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Feel like I am failing these kids

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by foggy98, Jul 9, 2009.

  1. Some more thoughts.......
    In linking our previously separate FS1 and FS2 rooms this year, we have created a seamless transition between the two, with very happy parents, but in doing so we have in fact widened the gap between FS2 and Y1. With SATS still putting pressure on KS1 teachers and children, our parents are increasingly asking us how their children can possibly be prepared for the change in approach and intensity on moving to Y1.
    About shades of grey, yes we should taylor our provision to our cohort and the alternative to adult initiated does not have to be worksheets or chalk and talk, there is a best of both, but it requires adequate staffing to carry it out and we just don't have that, that is what is so frustrating.
     
  2. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We have had a FSU for 5 years ( I think...may be longer) and an Early Years Unit for 10 years before that. We have a very effective transition into Y1 ( works very like reception) and don't experience any major problems when children enter Y2.
     
  3. Good for you grumbleweed. Thats what I think![​IMG]

     
  4. I have just seen this thread and it brought to mind a recent cluster meeting. I talked about abandoning my regular planned observations of individuals because it often told me the same thing about a child. Another FS teacher said that this observation was really important because it would help me plan next steps. Did I really need to spend ages following a child around to know I needed to try and direct him to a different activity. This same person said that others needed to realise our role had changed. We were no longer teachers but 'facilitators'. Well shoot me down in flames but I am a teacher and my job is to teach. I agree with an earlier post. Children do not learn by osmosis but through direct teaching. Teaching to individuals and following their interests is lovely in the ideal world but realistically, how do you get round 30 children in a day making sure they are learning how to count and read unless you do large group or even dare isay it whole class teaching.
    The world of EYFS is going mad!
     
  5. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    It's when you see the reception teacher playing vampires that you know the world has gone mad........................
     
  6. Although in Wales we haven't totally got it from N to yr 2 yet - it has been delayed due to funding - the National Curriculum is still statutory for yrs 1 and 2 - I doubt the Foundation Phase will ever come in for yrs 1 and 2 as the promised ratio is 1:8. I doubt it will happen.
     
  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I've been mad a long time FUF (I have the vampire costume to prove it)
     
  8. Tiredandgrumpy

    Tiredandgrumpy New commenter

    It might help to read up on the extensive theory underpinning this kind of approach-in particular The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach or even Cathy Nutbrown's Threads of Thinking. I'm afraid I have a completely different view, I feel that this has been a long time coming. It isn't about, not making them do anything, it's more about inspiring them, through added focus on the learning environment, to want to do everything. Of course some children need to be moved on and encouraged to try something new rather than stay in a rut but it's about helping them to make the transition and bridging the gap rather than applying pressure. If anything it's more professionally challenging trying to meet the needs of the huge variety of learning patterns. Maybe the advisors aren't geting that across, it may be worth seeking out an inspired practitioner in your area to help. Think of the environment as third teacher and put your expertise into making links and extending what children favour. 'Just playing' is how it might seem but actually the most intense experiences can come when you are most focused on what you love doing. For some, reading and writing is it (and don't forget systematic teaching around such learning areas still has a huge part to play so a traditional approach is fine), for others coming to terms with how water flows from a tap can be a profound experience and provide an opportunity to explore scientific concepts like gravity or the obvious floating and sinking. Once inspired, many children will choose the activity without adult intervention and so it becomes free choice -but it's still learning and probably much deeper learning as a result of opportunity to push the boundaries without an adult nearby who may or may not inhibit the experience by asking too many questions, put restrictions on the activity, or simply take the fun out of it because it's now become what the adult needs rather than the child. I'm sure your not lazy because you wouldn't be in such turmoil. You just need a bit of support from someone who will listen and exchange ideas.
     
  9. Tiredandgrumpy

    Tiredandgrumpy New commenter

    Cheers grumbleweed. Thank heavens, it's not all doom and gloom out there. Someone else who seems to feel a little more positive. These are four and five year olds folks. Of course they're at school to work and learn, but for these little people, play is work and work is play. I couldn't agree more that it's so much more challenging planning for play than direct teaching. As I've said before, there's certainly a place for systematic teaching but at least now for the vast majority of the time the emphasis is on the learning .
     
  10. me again

    me again New commenter

    Another very sensible post- thank you Tiredandgrumpy, Grumbleweed etc. All too often these threads slide into negativity and rant rather than well informed thinking. Nothing wrong with a good rant after a difficult day with less knowledgeable people as long as it doesn't influence others to follow an ill informed wrong path.
     
  11. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Why is it difficult to provide appropriate focus activities for reception? Is this another misunderstanding of terminology? For us a focus activity is a small group teacher activity. It may be a finger painting activity for nursery to encourage their motor skills/writing skill and may be a specific writing task for reception such as writing a list for shopping. Each activity is specifically aimed at the different ages, but poor reception may access the painting activity and very able nursery may access the writing activity. When we first started our unit, we did try to do focus activities that encompassed the whole range in one activity, but soon found this didnt work and now do separate focus activities. As for whole class teaching, yes we do this for our initial maths input, to introduce topics and for phonics teaching. Again nowhere does it say that whole class teaching is a no no. In fact the letters and sounds in YR is meant to be done as a whole class. As for the KS gap, I dont think that is our problem, I think it is KS1 that needs to change. We have a very good play based Y1 teacher who trained as a FS teacher and has run things very play based and we have had the best results the last couple of years. The previous teacher was very formal with little play and her children made no progress and in some instances went backwards, because they couldnt cope. This was the case when our reception class was also very formal, so nothing to do with having a play based curriculum, as they didnt used to have that. For those of us in primary during the 60s, 70s and 80s think of your own schooling. Did you really spend all day sat at desks at infant school. Of course we didnt. Play was very much an important part of our learning. The tide is turning and turning for the better and bringing us into line with the vast majority of the world where formal schooling doesnt start until Y2. I have taught many american and european children who have joined school in Y1 having had no more than part time nursery experience in their own countries and in fact were due to continue in kindergarten for another year. At the time back in the mid 90s when everything was very formal and play was none existent, they had to be put into our reception class. However the only things these children couldnt do compared to other year 1s was write in sentences and read unaided. However unlike my reception children who I struggled to get reading and writing by the end of the year, these children were reading and writing at length in a matter of weeks because they were ready. We set children up to fail in this country at a ridiculously young age. Yes we have a more complicated language than other countries, but how much of our poor international ranking is down to our formal approach to learning at a young age, making them feel failures by the age of 6 if they cant read. Do we do so poorly in maths because they dont get enough time to consolidate their learning in a practical way before rushing to record. Maths across the primary and to a certain extent secondary age range has got more practical in the last 10 years and low and behold our maths ranking has improved. A lesson to be learned there. Staffing is an important issue that needs adressing. I have had an extra one to one TA this year and it has made a big difference next year. I dread going back to me and the NN especially as some of you will know from previous threads my NN is c**p. Staffing was one of the reasons we became a unit as it was the only way to provide continuous outside access and attempt to staff the 3 indoor areas adequately. Oh dont you love a good debate, only in the EY forum!! You dont see this kind of debate about learning in the primary forum. Lets keep this going and lets keep it supportive. I am well aware that I am lucky to have a supportive head, an EY experienced ofsted inspector, an EY/SEN aware SIP and importantly fairly sensible and supportive advisors. Not everyone has this and teachers are being pulled in different directions with different advise from different "experts." It is only through this forum that we can share knowledge, experiences and frustrations in a safe environment.
     
  12. skills324

    skills324 New commenter

    "We used to group the children, they would have a certain amount of free choice but there would also be certain activities each group would have to do each day"
    An advisor recently told me this was ok to do this and a school she had recently visted did this and got good/ maybe even outstanding OFSTED report.
    Either you or I have missed the point i feel, as i make my children do writing for literacy, they are made to or like in your class they would not pick up a pencil or learn then essentail skills needed for the future.
     
  13. Thank God for Marymoocow, Msz and the other positive ones. OP and the other free for all folk - yes you probably are failing your children. Change year groups. You obviously have little empathy with 4 and 5 year olds and little idea of how they embed learning. As pointed out the EYFS does not say anywhere don't teach (have you read it?) You have to teach them. Good solid adult directed teaching. Skills, knowledge, - all of it. And you have to give them time to play, to rehearse, to make decisions to take risks and see what happens,, to put into play everything they are learning, just like you would do as an adult learner. If you were learning to use say a chainsaw. Someone would teach you - 1-1. You would then go off and practice by yourself, choosing different woods, projects etc. Same with children, If your teaching is lazy then you are doing it wrong. Supporting ci learning is damned hard - and I'm not talking about the draining post-it culture - its the watching, absorbing, knowing where to join in, extend. CI does not mean an adult is banned! They must be part of it or nothing of any benefit will happen. There is no excuse for children playing baby dolls all day - how would that happen in an enriched, balanced environment where the adults know what they are doing? Sorry to rant and I don't mean to offend, but really! Be honest with yourselves, don't blame everything else and give the children the chances they deserve or move. They only get to be 4 and 5 once.
     
  14. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    No. There must be times when adults do NOT interfere with play.
     
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    The skill of the teacher is knowing when to step back.
     
  16. Professionally challenging or impossible? Chris Woodhead wrote a thought provoking article in TES recently about the 'unauthentic curriculum' in that the curriuclum as it stood on paper was impossible to deliver and therefore did not exist in any real terms. To truly teach 26/30 individual children according to their personal needs and interests with a 13/1 ratio is to me unauthentic.
    I think what is missing in this debate is the recognition that people are different. Children are different and teachers are different and what the government is trying to do via EYFS is squeeze everyone into the same 'good practice' mould. But that mould is too restricting for some children and adults to thrive within it. It does not appear to be flexible, mainly because a raft of moderators and advisors dictate practice to the nth degree.
    Some children need more structure and fail to achieve in a vibrantly stimulating environment where they are overwhelmed by choice. Some children need to do focus activities with an adult in a quiet space, not with other children playing around them. I agree with Nelly FUF that the more deprived the child then often the more they require the adult to step in and structure their learning environment for them/with them. As adults we all have different standards for measuring noise, behaviour, effectiveness. There should be room for all of us in Early Years as young children learn best about the world around them by mixing with lots of different types of people and learning to respect those differences.
    Some of the contributors to this thread really seem to have got a handle on the current way of working and that is great. For others it is not so easy to make the changes and this could be for a number of reasons such as the facilities in the setting, the catchment area or personal beliefs about the way young children learn. But none of us should be too smug that we have the whole Early Years 'thing' sewn up as today good practice will inevitably become yesterday's ideology in the fullness of time.
     
  17. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    How true. And then, everyone who has assiduously followed all the guidelines will suddenly feel like a dinosaur, because the theorists are never held to account.
     
  18. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    That was a little unnecessary Milly Molly. People should feel able to post on hear for advise, knowledge and rants without being vilified. The OP may have misinterpreted things, but she was questioning her methods as she used to do things differently and I would suggest correctly.
    Oscars Mum I am far from smug. I am suggesting that for the vast majority of us, there is very little change apart from a requirement for quality outside access. I agree with Nelly that my play and language deprived children need more of a framework for topics and less choice initially. This is why I cant emphasise enough that you adapt to your children, and DONT use a one size fits all.
    As for noise in the classroom and trying to keep focus children on task, surely that has always been a problem. I expect my children to play quietly inside and we have inside and outside voices. I dont think many YR teachers had everyone sat down at a formal task all at once. I always worked with one group whilst the rest played. I think some of the problems with keeping children on task, is getting harder. This is partly due to the fact that children in general have less concentration than 20 years ago. It also is to do with staffing. If we have one adult outside now, that is one adult less inside that would have previously have helped manage behaviour and interact with children playing. This is why we need another TA in FS. It would only need to be a low grade TA who would only be needed during the Freeflow times. Just having an extra sen Ta this year and fortunately next year as we are a FSU has made a tremendous difference this year as an extra pair of hands and eyes. This is what we should be fighting for.
    And sorry Oscars Mum I cant take anything Chris Woodhead seriously. He would have all children sat in rows chanting the alphabet and only playing as a treat if they were clever or quick at their work. He has a bad habit of latching onto soundbites and blowing them out of all proportion without understanding the issues. Do you trust the methods and years of EY theories and prctices such as reggio, Margeret Edgerton et al or someone who was a secondary PE teacher for one term and thinks affairs with six formers and teachers is educational and beneficial to the children.?
     
  19. And why would that be? If we all agree with a Piagetian theory that children develop in fairly predictable ways at roughly the same time then what has happened to change these patterns of development in the last 20 years? The nature part must be the same as that is set from birth, so it must be the nurture. The lack of experience of staying on task, being focused, meeting the requirements of others to sit still, listen and comply with group expectations must be the factor. Many will argue that this is a good thing and that young children were never meant to behave in these ways, while others will feel that we have lost something of value and that the opportunity to engage young children in a meaningful way with the adult agenda is becoming far more difficult if not impossible to achieve in some instances. This then leads to frustration and a feeling that you are failing in your role as teacher. Which is where this debate started.
    I'm sorry to use the word 'smug' but the word would not leave me after reading some of the threads on here. All this talk of 'right' and 'wrong' route comes across as smug to me. It is far too complex an issue to have a 100% right solution. And yes I did regularly sit all my YR children down for formal lessons and no-one played during 'work time', We regularly carried out hand writing practise from the board (which they all loved) the weaker ones supported by my NN or given pre-writing activies during that time until they were ready to join the rest of the class. We had whole class starters for literacy, numeracy and topic and then the children would all go off to pre-determined group activities (all chosen by me to meet the needs of the children as I percieved them). Some of these activities would be play based and involve art work, investigations, board games etc but all would be chosen by the adult and not the child. The 'free play' came towards the end of the morning and during the afternoons when the adults heard readers, did cooking or sewing, or worked with individuals while the children played inside or out. All very traditional and old fashioned now and I am sure will make some of you gasp in disbelief at how controlled the children were for much of the school day. But the point I was trying to make is that this was seen as 'good practice' then. We had inspections from HMI originally then Ofsted and passed them all. Everyone from parents, children, governors and teachers seemed happy with this approach for many years. Then everything changes and all your experience and values go out of the window and yes you do feel like a 'dinosaur' . The one certainty in life is change and our current practice will in time succumb to something which promises more, but will it deliver? It is too soon yet to say whether EYFS will deliver all it promises to.
    In terms of Chris Woodhead I don't judge him by his personal life, he is an intelligent man who has been involved with education in this country for a long time. I thought the point he made about an unauthentic curriculum was valid. To me the whole notion of a personalised curriculum on a 13/1 ratio is a nonsense and cannot be delivered. Can you really put your hand on your heart and say that you have met every child's needs and changing interests throughout the day/week/year? It cannot be achieved with only two adults and that bothers some people as they try and try to find a way to make it work. With the present staffing ratios and budget limitations state schools can only really offer a reasonable canteen, a la carte costs a lot more!

     
  20. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    hmnmmm
    I don't have all your experience Mary, much of mine is as a child care worker, and as a parent whose chidlren received nursery or reception education.... and some of my views are as a parent not just as a teacher.
    Within the last four years ish, I have been in a situation where those in power wanted to see adult iniated activities (with adult support) and plenaries and learning objectives and individual targets, and the next year, children choosing independently from workshop provision and both times I got it the wrong way round. So I am cynical. It does depend who is watching you and what their ideas are about early years.
    Now, carpet teaching is apparently frowned upon and activities should be delivered in the workshop areas. These of course are adult initiated and led activities. Or are they?
    Guided reading has gone in and then out of our setting. At least four different methods of teaching of phonics have gone in and out, quite punatively, you must teach it like this. This is within four years as the Advisory Teachers and Consultants have changed and changed practice for anyone who undertakes training.
    Most of the people I work alongside ( and that is many people, for some reason our team is always changing) have little and no idea of past recent history. So they usually do it like they do it and disregard what has been good practice in the very recent past.
    At the moment, child initiated learning in our setting is seen as asking children in passing what they would like to learn and then flippantly including it in the medium term planning. Standards have gone rock bottom. It is like a badly run playgroup, not even as good as a play group, and the standard of care has deteriorated even further. Inexperienced and untrained staff cannot do what experienced and committed early years teachers can do.
    And into this walk OFSTED suddenly very interested in
    all Foundation Stages and putting staff under further pressure. Not good.
    Each of us, gifted uniquely, is a treasure. We should be supported, resourced, given positive feedback, clear guidance from our line manager and a positive report in our school SEF form. What we do is not rocket science but we are special people. And the HT should do our assessments with us, to find out what is involved and make sure they get what they want from the information.
     

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