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Is a PGCE really so hard and stressful?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by Twinkle1234, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. Hey.
    I remember reading these forums and having a similar response to you this time last year. Thankfully, I wasn't put off as I am loving my PGCE. While it is intense, it hasn't been as bad as I feared. Part of the pressure is down to the fact that you are under the spotlight all the time and place enormous pressure on yourself to be as good as the experienced teachers you observe.
    You learn quickly that you need to give yourself a break, learn from every experience and move on from that awful lesson. If you use your time in school hours really efficiently and try to get assignments done early - its not too bad. Be practical, ask for help, use school resources where possible and do have nights off - then it can actually be fun!
    I came from a boring 10 hour a day, stressful desk job - and this is so much better as you care more, you want to improve and on the whole you do! As someone said to me last year - the learning curve is massive - but its worth it!
    Good luck!!
  2. I wouldn't say the PGCE is a hard course but it is extremely time consuming.
    I get up at 6.00am arrive at placement for 7, have 1.5-2 hours catching up on lesson planning and printing resources then I leave at 4.30pm. I hardly do any work in an evening as I'm too tired. Sunday is my lesson planning day.
    It does help that my course isn't graded.As the assignments are only pass or fail I don't need to put loads of effort into them.
    As long as your organised and have good time management skills you'll be fine although there are weeks when you feel like you have no life at all [​IMG] I

  3. GodOfBiscuits

    GodOfBiscuits New commenter

    PGCE maths here. It is hard work, it is stressfull, you do need a thick skin and you need a load of confidence.

    But, and i can't quite emphasise this enough, It's fantastic.

    If you're passionate about your subject, passionate about working with teenagers and you're passionate about being the best teacher you can be then those downsides will just bounce off you.
  4. I'm doing PGCE Science 11-18 and am loving it.
    I'm not finding it miserable or stressful and I'm certainly not finding it that difficult. I love my subject and what I do.
    Just don't let things get on top of you. If you know you have essays etc coming up, then just get your head down and get on with it. There are no medals for who can stay up the latest or get teh least sleep - in fact, if you are, then you're probably going to do worse at school as you'll be too worn out to do your job properly.
    Be realistic with your planning, ask for help when you need it, be super organised and keep on top of everything - you'll be fine.
  5. Make no mistakes - it is time consuming and a lot of hard work. But if teaching is what you want to do, and you have a supportive mentor and tutor, it shouldn't be miserable at all - assuming teaching is really what you want to do. Of course there will be times where you want to throw in the towel, but it's all about remembering the successes and positive moments, and working through those tough periods. But that isn't unique to teaching - that's just life!

    Remember that people rarely come onto forums to praise their successes. It's more likely that people are seeking advice during the rough patches, or just to vent their frustrations. If we made posts for every great moment we've had, the forums would be flooded with these positive remarks...and we'd have a lot less time to get on with the course!
  6. katnoodle

    katnoodle New commenter

    I agree with GreyHam - people post the negatives on here when they're at a low point and need advice; otherwise you'd get a much more encouraging balance! As others have said, I've found the workload to be a series of peaks and troughs, and after I finished my first block practice at Christmas I had a pretty easy-going month. Of course now the workload is piling up again and I wish I'd done stuff sooner!
    I'd say it varies quite widely depending on the age you teach, the requirements of your course provider (I wouldn't say mine gives us too much to do apart from two major assignments), the school/department you're placed in and your mentor. I've pretty much lucked out on all these as far as I can see, but it will probably mean I'll find my NQT year more of a struggle time-wise, that's when it really kicked in.
  7. While the workload is huge, how you'll find your PGCE depends very much on you as a person, your prior experience, your temperament, your training provider, your placement schools, how you get on with your tutor and mentor and so on. So there is no way of knowing whether you'll find PGCE enjoyable and manageble, or an utterly miserable and stressful experience with lots of tears and anguish.
    All I can say is give it your best shot, listen to experienced practitioners and learn from them, try to be hands-on in school from day 1, don't leave assignments and other tasks until the last minute, and make friends with other trainees and share resources, your stories and use as shoulders to cry on. Nobody else, even your loved ones, will understand what it's like, and you will make lasting friends because you are all going through the same things together, though they may be more or less lucky with their choice of tutors, mentors and schools.
  8. I'm halfway through my Secondary English PGCE and I am coping fine with the workload. I get into school for eight and leave somewhere between four and five and do not work at home unless I absolutely have to. I'm finding it a bit more difficult at the moment as I have two ongoing assignments, but other than that I am not finding it any more difficult than any other job I have had. I don't know if this is because I worked full time whilst I was at university or if I am relatively laid back but I certainly haven't put my life on hold for a year (I have hermitic tendencies anyway tbh). The travelling (3 hours a day) is a drag, as is the lack of cash, but I absolutely adore being in the classroom and cannot wait to have a job :)

    Good Luck
  9. I was going to respond, but then realised this post sums up exactly how I see it too :)
  10. Sorry...forgot to quote! Yes, this post sums it up perfectly :)
  11. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    I am coping fine with the workload and it is no where near as bad as I expected. Sometimes I have lots to do in very little time and have stayed up beyond midnight a few times, but not much.
    I am training with a SCITT and am just finishing my first placement. In September I was overwhelmed with all the paperwork, lesson plans, evaluations, development plans, reflective reports, record of progress towards Q standards, plus the academic assignment. It took until January for me to feel comfortable with all the paperwork and confident in the classroom, anyone who struggles before Christmas should definitely give it until January/February as for me, the change in my feelings towards the course is immense.
    My typical week is 4 days on placement and one day in the training school. We are a scitt though so it varies to unis. On a school day, I arrive at 8.15pm, normally attend three hour lessons a day and attend one breaktime duty a week. The remaining time I have to plan lessons and get my paperwork done, if I manage my time effectively there is no reason for me to take any work home.
    The research assignment is quite big on top of everything else. But the trainee teachers at my current school who train through a uni have time out of school to complete it, unfortunately we don't!

  12. If you are organised then this helps big time
    It is tiring but more so through the amount of work rather than the fact the work is really hard
    you are learning a lot and the key to remember is you can't know everything! As long as you are 1 lesson in front of the kids then great!
    Tired? Yep I am but I'm loving it!
  13. I was worried before starting my PGCE as well due to the comments on here, but I have not had any problems so far.

    I started the PGCE straight from university and knew that it would be a lot of work, therefore I became super organised where as I wasn't at all before. I think all the comments here scared me into being an organised person as I want to do well with the placements and assignments.

    I made sure I got all my assignments done on time, handed in a 5,000 word essay on Monday even though the deadline is today. But this means I can now relax or concentrate on other things. It's important to do all your lesson plans and evaluations etc at the time, otherwise it's too much work when it all piles up.

    If you have a bad lesson you just need to learn from it and move on, no point dwelling on it. I have really enjoyed my first placement and my mentor was great and it was a good school. I understand that not everyone is that lucky but the assignment/keeping organised part is still down to you. :)
  14. primenumbers

    primenumbers New commenter

    It is not as hard as the NQT year I have to say. So prepare yourself for a 2 years of hard work (if you land a job).
  15. I'm currently doing PGCE Primary. As far as I can tell the answer to your question is... It depends. The structure of the course you undertake is a key element that few people have directly mentioned. My course has essay deadlines that are before placement so you can focus on one 'crucial' thing at a time, which has been really helpful.
    Other than that, I'd agree with what a lot of people have said - it depends how organised you are. From the first day of the course I kept on top of work knowing that at some point we were likely to get something 'extra' to worry about. When we were given our first essay I was able to fully concentrate on it because I'd done everything else. The hardest thing is that if you fall behind it's hard to catch up, but it's not impossible. I also suggest doing work when you are 'in the mood'. I would work 9am-11pm some days because I felt very motivated. This then allowed me to have days where I did absolutely nothing and didn't feel guilty for it because I knew I had done everything I 'needed' to do.
    I also didn't decide that the hard work started when the course did. I spent all summer reading books, researching resources, looking up how and when to apply for jobs and preparing for the skills tests. I allowed myself a couple of weeks of before the course started and all my preparation has paid off since.
    I think it's as hard as you make it. Placement is the only time where I have found myself staying up beyond midnight.
  16. I am on RE PGCE at the moment and I have to admit that the first few months were the hardest. You are naturally going to have a dip but overall if you want to be a teacher it is what you have to go through. I now take the attitude of 'one day at a time' and this has made it easier.

    Be under no illusions, you will have no social life and you will be tired all the time. But it is worth it :)

    hope this helps
  17. It seems to depend on the schools where you are placed. I am on my PGCE at the moment and I am having the best time. Everey single day I wake up and feel great that I am going into school, on my last seminar day back at uni I was horribly depressed because it was a day away from my school and I am dreading the end of my placementin a month's time.
    However, there are other students on my course who are having a rubbish time, their tutors are not supportive, they don't get useful feedback, they don't agree with the ethos of the school where they are placed or there are structural problems in the school such as sexist or racist teachers, TAs and students which are not dealt with, so it's all down to luck.
    The job does require confidence, but you can fake it, I have a teaching personality which is much bigger and thicker skinned than I am in real life, but the kids are convinced and that's all that matters! You do need to be quite thick skinned sometimes, essentially you are learning how to do something and you have to accept that it is not always going to go well, there are going to be days when you teach a lesson and ou and the teacher look at each other afterwards and say "that was rubbish!" but you have to leave it behind and move on, and if you are lucky, the teacher will salvage something positive out of it, even if it is just something like "at least they all stayed in the classroom in their seats for the whole lesson"!
    The other thing I should point out (although I'm probably not the first person to say this) is that there are bound to be lots of negative posts on a forum, no one posts to say that everything is fine, they post because they want help, or advice, or just empathy, so it will seem like there is a lot of negativity, but they are a self-selecting group.
    My best experience so far has been the day that my year 7s cheered when they saw I was teaching them, one of them told me that this was the best thing he had ever done at school, and they recited back to me my entire lesson from the week before, including difficult vocabulary, I thought I was going to cry, I was so happy! My worst experience was trying to teach the hyper year 8 class who just won't stop talking, so nothing too bad and nothing that hasn't got better a month on!
    Please feel positive, there are fantastic schools out there an fantastic teachers who really want to help you, you might just be lucky enough to be placed in one!
  18. Hi Kymmi, I was just wondering if you could expand on this? I'm doing a Primary PGCE next year, what books did you find most useful? What resources did you research? It's also great advice to try to figure out the job system already - it seems a little complex so brilliant idea! And as for the key skills, did you happen to come across anything great for maths? My maths is okay but definitely needs some refreshing! Thank you for any help!
    Interesting forum, I would say that the main attitude I've come across (I know many many student teachers, who mainly seem a little tired but happy!) seems to be that if you really want to teach, then any set backs on the way are totally worth it and are tiny in the grand scheme of things!
  19. I completed my PGCE last year and I'm currently half way through my NQT year (Science 11-16).
    There is no doubt about it, the PGCE involves a large volume of work, but it is all good preparation for the years ahead. Although once you're qualified the planning will be for you not for a course assessor to look at (meaning it will probably be much more brief) you will have at least twice as many lessons to plan so to an extent it balances out.
    As other have said it depends a lot on your placement school. I loved mine and then half way through I got a job there which I started in September so I spent the second half of the placement completing the PGCE withone eye on preparing to start work there in a few months time. Even if I hadn't got the job there the support was excellent and I felt encouraged every step of the way.
    As for a thick skin - you definitely need one! The key think to (try to) remember is not to take things personally. Your view of yourself is poles apart from the kids view of you. To them you are Sir/Miss but to you you are only just starting to see yourself as the teacher.
    Things will be said to you that can easily be taken to heart, but they don't know you and say things to test the limits. If you can you need to develop a professional persona with definite boundaries. No-one wants to be so cold that they give nothing of themselves, but you have to be able to brush plenty off.
    Recently a Yr 11 girl said to me "you have kids?....No, I can't see it!"
    Outwardly I laughed - it was quite a funny comment - but inwardly I thought that's so out of line with how I see myself. I'm a husband and dad who happens to spend his working week with you lot!
    The kids will have a much different view of you than you do, but to me that doesn't matter, the thick skin I'm growing lets me ignore those comments!
    Anyway, I'm waffling!....PGCE - intensive, high workload, good preparatiion for the job (in terms of your time it will take up), thick skin needed!

  20. Im doing a PGCE in science and whilst it is hard, you have to remember it is only a year. It will be stressful and demanding, but it will be worth it in the end. Only go for it if you think you will dedicated and willing to stay in some weekends to do work. I still have a social life, so it is possible to do so. The difficulty lies in that you have alot of different things to do at once, ie. lesson plans, assignments, Professional Studies etc.

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