Monday, 25 March 2013

First Shot at my New Job

Teaching a Lesson at Viewlands

Going back to visit my primary school, almost six years after I left, seemed at first like a journey back in time, with many familiar faces welcoming me back as if I'd only been gone for the weekend. On my way across I eyed up the little forest of saplings behind the hockey pitch of Perth Academy, and remembered that I helped to plant those trees whilst in my last year at Viewlands. I've grown a lot since then but if it were a race the trees would be winning. Once inside, the corridors seemed an awful lot smaller, the ceilings a lot lower, but there was still the same atmosphere of business, the same clatter of voices and plates in the lunch hall.

After my visit last term to talk to the whole school about my Guyana project, the children took part in a dress down day and managed to raise over a hundred pounds for Project Trust to go towards my fundraising total. I hoped I could thank the school for this fantastic contribution in some way, and it just so happened that the P7 teachers had already come up with the perfect idea. Seeing as their pupils were studying the rainforests in class, I was given the opportunity to teach a lesson on the geography of Guyana and link it to what they had been learning. This would also be good practise for me at being charge of a class of children, something that will effectively be my job for most of next year.

It turned out that the children knew a lot more about rainforests than I did, so I left that part of the lesson for them to teach me, and after a bit of map-work locating Guyana, I focussed on a couple of ideas they will soon be meeting in secondary school geography; population density and climate. You may be interested to see what they discovered: 

Population Density of Guyana = 3.5 people/km2
Population Density of UK = 256 people/km2

If this seems like a huge difference already, try taking into account the fact that 90% of Guyana's population lives along the coastal strip (10% of the land), leaving a very sparsely populated interior indeed. In the lesson we discussed the various reasons for this.

I was incredibly impressed by the willingness of the P7 classes to learn and participate in the lesson, with bucketfuls of enthusiasm, thoughtful answers, interested questions and respect. It was really this that made my visit a success, as well as the generous support from Mrs Gellatly and Mrs Oliver who photocopied my worksheets and ensured I had everything I needed for the lesson.

Thank you so much to the teachers and pupils for a rewarding and encouraging teaching experience. I hope to be back, perhaps with a bit more first hand knowledge of the rainforest for you next time!