Week 9?!

So last week was madness. Week 1 of any half term is always the most exhausting. Half term is a lovely time in a teacher’s life when they can kind of breathe a little bit – don’t get me wrong theres still 1000004 things to be done, but there’s a little bit of breathing room. I certainly had lots to do in half term (and I still do…)

Being back at work is always a joy for me. I love my job. It gives me real purpose. There’s a blog post coming up next week that I go into a bit more detail about my motivations behind teaching and my pursuit of this career, so I hope you enjoy that when it goes live! 

What did Week 9 have in store? 

On Monday, we had a teacher training day and we went to observe in another school in Newcastle for a little while. It’s always a brilliant opportunity to get to see other teachers in action and seeing how things work in other schools. I’ve worked in my school for a long time now, so for me getting out and about and seeing other schools is brilliant. I love going to other schools to have a snoop around and share ideas. Teachers are sharing people and I love that. I got to see half a Y4 Maths lesson and then went into Y6 as the teacher was doing biographies (just so happens that I was starting biographies in Y6 last week too!) Monday afternoon, we did some assessment things and I got to work on MFL assessment documents too! So a very productive Monday indeed.

On Tuesday, we had some brilliant ICT training! Our ICT consultant came in to do some Green Screen training with us and it was a great day. Year 6 were SO good with it and I plan on incorportating the ideas into lessons in the future. I love learning new ICT things, especially things that can be used in such a versatile way! 

Wednesday brought a pretty usual day at school: some teaching, some observing. I observed in Reception in their phonics session – I am going to be doing more observing in the future, as early phonics is one of the things that I need to build my confidence and skill set in. It’s incredible seeing the quick progress they’re making from my last session in there! They’re like little sponges at that age. We had our Monsters’ Ball after school on Wednesday, so it was a long day! But it’s things like these events that make it fun!

I had a meeting on Thursday morning and then we had training over at a local 3-18 school where we learned about their small school model. It’s always interesting to learn how other schools work, so seeing how their school works and what they have implemented, so that made for an interesting few hours. I even got to take part in a Construction lesson – I built a dry wall. The focus was on using maths in different subjects, I was chosen to go to Construction, with others going to Food Tech and some in Art. (Yes, I built that!)

Friday brought the delights of an observation (ALWAYS TERRIFYING). I was far less nervous for this observation than I was my first observation, but I was still anxious. Being watched is a nervous thing! I just wanna always do well. Teaching is the thing for me. This observation was in English and we were looking at model biographies. The kids were brilliant and the lesson went really well. I got some lovely feedback from the class teacher, so that was a lovely way to end a week!

Last week in 3 words?  Brilliant. Fun. Educational (ha!)

If you have any school related questions, don’t be afraid to ask! I will answer all and any! Leave me a comment, or tweet me and I will get back to you! 

S x

First half term down!

Well hello there! We have reached half term holidays, how did that happen? 

Here we are then. I’m 1/6 of the way done with my SCITT. I am 1/6 closer to my dream. That is BONKERS. I’ve got a blog post coming in a few weeks about why I want to be a teacher and the suchlike. 

So how did week 7 go?

It was pretty good! 

My Y6s were on a residential so I ended up spending a day in Reception, and I have to say that it was a BRILLIANT day. I don’t know that I am an EYFS girl, but Wednesday definitely softened me to working in EYFS. I had spent Monday morning observing the phonics session to see how it worked when I was to teach on Wednesday. The children were practising blending CVC/VC (consonant vowel consonant/vowel consonant) words with the sounds they had already learnt, so I gave them all a label with a word on that they needed to be able to read, and then any time they were speaking to someone else they had to attempt to read their word too! The words they had for example were mad, sad, Sam, am, sat, at etc – the children so far know the sounds m, a, s, d and t. I had the words scattered around the room too. There was one in the snack corner, reading corner, at the door to go outside, and I challenged the children to read the word whilst they were in that area. The kids seemed to love it! The brilliant Reception TAs had some lovely feedback for me too, and then there was some lovely feedback from the teacher too when I saw her on Friday, commenting on how she thought it had a massive impact on their interest in reading words. 

What else did we get up to? There was a bit of maths too. The children had been learning to do 1 more and 1 less, and after speaking to the class teacher she wanted them to do more work on that as they were struggling a little, so we did some work on that using a number line and the children! It was brilliant to get the chance to do maths in such an contrasting class to Year 6, to see where the skills need to start! We also did some Talk4Writing with ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’, with the children doing their actions for the story (and they were brilliant) and then some children doing their story board

We had a very busy day! It was lovely to be in Reception. I left EXHAUSTED. 

What else happened this week?

  • I had a visit from my SCITT tutor too and we had quite an in depth conversation about expectations and how things were going on my course too. She’s lovely and I can tell she’s going to be super supportive! 
  • We had an ICT conference on Thursday, which was an interesting look at using ICT in the classroom with an abundance of ideas for Secondary schools, so I would love to delve deeper into ICT in the Primary classroom
  • On Tuesday we had KS2 writing moderation. Working with the other KS2 teachers, looking over the work they’ve done so far and seeing how the children are getting on. It’s great for my own knowledge of other classes as well as seeing other ideas! 

Looking back on this half term, it’s been VERY positive. There have been trying, testing days. There have been days I’ve cried. There’s been days that I just thought “WHY DID I THINK I COULD DO THIS?”, but these days happen to everyone so I’m going to end on a high note, with some of the positives from this half term:

  • My first formal observation going so well
  • Meeting my fellow SCITT students, and building such a brilliant bond and friendship with the other Primary SCITT students
  • Building relationships with the staff and the kids in Year 6 – we had a rocky time last year, but this year so far has been brilliant
  • Hearing lovely feedback from lots of different members of staff

I plan on working a lot in half term, but spending some time with the people I love most! Let’s have a brilliant half term in readiness for the next half term to come (Christmas is ALWAYS a killer!!)

S x

5 weeks down…

Morning! Week 5 has been done and dusted and it’s mad to think that I’m 5 weeks through my teacher training… 2 more weeks until half term. This time is FLYING: part of me is terrified, part of me is thrilled. 

Last week was a really positive week! 

I taught Maths every day I was at school (I’m not in on Thursdays, those are our training days!) and one of those lessons was an informal observation. I was observed on Wednesday – the kids had been struggling with word problems and picking out the important information and then using that to calculate, so I asked the teacher if I could go off script and do a lesson with just word problems. We did a lesson of word problems, with me doing lots of modelling, and they had some word problems to do themselves. I thought the lesson went well, and the teacher agreed. She had some absolutely lovely things to say about my lesson, which was brilliant! There were things from the observation for me to think about too. 

The class teacher has been really supportive of me in the past few weeks. She’s stayed about in the lessons I’ve been teaching and she always gives me feedback. We’ve been working on Journey (Aaron Becker) in English. I recommended it to her for something a little bit different for narrative writing, and we absolutely love it. The kids are really gripped. We use Talk4Writing in my school, so last week we spent time looking at the book (it’s a wordless book!) then boxing up the story and finally we got round to doing some shared writing. The class teacher sat in on one of my shared writing sessions, to see how I did it, and she had some more lovely feedback for me for that lesson too. I love creative writing, it makes my soul happy. I definitely feel like it’s one of those passion subjects for me!

We spent Thursday at university, looking at assessment for learning and our upcoming assignments. It was an up and down day as I don’t feel we were as productive as I would’ve liked, but it was lovely to see all of the primary people again. The upcoming assignment requires recording myself teaching, so I am interested in how that’s going to go (I don’t think I’m going to like doing that!!). 

There’s been other teaching going on – I did some French and History on Monday, then Guided Reading. Lots of variety, always brilliant!

Last week in 3 words?
Invigorating. Reassuring. Positive.

Remember if you’ve got any questions, I’m happy to answer them! 

S x

How time flies!

It’s Monday again, which means it’s a recap of my last week time! 

This week was week 4 and I was back to school after having 2 weeks of block training away from school. To say I was glad to be in school is an understatement. I was pretty nervous though: I’m not really sure why! I was worried that everyone would’ve forgotten who I was (ha, I know, unlikely!).

Monday
Monday was lovely. Seeing everyone again and the kids being glad to see me (and remembering who I was!) was lovely. It was like coming home! I spent time observing and working with groups in Y6. In the afternoon, I taught some History (The Great Exhibition), French (clothing) and we did some Guided Reading

Tuesday
Tuesday brought along a full day of teaching for me. I was in Y6 all day – we got up to all sorts and it was great to be back in my usual habitat, the classroom. It was incredible to build those relationships with the kids again and to get used to being around them again. There was a staff meeting on Maths reasoning after school, which was pretty informative!

Wednesday
Wednesday brought me a whole new challenge. Just as Tuesday, I was teaching all day. However I was teaching all day in Y1! It was a big challenge, and a massive change from Year 6, but I loved it. It exhausted me! From Phonics to doing some Talk 4 Writing, Maths to RE, we had a brilliantly productive day! The highlight of the day was definitely doing Venn diagrams with them and it working! The kids did some amazing reasoning using Venn diagrams too! After school, I had a meeting with my mentor. I’m going to have to learn to be kind to myself after these meetings. 

Thursday
Thursdays are my day out of school. We were at another local primary school learning all about Phonics. It was lovely to see all of my fellow SCITT trainees again and to be in another school, doing some learning and observing.

Friday
On Friday, I did some more observing and working with groups. The teacher did a brilliant lesson on personification in poetry and I loved it. More importantly though, the kids were all super engaged and loving it too! Friday pm is PPA time, so I spent the afternoon planning and doing things for assignments!

This week in 3 words? 
Exhausting. Invigorating. Home

Thank you all for the support on this rollercoaster of a ride! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. 

S x

SCITT update – week 3

It’s Monday again! As this post goes live, I am back in school, after 2.5 weeks of training at university and the training centre who are running my SCITT. If I’m being honest I COULDN’T WAIT TO GET BACK TO SCHOOL. My block training weeks were incredible and intense and overwhelming – I learned a lot and reflected a lot – but being in school is totally where my happy place lies! 

So what did last week have in store?

Monday
On Monday we were at a local 3-19 school for an EAL (English as an Additional Language) conference all day. There were some intense parts of the day, in particular when we were learning about the safeguarding of some minority groups, but overall it was informative. A few of the students from Year 10 came and performed a powerful drama piece titled ‘Colourblind’, which was thought-provoking. 

Tuesday
Tuesday took us back to one of the local primary schools for Day 2 of Teaching and Learning. Having had all of my experience in the same school, I love being able to observe how life runs in other schools. We had the chance to observe a phonics session and then a reading session within the year group we are having our first placement in. Those observations were both really interesting and I definitely magpie’d a few ideas from them! We also got to plan a science activity based on our year groups and then 2 of the group got to deliver it while the rest of us watched on! 

Wednesday
Seeing new schools totally different to my school is always an interesting part of this and on Wednesday we visited a school in the middle of the countryside. Our focus of the day was SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) and I took a lot away from the day to think about and consider in my own practice. 

Thursday
Thursday was another university day (I am officially a student at Newcastle University, I know, how fancy am I!?). We were set up in a very posh, technologically forward room (there were boards EVERYWHERE, I loved it) and spent the day looking at pedagogy and the importance of subject knowledge. Thursday’s session definitely calmed my nerves about our first PGCE assignment, which is brilliant. 

Friday
On Friday, we were back in our training centre and the focus of the day was training standards and looking at evidence collection and what we can use as evidence. It was very useful to do BEFORE we started collecting evidence. The gentleman delivering our session was very funny too!

How am I feeling in 3 words?
Calmer. Eager. Tired. 

I look forward to the challenges this week holds!

Remember, if you have any questions I am more than happy to answer them! 

S xx

SCITT: 2 weeks down!

Last week was week 2 of my SCITT training (teacher training) and since my SCITT: how did week 1 go?! post went down so well, I figured I would keep blogging tell you all tell me you either don’t care or don’t want to read about it! Ha!

Monday
Monday was spent looking over the teacher’s standards and thinking about what motivates us to want to be teachers. For me it’s easy: I want to be a teacher because I want to make a difference. It’s a cliche but it’s true. I want to make a difference. We spent time looking at the ethos and mission statements of schools. It was an interesting day – but a lot to take in, especially when it came to the standards. That’s going to be an ongoing theme of my year, I can sense.

Tuesday
On Tuesday, we weren’t in our usual setting! We were based in a lovely little first school out in the countryside. It was about half an hour’s drive away and I got a lift from one of my lovely SCITT friends. I have to say, one of my favourite things about this process so far is getting to see all of the different schools around! I’d spend my year visiting all the schools I could get to! We spent the day looking at different learning styles and how these impact on the way we plan and deliver lessons. Another lovely thing was talking about a little activity called ‘I Wish My Teacher Knew’, which I have actually done before! (If you’re interested in what my kids told me: I Wish My Teacher Knew…). I really enjoyed Tuesday as we got to plan a short activity and do it with a group of children. I’ve really missed being in the classroom so it was great for me to finally be doing again. We had to use a painting as our stimulus and plan an activity around that: our activity was a bit of drama in the jungle using the picture below as stimulus. 

Related image

Wednesday
On Wednesday, we were in a different primary school looking at literacy: reading in particular. We looked at what it means to be literate, what the curriculum specifies around reading and how to foster a rich curriculum centred around books. We spent some time choosing a book and then planning a focus for what we would want the children to learn using that book. (I naturally pilfered ‘The Building Boy’ by Ross Montgomery and David Litchfield, BECAUSE IT IS WONDERFUL and I will most definitely be using it when I have my own class). We got to go around the KS2 classes and do very quick observations too! There were shout outs for Literacy Shed, Once upon a Picture (which I am a MASSIVE fan of and use on the regular) and amazing kids lit authors too! (This made my heart so happy)

Thursday
Thursday was induction day at Newcastle University – who will be supporting us on our PGCE side of the qualification. Thursday was intense and a LOT to take in. There was a lot of information thrown at us – assignments etc. We had a very interesting workshop with people from Dove about their self esteem resources (happy to share links if you’re interested) which I will be looking at and using! 

Friday
On Friday we were based in the 3rd different school of the week! The focus of our day was Maths. We spent some time looking at the curriculum objectives and how to plot out a sequence of lessons. There was the chance to observe a whole maths lesson on the Friday too, so I spent the lesson in Year 6 – it was really interesting seeing how other people do it! There were definitely ideas to magpie from that teacher. We spent the afternoon looking at calculation policies and seeing the progression through the school.

So how am I feeling?
Last week I was worried and overwhelmed… this week I’m exhausted and still overwhelmed but I am just ready to get back into the classroom. I miss school a lot. It’s lovely doing more learning myself and I look forward to the week ahead! Next week brings block training week 2. We’re at an EAL conference in the coming week, which should be informative and interesting!  

Let me know if you have any questions! I am happy to answer them!

S x

SCITT: how did week 1 go?!

So last week I completed week 1 of my SCITT. How mad is that?! I’ll try and remember to do a weekly reflection (this will help me to remember to fill in my reflection log in my handbook too! If I have notes then I’m BOUND to remember)

So how did week 1 go? 

Monday
Monday was a training day at school. We went to Hexham as a whole staff and partook in some reflection time. We spent time in mass at a gorgeous little church and then, with our priest, we spent time looking at the story of the prodigal son and looked at the Rembrandt painting. Within the day, we also spent time talking about our hopes, struggles and wishes for the year ahead! It was a lovely way to spend the first day back.

Tuesday/Wednesday
I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in school: observing, reminding the kids that I would be in their class, seeing how that year group works, laminating and cutting out! General teacher-y things! I wasn’t really sure how/what to observe but luckily we will be looking at that at uni next week – so I will be a more efficient observer after that session.

Thursday/Friday
I spent Thursday and Friday at uni! It was weird getting up a little later and getting on the bus in the opposite direction to school. Sitting here now, I genuinely MISSED going in to school. I’m going to be raring to get back in to school in 2 weeks (once my block weeks at uni are done!). We had our welcome meeting and introduction to SCITT life. The initial few days were a mixture of Secondary SCITT students and those who are doing Primary, like me! There’s only about 10 Primary SCITT folk! Handbooks were given out and overwhelming emotions were felt for sure! Friday was spent doing those necessary bits of training that all school staff go through: safeguarding, esafety, British Values etc. Over the two days of uni there was a lot to take in, but it has certainly got me ready for the year to come!

So how am I feeling right now?
I certainly left uni both days feeling overwhelmed and a bit worried, but I think it’s fair to say that I am ready to get on with it. I definitely feel like I made the best choice for me going this route. Next week we’re at uni again – there’s all sorts going on! I’m looking forward to doing more learning and getting to know my fellow students better! 

If you have any questions about my teacher training or anything I am happy to take them and answer them! 

S x

“Miss, can we do writing again?”

“Miss, can we do writing again?”

NOW THERE’S A PHRASE I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD HEAR. But hear me out…

So I love teaching writing. I think, alongside reading, that writing is one of my favourite things to do. I will never be an author – I have huge amounts of respect for authors but I just don’t know that I have it in me! My Year 4 class are SUPER KEEN to do a lot of things (yeah there’s certain things they’re not so keen on, but they’ll always give it a go) and they really love it when we get to do a short piece of writing using a picture as stimulus. 

One of their favourite things to do during writing sessions is use a stimulus to write about, using their senses. I give them 3/4 pictures to write about, they can only choose 1 – generally doing a setting description, get them to come up with their own success criteria using our Year 4 writing assessment sheets and give them 20 minutes to write. And my word. They could write for hours. We did this last Friday and although many of them didn’t write much, the things they had planned to write were exceptional – they will get more time to write and finish these descriptions this week. I am thinking about making a display using some of their writing because they genuinely blow me away.

I tend to have very little vocabulary input, as they are encouraged constantly to use our “new vocabulary wall”. Children need access to brilliant vocabulary to write brilliant vocabulary. I could say this 1000 times but children who READ a lot can write well. Some of my kids read like it’s going out of fashion and it’s telling in their writing.

IMG_4926“In the fresh, dark green forest there stood a colourful shining palace. Among the green trees, the little girl heard bluebirds chirping and she found the most beautiful palace she could find on earth”

IMG_4927

IMG_4928“There in the middle of the forest a shadow covered the bright sunlight from reaching the soft green grass. The air smelled amazingly fresh as I slowly walked closer to a giant shadow. I could hear the birds singing a beautiful melody”

IMG_4929

IMG_4930(Shout out to Mr Starr on twitter who shared his circles and ticks idea with me! Going to see if this helps presentation!)

IMG_4931

These are just a few examples using a few pictures from Once Upon a Picture. There was so much more brilliant writing that I could share!

I’ve shared a few posts similar to this, if you’re interested: 
Use your senses?!
Wonderful writing?

What are your favourite things about teaching writing?
Do you like teaching writing?
Do you have any fail safe writing activities that your class love doing?

I’d love to hear about writing in your classroom! Let me know in the comments or on Twitter! 

S x

School days: dealing with behaviour!

Behaviour is a MASSIVE thing in schools and it can be as small and as irritating as low level disruptions, to massive scary things like fights and bullying. It all affects the way classrooms work, how kids feel and the dynamics of a room. We all know, even those who aren’t teachers, that one person can change the entire dynamic of a room. All teachers will have that 1 child, that group of kids who change the entire mood of a classroom but it’s not always bad. Dealing with behaviour is one of those crucial things to make a classroom run smoothly.

Within the last year we had a total overhaul of our behaviour system, not for a specific reason but just because it was felt that we needed continuity across the classes and that this continuity would help massively. On the whole it is helping!

Image result for it's good to be green

We follow the ‘Its Good To Be Green’ system – kind of like traffic lights. Green – you’re good to go, Yellow – you have to be careful and Red – you’re in danger. Each classrom has a chart like the one above and each child has their own card.

Alongside the chart we have 5 rules which over arches many things in school and they are:

Be kind and treat everyone like you want to be treated
Listen with respect
Keep yourself and others safe
Be truthful
Take care of everything in our school – inside and out

When this new behaviour system was being created, we did in depth consultations with parents, children, teachers and governors and got everyone’s ideas. Once it was all collated these were the rules that we came up with. We have found that implementing these rules has helped massively. 
If children break 1 of the rules they get a “verbal warning” – this is shown by turning their card on its side. Should the child continue to break the rule or a different rule they then receive a yellow card (in which they replace their green card with a yellow card). If the child continues to break rules they then receive a red card – if children receive a red card a text is sent to their parents and they miss their next playtime. Should a child do something EXCEPTIONALbehaviour wise, not work wise – they can be awarded a platinum card – a text is sent to their parents and they receive a special award during achievement assembly. These cards have an impact on a class’ overall points for the week and these are all recorded in the class behaviour book. There are special rewards at lunchtime – staff can give out VIP passes to children who have behaved well at lunchtime, these children will then get to take a friend in first for lunch the next day!
Each day is a new start. Each day you start again at green, regardless of the card you had yesterday.
The kids, staff and parents all really have taken this behaviour system and ran with it and it is working. 
What behaviour systems do you use in school?
Can you remember what was used when you were in school?
What are you top tips for dealing with behaviour in school?
Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! I would love to collate a load of brilliant behaviour tips from you all! 
S x

Back to school

Here we go, the final half term of the school year and the final half term of being a HLTA. From September I will officially be a trainee teacher. That’s pretty scary to say the least. Am I ready for it? I think yes. I’m probably NOT but I’m ready to do the thing I love doing all the time. To think this time next year I’ll be qualified or almost qualified scares the life out of me. But I can’t wait. 

I’ve had a glorious half term of reading and not doing much else – there’s a blog post coming up in the next week of how many books I read over half term and it’s the most I’ve ever read. However, I needed to switch off. I’ve had a stressful 2 years of uni and work on top of each other, so to have a half term where I had no uni work has been lovely. I’ve been able to be a person. Yes I should’ve done more school work than I have but yknow what? Sometimes a girl needs a break. And I had mine. I feel so much better for it. I feel like I’ve been off for ages. I don’t normally handle holidays this well. Ask anyone I work with, or my family, and you’ll find out that holidays make me feel at a loss, I’m never quite sure what to do with myself, but this holidays I have read, spent time with my family and just relaxed

What does this half term have in store for me? 

The last half term in schools is always the MOST manic. It’s when everything happens. At my school we have a Year 6 residential to the Lakes TODAY, for 2 nights; there’s 2 sports days, EYFS/KS1 and KS2, which are held at the bowling green up from school; achievement assemblies; MY GRADUATION (how scary); a whole school beach trip; a possible trip with my Y4s on a train (AM I A FOOL FOR TRYING THIS?); running Newspaper Club as well as Out of School Club. ALL OF THE THINGS. Along with the things like reports, decisions about next year and all those school things. 

I’m looking forward to this final half term, as manic and mad as it might be, Summer 2 is one of those half terms where you have to just take the bull by the horns and run with it. 6 weeks of busy, pulling together the year. I am not ready for this year to be over though, I’ve had a lovely year.

What does this half term have in store for you?
Is Summer 2 a busy half term for you?

Let me know in the comments or talk to me on Twitter (@eenalol), I love knowing what’s coming up for everyone! Tweachers are some of my favourite people!

S x