My year in early years teaching: 'I've been called mummy, daddy and even grandad'

26th July 2015 at 06:00
Early Years Year in Teaching
In the first of a four-part series, Pennie Parry, an early years teacher in a two-form-entry primary school in West Sussex, looks back on her personal highs, lows and lessons of this academic year

This year, I moved from key stage 2 to teach Reception. I remember walking around the room on those first few days wondering what on earth I had got myself into.

Little did I know what an impact these little four-year-olds were going to have on me. They have changed the way I think about teaching and learning for ever. 

I know it sounds corny but I’m going to say it anyway: I now truly believe that I have the best job in the world. I work with the best clients, even if at times they are a little too honest. For example: “Mrs Parry, you do have a big bottom when you bend over”, or “You look like my granny in those glasses”.

What surprised me this year

I have learned to expect the unexpected. The students’ ideas are far superior to mine – it’s about stepping back and allowing them to take hold of the reins.  

My highlight of the year 

One memory that I’m sure will stay with me for ever is the afternoon I found my coat covered in little purple handprints.

During the course of the day, a number of children had been busily creating at the making table. The independent learning had been fabulous, and there had been lots of talk about mixing colours.

One little person came to me and – shoving their hands under my nose – said: “Look, I’ve made purple!” I dutifully took a photo, recorded this observation on my iPad and asked them to pop to the toilets to wash their hands. Little did I know that, while I was feeling smug in the knowledge that my continuous provision was allowing my children to independently develop their learning, this little pickle was painting my coat a beautiful shade of purple. 

By the time I realised what had happened, my children had gone home. I had a good idea who’d created this work of art, but posed the question the next morning. “It was me. I’m sorry, Mrs Parry, I didn’t realise it was your coat,” came the reply. 

I took comfort from the knowledge that my pupil felt able to tell the truth and that they could own up without being too scared of the consequences. I pulled a disappointed face but gave myself a mental telling off: I mean, what Reception teacher in their right mind would buy a white coat?

What I wish I had known 12 months ago

Never wear a white coat to work, always wear black. 

For more highlights and to read the full feature, get the 24 July issue of TES. You can read it on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.


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