June 12, 2024, by Arts Placements

‘My Guinea Pig’s Bit My Finger’ – My Literacy Support Project Placement

By Elizabeth Davis

Celebrity status

My time volunteering at Rosslyn Park Primary was memorable to say the least. I recall, being welcomed into the classroom by a round of applause, and the children in class shouting out my name. I felt as if I were a celebrity! The children were incredibly welcoming, both in terms of me taking on a TA role, they respected me (called me ‘miss’) and in terms of relationships.  Many breaktimes the children would come up to me to show off accomplishments on their iPads, often their latest high score. I’ve lost count of the amount of times some of the children came up to me with a welcoming hug and told me the latest drama in their life.  ‘My guinea pig’s bit my finger’. ‘I got a new scooter’. ‘I’ve lost my purple pen’.  Ah, the life of primary school.


During the placement, I gained great insight into being a teaching assistant. Under the guidance of the class’ teacher, I went around the class and aided with work.  I took kids out of class to do individual work, and worked with groups of kids to do comprehension tasks. The placement also gave me insight into the variations of teaching you can do. I never thought teaching would involve me sketching a rainforest scene complete with lizards and buttress roots on a whiteboard.  But this worked to inspire one girl to finish her piece of creative writing. This placement also gave me a sense of the dynamic community of teachers in a school. I saw how different teachers interacted with each other in terms of formal speaking and group work, essentially the more social side of teaching.

The challenges

The placement showed me the challenging side of teaching- particularly when kids fight for authority over a glue stick! But the placement was so worthwhile. It gave me a real-world experience of teaching, so that I can decide whether its right for me. On a more personal level, I got to see the pupils I worked with grow and develop, finding their own place in the world.  But, don’t get me wrong, prepare yourself for primary school pupils! They are utterly unpredictable. I recall one girl telling me in a sad tone that she was worried and when I asked why, she said ‘because all the animals are going extinct and the world will end up in black dust’. But I feel that this unpredictability only contributed to the experience. I have many tales to tell now!

I originally wanted to do this placement because I have an interest in teaching when I am older; but, as you can tell, it gave me so much more than that.

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