Let me go home…

So I’m going back to my “host school” today and I can’t wait. I’ve had a week of training following half term and I am itching to get back into the classroom! 

I say host school, that’s what the people of the SCITT call it. For me, I call it “home”. It’s my school. It’s the school I went to as a kid, it’s the school I’ve worked at for the past 9 years. It’s very much a part of me. Part of the dream of being a teacher is being able to teach at this school. I’d love a teaching job at this school.

Being away from my school taught me a lot. I learned a lot on Second School Placement. Second School Placement was HARD. I can’t deny that for a second. I struggled a lot at times. There were times I wanted to just chuck the towel in. The behaviour at my second school was a total challenge at times, and it took me a while to remember that their behaviour choices weren’t a reflection on me as a teacher. They weren’t an attack on me. I had some really rough days at SSP. I also had some brilliant lessons. I had some really touching moments. The kids were a delight, the staff were brilliant with me. I felt very welcome.

I learnt a lot about being me, the teacher me, while I was away. I definitely think SSP helped me develop my sense of my Teacher Self, my teacher identity. My identity comes with my reputation, my history, at my school. At SSP, they didn’t know much about me, so I could be who I wanted to be, the me I wanted to be the most, the teacher I know I am. I’m looking forward to taking that teacher identity back to my school. If you were to ask me if I could put my finger on the parts of that identity that were important, I don’t think I could. I just developed that sense of “me” as a teacher being away from school.

My host school and my SSP have both been brilliant for me. Being in my comfort zone (Year 6, surprisingly) at my host school helped me to really go for it. Being well out of my comfort zone at SSP made me challenge my own thoughts, my own preconceptions about myself, education and teaching. I learned A LOT while I was gone. Some things I will take back with me because I thought they were incredible. The power of experiencing somewhere new is that you can see how things are done elsewhere and cherry-pick the things you want and leave behind the things you don’t think will work for you.

A lot of people will read this and think “she’s been in the same school for 9 years? And she wants to stay there? She must be crazy!” and possibly. I know I need to spread my wings. I know I will learn an awful lot by spreading my wings, second school placement proved that, but I also know that I’m not done learning in my current school. I’ve got an awful lot of learning to do still until July, when hopefully I will qualify.

The thing I love the most about teaching is you never stop learning. Regardless of if I’m at home, or if I’m somewhere else, spreading my wings, I never want to stop learning. I want to be constantly evolving and getting better.

S x

2 down, 2 to go!

Last week was week 2 in my Second School Placement and what a week it was! It was a total rollercoaster of a week. I had some definite down moments, but there were some real up moments too!

Getting to grips with new kids, behaviour systems and new ways of managing behaviour is definitely the thing I think I have struggled with most so far on SSP. I have to keep reminding myself that unwanted behaviour is not personal.  This is a hard one to accept sometimes. I had a moment this past week where I definitely felt like I wanted to cryit all got a bit much for me. I’m very lucky to have some lovely supportive teachers (and a really supportive Head) to keep me afloat whilst at SSP. 

These brilliant members of staff have definitely helped me to feel more comfortable in school, it’s felt a bit more like home. I’ve no doubt that by the end of this half term (2 weeks time!) that I’ll be sad to leave. 4 weeks somewhere isn’t the longest span of time to settle in and make an impression, but I’m hoping the impression I’m making is positive. I’m trying to throw myself into school life entirely; I’ve been out on the yard in the morning, at break time and at the end of the day; I volunteered to help at choir after school (which I properly loved – it was so lovely to see the kids outside of the classroom). 

I’ve loved being able to teach a range of children – groups in Year 6, whole class in Year 3 and 4. I’m all over the shop, but it’s good. It’s all excellent experience

I had my first formal observation in SSP last week. It was a Science observation in Year 6. The kids were great and my feedback was so positive, with some things to think about. Science is not my comfort zone, so I thought it would be a good one to start with. I’m being observed twice next week, EEEK. My SCITT tutor is coming to see me on Wednesday (I’m teaching a Geography lesson, and possibly Music!) and then on Friday I’m being observed in Mathslet’s hope they stay positive! 

And that’s about it. These weeks feel like they’re dragging but also flying. 

S x

Back in the classroom!

Last week, I got back in the classroom after a lovely Christmas holiday and then a week of training (which comprised of Early Years training, a 2 day Thinking Skills Conference and some data training!). I was so glad to be getting back into the classroom, however the big change this time round is that I was in a NEW SCHOOL. 

This half term lends itself to my Second School Placement (SSP). It’s a really short half term, so I am only on SSP for 4 weeks! I got through my first week, but it wasn’t without a wobble or two. I’ve never worked in another school. Don’t get me wrong, I know being away from my school will do me the world of good, being somewhere new has been a challenge. Not because of the school, just me. On a personal level.

I’ve learned a lot in my first week though. 
It’s been part struggle. Being somewhere new is scary. Being around new kids is a bit intimidating. Being in a new way of working is a lot to take in. Not knowing anyone and feeling a bit lonely can be kind of alienating.
It’s also been mostly brilliant. All of the kids I’ve met have been so excited to see me. I’ve seen some of them on the bus going home and they’ve waved and said hello. The staff have been brilliant, making me feel very welcome and being as accommodating as they can – offering me all of the help, if I need it.

I’ve had moments of feeling out of my depth and having to muddle through. I know this is an amazing opportunity for me and I’m hoping to take everything I can out of it. I’m looking forward to the next 3 weeks. It’s going to be a rollercoaster.

S x

2017: what a year!

What a year 2017 has been, ay kids? 

We’ve been through a lot here.

As a student: I’ve gone from writing my dissertation, to graduating, to starting my SCITT, to finishing my first term as a trainee teacher ALL in the space of one year. That’s pretty bonkers

As a blogger: I went from a little known blogger (I’m under no assumption I am well known now, don’t worry!), to going to my first blogger events, being on my first blog tours, going to YALC, being on more blog tours and even being asked to chair an event! What a year. 

2017 has been an incredible year for me, both professionally and blogging wise.

Today I want to share some of my favourite blog posts over the year. Some of the ones I enjoyed writing the most, or the ones I’ve enjoyed seeing your responses to the most. As you well know if you’re a long time reader here, my blogs come in 4 different varieties: discussion blogs, personal blogs, book blogs or school/training blogs. I’ve found blogs of all kinds to share! I hope you enjoy reflecting as much I did! 

Let’s start with bookish blogs:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank EVERYONE who took part in #DesertIslandBooks. It was an absolute joy. I did not think it would quite take off as well as it did. I had my very random idea back in August, and never did I imagine that those posts would keep me going all the way up until December (with some people still being interested!). To all of the authors, bloggers, booksellers, publicists, teachers: you are incredible and I am eternally grateful for your interest and enthusiasm about my little project. #DesertIslandBooks was something I thought would die down after a month or so, you all made my blogger heart very happy! (If you’re interested in 2018’s blog feature, let me know!)

Also, I’d like to thank any of you who joined in, commented on, liked my #SixforSunday posts. Again, that was a stupid little idea I had earlier this year and to see you all get involved and join in makes me very happy. Keep your eyes peeled for the 2018 prompts coming in the next few days! 

Some other bookish highlights:
ALL OF THE AMAZING BOOKS I GOT TO READ because publicists, publishers, fellow bloggers sent them to me. You’re all brilliant. I couldn’t do this without all of you. I still can’t quite believe this is my life every time I get book post.
YALC was a massive highlight of my bookish life this year. I got to meet so many amazing authors, so many brilliant bloggers and spend time with some of my favourite humans. I couldn’t have had a better first YALC experience: YALC #1 and YALC #2.
– Being involved in so many amazing blog tours. Two particular highlights for me are BLOG TOUR: The Scarecrow Queenand When I Grow Up: book tour.

Now on to discussion type blogs:
– “Mam, can I have a book?”  in where I rant about letting your kids choose whatever book they want. Books are books. Books are written to be read. 
Why buy books? where I talk about why I buy my kids books, and why I think it’s important to buy books
How do you read? where I explore how people choose to read – in silence or with noise?
Dear Clothes Manufacturers… where I explore the necessity for pockets in women’s clothing… NECESSARY.

Personal type blogs: 
Bullet journal: this year I started a bullet journal, inspired mainly by my gorgeous human Kelly and I’ve loved sharing my bullet journals with you every month!
What makes me happy?: where I share the things that make me happiest, and the things that give me the most problems
Happy things…: a lovely tradition my lovely friend Grace started on my blog, where I share things which made me happy that week/fortnight/recently – these are my favourite additions to my blog.
Letters to… my people: my ‘letters to…’ series has been long running and I need to keep it going. These blog posts always make me feel very happy. I’ve written to my kids, my friends, bloggers, authors and myself! 

Student/teacher-y posts:
Ask Miss Elliott and I Wish My Teacher Knew… were 2 little things I would do with my Y4 kids last (academic) year and they loved it. Some of their questions were brilliant! A few of the responses to I wish my teacher knew made me a bit emotional too! 
– I started doing reflective blogs as part of my teacher training. I find them great to help me continue to be reflective and think about what happened the previous week. I haven’t done one for weeks, but I will be continuing in 2018: Maths week: Week 10
– I developed quite a massive love for Once Upon A Picture (a blog which shares pictures to use as stimulus) over the past year and shared a few blogs, featuring my kids’ writing and how I used the picture: Wonderful writing?

If you’re still here, then congratulations, you have earned a sticker. I’m sorry I rambled on for so long! 

Do you have a favourite blog post of mine?
What 3 words do you think of when you think of my blog?

What do you want to see more of next year?

Let me know in the comments, or twitter, or email me, or send me a postcard. Tell me. I love writing all of these posts. 

S x

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

6 weeks down, 1 to go!

Well, week 6 is done and there’s 1 more to go until half term… WHERE DID THOSE WEEKS GO? How crazy is that? To think that 6 weeks ago I was starting my journey to becoming a teacher and now I’m 6 weeks in… it has FLOWN. 

So how did my week go? 
It was really good. It was STRESSFUL but it was great

The big things from this week was I had my first (of many) formal observation. The Year 6 teacher observed me teaching Maths. Before the observation I was SO nervous. I hadn’t slept well, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to vomit or cry – I managed to do neither and got through the observation without any mishaps! We were working out time elapsed using a time line (we call it a Frog line, it’s one of the tools that we use in our Maths scheme of work!). We started the lesson recapping Roman Numerals from the day before and then talked about how you would calculate how long marathon runners run for. The kids were so well behaved. The lesson went over in a blur. There was a lot of modelling, lots of the children applying their skills and then working in pairs/independently to attempt the task. I then had them use their skills to “be the teacher” and told them I’d made a mistake in one of the questions I had written in the morning, so they had to correct it. 

Some of their “marking” was very funny, but they all managed to find and fix the error! It made my teacher heart very happy! (A few examples of their funny marking: “you miss break time”, “you should learn your facts or ask for help”, cheeky!)

The class teacher was lovely when she gave me feedback and had some really lovely things to say about the lesson! (If you’d like to know what, feel free to ask me!) It gave me a lovely glow. I realise not all my lessons are going to go that well, but to start the year with a lesson like that was great!

What else happened this week?
I’ve been teaching SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar) this week, looking at speech punctuation. The children were really struggling with punctuating speech correctly at the beginning of the week, but by the end of the week they were doing much better! It’s lovely to see their progress over the span of a day, a week, a few weeks: it all adds up! 

We’ve been continuing on our English with Journey. The children have been writing the boy’s story! They’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been tough going, but they’re getting there. My copies of Quest and Return arrived this week too, so we’re going to “read” them this week (I say “read” because they’re wordless picture books! Excellent for use in the classroom!)

This week in 3 words?
Tough. Emotional. Brilliant.

So that’s my week in a nutshell… there’s loads more but I would hate to bore you! 

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 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 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 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. 

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.

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?

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 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! 

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 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. 

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