What is working well for me is a new series of guest blogposts by primary teachers around Ireland. The first in this series is by Nicola, a junior infant teacher working in a DEIS 1 school in Dublin. Nicola also runs the instagram page – ‘Play is the Way’
Since school closures I have made a conscious effort to focus on what works for me and my specific class. At first, I felt quite overwhelmed by all of the content online, but I think that was due to my belief that I wasn’t doing enough. Thankfully, I have moved past that stage and realise that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ (Theodore Roosevelt).
So here is what is working for me and my class, which is a Junior Infants in a DEIS 1 school in Dublin.
- Consistent contact with parents – The most important thing for me and my class is to keep the lines of communication open. I do this by a very informal call/email to let them know I am here to help. I am very aware that there are many households experiencing unprecedented challenges at the moment. These circumstances and challenges may not allow for a successful learning environment.
- Realistic Expectations – It is important to set realistic expectations for yourself from the get go. We finished school on the 12th of March. At this stage in the year, our Junior Infant curriculum is not completely covered. The focus in our school is to revise what we have covered so far this year. Games or toys readily available at home work well for revision (e.g. writing sounds/tricky words on Jenga blocks or lollipop sticks, counting using snakes and ladders, letter formation using home-made playdough). We are also asking parents to work on life skills with our Junior Infants (e.g. button up a shirt, zip up coat, hang-up coat properly without it falling down).
Parents are not expected to teach new content. This is just what works for our school. If the children in my class come back to school and have retained what we covered so far, I would be delighted.
Bang – Say the sound/letter name. Say a word that begins/ends with the sound. Person with most lollipop sticks in the end wins.
Jenga blocks – write sounds/ letters/numbers. Make a word with the blocks, remove a block and say the sound/tricky word/ number etc.
- Postcards/ Birthday phone calls/emails to children – I have worked so hard to build positive, trusting and reciprocal relationships with the children in my class and it is very important to me that I maintain them. I have sent the children in my class a free postcard from An Post (postage covered), which they were delighted with. I have a list of the children’s birthdays and I like to let them know I am thinking of them on their special day through an email/phone call. I have set up an email address specifically for contact with parents during this time.
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💚 An Post Free Postcards 💚 A lovely teacher friend of mine gave me this idea. I am going to write a postcard to all of the boys and girls in my class, and stick a little sticker on it from me ❤ I think it is such a lovely idea, and so personal. They will be so excited getting a postcard addressed to them delivered to their house 😍 An Post still has lots of these cards left in the local post offices and they're free to post to anywhere in Ireland 😍🎉 #playistheway #juniorinfants #maintainingpositiverelationships #postcards #irishteacher #irishinfantteacher #literacy
- Weebly – A colleague of mine suggested creating a Weebly website specifically for our Junior Infant classes. This is great for uploading videos of teacher doing a handwriting lesson, revising maths concepts, explaining how to do specific worksheets. We also share links to websites, songs, apps etc. that we often use in class. Weebly is free and very easy to use. (weebly.com)
I think the thing that is working best for me is not comparing myself with what other teachers are doing. We learn from each other, use the fabulous ideas we come across, and realise that we all do things a little differently and that is a good thing.
Be kind to yourself
Nicola (@playistheway Instagram)
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The Hair Salon ❤ The children requested this role play area and discussed all of the things we need to set it up. So far it has a staff room, tea and coffee machine for clients, waiting area with magazines/books, front desk to book appointments and pay, basin area and styling area 😍😂❤ We have a hairdresser visiting our classroom on Thurs to tell us all about working in a hair salon and to have a look at our salon. Another teacher suggested setting up a nail bar, using cardboard cut out hands and paint..I think it is a fab idea so will defo include it! We opened our salon today and all of the children loved it. Labels from @twinkl_ireland #playistheway #juniorinfants #playfullearning #aistear #infantteacher #roleplayarea #thehairsalon