PGCE Eve

Tomorrow is the big day, and although I don’t have anything interesting to report, I thought it was right to check in…

So today I spent the morning baking for my fiancés birthday. Around lunchtime I binned my failed baking attempt, and then this afternoon has been spent preparing for uni tomorrow. It’s funny the pointless things we do to make ourselves feel prepared, like painting our nails, changing the bed sheets and just having a good clean up in general. I might even put on a face mask later, like that’s going to help at all! Overall though I am feeling ready. Prepared might be too strong a word, as I am apprehensive about how difficult I’ll find the course, but I’m optimistic and certainly ready to get started.

So the plan for tomorrow is a 9am start. I’m going to get up hideously early to make sure traffic and parking isn’t a problem. We’ll be beginning with an introduction, and then I think we have a few lectures in the afternoon for one of our modules. Tuesday is the day we actually enrol, and then I’d imagine it’ll be real work from then on in!

I haven’t got much of a blogging schedule in mind for the future, and I definitely don’t want to promise more then I can deliver. However I would ideally like to record as much of my experience as possible, so I’ll certainly update tomorrow and we’ll take it from there!

Oh and one other thing, if you’ve started your PGCE then well done! I hope it’s going well for you so far. Thank you to anyone who has written a post on their first few days. I’ve been reading lots of your posts and they’ve made me so excited to start and have also given me a good idea of what to expect. I am very grateful for this as it has meant today has been mostly worry and stress free (however never underestimate the stress of a failed bake!)

Wish me luck!

Katie

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The countdown – 10 days to go

The countdown begins. Time seems to go so slowly when you’re waiting for something to happen, some life changing event, and then all of sudden it creeps up on you. It takes you by surprise and you feel unprepared, despite all the preparing you’ve been doing over the last 8 months.

I’ve been flicking between excitement and nervousness and I now think starting the course will come as somewhat of a relief. Reading other peoples experiences are a comfort, but they don’t quite give you the full picture. My university will probably do things differently to others, the workload may differ and the people on my course are yet to be met. Some people make out that I should expect to give up all recreational activities this year: seeing friends, watching tv and sleeping to name a few. Part of me understands and anticipates this, but the other part of me almost sees this as a challenge. I’m sure this naivety will seem hilarious when I look back on this post.

My main anxiety is currently about parking. Of all the issues I will encounter this year I have no idea why parking is my number one concern. If all I have to worry about is parking then I’l be laughing, surely! However getting used to the universities’ systems and layout is stressful as I cannot bare to be late. Also I’m sure the lecturers would not put up with lateness. Once I’ve settled into my new ‘morning routine’ I’ll feel a lot more at ease…I think.

Due to the warnings I have heeded from many others, I am trying to make a plan to become as prepared as possible. My plan is to finish my prep work this weekend, and then spend next week doing the following jobs:

  • De-clutter and re-organise wardrobe (or should I say floordrobe)
  • Soak up as much friend time as I can (before they forget what I look like)
  • Go on a teacher clothes shopping trip. I think smart black trousers are probably a must.
  • Start reading my textbooks and recommended reading. I’m hoping getting ahead with this will help throughout the year.
  • Finish tidying and organising my room (it is the bane of my life. Me + Fiancé in one room at my parents house = constant mess and bedsit hell)

Hopefully this time next week I’ll write an update saying that I have achieved all of the above and am now feeling blissfully relaxed and prepared. I can hope can’t I?

If you’re starting a PGCE this month let me know what your doing to prepare yourself, or any tips you’ve got for ending the first day nerves. Good luck everyone! I’m sure we can do it 🙂

Katie

Settling in a new class – Day 1 of term

Hello stranger!

I won’t apologise for the lack of posts, because quite frankly my life has been uneventful and peaceful with nothing to report. Some times no news is good news, and summer holidays definitely conform to that rule! I have just over one week left before I start my PGCE. ONE WEEK PEOPLE! This has started to terrify me slightly. I’ve been laminating things, buying textbooks and de-cluttering to try and feel as prepared as possible (basically bumbling around, feeling productive but achieving nothing). This has not lessened the stress. The horror stories have started to get to me, and planning an engagement party, looking at flats to buy and thinking about wedding colour schemes isn’t generally the best use of my time during the most hectic year of my life…but hey, I like a challenge.

Anyway, I have done something amazing today. I have conquered what has so far been my biggest teaching fear. I cannot express how much I love teaching, but all along I have had this niggling terror in the back of my mind that one day (hopefully exactly a year from now) I will be left with 30 children I do not know, and all the parents will smile as they wave goodbye and shut the door on me. Leaving me with no where to hide and 30 little faces staring at me. We will have no routine, I will know few names, and I will have to figure out what to do. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the first day dismay. The rest of the school year I think I can grow to manage, even thrive within, but this first day baffles and concerns me. Whats more, I realised a few months ago that most trainees never experience ‘first days’, other then those post-PGCE. By then it would be too late. I did not want to figure out how to settle in a new class on the job. I needed to learn. I needed to feel prepared.

My Plan

To make sure this fear was abolished as quickly as possible, I decided to volunteer at my old place of work for the first few days of term. What a stroke of genius this was! I am no longer a TA there, but who is going to turn down a volunteer? Today was that day, and it felt amazing. The fear has been lifted and I can assure you that it all seems much simpler then I was envisioning in my head.

I shadowed a teacher today who has a few years teaching experience under his belt, and watched as his new year 3’s became settled into their classroom. It was very exciting as I TA’ed this class back during last term when they were just teeny year 2s. So I thought I would document what I have learnt, so that when I have to deal with a brand new class I can reflect on what I’ve witnessed, and hopefully survive the first day!

He said he was going to take a friendly approach to day one, as some of them might be nervous. I had heard lots of jokes about not smiling until christmas, but I was glad this doesn’t seem to ring true. He welcomed his class at the door and directed them to find their peg (all are named) and then take a seat on the carpet. Standard and seamless. Many delighted in seeing the animal picture they had against their name on their peg label and discussing it with forgotten friends they hadn’t seen for weeks. I did a little bit of encouraging to break up the cloakroom crowd after a few minutes and keep the morning moving. In general I was pleasantly surprised to see that behaviour was better then usual, I guess because children were daunted by a new teacher, and wanted to impress.

Once on the carpet the teacher went straight into the register and reading dinner options while a few stragglers joined the classroom. After he explained how we pray in year 3 (this is a faith school so I won’t detail the process, as all schools differ on this)

Once this was out of the way all of the children were asked to find a carpet space next to someone they hadn’t sat next to already. The teacher then handed out a small slip of paper with a numbered question on. There were 30 unique questions, one for every pupil. We listened as the first question was read out. As a class we would then answer it before moving on to the next one. The questions were all typical ones you may ask about class procedure “When can I go to the toilet?” “What happens if my behaviour is very good” and “What should I do if I’m worried?” This got all of the children talking and contributing early on, and I think it was a more enjoyable way of giving them lots of boring information. We’ll see if they retain any of it tomorrow.

Next the teacher took a whiteboard and wrote three facts about himself. “One of these is not true” he told the class. They of course guessed which one, learning a little about their new teacher in the process. The class then collected a whiteboard and went off to a table to write they’re own facts. Each pupil could then test a friend or a teacher to see if we guessed correctly which fact they had lied about.

-Assembly and break time –

Now we were back from break the teacher introduced the next activity, writing about your summer holidays. He told me that he wanted to see where they all were in terms of writing ability and handwriting, so this was an excellent way for him to get an idea of the standard. The teacher modelled a piece of writing for the children, before sending them off to begin their own. This then took us neatly up until lunch time, which was when I departed. I had already planned to just stay a half day, as all of the settling in had occurred in the morning. I would resume this learning experience tomorrow and witness day 2.

My Findings

All in all this was not scary at all. I had a fantastic morning and it felt amazing to be back in the classroom after a summer off. Almost like coming home.

From what I have seen today I have learnt not to expect too much from day 1 of the school year. There’s is bound to be an assembly, and there is so much information to get across to your pupils that it will most likely just be a day to know get to know each other. However, as always structure is key. A few small activities will break up the day, and it is always best to not keep the children sitting on the carpet for too long – don’t set them up for a behaviour failure!

Having a well organised classroom is a must. The cloakroom was simple to navigate and everything looked inviting and immaculate. This meant that the children pretty much knew what they needed to be doing when they first got into the classroom. It is obvious you need to put your bag on the peg with your name on it, if all the pegs are labelled clearly. If your writing/colouring/pencil sharpening equipment is displayed neatly on each table, no one will need to ask where to find things. Because of this it quickly felt like the children were right at home in their new classroom. This definitely seems self-explanatory when reading it over to myself, but I think sometimes we take for granted the point of classroom organisation because we’re so used to all classrooms being organised in a similar way (at least I do).

It’s important to get all of the necessary information across to the children, but this is long and potentially boring. Doing this in a fun and interactive way is a must for me. This seemed to be very effective, and will be top of my list when planning my future first day. Also, make sure you’re telling the children the right information at the right time. Don’t overload them with things they don’t need to know just yet, like where their exercise books are kept. Are they using them yet? No? Well tell them when the time comes.

Finally I’ve learnt that doing your research is important. Not just into the character of your new pupils, but also into the history of their teachers. Have they had a disruptive previous year? If so their behaviour may be more disruptive as a result. You aren’t going to work miracles on the first days or even weeks of term, but if you are expecting a difficult class then at least your prepared and can plan accordingly to tackle behaviour. This particular class was expected to behave beautifully and they did not disappoint. However another teacher was welcoming a much more challenging class today. She was prepared though and has spoken to many members of staff to get a feel for what areas she should expect to work on.

I hope that was useful to someone. It certainly has been for me! The new term terror has well and truly gone. It will always be incredibly daunting, but I’m glad I’ve had this experience to look back on when the time comes. Now I can enjoy my last few days before my PGCE, finishing the last few pieces of prep work and sleeping. Sleeping I hear is something to be savoured before embarking on a teacher training year!

If you’ve gone back to work this week how did it go? And what are your tips for tackling a new class?

Katie

 

PVA Overload

Morning,

So firstly I apologise for the lack of teaching/PGCE related posts recently. Of course, it is summer, and therefor it’s difficult to write such posts as I’m no longer working in a school. The only thing I could write is how excited and nervous I am…but that would get old very quickly. I have been working in summer club for the last 2 weeks, but I decided to save you the details as it was just me and 4 other members of staff, entertaining children in the school hall, for 9 hours a day. There really was nothing to report, other then that I really miss the classroom!

It was fun though, and definitely a fantastic opportunity to earn some much needed money. It was also a chance to get a bit crafty, and wipe the cobwebs off my paints. As you may know, if you can so much as draw a cartoon cat you will be known as the arty one in a primary school, and assigned arty jobs. This is something that I relish, and summer club was no exception. The club leader is a senior member of staff at the school and had a few pieces in mind for RE displays. The staff seemed happy with them and the kids loved getting involved in these large scale, quite intricate artworks, so I thought I’d share them with you!

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The first was a ‘stained glass window'(primary school style) of St Joseph and Jesus…so of course it was made of tissue and sugar paper. This was definitely the trickiest of the two, as I soon discovered it was very delicate work and the children struggled to get involved as much as we had hoped. I ended up with only a few helpers who were upper KS2 and had very steady hands. I thought cutting it out with a blunt stanley knife would be the tricky part, but when gluing in the tissue paper we found it VERY easily stuck to the table and tore. Cue hours of me and one child constantly lifting the piece gingerly to wipe the table clean from any glue residue. None the less it was great fun to do, and it turned out better then I expected. The children seemed to enjoy seeing the piece evolve from a sketch, to a big spiderweb, and finally to the above.

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The second piece was a large portrait of the Holy family. This was a breeze compared to the window and so much more fun for the younger children to help with. I sketched the piece and added the halos first using gold paper. Then myself and two helpers created the gold mosaic background. It was then agreed that I would paint the faces myself to ensure the piece was recognisable, and also to make it fair (we can’t have 30 children painting the faces) Once this was out of the way we let the children go wild with collage materials to create the bodies. Colour is important in many religions, and to bring each figures iconic outfit to life we encouraged the children to use a variety of textures and materials in each colour (i.e. blue for Mary). Then finally we added some ‘gems’ to catch the light. This piece was definitely my favourite. Seeing the children make their mark on the piece was fantastic, and the outfits definitely look very eye catching. Great job summer club!

Once I start my course I am very excited to write more teaching orientated posts, but until then I hope you’re enjoying these. Let me know what you think of our artworks, and if you’ve ever tackled a large art piece with your students I would certainly love to see it!

Have a lovely day

Katie aka the arty one

 

Baking Bread and Uni Work

Hello guys,

I hope you’re all enjoying a lovely Sunday. I’ve spent today being surprisingly productive, and I’m actually feeling quite pleased with myself. I did however indulge in my guiltiest pleasure…baking! I find baking so relaxing and enjoyable, and recently purchased a new baking book. So armed with my scales and my hand mixer, I spend today whipping up some banana bread and a wholemeal loaf.

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I’ve never made bread before, and I’m not ashamed to say how proud I am of this mighty loaf!

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I would definitely recommend this book if you or someone you know is looking to learn to make bread. Lovely design, easy to follow instructions and more recipes then a beginner will ever need!

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Banana bread using The Hummingbird Bakery’s recipe.

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So aside from making and photographing baked goods, I have been making some progress with my university prep work. One thing I have learnt about myself is that I am very unknowledgeable when it comes to grammar terms. Subordinate clauses, prepositions, fronted adverbials, and determiners are making my head spin! It’s often difficult to admit that you’re not very good at something, especially something you thought you were generally ok at! So I’m trying to embrace this discovery as a huge positive, as I can now improve my grammar knowledge. Improving this will definitely be my target for next week or so. Watch this space! If you happen to be reading this, and can recommend a website or textbook that would be useful for improving my grammar terminology, please let me know!

For the rest of the afternoon I’m going to watch The Lorax, and yes it does count as PGCE prep work 🙂 ! Part of our recommended reading was to read a children’s text and watch a recent film adaptation of it. It has taken me a while to find a book/film that felt right for me, but I’m happy with my choice and interested to watch the film and compare it to the book. The book has a wonderful message that I can see being translated into lessons easily so I’m hoping the film is just as inspiring.

Lorax

So that’s this Miss over and out for today! Next week is the last week of term and my final ever (hopefully) week as a teaching assistant. It’s a scary but exciting prospect, and this calming Sunday will hopefully prepare me for the emotional ups and downs that I have to come throughout the week. I feel so lucky to have worked at my school, and beyond excited for the year ahead, but I am sad to leave not only the team, but every little person I have had the pleasure of working with!

What do you do to make your day relaxing?

Katie

 

Knowledge and Understanding | Education News

One of my biggest weaknesses currently, is my lack of knowledge about what is going on in education. What changes are happening? How do they affect us, and what should I be aware of? I’m well aware that there are amazing websites like tes.co.uk that are constantly being updated with education news, so why do I feel so uninformed? Especially when all of this information is at my fingertips. Well, I think it’s all a bit daunting for me, if I am perfectly honest. In my previous career in Advertising I was confident in my knowledge, and found it easy to breeze through articles every morning, keeping me up to date with key news. I was used to it being easy. I’m new to teaching so of course this will be difficult at first, and as much as I try to learn quickly there are lots of politicians, people, and key words that I just haven’t heard of…but this won’t stop be from being an informed PGCE student!

With that in mind, I want to try and create a new segment on my blog where I share my thoughts on any education news I have read that has interested me (wow that sounds boring! It won’t be I promise) This may not be your cup of tea, and I’m sure my opinions will be poorly constructed at first, but this will really help me progress. I’m excited and hopeful that one day I will feel confident in my understanding of the Education system in the UK, but I have to start somewhere! I hope you will support these posts and even share your thoughts on the subject in the comments 🙂


So I have been having a read of this article, all about online safety in primary and secondary schools. Recently Ofsted reports reveal that schools may not be providing adequate online safety lessons, with a quarter of secondary pupils being unable to recall whether or not they have been taught about online safety at all.

This is a topic I feel very strongly about. Most of us are fully aware of the long list of dangers online, including bullying, abuse, and even grooming from predators. This is certainly something that needs to be taken seriously in schools. From my own experience in different primary schools, I agree that although training has been provided to staff, I am not confident that the pupils would demonstrate a solid knowledge and understanding of the dangers, if questioned. In fact, some have let slip that they have Instagram accounts, and on one occasion I remember trying in vain to explain the dangers of apps like snapchat to a child. Because children are innocent minded, they are not able to preempt dangers that may be obvious to an adult.

I believe that something as important as internet safety should be introduced into the classroom on multiple occasions. It should be made a part of everyday life (as much as possible) to open up conversation. As, of course, social media has now become part of our everyday life. It’s here to stay, and we as educators need to adapt our practice to meet the needs of this generation.

The article mentioned internet safety often only being taught during ICT lessons, which does make sense. However I do not think this is often enough, and should instead be discussed in depth during different lessons. Internet safety could be taught in sections to break down different dangers, and scenarios pupils might encounter. This would be especially appropriate for older children. I also think that getting children as involved as possible with the schools safety policy would help them retain what they had been taught. They could, for example make posters or leaflets on internet safety to help other pupils/children. I also think (as with most things) teaching would be more effective if linked to a book (Jacqueline Wilson “The Worry Website” possibly, or for a clearer link between the text and the book “Clicking and Snipping with Chicken and Kittie” by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross ). This would open up the opportunities for making the teaching of online safety part of a literacy lesson, not just ICT! 

I also thought this blog post featuring key objects to represent different parts of internet safety was interesting and inventive. Give it a read here if you’re curious.

I do understand that this is easier said then done, but I think the benefits of incorporating internet safety lessons into other parts of the curriculum would be great. There is a serious danger online for young people today, and therefor teaching them how to deal with this danger, should be a priority. Being creative with lessons would mean that this teaching can be incorporated into other subjects, and therefor immersed into the daily routine more easily.


If you got this far, thank you for reading my ramblings. And as I said previously I am an education novice, so I’m sure the depth of my understanding and opinions leaves a lot to be desired…but it’s a start and we must all start somewhere 🙂

I hope you are all having a good week.

Digital Miss

 

 

Survival

Hello again,

So stay and play week is officially over. We did it! If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, check out my previous post (however it’s essentially parents evening, nursery style) It was a hectic and stressful week, but much was achieved.

On a daily basis we had a group of parents coming in for either the first or second half of the morning. Each parent would spend time with their child, and have a one on one with the teacher discussing reports. They would also fill out a form with their stay and play experience for the learning journals, and have a photo taken with their child.

The mornings absolutely flew by with so many people in one room, and us still trying to carry on with our usual activities and lessons. Amongst all of the chaos we stayed organised and even managed to squeeze in a trip outside to the field where we released butterflies with the pre school.

Meeting so many parents was a great experience but a crazily stressful one too! There seems to be this huge pressure when a parent is in the room, and I found myself being extremely aware of everything I was saying and doing. The silly thing is, we had nothing to hide, and didn’t do anything differently.

However one morning I did have a particulary awkward encounter with a dad who seemed very puzzled as I introduced myself as Katie, or Miss H. His face was a picture as he proceeded to ask me if the child next to me was mine. He looked even more confused when I explained I was actually a teaching assistant. I guess looking young is a good thing, but I hope he didn’t wonder who the young girl was that school was leaving his children with…I am nearly 24!

I’m now asking myself how parents can be so intimidating, and how I will one day cope with parents evening (a terrifying prospect). However, nothing has given me such a feeling of pride then chatting with one lovely mum about her son, and singing his praises. I was able to reassure her about how well he deals with nursery, and how many friends he has. He is also fantastic at telling us when he has any worries, making it easy for us to reassure him and put them in the past. It made it obvious at that point that most parents aren’t there to find fault with teachers, they have their own worries and stresses when it comes to their children. Being able to give them insight and put their mind at ease about their child’s progress is amazing.

So after a successful and hectic week, we now have only 2 weeks left of term before summer club, holidays and hopefully relaxation. I can’t believe how this term has flown by.

With such sunny weather I’ve been trying to spend as much time as I can reading and soaking up the vitamin D (any excuse to sunbathe) I’ve been making good progress with my recommended reading list, and have been obsessed with Harry Potter. I read some of the books as a child, but never really got the hype. I thought it would be a good series to revisit and have to say…I’m hooked! I guess I didn’t fully appreciate them when I was in primary school. Can we also take a minute to appreciate the stunning new cover designs…

Next week will be a new challenge again as we attempt to take the nursery class out on a school trip! Wish me luck…

I hope you’ve had a successful week too, and have found time to enjoy the summer 🙂 If you’re an educator, please let me know your thoughts on dealing with parents. It’s definitely a new found concern of mind, and I love reading your comments and advice.

Katie