9 – 10.45am: Greet 33 children at the door. Say something to each of them. Listen to what they have to say. Check a certain 3 children have what they need. Check who looks like they’re doing okay and who might need a bit of help.
Complete the register in French or Spanish. Fill in the register on the computer. Get the children to fill in the travel tracker. Collect in money/reply slips/letters. Check homework diaries to see if any parents have written a note.
Notice that one of the 3 certain children hasn’t done any of those things. Help them to complete it.
Hear a reading group. Monitor the other children as you hear a reading group. Try to remember who is completing an Accelerated Test and who is out at the library choosing a new book.
Begin to teach an exciting and engaging Literacy lesson. Notice that one of the children has gone to play with the Lego. Check that they’re okay. Select a few Lego pieces that he can play with at his desk. Return to exciting and engaging Literacy lesson. Notice that the child with a hearing impairment has taken off his hearing aid. Have a discreet word with him. Set children off to complete independent tasks. Help the child with the visual impairment get logged on and onto the writing programme he uses. Check that the four children with ASD have understood what to do. Complete a picture map with one of them to help him get started. Check that the child with executive functioning problems has understood what to do. Check that the children working at first level are okay. Child with diabetes comes to say they feel low, help them do a check and administer lucozade. Collect in jotters. Ask children to tidy up. Look around the classroom, ask children to tidy up again. Escort children out to play.
10.45-11 – Come back to the classroom to find a child not wanting to go out. Speak to them about why. Children come running in, ‘Someone’s fallen down the steps.’ Administer first aid. Check that child has now gone out.
11 – 12.20 Greet 33 children at the door, sort out problems that have arisen at playtime.
Begin to teach an exciting and engaging maths lesson. 5 children don’t have a whiteboard pen that works, locate whiteboard pens that do work. Teach introduction, give out work differentiated a 5 levels. Check that the 4 children with ASD are okay. Check that the child with executive functioning problems has understood. Remind the child with a visual impairment to use their slanted board. Realise that one of the children is at the Lego again. Get them started, agree that after 10 questions they can have a Lego break. Go round each group to check that they are all understanding. Check understanding of the class in the plenary.
12.20-1.15 – Take class down to lunch. Send one of the children back up for his bag to check that there’s nothing else in there for his lunch. Get out the other things for his lunch. Check that the girl who is not eating much is eating her lunch, remember to email her mum. Help several children cut up baked potatoes. Mark some maths jotters. Eat lunch.
1.15 – 3 – Greet 33 children at the door. Sort out any problems that have arisen over lunchtime.
Begin to teach engaging and exciting topic lesson. Phone call to say that a child needs to go as they have an appointment. Check that they have everything. Start to teach exciting and engaging topic lesson again. Look at the shipping routes for all the ships carrying plastic waste from the UK. Have a interesting discussion about why the UK is allowed to do this. Map out ways that we could do something about it as a class. (‘Tweet the government’, ‘Have a protest’, ‘Put more posters up to say use a tupperware instead of a bag’ to name but a few.) Set children off to work labelling a world map to show all the countries the UK sends plastic to. Check that all children are okay. Sit with one child to label two countries. Give him the Lego box to take to a pod for a bit. Sit with another child for a bit. Ask him how his brother’s cancer treatment is going. Listen to him be a bit angry about the lack of attention he’s getting from home. Realise that another child is not doing okay, ask them if they want to use one of their movement cards. When they say no ask them if they would like to play with the Lego instead. Check everyone is doing okay. Tidy up. Read a story to the class. Enjoy the silence as they all listen captivated. Remember that two children are still outside playing with Lego, send someone to get them in. Wish all the children a lovely evening, say good afternoon. Pick up 17 pencils and 3 whiteboard pens.
I teach in a way that hopefully allows all the children in my class to feel safe, happy and for them to be able to learn. But it takes it out of you. Regulating 33 human beings all day is not easy. Regulating 33 human beings who are still at the ‘not complete’ phase of brain development is harder still. There are days when I get it wrong. I always apologise when this happens but it does happen. Keeping an eye on 33 children and looking out for tiny signs of dysregulation while at the same time trying to teach is hard.
When I was giving certificates out on my last day with my class this week, I was getting emotional. Being with your class all the time for a year means you invest in them, you care about them. You wake up in the night worrying about them. You wonder what it is that’s stopping them from making progress. You fight for support for them. But caring so much about 33 children has an impact how I am at home. I’m often so emotionally exhausted when I get home that I’ve not got the reserves I need for my own family.
When I see posts about primary teachers being trained in spotting signs of poor mental health I often shout at my husband ‘We can already spot them. It’s what we do about it, what can we do to help that child, where can we go to get them help. That’s the bit that we need.’ I feel at the moment that we are not valuing education in this country, we are not investing in it and consequently, we are not investing in the future. I also feel that teachers themselves are not the cause of this. We’re spending our own money on resources for our classes, we’re worrying about what we can do to help. This is a much bigger issue and it does not start in the classroom.