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PGCE panic!

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by moira79, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. Hi everyone
    I am starting a PGCE Secondary this September, and I must say I ve been all excited and entusiastic until I started reading comments on line from people worn out by the course, stressed and even dropping out. Now I come from abroad, I ll be new in England and I start thinking that if it is hard for English people...will it be possible for me???
    I am used to work long hours and a very organized person, but also quiet emotional and easy to cry when under too much pressure. I ve read about many people quitting after few months, or having panic attacks before going to school
    it seem also that you work long hours and have to prepare overnight, is it this true?
  2. I think it's perfectly normal to feel anxious, even with my mega-excitement I am still incredibly nervous about starting my course.
    What you need to consider with message boards (or indeed in life) that people are very quick to state the negatives, and it can therefore look like everyone is having a hard time...this simply isn't the case!
    I've worked in a Secondary School for the past 6 years and have seen approximately 70 student teachers go through their placements, most have coped pretty well and have loved almost every second, a few have been typical moaners that see the negative in everything, and only 1-2 have been unable to cope with it all, one had a baby and was a single parent and dropped out in her second placement (she as with us for her first) and the other had no rapport with the students, was unable to get down to their level and was therefore a poor teacher, I think she droped out before she was failed.
    It is definately going to be hard work, and I don't think it matters how hard you work or how organised you are there will probably be times when every one of us as trainees are burning the midnight oil, or losing a whole weekend to planning, marking and assignment writing, but to be honest I want this so much that even if it takes over my whole life I will do it! However, I don't plan on letting it!
  3. katnoodle

    katnoodle New commenter

    Good advice. Don't get too worried about the problems you read about here because everyone's experience is different. I finished my PGCE last month; here are my tips:
    • Get yourself as organised as possible in advance. Being used to long hours and super-organisation will come in very handy.
    • Remember that above all you are there to learn - be prepared for honest (but often well-meaning) criticism. You will get better if you take on board people's advice.
    • Be extra super nice to ALL the staff at your placement schools - you never know who you'll need to call on for help.
    • Know when all your assignments, observations etc are due and plan for them well in advance.
    • Don't try and make everything yourself from scratch. This was the one bit of advice I knew would make my life easier but I still didn't adhere to it! Get existing resources, schemes of work etc from your placement schools or online and don't be afraid to use them.
    • Remember to let your hair down, relax and enjoy yourself. Some people make it a rule not to work on Sundays, for example.
    Good luck!
  4. Thank you so much, to both of you!
    Finally some realistic yet positive point of view! It is very overwhelming to read about people totally stressed out, when the real challenge for a future student is to be ready for very hard work but also stay focus on how rewarding this will hopefully be! After all I ve been working for many years mmanaging a team, with long hours and pressure coming from everywhere therefore I hope to have built some kind of strenght!
    You have been extremely nice, your kindlness of taking some time to reply to my "panic- post" really means a lot to me! I sense from your words that you both are or will be great teachers :)
    Thank you
  5. Hi Stacey
    Where will you start your course? Never know...maybe we ll be training togheter!
    Have a nice day
  6. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I'm a PGCE student mentor, so hopefully I can offer some words of comfort and/or advice.

    The PGCE is undeniably tough going. However, you say that you are a very organised person, so this will help you keep on top of assignments, lesson planning and marking. Here are some tips:

    1) Prepare yourself. Ensure you know what will be expected of you and when. Plan accordingly so that assignments are completed in plenty of time. When you join a union, you often get one of those big wall calendars - these are useful for keeping track of dates.
    2) Be realistic. The hours for a PGCE student are long, but they shouldn't be excessive. If you regularly find yourself working long into the night, you need to seek support and help from your university tutor and subject mentor. The PGCE isn't meant to kill you, no matter how difficult!
    3) Your practice schools will make or break you. Remember that you are a visitor in their school and that your mentor gets no additional time nor pay for mentoring you. This is not to say that you shouldn't expect full support, but it does mean that you need to be grateful and accepting of their wishes and their advice. Remember, you can do it your own way when you have QTS and when you've got your own classroom.
    4) The best students I've mentored have been the ones who've come in with a love of their subject and a creative approach. Use the time prior to your course to ensure that you have a good knowledge of your subject at all levels.
    Above all, RELAX. Remember that a lot of what you read on here is very one-sided. Student teachers come on here and 'complain' about their awful mentors and unsupportive schools (and sometimes this is very much the case - there are some terrible mentors out there) but it's important to remember that we have only heard the student's point of view. Not long ago, I'm fairly sure I recognised a mentee of mine on here complaining about how awful his mentor was etc. He got lots of sympathy and choruses of "Call your uni", "This is terrible" from posters on here. However, what no-one else knew was that he failed to follow my advice and basically though he knew better than me on everything. His subject knowledge was dreadful and he even gave out worksheets with incorrect spelling and punctuation (he was training to be an English teacher).
    So don't worry too much about the 'awful' things people report on here. Most people have a difficult but positive experience of the PGCE. If they didn't, there wouldn't be so many teachers looking for jobs!
    Good luck!
  7. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I agree with this advice. Don't reinvent the wheel. However, at the same time don't forget that part of the QTS standards is the ability to plan and prepare resources across the age and ability range, so ensure you balance creating your own with using/adapting what already exists.
    The best student teachers I've mentored have left behind resources that I've been so impressed with that I've "borrowed" them for my own lessons.

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