I missed last week. I’m sorry. It has been a hectic fortnight. Planning, cutting, planning, laminating, reflecting, planning, researching and planning. And planning.
Last week saw me take on a lot more lessons and a lot less observation. Two issues became prevalent. Noise levels and behaviour. It was strange for me because on my previous school experience, neither were an issue that made their way in to discussions with the class teacher but last week – it was a hot topic.
I found it a struggle. I really did. Part of me questioned whether it was worth it – not in the sense of ‘If I can’t control 5 year olds, what chance have I?’ because that is ridiculous. It was more a case of ‘Am I progressing enough here’. Both class teachers and I spoke at length about it and while I didn’t come out with ‘I’m shite at this’, I did express my fear that my progress in these areas (noise levels and behaviour management) was poor. They both reassured me and told me to stop being so harsh on myself. I do think I set high standards of myself but everyone wants to do their best, and I’m no different.
Friday eventually came round, as it tends to do and I got home and fell asleep pretty quickly (although I did watch an episode of Cheers beforehand). Saturday and Sunday were entirely dedicated to planning. I took the odd toilet break and dash to the fridge for a bite to eat but I decided I didn’t want to leave the books, laptop or planning folder down for any longer than necessary. I managed to get the three weekends before the continuous weeks off from work and so I took advantage. Working all day Saturday during placement means for me that I don’t really get a good run at the planning until the Sunday and as I find planning for early years difficult – I’m only ever really working towards the next day. By Sunday night, around 10ish – I had planned all the activities and lessons for Monday, Tuesday and the first half of Wednesday.
Monday of this week then, I went in feeling more relaxed than I had ever done before about teaching early stages. I felt ready, I knew I had resources ready, I knew what should happen when for Monday and Tuesday. It was obvious to me and to my class teachers that I was more relaxed. It’s not as though my lessons were flawless, far from it – but I didn’t feel tense about doing them.
A huge success I had this week came from advice I got from the boss was using a table reward scheme with pom poms (the art & craft type). What a success that was. Children who found it difficult to engage with the lessons or activities were all of a sudden trying really hard so they could win some pom poms for their table. The carrot they had in front of them was first choice of activities for free play. Thankfully – getting to play with the sand tray is a huge incentive for the kids to tune in that much more. It’s something I will definitely use for the remainder of my time in the school.
All my lessons up until Wednesday afternoon I felt had gone well. It should have filled me with confidence for my tutor visit on Thursday. I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that things couldn’t possibly run as smoothly for the tutor visit could it? It didn’t. It really didn’t. All the wonderful behaviours and level of engagement I had seen leading up to this point, disappeared when the tutor came in the door. I brought the children up for lunch and went in to my class teacher’s office and told her that I had definitely failed. There was no way I could pass. The tutor came in and could see how frustrated I was and told me that she thought my behaviour management strategies were effective and they thought the main reason why I had problems was because some of the kids were not sufficiently challenged. It was a fair comment and I fully accepted it. We spoke about the need to have an activity a step above what was intended just in case they find it too easy. It was also pointed out to me that I needed to find a way to assess the learning effectively as it was something I was doing in terms of lesson planning, but not assessing for assessment sake. In the end, I passed my inspection, which was a pleasant but completely unexpected surprise.
Another surprise came in the form of the essay results coming out Friday. I didn’t know they were coming out. I passed that too.
I’ll tell you and show you a glimpse of my highlight of the week. I thought I was going to tell you about making bees with toilet roll tubes (which all the kids loved) or the fact that over half the class at some stage this week told me I was the best teacher ever (which is obviously not true but still nice to thing they like having me as a teacher) but the real highlight this week was cycling along the beach yesterday.
It was a beautiful day and I cycled up and down the beach. Cycling up I was reflecting on the successes and areas for improvement from this week. On the way back down – I didn’t think about anything. It was nice to do that for the first time in ages.