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.
The Past Week
Star: - Using the bad sitting strategy to engage learners in the foundation phase and bringing in two of my year 6 learners to teach a prayer to my infant class.
Wish: - My wish for the past couple of weeks would be to find an effective way to give feedback to infant learners and learners who find reading written feedback difficult. Marking in a group session recommended by a colleague from the ATL union is a possible strategy for future feedback.
The Week Ahead
I have brought in lunchtime clubs for learners who are struggling with their work but haven't brought in a specific club to challenge MAT learners. Increasing the extracurricular activities and contact time i offer to learners is a goal for the week ahead.