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Please help improve my classroom before the Adviser re-visits!


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You may remember that I had a very negative EYFS visit a couple of weeks ago, so now I'm trying to bring my classroom up to scratch so she has less to criticise me for when she comes back next week.

It's not easy as we're right in the middle of our Nativity at the moment and we've got a lot of illness in the school so lots of children missing too! She didn't think there was enough 'independent children's work' on display but my children are always desperate to take their precious work home, so we generally photograph/photocopy things which works well for work folders but not so well in display terms. Any bright ideas? Would especially appreciate something that takes no time at all but looks great!

BTW - don't go thinking that we don't have any children's work on the walls or hanging from the ceiling but she felt that it was too adult-directed and not independent. Personally, I always find we have children (OK, boys!) who will spend a whole day building with lego/wooden bricks (or running around like hooligans!) and will only produce a picture/writing with LOTS of support/direction.

Sorry for the essay - thanks for reading!

 

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Can you take photos of these creations? Printing and displaying these would be childrens work. Dont forget to add captions though.

You need to direct your boys so that they are not "running around like hooligans", they do need to move of course but that movement should be purposeful. Dont let your advisor think otherwise. Do keep stopping your children and refocusing them if you feel that this is really the case. They wont take on everything all at once either.

Remember, you cant do everything at once, if you can show her some small changes and show an action plan then I would hope that will suffice and remember also that she is also an advisor, you dont need to replicate everything. Your working style may not fit hers and that is ok if your children are learning and making progress.

Good luck.

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One thing I often miss seeing when I go out and about visiting is photos process of doing something. Some annotated photos (for example speech bubbles capturing their conversations ) showing children creating, building, etc), so it creates a 'story' of what they have been doing This way you can capture the characteristics of effective learning too. As Susan said, get the children to add some captions as well, and if you can get the children to take the photos too, then great. This shows, especially to boys, that the act of 'doing' is just as important as the end product/picture etc.

You can do this to show physical development too, perhaps some great outdoor shots of those boys building dens, or making up running games ?

ON the 'no time but looks great' front, do you have a display board low enough down that children can display their own work? I always find it interesting seeing what children choose to display and what they dont!

Good luck with your visit, I hope it goes better for you.

Edited by mundia
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  • 2 weeks later...

If you've got lots of boys, why not tailor mark making experiences to their interests? Teach Nursery had a fab idea on themed clipboards decorated with various things and a suggestion I saw at a conference used lunchboxes with characters on to make up Mark making kits.

 

If they're into building, why not make an area for them to put anything they're particularly proud of to display it? That way, they've taken Ownership of it too.

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Thank you everyone! On a positive note - my classroom got a big thumbs-up on the re-visit and I am now much happier with the way it looks/works.

However - now it's my planning/assessment that's under scrutiny. How do I ensure that I differentiate for at least 3 levels of ability in independent work? I can do it for group work (I think) but I'm not sure if it's even possible to do that for CI?

It appears that Reception class teaching has changed beyond recognition in the five years that I have spent in KS1 and KS2 and now I have no idea what I am doing! Can't see any way of changing things to please my new HT so I think I will be looking for an alternative career just as soon as I can. I have allowed myself 1 day of not thinking about school (had a good Christmas Day with family) but now I am back to despair.

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My biggest suggestion? Go open ended.

 

With open ended resources, the children aren't stuck in a prescribed activity and can take it where they wish to take it, according to their interests/level of development (which with reception is what you should be worried about, not "levels of ability" as they're EYFS covered, not NC).

 

Thus far, thats the only advice I can give you because, well you should have seen my facial expression when I saw 3 levels of differentiation are expected to be planned for in activities that shouldn't really be planned out. CI is about a starting point.

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We're a v small village school so no Nursery and mixed age classes - I have mixed YR/1. HT seems to have decided that I am failing as I asked the EYFS adviser for suggestions of possible different ways of planning and assessing when we were chatting about how things have changed over the years (in what I thought was a positive professional dialogue) so now I have several pages of frankly ridiculous targets to meet, one of which is to 'ensure at least 3 levels of differentiation in group and independent work.'

I have support from parents and evidence that my children are all making progress but apparently 'that isn't the point.'

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I suspect the problem here is the notion of independent work. There is the independent work that is CI and open ended as harmony suggests, and the independent work that is set as a task without an adult. You need to be somehow marrying the two so can you introduce some challenge within your independent work so that both Reception and year 1 are catered for. You may need to direct your yr1s to a task and allow reception to access it or add a challnege to your recpetion areas for your yr1s. Some sort of plan, do review would be appropriate to enable you to track.

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Some wise thoughts there from Susan.

When I was training many moons ago we also considered differentiation by outcome - so I was clear what the possible outcomes for different groups might be - could you consider this as an approach to differentiating for your children for planned independently undertaken activities?

Cx

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