I’m Miss C, also known as ukteach! It was my first year of teaching this year and despite the challenges that arose along the way, I really enjoyed it. I trained on a SCITT course and taught year 2 & year 5, absolutely loved both year groups and now I teach reception, year 1 & 2 at a small village school… yes, all together! This academic year I will be leading computing alongside being a mental health ambassador for my school. I have a passion for supporting children and ensuring they are given the tools to thrive. I feel really lucky to work within a MAT and have so much support from colleagues.
In your opinion, how well does teacher training prepare teachers to teach phonics?
During my teacher training year, I had to teach phonics for a week at both placements. That’s 2 weeks in total. Alongside this, I completed a study surrounding the Rose Report - I’d recommend you to read this because it really shaped the way phonics is taught today. (Link at the bottom)
What’s an a-ha moment you’ve had teaching phonics that you would want to pass on to a new teacher?
I didn’t have my phonics cards stored very well at the beginning of the year and when I organized them it made phonics teaching so much easier! So simple, but there are so many resources it’s important to keep on top of them.
Does phonics rate as one of your favourite things to teach?
I absolutely love teaching phonics. The progress the children make is incredible, especially during their reception year. It is incredible how quickly they pick things up and learn, which is why it’s important as the teacher to get things right straight away… children saying ‘p-uh’ for ‘p’ is something that I try to stop as soon as I can!
Where do you get your phonics inspiration from?
Instagram and Facebooks groups mainly.
If you could only save only one of your phonics resources from a burning classroom, which one would it be?
If I could only save one of my phonics resources from a burning classroom… it would simply be my large flashcards. They’re simple but I use them in every single session.
What would your ideal phonics professional development training include?
I just love seeing things in action, so watching lots of phonics sessions would be my ideal CPD. The phonics genie is out of the bottle to grant you three phonics wishes. What are they?
1. All my resources were readily organized. 2. The genie would tidy up my phonics resources. 🤣 3. More time to teach - it’s a mission getting in two phonics sessions plus spellings every day!
What’s a favourite phonics activity you always rely on and always come back to?
A favourite phonics activity I always rely on and come back to is playing ‘hide and seek phonics’. The EYFS lead taught me this game and I absolutely love it. Find a large space and hide flashcards around the room… or if you run out of time, simply throw them on the floor! The children have to get one, run back to you and say the correct sound/word. If they get it right, I keep the card. If they get it wrong, I tell them the correct answer and they have to go and hide it for someone else to find.
What's the trickiest thing about teaching phonics and how are you managing to solve it?
The trickiest thing about teaching phonics in my opinion is alternative spellings of the same sound, e.g ‘ou’ and ‘ow’ and children knowing when to use each one. It’s really hard because if a child spells ‘cloud’ as ‘clowd’ that is phonetically correct but it’s not the correct spelling. It’s important to correct them but that’s an area I personally do find difficult, as they will have spent some time sounding out to spell.
Leave us with a thought or a quote that helps you in your educator life.
A quote that helps me in my educator life is genuinely ‘believe you can and you’re halfway there.’ You can’t do it all, the to-do list will grow and grow and grow but you can only do so much. During your training year & NQT year it’s really easy to take criticism to heart. Remember - it’s your observer's job to make you the best teacher you can possibly be. They’re there to help you develop and there will always be something to develop. Think about your children - they’re absolutely fantastic but there is always something. You don’t give them constructive feedback to upset them, you do it to help them develop as best as they can, because you care. Same situation mentors are in.
Teaching is the best profession in the world and you make such a difference to lives - without even realising.
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Here's the link to the Rose Report (Independent review of the teaching of early reading) or just google Rose Report and you'll find it. Thanks again @ukteach for bringing our attention to it as it's a must-read if you don't know it yet.