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Too formal ?

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by Jenkibubble, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. Jenkibubble

    Jenkibubble Occasional commenter

    I teach reception in a large school and I'm becoming very disheartened by how formal and structured it is. Yes, the children come in low , but currently the children have very little child initiated time because we go from whole class literacy straight to numeracy , then intervention groups and then phonics. They have formal spellings, which they have to cover up to prevent cheating !
    I'm just so conscious that these little ones will have any interest in school squashed out of them.
    Can anyone assure me this is the norm / not the norm, because it's hard to practice something I don't agree with !
  2. Camokidmommy

    Camokidmommy Established commenter

    If your children come in low, surely you should be concentrating on the prime areas through CP and delivering focused teaching of specific areas in short bursts? You can do lots of teaching through play as that is when children are most motivated. You need to ensure that CP is clearly planned to meet your children needs.

    I know that schools worry about things like maths, literacy.... But that isn't all there is to it, certainly not in EYFS.

    Is thus how you have been told to do it, or could you discuss any ideas and previous experience you have?
    ChanChan123 likes this.
  3. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    Oh thank goodness I'm not the only one, I started at my school in January and it's so similar.

    We have about 2 hours of continuous provision a day. We do maths and literacy inputs wth guided groups, guided reading and phonics every day. I'm struggling to keep up with the work load as well as not being happy with the large amount of direct teaching the children get. I have the trickiest class with the most SEN out of the 3 EYFS classes. Along with that, my team leader not only had us assessing using tapestry but also learning Journals AND using paper assessment grids for all the 17 areas of learning which we have to update weekly! She even expects observations from tapestry transferred to the grids!! It's paperwork for paperwork's sake. It's ridiculous!!!

    But it's her way or nothing, I've tried to suggest things and she always says no.
  4. Camokidmommy

    Camokidmommy Established commenter

    Really feel for both of you. Am sure there are many others out there in similar situations.

    Crafty, how many observations do you upload for each child onto tapestry each week? Wondering if you could cut down on this.

    Could you look at objective led learning as an alternative to traditional follow up, so you join the children in their play?
  5. Jenkibubble

    Jenkibubble Occasional commenter

    We have very little time to 'observe' children during their initiated activities, because we are doing intervention groups . Parents access their child's learning journey, so there is added pressure to ensure they have regular observations on there too !
    The highlight of my week has been doing an art activity with them - maybe I'm more suited to TA work, because at least I actually got to chat to the children about what they were doing and their likes etc.
    It's the head's decision :(
  6. curtism

    curtism New commenter

    Too formal? Yes is the answer - this is not what Reception should look like - tell your head teacher to read up on the subject - it's tragic that even after the advent of the internet and easy access to watchable videos, blogs, statutory documentation and particularly forums run by practitioners (like this one, for instance) that so many schools are still managing to get early years wrong. Your role as teacher in an early years class is to INTERACT, prompt, encourage, support, TALK, promote curiosity, perseverance and risk taking - and this takes skill. It is so not about sitting at a table and doing spellings - what is wrong with people? Go watch Caterhatch infant school video on You Tube and see how it's done. You could remind your leaders that guided maths, reading and writing is completely inadmissible evidence for reaching ELGs - all evidence should come from child initiated play (reading signs or books independently, making signs or books without support, cooking etc for maths). As for assessment - 3 times a year max in all 17 areas for me - and that feels like a lot!
    I really feel sorry for you guys.
    Redrosie, dizzymai and Camokidmommy like this.
  7. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    Camokidmommy I did only do 1 tapestry obs per child each week but it means I miss crucial observations because I've already got one for that child.

    What is objective lead learning? Could that help me?

    I also found out we do phonics assessments every half term, that's come form the head teacher who is currently acting head covering maternity. WE need to get our data in before half term. Which means I'm assessing children I've only known since January.

    I found out last week that year 2 (it's an infant school) has had 8 different teachers since September because they've all left with stress. And yet the Head doesn't seem to realise there's a problem.


    Mine is a temporary contract until the end of the year and I will not be staying if they offer to extend it.
  8. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

  9. curtism

    curtism New commenter

    I am not sure I understand what re observations - are you saying you are only allowed to do 1 x tapestry obs a week - I don't use anything more sophisticated than post it notes but I probably produce about 8-10 per child per week - just jotting down what they do or say. Plus one or so longer observations per term. That gives you a good rounded picture of the child and sufficient evidence for making useful assessments.
    How do you plan to assess phonics? Is this a test? I prefer to just look at their reading ability and watch for what is recalled from phonics lessons in their writing - which will, I assure you (or your head teacher I should say) give a better picture of children's understanding and recall of phonics learning.
    You really sound like you are not getting sensible support at your current school and are doing the right thing in looking to move on. Go where there is a really stable work force - it speaks volumes for the leadership and culture of a school.
    Good luck.
  10. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    No, I didn't mean you can only do 1 obs per child on tapestry I didn't explain myself properly. I've just thought it through and I made no sense it doesn't matter :)

    The phonics is a test, it'll be 1:1 flash carding all phase 2 and 3 sounds, chdn say them, write them and then say and write the tricky words too. I record it on a sheet. It's a lot.

    I don't want to watch that clip because it'll make me more despondent at what I'm having to do now!

    I think the overall thing at my school is this: it must be recorded. Everything must be in writing. It's not enough to know the children can do something, we need to have hard evidence of it.

    But there's nothing I can do to change that, I'm just a new teacher started in September having just done my NQT. My team leader is not listening to my professional opinion or ideas. And as the school is all about the evidence, it does not leave me much time to play and get to know the children or in other words, do my job.

    I am a very frustrated teacher. :-(
  11. Camokidmommy

    Camokidmommy Established commenter

    @craftyangel49 and @Jenkibubble
    look at objective led learning, you can retain the 'teaching' element that your head wants but make the follow up an objective that you are looking for in the children's learning. for example we did writing lists for recipes as the taught session. Then my OLP was based around writing lists, using their phonic knowledge. I started off in the home corner (which isn't a home corner more of a kitchen) and we wrote lists for shopping. then I joined the children at the train track and we listed the places we were going to visit on the train, outside to list shopping again as the children had the dolls in the pushchairs..... All the while i'm gaining other observations and dropping in what I know children need - like counting the train carriages....for my little one who can't yet count to 5. Does this make sense? I may not do it quite the same as ABC say, but it works for me!

    Could you try this? We manage to do phonics everyday but maths and literacy related stuff on alternate days. I have to teach a second session for my Y1 as it's a mixed Y1/Yr/YN class so they (Y1) get a more structured morning.
    It's hectic but I feel that I manage to observe and teach (through OLP) my Reception and Nursery children.

    Hope things improve for you! But suspect it will be an uphill battle.
  12. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    Thank you Camokidmommy that sounds good and sounds like something I could implement without having to ask my team leader.

    We all do our best don't we. Play the game but bend the rules where we can.
  13. Camokidmommy

    Camokidmommy Established commenter

    Indeed we do! Let us know how things go along.
  14. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    That's one thing it mentions on the clip. They say that their team could record 100 interactions a week... or they could spend the time just interacting with the children, which would obviously mean the number of interactions was far higher. Which way is more beneficial for the children and their learning? (I know you know the answer!)
  15. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    I have spent zero time interacting with my children today because I've been doing phonics assessments with them all day. Well not all day, I took a break to do some direct teaching.

    I feel like crying right now :-(
  16. Camokidmommy

    Camokidmommy Established commenter

    Hope you aren't crying today. :)

    Just a thought, could you take photos as you interact and make some jottings at the end of session with the photos as prompts for you? Not thinking of sticking photos in LJ or in tapestry, unless desired but that you can jog your memory about what happened, make a quick note and tick the box or do whatever else is demanded. Stick the jottings in a book so you can find them when requested.
  17. curtism

    curtism New commenter

    Hey, CraftyAngel - how are things?
  18. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    Hi Curtism! Well I've been on half term this week so going well!

    Otherwise, I'm getting used to it. I still really dislike the formality and oh my gosh, my team leader sent over the planning tonight and it's soo boring!! The literacy planning is using the Night Pirates story for the THIRD week running and doing story maps, again! All we do is story mapping in literacy lessons, they've done bloody loads of them what is the point of doing more??!!

    I cannot believe I'm actually bored teaching in EYFS. In the moments of continuous provision I actually get with the children it's the best fun ever but the rest I find stifling.

    And my team leader is never outside, ever. It's always her TA and she never helps set up outside in the mornings, I more often than not end up doing it on my own.

    Grrrrr rant over.
  19. Camokidmommy

    Camokidmommy Established commenter

    As long as you are still doing 'story mapping' work can you deviate slightly from the plan? e.g. role play, freeze frame, hot seating, masks..... reading the map by taking turns (fab for listening and concentration)... I expect you have already thought of this, but sometimes you cannot see the wood for the trees when you're in it day in, day out.

    Could you suggest a timetable for setting up the outside, so she knows when it is 'her' turn? Sikmilar with the learning outside support.

    Keep ranting when you need to - that's what this place is for!!!
  20. yvetteoverfield

    yvetteoverfield New commenter

    I work in Nursery and have been told that our weekly cooking and PE is to be replaced by focussed Literacy and Maths activities! Unbelievable! Apparently, these changes will have a positive effect on the children's attainment! You couldn't make it up!

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