Logistics

Where to live? This is something of a quandary and my suggestion would be to build a granny flat in your parent’s back garden. Unfortunately, for many of us, this is not an option. Why do I suggest this though? Firstly, having the support of your family throughout this difficult year – I believe – can be imperative to your success. Knowing that if you have a busy evening of lesson planning and marking to complete but your mum/dad/aunt/uncle/sister/brother can cook dinner for you or make you a cup of tea can be really reassuring. Similarly, if you are having one of those overwhelming moments, having someone there to give you a hug and listen to your troubles is equally comforting. However, living with family also has its setbacks – sorry mum if you read this. Most people that are completing a PGCE are coming straight from their undergraduate degree and generally have lived away from home for at least three years. Therefore, having to move back home and suddenly tell your family where you are going, who you are going with, what you will be doing and, most importantly, when you are coming home can be quite a shock. Similarly, you have to observe family household rules. This may sound like I am just being self-centred – I am not the only one of my friends who have moved back home and have felt this way, trust me – but after living away it really is quite a shock. On the other hand, whilst living away from home can avert all these worries, for many on the PGCE year it is not a viable option financially. Similarly, sometimes you just need that hug or that cup of tea brought up to you – remember the importance of tea during this year. Therefore, if you have a granny flat, or maybe even a sturdy shed, I would consider moving into there for the foreseeable future.

I would bow down to anybody who can fit a part time job in whilst completing this year. This is something I have struggled with as I have had at least one part time job at a time since I was 14. This has meant that my erratic spending habits in Zara and H&M have always been justified as I have had money going into my account each week thus somehow balancing out my accounts. Therefore, I have had to reign in my spending considerably this year – which has been hard considering I have had to transform my student wardrobe from the last 4 years into a teacher/ young professional wardrobe. However, I just don’t see how I could give my all to my PGCE, keep going to the gym and seeing friends every so often (we have to fit in things we enjoy) whilst also juggling a part time job. I have already warned my family and friends that this year Christmas presents are likely come in the form of baked goods…

Finally, I am not really sure that this fits into the title of logistics but I really think it is important to ensure you have a comfortable bed – wherever you choose to live – and you make plenty of use of it. Seriously, you need to sleep. Each day you are presenting yourself in front of hundreds of students and a large number of colleagues. You need to look professional and huddling in a corner of your classroom yawning constantly will not be setting a very good example for your students. Each night, I try to stop work by 9pm latest and turn my laptop off. This gives me time to wash (also very important but hopefully you already know that), gets things ready for the following day and unwind before going into my comfortable bed to sleep.

And on that note, it’s time I turn my laptop off now. Night all.

Jenga? In the classroom? What about progress?

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Last week I went to a Teachmeet. I would recommend any other trainee teachers, or just any teachers in general, attend these whenever they come around your local area. And if you think you have a good resource that you have used in the classroom, then present. It is really informal and you can learn so many ideas from one another.

One idea I ‘stole’ from a teacher was the use of Jenga in the classroom. He reminded us that we are working with children and children like to play. Therefore, why not try and incorporate games in the classroom?

Tuesday, period 5, I teach a disruptive, unmotivated Year 10 group. Quick aside – I also teach this group on Wednesday period 1 and they are lovely; they just always seem to bring a lot of baggage into the classroom on a Tuesday. Now back to Jenga. We have been preparing for the spoken language controlled assessment and I had noticed that students were starting to muddle up all the new terminology they had been learning. So yesterday, I brought Jenga into the classroom. The class split into three groups and in their teams they had to write, in pencil of course, as many spoken language key words on to each block. They then built up their tower and the game began.

However they can’t just play Jenga of course, that would mean they were making no progress whatsoever, so each time they pulled a block out they had to provide the definition for their term. The extension task was to relate their key word to power and authority – our assessment focus.

When their time was up, I asked the students if they thought that the game had helped them. They immediately all replied by saying yes. I then asked if they just said that because they had fun or whether the game had actually helped to consolidate their knowledge on the key words. They assertively assured me that it had been useful and they felt a lot more confident with the key words and their definitions.  

So whatever your subject, I recommend that you occasionally (you don’t want to overkill the idea) bring some games into your classroom. It may be to introduce a new topic, construct a written response or consolidate learning. You never know, the kids might learn something, and if you’re really lucky, they might even have fun in the classroom.

First things first: Teaching will take over your life!

For this reason, you need to love it. It is not the kind of job you can leave at work. Believe me, you do not only work from 9am to 3pm – most days I am in school before 8am and do not leave until after 5pm, to then continue working at home. You may feel like having a weekend where you can leave school work at school, but unless you have everything ready on the Friday for Monday period 1, there is no way you can do this: unless of course you are happy to spend an hour feeling extremely awkward, underprepared and lacking any confidence in front of 30 fourteen year olds who will be judging you. Therefore if you do not enjoy what you are doing, I would probably be quite extreme and suggest you seriously think about whether teaching is the career for you.

Teaching should also take over your Twitter feed. There are so many amazing resources and ideas being shared constantly on Twitter – for free – that you would be silly not to use them. Once you start teaching, you will quickly learn that not many teachers have come up with their own teaching ideas; they are often things that they have adapted from somebody else. My advice would be, however, don’t be lazy and just steal what you see on social media. You need to adapt what you see to make it work for your students, however tempting it may be to print screen and reel copies off.

Work collaboratively with your mentor. Your mentor will become your saviour in your PGCE year and should offer you endless advice and assistance. I have been extremely lucky with my mentor. She is forever offering me advice, giving me resources and wanting to push me so that I will qualify as an outstanding teacher. The relationship with your mentor is all about give and take. Sometimes your mentor may ask you to go collect something from the printer that they need for their next lesson, which requires you running between buildings when the rain is hammering down and there is lightening in the sky. You may question why you should have to do that – after all, you are not there for work experience, you are there to be a teacher. But, if you are feeling this, remind yourself of all the time (which in school seems to be a precious commodity) that they are giving to you and think where you would be if you did not have them there for you.

Whilst you are away from University, try to keep in touch with your tutor. Ensuring there is some dialogue between you and your tutor means while you are at school they know what has been going on; this makes it seem a lot less scary when they come to observe (at least I think, for me that is happening this week). Also, they are fountains of knowledge so if you are stuck on a lesson plan, how to differentiate, you have an interview to prepare for, they will tend to go out of their way to help and support you.

There will be points where you feel overwhelmed – for me that has been this weekend and the coming week – and although everybody warns you about this before you start, it doesn’t make it any easier. Regardless, you need to sleep. You need to eat. You need to exercise. You need to make time for friends and family. And most importantly, you must drink tea; this I cannot stress enough.

 

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I don’t want to write my assignment…

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I am 12 weeks into my PGCE year and so far I have only had one cold – which of course arrived in time for the half term break – and am still loving being in school. Therefore, I decided I would try and start a blog to write down some of my ramblings thus relieve my family from having to listen, everyday, to my long winded discussions on school – none of them are teachers, want to be teachers or even particularly enjoyed their time at school so I am sure their feigned interest to keep me smiling will soon disappear.

I am unsure of how successful I will be with this blog. I am running the London Marathon in 2014 and am supposed to be keeping a running blog; I haven’t written an entry since sometime in September. However, I am feeling a lot more motivated by teaching at the moment than I am about running in the horrible, cold, dark weather therefore I may pay a slight bit more attention to this!

For a little intro, I am following the new School Direct PGCE route. This means that I have been in school from the first day of term. This came as a slight shock as I had landed from my summer holiday in Spain only 8 hours prior to this, needless to say the first day was all a bit of a surreal blur. I am attached to a University – the University of Reading – and up until half term we were spending two days a week at University and three days a week at school. However, now we are in school until some point in December – I really hope Santa brings me a calendar for Christmas! This means, like the traditional PGCE route, I still have to complete University tasks and the dreaded assignments. I am also on the non-salaried route which means it is fortunate really that I do not have much time for a social life as my debit card could not currently support one.

This blog will be for me to ramble. I will ramble about my experiences of school – of which there have already been so many interesting ones. I will ramble about what I think is important in your PGCE year (such as sleep, food and a smile no matter how busy you think you are). And I will ramble about the importance of remaining human – both in school and out.

I hope those if you who read my ramblings will enjoy them (asking for too much?) and may even, occasionally, find them useful!