As you know, if you have read my previous posts, I originally qualified to teach secondary but moved into teaching primary after carrying out some supply work in that sector. What has made me into the teacher I am today is the breadth of experience I have had and what I realise is that I just love teaching – mo matter the age or stage of the little people, or bigger people that I teach.
As an NQT, I began in Year 1 and taught there for two years. I was then told that I would be moving into Year 3 and was terrified – they were two years older and I was worried that behaviour management would be harder. To my delight I discovered that they were much more independent in Year 3 and loved teaching them. Year 3 was now, most definitely, my favourite year group. I was there for two years until I was told that I would be moving to Year 2!
Year 2 for me was a frightening proposition as they had the dreaded SATs in there. Gulp! However, after a few months of teaching in Year 2 I decided that this indeed was my favourite year group and then I went on maternity. Over the course of my maternity I was worried that I would forget how to teach and wanted to return part-time (three days a week) once my maternity leave was over. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be. The Headteacher said that they could only offer me two days a week covering PPA or full-time in Reception. Due to financial constraints, I had to go back full-time and I remember dreading it.
I knew nothing about the Early Years, except for assuming there was a lot of playing. On returning, the Early Years lead, who was very experienced, took me under her wing. Her philosophy was similar to Yaway Baig –
“Teaching is not about answering questions but about raising questions – opening doors for them in places that they could not imagine.”
”“Teaching is not about answering questions but about raising questions – opening doors for them in places that they could not imagine.”
Prior to moving into Reception, I would say that my teaching had been more ‘sage on the stage’ with me conducting the class from the front with clear expectations of what I wanted them to achieve. When I moved into Reception I learnt to be a guide at the side. I recently had the opportunity to speak to Dr Valerie Daniel about teaching in the Early Years and she said that as a teacher in that setting you teach from behind, in front and at the side – you are there guiding and supporting children’s development. It was in that year group, more than any other, that I learnt to let the glass ceiling go and have high expectations for all. I discovered the power of listening in Early Years too.
As Julie Fisher says in her book Interacting and Interfering, “Many of the richest conversations come out of nothing and out of nowhere. They are topics that come into a child’s head as they remember something or see something that triggers a memory or a connection. The topics can sometimes seem random, but the attentive adult usually finds a thread to their thinking which shows what they are saying is a result of a memory some previous experience or a current concern.”
Prior to working in Early Years, I may have dismissed the child who painted a sheep pink – now I ask why and I listen. I found that I learnt so much more about the children when I did this and was then able to better support their learning journey. I also discovered the importance of play and how effective environments can provide opportunities for play that develop resilience, communication, collaboration, independence and problem-solving skills.
Something that I have always found strange, since leaving Early Years, is that I worked really hard to develop my children’s independence there – they would self-register, acquire the resources they needed, the list could go on ad-infinitum but suffice to say they left as independent beings. However, higher up the primary setting, the teacher often does the register, gives out the resources and the children don’t move much. Why is that?
Anyway, as always I have gone off on a tangent. Sadly, I wasn’t in Early Years for long as I returned to Year 2 and remained there for five years. I then finished my time in that school in Year 3. For the final three years in that school I was a Year Leader and a member of the SLT. I was so proud that I had moved from being an NQT to a Year Leader in charge of five other classes (it was five-form intake). I finished there equipped with so much knowledge and skills that I didn’t even know existed when I began my NQT year.
I had taught in every year group, but in a First school that was only Reception to Year 3. I had never taught 4,5 or 6 and yet again, the prospect was terrifying. However, ever one to challenge myself I took up the post of Assistant Headteacher in a two-form intake primary school so that I could develop myself even further and discovered that I loved teaching Upper Key Stage 2 just as much as Lower Key Stage 2, Key Stage 1 and Early Years.
Every year group is different and although the skill-sets required do vary slightly, if you love teaching in the way that I love teaching, trust me when I say it doesn’t matter where you teach – you will always be happy.
Currently Year 4 is my favourite year group!