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PGCE - Some questions to help me prepare...

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by ally2900, Apr 20, 2019.

  1. ally2900

    ally2900 New commenter

    Hi All

    I will be starting a Primary PGCE in September and want to be prepared as much as possible. I've been thinking a lot about it recently and I'm one of those people who overthinks things. I've been trying to find blogs online about the actual placements and what happens during them. All I seem to find is negativity :(

    So, I have a few questions I've been pondering and would love to hear your experiences and feedback.

    1.) When I arrive at my first placement, what is the normal protocol for the first few weeks? Is it just a case of observing your mentor? Will I be expected to observe every single class? Will my mentor tell me what classes to observe and what is expected?

    2.) Lesson plans. I know I will need to prepare them and will be observed on these. When will I normally teach your first lesson? Will it be a class that I have been observing? Will my mentor tell me the topic and give me guidance on what is expected?

    3.) The National Curriculum - (Leading on from the second question) If I am asked to produce a lesson plan to teach a a Yr 3 class on the topic of ' The human body' for example, will I be expected to know all about the topic for that said lesson? I have my strengths and weaknesses, so doing something like that would be great for me, but then would you suggest its a good idea to get swotting up on the curriculum for each lesson plan?

    Sorry for all the questions...I just can't seem to find much information on the actual PGCE process, only about the experience as a whole.

    Thank you x
  2. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    When you first start placement
    Usually there is a period of observation and that tends to be the class you will be teaching (or classes for secondary), but also different year groups (or subjects / sets etc for secondary). Theres usually a mix of observation time, mentor meetings and preparation time.

    Starting to teach
    When you start teaching will depend on how the course and placement organise it. There will be a timetable for the year and that will give you your main teaching dates. Often trainees will start off doing some small group work during the observation stage and will tend to do starters/plenaries or some team teaching prior to going it alone. Your mentor and training provider will give guidance on this.

    Lesson planning
    This is the most variable feature in my experience. Some schools (rightly) give trainees access to department/year group resources and coplan with a trainee in the early days. Some schools (wrongly in my opinion) expect trainees to deliver pre-planned lessons and others (wrongly in my opinion) will expect trainees to plan from scratch from early on in their training year.
    In terms of swotting up, I would brush up on English/maths anyway, then find out your topics for the placement and brush up on them prior to doing any lesson planning. You don't want to be 2 lessons ahead of the class.

    Each course will have its own way of doing things though. Good luck.
    ally2900 and Flanks like this.
  3. ally2900

    ally2900 New commenter

    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my questions. Very very helpful and it's made things clearer in my mind. x
  4. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Trainees and NQTs often put a huge amount of pressure on themselves to be "the finished article" at such an unrealistically early stage in their career. The reality is that you will only develop a deep and broad understanding of the curriculum, and a rounded set of teacher tools, after years of coherent experience; don't break yourself with expectations to know everything and have a full skillset on day 1. It isn't possible but it can be exhausting.

    Unfortunately our rather brainless professional standards system supports leaders in thinking that an NQT should be performing at the same level as their much more experienced colleagues. The result is often the production of stylised teachers who are adept at looking the part under scrutiny. They are great at producing shiny lessons for observation, pretty planning documents, lovely displays and pupil books which pass book scrutiny, but they often have little grounding in education and many lack substance as teachers. You will typically find them hopping between roles or schools or seeking early promotions. While they lack any sustained experience, they are praised and valued for their dynamism and their ability to demonstrate "good practice" under scrutiny; they progress rapidly and unwittingly propagate the weakening effect as "young and exciting" senior leaders because they have learned how to make a school look good outwardly. Their lack of knowledge or experience in how to deliver a quality education to children is overlooked, to the detriment of the education system.

    On the flip side you have the teachers who value substance above all, refuse to toe the line and find their days spent in battle. While their moral and educational compass may be finely tuned, they end up burned out, drummed out or just kept down and so have little positive influence on the bigger picture with which they have such conflict. Their experience and intelligence rarely makes it to the offices of power in which it is so sadly lacking.

    In time you may come to reflect on which path your training environment is taking you down - substance or style. You should expect to compromise in many areas but also to have red lines which you will not cross. In other words, if you can be both open-minded and secure in your sense of professional self, you will be well positioned to make a career of it :)

    Good luck.

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