Bright Teachers

Teaching, educationand education aides blog

Are you providing independent learning opportunities?

Although teachers are not in school at the moment the majority will still be thinking at times about their classroom organisation and how they can encourage pupils to be more independent in their learning. Any teacher will tell you that classroom organisation is vital to promote good behaviour and to encourage independent learning of the children in the class.

The resources that the pupils will need for their everyday tasks such as pencils, pens and erasers should ideally be in a container on the table so that the pupils will not need to get out of their seats to get this equipment. It is also useful to have spelling lists or dictionaries on the tables to encourage children to use them independently when carrying out writing tasks.

During mathematics lessons pupils should be able to choose the learning aids that they need to complete the task as this part of building up their mathematical skills. Counting apparatus such as string beads and addition and multiplication grids should be easily available in labelled drawers so that they are ready for children to use them when they need to.

Many schools still have a library area where pupils can find a book with information on a particular topic they are studying and of course pupils now can use laptops and tablets for independent research.

Getting parents on board

Often teachers will say one of the hardest parts of their job is dealing with the parents. The parents are obviously protective and want the best for their child, but the teacher often has 30 pupils that all need to be given a fair chance and have opportunities. Some parents can become quite pushy when their child starts school and they can often make the job of the teacher very hard.

As a teacher it is important to try and get parents on side. Make sure that you are approachable and willing to listen to parents concerns. It may be that you need to designate a day or time of day for this to be done. Make sure that you communicate with the child’s parent’s not just on negative issues but also when a child has done particularly well or being extra helpful etc.

Parents evening is a chance to really talk one on one with the parents about any concerns you have or areas that you think would benefit the child if practised at home such as reading or spellings. Make sure that if you are going to say something negative about a child that you have examples that you can tell or show the parents so it is clear as to what took place. 

Getting the classroom ready for school return

In the last couple of weeks of the summer holidays most teachers turn their thoughts to getting the classroom ready for the pupils to return to school. Hopefully before the holiday the classroom walls will have been cleared of the previous terms work and the backing paper will have been put up ready for the new term. The topics for the autumn term will have already been decided on the school’s long term curriculum plan so it is a good idea to put up some of the titles on the boards and perhaps a few questions that could spark the children’s imagination. For example, if the topic is Space questions such as which planet is the largest/smallest, how far away is the sun and why is the sky blue could all prompt children to seek out the answers. Another useful thing to do at the start of a topic is to introduce topic words and have them displayed in the classroom so for a space topic words such as universe, galaxy, planet and solar system could be used.

It is a valuable resource to have a mathematics display board set up in the classroom with prompts that the pupils will find useful such as number bonds and multiplication facts. This should be updated regularly to tie in with the mathematics topic that the pupils are working on at that time.

Fun mathematics activities for children

Now that the summer holidays are upon us some parents are eager to encourage their children to continue with some academic learning during the six week break as children can regress during this time. The activities that are presented to the child should however be fun so that they engage fully.

Mathematical skills can easily be taught at home using everyday objects found in the kitchen for example an obvious resource would be a set of weighing scales. Your child could weigh different items and order them according to their weight whereas an older child could convert the weights from metric to imperial or work out the cost per kilogram given a price for an item. Capacity is often difficult to teach in a school setting but at home playing with sand and water gives an ideal chance to practise these skills. Baking activities also provide many opportunities to measure out quantities and work out timings.

Loose change can be used to teach many concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and decimals. Real life problems can be discussed for example if the child has a certain amount of pocket money each week how long will it take them to save enough to buy something they want? With a bit of imagination, the activities can be made fun and interesting.


The nightmare of shoe shopping with children

Parents will soon be faced with a big challenge that is buying school shoes for their offspring. For parents with one child, it is bad enough but for those with more than one child it can be a very stressful experience to say the least.

The problem that parents face is trying to choose shoes that will be hardwearing but that fit correctly and that are also liked by their child. The dilemma is whether to choose cheaper shoes and replace them more often or pay more in the hope that the shoes will last longer and stay looking good.

Obviously the main point is that the shoes fit correctly and so it is important that you have your child’s feet measured, not just the length but also the width to ensure that there is enough growing room in them. Many shops have a gauge that can be used to measure children’s feet, but usually only specialist shoe shops offer shoes of varying widths.

Choosing the style of shoe will depend on the child as you will find that some styles fit better than others but generally lace up, buckle or Velcro fastenings are better for younger children as they hold better on their feet than slip on styles. A treat after shoe shopping may make the experience less painful for parent and child.

Motivating reluctant writers in the classroom

For some children literacy and specifically writing fills them with dread and the thought of writing a story causes a great deal of anxiety to them. This may be for a number of reasons such as fear of spelling the words correctly, fine motor skills issues that make it physically difficult to write or struggling for ideas, whichever of these reasons is causing the pupil to be reluctant to write it is the teacher’s job to try to help and support these children so that they can become confident writers in the future.

Motivating children to want to write is a key principle here and different stimuli work for different children. It is thought that boy writers are more inclined to prefer non-fiction writing such as instructions or reports and girl writers are more motivated to write stories however this is a generalisation and is not always the case. Boys may be motivated to write a story if it is an adventure story or if it is set out as a graphic novel or cartoon strip and girls may enjoy writing a non-fiction booklet about a topic that interests them.

Once a suitable purpose for writing has been established many children will overcome other issues as long as they are given praise and encouragement for their efforts along the way.