Friday, 24 August 2012

About to start your PGCE? Here's my two pennies

I know a few people about to start their PGCE and I thought that I'd put together my top tips for getting through the year, lots of these are things that looking back now I realise that I should have done. Here they are:

  • Don't worry, the PGCE is hard, it takes commitment and dedication but you beat so many people to just get a place on your course, which means that your interviewers saw something in you, they believe that you can do it, you just need to believe that too.
  • Bit late for this one now but make the most of your summer - don't worry about reading every possible paper, magazine, article, website etc. Make the most of your friends, your family and having a life. You'll still get to have one during the course but not quite so much all the time! Enjoy it while you can.
  • Everything you talk about at uni has a purpose, take it all on board.
  • Have a bad day/lesson/observation? You know what, it happens to the best of us, don't beat yourself up, take onboard everything that you've been told, improve on it next time. I promise that if you do that, you'll get better and you'll smash that next one.
  • Be organised, don't put things off when they need doing, they're often easier to do sooner rather than later.
  • Make the most of your time, that way you don't need to stay up until all hours of the night burning yourself into the ground.
  • Don't give up your life, not only is it really important to keep you sane but you don't need to! I started a new relationship half way through my PGCE, spent most weekends with him not doing work and I did just fine - just remember the previous two points!
  • Take copies of every piece of planning, every resource etc. that you can from your placement schools, you never know when it'll come in handy. I did this and it's already been great, my school knew, in fact they encouraged it.
  • You don't have to waste time reinventing the wheel, if someone else has already done something, use it! Just make sure that you adapt it to fit your class.
  • Make the most of your TA, they're there to help you, just don't take advantage of them and make sure you appreciate them.
  • If you need help, ask for it. You're learning, you're allowed to not know all the answers!
  • Don't spend hours making powerpoints/IWB slides, keep it simple, they don't matter that much and you have better uses for your time.
  • No matter how you feel, walk into that classroom like everything is alright in the world and soon, those kids will have you feeling like it is - hopefully!
  • When teaching, don't use 100 words when 10 will do, keep it simple!
  • When it comes to behaviour, despite what they say you can smile before Christmas but be firm from the start, it's a hell of a lot harder to go back, believe me, I know that from practice.
  • Don't assume that children know something you haven't taught them before, you know what they say about when you assume...
  • Follow your gut, if something isn't working, scrap it.
  • Go with the flow, if the children are taking the lesson in a different direction that still has them learning something, go with it.
  • Most of all, be yourself. Don't try and be the mini me of the class teacher, what works for him/her won't necessarily work for you because you're not them. As Judy Garland said - Be a first rate version of your, not a second rate version of someone else.
So they're my top tips, if I think of anything more, I'll add them alter.

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