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What do you wish you'd known at the beginning of your PGCE year?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by gailrobinson, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. I agree with the watch thing! Sometimes on placement you find yourself having to move to different rooms for different activities and it's amazing how many GP rooms, music rooms etc can be without a clock!
    I agree with the person who said make friends with the office staff - they can be very useful people to have on your side during probation!
    Do not concentrate so hard during probation that your personal life suffers, because it will often be too late by the time you realise! Several people on my course, including myself, lost our partners as a result of overworking during probation. Once it happened to me,during the second term, I completely changed the way I worked and almost halved the amount of time I spent on work, and I managed just as well, and only wish I had been a bit less manic from the start.
    Last bit of extremely important information (1) Probation, in my experience, was way harder than we were told it would be - don't feel like you're doing a bad job and if you struggle, try to stick it out until you are qualified because (2) teaching is amazing, rewarding and so much fun after you get your first job! it's a world away from probation year!
    Best of luck[​IMG]
  2. Reading you post has made me feel better!
    Im a pgce student, and its only my second week of teaching, im gettin mixed feedback but seem to be letting the negative stuff put me down. It really throws me off track and puts me off. But i guess i should just use it as constructive feedback.
    But glad to know im not the only one who feels like this :)
  3. I finished my PGCE in the summer - here's some advice:
    My biggest #1 tip - you are not alone! Both of my placements had highs and lows, at one point feeling very positive and things appeared to be going well, then the next minute everything crashes and you're wondering why on earth you want to be a teacher! During the lows and feeling like absolute rubbish for whatever reason, your fellow students will be or have had felt the same. Keep in contact with them - for me, knowing my friends were also feeling rubbish reassured me that it was 'normal'.
    Try not to let negative feedback get to you, learn from your mistakes and prove on your next observation that you can. At the end of the day you want to know the truth if you really are doing something wrong in your teaching - and more often than not the truth hurts, but you have to see 'negative' comments as constructive help to improve your teaching abillity. This is something I found very hard initially.
    When it comes to planning lessons, don't tire yourself on making every lesson a 'wow' lesson - save these for your observations! Most teachers on my placements told me that doing wonderfully creative lessons all day every day is not feasible. On my final placement I was always on my own in the classroom unless being observed, so on my weekly observations this was my opportunity to prove to my mentor my lessons were exciting and creative. Use resources on the internet to save time, and use teachers in school for help on lesson ideas.
    Use your free time wisely and effectively to get planning and other things done - when I really kept on top of things throughout the week my weekends were not as hectic and I had more time to relax. I would not leave school until most or all my marking was finished - the only marking I would ever take home would be Literacy's Big Write work to spend time marking it carefully. If possible get children to swap books/work and mark partner's work - a big timesaver. I would also spend some lunch and break times doing some marking or lesson evaluations - again it meant less would need to be done at home! Give yourself one night off a week from doing any work - spend time with your family/partner/friends and try to switch off (easier said than done!) and relax. If making resources, check first to see if your school has something similar made already, this happened to me on one of my first lessons. Check with your fellow students if they have made something similar. I often got my partner roped in on cutting and laminating jobs!
    Don't leave uni assignments till the last minute - get the reading lists ASAP and photocopy/print the relevant bits. As the deadline looms you'll be extremely lucky to get hold of the one elusive copy of the book everyone wants. Alternatively get together with some friends and share out the readings to summarise a couple each and share the findings to save the time and effort. Don't put all your blood, sweat and tears into the assignment - at the end of the day the PGCE is either pass or fail, no classifications. You could get firsts on all of your assignments but not put enough time into your placements as a result and fail the teaching part - and fail the course. Just go for the pass - it's much more worthwhile putting the majority of your efforts on placement (in my opinion).
    Doing my PGCE was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I'm so proud of myself of completing it. Hang on in there - you CAN and WILL do it.
    Now the next hurdle - finding a job...lol

  4. This is a fab topic, and I wish I'd discovered it at the start of my PGCE year. I apologise if I echo any of the points already made, I've skipped through very quickly!

    Don't get too bogged down in your work. You've got to have a life or you'll go mad. I got to the point where I was sat up in bed doing my lesson plans, I realised that this was destructive and I'll never survive if I put my life on hold.

    If you feel like quitting - DON'T WORRY. It is completely normal to want to pack things in. It is completely normal to think you're not up to it. It is completely normal to think that everyone else is doing so much better than you. You'll find you'll have a week where you feel useless, and if you keep going you'll emerge wondering why on earth you worried. We all throw wobblers, it's human nature. But don't bottle it up, talk to someone.

    Spend time in the staffroom. It was very easy to isolate myself because my department was in another building, so I didn't get to know people as well as I should. I learnt this near the end of my first placement, which I loved. This made it harder to leave, but luckily I got a job there so I could come back and build bridges.

    If you hate your second placement at first then don't worry. It took me a long time to settle because it just 'wasn't' my first placement, but I ended up loving both schools. Tell your university tutors how you feel, they will probably

    Lesson planning gets easier. And you won't spend your career relying on the lesson plan like it's a matter of life or death. Your lessons will hardly ever go as they are planned, you've just got to learn to deal with this, and you will. My lesson plans would be up to 3 pages long, it was completely unnecessary. I still remember when I taught a lesson without a lesson plan, it felt like such an achievement. And this is coming from someone who would practically plan scripts to follow, it was like I needed my lesson plan to survive.

    Go that one step further. You never know what will of it. Make sure senior management know who you are (for good reasons though!)

    You are a new teacher to the school, the kids know this and will play up. They don't hate you, it's not personal, it's just the way it is. It took me 6 weeks to get a class to automatically fill in a reflection sheet during one of my topics after constant reminders. Some classes will just never get it, but NEVER give up on your behaviour management strategies. Keep them constant, even if it bores the kids silly. They'll learn.
  5. mr_history

    mr_history New commenter

    The classifications are Post Graduate Certificate in Education (level 7 award) and Professional Graduate in Education (level 6 award).
  6. I'm doing my PGCE at the moment and one of things I'd say is really important is that you have the strength of character to do things in your own way. That applies to uni and placement.
    Obviously on placement you need to fit in with the school's approach, but you are still an individual in your own right, with your own views. If you've gone into teaching in the first place it's because you (hopefully) think you can do a good job - that doesn't mean being a sheep!Similarly, if I'd spent my whole time worrying about 'fitting in' with my course mates I would have been a lot more stressed. Remember what's important - getting on with people is great, having working relationships is a necessity, but you're doing the course to become a teacher not to make friends.
  7. There is a little bit of grading on the PGCE level 7 ... we get outstanding, good or satisfactory for the uni part and the school placement part ... but maybe thats just our uni ..?
  8. katnoodle

    katnoodle New commenter

    Definitely agree with you there, Kymmi. It can be hard listening to fellow trainees' ideas and experiences at uni and thinking they must be breezing through the course and teaching amazing lessons all the time, but it's not the case - they just don't mind blowing their own trumpets! Not that it's wrong to focus on the positive.
    Two things would have helped me. Firstly, having a better understanding of how children learn - I have an Education Studies degree but I avoided the psychology part of it all because it seemed too hard. Secondly, having a bit more experience in the classroom or just around teenagers. I thought it wouldn't be too different from my own fairly recent experience, but I've found that my biggest behaviour issues come when I'm genuinely shocked by kids' behaviour and don't know how to react. Not always because it's really bad - which isn't in my school, thankfully - but because it's just ... odd!

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