I’m Kate and I’m in my 4th year of teaching KS1. I started my NQT year in a year 1 class in a small infant school. I stayed in year 1 for my second year before moving schools in my third year to a mixed KS1 class which is where I am teaching today.
In your opinion, how well does teacher training prepare teachers to teach phonics?
I feel like my university course had a whole focus around phonics. We did an assignment solely on phonics and were tested on this to pass the module. Within that test we were asked questions around the research of phonics and on our awareness of sounds. I do however remember feeling very overwhelmed during this module. I felt like a fish out of water almost.
What’s an a-ha moment you’ve had teaching phonics that you would want to pass on to a new teacher?
To model words with suffixes, prefixes and in their plural form with the taught sound because you can get so much incidental learning within a session and they can really pick it up easily from your modelling.
Does phonics rate as one of your favourite things to teach?
Now I’m in my 4th year I appreciate it a lot more, I think. I now do love to see the progress that they make in phonics lessons. I feel like I’m seeing it more whereas in my first couple of years of teaching, I felt like I focused more on me getting my lessons right. It was the stress of being observed instead of really appreciating the short session for what it is.
Where do you get your phonics inspiration from?
I’ve been inspired by watching and observing many teachers teach their phonics sessions over the years. The headteacher at my previous school was very clear and straight to the point with how to structure a phonics session so I guess I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from her. Instagram is also a fab place for phonics inspiration. There are so many interactive and creative ideas shared.
If you could only save only one of your phonics resources from a burning classroom, which one would it be?
My phonics pinny. I store all of my phonics resources in there in the two pockets at the front so I’m not scrambling around during the lesson to find things.
What would your ideal phonics professional development training include?
More experience of teaching a phonics session, whether that be with children or at university. I feel like more modelling of a session would have helped me to feel more prepared, rather than being thrown in at the deep end.
The phonics genie is out of the bottle to grant you three phonics wishes. What are they?
Smaller group sessions, more time to fit in the smaller group sessions and no phonics screening because let’s be honest, who really needs it?
What’s the trickiest thing about teaching phonics, and how are you managing to solve it?
The trickiest thing about teaching phonics is marking and giving my large group of 20+ children the right support that they need. I feel like I fly around the room checking the sentences that they right. We have just had this conversation with SLT who have agreed to self-checking instead of marking so I’m hoping that will be a little easier.
What's a favourite phonics activity you always rely on and always come back to?
It’s not really an activity as such but this year I introduced the Jigsaw phonics alien character ‘Wug’ and that he speaks ‘Wuggish’ or in simpler terms ‘rubbish’ and I haven’t once had children trying to change the alien words into real words like they usually do because they made the link with the character. So that’s a favourite and will be staying!
Leave us with a thought or a quote that helps you in your educator life.
When things feel overwhelming, try to focus on the step ahead and not the whole staircase!
Check out Kate's small business making beautiful eco resin letter and number sets, book marks and much more over on Instagram @crafty_kate_makes
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