends here in London! As a whole I've decided that Ireland is beautiful! We had absolutely amazing weather while we were there which just as here in England is few and far between. I actually got sunburned just from walking around the city! Both my flatmates came on this trip as opposed to the others which were made up of just Taylor and I. Dublin was the one trip where nothing was planned. We had a hop on hop off bus tour booked, but beyond that, we didn't know much about the city and were very open to whatever we found. One of the first things we learned about Dublin was that, it's not nearly as "touristy" as some of the other cities we've been to. It was impossible to find souvenir stores that line some streets in cities like London and Paris. It gave the city a really unique feel. We took the hop on hop off bus to the Temple Bar area. Temple Bar hosts many of the city's cultural aspects. There is some form of pub on every corner as well as markets, street artists and live music. The area is also home to Dublin Castle. The castle is very different from those you would expect. It's really small, but it's still beautiful. There are gardens as well that were very green. In the Temple Bar area as well, there were some beautiful cathedrals with gardens outside. There were people just sitting out front of cathedrals enjoying the nice weather with picnics.

One of the other attractions we hit on our first day was the Guinness Storehouse. Having already
done the Heineken Experience last weekend, I felt it was only fair to try the Guinness Storehouse as well. I have never been a huge fan of Guinness, but I have to say, it's much better in Ireland than in the states. We learned about how the beer is made, got a little taster and I think my favorite part was getting to learn how to pour a Guinness. Pouring a Guinness requires a two-part pour which is different than most beers. After the pouring lesson, I even got a certificate saying that I crafted the perfect pint of Guinness. We ended the experience at the top level which offered panoramic views of Dublin.

Taylor and I decided to help us experience the local culture of the Temple Bar area, we would sign up for a pub crawl that went through the pubs of Temple Bar. Taylor and I have done a few little pub crawls so far but I think this was one of my favorites. Three of the venues had live music in a real pub environment. Irish bands sound much different than bands one would find in the US or even in London. They have a really unique sound so getting to experience live music in a really relaxed environment was so much fun!

On Sunday we started they day by going souvenir shopping and then had a trip to the National Leprechaun Museum! It seems very silly, but we had a great time there. We learned about the legends and mythology of Ireland. We learned of Leprechauns, Fairies, Banshees and Merpeople and how they all interacted with each other and humans. In one room, all the furniture was giant sized to make us see how small Leprechauns are. We tried climbing up on the furniture, but I'd be lying if I said it did it all on my own.

After the Leprechaun Museum we embarked on a plan to find the coast. Ireland is so beautiful because it has mountains, city, canals, and the ocean. In Dublin you can constantly hear seagulls that remind you that you're never far from the shore. Getting to the cost was not an easy task. We walked
for almost an hour and were so tired. But when we got to the coast, we all agreed it was worth the trip. It was low tide so we got to walk in sand that is normally covered in water. There were little tidal pools where we stuck our feet in. We got some amazing pictures on the beach with Dublin in the background. It was absolutely beautiful. Being in London, I didn't think I'd get to go to the beach at all, but it was so much fun to roll up my jeans and put my toes in the sand.

The trip back to London was eventful to say the least. Flights and things got confused, but now that I'm finally back in London, I'm happy to reflect on the beautiful things I got to see in Dublin rather than the craziness of traveling. It was an eventful weekend, and I can't wait to get to work tomorrow and meet my new students! I'm sad my days of weekend international travel are over, but this week will bring an amazing field trips as well as some day trips around England this weekend!


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