Diary of a trainee Early Years Teacher


Part 7: Trainee EYT Emma Davis juggles experiments with microgravity and finding evidence to hit the early years teachers’ standards

Having enjoyed a restful Easter break with my family and time to catch up on my work and studies, I returned to my setting refreshed and ready for the Summer term.  On the first day back, I began a ‘Rocket Science’ experiment as part of an observation for my Early Years Initial Teacher Training.  Rocket Science is a project run by The Royal Horticultural Society and the UK Space Agency and involves growing rocket seeds, one packet of which has spent six months on board the International Space Station.  I used the experiment to cover a maths observation with a small group of preschool children, bringing in vocabulary focused on capacity, measurements and time as well as thinking about how life on the Space Station would be different to on Earth.  As yet, we have no idea which seeds spent time in space as the rate of growth appears the same for each.  Perhaps time will tell if spending time in microgravity has an effect. 

 

rocket-science

 

During the first week back, I introduced a sunflower growing competition which is a project between the setting and home.  I sent a sunflower seed home with each child as well as a poem which explained what the parent and child had to do.  Prompts were included to promote learning, such as extending thinking by asking the child what they think the seed will grow in to and what it might need to grow tall and strong.  I also suggested how mathematical language could be introduced and asked for measurements to be uploaded to the children’s learning journeys.  I use activities such as these to involve parents in their child’s learning but they also have an additional benefit now as they hit the relevant EYT standards around working with parents.

For the first three weeks after Easter, I returned to university on a Wednesday and Thursday for taught sessions.  It was great to catch up with everyone again, sharing stories about our school placements from the previous term (see diary instalment 6).  During the first week, our evidence files had to be submitted for moderation, the last time until they are finally submitted in June.  I was nervous about this as I didn’t want to have a lot left outstanding, particularly with my baby placement due.  I was hoping to just focus on gathering baby evidence during this placement rather than worrying about completing evidence for other standards.  I didn’t have to wait long as the following week, my file had been moderated and I was provided with a thorough breakdown of the standards which had been signed off and those still requiring further evidence.

Last week, my tutor from the university came out to visit me in my setting which was a perfect opportunity to review my evidence and formulate an action plan, ensuring I was on track to complete in June.  Luckily, I have managed to gather enough evidence to have nearly all standards signed off.  Those outstanding require baby evidence which I will cover during my time at a local Children’s Centre at the beginning of June.  I’m planning on introducing treasure basket activities with babies and young children as I enjoy using loose parts and open ended play resources to further learning and development. 

While my tutor visited, I was required to carry out and lead an activity which was observed by her and my mentor.  I chose to focus on maths so prepared two different-sized boxes and two different-sized cylinders by punching holes in them and then numbering each one.  The children were provided with bowls of pasta and were encouraged to recognise a particular number and post in the corresponding number of pasta pieces.  Luckily, it went very smoothly, with the children engaged, recognising the numerals, matching numerals to quantity, estimating and counting to check.  As I had also invited our apprentice to participate, explaining the activity beforehand, I was able to show leadership through role-modelling good practice.

Last week was an intense week as not only did I complete several observations, but we also had an Ofsted inspection.  The call came at lunchtime the day before which was not a surprise as we knew we were due before the end of this inspection cycle in July.  I’ve had a few interesting conversations since – is it better to have notice of inspection or not?  I’d really like to hear your thoughts…..

In the coming weeks, I will be enjoying an egg-hatching project I have organised at my setting and look forward to sharing news and photos in my next diary entry.  My next entry will also include preparations for my baby placement which I’m feeling quite nervous about.  As I don’t work with babies in my setting, I’m worried that I’m going to feel out of my comfort zone, even though I’ve had two children of my own.  Working with babies seems a world away from the two, three and four year olds at my setting. 

If you have any questions about training to be an Early Years Teacher, please email news.nw@markallengroup.com and I will be happy to reply.

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