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Is It Just Me!


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Hi all :)

Feeling really low at the moment and wondered if anybody had any advice to offer. I started my job in the Reception class of a small one entry school in September, the school maintains high levels of achievement and i was aware of this before stating at the school. I agree that children need to be challenged in order for them to progress with their learning. However, I have found myself in a very awkward/uncomfortable position. The school does not agree that children should be observed as 'we are paid to teach' . They see 'playing' as kaos. The Year 1 and Year 2 teachers are in their late 50's and no disrespect to them as they are great teachers in thier own right but i can sense from them that they do not like the way I am going about my teaching. (they see this as it is an open plan classroom).

I have taken on board what the school wants/ ethos of the school and in my opinion I teach the children formally as they would want me to. We do chalk and talk and then go to work at their tables. However, I leave jigsaws out/ sand and water/ listening tape/ writing corner/ construction for them to go in when they have finished their work. I dont necessarily agree with this but i was going along with it. However, the year one teacher (and co-ordinator of the infants) has said why do i let them just choose anything they should be sat at their tables not being mobile. He also said why am i working with just one group at a time what are the others doing. (they are all working at their tables on literacy based activities but i support one gp at a time to write). and had snap at me on Friday lunchtime and said in my opinion you have to fit in with our way of teaching and not come in with to many ideas he said he thought i wanted to run the class like a nursery not a reception/ school class then he walked away.

The headteacher has been brought into this and i spent the rest of the lunchtime in her office upset. Although she said that i should not of been spoken to in that way and she apologised as the head of the school. She said that the way I teach causes concern that the children wont be at the standard they are usually at when they go into Year 1. I told her that I feel that i do teach formally. she said that the fact the children choose when they have finished thier work would appear that the children are not being structured enough with what they can do. She said i should tell the children speciffically what activity they can do when they have finished their work. As the head has come from a junior background i felt that I had no support from her at all. She told me to go and clear the air at the end of the day with the Year one teacher.

He did eventually apologise for the way he spoke but I have come way from school this week feeling completely demorolised. I feel that I cant be any more formal than I am being but yet thats not good enough for them. I am doubting my own teaching and worrying whether the children will be at the standard they are normally at. But I am trying my best and at the end of the day feel that i have my own teaching style and am not a robot.

If anybody had got any advice it would be much apppreicated as feeling very demoralised by it all.

Thanks xx xD:o:(

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Guest tinkerbell

Oh dear Clare

I totally sympathise with you ,good gracious have they seen the Foundation policy,profile etc, Continuing the learning journey?

Could you have a word with the head and ask to have a staff meeting and show them the requirments for reception and yr1? perhaps just show them the dvd continuing the learning journey?

If its too hard in a meeting perhaps they could be asked to take the stuff away for adiscussion next staff meeting

Could you ask your early years adviser into school to run the meetings or provide training?

I realise your head is not really with you on this so you will have to be really careful perhaps you could go at it 'I feel I need some help in the reception and would like the LEA adviser for early years to come into my classroom and give me some advice, would that be ok?)

Otherwise perhaps you need to get out

Keep your chin up Tinkerbellx

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Having just read you post I am really feeling for you and, from what you've said about your style of teaching, completely trust your judgement in the way you teach your children. I am currently teaching nursery, but looking for another post, either in nursery or in reception, and I have to say that I am concerned that I may come up against the same problems as you now have. My approach to this is to put across at interview stage the fact that I favour a play-based curriculum, and to use examples of how this has worked. I figure if they want me to teach more formally they won't take me on, which is fine as I wouldn't want to work like that anyway.

I don't know how long you have been teaching, but if you have any proof that your style of teaching ensures children make good progress, you'd be wise to bring this up with the head. Are there any other early years trained colleagues you can chat with about this, or are you the sole EY person in the school?

I know of a reception teacher who seems to operate in a similar way to you, in that she works with one group at a time, her TA works with another group and the other children basically choose. This operates on a carousel basis, so there are 5 groups - 2 of which are working with adults, another group might be working at the literacy table, another in the role-play area and the last group are having their choosing time and play anywhere. She sees 3 groups in a day on this basis, but the thing worth mentioning explicitly is that she has recently been given LEADING TEACHER status, so she must be doing something right.

I don't really have anything else to add, except that I feel certain that you will get the support you need on here if nothing else, as we all understand what young children need - which is NOT formal education.

Please don't doubt yourself as a teacher - it sounds like you're doing a great job! :)

The only other thing could be if you suggest you visit other reception classes as part of your prof dev. on the basis of seeing how others do this. You may be able to observe leading teachers, or, if you know certain teachers who operate in the same way as you, you could orchestrate a visit there, then report back to head/school on your findings (which hopefully will completely back up your way of teaching).

Anyway, best of luck with it all. Keep us posted on how things are going!

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I agree with all that's been said. I use a carousel type of system where children work on different activities (including independently!!!) with different members of staff and we get through everyone in a week. Formal is NOT the way to go and the Continuing the Learning Journey backs that up 100% but there needs to be a good balance between the various extremes. Sometimes my classroom would look very formal to a visitor but at others it would look like chaos reigns!

I agree that if you get no joy fighting the Early Years cause alone, then speak to an Early Years adviser telling the Head that you need advice on how to move ahead with what the school requires. Hold on to what you feel is right and if it gets too much...get out and go somewhere else. If you don't you'll start doubting your own ability as a teacher.

Heyjude

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As a parent I would welcome the syle of teaching you are offering, sounds like your asssociates are long in the tooth or not keeping up to date with current thinking and guidance?

I am not a teacher but you sound like you are a GOOD one don't be too demoralised, keep doing what your doing.

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Think most teachers will know how you feel. Im very lucky in my new head who is early years trained and has a child reception age, but still suffer the remarks from KS1. Has the school had a recent OFSTED because too formal structure in FS would not be viewed as good practice.

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God save us all from well meaning dinosaurs. I think if it was me I would be littering the heads desk with FS documents covered in highlighter pen at the relevant bits.

 

However, thankfully it isn't!!! It would be good however to get a copy of the EYFS document (don't try to download it - send for a copy, you can get up to 10) and ask the HT/other dinosaurs if they would like you to precis it for staff development purposes so you can be prepared as a school. It's very good for the SEF. Then proceed to share with them the bits that clearly say practitioners MUST.

 

There will be training over the next year in relation to this and this will also give you support in what you HAVE to do.

Cx

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Eeeek Claire,

what a horrid situation to be in. I can only empathise, you have had excellent advice and you can rest assurred that you are making the best of a bad situation and doing what you know you should. I would say perhaps they will eat their words in September but unfortunately I dont think that is very likely, I would imagine the snide comments will only increase.

 

What did the previous teacher do? Did you visit and see what was going on? What were the profile scores in previous years? When was the last Ofsted?

 

In the long term you may have no option but to look for something where you will be happier unless you are up for the challenge of converting them!? In the short term, resignation date looms and there are not many weeks til the end of term really although in an unhappy situation it will seem like forever.

 

Hope the weekend is helping and you will feel ready for school again tomorrow.

 

Good luck.

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I really feel for you Claire and whole heartedly agree with all the advice already given. I too would look to bring in a 'higher being' ie Early Years Advisor from your LEA - Tinkerbell's advice about phrasing the request as you needing some help should stop any objections - after all, you don't want to let the school down, do you!

 

Good luck, and try and keep your pecker up

Harricroft

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I really feel for you too, lots of good advice already. If you can see a glimmer of hope and that others in the school are open to change, eventually, then although very hard work, as if you haven't got enough to do anyway, then you may in a few years time get a really good sense of achievement at orchestrating a turnaround to good early years practice for the school and childrens benefit ( with supoort from LEA, don't feel you have to "do it alone").

On the other hand, if you deep down know that the struggle will be too hard, then stick to your principles as long as you can, but be prepared to move on. Anyone that has to work against their own principles of good practice will eventually wear down and feel totally demorolised ( excuse spelling). Even if the school is getting good "results", or even a good Ofsted ( for some reason these schools still slip through the net :o ), in your heart of hearts you know that the children, although on paper are seen as "achieving" in reality, you know and feel that they will also be learning not to enjoy learning, they are not getting what they need to develop into rounded human beings who can cope with the very "unstructured" world we live in. Don't let the constraints of their methods undervalue you, you are a good early years teacher, with the best principles and values that our young children not only need but have a right to.

Good luck, let us know how you get on, won't you.

 

Peggy

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I sympathise with your situation. I am too the only foundation teacher in a one form entry high attaining school and am constantly battling to change the outlook of foundation stage. At the moment I am freaking my head teacher out by gutting the classroom and trying to get rid of the way too much furniture, every time he comes in which is a rare occassion something has gone!!! But the manager of infants (i am grouped in with ks1 because its not my turn to have an official management role!!!) who also teaches year 1 is stuck in the land of tables and worksheets. the children do not play infact if you walked in the classroom you would think that junior children worked in there. she has been on the continuing the leaning journey course and all she can say is 'i am meant to.......' but has no intention of implementing any of the advice she has been given, as that would result in change and her having to do some work that doesn't require opening a folder and digging out a worksheet. god i must sound so whingey but it really irritates me and i know it will never change as the head is too scared to insist on the changes and would rather see the children become disadvantaged than rock the boat. I think i have rather gone off the point that i was intending to make but just wanted to let you know that you are not the only one out there. but this is how i comfort myself- i know i am a good teacher, i know that the children are happy, i know that the parents are happy and i know that the children are making excellent progress and that i am doing a good job and at the end of the day that is what matters. i hope that this will help, i must go now am meant to be planning!!!! i love sunday afternoons!!!!

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Thank you all for all your advice and words of encouragement. I am feeling somewhat better after having the weekend to re-cover. As far as Ofsted reports go, the last one the school had was in 2001 so we are due another visit any time now. The report said that the children in reception had achieved the Early learning goals and were working towards National curiculum standards in Literacy and Numeracy. They said that there was evidence of child initiated activities e.g sand tray activities and mat with small cars. Makes me think that this was done purely for Ofsted as this would be frowned upon normally, in particular in the mornings.

 

Not sure what the Head would think to getting Early Years advisors involved as she would probably think that the school has achieved good results doing things the way that they have always done them so why change now!

 

I have come round to the thought that I have not been criticised for being a good teacher but for the way I teach. Anyway, will take on board all the points you have all said and mull it over!

 

thank you ! :):)

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