This is what I have been with this blog… Here I wanted to record my thoughts and experience, but predictably, was swept away with the madness that is teaching, being a full-time working mother, and being the mad dedicated person that I am!
So, jumping the gun because there is no other option now, how do I feel now?
I feel like it would have been so good to have a proper hand-over. But as the end of years are crazy, and the wonderful teacher that I am covering for was not the happiest about leaving her beloved class to someone else, it never took place. This means that I had to learn as I go, and my is there a lot to take in in starting off in a new school! All the systems, the timings, the expectations… throw in some national assessment and planning changes, and woohoo, off I go on my roller coaster ride!
I have two lovely classroom assistant, one being a teacher in training… wonderful support! But it has been tricky as I should have been much more aware of her expertise, and how much she could teach me and show me of how the class run last year… Instead, it took me 6 weeks to understand fully the behaviour policy, the busy bees system, the snack times… I feel like such a failure for not asking my questions to her, as no one else could have been better placed to help me out with this! Silly me!
On the plus side, a lot of the things that I have put into place are being, so far, very successful. The science table is growing, (with more orders to arrive), the reading session after lunch is proving very successful, though I need to watch out for some of the children who find it un-interesting, and to rotate the books for interest. In general, the behaviour is improving, the children with SEN are doing well…
What still needs to be worked out?
I still hate how we seem to be clearing the tables all the time, and how it putting things back on is not happening, and not the invitational way it should be.
Maths is being over looked
PE is being overlooked
I have the most role play/ getting dressed up class I have ever encountered, and apart from a few, are mainly un-interested in table top based activities.. I amnot yet sure how to tackle that
One of my boys seems to think that the only way to make friends is to be a clown, and helping friendship is something that I find so difficult as it should be such a personal matter…
balancing teaching, covering the curriculum, engaging the children in play, controlling behaviour, fitting all that within the rigid structure of the day… challenge indeed! A huge part of me knows that engaging the children in play is the key. I have ideas, but getting them into place will be interesting!
Right, that is all I can cope with, ciao for now, I hope to be better with posting my experiences from now on… hmmmm
Here we are, it only took week 4 to get laryngitis and week 6 to get the massive tummy bug that is affecting half of my class…
I thought that with having two kids of my own, my immune system would be stronger than that, but I forgot to factor in the extreme tiredness brought on by working crazy hours, in school and at home, and the waking up in the middle of the night to plan/ make resources or think up clever ways to sort my storage conundrums… oh well!
We were promised to feel confident and reassured about everything, and am I?
This was a good course in many ways, but how can I be reassured when the are talking theory at us without backing any of it with exemples! What is the point of doing such a case when the assessement tools are not yet published, when we cannot actually see in practice how this more instinctive ways of assessing is going to look like, and how heads who love clear measurable progress will cope with such a wishy washy system?
I completely agree that teachers need to be freed from all this recording that takes us away from engaging actively and proactively with the children, but surely that guidance could have existed with the previous system…
The whole ‘only seventeen points instead of 117’ is null in my mind when I know that I will have to probably work with 4x 17! (my ability range will include children working at a two years old level, I already know that!!!!), that’s 68 points, most of them covering a whole range of learning goals in their own right!!!!
Well, I am willing, i am willing to see who it will work out, and how long it will take for someone in the power that be to want more consistent and comparable proof of children’s ability.
I am willing, I am able, let’s see how the journey will pan out!
And here I thought I would have time to upload all my early days experience, but have been so terribly shattered, and busy… and there is just no time nor energy.
I shall try to get going again, as I really want to remember my thoughts and my journey through this!
that stated with going into school to clean the sinks and art resources…
Then off to gymnastics club with my kids.
Then off to take the recycling…
Then off to the park to eat lunch,
go to the station to meet our Au Pair young lady,
Home for melon and water as this grey day as turned into a sweltering heat wave!
Off to the sorting post office to pick a parcel (my desk tidies, yip yip!)
On the way, show M. our au pair, the way to the preschool and school.
Home for treats (bought as a charitable move at the post office: my kids are so savvy to this!)
and then back to normal cooking, eating, cleaning…
Finally sitting down for something for myself, and wondering how tomorrow’s inset will go, and when on Earth will I find more time to finish sorting my classroom, especially as what is left needs to have others involved!!!!!
I wonder how long my current excitement will last, I presume as long as tiredness doesn’t tip the precarious balance to its favour!
Good ”back to school” to all!
And here it is, the outside is clean and sorted… still some tweaking as to furniture arrangement, but I will be better equipped to make this kind of decision when I see how the children move and use the space. At least, the backbone is ready for the experiment.
I decided to place what I did to have the water tray near the drain, and not needed to be sheltered under the roof.
The sand pit rules are displayed on the back of the shed, so I let the sand pit there, though I will need to get a cover for it, no way will I let the sand get as mucky as I found it two weeks ago! Yuk!!!
The table is sheltered all day long from rain and sunshine where is it, and it also mean that if the adult supervising sits with their backs to the wall, they can look over the whole outside classroom.
The boxes unit might have to move, and I would prefer to have the plastic easel outside from under the shelter, but I will need to drill holes in the trays to let the rain water out (big fault in the design if you ask me!
And here is the shed, I won’t make you guess the state it was in when I got in, but then, I can’t show you either, I was too keen to tackle it to pause to take a photo 😉
Soooo glad this is done!
Still on the list:
finish daily and maths displays, clean and organise kitchen, finish cleaning art supplies (currently left to soak over the weekend)… I am sure there was something else, but my mind just went blank!
And it is nice that the other teachers are now around too!
Today has been my first day in without my children in tow, and my is it easier to get things done.
Achieved today: lots of laminating of display resources, all boards backed and ready to go, some even have their resources! more cleaning of walls and surfaces, and more to come! finally cleared the tables (par one) and the classroom finally looks a little bit more like a classroom.
Still to do? finish the pending displays, sort the outdoors and the shed, move around furniture to free a space for the filling cabinet our wonderful caretaker has earmarked for me!!! Have I mentioned how wonderful our caretaker is yet? Yes I have, and I am sure I shall again! What a gem!
Anyhow, here are the updated photos of the classroom as currently is!
After what feels like countless days in school sorting and preparing, I still have sooooo much to do. At least, most of my display boards are now lined, my resources to put on them until the children’s work gets up are printed, and tomorrow, I am going in child free!
I think this is going to make the biggest difference! They are really cute, and generally quite good, but N wants to join in everything I do , or goes around copying me when I am done (re-sorting, hmm, hmm, well, re-muddling, the maths resources, applying masking tape where I have stuck my labels with clear-sticky-back film… you get my drift. And that is without counting the many visits to the toilet, the snack, lunch, snack, drink… breaks, nor generally tidying after them after they have explored all the new toys that they hadn’t got their hands unto yet, or clearing the fun and creative masking tape spider web across my art area! All very good fun, but added work for an over-worked teacher who hasn’t even properly started yet.
At least, my Head came today and commented on the information disclosed by the wonderful caretaker that I have been in most days for the last two weeks, shame the room looked like a bomb site!
So schedule for tomorrow: finish the displays finish tidying outside finish labeling the drawers and boxes (and put the pressure on the local shop to restock on the drawers I need!) general tidy up, cleaning… and final sorting of teacher’s cupboard ! Fun fun fun! (actually, I think it will be)
Then, dentist, hairdresser and chosing a new pair of glasses… Full day? Oh yeah!
It seems that in the UK, when there is a change of government, there is a change of policies. Sometimes, change is good, sometimes it feels like something that could have been simply tweaked and improve has been scrapped altogether and replaced by something weaker instead… but hey oh, here we go!
There used to be 9 Early Learning goals in six learning areas: Physical Development, Personal, social, Emotional development, Mathematics, Literacy, Creative Development and Understanding of the world. These were numbered by expectations of chronological attainment order. Each ELG was worth a point. The first three had to be completed to be able to count the further 5 points, and the last point could only be given if all the others had be attained. Complicated? Not really? Common sense? In lots of way, yes. Did it need tweaking? Yes. Some of the statements where rather wishy-washy and needed to be more specific, and covering more sensible criteria. At least, it meant that levelling the children and comparing attainment was very simple and easy.
So, what did they change?
In the name of simplicity, the six areas have been replaced by 7, to split literacy and listening and speaking. The 60+ Early Learning Goals, numbered equally through the areas for easy comparison, have been replaced by random number of ELG for each area. Does that sound good? Well, here are my reservations:
– How they will make tracking and comparing stats within the class, within the LEA and nationally, I do not know…
– why is the number knowledge ELG straight away 0-20? It looks like teacher will have to devise another tracking/ assessment device to pin-point more accurately the learning needs within maths… defeating the ‘simplifying’ argument…
– we have been told of these imminent changes, but have been given nothing more, no assessment pro-forma, no leveling guidance, nothing!
This is a big bugbear of mine: lots of changes going on, but next to nothing is published yet as to assessment tools!
But then, it seems that it is this government’s way, to give next to no support in this sector… the previous power-that-be had created lots of sites to support planning and assessment. It was potentially restrictive, but great when direction was needed. All this has been scrapped…. Some of the tag lines that have been published regarding the changes has been ‘don’t throw the baby with the bath water’, well I beg to differ, I am very afraid that a big chunk of the baby has gone, and there is plenty dirty bath waters left!
Anyhow, moan moan moan over, it is not going to make things better.
So, it might be upstaged by something much better and nationally instigated come September, but as discussed above, I am not too hopeful, so here is what I have come up with to satisfy my planning and assessing needs:
This is a simple spreadsheet system in which the new levels descriptor: emerging, expected, exceeding (yes, all with the same initial, probably in the name of ‘simplicity’, well not when wanting to abbreviate!) so I selected e, p, and c as my markers, the third letter… not great, but the best I could think of!
Each child has their own form, in which the teacher inputs the attainment level (e, p or c), in the column for each term.
This is then fed to the whole class sheet.
I wanted to create this to glance quickly at which children need more opportunities to work on each specific ELG, to help my planning. It also will show progression, or lack thereof.
Do download this if you think it will be helpful. If I fail to put a proper link, try the TES website, it is in my resources (lise8)!
Here is the update class plan/ map as I progress. The idea is to create specific areas for learning, with everything labelled so that the children can be independent learners.
There is obviously a reading corner and a home/roleplay corner, construction corner, Maths and Literacy resources hubs, but I also wanted a distinctive science area, D&T/ junk modelling table, writing table, an ICT table, preferably within the library, but I am still to solve that as I am still to see if moving the cupboards/ resource boxes all in a row by the entrance is feasible (it is bank holiday Monday today). Other suggestions warmly welcomed!
This is the class plan as it is, and I still need to find a good home for my ICT table…
This is what I will try out on Tuesday!
I cannot wait to get back in there and start up on the final touches!!!
Any suggestions and comments very welcomed!