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Any infant teachers? Advice please.

(28 Posts)
StickersOnTheDashboard Fri 31-Jan-20 19:15:46

I've been teaching for 15 years in Scotland. I've had all stages but gradually have ended up in P1. I love it and I'm good at it.

We have a new HT and she wants to see play, but the model she wants to use is making me so worried. I feel I've nowhere to ask apart from here. I usually have a full class of 25. No PSAs apart from 1-1s (and they cannot be used for anything else).

She wants me to get rid of all the tables and chairs and divide the room into areas (e.g. Writing, Funky Fingers, Numeracy etc). The idea is that I will have a small group with me at a teaching table and the rest will be in these areas playing and doing target tasks.

I have so many concerns and I feel like I am not being listened to.

- If I am teaching my small group at my teacher table, I will not be able to get up and check that they are actually doing their target tasks.
- The noise... I can only imagine it being soooo noisy and distracting.
- The workload. The model suggests 3 Literacy tasks and 3 Numeracy tasks set out per day.

I have suggested compromising with a taskboard but she has a fixation on them freeflowing in the room through the areas doing the tasks as they please.

I don't want to do this. I really don't. I think it sounds chaotic. AIBU?

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BackforGood Fri 31-Jan-20 22:08:15

It sounds like most Reception classrooms in England, following the EYFS.
Am I right in thinking P1 is 5 yr olds ?

RubyandMax Fri 31-Jan-20 22:14:34

It does sound like a fairly standard Reception set up but Reception classes almost always have a TA ime.

I'd maybe abandon the idea of taking small groups to a table and instead join children in their play and move their learning on where they are - then you aren't trying to work with a small group and supervise the behaviour of the rest of the class.

Have whole group teaching on the carpet at the beginning and end of each session.

StickersOnTheDashboard Fri 31-Jan-20 22:54:42

Yes, they will be 4.5-5, first year of school.

The training I've been on has been very committed to the idea of the teacher at their table for the majority of the time. I just can't wrap my head around the idea of me sitting at a table with 8 children trying to do guided reading while the other 17 are playing.

The target tasks which were recommended were for one child at a time and very (imo) closed, without much room for extension- e.g. peg the laminated hands onto the number line to show counting by 5s.

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RubyandMax Fri 31-Jan-20 23:15:47

I agree that doesn't sound manageable. A skilled adult needs to be available/playing with them to move learning on.

I don't know anything about the Scottish curriculum by the way, but in a Reception class I'd probably organise it something like this:
Start with a 10 minute whole class carpet input on your topic - say, halving and doubling
When they go to play set them some challenges and make sure the environment is equipped appropriately - so playdough table, can you make a cake and cut it in half? Or even leave ingredients and a recipe out - half a cup of salt, one cup of water, double the number of cups of flour etc
Have numicon, lego available. Can you make a tower, half the height/double the height? How many bricks, draw your tower, label it with the numbers etc
Ladybird pictures in your creative area, double/halve the spots (print outs from Twinkl will save you prep time)
And then you circulate, play alongside, if children are playing with cars can you add some doubling/halving language to their play, in your roleplay area can you introduce a narrative of writing a shopping list or recipe with doubling/halving amounts.
Keep a clipboard with you and make a note of which children are achieving the objective.
Pick out a lower/middle/higher to put their playdough cake/ladybird/tower to one side and at the end of the session get them to do a show and tell to the rest of the class on the carpet explaining what they did (also covering communication & language objectives).

Alistair Bryce Clegg/ABC Does has good ideas on this kind of play based learning with focussed objectives (objective led planning). Of course it would be better with three of you, but I think you could manage by yourself.

You can also get recordable sound buttons to put in different areas so you can record instructions and children can press it to listen.

StickersOnTheDashboard Fri 31-Jan-20 23:28:59

From what I understand of Reception, it's much more child-led (and supported by adults!).

Freeflow hasn't really been a thing here since the 70s. The typical set up here is usually carpet time then active learning stations done in groups. I'd usually do a station with me which was quite hands-on (e.g. the playdough you mentioned), one quiet task at a desk (usually a worksheet) and one more task (like the build a tower activity). Very manageable with one adult.

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RubyandMax Sat 01-Feb-20 10:05:59

What do the children currently do if they complete their work station activity more quickly than the other children?

SamsMumsCateracts Sat 01-Feb-20 10:14:41

Are all of Scotland's P1 classes like this? If so feel quite sorry for the children. They are too young to be forced into desks and chairs. Learning through play and at their own pace is so much more effective at this age. Five year olds need to move.

StickersOnTheDashboard Sat 01-Feb-20 11:02:25

I have fast finisher cards and activities that they are directed to.

I recognise the importance of play, but I am not convinced I can do it well on my own. I also need to get them through all the academics at the same time.

As I said, if I have 25 children and split them into three groups, there will be 17 children playing at the one time, as well as the group I’m working with.

I can’t go and talk to one of them properly about the amount of cars they have, or really stretch what they are doing through play.

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RubyandMax Sat 01-Feb-20 11:21:18

I agree you can't work with one small group at a table while the others play, but you could definitely circulate while they all play.
It's a skill though and a different approach/mindset (teacher sitting on the floor rather than at a table or in front of a whiteboard) and you need to ensure your environment is challenging and stimulating.
I'd do some reading - ABC Does is good for the more objective led stuff, but Anna Ephgrave is great for thinking about how you stretch children in their play, identifying "teachable moments".
It might be worth looking at stuff aimed at a play-based approach for Year 1 as that seems more like P1 in terms of expectations than Reception.

StickersOnTheDashboard Sat 01-Feb-20 11:32:09

That’s the problem though, the model the HT wants to see is them playing while I take the group. I am honestly nearly in tears at the thought of this. I feel like no one is listening to me.

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Littlehouseinthebigcity Sat 01-Feb-20 11:57:34

It does sound tough on your own. My reception class followed a similar set up but I had a class TA as well as a one-to-one for one child. I think it probably is doable though! You'd need to have a task with your focus group that can be led by you but also has some Independent tasks. For example reading one page of your book altogether then doing a page of independent reading while you do a quick sweep of the classroom and check they're on task with their learning through play.

DodgeRainClouds Sat 01-Feb-20 12:30:10

This sounds pretty close to what we do in my rec class (EYP here). Except the teacher has the full time support of an early years practitioner or TA. Do 3 English books each per day and 3 maths. We hear 4 readers each. We do intervention groups too. We set out provision and they access that while one of us is sat at the table with the English or maths books. The other one then gets observations done.

LowcaAndroidow Sat 01-Feb-20 12:30:11

Maybe experiment with both set-ups - try having the small group and then try letting them all play.

You do sound very resistant to change, but also these little children will benefit more from being able to play than by doing time-filler activities.

Bluewavescrashing Sat 01-Feb-20 12:34:39

Could you try it and invite the head in to observe the chaos? Then it might be clearer that it won't work for your children. You come off looking proactive.

StickersOnTheDashboard Sat 01-Feb-20 12:44:51

I would be happier with them all playing. I feel I could manage that a little more, although I’m concerned about the noise.

The groups + target tasks is non negotiable apparently. I think it is asking so much of them to play for a while and then direct themselves over to a task.

I completely get what you’re saying about having them read a page independently while I run round, but I don’t agree that that will be possible with 17/18 individuals to see to. I do think it will be chaotic.

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StickersOnTheDashboard Sat 01-Feb-20 12:45:57

I’ve also spent the past while watching Anna Ephgrave on YouTube and I’m floored. It looks incredible, but I can’t replicate that in one classroom on my own.

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Moanarose Sat 01-Feb-20 12:55:46

I have taught similarly and also without a TA.

You need quality resources to transform your areas into engaging areas. Pegs on cards won’t be enough.

Is the head willing to back this idea with money?

Wooden blocks. Craft table. Water and sand trays. Small world characters and props. Role play costumes and props. Technology and cameras/iPads for children to record learning.

Once the areas are set up you won’t need to the activities each session. Freshen them up with new additions when children are tired of them or see what suggestions the children could make or what you could add to extend their learning.

The children need to be taught how to use the areas. You need to prompt their possible learning choices at the start of each session. They also need to be given time to share their learning with the class at the end of the session. Focus children could be one way, they are chosen at the start of the session and are given time to share their learning at the end.

You need to come to see the work they are doing during their self directed learning as being the most important aspect of each session.

Moanarose Sat 01-Feb-20 13:00:52

The groups I took while the children free flowed were guided reading, guided writing and numeracy tasks etc

FlamingoAndJohn Sat 01-Feb-20 13:02:18

There is a Facebook group for continuous provision in year 1 which might help.

If the children are 4-5 then that is more like reception in England. Something like this is doable assuming you have a TA.
The problem is that you are working with your group with different activities for the other children to do, but the other children don’t nicely get on with the actives. Someone won’t play fair and others will complain, then one child hits another, a team of children then start making guns or hitting each other over the head etc. Fine if you have a TA who can manage the rest of the class but not really doable on your own.
Personal experience tells me that you won’t get good quality small group teaching done as there will always be an interruption.

As for the planning.... my suggestion would be that each activity lasts the full week or is adapted across the week rather than changing each day. The reason is that it gives children the chance to come back to something they want to do again and improve on or to have a go at something they didn’t get a chance to do the previous day.

Look for open ended activities rather than ‘complete this task’ type stuff.

StickersOnTheDashboard Sat 01-Feb-20 13:05:55

Is the head willing to back this idea with money?

That’s another concern. I have brought in most of my children’s old things, but we don’t really have the resources. I don’t think there would be any money to fit out the room properly.

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FlamingoAndJohn Sat 01-Feb-20 13:11:51

Continuous provision is very expensive to set up. You need a huge variety of stuff. It’s unlike ‘normal’ teaching. How can you have an exciting and engaging set of stuff without resources? Yes some stuff is free (pine cones, sticks and the like) or cheap to make (play dough) but good resources are expensive. You can’t do early years on the cheap. It used to piss me off no end that in reception our head would give us the same budget as year 6.

ArchMemory Sat 01-Feb-20 13:18:52

It does sound my son’s reception class in England. They have a ‘home corner’, Reading corner, big tray with bricks, water table, craft type corner, carpet area with smart board screen, dolls house, cars, outside area with big bricks, wooden pallets, pans, etc. They’ll usually have dough out and other things to do. Lots of books. There are chairs but not enough for them all to sit at once. When I’ve been in the classroom it is noisy but wouldn’t any room filled with 4 and 5 year olds be noisy. There are 30 children in the class with one teacher and one TA and the outside area is shared with 2 other reception classes.

I wouldn’t expect you to simply switch to this kind of teaching without training and support though.

ArchMemory Sat 01-Feb-20 13:19:58

Oh and she’s taught them to stop what they’re doing and put their hands in the air when she rings a bell. Seems to work perfectly (amazed my son did it to be honest!)

StickersOnTheDashboard Sat 01-Feb-20 13:26:52

No, my classroom is very quiet in the morning when they’re all busy.

During afternoon playtime is it very noisy. I really don’t want that noise lasting from 9-3 shock

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