Diary of a trainee Early Years Teacher

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Part 5: Trainee EYT Emma Davis on the benefits - and disadvantages - of juggling manager duties with her training


Emma Davis, trainee Early Years Teacher

 It’s been a very up and down time since the last update of my monthly diary. At the beginning of January, I returned to university on a Wednesday and Thursday and it was good to have that weekly tutor contact again.  It was interesting to hear how everyone had found their placements and the process of gathering evidence.  I submitted my file of evidence for moderation shortly after returning to university and received it back within a couple of weeks.  It was a relief to find out that I was progressing well.

But aside from the positives of being back at uni, I've been really busy at work and studying sometimes takes a back seat.  Being a manager means that I have a huge workload as it is without factoring in Teacher Training on top of it!  On the upside, it is an advantage when it comes to putting together my portfolio of evidence. My role requires me to have responsibility for all paperwork and record keeping so there is a wealth of evidence for me to draw upon in order to meet the Early Years Teacher Standards, including examples of planning, fire alarm practise records, risk assessments, policies, Individual Education Plans, observations and next steps for the children as well as observations of my own practice. Each piece is graded from green - the best - down to red.  Even if I wasn’t completely sure on whether it was a ‘green’ piece, I included it anyway so I could get feedback and identify areas for improvement.  I now need to look at which of the Early Years Teacher Standards I still need evidence for and concentrate more on these areas.

One particularly memorable session at university was on safeguarding where we watched a video about the tragic murder of Daniel Pelka. This was to inform our understanding of safeguarding procedures and the role of the professional in collaborative working.  Because the case had been in the news so much at the time and I had read the Serious Case Review, and thought I knew a lot about the case.  However, seeing the timeline of the missed opportunities really brought home the importance of acting on concerns. I’m considering whether this video is something all of my staff need to see and if this would be a useful exercise during a staff meeting.  The video was extremely harrowing but I think that’s a good thing as the shock value will remain with me for quite some time and will definitely influence my practice. 

Towards the end of the block of university sessions, we were required to deliver a presentation to the rest of the group and the tutor.  The subject was around an area for change we had identified regarding communication and collaborative working in our settings.   I chose online Learning Journeys, an interest of mine which has evolved from complete disregard for them to fully embracing the positive influence they can have.  I initiated the online version at my setting in 2014 and it has worked wonders for parent partnerships.  We upload observations ‘in the moment’, offering a real talking point between parent and child away from the setting.  It’s taken some time but the interaction from parents has had an incredible impact on the children’s learning.  Children have the opportunity to share photos and information their parents have uploaded which promotes their communication and language development and helps us get to know the children better.  The only disadvantage I have found so far is that because I read and approve each observation which, coupled with the time taken to reply to parents comments, takes a considerable amount of my time.

Since finishing this block of sessions on 21st January, I have returned to my nursery which is also my main placement for the course.  Unfortunately, there has been little time for me to focus on gathering evidence for my course as I have been busy catching up with paperwork and ensuring we are prepared for an imminent Ofsted inspection.  Even though both myself and my mentor are increasingly busy, we realise that we have to keep on top of the observations to prevent them building up and becoming a worry.   We squeezed in two observations last half term with the remaining four to be completed before we break up for Easter.  These observations both went well, one based around the Numicon maths resource and the other on a book called ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ which is a favourite of mine.

Before the next instalment of my diary, I will be enjoying half term with my family although this will also have to be a catch up on my studies.  As usual during school holidays, I will be preparing for our return by planning, menu writing, updating policies and the website.  The children have shown lots of interest in the book ‘Dear Zoo’ so this will be our focus for next half term.  I particularly enjoy implementing a creative curriculum with plenty of hands on and practical experiences for the children to engage with.  Some of the things we have to look forward to include a gelli-baff frog pond in the water tray, investigating the similarities and differences between animals, thinking about patterns and creating our own and enjoying a wild animal themed sensory tray.


But what I’m looking forward to the most during half term is spending time with my family.  Some lie ins are definitely due and we also plan to go bowling, ice skating and shopping for presents for my daughter’s 12th birthday.

After half term, I’m only back at work for two weeks before I begin my school placement which will be at Bromesberrow and St Mary’s Primary School.  I’m excited about this experience but also a little nervous…..I look forward to telling you all about it!

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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