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Help For Rec/y1 Mixed Class Please!


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xD HELP! I teach YR / Y1, finished NQT year 18months ago and still pulling hair out. I have tried so may ways of making this work and have finally reached conclusion that it only works for the children, not for me.Losing heart and after spending 6 years to train part time degree etc to get to this stage I don't know what to do. My school is fabulous, very supportive, but there is too much to do and my energy levels are at an all time low. Anyone there who can talk me into staying? :o Would be very grateful!
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Oh dear, r3nelson.

 

I'm not a teacher so I can't offer any constructive advice. But I do know that our youngest children need teachers like you who are committed and dedicated to their jobs. I also know that this term between September and Christmas is an absolute killer - at this time of year my energy levels plummet to an all-time low and I wonder why I don't work at Tesco.

 

I hope our lovely teachers will be able to come and offer you some support. Take care, and try to enjoy a peaceful and restful Christmas break.

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Hi there,

 

I have been teaching for 10 years, but this September have been given a Yr R/1 class for the first time and I would say it is the hardest class I have ever taught. The two year groups are completly different and need different ways of teaching and I have been pulling my hair out as to the best way to teach them both. Next term I have decided to mix up the groups according to ability, not year groups, will let you know how it goes!!

 

Please don't lose heart, as has already been said the Autumn term is always the worst. Hope you have a good Christmas and best of luck. If you want to talk further, please feel free to message me.

 

Jane x

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hi there r3nelson, as janebeth says, mixed R/1 can be really demanding, and this is tough term for most of us.Add to that you're not that long in the field yet, and the early years can be the hardest.

 

Feeling tired to the point of exhaustion though means sommething is amiss somewhere, but that also doesnt mean you should quit.

 

First things first, trip to your GP might be in order, just to check for any underlying medical issues that may be contributing.

Second, dont rush into making any decisions at the end of term when you are tired. Try and enjoy some well earned rest over the holiday, put your work away for a few days and then come back to it a little bit more refreshed.

 

Then you might feel better enough to stand back and look at how you can make some changes that make life better for you. Im sure we have a few members who are in your experience that will be willng to share what works well for them. (and janebeth).

 

Finally, if it really isnt your bag, maybe you can speak openly to your head about a year group move next year. This will broaden your experience and help you to consider if its just that age group or if its teaching in general that is getting you down.

 

And please be reassured, that all of us feel like that at some point in our careers, sometimes it reflects how much you care.

 

take care of yourself.

mundia x

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Bless you - having taught for 13 years, the autumn term is far by the hardest and of all the autumn terms I have had this one has been the worst by far - I could go into detail but am having a positive moment of putting it behind me for the hols!

 

However, experience tells me things will get better next term! I have taught Reception, Year 1 and a mixed year group too. My year in the mixed year group was one which I spent most of the time wondering if I was doing it right for both year groups and still wasn't sure at the end of the year! It was nice to hear from someone who I met recently and is teaching a mixed YearR/1 class that she wasn't sure if she wasn't doing it right and no-one seemed to know what the best way was! This is 7 years after I last taught a mixed year group! Cold comfort to her and probably you too at the moment but, it put it into perspective that even now there is no right answer.

 

Please don't make a decision over the holidays if like me, you will be tired and emotional (yes found myself in tears yesterday as I couldn't find my nieces present was certain Christmas was indeed ruined). I have learnt that at the end of term you have to take a break, relax, pop off to the gym/spa for a day with a good trashy book, relax and forget about school for a few days. Curl up on the sofa with some choccies, a good dvd or three and resolve not to think about the S word or mention it until a certain date which will allow you to relax (having spent a Christmas prepping for an Ofsted visit the week we went back in January in the olden days of 6 weeks notice - please enjoy Christmas). A friend and I have a fine system at the gym/spa person who mentions the S word buys the other a bottle of wine. It works!

 

You have a good starting point in that your school is supportive, you know you have things to do - make a list. Once I have done that, my load feels lighter and I can sleep once again. Scribble down ideas as to how to resolve the problems you find you are having.

 

Give it a week or so, when you are back at school, can you speak to your old NQT mentor? Tell them how you have felt and would like to have the opportunity to see how other schools are resolving this. Ask them if there is anyway you could link up with another teacher with a mixed R/Y1 class in another school - networking with other teachers is fab - you may find they have the same problems too and too wish they had someone else to share their concerns with too. Perhaps you could visit another class during your PPA time? Do you attend any Early Years network meetings in your LA? If not ask to go or even set one up perhaps with a member of the SMT - would look good for their professional development and NPQH application too. :o Might it be worth asking your EY advisor for your school to come in and have a chat?

 

I hope this in some way, helps you - please feel free to PM me if there is anything I can help with - am afraid that any planning I have will be old for R/Y1 and the memory is a little grey at times though, but always have an ear free!

 

BSx

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Ditto to all the great advice above - try to relax and enjoy your break, making sure you feel fresh in January. :o

 

I taught a mixed rec/year 1 class for a term last year - I was covering a sick leave so I followed the teacher's normal set-up but this is roughly how we did it...

 

The class were separated into 4 ability groups - HA (all Year 1), MA (one Reception plus rest year 1), MA (Reception plus a Special Needs Year 1) and LA (all Reception)

 

The Year 1 children had learned that they had to work for a longer period than the Reception children as they were older - they readily accepted this as it made them feel grown up!

 

Most of the time, the children were all taught together and then the group activities were differentiated by ability - the Reception children could choose to do the set activity (most always tried it for at least 5-10minutes) or to 'child-initiate' an activity (luckily we had a fully covered outside area with CCTV!!)

 

Occasionally, the TA would take the Reception children out whilst the Year 1 children had a focussed phonics/numeracy session etc but it was possible to have all the children together on the carpet - the Year 1's confidence was boosted as they could 'read the easier words' whilst the Reception children liked the challenge of 'reading harder words'. I used different colour card etc so the children knew which to choose (i.e. yellow for Year 1 and blue for Reception)

 

Not sure if this helps you at all!! xD

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xD

I am SO grateful to have such reassuring and sensible comments back, THANKS....I can see what you mean about taking a break and I will promise myself not to think about the 'S' word until Xmas is over!

 

Can I just ask something? splitting into ability groups is 'easier' if its the same key stage, or even ks1 and 2 for that matter, but if I split the whole class into ability groups (where there will be poss 1 or 2 groups with both age groups in) I would find (?) that some Rec would be doing a more formal learning style (i.e teaching number bonds for example) rather than CI stuff, and some of the Y1 would be doing too much CI stuff and then not cover the Y1 L.Os.

 

....and one more question (before I stop thinking about the 'S' word)....if I may!!..... someone mentioned (read somewhere on this site) that they don't use the Framework for literacy (I do, but never QCA units), that they use the NCurr only. Is it possible to cover everything (LOs) in Literacy by 'just' choosing whatever suits the 'theme' for the half term and ticking them off on the Nat Curric?

 

I feel that I am trying to do 2 jobs in 1 (the HLTA said thats becaue I am!)....but this is not physically possible, I think thats the problem and thats why I feel neither is working. The Head and the parents are very happy with how its all going, in fact dare I say I am having lovely comments all around, but I just cannot keep this pace going any longer and need to find as many ' shortcuts' as possible to save energy and actually to remember the reason why I went into teaching in the first place. The only time I really relax and enjoy it is either when we are all looking at and enjoying stories together, or playing games....the rest just feels like stress! enough said!!!! HAPPY CHRISTMAS and thanks again for your support....I will certainly bear what you said in mind. If anyone gets the chance to answer the above questions it would be great :o

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r3nelson as usual brilliant advise here from everyone and believe me you are not alone feeling tired and frayed! I have just retired and felt as you do every December for the last 38 years and for some of them I didn't have a class!!!! So take heart.

 

As for how you run your class you will get as many different answers as people you asked so you must find a solution that suits you and meets the needs of the children. The frameworks are NOT statutory and yes you can cover the whole of the NC by working your whole class as year R. I have the LO for NC as a word document and if you want to send me a PM I would be happy to email them to you. I cannot post them on here for I didn't make them but bought them many years ago!

 

I would also recommend Sally Featherstones book Mixed Aged Planning again if you cannot find a copy PM me as I may be able to help. And finally read Julie Fishers book Movbing on to Key Stage One and you will get lots of good ideas from this as the message now is that Y1 needs to work much more like YR and to have CI time. I'm not sure what part of the counrtry you are in but Early Education and running a course with Julie Fisher on Transition to Year One which shoould be really useful for you - it is in London!

 

Have a good rest and please don't give up it is a great age to teach and you will be amazed how different you feel at the end of the year.

 

Lorna

Edited by LornaW
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Although I have a year 1 class, we don't use QCA just the NC LO and ensure that we have a cover all the LO through the year to fit with our topics. We highlight the objectives as we have covered them through the terms. (We are in the 2nd year of doing this and we now know where we need to tighten up on too.

 

As for Literacy, I have been following the units in terms of narrative, non fiction, poetry, but they have been slotted into the MT plan to fit with our topics. E.g. Traditional & Fairy tales unit was done with our Knight & Castles topic, Fantasy settings is being done with our Space topic, Poetry senses unit will be done when we do our ourselves/body unit for science later this term. I've just taken over Literacy co-ordinator for KS1 and plan literacy for both Year 1 classes and am beginning to have a little debate with myself about how it should be planned - esp with APP - should we be planning for APP or fitting APP into planning. Another debate for another day!

 

I do remember that when I had a mixed class I did have ability groups that were mixed (some Y1 & YR chn in the same groups) like janebe and my TA used to take out a group of YR or Y1 for group work for literacy/maths. On the strategies site you can look at the objectives for literacy and maths and see the comparable objectives for the year above/below where you are working at

 

http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/110237 (Literacy ones)

 

Hope this helps!

 

BSx

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I am currently teaching a mixed Year R/1 class and also find it to hard to juggle everything. I have 3 year 1's that are working at P8 and have put them in an ability group on thier own as they are higher than the YR's and I find it easier to differentiate that way. They go into a year 1 class for their daily phonics sessions. To make sure the coverage for the Y1's is pitched correctly I have found using the APP sheets a real help - I use these when I am planning and have them in front of me in focus job time to tick off targets and make notes against them.

 

As for the other 3 Y1's they are SEN and so are working much the same as the other YR's and need the same curriculum - 2 never did year R at all.

 

Hope this has been of some help and as everyonr else has said try to relax and enjoy your Christmas and post again if I can be of any help.

 

XXX

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:o

Yet again more very reassuirng advice thank you so much everybody!

I will certainly be in touch as it has been really wonderful to know that I dont have to go through this alone, I am in a tiny village school and can feel a bit lonesome at times....same old story, every school around you always seems to know exactly what they are doing (I think they are all putting a brave face on it...just like me!ha!)

Merry Christmas!

xD

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I just wanted to add that I hope you're reassured by reading these that you are not alone. I too have a mixed YR/1 class and feel exactly like you and some of the other posters do. It's not easy! I don't really have any answers except to second the suggestion not to make any decisions right now - you'll be far too tired to make them rationally!

 

I have every sympathy with your comment that the Head and parents are happy with what you're doing it's just that you can't keep up that pace and need to find some shortcuts. That's exactly how I feel - like I'm setting up for 2 different classes every day. It's no wonder we're shattered!

 

Get a good rest and things will look better (at least that's what I'm hoping for :o )!

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Surely APP like the EYP is the assessment tool not the planning tool although I would agree that you need to plan your assessment opportunities?

 

For all of those of you working in mixed age classes, can you tell me more of how you organise your day and make the learning for your yr1s appropriate, please.

I am struggling with yr1 as they seem to respond best to whole class teaching and I need to be very formal. I am struggling to get them to do anything independently and also to differentiate as a result.

Thanks.

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Guest tinkerbell

I too work in a small village school and have mixed r/yr1 17R and 6yr1 the rest of the year 1 are in the next class of yr1/yr2.

 

It is hard work and this year it has taken me until Christmas -a full term to get the class sorted.the children are normally into routines and working well together by the end of the first half term! There have been so many different needs this time centered around toileting and children who are argumentative ....I have just sorted them into 4 groups for phonics.3 yr1 and the other 3 each join a reception group as my helper (they are also doing the ELS programme) this gives them an added boost.

My TA is a wonderful woman and it is essential that you are working well together.

 

It is a small school and we timetable the library/small group room for 2 half mornings a week where the yr1 go to work' quietly' they love it, with either myself or TA. We also have an ICT suite and again we are timetabled for half a morning so the class can be split.

The class 2 teacher is also supportive and she will take the yr1 for 1 morning when she has the ICT suite (and TA in there)and she sends the yr1 for half a morning and yr2 for the other half that way she just has a year group to teach ( I gave up an ICT slot so this could happen) we feel that the split yr1 cohort needs times together....so we do R,yr1,yr2 circle times all at the same time and I ,my TA and class2 teacher each take a group ( one group goes in the cloakroom!)

 

You just have to be creative withthe timetable and spaces avilable in a small school.To be honest I do not do lots of planning because my energy is better put with children .I don't think there is a 'right ' way it has to be what is right for you and your children.

There has been some good advice here and you must now know you are not alone and experienced teachers find R/yr1 really hard work....enjoy the children

 

Tinkerbellx

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<_<CRIKEY my faith has been restored! your responses have brought me to tears, you are all so kind (and sensible)...

I will give it all a shot....but no 's' word for me until ay least 4 days from now!ha! Can I just ask how little is 'little' planning to spend your energy with the chn? That sounds like it is what I need!

Merry Xmas!

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Guest tinkerbell

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm tricky one this ,planning is everyones bug bear but it has always been stated that planning is for you.I have a timetable of when and where the children will be and an A4 plan of the day with some objectives.We (myself and class) do a daily 'menu' on a small white board (IKEA) and I put a star next to the 'job' that they will all have to do eg phonics or group read,maths etc they then choose and we write everything down with stick people to show how many are allowed at each activity etc Anyone coming intothe room eg HT will see at a glance atthe board what is going on in the room.

 

If I were being observed I would write a more detailed plan so the observer would know exactly what and why etc

 

This is just a quick overview .In the evening I would look atthe days plan and add anything else that happened needed noting and adjust the next days plan accordingly this would carry on all week.

 

The MASTER plan ,long term plan is the 2 year rolling programme for Yr1 and Yr2 which I have to make sure the yr1 are following (thatis already written.)The EYFS and development matters is what I use for the R (and yr1 if needed) and that is a template now which I highlight each half term.

 

This is so hard to advise you on! I do tend to go withthe flow ,which isn't helpful to you I know but once you have done this age for a couple of years you will see thatthere is a rhythm to the year and it does become more easier.

 

Tinkerbellx

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, How do you manage by not doing much planning?

 

I too work in a small village school and have mixed r/yr1 17R and 6yr1 the rest of the year 1 are in the next class of yr1/yr2.

 

It is hard work and this year it has taken me until Christmas -a full term to get the class sorted.the children are normally into routines and working well together by the end of the first half term! There have been so many different needs this time centered around toileting and children who are argumentative ....I have just sorted them into 4 groups for phonics.3 yr1 and the other 3 each join a reception group as my helper (they are also doing the ELS programme) this gives them an added boost.

My TA is a wonderful woman and it is essential that you are working well together.

 

It is a small school and we timetable the library/small group room for 2 half mornings a week where the yr1 go to work' quietly' they love it, with either myself or TA. We also have an ICT suite and again we are timetabled for half a morning so the class can be split.

The class 2 teacher is also supportive and she will take the yr1 for 1 morning when she has the ICT suite (and TA in there)and she sends the yr1 for half a morning and yr2 for the other half that way she just has a year group to teach ( I gave up an ICT slot so this could happen) we feel that the split yr1 cohort needs times together....so we do R,yr1,yr2 circle times all at the same time and I ,my TA and class2 teacher each take a group ( one group goes in the cloakroom!)

 

You just have to be creative withthe timetable and spaces avilable in a small school.To be honest I do not do lots of planning because my energy is better put with children .I don't think there is a 'right ' way it has to be what is right for you and your children.

There has been some good advice here and you must now know you are not alone and experienced teachers find R/yr1 really hard work....enjoy the children

 

Tinkerbellx

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Hi :o

Day One done and dusted! As my 'real' plans start next week, and my NY resolution is to be more chilled, I have taken the chance of handwriting the plans in VERY brief form for this first week back.......even the phonics...I have to say that the day went perfectly and I just wish that I could handwrite my daily plans a couple of days in advance according to the chn interests all the time! I do however have the Y1's to consider too and I dont think Ofsted would be very impressed with this idea! What do you think?!!!

xD

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Guest LornaW

Brilliant r3nelson and ditto Susan's comment it is highly unlikely that Ofsted will look at planning and if they do you will be more than capable of telling them why you do it is as you do! It is the effect your teaching is having that matters - you can have beautiful typed planning and still make no difference to the children so go for it and this type of planning should be as effective for your Y1's as their needs will change as times go by!

 

Happy New Year.

 

Lorna

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