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PGCE doubts

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by lea_g88, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. Hi everyone,
    I've recently been offered a place for a PGCE Primary with Early Years to start in September 2012 and decided to accept the offer. Since then, however, I've felt really nervous about starting and having doubts due to the amount of negative feedback about how intense and how hard the course is. I'm also worried about lesson planning as I do not have a clue how to go about doing it. Do they teach us at university how to do it? Or is it the school placement? And do we get told what the lesson is going to be about and the objective of the lesson or do we have to decide that? I'm really unsure as to how to plan and what to teach? I'm especially worried about that as I've heard that a lot of your time is spent planning so I'd like to be aware if whats expected of me or what level of knowledge I should be at if possible before I start to ensure I don't get left behind.
    I've also heard that the course is so hard because you constantly have things to do. I'm quite an organised person so is it a case of keeping on top of things and time management? I don't particularly deal well with stress either.
    I would really appreciate some advice from someone who has completed a PGCE or is in the process of doing so as I'm panicking quite a lot about it know and whether or not I am cut out for dealing with something so stressful. I really want to teach but I'm just so unsure about what they're expecting from us from the start. And if possible I'd like to get a head start and be organised in any area possible to reduce that stress.
    Thank you in advance,
  2. Hi Leanne,
    I am assuming you did some work experience in school before your interview? How did you feel when you were in school? Did you enjoy it? Asking yourself these questions might help you decide if this is the right career path for you.
    I get really really stressed too but I'm determined to get on a PGCE course because this is what I really want to do. I feel the motivation to succeed allows me to overcome the stress, so maybe you could adopt this approach?
    I honestly just think you're getting cold feet! Just a bit worried about the process because of what people have told you! I think you'll be great. But honestly. take some time and consider what you want, because someone else could benefit from your place.
    PGCE as you know is incredibly hard to get onto (I got rejected at 1st choice and now awaiting decision from my 2nd!), so if you do reject the offer you may wonder what could have been and regret it, at least give it a chance. I know I would kill for your place!! :p
    Best of luck in whatever you decide!
  3. Hello, I'm currently finishing my first placment on a PGCE Early Years Course and thought I would share my experience.
    I'm a mature student with two children and for the Universtity based part of the course I travel 5 hours a day. Athough the workload is huge I haven't yet failed to submit anything. The key to surviving is to try and be organised, keep your sense of humour, prioritise your workload ( you can't read everything) and resolve to keep keep plodding on regardless.
    For the school placement you have to remember that the PGCE is a lottery. Every school and mentor is different. Each PGCE student has a very different experience with different amounts of help and support. Your experience is unique to you. A placement, either good or bad, is still an experience to learn from (even if it only informs you of methods and strategies you would never use!). Your University will provide you with a planning template and most schools have schemes of work for you to plan within so don't panic. (As a PGCE student you are a 'trainee' therefore you are not expected to know everything from day one. It's just like starting any job as the newbie)
    My advice would be to volunteer in schools as much as possible before you start.Observe teachers/TA's everyone. (Teaching is about stealing from ideas from everyone and everywhere).
    Read EYFS and curriculum documentation. Download them (and/or make your own hard copies). University won't provide them and they are like gold dust!!
    Brush up on your subject knowledge as you need to be able to teach KS2 even if you are an Early Years specialist. (I though University would help me here...I was wrong)
    Start studying for QTS tests so you can get them out of the way ASAP. They are easy and you don't want to waste precious time on them once the course starts.
    Develop a thick skin. You will have highs and crashing lows. Being observed (and criticised) is part of the journey. Not taking things personally is important.
    Hold on to the 'diamond' moments. There will be some very stressful low days when you can't remember why on earth you ever wanted to teach...but you just recall a diamond (when a pupil had a eureka moment as you were teaching them, when a parent praised you, when an observer noted something good, when you laughed till you cried with new friends)
    Whatever you may feel about your suitability (or what others may say) the children will see you as their teacher. They don't see nerves or care about planning. So have fun, be creative (start collecting resources now) and enjoy it. Sorry to go on - hope it helps xx
    PS. Watch Ken Robinson talks on TED.com. x
  4. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    If you don't deal well with stress then possibly teaching isn't the career for you. Being organised will be a great asset to you, but in teaching things change all the time at the last minute, so you do end up having to rethink things on your feet. That's something I find very stressful and it's not something you can avoid, so best to think about it now and if it's something you can deal with on a regular basis.
    Otherwise, like the other posters have said, I think you may be getting cold feet about the 'unknown' of the PGCE. The course is designed to teach you the basics of teaching. You are not expected to know everything before you start. It is absolutely fine to know nothing because you can always ask questions. From my experience, you learn the basics of planning at uni and practise on your school placements. During your PGCE year you will be told roughly what the lesson needs to be about, and you may be given a learning objective or you may have to come up with that yourself - in discussion with the class teacher if you are unsure. You will have the class teacher to support you when you're on placement, plus a mentor at the school and a tutor at university. You don't need to panic because you will have plenty of people to help you learn what to do. Remember, they're not taking you on in order to let you fail. If you ask for help you will find it somewhere.
    Before you start your PGCE, you might like to read a book like "Teaching Early Years Foundation Stage" in the Achieving QTS series - this is a nice, simple series, which will give you an overview of the basics you'll need to know about teaching. Might help you to feel more confident and less stressed if the 'unknown' becomes a little more known - even if you don't know how to do everything, you'll at least know what things you'll need to learn over the year.

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