Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The bad feeling when you find lots more work to do ...

After a week long break from anything to do with my PGCE I have been struck down by the discovery of a whole host of reading I did not realise I had to do.
I actually missed doing work so I thought I would make a quick head start on some of the work next term but little did I realise how hard this would be.
I decided that I wanted to use the break to look at the future assignments I have, both of which count towards masters credits, only this has now scared me.
The first assignment has a 10 page pack just to explain what to do and has about 70 pages of quick reading to do before getting started. I then need to research theories in a lot more detail and link this to my school experience.
Now is a good time to point out that theories are something I really struggle with as I am a practical learner and so find it hard to understand theories from the likes of Piaget and Bruner.
Still it looks like my Christmas will now be dominated by those names as I make a start on understanding what they have to say. My theory being it will be a lot easier to do this now than during my teaching practice next term.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Blogs are back up and running :)

After a week of internet troubles I have finally got everything fixed and can blog again! And what's even better is that it is now the Christmas holidays on my course so I am getting the reward of all the hard work during the term.
It has no doubt been the hardest couple of months I have ever had but I feel like I have come out of it a much improved teacher and so all the long days seem to have paid off.
The big news from the past week is that I have officially passed TP1 and assignment three! I had my review day yesterday and didn't get any cause for concerns which is a massive worry off my back. I didn't think I was failing but with 33 QTS skills I wasn't sure if I would be on task on every single one of them. I also had a positive evaluation with lots of constructive ways for me to improve, which I will be taking forward into my next placement in January.
But as for now, it is a hard-earnt three weeks break for me with just light reading to complete before I return to school in the first week of next year.
Well done to everyone on a PGCE who has got this far and I would just like to wish good luck to all those who have reviews and hand-ins this week.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The home stretch

It really does feel like the home stretch now - I have nearly made it through term 1!
It has been a hard slog but all the tough work is now over and it is putting everything together, ready for my review day on Monday.
I only have one more observed lesson to get through (which is already planned) and two days of observing Year 1 and I can completely relax and enjoy Christmas.
The really nice thing is that the workload is almost non-existant over the holidays, which is a huge reward for what has been put in this term.
It will mean I can use the time firstly to relax but also to look up educational books which I believe will actually help me, rather than being told which course books to read. Now all I have to do is get on Amazon and order some for holiday reading.
The main book I am after is one of PE as that will be my specialist subject and I want to read up a lot more on it. If anybody has any suggestions that would be great!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Catching up with the work

After weeks of hanging on in there I feel like I am slowly beginning to make headway in the stacks of work we have to do.
I have just handing in a draft of my assignment three and completed an observed lesson - two massive worries I have had all week.
Now all I have to do is get through another observation tomorrow and it is relatively plain sailing.
I still need to catch up on weeks of reading but compared to the last few weeks that should be a walk in the park

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Strike day as a student

For those of you who don't know, PGCE students have no say in whether to strike or not as we are not employed members of staff and so for us it is a normal working day.
Well I say normal, my reading day has had to be switched to today so I don't miss out on a day at school so for me it means the hard work continues.
Today I need to start and finish a 2,500 word assignment and plan two observed lessons (one tomorrow and one Friday). I began work at 9am and am already 1,500 words in so it has been a good start but there is still a hell of a lot more to do.
On the controversial matter of strikes, I have the upmost respect for all of those fighting for the future of the profession and to save the pensions of all teaching. I do not necessarily think striking is the best way to go about it but I think in this situation I can see the logic of joining all the other public sector workers.
In a perfect world I think the boycott should be against things like the added paperwork given by the government, something which takes up as many hours as a days teaching but has less impact on the children.
But in this situation it is power by numbers and so I can see the logic on joining in with one day of mass walkouts.
I just hope the stigma of the profession is not dented and people begin to understand what is at stake for everybody in teaching.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A good start to Year 1

Today was my first day in Year 1 and overall I would say it was a good start.
I still need a lot more practice until I will be as confident with this age as I am with my Year 4s but I can see myself teaching this level - an improvement from a couple of months ago.
The biggest problem I found was keeping their attention, even the class teacher found it hard to get everyone looking at her and she has had years of experience. It just seems at that age it is a near impossible job.
However, spending the day with them and seeing how the lessons are run has given me more confidence about my much feared six week placement next term and that can only be a good thing.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Nerves about moving to Year 1

My teaching practice is now officially over so tomorrow I start my time in the alternate Key Stage and I am slightly scared.
It is a big jump and the children seem so young. I am sure I will get used to it and in the end enjoy it but at the moment I am nervous about the transition.
Luckily I will only be observing this week so get a chance to practice adapting how I interact with the children and hopefully by Friday I will be much happier in this age group

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Why is it so hard to work on a Sunday?

Am I the only person who struggles so much to get motivated to work on a Sunday? It seems every week I put it aside to get a start on the huge pile of work I have but always struggle to get myself motivated.
I have been infront of my computer most of the day and have done a fair bit of work but I am sure I could have done a lot more if I settled down better. Instead I seem to be taking it at a leisurely pace, doing about enough but not as much as I had hoped.
For instance, today I have planned two lessons (one observed) and a science experiment for my assignment but I had planned to complete lesson evaluations and started my teaching practice folder as well.
I guess it all means the evenings will be hard again this week :(

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The workload is just getting stupid now

I would love to challenge the people who come up with the plan for a PGCE to practice what they preach and complete a whole year of being a trainee on their course.
It has been getting silly for some time but the next two weeks just seem to have tipped over the edge to stupid.
It is not the hard work I am complaining about but the logical thought in how it is set up.
There is 11 school days before, as a course, we break up for our reading week, followed by Christmas. Two of these are reading days and one is my final TP day and one is a review day leaving seven days. In these seven days I need to spend five in the alternate Key Stage, leaving two in my home class, which again seems fine. That is until they decided to cram three more observed lessons into these two days (which are split throughout the two weeks). So what that means is I will be going into the class, effectively clueless about how each lesson fits into what they have been doing and it will be so hard to follow their learning on lesson by lesson.
So I ask why the need for these three more observed lessons, they are hardly going to improve the teaching when they are scattered about so badly.
Also add on top of this an assignment that is 'conveniently' due in before our reading week and the timetable simply looks bizarre.
If a lecturer is reading this, please give me a reason to put me out of my misery as to why it is a good idea to structure it like this.
Because to me the logical thing would be to extend TP1 or include more observed lessons during TP1, have a full week, or two weeks in Key Stage 1 and have the assignment hand in AFTER the reading week!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Drowning in work

This week the work has just hit me and I have ended up spending nearly every waking hour planning, evaluating and making resources.
It is only Tuesday and I am absolutely exhausted so for that reason this blog will be really short and to the point.
My observed lesson on Monday went really well and will blog about this at a later point when I have more time.
I am loving being in charge of the class and feel the children are seeing me as a joint teacher rather than a teacher who steps in occasionally to take a lesson.
The pages and pages of plans are getting disheartening but I am battling through them.
And finally evaluation forms seem to be flooding out of my ears, I have done seven already this week and still have a couple more to do but I realise they are important on improving as a teacher so am putting the work into making sure I think about where the lessons have gone well and bad.
Now just roll on the weekend!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Half way through TP1

Half of TP1 is now over and so far it has been a massively worthwhile experience.
In the four days of teaching I have felt myself grow and develop as a teacher and have thoroughly enjoyed being the one in charge.
I have had the chance to lead whole mornings without my mentor in the room, giving me the freedom to express myself more and be that more dominant figure in the classroom. I often find I feel second rank when the class teacher is in as it is always her in ultimate charge but when I was left to my own devices it forced me to come out of my shell.
This will be tested even more next week as I take control for two full days (one of which my mentor isn't in school at all for).
But despite the positive first week, I know the hard bit is still to come. Due to having an INSET day and a lack of cover I haven't had any formally observed lessons, meaning I have three next week! These are how my TP1 will be marked so it's fair to say I am feeling slightly nervous at this point.
To help I have once again designated this as a working weekend and have already done most of the planning I can at this point, leaving me tomorrow to spend good time planning for Monday's observed lesson.
It is learning the six times table so tonight's job is to make a counting stick - a task which can easily fit in with Saturday night TV.
For those wondering about the workload there is a hell of a lot but I am still yet to work late into the night. My days have generally consisted of leaving for school at 7.30am, getting home about 6-6.30pm and then working through until around 9pm - apart from Friday, that was a well deserved night off!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The joys of PPA

I sit here tonight happily blogging away knowing that I have planned all of tomorrows lesson and marked all my books, all before 8.30pm and it is all thanks to PPA.
As part of my teaching practice I am entitled three half days of PPA, one of which I had today and managed to get so much done.
All the marking was completed, I evaluated my two lessons of the day and planned one for tomorrow.
It meant that after a long staff meeting, all I had to do was plan a single lesson for tomorrow and then put my feet up.
It is a treasured rest and I am enjoying every minute of it as I sit here in the comfort of my own bed.

The start of teaching practice

As you can probably tell from this post being written at 7am, time is a very valuable thing during teaching practice and there isn't much of it that goes spare.
However after day 1 I have been able to fit all of the necessary work into the waking day and have not had to stay up late at night to plan which is a definite bonus.
It means I am still waking up refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
As for the lessons, it was a mixed bag again - which is fast becoming the story of my PGCE.
Maths was pitched too high for them and they really struggled to understand the concept, meaning my timing went out of the window and the lesson didn't go particularly well. This thought was followed up by my mentor explaining it was probably a good job that wasn't an observed lesson.
But then literacy in the ICT room went better, not perfect, but better. Children stayed on task and apart from a couple of exceptions all managed to get the work completed on time.
Today is a little easier, I only have guided reading and a topic lesson (again in the ICT room) but my aim of the teaching practice is to improve each day so it means I will be putting just as much effort into the shorter space of time.
Also very much looking forward to my PPA time to get a head start on tomorrow's planning!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Preparing for teaching practice

With my teaching practice (TP) coming up this week I was worried that I would have so much to do this weekend that I just wouldn't fit it in but so far I am pleased to say that is not the case.
In fact I was so conscious of starting TP that I cancelled all my plans for the weekend just to concentrate on planning.
But what I have found is that I have had a fairly relaxing day, taking my work at a slow enjoyable pace and already feel ready for it to begin.
I have basically planned three of the five lessons I can do at this stage, come up with my reward strategy and created the resources to implement them. It means I just have two more lessons to plan tomorrow and it has dramatically reduced my fears of being overworked during the next two weeks.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Finalised rewards strategy

Firstly, thank you to everybody who contributed to my rewards strategy and all the advice that was given. I have taken it all in, had my idea approved by my mentor and here is the outcome:

I have kept the idea of having points per lesson but after the feedback I have made it much simpler. So now there will be a visual pointer, which will be aimed at either 0,1 or 2 points. Each lesson it will begin at the one point mark but if children begin to go off task, noise levels get unacceptable etc. I will move it down to 0. This will be done after a warning so the children know what it is for. They will then have the opportunity to improve and earn the point back.
Alternatively if the children contribute really well to the lesson and produce excellent ideas then they will move up to two points, or even be awarded a bonus point.

At the end of each lesson the points that they finish to will be added to a visual chart on the wall. This will be going up the wall and the point that they are on will be shown by a rocket (to fit in with the space topic). As they go past certain points (e.g reach 15) they will be have achieved a reward and this reward gets better as they move up the scale.

I will try and include a picture when it is all in place so you can see the visual aspect of it and will blog about whether it worked after my first teaching practice.

A day of two halfs

If ever there was a day to sum up the highs and lows of a PGCE it was today. My maths lesson was simply a lesson from hell, it went absolutely awful and left me wanting to hide away in a ball not speaking to anybody but this was followed up by a literacy lesson, which I think was the best teaching I have ever done and left me proud to be on the path to gaining my QTS.
I had spent hours planning it and getting the classroom set up but it was all worth it as it flowed perfectly and the children were engaged, enjoying it and actively learning.

Having read Shirley Clarke over the weekend I took the decision to ditch my usual regime of explaining the WALT, success criteria, then do 15 minutes input and leave them for 25 minutes on a task.
Instead I got them engaged instantly with an activity linked to the session, explained how it fit in to what they would be learning and then gave them small, 10 minute tasks for the rest of the lesson. The result was a smooth flowing, fast paced lesson where all the children came away with something from the lesson. I also ditched the carpet time and taught it all with the children at their tables.

All this meant that for the first time on the course I had found my teaching style, I was free to walk around the room and use my body language to add to what I was saying. I was able to show the enthusiasm I had kept inside me for too long and really 'put on a show'. I loved it!

Maths on the other hand was another issue, the work was too hard and from a class of 31 children I could not honestly say a single one understood the lesson. But like all things, I have learnt from it, realised I need to create the work to aim it at their level, rather than use prearranged worksheets and I need to be FULLY prepared for everything - it has made me realise being ready is not enough, you have to have covered every possible angle before you can deliver a decent lesson.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Falling out of love with all the reading

It's nine weeks in and the reading is finally starting to catch-up with me. I am far too often thinking what is the point in reading this? Or there has to be something more useful for me?
I think it has all come about because I have been finding more and more useful books during my independent reading and I am taking my time up with these rather than the course books.
It has resulted in me leaving reading lists unfinished and boxes 'unticked'.
However I am yet to decide if this is a bad thing or just a development of me as a teacher. I have not cut down on the amount of reading I just keep finding more interesting books that I can use.
For example Shirley Clarke is not part of our reading list and yet I got more from her book than I have from the rest of my reading put together.
So now I have found myself at a crossroads, do I spend the time reading to complete a reading list or do I change tactic and read what I feel will benefit me the most?
I'm sure the ideal choice will be read them all, or meet half-way in the middle but I am really struggling to get motivated to read outdated theories at the expense of quality new ideas.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Reward strategy idea

As stated on Twitter on Friday I have been given the task of creating a reward strategy to implement during my two week teaching practice coming up and would like feedback from teachers as to whether they think this will work.
My idea is to have a whole class points tally (which will be displayed on a rocket as our topic is space) with the more points the children get, the better their reward. It will be on a continuum with for example 10 points equals an additional fun game, 20 points five mins golden time, 30 points five mins extra play etc and wherever they get to in the two weeks will be their reward.

Points will be given out depending how the class behaves in lessons. My idea was to have a four point scheme per lesson. The whole class would start with three points each session and depending on how they behave will depend how many points they get at the end. If they are really well behaved and put in maximum effort then they will gain an extra point and have four points towards the total. However if there is points in the lesson where they go off task, misbehave etc I will drop them down to two, one or zero points depending on how bad it is. However the important point will be stressed that through good work they can get these points back before the end of the session.

I hope that makes sense and I would love any feedback or improvements that teachers could think of.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Want ideas? Follow ukedchat on Twitter

Every Thursday night ukedchat holds an hour long session where teachers give brilliant ideas on how to help the children's learning and is such a useful tool for all PGCE students and teachers alike.
I took part in my first session this week and gained five really useful points that I could put into my teaching and will do over the next week or so.
To follow the chat, simply find ukedchat on Twitter and log on to their screen at 8pm every Thursday. They also have numerous tweets throughout the week giving great ideas.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Must have book - Shirley Clarke

I am only 10 pages into Shirley Clarke's book but I have probably got more out of it than all my reading so far, it is simply a must-have for all student teachers.
Its title is Formative Assessment in Action and goes through exactly how to put AFL strategies into your teaching.
Our course is always explaining how important these strategies are but as yet has failed to really tell us how to put it into action.
Well Shirley Clarke does this perfectly and I genuinely think it will improve my teaching no end.
She also has another book Active Learning Through Formative Assessment which I have already ordered and look forward to reading.
This really is a great book to buy!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Ideas needed for a reward system

With my TP1 just two weeks away I have been given the task of implementing a new reward system for my lesson and was wondering if anybody has any tips that have worked for them?
My tutor suggested using a marbles jar, where children are awarded a marble for good work, which they put into a jar and aim to fill the jar.
However I think there are better options out there and want to hear as many ideas as possible.
The rewards available will be things like five minutes extra golden time, more play time, that sort of thing.
I have had a couple of thoughts which I will post on this blog over the weekend but want to see if anyone can suggest alternatives before I say what I have come up with.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Joining in extra-curricular activities

A little tip to all who are doing a PGCE and those looking to do one next year is join an extra-curricular club.
I volunteer to help out every week at the school's football club and love it, it gives you a great opportunity to se the children in a different light and out of the classroom.
It doesn't take up too much time - just an hour a week, but it is also something that can be put on the CV which I'm sure could become invaluable.
Most schools have a huge variety of clubs, whether it is sport, eco, school-council or art, there is probably one to suit everybody.

Monday, 31 October 2011

How is spelling taught in your school?

I have just been to an excellent course on phonics and spelling but it has left me with the question of how is spelling taught in other schools?
At my placement school they teach spelling in KS2 by giving children a set of 10 words a week with a test at the end of it to see how many they have learnt.
However at the course they said that this was an outdated style of teaching and it should now consist of children being taught basic rules of how to spell words and applying them. They should learn things like common prefixes and suffixes to help them out.
It is suggested this is done with five short 15 minute sessions every two weeks.
It seems a great way of doing it and from what I have seen, spelling is one of the areas which children struggle at my school.
I would be grateful if others commented how spelling is taught at their school and what works best for them.
Thanks in advance

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Back to School

So the holidays are over and its back to school again tomorrow but finally I feel refreshed and ready.
It took me almost the whole holiday to get over my illness and I could literally feel my body say 'finally, let me have a rest!' but now I feel recuperated again.
It's a good job to because this half-term looks much harder than the last. Next week I am on a Year 6 field trip, then the two weeks after is my first teaching practice.
Add to that a scary amount of reading and I think my body is going to take another battering.
At least this time I can repay it with a massive Christmas dinner in eight weeks time!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

How to 'switch back on'

The half-term has been great and really given me a time to relax but now that it is getting close to Monday I am finding it really hard to 'switch back on' to teaching.
I find that I am making any excuse to pospone work (even writing this post is putting off lesson planning) and I need to get back into the right frame of mind.
Of course I have still done a lot of work during the week but it has always been when I feel like it so it hasn't seemed like I have been working at all.
My intention was to work hard yesterday, which didn't happen, and to work for three hours today before the football started. Well it is now less than two hours until football begins so that has been dramatically cut as well.
I know when I am back in school it will be fine but I need to nail down so I do not enter for my first lesson unprepared.
Lets hope writing this all down will kickstart me back into working mode.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Half term!!!

It has finally arrived and so far I am really enjoying the break. I was able to completely relax during the weekend, forget about the course and recharge my batteries.
But now it is back to working and today I have set myself the challenge of completing the 2,500 words I need to write for Assignment two. It is a big ask but I am soldiering through it and hopefully it can be done so I can put it behind me and tackle the mountain of half-term reading I have to do.
Because of this and trying to fit the rest of the things I want to do during half-term into the very short week there will be limited blogs on this site until I return to school on Monday.
I will do my best to put a couple up this week but for me it is important to get as much rest as possible so my blogging time will be turned into relaxing time.
I'm sure everyone else on a PGCE will feel the same need to relax as I am feeling now so good luck to you and enjoy the so called 'break'

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Parents evening

Just got back from my first taste of parents evening and must admit it wasn't as scary as I thought.
The class teacher obviously did most of the talking but I did manage to chip in with a few comments and all the parents seemed to be nice and supportive.
Think we are lucky at our school as the parents really want to help out and most asked what more they could do at home.
But I learnt a lot from the experience, in particular how important it is to plan what you say beforehand. My teacher had a general comment, literacy, maths and homework comments all prepared so it gave the evening a structure and looked very professional.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

QTS tests all passed and out the way :)

It feels more of a relief than an achievement but I have now passed the QTS literacy, numeracy and ICT tests and am in a situation where I can say to others - don't worry about them!
I took the plunge and did all three in a row and would recommend for others to do that as it just gets them out of the way in one go.
I didn't find them as hard as the practice tests on the TDA, although that's not to say I got everything correct.
Luckily for me, maths and English are two of my strong points so I didn't find I had to revise much at all but I can see that revision could be key for those who find it harder.
Especially in maths, there is a lot of questions that cover a broad range of skills so definitely complete all the practice tests and take a look at where you have gone wrong. If you do this you should be fine as there was nothing in the actual test that isn't covered on the online practices.
The biggest let-down for me though was the quality of the literacy test. English, and especially punctuation, is something I know inside out and I got myself feeling constantly frustrated by the poor text, which on numerous occasions contradicted what I had been taught and been using in my previous roles.
If this is the same for you then just learn to practice the test. Things such as every word of a job title being capped up just looks wrong to me (caps are something to be used sparingly as they disrupt the flow)  but that was four of the marks on my paper. 
But good luck to those still waiting to take the test and don't worry about it - there is much more important things to worry about this year!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Struck down by illness again ...

I have not even reached half-term and yet already I am feeling ill for the second time, which in turn is making me feel really demorilised.
I already learnt from my previous illness that teaching is probably the worst profession for being ill as you just have to soldier on as if nothing is wrong, even though you are wasting away inside.
The only saving grace is that half-term is on the horizon. I have never counted down to a holiday like I am to this one and I am not even going away. Seriously I think I am more excited about this 'week off' than I have been about any of my adventures around the world. Roll on the weekend!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Will I ever get my old dreams back?

It has been more than six weeks since I started and I don't think there has been a night that's gone past without me dreaming about school. Lesson plans fly through my head all the time and every night I just seem to dream about how I will carry these out.
So I want to know, will I ever have a proper dream again? Do these dreams become less often as it would be nice to dream about something completely different for once.
It isn't a really bad thing but would just like to know from someone who has done it all before as to whether you ever stop thinking about school?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

An I love teaching day :)

Today was definitely one of those days that makes you think all this hard work is worth while and you come home loving teaching.
All I wanted to do when I got home was blog about it because I enjoyed it that much!
It all started with my first ever maths lesson, which I was so nervous about (especially after the disaster of my first literacy lesson). But I managed to take in all the feedback from that, put it into practice and the outcome was amazing.
All the children were listening, the classroom was a quiet place (although not too quiet) and the children were enjoying their work. The feedback was brilliant as well and instead of concentrating around me like before, it was about how I could set differentiated work so the children got more out of it.
Then came the unexpected call to cover a teacher during their PPA. Without time to think about it, I was cast into the ICT room and with a largely unfamiliar class I was able to control them and guide them in the right direction, I was really beginning to feel like a proper teacher!
With my confidence high I knew my literacy group work would go well but I didn't realise how well it would go.
The children were engaged all lesson, coming up with brilliant ideas and really pushing themselves.
This was topped off by the feeling of really getting through to one of the more problematic children.
At the end they were so proud of their work, saying how much they had enjoyed the lesson and what a nice surprise it was for them to do that amount of work in one literacy lesson.
Add playground duty and after-school football to that list and it all made for a very busy day but without doubt, the best day so far!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Pre PGCE reading

Someone has asked the question how much reading should you before your PGCE course, and at the risk of getting wrath off of lecturers this is what I have found so far in my experience:

I would say don't bother with reading loads of books before you start. I read a general how to be a good primary teacher one and looking back it wasn't beneficial at all.
I find the key to reading is being able to relate it to how you could use it in your classroom but before you start you can't do this. Because of this I can't remember anything that was in that book.
However what it did do was get me in the right frame of mind to get ready to learn again, I had a year gap between uni and my PGCE so that was useful for me.
If maths or literacy is a struggle though, brush up on your GCSE knowledge as you have to pass a QTS skills test which I haven't done yet but looks quite hard.
During the actual course there is a lot of reading but it isn't overwhelming, yes you can read every book under the sun but if you stick to what is asked and maybe a couple of others you find interesting you won't find your life overtaken by books (well not textbooks anyway).

Thursday, 6 October 2011

I survived! First literacy lesson is now done :)

The kids may have done their best to knock me down but I have come out of my first full literacy lesson still standing.
I will admit it wasn't the best lesson and definitely didn't go as well as I had hoped but there were a lot of positives and so many mistakes to learn from.
You always get told you learn more from your mistakes and I think I will find that out more than ever this year.
The start of the lesson was a nightmare as it came just after an argument with four of the hardest girls in the class which took the teacher half an hour to sort out.
Partly because of this but mostly because of my unclear instructions it took so long to get to the carpet and most of the time I was teaching the children were talking (apparently more than I noticed).
So off they went to do their work and up the noise level went. At this point to say the lesson wasn't running smoothly was an understatement.
However I managed to do what I thought would be one of the hardest skills and grab the lesson from the brink of failure.
I took them back to the carpet for the second half of the lesson, explained in no uncertain terms that their behaviour was simply not good enough and I expected.
This grabbed their attention so I could explain what they were doing for the remainder of the lesson and that went much smoother.
Then the plenery was great, my mento praised my choice of question and how they answered it, with all of them listening carefully.
But talk about a lesson of ups and downs to start off my teaching career. If the rest of the year is going to be anything like that lesson then I have quite a ride ahead of me

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Such a good training day

Today was one of the few training days we have as part of the course and wow, it was good!
There were so many bright ideas given to us that are so simple but so beneficial to the children, whether they are whole lessons or five minute fillers.
The lecturer went through such games as word tennis, alienation phonics, spot the difference (using text), missing item passages and loads more word games.
All were designed at increasing the children's word voacublary and all were really fun (even for us!)
That was followed by assessment for learning where we got given so many helpful hints to bring to the classroom.
Such things as talk partners, using lollypop sticks and even as simple as interactive displays for helping learning.
There is another training day tomorrow, I hope it is just as worthwhile!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Reading tip: Get The Behaviour Guru by Tom Bennett

It is literally the best academic book I have ever read and is a must for all trainee and NQT teachers as it gives so many tips and real life situations on how to handle a class.
Tom Bennett writes it in such a way that he speaks to the reader and makes it so easy to go through pages and pages without even realising it. He has done it so it is his own opinion and uses examples of what has worked for him.
In fact it begs the question that why isn't every book written like this?
I read text books because they are written by experts, people with experience in the field and so I want their view, not a winded up version hiding behind a million references in case it offends someone.
I would much sooner read what somebody has interpreted from their reading and experience rather than battle through the drivel of overcomplicated words with brackets every line citing some author I have never heard of, just so it doesn't look like it is the authors point of view.
One thing is for sure, if all books were written like this one, it would make the endless reading lists a lot easier and more entertaining to get through. It would also make them more beneficial as I have remembered far more from reading the first 50 pages of this book than I have any other book this year.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

A new beginning

Last week was not good for me, I felt ill, I was tired and my performance as a teacher dropped significantly but it was just the kick up the backside I needed to push myself forward.
It is a new week and a new me. I am going to more authoritative, more assertive and more self-confident in myself so that I can push onto that next step.
The first couple of weeks I did fine but I want to do more than fine now, I have had time to settle in and now it is time to become good, pushing for even better.
My mentor noticed a slip in my standards last week and ill or not, that is not acceptable so it won't happen again!
And this is the perfect week to put things right. I have a reading day tomorrow, followed by two university training days so in affect it has given me a week out of the classroom, a week away from the children so I can come back on Thursday with a new front. A strict front.
As part of a new me, I am going to try and ban tv in the evenings (except football) to concentrate on my work. Get a massive head start in assignments etc and spend my spare time watching Teachers TV and scrolling the internet for good ideas. Or of course do the extra reading every PGCE student should be doing!
Tomorrow is day one, lets see how long this intention can last.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

The end of the first bad week

They always said teaching would be full of highs and lows and this week would definitely be one of those lows.
I have felt ill all week, not slept properly and struggled to keep up the front you need to put on infront of the class and other teachers.
But I am feeling better today, I have a long weekend to recover and I am determined to get back to the highs next week.
It is not through the work, bad children, or my own lack of effort that has led to it being a bad week but it is because of illness.
For this reason I am not worried and am just putting it behind me ready to start again next week.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Can a maths starter be to fun?

I always thought it would be trying to make a maths starter interesting that would be the problem but today I found myself in the unusual position of getting the children too excited at the beginning of the lesson.
I opted for a Who Wants to be a Millionaire style maths quiz to ease the children's brains into action but it turned on to a full on celebration when they reached the million pounds.
They were physically jumping off the carpet when they got the final question correct and all I could think was how sorry I was for my teacher who had to calm them down and do the rest of the lesson.
Luckily she managed to do is gifted when it comes to a calm classroom and managed to do it perfectly but I'm not sure I would have been able to get the same response.
One thing is for sure, I will not be repeating the game during my teaching practice!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Is teaching just one long fight against illness?

I am now in the sixth day of feeling awful and it seems that teaching is just one long fight against illness.
Last week it was a bad throat, stomach and generally feeling sick, this week it is a bunged up head which just saps all energy out of me and it just doesn't seem to be getting better.
Well apart from Saturday where I felt fine, which makes me think that I am going through a double dose of illness just to rub salt into my wounds.
At school it isn't too bad because I am in the moment and fight through it, but as soon as I get home I just feel drained and ready for bed.
Trouble is the work doesn't stop so I still need to fight my way through planning for the next day and reading assignments before the holy grail of going to sleep.
Lets hope this doesn't last much longer!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Lesson accomplished

Just completed my first ever whole class lesson and it feels great! The kids did exactly what I wanted them to do and seemed to even enjoy the lesson which was definitely an added bonus! Even if it was just a few French words I was teaching, it was a start and one I can build upon. I even had to deal with the added drama of my observer having to leave the room to be sick, but when Inwas so engrossed in teaching it hardly had an affect. The last two days have definitely been hard but so rewarding, I feel so much more confident having led the class and am ready for more next week.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Still afloat in the deep end

Last night all my worries centred around one 15 minute slot of French I had to teach tomorrow but that was deemed instantly irrelevant this morning when I got the dreaded message that my class teacher would be off sick.
With no supply it meant I was thrown right in the deep end and had to organise the class for the whole day.
Luckily I was given a cover teacher to lead the three main sessions but registration, guided reading, handwriting and home time I was in charge and it was scary!
At the same time it was really enjoyable and has given me instant confidence in leading the class.
For a first day the discipline was pretty good and the class did as I wanted them (although some needed a few reminders).
For the first time I now feel like a real teacher with real responsibilities, which is great and although I didn't do everything perfect, I coped and have a strong foundation to build upon.
The only problem now is I am feeling ill, with what I would think is the illness that kept the class teacher off all day.
I just pray I can fight it off and go into school tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Bonjour, I think ...

The time has come for me to plan and take my first whole class session and what better way to do it than with a lesson of French - a language I do not speak.
Talk about throwing me in the deep end!
The saving grace is that it is only about a 10-15 minute lesson and bonjour (the only word I actually know) is one of the greetings that I need to teach.
Luckily I am told the class will be at the same level of myself so I don't have the worry of being outsmarted by the children but it I am sure it will be a tough challenge.
Although I have two days until the lesson, I have already thought and planned it and on paper it seems all will go smoothly.
But I will have to wait and see if this is the case in reality.

Friday, 16 September 2011

The joy of a weekend off

All the hard work earlier in the week has paid off because as of now I have a whole two and a half days off with no work to do.
After spending the evenings reading and getting a headstart on my assignment I have succesfully managed to get two weeks ahead of  schedule and so the reward is a weekend of luxury.
But not to rest on my laurels, I will be hard at work again on Monday evening to make sure my good start continues and hopefully push even further ahead so I can release my weekends to have a good time.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Application advice - the interview

I'm not going to lie, the interviews are daunting but I found them a lot better than previous job interviews. All my questions were related to teaching and so generally it was on topics I was comfortable on. What's more is they didn't put any trick questions in. From what I can remember, the types of questions I was asked were: How does your degree fit into teaching? What made you decide to choose teaching? Lots of people drop out of a pgce because of the workload, how do you think you will be able to cope? What topics were the teachers talking about in the staff room during your work experience? What are the current issues surround teaching? What age group would you prefer? What do you think your subject specialism will be? What did you work from your school experience?

Application advice - the cover letter

That time of year has come around again and so good luck to all those doing their application to get on a pgce next year. To help you out I thought I would give some tips from my experience when I was going through the whole process. Firstly, apply early! I was stupid enough to leave it until deadline day and create a nervous four month wait to find out if I had a place, whilst others on my course applied now and already had a place by the time I submitted my form. As for the actual letter, I found that the main thing moderators wanted was to hear about your school based experience and how you could take what you learnt to help you next year. Especially on the interview, they were far more interested in the two weeks classroom experience I had, rather than the three years of outer class experience I had. The other Important aspect was how your degree subject fits into the pgce and what you have done during your time at university that shows you want to become a teacher. But remember the key point is to write it well, I spent over a week perfecting mine, which paid off in the end. Hundreds of people apply for each post so make sure your application looks like time has been spent on it. If you have any further questions about my experience I will be happy to help.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Dare I say it - the work is fun

Since starting my course two weeks ago there has rarely been a night without work but as I look back, I don't think there has been a single moment where I was bored.
It is completely different to studying for a degree as everything seems to be relevant and highly useful for the job.
No longer is it learning for the sake of getting a degree, it is learning to be the best teacher you can and if that means reading book after book of QTS standards then so be it.
I always find my mind wondering to how I can use this new found knowledge into my teaching and  that can only be a good thing.
Add this to the enjoyment and variation of being in class and a PGCE doesn't look quite so daunting after all.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Settling in with more responsibilities

After a week of settling into the school it is nice to be given an increased amount of responsibility and now I am leading groups and the class in small activities.
Today saw me lead my first guided reading session which was great (I think) and I have already led the class story and morning work.
Being given the responsibility always gives me that added bit of confidence, somehow I seem to thrive when I am in charge.
I feel like it is my lesson so I can stamp my authority onto it and get misbehaving children back into line, whereas when observing, it feels somewhat like interrupting the class teacher if you spot a pupil talking or not listening.
I'm sure they don't mind but confidence to discipline away from my lessons is definitely something I need to work on.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The challenge of differentiation

It has been drilled into every session we have had that differentiation in classroom lessons is so important but until today I didn't see quite how hard that can be.
It didn't occur to me that the difference in ability could be so vast in one class, which has for the most part had the same school experience as everybody else.
There is some people in the class who can barely string a sentence together, whilst others are forming exciting sentences that amaze me when I see them.
It is almost like making a lesson which includes a standard Year 1 child, whilst at the same time including a standard Year 6 child.
Making three different worksheets is one thing but making it so they all learn every lesson is perhaps going to be the hardest thing to achieve this year.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

BIg tip - listen to the Every Child Matters lecture

It was late in the day and my brain had already been overloaded with information so when it came to the Every Child Matters lecture I just switched off, thinking it wouldn't be too influential.
Big mistake!
Near enough every piece of work has some reference to the document and so I am now having to do the added work of reading through the whole document to catch up.
It might not be too long but it takes the time to read and remember it, which is much harder than just listening in a lecture, where the information somehow is retained longer.
So my Sunday evening is going to consist of hard work that I could have got away with.
Trust me, that is not a good feeling, especially when free time is so valuable on a course like this.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

One study day just isn't enough

Thursday night seemed brilliant, I had a whole study day to do all my work and have a nice relaxing weekend.
But that dream lasted all of 24 hours, until Friday night came and there was still so much work to do.
So my weekend is fast turning into two days of work and it is only week one.
The way my course is set up is the work is split into 39 weeks, I am just praying they have split it evenly and not let us begin slowly because if that is the case, it will be a very hard year to come!
It's not all bad though, I made time to watch England in the rugby world cup and have put aside this evening to watch Andy Murray so I do get some break :)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Three day weekend :)

The great thing about doing a SCITT course is you get one reading day a week where you are not at school, meaning a three day weekend :)
This I have always believed is what it is meant to be (four days work, three days rest) but this is the first time it has actually come true.
Although the reality is that with the amount of work we have to do already it will not be a restful three days.
I already have an assignment to do and lots of reading so that will wipe tomorrow out but there is something quite refreshing about not having to travel into work.

Confidence grows ... again

I have loved the first two days of having the children in as it is so good to feel your confidence grow all the time.
The first day I was in my shell, the second inset I got better and then to my surprise it continued to grow when the children came in.
Right up to the final minutes I was so nervous about looking after the class, but before I knew it I had 25 kids in front of me and I had to entertain them.
That was the best thing that could have happened as straight away they knew who I was. 
There was obviously hard times in the last couple of days where children haven't done what I have said but that has got less and I seem to have more authority now.
It all finished with me reading out the class book today and every kid was engrossed with the story. It was a great feeling to see them all listening.
Of course I have been helped out by a brilliant mentor teacher who has kept on top of them and is already proving an inspiration of ideas.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The kids are brilliant :)

What a shock my class were, on the first day they have been absolutely brilliant. I'm not sure if it is just because it is the first day or whether they are just a quiet class but there was no problems whatsoever.
One child was slightly misbehaved and looks like they could cause problems but my first impression is it something that with discipline can be quashed quite well.
The boys in particular are so enthusiastic and there is a table of football-loving high achievers which I think I will get on with quite well.
My duties were mainly just helping the children out with the work and that was a god introduction for me. Hopefully I will carry that on this week to build up my confidence and then be let loose with a bigger challenge when I am ready for it next week.
But the day obviously doesn't finish at 3.30 so straight after school I completed my maths audit (having already spend four hours or more on an English one) and now I am about to start the science one.
Hopefully this will be finished over the weekend and I will be able to devote all of next week to my first assignment (yes we have already got assessed work to do!)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A brilliant second day

Just finished day two in school and what a difference it made.
I am now so much more confident around the teachers and in school and am now really looking forward to meeting the class.
Yesterday the prospect of being confident in front of the kids seemed a daunting prospect but now I think it will be fine.
I am told that tomorrow will consist of me mainly helping out and maybe reading a story or something like that so should be a nice introduction.

Monday, 5 September 2011

First day

So the first day is over and I am pleased to report that I survived!
In fact I would probably go as far as saying it was fairly easy, although it was an INSET day so the real challenge hasn't exactly begun.
The whole day was about learning new assessment techniques, which although useful, will not be of great relevance to me this year.
But what was good was to see the staff, it is a big school so lots of people to get to know but there was a great atmosphere which makes me think working here is going to be full of fun :D
Now just role on tomorrow to bring my confidence up in school before the term really begins on Wednesday.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

It all begins tomorrow ...

Well the introduction period is over and the real thing starts tomorrow with the first day of term!
Luckily I will be eased into the school environment with two inset days but that doesn't stop me from being nervous, after all this is the place where I will be spending the entire academic year.
I am sure it will bring some highs and some lows but even now I still don't quite know what is in store for me over the next 12 months.
One thing is for sure though, I am as prepared as possible for the day.
We were given work to do from the university conference and I am happy to say I have done it all and even a bit extra.
Our course is split into different weeks and we are given set tasks to do each week.
To start with week one and two are grouped together and so I thought I would take the chance to get a head start and do the entire reading for the next two weeks already, lets just hope this pays off!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Rested and raring to go

What a difference a holiday makes! Just four days away and I am completely rested and ready for the new term.
I admit this feeling will probably last until precisely 9.15 on my first morning, but for now it seems time well spent.
I have timed it so I have two days to complete all the work needed before the start of term, which I think will be more than enough.
The most important work I have is a full English test with word meanings, phonemes etc and after completing 10 pages I am left with the question, why are they making us fill out this pointless form?
I am not ashamed that I have enlisted the help of my mum (who is English co-ordinator at a different primary school) as her knowledge has really helped me out.
But just to back up my point of how pathetic these questions are, after more than 20 years of teaching experience, she has not used about 75 per cent of what I am having to research. 
What's more is she hasn't even heard of most of the terms.
I wish the time could be used more effectively to learn English that I am actually going to use, but if my course wants me to do this form, I will do this form.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

I haven't even started in school and already there is a mountain of paperwork for me to get through but I guess, that is just good practice for what is to come.
By my own admission, paperwork is not a strong point and so I am making a huge effort to keep on top of it.
Some has already been filed into a folder and other has been put into a pile for me to work on.
My aim is to get all this done by the time I start in school next Monday ... wish me luck!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Two days have gone of the conference and have hardly had any time to think but we have had a great insight into what it is like to teach.
Some of the ideas shared with us are so simple but so inspirational and I can imagine will be so valuable throughout the year.
Maths techniques such as using an A4 wallet as a wipeboard for any worksheets inside it is just genius and some of the science experiments had us all entertained for two hours so the kids must love them.
Back in lectures in five minutes so have to go, music and geography are both on the agenda today so should be fun!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

It's here

The time has finally come and I actually write this from my university halls, well the room I will be in for the next week.
Having arrived about an hour ago I have already met a few good people and we are all just waiting until tomorrow when the real work begins.
At 9.30 we register and then it is a four day intensive course to learn everything there is to know, wish me and my coursemates luck!

Friday, 19 August 2011

No turning back

Well the time is come of no turning back, I have left my job and now have three days for any pre-course nerves to kick in.
Happily, so far they have not come and I have not had any cold feet, lets just hope this continues.
It still seems a bit surreal that this is all happening and I am getting nervous about the workload. My aim of the year is to keep the majority of my weekends free, I don't mind working late into the night each evening but I do like my weekends so fingers crossed I can keep them.
One thing is for sure though, no matter how hard the work is I will keep going and complete it, I have never wanted to be a success at something like I have with teaching.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The 'back to school' feeling

I am not sure what it is about August but it has the ability to make pens, paper, pencils and even diaries exciting, creating that distinctive 'back to school' feeling.
It is a feeling I had almost forgot about after five years away from school but it all came flooding back when I went shopping for the university essentials.
Buoyed on by creating this blog, I thought it was time that I went to get my pens, papers, highlighters etc. needed for the PGCE course.
But, being a student again, it had to be done on a budget and I managed to find some real bargains out there.
A trip to Wilkinsons later and I was equipped with a 10p ruler, 30p pencil case, 20p rubber (although forgot the pencil to go with it) and a pack of highlighters for under £1.  Then after a slight detour to Poundland I had a complete academic diary and a notepad ready to work on.
It might not seem much but I at least now feel ready to complete the one week introduction course at university, where I am sure I will be made aware of the hundreds of things I have forgotten before the term begins in September.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Nerves and expectations

So it is now four days until I leave my job and a week until the training officially begins and nerves are starting to set in.
Will I be able to survive the workload, will I be able get the respect of the kids and biggest of all, is a one week course at University enough to prepare me for the year ahead?
For those who don't know, I have opted for a school- based (SCITT) approach and I begin at my assessment school for the very first day of the year, meaning this week ahead of me is the only training I will get.
My reasoning for this is I wanted as much hands-on experience as possible whilst in my training year, but that reasoning is now being replaced with doubt as to whether I am ready.
The reality is I am three weeks away from meeting the children and still have no idea how to plan a lesson, no idea how to put those plans into practice and quite honestly, no real idea how to deal with children as a teacher.
But my blind faith is keeping me going and I am sure that although it will be a challenge, I will get through it, like with everything else in life and become a success.
If not I can grit and bear it and read the horror stories that are easily accesible on how others have a hard time too - I will not be alone!