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Would you have found/ Do you find any of this useful?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by Bobby_Carrot, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. Hi all,
    I did my GTP last year and passed with Outstanding. I have been asked to go back to Uni to talk to other students aboutthe programme from a student's POV. This usually happens around November time.
    I was pondering putting together a kind of 'survival guide' and wondered what everyone else would have liked to have known around that time. I was thinking about including the following:

    1. Get organised - this doesn't work for everyone but I did find being organised and having my folders set up meant I could file things as I went along and knew where things were and I didn't have to spend lots of time at the end messing with folders.
    2. Make the most of the early time in school when your timetable isn't so full - Looking back, one thing I wish I had done was scheduled more observations at this stage. Also use any spare time you may have to get to grips with the skills tests. Use this opportunity to visit other schools and perhaps look at initiatives that your school isn't doing (use each other for this).Also use this time to talk to subject co-ordinators. Take the lead and organise this yourself. I quickly learned that no-one was going to offer me stuff, I had to go and ask (and some teachers will say no - not everyone likes being observed, just don't take it personally). You won't get this opportunity again in your career, so make the most of it and be pro-active. Also use this time to work on your subject knowledge - read as much as you can! Try and work across different ability groups too if you are able to - I was able to teacher the LA, MA and HA ability numeracy groups, spending a term in each. It is YOUR training - take control of it :)
    3. Skills tests advice - Book as early as you can when you get your DFES number. I know the tutors will have told you to do them earlier but this is good advice. Practice and don't worry about them. Everyone in the room has a degree and it is just a hoop you have to jump through. Do them in a way that suits you - so get your best out of the way to build confidence, or get your worst out of the way first so you can get on with the others, or do them one after the other if you feel you can (I did it this way because I was all geared up ready and took about 90 minutes in total). Abive all, relax, if you fail you can take it again and if you are struggling there is support available at the unit to get you through any you find difficult. The ICT was the toughest as it has little resemblance to anything you actually do and don't spend ages on one section on this - I skipped the spreadheet forumla and still passed!
    4. Plan your second placement if you can. Some trainees swap with each other (but check with the head first as some heads are prickly about this). Try and find a school that will give you a different experience as this will help you later when collating evidence and also in your Vivas and essays. I only did 4 weeks at mine (I had a variety of experience prior to GTP including a referral unit, working as a cover supervisor and as a TA in foundation stage and Year 5 and 6 and I had also worked at several different schools including KS3 and KS4, so my uni were happy with this) but I think I would have found a full half-term more useful and 6 weeks is more normal.
    5. Files - I was going to take a couple of examples of my folders and ideas of things you can use for evidence. Also talk about the different ways people choose to organise their QTS folder (this seemed to cause the most grief/worry/conversation with our intake). And also stress there is no right or wrong way but find a way that works for you. I was going to suggest: keeping a long of trainin/CPD/INSET/Uni sessions; keeping a log of each book you read (ISBN numbers useful as I have since come back to that list for NQT year); if you use Teachers' TV sign up to the website and add anything you watch (you can then print this off and put this towards the standards where you take responsbility for your CPD); keep your journal up to date but only write down key things (make sure to take a little time at the end of each week to do this or it can get away from you); save everything (even if you just put it in a box folder and then get rid of it at the end of the year - although I have a few bits now that weren't useful for GTP evidence butfit the Core standards for NQT much better).
    6. There are no hard and fast rules as to how much you should be teaching, although we worked on 40%, 60%, 80% by the end of each term, although it is fair to say I was teaching almost 60% by Christmas but I was comfortable with that. Some people were doing 80% straight off, but they had already been working as unqualified teachers. Try not to worry about what everyone else is doing. Towards the end try and teach as much as you can. I spent the final term teaching the same as a normal class teacher (3 hours of PPA). This has prepared me well for my NQT year as I will have (hopefully) NQT time in addition but it means I can use my NQT time for development opportunities because I have been used to organising/managing my PPA time. My mentor said she would pull it back if I was struggling, but I loved it. Your school may have their own ideas on how they want to use you when you have that 'pass' in your mitts - this is their payback time if you like, so you might find yourself with one class or you may find yourself doing cover. Either way, use it as a training opportunity. Cover gives you an opportunity to work on behaviour management with unfamiliar children and to try out different things and also teaching things ad hoc and it might give you more of an opportunity to teach those subjects you didn't teach as much of (these are different for everyone - for me it was PSHE and PE as these were covered during PPA time), while working with the same class allows you to get to grips with the AfL and planning and the progress of a particular class of children.
    7. Remember your mentor and your tutor are important. Sit down with your mentor early on and find a way of working that suits you both (I told my mentor I didn't want her asking how I was all the time but asking on a Friday at our weekly mentor times was OK). Don't be afraid to ask them anything and don't be frightened to say you are finding seomthing difficult or to ask about things you don't understand (I lost count of the number of times I asked about APP only to be told that the teachers didn't really follow some of the stuff either) - it is better to ask than to sit there worrying or fretting or getting something wrong. And DON'T take things personally. Some people seemed to get offended when mentors/tutors did lesson observations and gave them points to improve on (get used to this because it will form part of your PMs each year and OFSTED won't be as nice about it). It is their job to get you to be a satisfactory or (ideally) a good or outstanding teacher if they can, so initailly there will be lots of things to improve and work on. Also, don't be surprised if something you thought was a strength gets highlighted for improvement. I thought behaviour management was a strength until one observation where this was mentioned. I dwelled on it too much - remember it is one observation on a particular day/time. Mine was a writing lesson on a Friday afternoon (don't ask why we had to do it then!) But I realised when I planned my own timetable I would try not to put something like that on a Friday afternoon and sometimes you are stuck with timetable issues you have no control of, so you have to make it work. Also if you take those points and work on them - that is the whole point. The time to be concerned is when the same comments come up more than once on your observations. Also remember, when you concentrate on one thing (for example lesson timings), initially something else may slip (behaviour or questioning). Eventually they will all come together (probably the week before you retire!) Also we all have good lessons and bad lessons - reflect on what you could have done differently and why. Sometimes there is nothing you could improve on, something may go wrong that is out of your control (I had a kid puke all over her friend, the table and so we had to decamp to the library with my wonderfully planned lesson in tatters LOL) Another thing I found useful from my observations was that my mentor and tutor always asked me what I thought and I had usually pulled out a couple of the things for improvement and highlighted what went well that agreed with them. This was reassuring and is part of becoming an excellent reflective practitioner - just don't be too over confident and think you are perfect or too self critical (it is a fine line!)
    8. Assignments. Don't worry about them. Get the teaching right and they will be fine. Make sure you are aware of them and what is required and start them well before the deadline date as they can often take longer than you think. If you feel able, offer to take responsbility in your team's for planning/adapting a particular unit in the core subjects or highlight a key area and develop that area over a term. I chose Maths and history over the winter term (Maths was my least confident area so figured I may as well tackle it head on, and history fit with the time travelling and Tudors topics we had and was also a subject I dropped at school). In the spring term I opted for Science (and planned a topic, including individual lessons, for the whole year group) and Phonics (on second school placement) as I hadn't had much experience of this. I also looked at early reading. In the Summer term I developed the foundation subjects. I didn;t develop my strengths (at the time) Literacy and ICT but will be coming back to devloping ICT in my NQT year as my new school hav really got into VLPs.
    9. Enjoy it! The hardest slog for me was up until December. Then I went
    to my second school ad things started to make more sense.It feels like
    you can't juggle all the balls at first - this is normal but like
    anything, the more practice you have, the better you will get, and
    remember GTP is just the start of the learning porcess. You cannot
    possibly know everything after a year and you won't teacher everything. Concentrate on the subject knowledge, pedagogy and pupil progress and everything eventually slots into place.Everyone's jounrney is different, concentrate on enjoying yours!

    Would this be useful? Or is it useful if you are about to start? What other advice would you have found useful? Is there anything that people worry or stress over or have I mentioned most of it here?
    TIA :)
  2. Hi
    That was very useful. I am about to start next week and as it gets closer the reality is setting in. Planning effectively is a worry as i am teaching french from the off! Equally, my main year group for the year have med term plans in place so I willl only be tweaking those til xmas. When you said you took the lead in a subject for planning ehat exactly did you do ? I have the opportunity to plan a whole unit of work but am not sure how i would do this.

    I hope I have as successful a year as you have had !
  3. John, I was a primary trainee so I took the lead in planning the science for that term for the whole year group and ICT for a couple of terms. Also when planning was being divided out between teachers I offered to do things that were either my strength or somthing I wanted to develop - for example I planned a series of lessons recycling, a couple of lessons about the Egyptians and the Tudors.
  4. Wow! Bobby Carrot, this information is really useful, thanks. I'm about to start the Primary GTP next week. Sounds like you took a lot on and obviously thrived, I hope I manage to be as successful as you! I've been working as a TA for the last academic year, came to teaching as a career change, so not as much experience as you had!
    I can't wait to start next week, very excited but nervous too! I'm doing it at a different school to where I've worked this year! Have all my files organised now and I've been practicing for the Skills tests, so just got to wait for next week now!
    Thanks again for the advice and congratulations on such a fantastic result from the GTP!

  5. terri1972

    terri1972 New commenter

    Great stuff as always Bobby
    Please stay nearby this year - we may need you!!! [​IMG]
  6. Wow, what a fantastic post! I'm starting my GTP Maths a week today. INSET day next Monday, Yrs 7 & 10 on the Tuesday and first day in Uni on the Friday... can't wait!!!
  7. and I thought I was finding it tough Ana! I will reply properly when time allows but I really must get on with some planning and Uni work - the workload seems relentless doesn't it, particularly when you have a relatively young family to make time for too :(. Thinking of you and really hoping the situation improves for you. On face of it, I would suggest it would be difficult for the Uni to make the situation any worse by intervening, from what you've already stated.
  8. Thanks for your message, after just starting second placement and finding after having a really successful first term, everything hard work Your words were an inspiration! :)
  9. Hi Bobby,
    That was very good advice as I am doing my GTP and I agree wiht what you have said. I am worried about my essay - 5000 words, which is on how you have developed as a teacher. I am not sure how to start and what to include in it. Please can you give some suggestions on this as I am really struggling. Deadline for this essay is in september. Thank you so much and so kind of you for taking your time to write this for students like us. It is very assuring.

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