Assignment Stress

The success of finishing our first placement was short lived, as we all faced our first assignment hand in. Months ago we had all laughed at the thought of leaving the work to the last minute…who would do that? Who would be so stupid…us, of course. Despite coming into the library on several Saturdays, there simply wasn’t time to get on top of the assignment until the week before the deadline.

So, that’s how we found ourselves spending (what felt like) every minute in the library for 5 days straight, completing our presentations. An incredibly stressful week was however, made much better by fantastic company (you really do make amazing friends on a PGCE course) and we all successfully handed in our assignment summaries on time, at the end of the week. We then had the weekend to practice our presentations before giving them early the following week.

All seemed to go to plan, however it is so hard to tell if you’ve actually spent your 15 minutes giving a coherent academic presentation, or just mumbling and sweating like a complete idiot (I definitely did a little of both). Either way I was relieved to have it over with.

The rest of the week was a strange mixture of days off (thank goodness), a football training day, and a visit to the school we’ll be working with for enrichment week.

Being back in the swing of university life was a strange adjustment, but its been fantastic. I have a suspicion that time is will fly by though, which is a horrible thought. After easter its time for our final placement, and then the end of the course. Being qualified will be such an achievement, but I’ll miss our seminars, workshops and all the time spent panicking in the library. A bitter sweet realisation has hit that the end will reach us all too soon.

Sadness aside, what can I learn from these two weeks? Sometimes all the organisation in the world can’t prevent you from doing things last minute. It seems to just be the nature of the job.



Placement WKS 9, 10 & 11: The End

I’ve been an absolutely useless blogger these past 3 weeks. I can’t express how busy I’ve been, but now that this placement has finished I can finally give an update on how it ended. Hooray!

So, rather then go into too much detail and have this be extremely long, here are a few key moments from the end of my first placement…

  • I had my final meeting with my visiting tutor. She gave me an outstanding for that lesson and graded me good overall. I was completely thrilled.
  • I FINALLY finished evidencing…although I didn’t manage to tie all the loose ends. I have plenty for this placement, but I have definitely learnt that there will always be more I could/should be doing.
  • I taught a series of lessons on rapping. I’ll let you think about how that may have gone…
  • I worked until 11pm every night, and was in work before 8am every morning (and my to list was NEVER finished)
  • I taught my first PE lesson. This terrified me but I did it!
  • I dyed my hair, much to the excitement of the year 5’s “Can you dye it blue before the end of term Miss?!”
  • I had a ferocious cough that resulted in one sick day and one day of teaching through embarrassing coughing fits.
  • I sat in on parents evening and learnt that it really isn’t all that scary…if you’re prepared.
  • I started to feel like I finally understand the paperwork that I have been completing for this placement…so I’m now confident that placement 2 will be better and more organised.
  • I bought a baby giant african land snail. I’m going to grow him up into a fantastic pet for my future classroom.
  • I agreed with my mentor that I need to work on differentiation in my lessons, particularly for EAL children, and teaching Maths. My subject knowledge is strong (I didn’t believe it either, but apparently so) but I struggle with the pedagogy.
  • And finally… I said goodbye to 30 fantastic young people who I will truly miss. My class were (and still are) hilarious, extremely intelligent and so inquisitive. I feel very lucky to have taught all of them…I think I may be a KS2 teacher 🙂

I finished this placement with a really clear understanding of where I am and how I need to progress now, which is a fantastic feeling. I feel like I have progressed so quickly during these last 12 weeks that often my understanding of what I needed to do was more developed than my ability to put that into practice. This just makes me more excited for my next placement where I can get on top of everything quicker, and spend more time working on those standards that I’m lacking in. In general though I’m thrilled I came away with a solid “good” throughout my practice. I think that’s a great place to be in now, and I can work from that towards an outstanding in my second placement (hopefully)

This weekend I’m enjoying some romance with my other half (who hasn’t really seen me properly for weeks) and I’m getting back into the swing of uni work. I have about a week and a half to finish my first assignment. I had the best intentions of doing this early, but placement took over and now I am facing a week of living in the library.

So around 5 months into my PGCE, things are going well! So far so good. Now to pass this assignment, and apply for a job…


Placement WK7 & 8: The rise and the fall

Week 7

The week of celebrations

The week of celebrations

This week was a week of ultimate highs. I was observed by my headteacher and given ‘good’ at the end, I was offered a job (although I felt unable to accept anything at this early stage. I have no clue what I want from a school yet!) and I was given a very good/outstanding by my visiting tutor! This week could not have possibly gone better.

I was terrified before my observation because I was teaching a Maths lesson. Maths and I have had a difficult relationship (to say the least), but luckily all went well on the day. A large part of this success is due to the level of support I’m receiving from my mentor, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Placement two will be when I really find out if I know what I’m doing!

I know I was lucky to get the grade I did during my VT observation. It’s all a matter of opinion after all. I know this doesn’t in anyway guarantee success in my second observation so I can’t get complacent…I have to keep working!

I did however take an evening off to celebrate this success and catch up with friends. It was time well spent before being back on it (and spending a Saturday in the library…ugh)

Week 8

The feeling of placement coming to an end

The feeling of placement coming to an end

My success was short lived, and although week 8 wasn’t a bad week by any means (I’m consistently getting ‘good’ in my observations, and I’m on top of my evidencing, phew!) It is becoming harder and harder to maintain this pace as the weeks go on.

I absolutely love the class I’m working in, and the school have been very supportive, but it’s coming to a point now where I need placement to come to an end. Going back to uni and facing my assignment will feel like a holiday after this, and it’s one I desperately need…three weeks to go!

One fantastic thing I have taken from this week is the power of exploration and experience in learning. I knew this already in theory, but experiencing these wow moments with my class makes them all the more powerful. This week year 5 have been learning about scaling in maths and one of their IPC topics is space. The teacher had them convert the diameters of the planets from km to mm, on a scale of 1km = 1mm. We then made the planets out of paper so that we could see the solar system more accurately, and experience the size differences from a planet like jupiter in caparison to earth. It was engaging, hands on but more importantly it was as close to real life experience as those children may get. They were floored when we cut out one massive circle and compared it with the size of our tiny planet. This is definitely something I hope to do with my class in the future, and it just hits home about how important it is to make learning relevant to their every day life. Children can’t always get stuck in, but whenever possible its important.

Excitingly, this exercise brought up so many questions from the group, showing their engagement and curiosity. I like the idea of possibly having a wall of curiosity in my future classroom, where we can add those amazing, mind boggling questions we come up with, and then add an answer during the week, as we get time to look it up. Some of the questions I’ve had so far are:

“How long did it take to paint the Sistine Chapel?” “How much did it cost him in paint?”

“How do they know the diameter of a planet? How could they have measure it?”

“How do they get gravity inside a space ship?”

So many questions like this are just experiments and activities waiting to happen!

It’s hard to keep up the pace now, but I’m not giving up. I have a week and a half until my second and final VT observation. If I can just recreate the success of last week I’ll be ecstatic…We shall see!


Placement wk6: Getting Back to Business

I survived the first week back on placement. Thankfully, I remembered everyone names and even how to teach (if you can call it that at this stage). It was a big relief to get back, actually. It’s hard being out of routine, especially when deadlines are looming. However now that I’m organised and back on track I’m feeling much more positive.

This week I taught my first science lesson, amongst other things. We’re now learning about forces, and I have the task of teaching the whole of this topic…something I’m feeling a little daunted by. We started with an introduction this week, looking at push, pull and friction. the plan was to hold a tug of war in the hall and look at how forces played a part in our game. The idea of taking 30 year 5 children in the hall and conducting a tug of war game sounded like a recipe for disaster, however the more I looked into it, the more excited I got knowing how much they would enjoy it.

I started to feel like I’d turned a corner in my premature teaching career. This was the first lesson I have ever actually been excited to teach. Up until now, nerves have dominated. I knew they would be so excited to carry out this activity, and that took over.

The first forces lesson was last thing on a Friday, so I was expecting disengaged children, tiredness and poor behaviour but I was pleasantly surprised. The children were engaged but most importantly, they seemed to understand the concept and could explain forces in terms of the tug of war. My mentor gave me some fantastic feedback, with ideas on how I could improve the differentiation element of the lesson. I left work that day feeling a real sense of achievement.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed teaching outside of the classroom. I expected to find it difficult and stressful, but it was great. The children were so excited, and I felt like they were much more productive because of that engagement level. I now cannot wait to teach more forces, and I’ve already seen a few experiments online that I would love to bring into my lesson (ahem…chopsticks and jelly).

Feeling like an almost teacher put me in a fantastic mood for the weekend, which was just what I needed as myself and some friends had planned to spend the day in the university library…yes all day, on a Saturday. Our assignment deadline is early next month, and leaving it to the last minute is not an option!

Although it’s hard giving up all your free time to work (even if it’s something you love doing) it’s much easier then panicking when you feel over whelmed.

This week coming I have my first lesson observation with my visiting tutor, and what will be my first ever lesson grade. I’m excited and terrified, but knowing the worst I’ll get is a requires improvement is somewhat comforting. It isn’t the grade I hope I’ll get, but at this stage it will just be a platform for improvement…Nothing to panic about…*panics*

Wish me luck


New Year Worries and Reflections

Source: Pinterest

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful and restful end to 2015, however you’ve spent it. I know I have. I feel incredibly lucky to have spent my time off seeing so many of my favourite people, and catching up on much needed chill out time.

No matter how rested you feel though, it’s always difficult to get back into a routine, and face those jobs you’ve let slide over christmas. I know I’ve started to feel very intimidated about what I’m going back to in January…how did I manage it all last term!? I know I’m not the only one who feels this way though, and that’s comforting. Us PGCE-ers have to stick together!

I have a suspicion that January and February will be the worst and most difficult time during this PGCE…if not totally, then at least so far. Today I bit the bullet and started to get organised again. I already feel so much better. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for this month. If I can just work extremely hard throughout January, I’ll be able to enjoy some of my labouring in February when I finish my first placement (scary) and hand in my first assignment (terrifying). Terror aside, it has been achieved before, so there is no reason why I can’t also get through this!

2016 won’t be easy, but it has the potential to be a year of great achievements and successes. I can’t wait to be a teacher, and my apprehension comes only from not feeling like I’ll be able to do it. I appreciate the responsibility that comes with this career…and hope I can one day live up to that…fingers crossed.

Anyway, I’m now working my way through a packet of biscuits while getting my to do list in order. I hope you all have a fantastic start to your year, and remember however big the task at hand seems, it can be done, and you will do it! Just keep moving in the right direction 🙂


Placement Wk 5: Christmas Countdown

As this term draws to a close I’ve been reflecting on two very important lessons I’ve learnt about teaching:

  1. My to do list will never ever be completed. There will always be more I think I should or could have squeezed in. Because of this, it’s important I stay focussed on what I have achieved, and not worry too much about what else needs to be done…It’ll happen!
  2. I may never truly feel like I know what I’m doing, but that’s ok. If I’m waiting for that magical moment when I feel like a teacher who has their stuff together I will be disappointed. Despite this I am aware I am now much more qualified then I was as a TA. I’m using things I’ve been taught during lectures on a daily basis, and sometimes I actually feel like I know what I’m doing and why…another thing to be proud of 🙂

I couldn’t be more excited for two weeks off. This week has been so much fun but incredibly long. Don’t ever underestimate how long a day can feel if the children are just playing with toys and watching films!

This week I tackled the challenge of teaching all morning… right up until lunch time! For me this was a very daunting prospect, having never taught for more then an hour before. I was also aware that the children would be in full christmas hyper mode (a technical term), so behaviour may be slightly more challenging. I wanted to give the children the benefit of the doubt with this (it is christmas after all, who wouldn’t be hyper?) so I wanted to set them up for behaviour success, rather then coming down hard on those that got a little carried away. I did this by trying to be very organised and have everything ready for them with few moments with nothing for them to be doing…and I think I achieved this! Behaviour was great. Noise levels crept up a few times, but if that’s the worst this week has thrown at me then that’s a success in my book.

That lesson we had been learning about persuasive writing. We were going to be decorating christmas biscuits before break time, and then using them as our inspiration for persuasive writing after break, imagining we were trying to market our amazing christmas biscuits. We did this by making advertisements on the laptops, and as an advertising graduate I couldn’t have been more proud of my amazing little class! They all had so many creative ideas, and really ran with the brief. By only criticism is that we could have improved the adverts by planning them first…had this not been a christmas lesson, and instead been a sequence.

DSC_0186 DSC_0184 Our christmas biscuits

I also never imaged how much health and safety was involved with decorating biscuits! We had to check with parents that children were able to eat them in school, we needed a version suitable for non meat eaters (there is gelatine in the marshmallows) and we had some children with supposed chocolate allergies that needed to be double checked. Once this had all been done they had a brilliant lesson and ended up with some very interesting biscuit characters.

I am now thrilled to have two weeks off where I can catch up on sleep, see friends and eat my body weight in christmas food! I’m proud I’ve made it this far, but I hope after a few weeks of relaxing I’ll be able to hit the new year hard and focus on improving my practice even more.

Whatever you’re doing for the next 2 weeks I have you have an amazing time. Also my apologies for a very rambly, incoherent post. Sleep is needed.


Placement Wk 4: Maths Madness

After a successful week of teaching literacy, I went into this week feeling positive. I was apprehensive about teaching maths but I had a secure grasp of the concepts myself and had done well so far.

The night before I finalised my plan and did some more research, to ensure I could stretch my highers with my own knowledge on the subject; prime numbers…This is where the issues began. I was working from my mentors planning, so already had activities for the class. I wanted to make sure I thoroughly understood what they needed to do, but soon found I was struggling to get my head around their task. This threw me completely… After a long evening of panic (and a few desperate calls to a friend) I finally managed to understand what they needed to do, and was able to explain it (or so I thought).

The following morning I decided to voice my worries with my mentor, who was very helpful. She gave me some tips on how she would approach the lesson and I instantly felt better…I could definitely do this, right?

The lesson approached, and it is safe to say I did not crash and burn…but the class did not leave with a dazzling knowledge of prime numbers either. Despite my preparation, and my own confidence in the subject, explaining it to someone else was a different challenge. How do you explain prime numbers adequately, without just saying “prime numbers are numbers that can only be divided by 1 and themselves”? …which I think is about the gist of what I said during that hour.

There were lots of positives to take away from the lesson, but it was certainly my worst so far. This, without a doubt, knocked my confidence and left me feeling terrified to go home and finish planning my lesson on square numbers for the following morning. My mentor had given me excellent feedback, and I knew where I had gone wrong. However what left me feeling worried was that a lot of this came down to me still needing to develop my own understanding of maths. That conceptual understanding I was lacking, made it difficult for me to fully explain something in depth to the class, or know how to allow them to investigate the concept themselves.

Fast forward to square numbers the next day. I took everything on board and thankfully, this lesson was an improvement. It was by no means an outstanding lesson, but I adapted my planning and delivery using my mentors feedback and it showed.

Despite me secretly wanting to be outstanding from the get go (who doesn’t want that?!) This was more of a success then just getting it right first time. By struggling with my lesson I was able to understand something about myself. I know what I was lacking in those lessons, and I can continue to work on that. I still hope to one day be an excellent maths teacher, but I’ve got a long way to go. However, I am so proud of what I’ve already achieved, and as long as I’m improving from lesson to lesson then I’m happy.

This week Christmas chaos is in full swing and I am certainly ready for a break! I have been fighting off a cold and now have a horrible tickly cough that leaves me with embarrassing episodes of coughing fits (perfect when you’re standing up in front of 30 year 5s). I am really hoping this week goes by quickly. I am in desperate need of a break and time to catch up on uni assignments, although I think most of my Christmas will be spend reading up on teaching maths.

At the end of last week we went back to uni for a lecture on applying for jobs. This morning I really cannot quite comprehend someone wanting to employ me, but hopefully a break over Christmas will leave me feeling a little more employable come January. If nothing else, it will leave me feeling human again!

A mathematically challenged Miss