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I feel like I don't know what I'm doing anymore!

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by Salleriano, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Last year we were more like Yr 1 in Reception for Literacy and Numeracy, and the kids made great progress, especially in writing. This year we have gone more play-based and even the most able kids in my class rarely do any 'writing' independently, although I have tested them and they know almost all of their sounds! Blending sounds to read words is not so much of a problem, it's the writing they can't seem to do. Are my expectations too high? Or is it because there is too much play? I only have a small room so I can't do wonderful home corners with oodles of resources, nor can I have the 6 areas of learning represented in continuous provision. My afternoons are child-initiated - should I make my mornings more formal? I just feel as if my kids are capable of so much more! Or maybe they aren't? I don't know any more!!! Any advice? What works for you?



    Thank you in anticipation xx
     
  2. Last year we were more like Yr 1 in Reception for Literacy and Numeracy, and the kids made great progress, especially in writing. This year we have gone more play-based and even the most able kids in my class rarely do any 'writing' independently, although I have tested them and they know almost all of their sounds! Blending sounds to read words is not so much of a problem, it's the writing they can't seem to do. Are my expectations too high? Or is it because there is too much play? I only have a small room so I can't do wonderful home corners with oodles of resources, nor can I have the 6 areas of learning represented in continuous provision. My afternoons are child-initiated - should I make my mornings more formal? I just feel as if my kids are capable of so much more! Or maybe they aren't? I don't know any more!!! Any advice? What works for you?



    Thank you in anticipation xx
     
  3. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    It would be interesting to see how many threads about total confusion and misery re the foundation stage have been started on here in the last year or so.
    There's something seriously wrong with a system that is so hard for so many moderately intelligent adults to understand.
     
  4. I feel exactly the same. I am avery experienced early years teacher. I have always had good feedback from OFSTED inspections but I just feel absolutely inadequate at the moment. Since Sept I have been following LEA advice- lots of CI activities, using the outdoors, standing with clipboard and camera in hand, looking for evidence that ability shown in a formal phonics teaching session is embedded! I know they can't possibly read and write CVC words unless I've seen them do it in the sand, outside riding round on a bike or in the role play area and totally child initiated. I realise that just because I see them doing it every day in my phonics lessons doesn't mean they really can! I'm kidding myself and waiting for them to say 'Oh I think I'll just go and write a list of words in the cave, on the wall etc!

    I'm on my soap box and rambling but hopefully you get the picture. I think what I am going to do is pretend I do what they want at moderation meetings and in the privacy of my classroom I think I will teach (real lessons but keep it quiet everyone)
     
  5. Re the phonics - a child can either blend or they can't.

    Re number - a child can either count to 10 or they can't.

    A child understands that a number represents that number of 'things' or not.

    Re behaving in a certain way socially, we can see this during wider activities but we can see it in the normal run-of-the-mill routines of any setting.

    The advisors have made a dog's dinner out of just about everything.

    The sooner people ignore them and just get on with their own common sense and management styles - the better.

    Please try to have your own confidence and apply your own common sense.

    A child's day should be fit-for-purpose and so teachers need to decide exactly what it is they are trying to provide for their children and then do it appropriate to their own view of how things should take place.

    But I appeal to people only to observe and formally record those observations only if they REALLY think there is better value in that than just getting on with being busy in the setting and relating to the children for the vast majority of the time.
     
  6. Well put!
     
  7. Debbie- you are right of course!
     
  8. sadika

    sadika New commenter

    Being employed as a "teacher" that is what I do every day - <u>teach</u> - whilst having lots of resources/activities available for children to choose/initiate from I ensure that certain things are taught every day - if I didn't I might be waiting until kingdom come for some children to choose to write independently. Most of my class do actually do that now - but only because they have been taught how to do so in the first place - today a usually most reluctant little boy when it comes to anything involving "writing" actually chose when playing with the garage and lorries to draw round a lorry and write his name clearly in the middle so the others would know where "his" lorry was being parked ... but if I hadn't made sure he participated in all those developing fine-motor skills activities and shown him correct letter shapes would he have done that writing today ... or in the near future ... ?!!! So to the initial poster don't be afraid to follow what you know works and to repeat Debbie's wise (as always) words:
    Please try to have your own confidence and apply your own common sense.
     
  9. Thank you so much for all your practical, down to earth advice. I wholeheartedly agree that the EY advisers have messed everything up - I really think they have no idea what to say and just make it up as they go along. And I always have a sneaking suspicion that the reason they are advisers and not teachers is because they couldn't cope with all the demands of teaching anymore! Whenever I have asked our EY adviser to model a certain approach for me so I can watch her teach it, she has politely declined.....

    I am taking your advice on board and am going to do it my way from now on. Thank you for allowing me to vent my confusion!! And for your wise words! xx
     
  10. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    I wil bump this up.

    Advisors ha.

    We used to have access to water in our setting. And key workers. Not no more, we have chaos. Ta advisory.

    Just because there is a tap does not mean there is water for children to drink. It needs cups as well.

    Even my dog has access to water.

    Dear me.
     
  11. Thank you so much for your posts. I am working alongside an 'advisor' who has returned to teaching Reception after a very long time advising. I am finding it very difficult to get the balance between what she wants to do, what the school did before she came and also what I think is best.

    I don't feel I can support 30 children to achieve ELGs using mainly a child initiated approach especially with CLL as most of them don't want to write. I have found I have started to plan seperate adult led activities but am worried about the criticism from the teacher in the other Reception class as she is using all her advisory ideas. When did it get so complicated to be a teacher!
     
  12. I am so glad others feel the same!! What really gets me is that in Year 1 upwards, you teach something and they can either do it or not - no ooh but let's see if they do it of their own choosing!

    Last year a couple of my YR boys only scored 3 or 4 for creative development cos while they would do creative activities when asked to, they wouldn't go over the top with effort and wouldn't choose to them any other time.

    I also found point 6 for writing a pain last year (attempts diff. kinds of writing) - my most able were really good at writing, but wouldn't necessarily choose to do all kinds - they preferred to make things using paper, glue, scissors, sellotape, etc, at the 'writing' table! So far this year, there are more children in my class attempting their own writing - but that's down to the children, in that they obviously want to, if you know what I mean. So I guess there will be other things I can't tick off cos they are writing independently and not chooisng to do something else!!!
     
  13. karentee

    karentee New commenter

    This is a relaly interesting thread, and all the more interseting that no one has come forward and praised the advice that we are given re child intiated curriculum. We are having the same debate at our school at the moment, many of our children would spend all day, every day doing the same kind of activity unless they are guided and taught to do other things.
     
  14. sadika

    sadika New commenter

    Just for example: today in my class whilst doing some shared writing I asked a very bright boy - who just has that natural ability to be able to read way beyond his years and spell accordingly - to write a further sentence - no he didn't want to, I persuaded him to do so and with no problems he wrote At the top was a castle - yes he spelt castle totally independently - but it was only because I "encouraged" him ... left to his own devices he doesn't choose any writing activities - he would sit there and read all day long!!!! I have a girl who would dress up all day long ... as I said in my previous post I am a TEACHER ... teaching my class will enable them to develop and widen their skills so when they are given time to use their initiative hopefully they will use what they have been taught ... and that's what I intend to carry on doing!!!
     
  15. I totally and utterly agree with every one of the posts on this thread. My life has been ruined by the LA inspectors and the moderation police - I was told I was a "good, enthusiastic teacher who clearly loved the job" by OFSTED, but now I am someone who may need to go on a course to learn 'how to talk to children' as I over question............. Yet I am always surrounded by keen eager children whenever I visit an area and initiate (can I say that without the child word before it??!) an activity - so what can possibly be wrong with that. I can take the lead, I can encourage and further more I will continue to do so to create a stimulating, exciting and rich early years setting which has some adult input!!!
     
  16. '...but it was only because I "encouraged" him ... left to his own devices he doesn't choose...'

    That's always been the case with children but now due to the EYFS one feels if caught doing this it's a crime. They all want results and they want you to say/demonstatre that they are achieved according to their way even if they themselves could not achieve this or they fully realise that that's what we all have to do. It seems that we all have to become skilled in 'window dressing' and make sure we never get caught doing what it really takes to help each child progress. As someone has pointed out so far no one has actually stated how positive any LA advice has been and as the months pass this type of feeling is becoming even more common. On the HTs forum not long ago EYs standards were questioned which ties in Joy's thread about a potential drop in standards. Hedda points out that the nuturing side may gain from this current climate but once they pass through EYs they then move to a phase which focuses on the academic and so this side may drop as whichever sector one works in, there are objective tests of some kind. If such measure are removed then this is not an issue. Unfortunately I feel that until there is an obvious public drop then the EYFS will become more extreme. It's only if quantifiable results are effected that anyone ever takes notice. At that point those in charge start looking for a scapegoat. No matter how play based and child centred we claim we are trying to be the majority of schools in Britain are not geared towards these aims. As Inky and others in the past have pointed out the whole set up (The EYFS) is not truly play based. Teacher training in this country is not play/exploration based. The teachers/practitioners, can only achieve wha is required through the way they have been trained. But it will be the teachers/practitioners who take the blame. Plowden's report many, many years ago led to teacher bashing. It wasn't the teachers who who dictated how, what and why but the Gov et al but the teachers were the scapegoats.

    The TES staff read these posts so why do we not see objective reporting? If I were writing a piece for a dissertation, the content of the fora would be useful evidence even if they are not quantifiable in nature. If only all of this could be made public so when things do go wrong we can all have something to shove in the faces of the Gov et al. I'll stop rambling now.


     
  17. Hi

    Interesting how assessment for EYFS has to contain child initiated evidence but the very heavy assessment for letters and sounds is purely adult led. Interesting how the Rose Review said that children should start a systematic phonic program around their 5th birthday but now our LEA has set targets for 80% of all reception children to be secure in phase 3 by the end of reception year (profile return date is in early June!) 25% of my children don't reach their fifth birthday until July or August!!! Debbie is spot on, a child can either do something or they can't. The 'paper' evidence is for accountability only. Once I realised this I relaxed and now I teach when I think teaching is required, guide when guidance is required and butt out when it is appropriate! I don't have a structured timetable (except for phonics, PE etc) and my 31 children are doing fine. I think it is appalling that so many of us have to worry ourselves sick about the 'right' thing to do. We are professionals, we know our children. A confident happy teacher makes for a good learning environment. How many of those are there since September? Sorry just realised how angry and bitter I sound!
     
  18. The thing that worries me is that I don't think that the national results WILL come down, because, let's be honest here, won't we all be 'persuaded' to make our FSP scores 'fit' the national averages?? And won't our LAs, and heads and EY advisers all essentially force us to lie on the profiles? And won't we all just fake the evidence anyway?? Because it is not humanly possible to have a life, teach a class AND have an 80/20 balance of evidence for 30 children for all those billions of scale points. So the national results won't go down and the Government will be happy.

    What will happen is that, in REALITY, the children will not achieve as well as they should, will not realise their potential, and will go into Yr 1 with very poor basic skills. It will be up to the poor Yr 1 and Yr 2 teachers to pick up the pieces because if they don't then SATS scores will go down.

    Or........what will happen is that any decent, sane Reception teacher who cares about her class will make damn sure that she or he sneaks in as much formal, direct teaching as they dare in order to make up for the huge holes in the EYFS and to ensure that they don't fail their children.

    The people who have written the EYFS and the advisers who have been brain-washed into spouting nonsense at us fail to realise one simple fact: work and play are NOT the same thing. And however exciting we make our classrooms and activities, children know fine well that work and play are not the same thing. Play is MEANT to be free and unstructured and full of imagination. Why should a 4 or a 5 year old choose to make phonetically plausible attempts at writing, sometimes using punctuation??? How is that more fun than being a pirate for the whole afternoon?? Or spending hours making a massive den to play in?? There is nothing wrong with children doing age-appropriate 'work' so long as they also have age-appropriate time for play. And that means PLAY, not being stalked by a crazed adult with a camera and clipboard who keeps trying to persuade you to write a postcard or count out the money in your shop.



    Ohhh....I am so tired of the whole ridiculous mess.


     
  19. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    I am giving you cuddles lilyput[​IMG]

    We are footballs.

    Here are some feelings.

    Inadequate, depressed, stressed (psoriasis), bullied, abused, rejected, ignored, incompetent, over worked, weepy, confused, undermined. That'll be the Positive Relationships bit of the EYFS then.

    We too have got overtones of "not speaking to the children appropriately". I really hope they do not mean me. I really do, because I spend most of my time alone with a lot of very vulnerable children.

    As luck would have it I was told yesterday that I am clearly a very principled and creative thinker and understand early years and what children need extremely well and other really positive things. And told to re apply. I might ask for that in writing and stick it to my forehead.


     
  20. And I hate the phrase 'structured play' too.

    What a load of nonsense.....
     

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