Friday, 30 January 2015


Thursday 29th January 2015 was no ordinary day it was another day where an ability to juggle plates was very much needed! Although a certain amount of adaptability is needed in a variety of careers and situations I believe it is a crucial skill in primary school teaching especially in small schools.

8:45am - Arrive at school.
I would have preferred to be in earlier but also like to read and exercise before work and don't want to get up earlier than 6am! I noticed as i pulled in to the car park that the Year 3/4 teachers car wasn't there which reminded me that I was teaching all four year groups.

9:00am - Banging headache
For no reason I can really think of I had a splitting headache which always makes teaching children extra tricky. I thought about giving the learners a heads up but decided it would be better to give them tasks that would keep them busy and hopefully quiet!

10:30am - Meeting with football team
The day before I had heard about a football tournament in a week's time so I was keen to discuss the plan for this with the players at break time. Unfortunately having scheduled the meeting I forgot that I was on duty and so the meeting had to take place with one eye on supervising the yard.

12:00pm - Countdown
Last year i set up a catch up club at lunch time for my LA learners but more recently I had realised that it would be worthwhile to set up something similar for my HA learners. So we have started playing Countdown at lunch and while I and hopefully they value the session it is another thing to think about and more time where I am motivating and hopefully educating during my non contact time.

12:49pm - Last minute cover
Literally minutes before the children were due to return to class after lunch i was asked if I could stay teaching the juniors in the afternoon over my PPA as the Year 3/4 teacher was not well. Of course this was ok but I was due to meet my masters tutor at 1pm.

13:00pm - Masters tutor arrives
Conscious of trying to make a good impression I spoke to my masters tutor and tried to explain the situation. Thankfully he was very understanding having worked in education for many years. I managed to find an activity that a teaching assistant could lead for 20 minutes before the football coach was due to arrive.

13:20pm - Football coach arrives
While in mid flow conversation the door bell rang heralding the arrival of the football coach. I apologised to my tutor and asked if I could have 5 minutes to sort out the transition of half the class to PE and explain a quick activity for the remaining half that they could complete while i finished my conversation.

13:40pm - Snow
Having dispatched my masters tutor it was time to take the other half of the class out for hockey. Of course i didn't realise I was teaching PE so it was a case of tie off and sleeves up! A couple of drills later and the heavens opened with a downpour of snow forcing us back into the classroom.

14:20pm - The disappearing clipboard
Things calmed down for a while but then I could not see a clipboard which I was pretty sure should be on my desk. I eventually found it but the planning for the football tournament had been replaced with an angry face drawing! Annoyed that one of my class had thrown away my planning I asked who had done the drawing to a sea of blank faces. Thankfully the culprit has since owned up.

15:15pm - Sending the children home
Following the dismissal of the children I was left to get on with the pile of my marking I had created for myself.

18:10pm - Late finish
Completing my everyday after school tasks seemed to take longer (probably because I had twice as many books to mark) and this was the latest finish on a normal school day with no clubs so far in my teaching career.

That day is probably not dissimilar to one's experienced by many of my colleagues in education but hopefully shows the need to be quickly adaptable and juggle many plates. 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Early lessons learnt from teaching the infants.

With the start of 2015 comes more work in the form of teaching the infants in the afternoon. I actively seek challenges and working with a class of 2 and a half year old's to 7 year old's when I am junior trained certainly is one! In all seriousness I was conscious last year that I had a lack of experience in the foundation phase and so when the opportunity arose I was quick to volunteer to cover the class. That experience last year limited as it was set me in good stead for covering the class this term and although still learning every day I do now feel comfortable teaching in the foundation phase.

I do hear teachers in primary state that they are afraid or lack confidence teaching in the foundation phase when they are primarily junior teachers and vice-versa however I also feel that embracing the challenge of teaching lower down or further up the school can help you develop as a teacher.

I have now taught/covered lessons/coached learners from two and a half through to nineteen across all four key stages in the six and a half years I have worked in education. This has led to a wealth of experience and an ability to adapt to learners needs that is vital throughout education. I am also sure that I made the right choice a few years ago changing my focus from secondary to primary education.

Teaching in the foundation phase is great fun and I feel I am making a real difference to learners education something that I didn’t feel i was doing as much when working in secondary. It is lovely to work full time and be able to spend some time teaching every learner in the school.

Although I have only been teaching in the foundation phase a couple of weeks I feel I have already learnt a few lessons that impact upon my practice.

1  Lesson 1 - Keeping learner’s attention in the foundation phase is hard!

In the staff room yesterday a colleague told me that you often feel the learners in the foundation phase are about to switch off and stop concentrating when you are talking to them. This is certainly true and therefore it is important to have strategies to get them engaged, keep them engaged and to be concise and easy to understand when they are engaged.  One fun and effective stratergy I picked up working in a SEN resource was bad sitting. When the teacher calls bad sitting learners are required to sit in a variety of silly ways until the teacher calls good sitting they are then required to sit in the correct manner. The learners in the foundation phase I have been working with really took to this and although some still need prompting to listen it has helped with their attention.
    Lesson 2 - Learners in the foundation phase tell it like it is!

Although the learners I teach in KS2 will show signs of disengagement I have found that learners in the foundation phase have no problem telling me that what they are doing is boring or “not fun”. This honest feedback is useful though as it means you can adapt your lessons to try to make them more engaging sometimes on the spot. Thankfully this honesty is counterbalanced by a great desire to please and learner in the foundation phase seem to be great at paying compliments (a boy in year 2 said thank you to me for teaching him!) which is good for morale!
    Lesson 3 - Photo’s are important for showing what work learners have done.

We have recently bought a new floor book for the foundation phase and it is quickly becoming a useful resource in collecting evidence of learning especially practical activities. I am keen on photo collage’s something I saw in a foundation phase moderation meeting while on training practice as an effective and interesting way of displaying practical work. I do however feel that the floor book requires greater involvement from the learner, perhaps words and pictures they associate with the learning along with clearly displayed learning objectives.

I am thoroughly enjoying teaching in the foundation phase and I hope that I can spend plenty of time teaching in that phase in the future.  

Friday, 2 January 2015

Lessons learnt in 2014, aspirations for 2015

2014 has come to an end and 2015 begins so I thought it worth reflecting on the lessons learnt in 2014 and how I can use what I have learnt to improve my practice in 2015.

Lesson 1 - Communicate

As I develop as an educational practitioner I am increasingly aware of the need for good communication both up and down the command line. The more people aware of the direction you wish to head and the more aware you are of the direction that others wish to head the more chance of getting to the planned destination successfully. Like most young teachers I am filled with ambition and have joined the teaching profession to attempt to make a real positive difference to children's lives. I am full of ideas of how we can maximize learning opportunities for the children but now better understand that these ideas come to fruition much easier if everyone is aware of what the ideas are and the benefits to them.

Christmas Market an idea that came to fruition!

Lesson 2 - Routine

Having a good routine for non-contact time before and after school is imperative for keeping on top of planning, preparation and assessment. Although there are incidents where it may be impossible to keep your routine returning back to it as soon as possible helps keep you on top of the workload. The best routine I have had is arriving half an hour before school and spending 15 minutes talking to staff, 15 minutes preparing the classroom. After school I have all the books open ready to be marked, write down a quick evaluation (what went well? what could we improve?), tidy the classroom and if possible plan the following weeks lessons at least in rough. When I am able to keep that routine I feel on top of the workload and the learners can see and discuss their feedback in the next lesson. 

Lesson 3 - Collaborate

This goes back towards communication however collaboration is a good way of making the most of resources and experience from other educational professionals. One of the best and certainly most exciting learning experiences that the learners in my class had last year was when @davidleighevans came in to do some STEM work.

STEM work, creative designs using gears and levers.

I am also a newly converted fan of online forums on twitter such as @edchat and @primaryrocks. Although initially apprehensive about joining in a chat on twitter especially after 6pm I have found it to be a good community to share ideas while lounging on the sofa with a cup of coffee, sometimes even with the football on!