On Monday our contact from the university took us (Ellen, Hillary, Mallory, and myself) to our prospective schools. We all went to all four schools just as a preliminary kind of visit to meet our principals, cooperating teachers, and students. Every school offered us tea! My school was third on the route. We walked in, and I had butterflies in my stomach. It was like my insides decided to take up gymnastics without me. Within seconds of meeting my cooperating teacher, though, the butterflies must have flitted away. My cooperating teacher, Mrs. Reddington, is so wonderful! She was so welcoming and has a personality that just puts you at ease immediately. The kids were in the yard (at recess) when we arrived, but Mrs. Reddington said we had to meet them or they wouldn’t believe I was real! (Apparently they had been asking about me because they knew I was supposed to come that day.) As soon as we stepped outside, the children’s heads popped up like little Meer cats, and we could hear a little chorus of “Ms. Hannah! It’s Ms. Hannah!” Seconds later I was swarmed. They were jumping up and down and hugging me and all asking me a hundred questions at once. If I ever wondered what it’s like to be a celebrity,I think I know now. However, soon they were going in from break, and we had another stop to make, so we said our goodbyes until the next day.
On Tuesday I awoke to a frigid morning, literally freezing actually, for my first real day of student teaching at primary school in Ireland. The school day runs from 9:00 in the morning to about 2:40 in the afternoon. (Nothing in this country starts before 9:00. It’s great.) I was out the door at 8:00 because I walk to school, and I didn’t know just how long it would take me on the first day. It took me 40 minutes. The walk itself only takes 30 minutes, but the entrance to the school is hidden. I could see the school from the road but didn’t know how to get to it! I guess I could have waded through some brush and hopped a fence, but can you picture me jumping a fence? I can’t. I’ll just walk, thanks.
Once I got to the school, the day was a complete whirlwind. The whole morning was spent in introductions. I said a little hello, and then the students could ask me questions. They had written some down the day before. One asked how old I was, and I told them I was 22 that very day. They sang me happy birthday, and we had a little celebration! Talk about a sweet birthday gift. Then, Mrs. Reddington turned it all into a little lesson. We pulled up a map of the US, and I showed them where Mississippi was. We compared Ireland’s size to Mississippi, and I told them things like what the temperature was like, what sports were popular, and what kind of food we ate. We also looked up pictures of traditional antebellum homes, Ole Miss, southern food, and the like.
The teacher typed up some notes about Mississippi based on what the kiddies remembered. Then they drew a picture and pasted the notes in their little notebooks. Some kids drew houses with big front porches, some drew the Lyceum, and others drew things like American flags and burgers. Leave it to a teacher to turn a distraction into a lesson! At the end of the day, I gave each student a quarter as a little happy, and we talked about George Washington and currency as a ten minute end of the day activity. Taking advantage of those teachable moments! I am absolutely loving being at school with this wonderful bunch of kiddos and an answer to prayer kind of teacher. And hey, now I’ll be able to tell my kids that I actually did walk to school uphill both ways in the snow.