Job title: Teacher (preschool)
What exactly is that?
I teach 3 and 4 year olds
How did you get there?
After my a-levels I went to uni to gain a foundation degree in art and design (I didn’t know which area of art I wanted to specialise in) then I went on further to gain a degree in illustration (but wished I’d studied fine fine art- never mind).
After uni I continued to develop my own art portfolio and did many jobs to earn cash (bar/ restaurant work, admin, book keeping). With the pressures of the world (parents wondering when I was going to get a ‘proper job’ and lack of self confidence in being able to become a full time artist,) I decided I wanted to help others develop their art skills and thought I’d try my hand at becoming an art teacher.
I trained ‘on the job’ which was called the GTP route and so was employed as a trainee teacher at a secondary school.
I left applying for jobs too late (teaching jobs are advertised around Easter time) but I was kept on at my school as a part time art teacher as well as teaching many other subjects (history, English, work skills and IT). This was tricky, but actually allowed me to work in different departments and develop my teaching style and confidence.
Realising I wasn’t ever going to get a full time position in the art department (none of the art teachers wanted to leave!) and not wanting to teach GCSE English a friend and my mum suggested I should go for an interview at a nursery school.
Creativity is key in the ‘early years’ and so I had a go and to my shock was awarded the job!
At first it was extremely difficult for me to go from teaching teenagers to little children, they have tantrums, they can’t always tell you why they are upset and often forget what you have tried to teach them.
Naturally I expected too much and was worried I’d made the wrong career choice. But looking back I realise how restrictive my teaching style was at the secondary school I worked at, I tried to be exactly like the other art teachers (perhaps as I was still learning).
I had always felt drawn towards trying to support the teenagers pastorally instead of moaning about their homework and uniform (most of which was irrelevant knowing their backgrounds).
Wanting to help children develop confidence and life skills stood me in ‘ good stead’ as at the nursery we spend a lot of time trying to get these small children to understand basic skills, sharing, listening to others, taking turns, sitting and following instructions but most of all to try to make them as independent as possible. For them to ‘plan’ what they want to play with, ‘how’ they will create their box model, ‘who’ they will choose to play with etc.
I still work as hard as I did in secondary education, I have to keep detailed records and observations on each child and I am responsible for the lesson planning of 3 areas of the curriculum (there are 7). I run regular parent art workshops, collaborate with outside artists and curate the school’s anual art exhibitions (exhibited every year in the town’s civic centre).
This September I will also be covering the SENCO who is on long term sick leave (this is going to be hard) but my job is very rewarding, I see the children grow so much in one year and I see just how much 3 and 4 year olds can achieve when given the right opportunities.
Describe a typical day in your life
Gosh ok: wake up at 6.30 – breakfast (cereal) feed rabbits and Guinea pigs (my fur babies) walk my dog for half an hour (my biggest fur baby). Put rabbits and piggy into their outdoor run’s. Give pup his breakfast, millions of kisses and leave at 8am 8.10 at the latest!!!
My journey takes about 15 mins through town. Arrive at school (with my shopping trolley – containing all the record books that I tried to update previous evening) find my TA, discuss lesson plan I’ve devised with her (she’s good as helping me adapt it or saying it’s too challenging – in the nicest way possible , I still have a habit of trying to do too much). I check the rota to see which room I’m based in that day and set up the lesson.
Children and parents arrive at 9. (All children have to change into their plimsoles) I like to greet all the parents / carers and children. Often parents tell me any issues or worries they may have.
At 9.20 (there are always late comers) I get my pen labels needed for my observations and anything else as often won’t be able to get back to ‘my’ work station until 11.30.
‘Small group time ‘ (teach lead time) starts at 9.30 the lesson is meant to finish at 9.50 (remember they are only 3 when they start- most cannot sit still for 2minutes) the lessons are usually active and can be based on any area of the curriculum. Through the lesson I try to record what each child has said and or done as an observation as this is how we record the children’s progress through the year. At approx 9.50 (I usually run over) we go to snack and so the children (up to 18) need to wash their hands (we can have up to 55 kids in the school at a time so this takes some planning and patients especially at the beginning of the year as most cannot wash their hands themselves!)
At about 9.10 we start ‘planning time’ the children take it in turns to communicate what they would like to do during their child initiated ‘play’ time or ‘work time’. Please remember all of the children are different some are very articulate for their age and talk lots, but some have speech issues (more and more each year and so we may need to use macaton signing as well as pictures to help them make their own choices
We want them to be as independent as possible as they need to start to make their own choices. Next they play from about 10.20 to 11.15 and during this time I am supervising one area and ensuring all of the children are safe and supporting them. This could be helping them to share, showing them how to play with certain equipment, showing the how to play (some simply do not know how to do this) basically supporting that individual child as best as I can, which may mean helping with toiling, again making observations when I can.
At 11.15 it is ‘tidy up’ time during which again you are supporting the children to tidy up, it is important that they become responsible for the nursery and the equipment they play with everyday.
They all have to change their shoes from plimsoles to their ‘going home’ shoes (at the beginning of the year this takes ages!) Next we have ‘recall time’ when I encourage the children to discuss/ talk or communicate in what ever way they can about what they did at ‘work time’ (playtime) this is important as it helps develop memory skills as well as communication skills, turn taking and listening to others. Again I make notes and observations, the children also have a drink that they ask for and poor themselves.
Finally at 11.20 we have phonics (basic letter sounds or rhyming and listening at the beginning of the year) and then it is story time and singing if there is time. Then they get ready and are sent home at 12pm.
Often parents are late! So I usually get to start my lunch at 12.20ish and between then and 1pm I check my emails and ensure all if my observations are placed with my ‘morning children’s records’ as at 1pm the afternoon children arrive and I repeat more or less exactly what I did in the morning until 4pm when they leave. I am usually at school until 6. I try to leave earlier and am forever apologising to my poor dog!
From 4-6 I am usually replying to work emails, updating record books, planning outdoor and indoor ‘work time activities’ getting resources ready for tomorrow, updating SEN information and data, putting up classroom or corridor displays…. Etc etc etc when I get in I walk the dog for at least an hour straight away. At about 7.30 I will consider tomorrow’s lesson plan and perhaps continue updating the children’s record books… It never ends!!
What’s the best thing about what you do?
Realising halfway through the year that the children have learnt to do lots for themselves. Appreciation from parents is also lovely, their child is the most important, precious thing in their life and so for them to appreciate what I have done means so much.
What’s the one thing you would change if you could?
I guess I am my own worst enemy, I don’t think I could careless as I simply couldn’t. But perhaps I should try and leave at 5.30 and not do anymore at home! Oh and perhaps set less targets for the children, they are 3 and 4. But if we didn’t we would have less evidence to show ofsted…., oh it’s tricky!
What did you want to do for a living when you were at school?
…. Erm I’m not sure I’ve ever know… At one stage I think I wanted to be a nurse… Then I wanted to be an artist.. RSPCA inspector…, not sure.
Tell us about one thing you were insecure about when you were at school
My grades. Both my sisters (I’m middle sibling) went to grammar schools, I didn’t and so even though I worked hard and was always top of my classes at my school and gain good grades, I knew I was never as clever as my sisters and always felt compared to them by family (even though I don’t think anyone ever did do this!!)
I was just very insecure about my academic ability and guess I still am. I was so scared of failure.
A few years ago to my disbelief I was diagnosed with depression. This was hard for me to understand and take in as I was signed off from work for one month. I received councilling which made me realise, how worrying about what my family and others thought about me had turned me into a workaholic. I had always felt I was a failure no matter how high my grades were or how well I had done at something I could never just sit back and appreciate it, it just meant I had to work harder and there was even more pressure!
Literally talking to the councillor made me realise my issues went right back to when I was in primary school. I am still a workaholic and critical of lots that I do, but I am better aware of this and ensure that during school holidays I do lock school work away and am much better at saying no to my headteacher, as like any boss or person if you keep accepting more work, people will keep piling it on in any job!
What advice would you give yourself at 18 if you could?
Do what you love, don’t be scared, please listen to your heart more, you know what you are good at, give it a go. Worry less about what you think others are thinking (as they probably aren’t thinking that at all!) if all fails work with animals 🙂
What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
Walking my dog and really quick drawings (literally 2mins) – sorry couldn’t put just one!
What’s the title of the last book you read?
Shoes were for Sunday by Molly Weir
Share with us one beauty tip you have learned
Use less eyeliner
Share with us one money tip
Don’t draw money out, if it’s in my purse, it’s as good as gone!
Please share with us one life lesson you have learned
Try to Worry less about what others think. Be who you want to be, wear what you want to… Life is too short.
Tell us about your favourite recent purchase for £25 and under
A bandana for my staffy dog £4 – it reads “the best breed of dog is a rescue” he wore it on a recent holiday and so many people smiled and asked to stroke him it was amazing (his breed are often over looked or seen as vicious) so I guess it was lovely for people to take notice and give him the attention he deserves… Oh and I didn’t care that my dog was wearing a bright green bandana, scarf thing! Yay me! Haha
How can people get in touch for more info?