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Blog: No honeymoon period...


Our anonymous primary teacher blogger describes how the start of term has been for her, and gives some useful recommendations for reward systems.

I decided not to pay for biscuits when we were asked to contribute to tea and coffee this term.  I tell myself that it is stealing if I so much as sniff the biscuit tin and hopefully this will curb my snacking during the day. I decide that I will take fruit in every day but inevitably, after putting the washing on, emptying and filling the dishwasher, packing my toddler a lunch, getting him sorted and making myself look suitable for work while my husband gives him some breakfast, I leave my bag of apples in the kitchen. I’m going to starve. Luckily, with such a big staff, the odds are that it’s someone’s birthday and there will be cake - and it would be rude to refuse birthday cake.

I only work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. So I start my week with PPA on a Wednesday morning. This works well for me as I can then get my head switched from toddler-taming mode to class teacher mode and get some of the admin jobs done that need doing. I have learned not to make a long list, as Tuesday evenings are staff meeting evenings we are bound to have an even longer list of must dos thrown at us. I can’t help feeling glad that I miss these meetings because getting the abridged version in 15 minutes on a Wednesday morning works better for me. I did work full time for six years before having my son and staff meetings would fill me with dread as my ‘to do’ list got longer and less achievable. My ‘to do’ list is still long but I don’t miss the discussions going round in circles because people either don’t agree or understand what is being asked of us. I do sometimes feel that I miss out, especially if it is specific training for something, but it is difficult to get to and I don’t get paid or any time in lieu, which is just how it is. Courses also seem to fall on Mondays and Tuesdays which is also difficult for me. My Head has said that during that time I could possibly get paid, or swap days with my partner, but sorting childcare is not always easy.

The first full week did not end as positively as I had hoped. There has been no honeymoon period with my new class and I have had to use a multitude of behaviour management strategies. I know it is hard at the beginning of every new year, and you forget how far they do come by the end of their year with you, but I am fairly sure my last class were not like this at the beginning.

We have various class and school reward systems which I try and use to motivate the children and pick out positive behaviour. We have just started a raffle ticket system whereby we give out raffle tickets during the week for children who are working well etc. then, at the end of the week I draw five numbers from the bowl and these children get to pick a prize from the box. They loved this and they seemed motivated as I wandered the classroom clutching my raffle ticket book feeling like a fête organiser.


Bookmark stickers are used for the work in their books and if they get a star for their work they get a sticker on their bookmark.  Their first bookmark is red and when they fill this (about twenty stickers) they get five minutes extra golden time and move on to an amber bookmark. When the amber one is finished they get ten minutes extra golden time and move onto a green bookmark. When they fill the green one they can pick a prize from the goodie box.

We also do table points where each table earn points for being the first table ready, working quietly and keeping their table boxes tidy. They chose an Olympic sport theme this year so they are called gymnasts, sprinters, hurdlers, divers, and swimmers. At the end of the week, the winning table gets a bookmark sticker each and the table receives a trophy and get privileges the next week, like going to play first and going home first etc. This seems very complicated when written down but they seem to understand it!

EVEN with all this and my efforts to stay positive and ‘breezy’ they really got to me. According to the teaching assistants, their last teacher let them chat a lot and they said it was a noisy class to work in. My partner and I can’t be doing with chatting while the children are working and we are both trying hard to curb this problem. They also interrupt explanations and therefore don’t hear the whole instruction and get it wrong. I ended up taking minutes of their playtime from them every time I had to wait for them to stop chatting as it was the majority who thought this was ok behaviour. I thought I’d got through to them by Friday lunchtime. I was wrong. Last lesson on Friday was Tag Rugby. They got changed, I waited for them to stop talking before we went on the field. We got onto the field, I waited for them to stop chatting and told them if I had to wait again, we would go in. I handed out the tag belts and explained the warm up game. Before I had finished they ran onto the pitch. We put the belts back in the box and went in and got changed. We sat in a silent classroom where I asked them to promise me that they would try even harder to listen and follow instructions next week so we can do a full PE lesson. I told them to nod if they were going to try. I noticed one child not nodding. 'Are you going to try Oscar?' I asked, 'Try what?' he said.


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