Tips and advice for PGCE/School Direct Students

For those looking for book reviews, don’t worry they’ll be continuing, this is as promised, some tips to survive the teacher training one year route as a round up to the end of my training year/personal posts on a Sunday!

So you’re about to embark on this crazy journey that is teacher training? It’s SO worth it let me tell you. It may have been stressful, draining and exhausting (I’m not going to lie!) but at the same time it was rewarding, enjoyable and challenging in a good way. I think it has completely changed me as a person. My family and friends have seen a change in me, and I do believe I have become more confident. The PGCE route takes 9 months if you take out holiday times, and in those 9 months I’ve grown so much. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been sunshine and pretty flowers, there have been some very dark times when I’ve wanted to pack it all in and forget about teaching. I’ve had rejections, awful lessons, terrible behaviour but I’ve also had amazing lessons, massive amounts of support from parents, lovely comments and thoughtful conversations with young children. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Tips for the University side of PGCE/School Direct/SCITT

  • Check you’ve carried out all of the pre-course tasks, especially if you’ve got to spend some time in school. This is really important as it goes towards your required days.
  • Don’t buy all the books they recommend. I barely used mine. Get them out of the library or purchase them secondhand if you really want your own copy.
  • Take as much as you can from the taught sessions. Engage in the seminars, enjoy the seminars and find your inner child!
  • If you feel you have any weak subject areas go over some subject knowledge. BBC Bitesize is a great website for handy revision.
  • Get organised. Get some files together ready for your uni or placement information. Perhaps find a space (preferably a cupboard which can be shut) just for uni/work stuff.

Tips for placement

  • As scary as it is to go into a new school try and get stuck in as soon as you can, even if it’s supporting a group whilst the teacher teaches. Seriously, the sooner you can start to get to know the children, the better it is.
  • Emerse yourself in the school as much as you can. Go to staff meetings, attend school discos, perhaps start an after school club? If you’re truly part of the school it really enhances your school experience.
  • If you’re offered teaching time before you take it- go for it! Some of my best lessons have been my spontaneous lessons, but at the same time, don’t do TOO much. You need your percentage of time away for planning, assessment and university assignments. It’s a balancing act, but you’ll get there as placement progresses.
  • Planning gets easier. It takes a while to start with, but once you’re in the swing of it then you get faster/more productive sooner.
  • Plan carefully. Think about every child in the class. What do they all need to know at the end of the lesson?
  • Have a day/afternoon off just for you. Don’t do any work on that day/afternoon. Catch up with your friends/partner/family. You’ll burn yourself out otherwise.
  • There will be hard times on placement. TALK about them. Don’t bottle them up.
  • Sleep when you can! Don’t stay up until 3am planning. It won’t be a good quality lesson and you’ll be tired the next day, so you won’t deliver it to the best of your ability.
  • Organisation is key. If you keep organised and on top of things, you’ll find yourself with more time for YOU. That’s important.  To Do lists are amazing for both uni and placement.
  • You’ll get bored of hearing the word ‘reflect’ but it is very important that you do reflect on everything you teach. What went well? What didn’t go well? Why? What could you do better? It’s important to ask yourself these questions as you may get asked them by your teacher tutor/mentor/university.

Tips for Teaching Interviews

  • Some applications will be rejected before you get to interview. Don’t get disheartened. Before May, qualified teachers are also applying, so there is a lot of competition. After May, they can no longer put in their notice in the school. Then NQTs battle it out!
  • Do NOT panic if you don’t get a job at your first interview. I have known people that have taken between 3-7 interviews before getting a job. I had 3 interviews before I was successful.
  • Read up about the school before you visit. A visit to the school before putting in an application is essential. Make sure you tailor each application to the school. They don’t want a generic personal statement, they want to know that you know about the school. Make it clear why you should work there! Sell yourself but make sure it doesn’t come across as arrogant.
  • Dress smartly for the school visit and for the interview. Many headteachers will write a note about you after you’ve left the school visit. You want to make a good impression!
  • When it comes to the interview make sure you give examples of things you have done in your placements. Speak about good lessons you’ve had, speak about your behaviour management, always try and answer a question with experience. Again, researching about the school will help you greatly. Draw on what you know and show that you’re interested in the school.

I hope these tips have been helpful for those of you that are starting in September! Good luck and you CAN do this. It won’t be easy, but it’s so rewarding. I kept a diary of my experience during the PGCE. You can read them through my archives HERE if you are interested. The first post is right at the bottom of the page. If you have any questions feel free to ask! 🙂

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