Diary of a trainee Early Years Teacher

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Part 2: Trainee EYT Emma Davis considers finding evidence for teachers' standards as she comes to the end of her first term at university

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Since my first diary entry, written when I had attended just three sessions, I have now attended the university for five more days, making a total of eight full days this half-term. We recently covered topics such as leadership, reflective practice and critical writing skills.  We were asked to take along copies of our planning to allow us to reflect on these as a group, considering how and why we plan. I find that planning can be a very personal thing, so I felt a little apprehensive.  However, as child-led planning is a big interest of mine, I was excited to share my ideas and enjoyed explaining my methods.  It was wonderful to hear comments from others, which made me feel proud of the amount of work that goes into this every week. 

During my last week at university, I had a meeting with my tutor who had already taught me for the foundation and honours degree, which was reassuring.  We discussed the teacher’s standards - I was encouraged to identify ‘tricky’ standards, which may prove difficult to evidence.  I have been looking at the standards which require evidence of working with babies and school-age children.  There will be opportunities to work towards these during my next two placements. I’m finding it easier to think ahead now – I want to enter my next placements completely clear on what I want to achieve. 

We also discussed an essential form called ‘professional mapping and review’ (PMR) which is work in progress throughout the year. I was required to reflect on my knowledge in the context of practice and leadership and consider the evidence I was already able to provide, for each indicator on the PMR, as well as actions required to show progress.  It was time-consuming, taking me about four evenings to complete.  However, the process was incredibly beneficial as I now have a much clearer idea of where I am now compared to where I need to be.

I have now been back in my setting full-time for the last two weeks which has been wonderful.  Although my days at university were incredibly fulfilling, I missed my setting.  It was difficult to keep on top of the workload with being out two days a week so evenings and weekends were dedicated to playing catch up with work as well as studying.  As I’m not back at university now until the end of term, I’m finding the workload a little more manageable although I’m still spending many hours a week studying.  I’m spending time every evening and weekend reading, typing up observations and planning activities to ensure I keep on top of the requirements of the course.  The university also uses an online system called ‘blackboard’ which is incredibly useful as the entire content of the course is on here for us to access at home.  Also on blackboard is an online reflective journal which we are encouraged to use to record information about our experiences in our setting, activities we have carried out and our feelings about the course.  Although it’s sometimes difficult to find time to use this, when I do it’s quite a useful tool to look back on.  I especially look forward to comments from my tutors on my reflective journal entries as this reassures me that my thoughts and feelings are normal and helps put things into context.

Since being back in my setting, I’ve enjoyed spending more time with the children, leading activities and experiences.  A particular highlight this week has been an activity with some of the preschool children based on a book called ‘Leaf Man’ by Lois Ehlert.  I read the book in our forest school then we spent time looking for our own leaf man, recording our findings using the iPads.  There was plenty of opportunity for exploration and sustained shared thinking.  Afterwards, we used the items we found to recreate leaf men on paper, discussing the shape, colour and size of the leaves, cones and seeds.

Juggling my studies with the responsibilities of managing a setting as well as being a mum to two children means that my life is quite hectic at the moment.  As with all settings, with Christmas fast approaching, there’s already a focus on activities and ideas for the festive season so Pinterest is a good friend of mine!  I find this, and Twitter, a great way for sharing ideas and good practice. 

Half term for me is going to be a time for catching up on work and studying, especially with my first formative assessment due for submission.  This piece of work is like a trial run for the main assignment.  Although we have feedback, it is not actually graded.  For this assessment, I have decided to focus on the role of leadership in supporting the learning and development of children.  Although my final assessment is not due in until March next year, I really can’t afford to be complacent so will be considering the content now.  I will also be typing up evidence I have gathered in activities with the children, spending time reviewing the standards and considering an action plan for the remainder of the term.  To help manage my time in placement, I have decided to create a timetable as I need to ensure time is available for me to be observed, particularly the setting in which I am employed.

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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