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Should I have a word with teacher now or leave till Parents evening which is first week after half term?

(5 Posts)
Rollergirl1 Thu 11-Oct-12 10:18:26

DD is in Year 2 and has been doing very well at school. She was receiving differentiated work for Literacy and Maths throughout Year 1 along with the 4 other children that were sat on her table. Her report at the end of Year 1 stated that she had exceeded expectations for Year 1.

Their Year 2 teacher is brand new to the school and is also brand new to teaching. This is her first post after completing her teacher training. There was a bit of concern about this at the end of the last school year with some parents feeling that Yr 2 (being an important year being end of KS1 and SATS in the summer) wasn't the best place for a new and inexperienced teacher. However parents had a chance to meet with her at the beginning of term and I think she put a lot of peoples minds at rest. She is certainly enthusiastic and I am sure she will have lots of fresh ideas to bring to the school/class. I also understand that she will receive a lot of support from the other teachers/school in her first year.

Now back to DD. She has been complaining for the past few weeks that the work is too easy and boring. I would agree with this judging by the homework that is coming back. And certainly when I compare it to the homework she was being set in Year 1 it is the equivalent to what she was doing in the first term. I have asked DD if her table are receiving different work to do in class (like they were in Year 1) and she says that everyone is doing exactly the same thing. Further to this, last year DD used to receive a new book to read as often as you were reading with her. So she would bring a new book home every day as we read every day. The teacher has now said that they will have books changed on a Monday, Wednesday and a Friday. She has said that the children can read other books in the days in between as it is good to read varied texts. I actually don't have a problem with this but I think it very much puts the owness on the parent to find alternative material on those days and I know other parents are worried that the pace will slow if they don't have new books from the reading scheme as frequently. The thing that I am worried about with regards to reading is that DD says that she has only read with the teacher once the entire time they have been back at school. The other times have been in guided reading with the TA and with their Reading partner from Year 5 (who it seems isn't as good a reader as DD!).

I don't want DD to become dis-engaged because she isn't being challenged and I also don't want her work to slip. I am sure that the teacher is a good teacher but I'm just a bit concerned that she doesn't yet have the experience and organisational skills to be able to set the class work according to the varying abilities. She definitely does come across as a bit dis-organised. An example being that she told the parents in her meeting that homework (spelling and maths) would be coming back on a Wednesday to be back for the Monday. For the last 3 weeks it has come back on a Thursday. I don't know if this is because she is late sending it out or if she told us the wrong day in her meeting. Either way I don't think it gives children very much time (last year homework was staggered throughout the week).

So, to conclude, I'm a bit torn really. I don't know if I am being a bit unfair and unforgiving because I know that the teacher is new and inexperienced, or if there is genuine cause for a little concern. I think I do want to talk to her about these issues but don't know if I should speak to her now or leave it until parents evening after half-term. My thinking is that by then she will have already done a half-term of just "settling in" rather than actually getting her teeth in to something. But will making a point of saying something now and not waiting the few weeks till parents evening make me look petty? I don't want to do this teacher a dis-service but I also don't want my DD's work to slip.

Sorry, ended up being really long!

redskyatnight Thu 11-Oct-12 10:34:17

TBH the only point that would bother me is the potential lack of differentiated work. And as you only have DD's word for that it's a bit hard to know if it really is a problem. (if for example if some children are doing number bonds to 10, some children are doing simple addition and your DD is doing more complex addition, she may not actually realise that she is getting harder work then everyone else). I don't think you can judge by homework (my DC's homework seems to vary wildly but is often much easier than what they are doing in class).

Reading sounds fairly normal for Y2 (DD has guided reading once a week with TA, plus twice a term individual reading with teacher). Wouldn't have aproblem with changing a book 3 times a week - if your DD is a good reader she soon wont' be able to read a whole book in a day anyway as the books will be too long. Do the children have access to a school library?

I think the length of time to do homework is also normal, and whilst it's annoying not to know what day it's coming home, I also think that it's one to let go.

tiggytape Thu 11-Oct-12 10:43:46

I don't see that there's any harm going to have a word with the teacher but from your post, I think you are attributing a lot of these worries to the teacher being new and inexperienced whereas in fact, they are common to many children as they move up even into the class of a very experienced teacher.

There is often a settling in period where it can feel like old ground is being covered too much and some parents push for a more seamless 'onwards and upwards' trajectory from the previous year. In many new classes, it often seems to take a while to get going regardless of who the teacher is.

As an aside, whilst she may be new, she will have taught before. Her training means she has worked in schools and been in sole charge of classes. Her planning is being monitored and she will be reporting to a mentor frequently. If your school is a typical primary, in a typical area, she has probably beaten 20 - 60+ other qualified teachers to get that job including beating them on numerous interviews and whilst being watched by the Head as she takes a class. She may be new but I would bet she is pretty good -the competition for primary school teaching positions is insane!

tiggytape Thu 11-Oct-12 10:52:19

Included in her planning, the teacher will be demonstrating to her mentor the differentiated work she is setting for higher ability pupils. I agree with redsky - it isn't always easy for the children to spot that they've been given a harder task than others. They may well all be doing the same work but elements of it will be deliberately more challenging for some than for others.

I also agree that the reading strategy for Year 2 sounds more typical of other schools than the one you were used to in Year 1. It is normal to have set days for book changes (and for it not to be done daily). Guided reading with a TA and occasional 1:1 reading with the teacher is also the norm - individual reading is hugely time consuming and leaves the rest of the class without a qualified teacher for all the hours it requires. And a fixed day for homework is also quite normal but if the timing is bad for you, you can ask about this too.

Are the children set in ability groups that you know of. They normally are for maths and English which probably also explains why DD doesn't realise fully what other children on other tables are doing.

Rollergirl1 Thu 11-Oct-12 11:15:03

Thank you for your replies redskyatnight and tiggytape. Reading them has already put my mind at rest somewhat.

I fully admit that I am probably attributing a lot of these niggles to the fact that the teacher is new and am probably focusing on things that I wouldn't have necessarily done with an existing teacher from the school. I also take on board that she must have got the job for a reason. When concerns were raised at the end of the last school term the HT said that she was by far the best candidate they had seen. She also did one of her placements at the school a few years ago and they were impressed with her back then. I think the timing has just been a little unfortunate as we also have a new HT that started in September after the HT of 12 years retired, as well as 2 other long-standing teachers (one being the Deputy) retiring also. So the school has seen an incredible amount of change in a very short period of time. And this follows a very stable period of 15 or so years of the same teaching staff.

Redsky: DD does go to the school library and all children that are at a certain level automatically receive an additional book so she does benefit from this.

Tiggy: Yes they are seated in tables of ability. This started around the second term of Yr1. A few of the children that were on the table have moved to other tables during the course of the year but there are 5 of them that have remained sitting together and are still sitting together now in Yr2.

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