Session Three: Under The Table, Dominican Convent

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Dominican Primary school is a DEIS school and is located in the centre of Dun Laoghaire town in Co. Dublin. The school has almost 200 children and 16 teachers. We have two Junior Infants classes in the school. DEIS schools address and prioritize the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities. DPS is concerned with the education of the whole person. It aims to provide opportunities for each child to reach his or her full potential, by exposing them to a wide variety of opportunities that develops and develops their overall growth and self-esteem.
There are 18 children in this Junior infant class. Each child is unique. Many have been born in different parts of the world and speak different languages.They are a chatty and busy bunch of 4 & 5 year olds. They love exploring , constructing, drawing, cutting and gluing and creating new things to enhance their most favourite pastime of all – play!
Every week they look forward to seeing Helen who joins this special world of play!
Joanna McCallig, Teacher

Prior to the children arriving in the room this morning I covered the base of each of the tables in transparent coloured paper. The children would be asked to work in twos to create their own world under the table. Using this set up we can keep the tables as they are and the children can work on them over a number of sessions.
I spent time over the last week considering how I use language and how best I can give clear instruction in as few words as possible. The teacher Joanna is wonderful to watch and listen to. Her way of communicating with the children is pitched exactly where the children are at and her approach not only speaks to the class as a whole but seems to respond on a one-to-one basis also. The children worked in pairs under the tables encouraging and supporting each other. As I worked with the children I began to realize that the different levels of English within the class was causing a lot of frustration for some of the children.
The children were given a variety of coloured, transparent and textured papers. I encouraged the children to create their own world or space. I didn’t give too much direction as I wanted the children to make the decision about the content of their space. I had hoped or assumed they would use large pieces of paper in different shapes, as the space under the table is quite large but most worked on a tiny scale, cutting up the paper into very small and detailed designs. I had also brought the hands and feet from the previous week but we did not use them. The children created much more abstract designs than I thought they would.
I really enjoyed working under the tables with the children as it provided me with a lovely place to observe the children and watch how they concentrated on what they were doing and how they engaged together. At times the pace of what we are doing seems slier than normal but the children are going to take a little longer to get to know as I realize that they need to get to know me also and this they will take their time with.

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