Chocolate Eggs and Dinosaurs

Recently, work has been a whirlwind of Easter fun. I was so excited to help put on the nursery Easter egg hunt, and wanted to share a few pictures of the day 🙂 Easter is a big occasion at our school, and it seems the Easter bunny knew that, since he sent us a lot of eggs for the children!

The easter bunny delivers in bulk!

The easter bunny delivers in bulk!

We hid eggs throughout the garden while the children had their snack and milk. It was slightly difficult as we had to ensure two children with special dietary needs found their dairy free eggs…in the end we went with the simplest method of writing their name on it. Why complicate things eh?


They nursery children have also recently been learning about dinosaurs. The teacher made a large egg out of mod-roc and told the children that it was discovered on the field. For days we all cared for the ‘egg’ and studied it, making observational drawings. Finally the egg began to show cracks, before hatching (conveniently over the weekend) The dinosaur left a note for the children before leaving…heading back to his dino family we presume. Whilst most children were thrilled, one or two were a little concerned and shaken up by the thought…very sensible really! Anyway, the teacher decided to introduce the egg hunt by finding a note from the dinosaur. He had left the eggs as a thank you present to the children for looking after him in egg form. Again most children were so excited, but one little girl was very upset by this! Assuring her that the dinosaur was not in the garden and would never come back was not good enough security for her, so we rushed out and found her egg very quickly. Once inside with a large quantity of chocolate she felt fine 🙂

It was such a fun morning and seeing the children’s excitement was amazing. Keeping the children from eating their eggs before home time was a challenge though!

For their home learning the children had all made a dinosaur for a display. The children (and parents) all made a tremendous effort and each dinosaur had a unique personality.

dino2

dino1

dino3

With only two more days of term left, we’re winding down on a very positive note 🙂 I’m looking forward to reflecting on the time I’ve spent as a TA so far, and going into the summer term with the right attitude to getting the most out of my final weeks at school.

I hope you all have a lovely week and are enjoying the Easter fun too!

Katie

 

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S is for Structure

So far this has been a week of revelations, self reflection and Easter fun! I was also presented with a very interesting opportunity to see different teachers handling the same class. The usual year 1 teacher has now left for her maternity leave and has been replaced. With this new member of staff has come new structure, new techniques and new routine. It  has been amazing to watch the same (quite unruly) class react to a different teacher. I was very keen to reflect on a few things I noticed to help me develop my behaviour management skills (It’s something I definitely need to work on) So here are a few techniques I noticed the new teacher using that seemed very effective with the class…

Tone of Voice
As I develop and learn throughout my PGCE I have no doubt I will change a lot, but currently I would say that I am definitely not one for shouting. I don’t think it’s a very effective way of managing behaviour, and I think it often indicates that the teacher has lost control. The new class teacher has a firm but calm voice at all times and is fantastic at using her tone to show authority, without having to shout. This seemed to be working well with the year 1 class, and it was so interesting seeing the difference in the group as the previous teacher would raise her voice much more frequently. That’s not to say this is definitive proof of anything, it isn’t! However it is a good example of the importance of adapting your behaviour to suit your class. What works for one group of students may not work as well for another.

Tone of voice is definitely something I need to work on. As I’m not big on shouting I can sometimes leave myself in danger of coming across too placid. A teacher who is calm and in control can still be authoritative using their tone, without having to shout constantly. This is definitely a note to myself! 🙂

Clear Instructions
As I said previously this class can be slightly unruly. The new teacher structured her day in a very clear and bitesized way, meaning that everything was explained well before the students did anything. That’s not to say that the previous teacher failed at this, but their teaching styles were very different. The students seemed to respond well to a calm atmosphere and small structured activities. Due to the nature of the pupils needs and behaviour there were still disruptions throughout. However the classroom management worked well to keep the class moving forward as a whole and maintain order, despite any interruptions or outbursts. I found this to be real food for thought, especially when working with KS1!

Behaviour Charts
Sometimes it can be easy to focus on the poor behaviour, rather than the good, but I think this can be a big mistake. The class seemed to respond very well to the new teachers behaviour chart. It meant that more focus was being given to the children working well, but also it was clear what we expected from them, as we were frequently praising pupils who were sitting well, listening, or following instructions.

I’ve seen variations of behaviour charts at a few schools and they seem to work fantastically. The teacher monitored behaviour in her class by having a smiley face side of the chart and a sad face side. She reminded the children often that she was looking for people to move onto the smiley face, keeping them motivated and focussed on their behaviour. This also served as a visual warning for pupils who were moved onto the sad face. I think this chart works well as it’s a clear indicator of what’s expected and how pupils are doing. However it also leaves room for improvement as someone put onto the sad face could later be moved across to the smiley face when they change their behaviour.

The same idea can be implemented in lots of different ways. Here’s one I found online. I think this design works well, and is actually better then a simple happy/sad face, as there is room for lots of progression throughout the day on the chart. It’s also very clear how many warnings a child has had, and action that needs to be taken.

Positive Reinforcement
Along the same lines as the previous, another thing I’ve seen time and time again is the impact focussing on the positive behaviour can have on the negative. For example, if you have two pupils sitting next to each other, and one is sitting beautifully and listening whilst the other is chatting and being silly, it isn’t necessarily best to remind the second child of what you expect from them. If you instead just praise the child making the right choices, the other is likely to correct their behaviour. Only giving your attention to children working hard and making the right choices is a good and positive way of dealing with poor behaviour. Of course this doesn’t always work, but when trying this with smaller groups I have found it to often be very effective.


 

These are just a few points I’ve noticed from the change in class teacher. I could go on all day but lets not make this into an essay! I hope this was somewhat interesting. More than anything though I just wanted to make note of things I’m learning to help me reflect on my practice.

If you’ve got any thoughts then please let me know!

I hope you all have a good week, especially those of you that are already on Easter hols. I’ve got 3 days left (not that I’m counting)

Katie

My First Observation

Monday morning came round. I strolled into work at 7:55, foolishly believing I didn’t have a care in the world. Oh how wrong I was! Before long, the usual hustle and bustle of breakfast club began to unfold, and  the noise levels rose to the point where I didn’t even notice the deputy head walking towards me. Her smiling face and friendly demeanour gave me no clue, no forewarning as to what was about to happen…

I was being observed. 

Yes I know, maybe a little over dramatic? However for about 20 minutes of the news sinking in, I was extremely nervous. I’m a teaching assistant (a new one at that) and I usually work with a small group of pupils who need extra support with maths and phonics. That day all TAs had been scheduled in for a short observation during their one on one phonics sessions. My first ever observation! Of course I immediately started doubting myself with the usual “Do I know what I’m doing?” and “What if they tell me I’m not good enough”. Of course, with my limited teaching experience, I was surely right to question myself.

The time came. I wasn’t given a specific time slot and as a result they ended up joining me when I was working with one of my most challenging pupils. Thankfully she was an angel and did nothing but concentrate and ask fantastic questions about the meaning of different words. Result!

So why am I telling you this? Well, however painless those 10 minutes turned out to be, this felt like a milestone. I’m yet to receive feedback, but I feel very lucky to be able to receive any criticism at all, even before I’ve started my PGCE. I want to remember this moment, and look back on it when I start doubting myself again. Questioning whether your good enough gets your no where and I don’t want self doubt to get in the way of me progressing or accepting criticism with open arms. I’m also well aware I will soon be very used to endless observations, and the sooner I get over that feeling of impending doom…the better!

I’m usually confident, always the one leading the presentation or joining in the debate, but teaching is complex and I still have so much to learn. Naturally I’m going to be nervous! None the less I thought having survived my first ever observation I should mark the occasion. Here’s to many more (no time soon though I hope!)

So, what have you achieved or overcome this week? Do you have any advice for how to deal with observations? If so I’d love to hear it 🙂 I’m now off to enjoy a few chapters of ‘Tom’s midnight garden’…oh the fun never ends.

Katie

Spending my life in the library

Hello, and happy Sunday! 🙂

I’ve been trying to really make a dent on the reading list I have, and have subsequently been spending a lot of time sitting in the corner of the children’s section of my local library. Hopefully I don’t look like a wierdo, despite spending my time browsing the picture books!

I’m currently working as a Teaching Assistant and I’m always praying I don’t bump into any students, as explaining why Miss is spending her free time reading ‘Handa’s Surprise’ on the floor, surrounded by books may be a little awkward.

None the less, I have been really enjoying this part of my course preparation. I always loved reading as a child, but found it less appealing the older I got…I’m not entirely sure why if I’m honest (I’m sure that’s something I’ll need to start reflecting on). I was a huge Jacqueline Wilson fan, and loved how she tackled difficult topics like divorce and bullying, making her stories real and relatable.

Three I've just finished. I particularly enjoyed 'The Boy in the Dress' I'm excited to read more from David Walliams...I'm definitely a fan :)

Three I’ve just finished. I particularly enjoyed ‘The Boy in the Dress’ I’m excited to read more from David Walliams…I’m definitely a fan 🙂

A few new ones not on my list, but I'm trying to take in as many children's books as possible, and not just be limited to the ones recommended by the University.

A few new ones not on my reading list, but I’m trying to take in as many children’s books as possible, and not just be limited to the ones recommended by the University.

A few award winning picture books, and 'Tom's Midnight Garden'. I'm particularly excited to read this as I remember reading it as a primary school pupil, and doing lots of work surrounding the story.

A few award winning picture books, and ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’. I’m particularly excited to read this as I remember reading it as a primary school pupil, and doing lots of work surrounding the story.

‘The Boy in the Dress’ David Walliams
I was so impressed with this book and can’t recommend it enough. I haven’t read anything else that touches on the topic of gender equality in children and I felt it was a story that needed to be told.  It was funny, enjoyable and uplifting. During the short time I’ve worked in a school I’ve already come across situations where children in nursery may choose to wear non-stereotypical dressing up choices, (we have a boy who loves being Ariel or Cinderella) much to the confusion of other children. I loved how this story enforces the idea of being yourself, and that wearing a dress doesn’t dictate your other interests, your manliness/femininity, or your sexuality.

‘Mr Stink’ David Walliams
Despite also enjoying this book it was definitely second best to ‘The Boy in the Dress’. However it still had that unique hilarity you would expect from Walliams, and I think this made it more enjoyable for me as an adult. One thing I found very interesting was that it seems all of these books are based in the same town, despite all having different main characters that don’t link whatsoever. They all have the local corner shop in common and the friendly owner named Raj. I’m interested to read a few more of his books to see if this continues throughout. If so, this might be a fantastic geography lesson opportunity, where the children could map out the town in which all the books are set.

‘Lola Rose’ Jacqueline Wilson
I originally read this book when I was about 9, and was excited to re-read it and see how my opinion has changed. Wilson discusses some very difficult themes throughout the book (domestic violence, child neglect, low self esteem, anxiety and fear), and my adult brain at times didn’t want the younger me to have dealt with these topics. I think sometimes we want children to be sheltered from the difficulties in life, and rightly so, but for many children this is reality. Because of this, i think it’s important that such issues are addressed. Despite this I quickly fell in love with the book all over again and feel that the themes discussed where done so in an age appropriate way. The story was imaginative, the characters were likeable but realistic and I think it’s important children can relate to the books they read.

If you’ve read any of these books let me know what you think, and if you’ve got any recommendations for me I’d love to hear them.

Well I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Katie a.k.a The Library Loiterer 

Hello my name is Katie…

So it’s almost 6 months until I start my PGCE course, and to say I’m a little excited is definitely an understatement. However with that excitement comes a serious understanding of what I will be undertaking. I am nervous. I am apprehensive. I want to succeed.

I love being a TA, but after leaving my previous (short lived) career in Advertising, I knew my dream was to be a primary school teacher, not a TA. I want to be responsible for the learning of my class, and as much as I will one day regret these words, I want to be the one planning the lessons. I feel as emotionally prepared as I can be for what I will be doing in September, and wanted to create this blog to chronicle my journey and progress.

In the meantime, I have plenty of preparation and self reflection to do, to try and be as academically prepared as possible 🙂

Anyway, I hope you’re having a lovely day! I’m off to finish cooking dinner, carry on watching the final season of Lost and read some more of ‘Mr Stink’ by David Walliams 🙂

Katie


STATUS
6 months until PGCE course begins.
Currently working as a full time TA in a primary school.

MOOD
Excited! I’m trying not to complete all of my course prep tasks too early, as I’m worried I’ll have forgotten much of it come September…I’ve really been enjoying them, especially the recommended reading!