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Today i had an observation from our new head and it went disastrously and spectacularly wrong! I know I planned too much focused work to start with and because the came for one hour i went back into KS1- well any way. However, on top of all that she was not too happy with some of the activities provided and said 'children were wandering around aimlessly!' well some of them probably were. Please help me. What sort of daily activities do you plan that ENGAGE your children? We had the writing table- writing fact books, she liked that, the listening center/book area- no one went to it and they never do. We have changed the area so many times to try e.g. a tent in there, sorted books, added comics, put in cushions and blankets, big books etc- maybe we could add interactive/ICT books? (but i feel it is not always about expensive resources) the Listening center we could add a choice of CD'S rather that the chosen on (although chosen by the children). What about the outdoors, how do you angage them out there- she didn't like the tuff spot and should not be on the floor! i could have used the sand pit.

I am an experienced teacher (what a joke) but I am crying writing this. I have no idea what to do. Please please please any ideas would be greatfully received.

 

Nataha

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Guest Spiral

Firstly, please don't take it personally. It sounds like you are aware of the difficulties your children have accessing the book area - and have tried to address it. I'm sure you find other ways for them to be accessing stories and literature/literacy.

 

You have been working with the children and know their needs very well. Sometimes even the head may not realise why or how something is working so plaese don't take anything personally.

 

Big virtual hugs - I felt the same today and have had a large glass of wine - hence the speelllinnnggg!!!

 

Spiral x

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Couldn't just disappear after reading this. Hang in there - I've had observations like that and you will come out the other side.

 

I have similar problems with my reading corner, it gets used for making dens, diving into but not so much for being quiet and reading in. Something that helped a bit recently came from a classroom rearrangement which put a 'shop front' type piece of furniture near the book trolley. There was a till on it and the children spontaneously started playing libraries. I've added a sign, made individual library cards -just like mine, complete with bar code on the back. We introduced a reminder slip - the librarian has to write the child's name on it and the day their book is due back. Last week we introduced library fines (they thought me as librarian telling a very apologetic TA off for having a late book was absolutely hysterical). I'm hoping to introduce book reviews and a story time soon.

 

It hasn't become the much loved reading corner I'd really like it to be but it has 'increased the footfall' in that area making it easier for me to share stories and encourage people to try out the books too.

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Oh I'm so sorry you had a bad obs and are now feeling so upset. I think that the fact that you can identify the weaknesses shows that you are a good reflective practioner. If you planned a more KS1 morning and your children aren't used to it then that probably didn't help. Maybe try and explain to your head that you don't usefully work that way.

 

As for engaging the children, I'm sure most of them were engaged, she probably spotted the odd child having an off moment - and lets face we all have moments when children are fully engaged. I try (as much as possible) to plan things which link to childrens interests. I often have a challenge a week for children to do when do CI learning. This week I put instructions for how to make a pirates hat (with pictures) and then have all week to do it. The pirate theme came out of their role-playing, children have been eager to the do the challenge and are now using it in their role-play.

 

I always talk to the children about what they could choose to learn in their CI time, and they suggest things like use the book corner, write a story, practise counting etc and then believe it or not they actually do go off and do that! I also usually leave out resources for things I have done in adult led time such as phonics games.

 

Outside I am lucky because I have a large area. I have a trolley with cones, hoops, quoits, balls etc. Then another one for mark making resources such as water pots and paint brushes, playground chalks, clipboards with pens etc. I have a digging pit, a book tent, a large sand tray. a few trikes/scooters. I have planks, crates, tyres which they love. If you can get hold of an large cardboard box they LOVE them! And sheets canes for den building.

 

Maybe speak to your head about how upset you are, she will soon realise that today was not a reflection of you and you want to improve the provision to engage them more and ask for her support if necessary.

 

Don't know if that is helpful but hated reading your post and how upset you were.

 

KST x

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Maybe - just maybe - your head doesn't know how it should look in Early Years. I have found myself that you do have to gee the children up a bit and model how to enjoy using certain areas - especially before an ob :o . Sending a hug and telling you not to worry about it.

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Hi

I too feel for you - and empathise. It is very hard when people come and make comments on your hard work / planning when they dont really see the full picture. I work in a preschool and have been having issues with my committee (and parents) assuming all children do is play and that we need more structure...but they see all of 10 mins a day (arrivals and pick up). It is so hard to convince people its not all it seems when they have their own expectations of what 'should' be...

 

My first thought was do children really have to be engaged ALL the time? They need time to look around and choose what to do...or to watch others...thats not 'aimless' but if someone isnt open minded to the idea that will bias their obs...

It does seem that your observer hasnt quite 'got' the idea of the EYFS....and whats wrong with tuff spot on the floor?...seems a bit nit picking to me...

 

I too am an experienced practitioner but at the mercy of the opinions of those who do not understand how hard we work at the playful learning in our settings :o

Try not to let this bring you down...

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Hi there. Try not to get too depressed. The fact that your are taking on board the feedback she gave you and looking for advice to change things shows that you are actively working to get things right.

My Early Years Advisor made a wonderful suggestion to me earlier this year because I was also finding some children were just not accessing some areas. She suggested I plan activities in the zones some of which are adult initiated as well as child initiated and then each session I could send certain children to carry out the AI task in the area.

So, my play planning now shows a combination of CI as well as AI activities. I spend time on Monday morning introducing the activities to children and then while I or my TA is delivering AL activities the other children are either in CI or AI in the areas.

This has really impacted on areas which have been avoided by children in the past and has also enabled me to get children who only ever want to go in the smallworld areas to visit other areas and carry out tasks there. By the way, I always say to children that they must let an adult know when they have finished a task so that we can go and photograph or capture the evidence as required.

It sounds silly but it has been one of the best changes to my practice I have made in reception and I have been able to capture so much more evidence of them actually meeting challenges and putting into practice what they have already covered through AL.

Hope this makes sense and helps.

By the way! I have tough spots alll over the place outside and I love them. We have small carpet sample tiles placed around the edges for kneeling on and the children love working that way. I did away with as many tables as possible two years ago, even inside the classroom. Most of the time we work on the floor and it is more practicle for the children allowing them more space to spread.

I think if it works then don't change it!

 

Best of luck x

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Couldn't just disappear after reading this. Hang in there - I've had observations like that and you will come out the other side.

 

I have similar problems with my reading corner, it gets used for making dens, diving into but not so much for being quiet and reading in. Something that helped a bit recently came from a classroom rearrangement which put a 'shop front' type piece of furniture near the book trolley. There was a till on it and the children spontaneously started playing libraries. I've added a sign, made individual library cards -just like mine, complete with bar code on the back. We introduced a reminder slip - the librarian has to write the child's name on it and the day their book is due back. Last week we introduced library fines (they thought me as librarian telling a very apologetic TA off for having a late book was absolutely hysterical). I'm hoping to introduce book reviews and a story time soon.

 

It hasn't become the much loved reading corner I'd really like it to be but it has 'increased the footfall' in that area making it easier for me to share stories and encourage people to try out the books too.

 

that sounds great xxxxx thanks

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Firstly, please don't take it personally. It sounds like you are aware of the difficulties your children have accessing the book area - and have tried to address it. I'm sure you find other ways for them to be accessing stories and literature/literacy.

 

You have been working with the children and know their needs very well. Sometimes even the head may not realise why or how something is working so plaese don't take anything personally.

 

Big virtual hugs - I felt the same today and have had a large glass of wine - hence the speelllinnnggg!!!

 

Spiral x

 

Thank you- just feel so inadequate

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Oh I'm so sorry you had a bad obs and are now feeling so upset. I think that the fact that you can identify the weaknesses shows that you are a good reflective practioner. If you planned a more KS1 morning and your children aren't used to it then that probably didn't help. Maybe try and explain to your head that you don't usefully work that way.

 

As for engaging the children, I'm sure most of them were engaged, she probably spotted the odd child having an off moment - and lets face we all have moments when children are fully engaged. I try (as much as possible) to plan things which link to childrens interests. I often have a challenge a week for children to do when do CI learning. This week I put instructions for how to make a pirates hat (with pictures) and then have all week to do it. The pirate theme came out of their role-playing, children have been eager to the do the challenge and are now using it in their role-play.

 

I always talk to the children about what they could choose to learn in their CI time, and they suggest things like use the book corner, write a story, practise counting etc and then believe it or not they actually do go off and do that! I also usually leave out resources for things I have done in adult led time such as phonics games.

 

Outside I am lucky because I have a large area. I have a trolley with cones, hoops, quoits, balls etc. Then another one for mark making resources such as water pots and paint brushes, playground chalks, clipboards with pens etc. I have a digging pit, a book tent, a large sand tray. a few trikes/scooters. I have planks, crates, tyres which they love. If you can get hold of an large cardboard box they LOVE them! And sheets canes for den building.

 

Thank you- did say it was not usual practice- she said she'll come back again after Easter! not sure of the tone when she said it.

Thnaks for your time

 

Maybe speak to your head about how upset you are, she will soon realise that today was not a reflection of you and you want to improve the provision to engage them more and ask for her support if necessary.

 

Don't know if that is helpful but hated reading your post and how upset you were.

 

KST x

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Hi really felt for you after reading your post and just want to send virtual hugs your way :o , i am unable to advise you as we are pre-school, but i'm sure that some fantastic knowledgeable people will come along soon.

Take care xD

 

 

Thank you :(

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Maybe - just maybe - your head doesn't know how it should look in Early Years. I have found myself that you do have to gee the children up a bit and model how to enjoy using certain areas - especially before an ob :o . Sending a hug and telling you not to worry about it.

 

 

Thanks. Wanted to know the purpose of the Tuff Spot and why i just didn't use the sand tray!

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Hi

I too feel for you - and empathise. It is very hard when people come and make comments on your hard work / planning when they dont really see the full picture. I work in a preschool and have been having issues with my committee (and parents) assuming all children do is play and that we need more structure...but they see all of 10 mins a day (arrivals and pick up). It is so hard to convince people its not all it seems when they have their own expectations of what 'should' be...

 

My first thought was do children really have to be engaged ALL the time? They need time to look around and choose what to do...or to watch others...thats not 'aimless' but if someone isnt open minded to the idea that will bias their obs...

It does seem that your observer hasnt quite 'got' the idea of the EYFS....and whats wrong with tuff spot on the floor?...seems a bit nit picking to me...

 

I too am an experienced practitioner but at the mercy of the opinions of those who do not understand how hard we work at the playful learning in our settings :o

Try not to let this bring you down...

 

Thank you- just feel so bad

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Thank you so much for all of your time and lovely comments. I am just so upset and feel so bad about the independent learning. Yes i could have extended some of the activities such as given more focus to the African Instruments (we are doing Handa's Surprise) but I do not know what other activities to provide to help the chn engage, maybe there were too many but they last over the day or so. Just because they were not in the role play when she came if she had come 1hr earlier that we arranging an inter flora delivery for Mothers day (is there a scream icon!) just that 'wondering around aimlessly' has made me so upset. They had laptops, observational drawings, mask making, TA was doing a great language task making fruit salad, I was doing guided reading, writing area had a fruit survey to carry out or writing animal facts in books they had made. Right i'll stop now but what more can i do :o

 

Thank you all so much you have made me feel better and i have drawn inspiration from you. cheers x

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Hi there. Try not to get too depressed. The fact that your are taking on board the feedback she gave you and looking for advice to change things shows that you are actively working to get things right.

My Early Years Advisor made a wonderful suggestion to me earlier this year because I was also finding some children were just not accessing some areas. She suggested I plan activities in the zones some of which are adult initiated as well as child initiated and then each session I could send certain children to carry out the AI task in the area.

So, my play planning now shows a combination of CI as well as AI activities. I spend time on Monday morning introducing the activities to children and then while I or my TA is delivering AL activities the other children are either in CI or AI in the areas.

This has really impacted on areas which have been avoided by children in the past and has also enabled me to get children who only ever want to go in the smallworld areas to visit other areas and carry out tasks there. By the way, I always say to children that they must let an adult know when they have finished a task so that we can go and photograph or capture the evidence as required.

It sounds silly but it has been one of the best changes to my practice I have made in reception and I have been able to capture so much more evidence of them actually meeting challenges and putting into practice what they have already covered through AL.

Hope this makes sense and helps.

By the way! I have tough spots alll over the place outside and I love them. We have small carpet sample tiles placed around the edges for kneeling on and the children love working that way. I did away with as many tables as possible two years ago, even inside the classroom. Most of the time we work on the floor and it is more practicle for the children allowing them more space to spread.

I think if it works then don't change it!

 

Best of luck x

 

So you might plan your adult led activity to work with a group in the construction area or in the role play area etc? We have done this before but i could make more of it. Thank you.

I do provide challenges in the areas e.g. this week it is to write a label for the model you make in the construction area. The flower shop is to write a tag for your flowers, in creative it is to design your own piece of wrapping parer to use in the flower shop. Is this the kind of thing you do. Thank you

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Guest LornaW

Oh teacherinpink how I feel for you and there is already plenty of advice on here but what worried me was an observation that lasted an hour!!!

 

I don't think your HT has much idea of EY imagine asking about the tuff spot in that way! Personally I would not have AI activities during CI time but I would ask adults to perhaps plan to be in an area and more often than not children will then get involved in that area. There is an excellent book called Bees not Butterflies and it shows how the adults can become the honeypot during CI times.

 

That aside put the ball back in your HT court ask her to give you opportunities to see others in practice and also if she can ask you EY Adviser to come in an support you. It doesn't mean you cannot do your job but a conversation with the EY Adviser will give you an ally and also give you a peer to reflect on with and to formulate where you want to go!

 

Reading your post it is clear you are reflective and so don't give up!

 

Chin up!!!!

 

Lorna

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Oh teacherinpink how I feel for you and there is already plenty of advice on here but what worried me was an observation that lasted an hour!!!

 

I don't think your HT has much idea of EY imagine asking about the tuff spot in that way! Personally I would not have AI activities during CI time but I would ask adults to perhaps plan to be in an area and more often than not children will then get involved in that area. There is an excellent book called Bees not Butterflies and it shows how the adults can become the honeypot during CI times.

 

That aside put the ball back in your HT court ask her to give you opportunities to see others in practice and also if she can ask you EY Adviser to come in an support you. It doesn't mean you cannot do your job but a conversation with the EY Adviser will give you an ally and also give you a peer to reflect on with and to formulate where you want to go!

 

Reading your post it is clear you are reflective and so don't give up!

 

Chin up!!!!

 

Lorna

 

Thank you x

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Hi, I wanted to send some virtual hugs too. Rather than criticising you, could she suggest some positive changes she feels you should make? CI can feel a bit unstructured to the uninitiated, but it's not like you do that all day long.

 

Our book corner (preschool) rarely gets used, no matter what we do. I think perhaps it is a case of having books freely available in other areas, for instance in a fact area or in a role play shop.

 

Tuff spots belong on the floor! Ours are on tarmac outside, both children and adults love getting down to that level.

 

We also have parents demanding more 'structure', we are hosting a parent workshop tomorrow when we will try to explain a bit more about how we balance freeflow with adult input.

 

Don't let the b******s get you down!

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I think it's time to bring on the cuddly toys......!!!

 

How about some soft toys in the book corner who need reading to , put in toy sheep and find stories about sheep/farms to put in there.

 

An alien in the maths area who needs to be fed certain numbers of snacks

 

A letterbox by the writing table, postman's hat and some stamps, cuddly Jess the Cat.

 

Dinosaurs rampaging around in the tuff spot with a secret passage guttering leading to somewhere else.

 

Mysterious letters that arrive over night from strange creatures and need replying to..

 

Teddy bears all over the place with issues and problems that need solving.

 

You know all this, I think you are just feeling scrutinized. Go back to what you know reception children love and fill the room with it!!!

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Oh poor you! that's horrible that you have been made to feel so despondant-sending virtual hugsXX One thing that I have realised through reading posts on here and through talking with others in my cluster schools is that yes we all do EYFS but there is a huge difference between how we all do it. Sometimes when I look at people's timetables that they post on here, I think 'that seems formal' and then I look at others who seem to operate freeflow all day and worry that I am too formal in the way that I teach. I think that wherever your head has come from, she has obviously seen Reception done very differently and that has become her norm, either that or if her background is KS2 or upper KS1 she just may not know what an EYFS classroom should be like (have come accross that before!) What you described of your classroom and your session which was observed sounded fab

I plan my 'busyboard activities' which are my areas set out for child initiated to last for a week. These are talked through on a Monday and the children choose from these activities/areas during the week (usually about 10 activities) during CI time, sometimes we add more during the course of the week as their interests change etc 3 out of the 10 activities are challenges which we expect them to complete at some point during the week.

Re the reading area I have tried a variety of things to get my children in there including fairy lights, cushions, cuddly toys etc but they don't really choose to go in there very often. What has worked is that I have a box by my chair of topic related books which are my own which I keep separate from the library/class books and they have a sticker on so that they know they are mine. I talked to them about how they are my special books and they needed to be so careful with them because I need them to read to my own children at bedtime and what do you know they sit there reading my 'special' books on the carpet during CI time! (when they have a gorgeous reading area!!)

I usually have 2 tuffspots on the go and both are usually on the floor except if I'm doing gloop or something messy, then I will put them on a table- I don't get what's wrong with that.

We can always find something to change in our classroom/teaching but I think she has mishandled this observation/feedback nooone should be made to feel as you do.

 

Hugs

deb

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Guest Spiral

Hi there teacherinpink,

 

just wanted to say I'm still thinking of you (as I'm sure we all are). Its nearly the end of the week and I hope you're feeling a little better.

 

Take care, spiral x

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thank you everyone for continued support. Have really enjoyed the Easter holiday but don't want it to end and I have never felt like this before. The Head is coming to do another observation sometime this term and feel very depressed about it. The children want to learn about dinosaurs so we have some good starting points but i'm sure it'll be wrong!

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Guest LornaW
Thank you everyone for continued support. Have really enjoyed the Easter holiday but don't want it to end and I have never felt like this before. The Head is coming to do another observation sometime this term and feel very depressed about it. The children want to learn about dinosaurs so we have some good starting points but i'm sure it'll be wrong!

 

So glad you had a good Easter break and this week is only three days loong so that helps you to ease back in gently. Dinosaurs are always popular and there will be plenty you can do with the children and to enrich your provision. As for observation try to take control of this. so negotiate a time that suits you and a single focus. If you can try to get the HT to come to t child initiated session and see how negaged the children and an how well you and you TA are interacting and scaffolding the learning in this time. If the HT will not do that it will speak volumes about them but then negotiate an area that you feel confident in.

 

Good Luck!

 

Lorna

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