Speaking my Early Years truths- Sorry but not sorry.

June 2021

Maybe it’s because it is half term?

 

Maybe it’s because we have worked (and are still working) through a pandemic?

 

Maybe it’s because we have changes left, right and centre coming our way?

 

Maybe it’s because I have spent far too long on Social media- Twitter, Facebook and now Instagram?

 

Who knows why. But this week apart from writing reports, running, drinking gin and losing myself in a gripping novel I have been reflecting, challenging and speaking my Early Years truths.

About what? Whether stickers work. Cut and paste report writing. Why some loose parts are not loose parts but simply junk. And why Pedagogical approaches are so much more than labels and posters.

 

What was interesting is that with each of these posts- the response was overwhelmingly positive. There seemed to be almost a collective sigh of relief from many reading the posts and blogs- as if to say “phew- I thought it was just me”. And yet in other cases there were more personal and negative responses implying that I was attacking the sector, picking at people's practice, implying people were lazy and in one classic reply someone told me he was “disappointed” by my post. Let’s be clear- he wasn’t my father, my husband, my son, a friend or colleague. He was a stranger. Someone I do not know and who doesn't know me. So to be brutally honest- I will still somehow manage to sleep at night. 

I would like to set the record straight very simply and clarify a few things…

  • I am a reception teacher. Before that I was a NNEB ( I still am a Nursery Nurse at heart truth be told)
  • I am still working in the classroom- its where my heart is and where it will always be. I have no desire to ever leave it for a “promotion” to anything more than I am now...besides what can be more than working on the ground?
  • I am proud to be a part of this sector. I think we are bloody amazing to be honest- the challenges we face, the responsibility we have, our resilence, our creativity, our flexibility, our strength.
  • I don't have all the answers and am still on my own journey. I'd never proclaim to be any sort of expert or oracle. I'm just me doing my thang. 

But I would also like to add:

 

  • I have been on this roundabout quite a few years now.
  • I have done so much of what I speak out about.
  • I have been that teacher spending hours setting up tables and trays.
  • I have been that teacher sticking to a topic plan like a life support machine wondering why my class of 20 boys won't engage in our princess theme.  
  • I have been that teacher returning from a course "dangerously inspired and ready to change the world by Monday morning" frantically trying to level sand toys for emerging, expected and exceeding diggers all whilst swinging a piece of play dough round my head to dance music. (The irony of that gem was a) no child cared which digging implents they were meant to use and b) I was the only one who had improved physical skills as they all went elsewhere leaving me gasping for breath.) 

So I’m  afraid the bad news is that I will not stop. I will continue to call out the nonsense.  I will continue to speak my truth- and I urge you too.

 

I will continue to challenge, debate, discuss, reflect and ask the questions that need to be asked- normally beginning with a big fat “why”. 

 

I will continue to campaign alongside a sector who have had enough- be it against:

  • The immoral, unethical, fatally flawed Baseline testing of 4 and 5 year olds.
  • A Bold, bored, bland Beginnings curriculum (that has become the  EYFS reforms
  • the deficit model of childhood and it's utter disregard/lack of respect for the cultural capital of our amazing unique children and their families who know them best
  • the sad decline of play in our settings and classrooms
  • the focus of this government and its friends in high places on the wrong things...

 

...and the workload increasing nonsense such as progression maps in the Early Years which OFSTED tell us they really do not expect to see.

I will continue to demand answers and for the research and evidence for what is thrown at us- and ask you to do the same in whatever ways you feel able.

 

And I will continue to challenge pinterest pedagogy, fancy pants provision, style over substance practice where sometimes terms such as “loose parts”, “In the moment planning”, “Montessori”, “child initiated”- even “play” are misconstrued and misunderstood.

So…

 

The bad news is folks, I won’t stop speaking out. Speaking my truth.

 

The good news is- if anyone finds me that offensive or disappointing- its easy to unfollow, mute or block.  I completely understand- I’ve done the same on several occasions. Sometimes you need to.

 

The even better news is- if you are still here, still with me- we can keep on going, keep on asking what must be asked, keep on demanding better.

We can keep learning together, reflecting, debating- respectfully and openly- even when it's uncomfortable. And do you know what?

 

We can be the change. 

 

The change our sector needs.

The change we need.

The change our children need.

 

Anyone with me?

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