PGCE: Goodbye Cambridge, hello NQT year!

So. I’ve done it. The PGCE is over. What did it entail, in brief?

  • Very late nights and very early mornings
  • Thousands and thousands of words of assignments.
  • Lesson plans
  • And evaluations
  • Paper in plastic wallets.
  • Fun
  • Stress

It was hard work and tiring, but it’s over!

The final title of my 1c research assignment was:

A critical investigation using a case study approach into the extent to which low-attaining Year 10 students’ learning about reading unseen texts is supported by the use of iPads.

The use of tech in the classroom is something that I am extremely interested in. More specifically, the effective use of technology in the classroom. There isn’t much point in using a fancy piece of tech if it doesn’t actually improve educational outcomes (IE higher grades) for students, or increase engagement: tech is usually expensive.

While my own research was rather inconclusive – my research methods were not particularly “robust” and the sample was incredibly small – it does fit with the broader literature.

Ipads can increase engagement, but they can also increase barriers to learning. Using tech requires both the student and the teacher to be proficient in how to use the tech/application itself. If they aren’t, then the tech will not be using effectively. New barriers, such as increased off-task behaviour (Angry Birds, anyone?) can be witnessed.

In a PGCE session, we presented our research to our peers. As my actual research was rather inconclusive, I took two of the apps I’d used and provided a slightly broader exploration of the effective use of tech in the classroom. Many of my peers were surprised to hear what I said – “Surely using an iPad or an app gets kids engaged?” – until I said that we’ve all sat and browsed the internet, or sent a text, during a lecture or seminar… why would we expect our students to be any different?

The PGCE is now over and summer is here. It’s time to retire the PGCE blog and convert it into an NQT blog… (with more frequent posting.)

Let the adventure begin!

Intro to the PGCE blog

I’m going to be blogging about my PGCE experience, here’s the start!

I’m leaving my job in August to be a student on the University of Cambridge’s Secondary English PGCE program.

Over the course of the program, I aim to publish a blog a week covering what I learn and ideas on the pedagogy learnt and my experiences.

I’m starting the blog now because, in some ways, the course has already begun: I’ve been sent two extracts, details of two more, and instructions for other pre-course tasks.

The extracts detail the journey of several readers and writers. They are rather interesting, and I connected with the extract about the journey of reading. I remember not being able to read, learning to read, and then delving into the world of books. I’m pretty sure that I read most, if not all, of my local library’s children’s section. Then I progressed to YA and eventually adult fiction.

An extended reading list was also sent, and I’ve started to obtain copies of some of the books. We’ve also been told to begin to develop any gaps in our subject knowledge, and we have to hand in a subject knowledge audit at the start of the course.

I have also received initial confirmation of where I shall be undertaking my Initial Primary Placement. As part of the Cambridge Secondary PGCE course, students observe and undertake several exercises in a primary school.

Finally, I have been notified of my two professional placements – both were classified as Outstanding in their last OFSTED inspections, and they represent two contrasting placements.