Diary of a trainee Early Years Teacher

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Part 3: Trainee EYT Emma Davis has a nerve-wracking first observation


It has been a hectic month since my last diary entry – I don’t feel like my feet have touched the ground!  This month has been spent entirely in placement which is also my place of work.  It has been difficult at times to adjust to being a student in my setting but I think (hope!) it’ll become easier as I become better able to manage my workload and time.  These last few weeks have been harder than usual due to the number of work meetings I have been required to attend, visitors to the setting and having to support students.  This has had a huge impact on my time, including the ability to manage my EYT workload.  Throw Christmas preparations, work and my own, into the mix and things have been a little frantic.

Last week, my tutor from the university came out to my setting for the first time.  Although my tutor had already taught me for the Foundation Degree and BA Hons, she had never been to see me in my workplace. Her visit was one of several over the duration of the course, including in my school placement next spring and another birth to fives setting in the summer.  I was already aware of the purpose of the visit which was for me to take her on a tour, to be observed in practice and discuss any concerns.

One of my big worries was being observed as my observations up until this point had been by my mentor who I work with anyway so those are not so daunting.  For my tutor observation, I had chosen to read a book called ‘Robin’s Winter Song’ to a small group, engaging them in discussion about the story and then making bird feeders.  Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed with the observation as I didn’t feel it went well.  It was planned for a particular group of four children but two of them were absent meaning I had to choose two others.  As Forest School was running at the same time, this limited who I could choose, throwing me completely and affecting my confidence.  The bird feeders were a huge success though and the best bit was seeing the children’s faces later in the day when we spotted birds feeding on them.

The tour of the setting went well as I was able to show aspects I had changed which demonstrated my leadership capabilities, a vital part of the course.  I enjoyed showing my tutor display boards, our café style snack area, the planning, a new outdoor shelter I had arranged to be built and the Forest School area.  It was this part of the visit I enjoyed the most as I was able to demonstrate some of the things we do best.  I’m already starting to worry a little bit about taking my tutor on a tour of my next two placements.  These will be more difficult as it will be an unfamiliar environment with adults and children I don’t know. Perhaps once I’m there, I’ll be feeling more confident and able to have some valuable input.

An important part of the course is collecting evidence of practice and leadership.  I have been slowly adding to my file, including things such as planning, training plans, my observations of children and engagement with parents, fire drill practises, policies and Individual Education Plans (IEPs).  For each piece of evidence, I have been writing about why I have chosen this and how it meets the standards.  I then have to keep a summary of the evidence which shows new parts added each time my tutor visits.  This allows her to see the new evidence at a glance rather than having to look through everything each time.  For some standards, I have already collected the two required pieces of evidence but have to wait until January to find out whether these are good enough to be signed off. 

Also in January, I will be returning to university on a Wednesday and Thursday again which I’m very excited about.  It will be fantastic to get together with everyone, share ideas and experiences as well as worries.  They’ve been a great support so far and even though we haven’t seen each other in person since September, we have been sharing emails and messages. 

Next week is officially my last week at work before Christmas as the last week of term is allocated as a study week.  As Christmas is one of my favourite times at work, I’ll definitely be going in to join in the fun, including parties on the last day.  Once I have broken up, I plan on enjoying a well-earned rest with my family.  I’m already preparing for this by getting as much work done now as I can.  I really feel it is going to be important to have some down time as managing a setting can be stressful enough anyway without training as a teacher as well. 

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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