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Nervous NQT- Reception planning opinions please!


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Hi all,

 

New to the forum and new to the world of teaching! (NQT) I am in Reception in September and very excited but finding it a bit overwhelming trying to get my head around the school's planning formats. They follow a heritage curriculum where they have set topics throughout the school for each half term, and then in reception they plan based on these topics for each area (CLL, Maths and skills- UW, Creative etc). During my PGCE I was in a school where they used "reflection books" for the indoor and outdoor areas to inform planning. They filled these in on a weekly basis (both teacher and TA) about what they have observed, any new interests and how they were going to move the children's learning forward- such as resources, adult modelling, focus activities etc. At my school in September they don't currently do this- I get the impression I am somewhat restricted in following the current planning format and want to introduce the reflection books to see how they go down. Do you think I should take the risk and trial them for the first few weeks of term? What do people think about the reflection books?

 

Many thanks!!

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Hi and welcome.

 

I think your reflection books sound like a lovely idea and I think you could easily introduce that alongside what you describe as heritage planning. It may even be that you can you use them to prove that a more flexible planning process is possible. The predetermined topic could easily be adapted to meet children's interest---think of it as a hanger and the curriculum that you offer as the clothes, which will change according to the weather ie interests! Don't become restrained by it and you will be ok.

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I reckon that with a bit of creativity you can, as Susan suggests, tweak any topic to fit in with the children's current interests, especially as you don't know what those interests will be yet. I'm sure that the set topics are based on what children usually enjoy and learning can be adapted to whatever the age and stage. You'll never meet all children's interests all the time, and you may find that the constraints of a fixed topic will make you plan in a diverse and creative way!

 

We recently had a traditional stories theme...one week our home corner became a hair salon ~ Rapunzel and one child's parents owned a hair salon... who'd have thought that it was boy's who mainly occupied the home corner that week....( well actually we did... we've done this before and that's exactly what we found) but the free play activity inspired lots of experimenting with colour, maths, mark making, looking in mirrors and psed work.

 

Good luck!

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I agree - try introducing them alongside the other planning ...and gradually you may be able to convince others that more flexible approach is the way to go.

Has been lots of discussion in early years about a need to turn things around so that schools are ready for the children rather than getting children ready to fit into the school - so this would be a step in the right direction :1b

 

BTW if you haven't already read it 'The reception year in Action' by Anna Ephgrave is excellent in illustrating the benefits of greater flexibility !

 

Best of luck!

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I am a reception teacher and what I do is settle on a theme for the term which is usually based on children's interests to begin with and which aspects of DM I want to focus on that term. From that point on i am flexible and totally open to the theme evolving as children's interests change. I have found that I can pretty much tailor my learning objectives to any theme. Why don't you start with the set planning and see where it takes you. The reflection books sound like a good idea it's not something I have done in that way, I have a weekly planning meeting with the children where they talk about their interests and what they want to learn and i write the plan ona big flipchart. AS the year goes on they write their ideas on sticky notes to add to the planning board and we add to it from our obs.

All the best, you will be fine!

Deb

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Hello, welcome and congrats on securing your first post.

I've been teaching in YR a long time and just went back into school a year ago after being made redundant from my EYC post. My personal feeling was that I hated topics, especially when having to fit into a whole school 'plan' but I quickly realised that fighting against this just caused grief all round. I am starting a new job in September and have bought the book recommended further up, 'The Reception Year in Action' which is indeed a fantastic resource (I was in nursery class this year just gone). My new school has a fairly prescriptive topic grid, but like others have said, with a bit of creativity you can make the topics fit the learning rather than the other way around.

I like the sound of the reflection books too, so I'd say go with the topics, as that will keep your HT/SLT happy, then interweave the other things you want to introduce bit by bit. This way you avoid a stand off, and get the chance to show how things can work more effectively, without getting anyone's back up (yes I'm talking about myself here, when I've tried and failed to persuade people to abandon current practice in one fell swoop).

Above all, enjoy yourself and spend your time really getting to know your class, that'll tell you more than anything else what they are about and what they can do.

Good luck :-)

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The other thing to add to this is you do need to take stock of the way the land lies a little with the other teachers, TAs and SMT in your new school are they open to big change for example? you may have to go softly to begin with to get their full cooperation especially your TA who needs to be totally on board for this to work. I'm speaking from experience of taking over from a much loved teacher who was outstanding who my TA was very close to. The first year was quite tricky as I was constantly being told 'oh we didn't do that when xx was here' The first year I was careful to change things gradually and Involve my TA completely in the process.

Deb

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The other thing to add to this is you do need to take stock of the way the land lies a little with the other teachers, TAs and SMT in your new school are they open to big change for example? you may have to go softly to begin with to get their full cooperation especially your TA who needs to be totally on board for this to work. I'm speaking from experience of taking over from a much loved teacher who was outstanding who my TA was very close to. The first year was quite tricky as I was constantly being told 'oh we didn't do that when xx was here' The first year I was careful to change things gradually and Involve my TA completely in the process.

Deb

 

I might be facing that this year - I have a new TA who definitely hasn't worked with reception in at least 10 years and possibly not ever. We will go gently.

 

The other thing I would add is that as an NQT you'll get observations and mentoring and it maybe from someone who doesn't 'get' the way you are trying to work. Don't let this put you off or stop you doing things differently but as Deb says go gently.

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Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your responses! I have spoken to my 'buddy' for the year and she said they decided the set topics as they feel they are more relevant to children in current society, and that I do have freedom to be creative where possible.

 

Haven't mentioned the reflection books yet, I will discuss them with my TA and buddy first to get their opinions and maybe trial them out for a week or two! Just want everything to be organised well- it's all pretty overwhelming at the moment but can't wait to get stuck in!

 

Also this is on a tangent, but does anyone know where I can buy plain circular badges (the type you get on birthday cards)? Many thanks for all your advice!

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