Well, I don’t know about you, but I am ready for half-term and I still have two weeks to go. I think I will be crawling to the half-term line because even though I have taught for twenty years, I have found this term unbelievably tiring and at times tricky?
Why? Well, I think it has been challenging to get children back into the way of school after they were out of routine for so long. I didn’t want to hit the ground running at the beginning of September (as I usually do) as it didn’t feel right to do this after lock-down. Instead, I chose to gradually ease the children back into school life. It took time to get them used to routines again and I would say that it took a few weeks for all the children to be back into the swing of things. Each day, my expectations heightened, but I had to do it in a way that the children felt secure and safe so that they wanted to learn and be in school.
I found that I had to work on basics such as handwriting, as so many children were just touching keypads over lockdown and had forgotten what the physical process of writing was like. I don’t know about you, but in my class, children knew what the letters should look like but had forgotten how to form many of them. So we went back to c!
C? Yes c. A few years ago I discovered a wonderful way to teach handwriting that has worked without fail when improving children’s handwriting and fluency. I start with ‘c’ and then move onto ‘a, d, g, q and o’ (all or which start in the same way as a c). I then do ‘r, n, m’ (similarly formed) and then ‘h’. I then do ‘i, t, l, j, b’, followed by ‘v and w’ and then work my way through the rest. I really value handwriting as I believe that if children don’t have to think about how to form their letters and are writing fluently, it takes away one of the many things they have to think about when writing.
Some people may think I am mad for investing so much time in this but I have seen the benefits year on year, not just with improvements in their written work but also with their self-esteem. The children I have taught and teach are so proud of the work that they produce and they feel good about themselves. Now, more than ever, I want them to feel good about who they are and what they are doing.
In my classroom, you will find a writing board and class books that celebrate the children’s published writing. Why? Imagine if you are an author and you write a book but it remains unpublished – how does that feel? Not great. Every author I know wants their work to be published. It is the same if you are a child – that story that has been drafted, edited and re-drafted deserves to be published. How awful would it be if the only time that story is seen is during a ‘work-scrutiny’ and even then with just a cursory glance. In my opinion, written work deserves to be read.
I am sure that I am preaching to the converted but I have been surprised over the years at how many teachers have not recognised the value of children publishing their work. These are only two things that I value as a teacher – there are so many more. What is interesting though, is that every teacher values different things. No two teachers that I know, value the exact same things in the exact same way. I suppose that is what makes us all unique as educators.
Rather than me waffle on about other things I value I wonder what you value.