Week 8-11

Since returning after the half-term “break” I have taken over the teaching of six different groups. I now teach two year 7 and year 8 groups and one year 9 and year 10 group. On a week A I am teaching 8 hours per week and a week B six hours.

Week 8 – Active learning

The highlight of this week was attending a trip with Y12 Psychology students to a conference (Psychology: Science and Pseudo-Science). While I am not a psychology a teacher I recognise that

there a lot of comparisons to be made between Psychology and Religious Studies. Some people will try to find the psychological reasons for people’s beliefs – are humans programmed to believe in something greater? Is there a need for an uncaused causer? Is religion a genuine expression of something ‘deeper’ in humanity, something psychological? If so, what is the cause of this?

The conference was delivered in the form of EDUTAINMENT. Edutainment is educational entertainment and is all about using fun and games to make learning fun. This could range from quizzes, videos, music, dance etc. It’s about playful vibrant learning and having everyone in the class actively learning.

Week 9 – Routines and Planning

This week I attended a training session all about using routines within the classroom and for your own workload. So here are the top tips:

  • Assume that pupils will be restless for the first 5 minutes of the lesson – allow them time to settle before ‘starting the lesson’.
  • Save yourself time and don’t spend your breaks putting resources on tables ready for the class to arrive – use the first few pupils who arrive to the lesson to do this job.
  • Take the register at the start of the lesson. Ensure the class is silent when doing this, so that you can begin your teaching afterwards.
  • Be consistent – decide what your entry and exit routines will be and stick to them.
  • Plan your free time. Decide specifically what you will do and when.
    I have a specific notebook for my daily tasks/to-do lists. At the end of an evening or beginning of the day it is essential to plan what you will do the following day. For each PPA decide what you must achieve and give yourself a time limit to achieve this. By including timings with tasks it makes it easier to plan what to do and when and helps you take control of your workload. 
    My task book is a life saver and I couldn’t live without it nowA piece of advice I was given was the thought that teaching is all about convincing people to learn something that they don’t want to learn.

 

 

 

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Week 6&7 Where’s my work/life balance?

Week 6 & 7 were very challenging for me and have turned into one giant blur. This is because everyday I was so tired. I’d wake up in the morning, go to work, come home and work until the moment I went to bed and repeated the cycle. I’m sure that this is no different to what everyone else is doing BUT I have never experience a tiredness like this. I felt tired to my core from working every single moment and couldn’t function doing basic tasks (at one point I didn’t even trust myself to drive!)

Over the half-term holidays I spent everyday working on my first PGCE assignment and by the time Sunday rolled round I still hadn’t  planned my lessons for Monday!

I’m a hard worker by nature and don’t give up easily but I can honestly say I have never found anything so challenging. I enjoy teaching and being in the classroom interacting with my pupils but its all the time spent around that and the hours of lesson planning and never-ending to-do lists that are getting me down. I always feel like I am playing catch-up with myself and hate the thought that I can’t get on top of everything.

Despite this I do have a few tips for time management and organisation:

  • Create an ultimate to-do list. Instead of using your planner/diary and writing daily task lists get yourself an A4 sheet of paper and write EVERYTHING that you need to do on it. Each day, with a different coloured hightlighter, highlight what you are going to do for the day. This makes it easier to add on tasks as and when they pop into your head/w hen they are allocated to you
  • Create separate to-do lists. Over the half-term this worked like a dream. Create a list for ‘school’, ‘university’ and ‘personal’. Highlight daily tasks in the same way.
  • Allocate specific tasks for PPA. Go through you’re timetable and decide what exactly you are going to do in each free period e.g. Mon P2/3 subject knowledge development, Tue P5 teaching standards evidence etc. Stick to this like glue and it should minimise the amount of work you take home.
  • Personal time. Create some time for yourself every day when your don’t do any work, talk/think about work. Relentlessly stick to this

In week 6 & 7 I started taking over more groups to teach for whole lessons. My mentor has allowed me to teach lessons using departmental resources, so far, but I’m finding it very daunting to plan and teach 8hrs of lessons per week from scratch. The PGCE students at my school are still only delivering starters while pulling my hair out over the whole lesson. SCITT is definately more intense, the expectations are definitely higher.

Week 5 – My 1st Lesson

On Monday I taught my first full lesson. Most trainees that I know have been building up to full lessons, beginning by delivering a starter. No such luck for me! My mentor told me that I would teaching a full lesson with year 7.

I was able to teach from the departmental resources (which saved me a lot of time and some stress). I wasn’t stressed entering the situation but there were a few occasions when I found myself tongue tied.

I couldn’t remember what I was trying to say & was sure I was stumbling over my words. At one point my face felt like it was so hot that it must have been beetroot red but no-one commented otherwise. My year 7s were so noisy whenever I gave them an activity. Next time I’m going to have to give them some clear expectations on noise level. I think for my first time attempt it went well and all of the class learnt something, so job done!

Next week I am teaching the same group and a some year 8s. I feel more nervous not about teaching but the fact that another teacher is going to be in the room.

I am worried about the observation process as to me it feels like I am being judged and I don’t know what I can do to get out of that mindset.

Week 3 & 4 Observation

On arrival at my main placement school, I am greeted by mentor who gives me a whistle-stop tour of the school and who’s who. I’ve been told by my training provider that the first two weeks are all about observation – that we are going to do nothing but observe for two weeks.

Initially, I found it difficult it to see the value of observation, as I have previously worked as Learning Support Assistant. I have seen many different teachers teach and so have a good understanding about happens in the classroom and what I would like to try.

Having said that, it was interesting to just watch classes unfold. I found it useful to have a notebook with me and when ever I saw something I liked, (behaviour managment/activity etc) I would jot it down so that I can draw on these ideas later when I start teaching.

How To Observe

Initially I began observing lessons by writing a narrative of everything that happened, but I quickly realised that it was too time consuming and I wasn’t making the most of the experience.

Observation is at its best, when each lesson you observe has a clear focus. Some ideas for observational focus could include:

  • Structure, Organisation & Instruction.
  • Behaviour Management & Relationships
  • Inclusion, Involvement of Students & Questioning
  • Assessment

Moving forward from my initial observations, I will be applying a Multimodal approach to future observations. Multimodal – seeing meaning in everything not just what’s spoken or written. Multimodal observation looks for meaning in everything that happens within the classroom and allows you to use it to help you develop as a teacher, as well as considering all impacts on pupil learning. Key features you could observe include:

  • Classroom layout
  • Visual displays
  • Teacher’s movement
  • Teacher talk
  • Teacher’s non-verbal communication
  • Pupils’ movement and talk
  • Pupils’ non-verbal communication

In the first week I stayed within the role of a non-participant observer. This is because I found it really useful to see how the class interacts as a whole and responds to the teacher without my input. I also was able to make a note of what activities work well with specific groups and also pupils to make a note of. In the second week I became an active participant and took more of a TA role, assisting pupils when appropriate, interacting with them and getting to know them (in anticipation of teaching classes).

Induction

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and now the day has finally arrived…I’m starting my teacher training. I’m excited and nervous. What if I just can’t teach no matter how hard I try? What if the workload is too much (as the press would have you believe) and I can’t cope?

This blog is going to give an honest account of what it’s really like to be a trainee teacher. I’m doing a Religious Education PGCE through a SCITT. The SCITT has both primary and secondary trainees and for the two week induction we will all be together at the lead school, as well as a few days at university.

Week 1 

Day 1 – It doesn’t feel like a proper start and we were invited in small groups to enrol, fill in a few forms and have our pictures take for new staff ID cards. I was only at the school for 1hr

Day 2 – All trainees were together for the full day. There are about 30 of us in the cohort, but only 2 people who are going to be at the same placement school as me and 1 who is also doing RE (based at another school). We spent the morning doing ice breaker activities and briefly going over teaching standards and then in the we looked at educational acronyms.

We were given an brief timetable for the course which breaks down as follows:

  • 30 weeks at main placement school
  • 4 weeks at second placement
  • 2 weeks at SEN placement
  • 18 days at university
  • 35 ‘twilight’ training sessions. Most of my training will be delivered through these sessions which will be 2hrs each.

Day 3 – Today we had sessions on safeguarding and e-safety as well as what to expect from the university training days.

Day 4 – 9am start at the university today. We were given a programme of what the training days at the university would entail along with essay titles and reading lists. Once the formal stuff was over we spent time working in groups discussing why we want to be teachers, what makes a good teacher and some reading on the importance on working collaboratively within education. It was a long day that didn’t finish until 5pm.

Day 5 – Today there was more pace to the sessions – we looked at international education (comparisons and similarities with the UK) as well as the National Curriculum (its purpose & importance). We have also been set ‘homework’, well reading to do for the next session and some observations to complete at our placements.

Week 2 

Day 6 – Back to the lead school this week and this morning we had staff from a partnership SEND school in to deliver sessions on behaviour management and SEND. The behaviour management session focused on learning about our personality type and how we respond to stress so that when students’ behaviour is challenging we can be aware of our flaws and respond accordingly. I found the SEND session really interesting as I have previously worked as a LSA and find SEND students really fulfilling to work with. In the future I might like a role as SENCO (but that’s definitely a long term plan). In the afternoon we we given some information on observation techniques, so that we can have an understanding of what mentors are looking for when observing our teaching.

Day 7 – Today we were introduced to lesson planning. We were given a format lesson plan that the SCITT expects us all to use and talked through the various things we need to include such as Afl (assessment for learning), differentiation, learning objectives/outcomes … In the afternoon we were paired up and each given a topic to plan a 30 minute lesson on – which will be delivered to the whole group over the next two days.

Day 8 & 9 – We watched/participated in other people’s lesson. We also had a pair who observed us (so we had to peer assess each other and give feedback). The whole purpose of this exercise was to learn how to fill in a lesson plan correctly but also how to observe (as this will form a large part of the following week). I found it personally useful but I learnt new things not only from the lesson content but the delivery and activities that were included.

Day 10 – Finally I have all the paperwork I’ve been waiting for! Today were given an outline of the training programme, how many lessons we expect to be teaching each term, the (mountains of) paperwork we expected to collate and complete.

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed now about Monday. I have never been to my placement school – I don’t know any staff, how the school day is structured or how nice the school really is. I know I will figure it all out really quickly but I’m just anxious as I want it all to go well. It has just dawned on me how much work is going to be involved over the next year. I know everyone says the PGCE year is very stressful and you have no life but I’m hoping that isn’t the case. I want to keep my sanity for as long as possible – please?

The end of summer is approaching

It’s that time of year again. Just a week until we go back to school. I am returning to work, in the FE college where I work as a Learning Support Assistant, on 1st September – 3rd September. On the 7th September I start my SCITT course.

I feel like I’m not as fully excited as a I should be because all I can think about is going back to work first. I did intend to spend the summer doing lots of pre-course reading however my SCITT has not sent any of the trainees reading lists. I hope that I don’t feel like I’m playing catch-up when the course starts.

Has anyone else spent there summer pre-PGCE doing nothing?

Making the most of your work experience 

Have you arranged your work experience and thinking now what? This post is designed to give you an overview of how to prepare for work experience in the classroom and how to make the most of it. 

In order to maximise your time at the school it’s best to go with clear aims and objectives in mind. Think about what you are hoping to learn whilst you are there. 

Some key things to consider within the classroom are: 

  • Lesson structure – is one followed and how effective is it. 
  • Classroom and behaviour management – what strategies does the teacher use? Is there a seating plan or not? Why? What are the sanctions? Are any issued? Why or why not? 
  • Differentiation – how does the teacher strech and challenge all those in the classroom?
  • Adaptability – how do teachers adapt the same lesson with one group compared to another? What do they change? Why? Does it work? 
  • How does teaching differ between different Key Stages – try to get some time with different key stages in the school

There are also some wider school issues that are worth considering, such as:

  • Teaching sets/Mixed ability groups – which is used and why? 
  • Homework – does the school have a policy?
  • Pupils’ books – does the school allow them to take them home? If not, why not. 
  • Additional responsibilities that teachers have outside of the classroom e.g. form teacher, extra curriculum clubs etc

These ideas are just a guideline to get you started and thinking out your experience. It is worthwhile making sure you speak to as many different teachers as possible and ask them about their experiences, including the advantages and disadvantages of teaching. If the school has student teachers, speak to them about applications, the course and any advice they have for you. 

Good luck! 

How to gain experience for Initial Teacher Training

So you know you want to be a teacher but don’t have any experience? 

This was my main difficulty before I could submit my application. Many universities state that you need experience before you apply but I didn’t know where to begin. 

Here are some helpful suggestions to get you started, based on my personal experiences. 

University Careers Advisers

If you’re a student at university, speak to your careers advisers. Universities often have partnerships with local schools and can help to find you a placement for short or long term, dependant on your requirements. Universities also have widening participation schemes with local community groups, such as mentoring or homework clubs, these can be great for learning how to interact and build relationships with children and young people in an informal setting.

School Experience Programme

The School Experience Programme is run by the National College for Teaching and Leadership and offers classroom experience for those wanting to teach Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Chemistry, Computer Science, Design Technology or Modern Languages.

Work Experience

You can arrange your own work experience by contacting local schools directly, this is something I did and would be ideal for those of you who are working full-time or have other commitments. 

With the aid of Google, I researched local schools in my city and the headteachers. I then wrote personalised letters to various headteachers asking for work experience and in exchange I volunteered to offer my skills to the school. I got lots of offers from the personalised letters and was able to organised several work experience placements. Your work experience could be for one day, a few hours once a week or one week. It’s about what ever is going to fit into your lifestyle. 

Initially I did email head of departments asking for work experience but most didn’t reply and when I did get a response it was to say that they couldn’t help. From my experience I wouldn’t recommend using email, but it may work well for others. 

Volunteering 

Contact your local volunteer centre to find out about any opportunities to work with children or young people in your area. Your experience does not necessarily have to be limited to within the classroom and can include helping out at kids clubs. 

Research

Research is key. Even if you’re not applying for teacher training right now it’s worth looking on ucas to see what entry requirements are being asked for. Some courses state experience must be within a state maintained school within the last two years for a minimum period of time, while others are more flexible and will accept experience from any setting so long as it’s with the relevant primary or secondary age group. 

Researching thoroughly now, will help you organise experience that suited to the courses you will be applying for.