Monday, 24 September 2012

...Who are you again?

Hi! You might remember me, I'm Colette and I used to blog here...

First off, I'm so sorry for not keeping up with this blog as I intended to. As per usual, life got in the way. I finished my placement and thus my second year of university. Since then I got caught up in the whirlwind of packing/unpacking and working pretty much full time for a solid three months.

However, I return to York in just over a week to start my final year as an undergrad (terrifying!) something which also means preparing for my future after I graduate i.e. PGCE applications. There have been some slight developments and progress since June so I'll quickly fill you in.

I completed my YSIS placement which was very rewarding and something which I really enjoyed. Last week I went back to my old secondary school and completed a week shadowing teachers in the history department and helping out in the classroom. To be completely honest, I was considering taking a year out/deferring my PGCE application before I went back to school, I've been feeling a bit run down and exhausted lately and wasn't sure I could hack the whirlwind that is a PGCE course straight out of uni. Last week changed all that. It cemented everything I had ever thought I loved about teaching. I felt at home in the classroom, much more confident than I ever thought I would be. Perhaps most importantly, I felt inspired. As cheesy as it sounds, I got excited about sharing my passion for history with the wide range of students I worked with, from the new Year 7s, all the way up to those beginning their A2 courses. Now I'm itching to complete my degree and get into the classroom full time.

Of course, before that comes the very daunting application process, especially as History PGCE courses are ridiculously competitive, something like 8-10 applicants per place. Luckily, I spoke to one of my old teachers who reassured me and calmed all my worries. This week, my goal is to complete my personal statement, or at least a draft of it, so I've got the hardest part complete before applications open in early October. Scary stuff.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

School: day five (sessions six/seven)

This week was my first full day at school in years. The morning went pretty much the same as usual. I worked with a pupil who was in isolation during lesson one. She was adamant she couldn't/wouldn't do the task but I managed to coax something out of her which surprised me haha! Lesson two I worked with the years sevens, but as this week in school is dedicated to health and the Olympics they were working on PowerPoint presentations about different Olympic games in recent years. I was mainly there to guide and help with spelling/structure etc.

However, in third lesson I did something different. I was asked to go to a class of Year thirteens with special educational needs to help them with their Work Related Learning qualifications. In the afternoon I did something similar but with a Year twelve group. The experience was completely new to me and one I found very interesting. Working with pupils I wouldn't usually encounter or have much contact with was rewarding. They were very friendly and welcoming and it was just lovely to work with pupils who were generally enthusiastic about their work!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

School: day five

Its been a while! I had a week off school to concentrate on university work and the week before last was half term, so this post is a week late. Oops! Better late than never?

Last week I did my usual of helping pupils one-on-one during lessons one and three and working with the year seven maths group during second period.

First lesson I helped a pupil with his R.E. work, his task was a bit more focussed than other R.E work that had been sent to other pupils so it was much easier to assist him! Lesson three I helped a year eight pupil with science work, nothing too challenging.

Second lesson is always my favourite part of the day though. This was the fourth time I worked with the maths group and it is amazing to see their improvement in such a short space of time. Its nice to have that continuity too. This week they were focussing on multiplication and just working their way through worksheets. The teacher pretty much left me alone with them and I marked each sheet as the pupils finished them. It was my most rewarding lesson by far if I'm completely honest. I actually felt like I built a rapport with the pupils and now whenever they see me around school they say hi, which is lovely!

One thing I know I need to work on now is motivating pupils who literally do not want to do their work. Its definitely one of the tougher things I've had to deal with as there isn't much you can do except nag! I know I have plenty of time to develop those skills though so I'm not too worried! Each week I can feel my confidence building, I'm getting more and more excited to complete my undergraduate degree next year and move on to my PGCE, I can't wait!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

School: Day Four

This week I spent most of my school visit invigilating in an exam. I, along with two teaching assistants were assigned to two pupils who required extra time/readers etc. and sent to a small office. I was originally meant to be a reader, meaning I read the questions on the paper to the pupils, but because the restrictions on what you can and can't say are very strict, and I had never done it before, I became an invigilator instead. I basically had to watch the pupils to make sure they weren't cheating blah blah blah and keep an eye on timing. It was pretty boring but an experience I'm glad I had - weird being on the other side of things in the exam room!

For the last hour I helped a pupil with her R.E work, making a poster about Mother Teresa, she was very capable so I was really only watching her work.

Unfortunately I didn't get to work with the Year 7 group on their numeracy like I've done for the past couple of weeks which was a shame, but the staff said I was missed, which is nice :)

Not the most active week to be honest, but I still feel like my confidence is growing which is always good!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

School: Day Three

Today is the first time I've actually felt useful and not a bit of a spare part for most of the day. I think its because I'm getting more confident and just generally more comfortable. I think I'm getting a hang of the type of 'character' I need to be as a teacher if that makes any sense at all. I'm not there to be a friend to the pupils and I've realised I don't need to be afraid of telling them off.

In first period I helped two students. One with R.E work, which was ridiculously vague e.g. "Write some suggestions why you think the universe exists". Err, what?! The other pupil was working on some history. It wasn't too bad but I think I need to work on coaxing knowledge out of the pupils as opposed to sort of giving the answers away. I do feel I've improved on that in the space of my three visits though.

During lesson two I helped a pair of weaker pupils with their numeracy. They were moving on from the work I helped with last week - addition set out in column form - hundreds, tens and units. It was really nice to see one the students who I had worked with last week getting on with the tasks fairly easily. I felt like I'd actually made a difference and helped, or at least I hadn't wasted an hour of a student's education!

Third lesson I generally just milled about helping any student who needed it. I even tackled simultaneous equations, which I haven't looked at since GCSE. Quite impressed at my own knowledge really!

I really feel 'fulfilled' this week, like I'm actually beginning to see myself as a teacher as opposed to just helping out or playing at it. I had been worrying a little bit because I didn't feel the instant buzz I had imagined I would the second I set foot in the classroom, I do think that has something to do with the fact I haven't been working in history lessons though. But this week re-affirmed that I can definitely see myself teaching :)

In other teaching-related news, I found out from my housemate that all PGCE students get grants on top of Student Loan, depending on which classification of degree you achieve which has helped ease my funding concerns a little bit.

All in all a VERY good week. My best yet :)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Teaching so far.

So far I've had two mornings work experience at a secondary school which I managed to get on through a YSIS scheme at my university. I've been placed in the Learning Support Centre working with weaker students or students in isolation. I have to admit, this is possibly the most difficult combination of students I could work with, I've pretty much been thrown in head first. BUT I am really enjoying the experience so far. I'm still finding my feet and trying to get the balance right between being an authority figure whilst also being approachable. Being a twenty year old girl and only 5ft tall, its something I'm going to have to sort out! Couldn't be much more of a walking target really.

I've worked both one on one with students, particularly those at GCSE level who are revising for exams, and with groups of younger pupils who struggle with numeracy and literacy under the guidance of teachers, which I've enjoyed the most. I was told that eventually I should be able to work in history lessons which should give me more of an idea of the job I'm hopefully going to be getting myself into! I've loved my experience so far though, haven't been put off yet!

Next steps involve registering on the GTTR website and preparing myself for another UCAS-style application. YAY. I'm also setting up another placement at my old secondary school working particularly in the history department which should be great.

I also really need to collect my log book from campus so I can record each visit which I think is mainly meant to act as a diary/trigger to help with any applications. Anyway, these are the questions I have to answer about each school visit:

·                     What did you do today?
·                     What worked well?
·                     What didn't work so well?
·                     How did your contribution benefit the children and teacher today?
·                     What did you enjoy most about today's session?
·                     Did you feel that the school used your skills effectively today? If not, why?
·                     Did you discuss the session with the teacher?
·                     Action Points for next visit

I still feel too young to deal with all this adult stuff!


Hi! I'm Colette. A twenty year old history student very close to completing the second year of my undergrad degree. This blog is going to be about my teaching placement(s), the application process for my history PGCE and fingers crossed, my experiences throughout my PGCE as I learn how to become a secondary school history teacher.