Thursday, 30 August 2012

Time to Stop?

I'm sure that my previous school experience will stand me in good stead on my PGCE course. And i'm certain that without it, i would never have been accepted into university in the first place. But the problem with all this experience might just be that it's turned me into a smart-arse. And nobody likes a smart arse.

Since the end of last term term, i've had around six weeks to fill in. The ideal would be holidays/festivals/walks in the park and lots of al fresco dining. Sadly, the wife has been away for most of the summer, money is tighter than a nun's chuff and the weather is woeful. So instead of having fun and relaxing, i've found myself in a strange situation - i'm planning lessons.

I'm aware that they might never be used. That they might not be up to scratch. That it's arrogant of me to assume i know what how to do it. Except i do. Kind of. I've been watching English teachers in action for two years. I've taught dozens of lessons myself (largely under supervision) and i know a good/bad lesson when i see one. I've done more observation already than i'll ever do at university.

I've also spent the entire summer reading assiduously, pillaging the likes of Phil Beadle, Rex Gibson and Trevor Wright's brilliant books for ideas, inspiration and lesson plans. I've even published some of that work here. But is it time to stop? Should i really be waiting until i've at least completed my induction day before i go any further? Could too much practical experience even be a bad thing?


  1. I must say, I'm rather impressed with the nun metaphor!
    I wouldn't panic too much about the return to university. It sounds like you have both the confidence and right attitude to make a success of it.

    Can't really offer much up by way of 'is too much practical experience a bad thing?' My best guess is that you've got some cracking ideas by way of content and it will stand you in great stead as long as your flexible enough to work them around new ideas you take on about theories of learning and the like.

    Must say, I am the opposite! Not worried about the university side at all but the opposite. I've been reading Paul Dix's 'Taking Care of Behaviour' and in there, he sets out some great rules of working with other adults that visit/work in the classroom. My big fear, and past experience, is that these are not followed at all.

    My worry is that I'll be dropped into a classroom to observe. The kids will quickly observe that I am not the one running this show, I'm not the one with the authority and that will follow through with negative consequences for when I take charge...

    When do you start? Best of luck! I dare say you will keep us all posted via twitter!

  2. One other thing my friend, I don't really know where you're studying (quite obviously, you are the secret PGCE student after all) but I know that my course at the Institute of Education is quite theoretical and most PGCE courses will include a significant element of theories of education (being one of their USPs over GTP/SCITTs). I would thoroughly recommend Chapter 1 of Alex Moore (Teaching and Learning, old edition) and Chapter 6 of Val Brooks, Ian Abbott and Liz Bills' "Preparing To Teach In Secondary Schools: Second Edition" - they complement each other nicely and offer some pretty basic entry level stuff. However this could well of course, be far beneath your current level of knowledge! Do share these should any of your coursemates appear to struggle - it appears as though you will have a lot to offer the young'uns!

  3. I share your concerns, Warren!

    The last thing i want is to be observing - i've done plenty of that! I reckon you need to be assertive and get yourself involved with the kids from the moment you're observation starts. Help out wherever possible, add to the conversation where you can, join a group when kids are working together. In my experience, pupils (especially lads) like having a young bloke in the room to help - traditionally their TAs tend to be middle-aged women!

    I think it would be a mistake to be passive - because they'll treat you as someone with no authority when it comes to teach them. I've seen PGCE students make this mistake - sitting meekly at the back and then being meek when they finally come to the front. Kids don't like having strangers in their classroom unless they know why they're there - break the ice early and this shouldn't be a problem.

    The caveat to that is that you need to be careful about treading on other adults' toes - but if you ask in advance where your skills are best employed, i'm sure they'd be grateful for the assistance.

    I'm pretty confident re behaviour and authority because i've spent so long in schools already - but i'm wary of overconfidence as my role (and my school) have changed now! I'm sure you'll be fine too - you've done your homework and are well prepared!

    I assume you start this week (i do, too). Best of luck, mate.

  4. I am quite fortunate as to not start until next Monday (the 10th)! I have also heard that those madcaps down in Canterbury do not start until the 17th and will bundle their students into a school that very afternoon!

    Pleased to hear about how your first day went. Not a roaring success but nothing bad/irreparable (give or take the desperate situation concerning the fountain pen). My question to you - did you go suited and did the others? I am increasingly anxious about this decision!

  5. Jesus! Imagine being bunged straight into a school - no thanks!

    The fountain pen situation is awful. I have no sentimental attachment to any inanimate objects - except that chuffing pen!

    First day was entirely university based, so despite it being a professional qualification the vast majority went casual. A couple over-dressed and stuck out like sore thumbs. Unless you're told otherwise, i'd suggest wearing whatever you feel comfortable in.