Should Kids ‘Catch Up’, Or Should The Curriculum ‘Slow Down’? #TeacherThoughts #TeacherThursday

It’s been quite a week, already, and it hasn’t even finished, yet.

BoJo made the announcement we all knew was coming, but kinda hoped wouldn’t. That ALL schools are reopening to the children on Monday, 8th March.

Now, as you all know, we have been ‘open’ the whole time, remotely teaching the pupils who would usually be in our classrooms, since January 4th.

The extreme lockdown was put upon the whole country, as another variant of the virus ravaged the country. That, and the fact that good old BoZo decided that a little mixing at Christmas wouldn’t hurt…

Boy, was he wrong! And to top it off, he allowed a huge amount of schools to start back, after Christmas, for one day, before deciding to send everyone home, to learn remotely. And that one day appeared to make a huge difference to the figures, in that they jumped, as the cross contamination.

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And so, we come to this week’s announcement, that schools will be reopening to pupils from 8th March. Still, though, no staggering the start, just everyone back.

Okay, so there are a couple of differences, in that pupils in Secondary school will have to wear masks when in class, too, and they will be asked to have regular LFD tests, to lessen the asymptomatic spread of the virus.

Still no huge changes for Primary schools. Neither have teachers been prioritized with regards to the vaccinations. No new ventilation systems, no compulsory face coverings, no reduced class size. But we, as a staff, are being tested twice a week.

Apparently, it isn’t schools that spread the virus… (it’s the people within them that do!)

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Anywho, that wasn’t what I was meant to be waffling about…

It was the little fact that the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, slipped into his announcement today, about Summer Schools.

As we all know, children across the board have faced disrupted learning for a year, now, and there is no guarantee that it is over, by any means. But, I’m getting frustrated by the Government’s turn of phrase now. Kids are ‘falling behind’. Kids need to ‘catch up’.

Sorry, catch up to whom, exactly?

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Each and every child out there has faced the same issues, and yes, I agree, that some from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with Special Eduactionan Needs, will have possibly have accessed even less learning.

But they are all in the same boat.

They have all lost around a year’s learning.

So, why the push to ‘catch up’? Why cause untold stress to both children, and school staff alike, pushing them to ‘catch up’, when, surely it would be simpler, for the DfE to rework the curriculum for these children.

We need to add a bigger section on well being, and those outdoor and creative pursuits, to allow these children the opportunities to develop, or recover, their social skills, communication and languge skills, and their physical development needs attention, too.

Maybe they learn the importance of certain grammar skills, or how to create a leaflet, or the importance of improper fractions, and decimals, a year later.

How about they concentrate on those fundamentals, for a little longer?

What if phonic knowledge, and the understanding of number was given more importance, for a little longer, to embed it, instead of piling on this ‘catch up’?

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But, no, that wouldn’t do, after all, it was stated, somewhere, that this pandemic will have lost these children around £40k in earning potential, when they grow up…

Just reread that last sentence.

How on earth can they even suggest that? What proof do they have?

If we were to slow down the curriculum, we’d become more in line with several European countries who have education systems and results that far surpass our own, as well as better mental health within the youngsters living there. And they are definitely not losing out on that earning potential…

So, the plans have been bandied about, to extend school days, or to shorten the summer holidays, so the kids can ‘catch up’. Or, the one he mentioned today, Summer School. (For the children who have fallen behind significantly. The same kids who we may have found it hard to get engaged, throughout lockdown.)

Yet again, they are forgetting that these children have missed being in school, but they have still had the learning opportunitites, through the remote learning provided, and the tireless support of their teachers and teaching assistants, over the period of lockdown.

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I’ve yet to meet a parent who is excited by that idea.

Most of them are horrified, saying they wouldn’t send their kids, because they needed a break from all the stress. Now, if funding was plied into summer sports clubs, youth clubs, and initiatives of that nature, they’d be there in a flash.

And I am pretty sure most kids will not happily say they want to spend their summer holiday at school, considering they have still been learning, albeit at home, the whole time. (You should have seen the mugs of my two teens when I said there is a chance there might be Summer School, this year…)

Oh, and who will staff these summer schools?

A token amount has been earmarked for all schools, with the throwaway comment that you could offer your current staff some overtime, or hire some summer staff to run these initiatives… though the amount they say will be given, might pay for maybe two or three members of staff, for a month. (Exactly how many children are you talking about us teaching during that summer period?)

Er, hello.

I work through most of my summer, already, preparing for the new cohort that is due to start in September, including sorting out the classrooms, getting resources ready, researching new lesson ideas… the couple of weeks I do try to switch off, is well deserved! And this is all going to be after a hugely exhausting year, where we, as a profession, and all school staff, have not stopped. We’ve worked hard, despite people out there suggesting that teachers are just being paid to sit at home and post a couple of ‘lessons’, (don’t get me started!) to provide an education to our pupils, in a format that none of us have been trained to do, and I think that, for the most part, we have done bloody brilliantly!

So, you are suggesting that I, quite possibly, work through that break, too?

I’m not going to answer that.

There is sure to be another U-Turn, soon enough, but just the discussions or thoughts of their ideas is making my blood boil.

I am going to get off my soapbox, now.

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Thank you and good night (morning).

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 236 – Early Years

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“It is greater work to educate a child, in a true and larger sense of the world, than to rule a state.”

Willia Ellery Channing

Profoundness today, eh Spidey!

And apt, as always, to my situation.

I have completed my first week in my new classroom, with my first very own class.

A group of 30 children who are my responsibility for the next academic year.

That’s a BIG responsibility.

Yes, they are 4-5 years-old.

No, they aren’t going to learn how to write a novel/solve complex equations/create scientific formulas this year.

But what I will have to teach them is to love learning.

  • How to hold a pencil
  • How to count
  • How to recognise their name and write it
  • How to begin to read

Simple academics, but on top of that, and more importantly, I need to teach them how to be compassionate, caring individuals. I need to show them that the world doesn’t revolve around them individually, but rather they, and their actions keep our world turning.

I must show then that asking questions is not wrong, but a way of extending their own knowledge. Every question they ask can be explored, investigated.

I have to make sure they develop confidence; conquer the fear of “I can’t do that” and convert it into “I can’t do that, yet.” and further, to “I will try that” onto “I did it!”

It’s a tough job, being an Early Years teacher. The syllabus isn’t as cut and dried as other years.

But I have the joy of (hopefully) creating a stable foundation for my class. A solid beginning to their academic career, so they move forward with an open mind and joy of learning.

So… tell me, what is the first memory you have of school?

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – #Kindergarten Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! 2015 by Ritu Bhathal | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Head over to Sally’s for another dip into my blogging archives! This was one I had forgotten about, and details a rather crazy day in my Nursery. This was the year I christened My Baptism of Fire year!

Enjoy!

This is the third post from the wonderfully varied archives of poet and author Ritu Bhathal. Today the joys of being a kindergarten teacher…. things I am sure they don’t share during th…

Source: Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – #Kindergarten Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! 2015 by Ritu Bhathal | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 192

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Don’t you dare say I only work half a day
Don’t you dare sneer at my 10 weeks ‘off’ a year
Give me a lunch break at lunch
Holidays when I choose
No work before 9 or after 5
A weekend just to snooze
Give me this and I’ll give you my roll
But I warn you, my friend
It takes heart
Body and soul

Anon

Thanks, Spidey!

It’s finally half term for us here in the Kentish area of the UK, anyway, and I am so glad of the time to finally unwind.

Will I rest?

Probably not as much as others seem to think.

I have two kids to think of too, you know.

And I have lesson plans that need tweaking too.

I loved what Spidey found for us to ponder today though.

It is so easy to see the face of a teacher’s ‘job’.

Short day, lots of holidays, playing with kids…

But we are like icebergs.

You only see the tip of us, unless you live with us.

Then you see what is going on underwater…

  • The early starts, and late nights.
  • The grabbing a chance of a mouthful of lunch in between preparing your classroom for the rest of the day’s learning, marking books, operating clubs, dealing with issues the lunchtimes supervisors can’t handle…
  • Teaching your bladder to only need to be emptied on a minimal basis, and when you do go, learning how to do the most spectacular speed wee ever!
  • Piles of work that comes home, and if not work, hours at computers, researching lessons or cutting out resources ready for the next few days.
  • Hours spent agonising over the assessment and abilities of your children. Working out how to educate each individual, be it through supporting the learning of fundamentals, or embedding and creating an environment of learning that stretches those who already ‘get it’.
  • Crying over the situations some of your children come from, wanting to be there for them above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Paperwork involving ridiculous red tape that needs to be done to appease the government, that takes precious time away from actual teaching.
  • Being unwell, but feeling unable to take time off to recover because you don’t want to let the kids or your colleagues down.
  • Finally getting to a holiday, but not being able to afford to go, because your days off are always in school holiday time when all the prices are ridiculously elevated…

But we do it because we love what we do.

Ultimately, teaching is a vocation, not a career. We care. That’s why we put the time and effort in. (Just a little extra monetary appreciation from the government would be good!)

So… anyone fancy a job swap with me? 😘

Have a peaceful Sunday Peeps ❤ And enjoy your week!

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 187

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“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” – Khalil Gibran

Thanks, Spidey.

This.

This is what I feel teaching is all about!

As a teacher of the youngest in the school chain, the Nursery and Reception classes, I have always said, and continue to utter, my job is to create a love of learning.

It’s not called the Foundation Stage for nothing.

We are building the foundation for the rest of their school careers.

We, as educators of the first-timers, have a responsibility to instil the importance of education and school within these little mites, make their learning interactive and fun, so they go on to have successful school lives, where they feel prepared for all the curriculum is going to throw at them.

We should make them realise they have all the capabilities within – they just need to work out how to tap them.

They need to realise that there isn’t just one way to do something, but there are myriad ways to solve problems.

We need to grasp their thoughts and help them go with the flow, sometimes losing all track of the planned lesson, when someone poses a question that can ignite further exploration and learning.

We need to teach them how to learn.

I haven’t forgotten.

Miss Wilson.

She was my nursery teacher and the most wonderful teacher ever, making my first days in school, a three year old with English as a second language, such a joy.

So much of a pleasure that I went back to her as an sixteen year old, and volunteered in her class, where she was, by then, known as Mrs Haynes.

I felt so happy, and secure there, it impacted upon my whole school life, and going forward, because of her, and some other amazing teachers, I realised that this was what I wanted to do.

And I hope that I am one of those teachers, remembered for her impact upon children’s lives, but something that irks me, when you ask someone about their teachers, the comments are always about secondary teachers, or late primary ones. Does everyone forget those that shaped their educational futures?

Tell me, do you still remember your Nursery/kindergarten/preschool teachers? 😘

Have a peaceful Sunday Peeps ❤ And enjoy your week!

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