The PGCE year
The PGCE year is great. The PGCE year is terrible. The PGCE year is what you make of it.
There will be times when you want to rip your hair out, and give up. There will be times when you will be on cloud nine.
While it might start off ok, you’ll soon have paperwork being thrown at you from all directions. You’ll have assignments for your University, record sheets for your portfolio, lesson plans to write, resource and evaluate… The paperwork soon stacks up. Your desk will look like the London skyline with towers of paper teetering left and right, a laptop hidden amongst the wilderness.
Block out some of your time and keep on track. When you get your timetable, it’s a good idea to find the empty periods and colour code them based upon whether you will be:
- General administration/portfolio work
- University assignments.
I wish I had done this far sooner in my PGCE year – it’s the first thing I’ll do when I get my NQT timetable.
It’s all too easy to let your training dominate your life. You can easily burn the candle at both ends and still feel that you are barely keeping up; burning the candle at both ends only leads to you burning out.
Schedule downtime. Keep doing something you love. Whether that’s going out on a Friday or Saturday night, going to the gym or whatever. Doing something where you can take your mind off the training is great.
Get some friends
Having two sets of friends can work wonders. A set of (trainee) teacher friends who you can turn to for help in behaviour management, tell horror stories and who understand what you are going through is indispensible.
A second set of friends who aren’t teachers can help too. They can remind you to schedule downtime and prevent the training from taking over your life: when trainee teachers meet up, their is a tendency to talk shop.
Keep your head up
You’ll feel down at times. You’ll teach lessons that are disaster – in my second placement I remember apologising to the Professional Tutor for the quality of the lesson. However…
I had a terrible lesson yesterday. It was the worst lesson I’ve taught on my PGCE, and probably the worst I’ve taught ever.
The students (Year 13s) didn’t misbehave, and I had prepared the lesson really well – the observer commented on how good the resources were. I had deeply analysed the poem, as well as learnt a lot of context.
But I fluffed the start of the lesson and then my mind went blank.
I muddled my way through the lesson, and the students did their best, but they’re a naturally quiet bunch which didn’t help the situation.
Today things went much better – a reminder that we will have good and bad lessons. I spent a long while last night reflecting on the lesson, and I’ve started to produce a lesson that (I think) will be able to remedy any errors and problems caused by the last lesson.
I also watched a really uplifting video from Kid President:
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.