Now it has been a long time since my last blog post. I have been really busy passing my NQT year and setting up for my second year in Reception. I have to say, this year is even better!
I do have a snow day today so I thought I really should do a quick update. I have updated my links to include my favourite Early Years Expert, Alistair Bryce-Clegg. His blog is definitely worth a visit, I have found so many creative ideas on there and I bought his book too.
I have also made some changes to my classroom this year. After reading this book I went for a deconstructed role play area and have not looked back. I now have a challenge area which is great for those times when you have just found that you need to address something such as number formation. I can quickly put something in the challenge area to develop this and the children enjoy using it. I will write more about this when I have some photos. I also have a woodwork area now. This was introduced just last week with the help of my partner in crime (Mrs Taylor). We are both very excited about this area as we are hoping it will develop the children’s ability to take and manage risks safely. More to follow…
Time to go and dig my car out!
Unlike many, I did not have the entire summer holidays to set up my classroom due to delays in building work. I had half a day to set up my classroom. Yes it was scary but I was also very lucky to have been given a new classroom and lots of new furniture to play around with.
My school is expanding to a 2-form entry and my classroom is part of the new reception unit. Our unit is two rooms with a connecting door so that we can facilitate a free flow environment. It’s great to be part of something new and I feel it’s a great opportunity to create an environment that works for the children and excites them. This doesn’t come overnight and is something that will be developed and changed as time goes on. I wanted to share with you some of my favourite pieces of furniture that arrived during my first week.
This is our book tent. It is a lovely enclosed space where the children can go to read and enjoy stories. I have a particular soft spot for it because my colleague and I spent one Saturday assembling it! The children needed some reminding at first that it was a quiet reading area and not a tunnel to run through and after a week we are starting to see this. The books go on the shelving on the outside, maximising the space inside.
This is another great piece of furniture, as you can see, from TTS. We are using it as a small world area at the moment and have put some dinosaurs in as a temporary measure. Once we have some more interests emerging from the children it will change. We have hung some ribbons from the holes in the top which look great and add another dimension to the area. It can also be used as an investigative area as it is a plastic tray so you could put messy things in like cornflour, foam and jelly. Under the tray there are some storage boxes which make resources easily accessible.
There are some other lovely areas in our unit and I will blog about those once we have developed them. It’s still early days but I can’t wait to get properly up and running. The children are staying for their first full day on Monday so we are still settling them in. The next big mission is to set up our outdoor area (that’s new too) whilst finishing the inside! There are not enough hours in the day!
This week I have my final meeting at university with my Academic Tutor who will sign me off! It is great to think that I do not have any more essays to write and I can actually start teaching. I have been fortunate to find a job in Early Years, which I have been wanting for the entire 3 years of training. Those 3 years have just flown by! York has been such a fantastic place to be a student and I have made some great friends there who are all heading in different directions.
What will I do now? I am about to start working as a supply teacher to fill up the time I have until I start my new job. It will also give me some good experience as I haven’t taught a class since February. I got up this morning at 6.45am and called in for work only to find that the schools in my area are on holiday today! I spent an hour yesterday printing off emergency lesson plans and creating my ‘supply teaching file’ so I am ready to go. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have some work! Some good tips for supply teachers are here http://www.ugot.org/pdf/resource/supply_tips.pdf
I have been having some input this week about Steiner schools, particularly the kindergarten phase. The Steiner approach is rather different to mainstream schooling in the UK. If you don’t know anything about it then I would recommend you take a look at their website. Today we were fortunate enough to have a visiting speaker talk to us about her experience of working in a Steiner kindergarten. It was very interesting to hear what happens and to compare this with a mainstream early years setting. Here are some of the main points I picked up from the Steiner approach:
- Rhythm and repetition are crucial.
- Children are able to be imaginative and creative.
- All toys and furniture are natural and there are no bright colours.
- Teachers should be worthy of imitation.
- Story time – children are told stories instead of them being read.
- Children’s work is not displayed.
- Formal learning does not begin until the age of 7.
- There is no ICT in a Steiner setting.
Some of these I am more keen on than others, for example I would be keen to introduce children in reception to some of the uses of ICT and it is quite an important tool to me. However the emphasis on creativity and imagination is something I think is very important in early years education.
As this is now my final year at university I am required to undertake a small research project. I realise I in a better position than my friends on other courses who are all doing huge dissertations and in comparison, mine is relatively small. However they have not spent half of their time on teaching practice like me so I feel this is a fair deal 🙂
My research is to be based on a key issue in Early Years education and I am to use the school I am currently placed in. Immediately I think of outdoor learning as the school have just developed their outdoor area for Foundation and this is an area I am really interested in. The only drawback is that I would like to use forest schools as a topic for another assignment and having the same topic of outdoor learning for two assignments is not allowed! I have already made links with forest schools so ditching that would not be an option. So I am now left with another key issue to find that would be relevant to my school. I am quite interested in parental involvement so this may be something to look into. I think the school have also been working on this too so it could be an interesting issue and one that would benefit my classroom practice.
I am going to give myself 1 week to make a decision on this and then I’ll update this post.
Update: (took longer than a week!) I am going to do the outdoor area as the teacher in school thinks this is most relevant to the school. I am allowed to do this too it just means my knowledge won’t be quite as broad as it could be but it will be more in-depth. Now to decide what exactly to focus on.
Early Years Research:
I did come across this site which may be useful for general advice: http://www.researchwriters.co.uk/
…Africa! I’ve wanted to do a topic on an African country for a while now so this has come as exciting news to me. I’m hoping my enthusiasm will rub off on the children too. Something I’d really like to do would be to create a partnership school link with another school from another country. This would be a great opportunity to do that although I’m not sure I could do it on my teaching practice as it’s a long term commitment. Something to keep in mind for when I become a qualified teacher though. This website looks good for when the time comes http://www.globalgateway.org.uk/ I’d also like to set up a class blog – more on that another time.
This topic should link well with literacy, ICT, art, geography, DT, science, PSHE and some aspects of maths depending on what we do. I would like to start by building on the children’s interests as does my teacher so she is making a mind map with the children to get their ideas. I’ll be meeting with the class teacher this week to discuss where we go from there and what to plan for the beginning of the topic. In the mean time I will be getting in touch with someone at the Centre for Global Education in York to see how they can help me.
Comtemporary Educational Issues is one of my modules this year (final year of my honours degree). It is an interesting module in which we get to debate on certain isues in education. This week my group led a debate using this video by Sugata Mitra http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html
We showed the video and then asked the question ‘are teachers preventing learning?’ This led to a good discussion of how technology can be used and whether we as teachers are using it to it’s full potential. As you may imagine there were quite a few defensive comments along the lines of some children would still need a teacher to make sure they learn something. The video does not suggest that we can replace teachers with computers, however it did make me think that we can underestimate how much children can learn without teachers standing over them telling them how it’s done.
An important point the video makes is that if children are interested then they will learn. This is something I agree with and it was not discussed as much as I’d have liked but as my role was to spark the debate not to dictate it’s direction I did not push this. Some people did suggest that teachers do sometimes prevent learning if , for example, they were teaching what was expected of them and not taking the children’s interests on board. It was agreed that for the majority of the time teachers don’t prevent learning.
I feel the debate was successful as everyone had voiced an opinion and some interesting issues were raised. The video could spark a number of debates and reflecting on it I wonder if we could have chosen a better question. Maybe we could have discussed whether teachers should always use children’s interests to engage them in learning. It would have also been good to have more time to perhaps discuss further points the video raised however we did have a time limit. I would recommend that all teachers watch this video and think about how this impacts their practice not only with the use of ICT but in all areas of the curriculum.