Tales from a trainee teacher

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Week 1 - Old and New


Back to school

Back to SE2 means back to day visits.

I was far more nervous than last time, simply because I knew I was going into a year 5 classroom. This was the first time I had any real experience this far up in a school and had no real idea of the expectations, the style of teaching, or even the topics to be covered.

After a brief introduction, I was led by two of the pupils on a tour of the school, where they spoke extremely enthusiastically about their school, particularly the ICT suites and the flood they had last year! Back to the classroom and it’s back to the usual classroom routines. My nerves really were settled as I realised that, actually, I could do all the work, and the only real main difference is the size of the chairs and tables.

The school has a novel way of differentiating the work. Instead of setting the pupils, the work is differentiated and this is explained to the children. Instead of the children being told where to go, they decide where they are, and how much they want to push themselves. This will be an interesting concept and one I’m looking forward to working with, as I am looking forward to teaching the whole class after Christmas.

Just got to get these assignments out of the way first!

From the phone

This is just a test post. I’m blogging from my phone for the very first time.
He this works it may mean I can blog more regularly.

Back to the grind

Well I haven’t posted for a bit so here goes.

I’m now over a month into my second year at Uni and the step up has been increasingly difficult to manage. But I have to admit to being quite surprised at how well I have managed so far! Many more assignments and tasks, a greater fear of School experience and a review of the whole education scene following the new government.

A new addition is Professional Studies. A rather too brief look at whole teaching approach, where subjects such as managing TAs, SEN, and classroom practice are dealt with. It has certainly given us all a lot to think about and has certainly made me aware of the wider scheme of things.

There has been one downside to going back to uni. I know hate this word: “reflecting”. I have been made to reflect endlessly on anything and everything. School Experience 1, year 1, my personal experiences have all been gone over with a fine tooth comb and I’m now so reflective, I’m being stuck to cyclists for safety.

That’s enough blogging, I need to be writing assignments!


Today it was announced that the proposed new primary curriculum, based on the report by Sir Jim Rose, will not be implemented by the new Con-Dem government. What a shame.

After my initial scepticism, I had begun to look forward to the new curriculum for a number of reasons. It would allow for schools and teachers to plan a curriculum for their own pupils, allowed for more creativity and brought the painfully old ICT syllabus up to date. It really is a shame and I hope that the current government look seriously at the matter, and I hope that the Labour party do not let the issue die.

Nick Gibb said:

A move away from teaching traditional subjects like history and geography could have led to an unacceptable erosion of standards in our primary schools.

Quite the opposite. The current (1999) National Curriculum and the “new” curriculum cover broadly the same skills. The Rose curriculum gives teachers some scope, allowing the topics to be child centered and not taught as abstract concepts. It also allows for the topics to be brought together. History and geography, which are refered to as ‘traditional subjects’, are so closely linked together, it makes sense to bring them together under the same heading. After all, it’s no good teaching a unit on ancient Egypt if the children have no idea where Egypt is.

ICT was also finally updated. In the current curriculum there is no mention of digital cameras or the internet. The most relevent things that the children had to learn was to use email. Within the new curriculum, there are ICT links spread throughout the different areas of learning, encompassing spreadsheets, dataloggers, CAD, etc, etc.

It is vital that we return our curriculum to its intended purpose – a minimum national entitlement organised around subject disciplines.

A statement I agree with.

Do you agree? Should the curriculum be changed? Should there be a national curriculum at all? I’d be interested to hear what others think

I haven’t blogged for quite a while, so apologies for that. I wish I had kept the blog going during SE1, it would have made for an interesting read and a great reflection but never mind.

Before starting a few things did worry me. Having been in many staff room, I knew there can be a wide variety of staff! There are those who welcome you with open arms and those that simply couldn’t care less. fortunately this school was the former and within the first few days we (another student from the same course) were really made to feel welcome and part of the team. This makes everything easier, from getting a cup of tea to asking advise.

A did learn a number of things from this placement. Firstly, crowd control, I mean behaviour management. As I progressed through the placement, my repertoire increased to the point where at the end, it was so natural and easy. Clapping, actions, smiley faces, ‘non’ smiley faces, positive praise, and – my favourite when used sparingly – shouting!

The teaching was great fun, but the insane amount of planning that the uni require is very tiring. The level of detail required in a lesson plan made the task very laborious, but by the end of the block it was getting easier and easier. The hardest part, and the part where I would really love to hear your ideas, would be how to differentiate effectively. I found the differentiation to support the less able relatively easy, but stretching the more able, particularly in subjects such as Literacy, was a real challenge for me.

Assessment too, was another area I’d love to develop in the next placement. I used the ‘triangle’ system after each lesson but found that sometimes I struggled to know how well particular children had achieved. How do you assess, I’d love to hear your ideas!

Overall I found the placement to be great, and really affirmed my decision to enter teaching! It was also great to know that other people thought I was going well, having achieved a ‘good’ grade and an offer of a job for September 2012!!

Day Three!

Didn’t manage to post about Day 2 but, as it was cut short by a meeting with OFSTED, there is nothing much to mention!

Day three was a reasonably standard day, as standard goes in a primary school! Mondays start with literacy, and as the topic at the moment Katie Morag, we started by looking at the story Katie Morag and the big boy cousins. We discussed Katie’s choices, as she disobeys Grannie Island to then realising what she’d done.

Onto numeracy when the children were introduced to weight and comparing weights using scales. The children were shown a set of plastic weights making 100g and a metal 100g weight and it was very interesting to note that the majority of the class expected the metal weight to weigh more than the plastic. But after a quick demo, all was revealed!

After lunch, we all made Mothers’s Day cards and then my big moment – the retelling of Katie Morag and the New Pier. After a quick discussion about what a pier is (much needed as otherwise this story really wouldn’t work!)  I retold the story – just! There really is a lot to remember in the story but I managed to stumble through to the end of the day. After handing out their spelling books, we all went home – exhausted and ready for next week!
p.s. If anyone reading has any ideas of how to teach 2 criteria Carroll Diagrams please let me know!