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Anxiety is kicking in.... any tips for PGCE?

(18 Posts)
namechangedyetagain Sun 09-Aug-20 08:32:28

About (fingers crossed) to start my scitt/ PGCE year. Have left my job, started looking through the pre course work, been to visit the school, met the teacher. Thought I was ok and now I'm in a state of panic. The anxiety dreams are starting...

What if I can't do it? What if my ideas are rubbish? What if I'm that awful trainee that really shouldn't be in the classroom? What if I don't know how to write an essay (been a fair few years).

Any tips? What would you all like in a trainee if you had one in your class?

OP’s posts: |
Yourownpersonaljesus Sun 09-Aug-20 08:47:36

I would say that you need to be very organised and self disciplined. Also listen to your mentor and learn from them. Be confident but not cocky (I’m sure you’re not!). When you have assignments try to not leave them until the last minute as you never know what will crop up at school. Do you have a good support network? Do you have children? I completed mine ten years ago as a single parent and it was so hard but I did it. You can too. Good luck.

namechangedyetagain Sun 09-Aug-20 09:15:21

I do have children (7,10,12). I think one of my main worries is juggling 3 schools, childcare etc - no different to any one else I suspect. I like to think I'm organised but I really do have a tendency to procrastinate or re do if not perfect. This I need to learn to let go!

I know that I will not know what's hit me and that you can never be fully prepared. I just want to be useful and do well enough to pass.

OP’s posts: |
Coffeeandteach Sun 09-Aug-20 09:35:07

Like the person above said, organisation is key. Start planning essays as soon as you get them as something will always crop up at school. Spend some time batch cooking and freezing meals over the next few weeks. They were a lifesaver for me when I would have too much marking/essays and had no time to cook. Stocking up on tinned soup/microwave pasta for days when I has no time to make a packed lunch. Teach the 12 year old to laminate so they can cut and laminate your resources 😁

I've only ever seen a handful of people fail and it was because they lacked organisation skills or did not listen to feedback from their mentor. You will learn everything else on placement/at uni and you defineitely won't fail because of a few rubbish ideas (trust me- I had many).

MrsHamlet Sun 09-Aug-20 11:01:47

In my experience, trainees with commitments outside of school do well because they're already good at juggling!

A couple of my top tips:
- school already has resources for everything. They know better than you, so use their ideas and resources. You don't have to reinvent the wheel
- when planning a lesson, it shouldn't ever take more than twice the length of the lesson to plan. It will get much quicker but if you're spending two hours looking for the perfect resource, you're going to go mad very quickly
- watch everyone carefully. You'll see things you like and you don't; things you'll use and you won't
- don't volunteer for stuff to look good. Yes standard 8 is important but s1-7 are more important. Focus on becoming a great classroom teacher and then think about what else you can do. Setting up cheerleading club is great, but not at the expense of the rest of your job, your family, or yourself.

It's the best job in the world (and sometimes the worst too)

SparklyOnTheInside Sun 09-Aug-20 12:25:50

Take every opportunity to observe other teachers and be proactive about it if you can. Try to see as many people teaching, in as many year groups, as possible.

Be clear what you are looking at, eg behaviour management, AFL etc.

It will be fab!

stdmumihope Sun 09-Aug-20 16:55:09

I have just qualified. I loved my training year and feel sad it was cut short by Covid. My big tip is get to know your teacher colleagues. Their strengths will be different, so observe, copy their best bits, and listen to their advice.
At times you will give rubbish lessons. That's ok. Think about what went wrong and make it better next time.
Strike up a relationship with the children (but remember you are a teacher, not their friend - it really helps with behaviour management.
Good luck and enjoy.

namechangedyetagain Mon 10-Aug-20 20:36:17

Sorry for delay in replying and thank you for taking time to help me. They are really useful tips, thank you. Is there a format I should follow for observations? I want to learn as much as possible as I know that I have a lot to learn! I am worried that I won't manage. Is it ok to use existing resources / find things on the internet?

Also would you recommend buying your own laminator? Anything else that you couldn't manage without (esp for recent students).

Thank you again.

OP’s posts: |
MrsHamlet Mon 10-Aug-20 22:26:57

I wouldn't recommend a laminator because a) I loathe card sorts with a violent passion and b) you may well be able to use the one at school. Don't start propping up the education system just yet 🤣
Definitely use existing resources, starting with the ones the school uses. They know more than you, and more than the internet about their kids. You do not need to reinvent the wheel.
Your training provider may well have a format - but I advocate a tight focus. So maybe you're looking at classroom and behaviour management. Look for the obvious routines, the cues the teacher uses, the way the use the space to maintain control, how they use their voice, what rewards and sanctions they use... but all with the focus on behaviour.

Meganliz123 Mon 10-Aug-20 22:44:33

I've just completed my PGCE - it's going to be the most rewarding and enriched year of your life!

Three top tips:
1. KNOW YOUR STUDENTS - above everything else! If you know your students, everything else will fall into place.
2. Build a relationship with your mentor. This is so important! A few of my fellow PGCE students didn't get on well with their mentors and it had a negative impact on their experience. Be humble, and don't take any feedback personally. Accept it and show that you have taken it on board for your next lesson - even if you don't really agree with it. Remember you are teaching their students, so it's natural for them to be protective.
3. Show initiative and independence. Of course ask questions and go to teachers for advice. However, teachers are incredibly busy and mentoring a PGCE student is only a small part of their job. Don't take it to heart if they don't have the time to give you an hour of their time to go through everything (like I did!)

Don't pay attention to anyone else's progress. Many PGCE students came into university sessions believing they were qualified teachers after only teaching one lesson. Focus on yourself because it is likely that they are not doing as well as they make out (trust me!)

A little phrase a fellow PGCE student invented - "Pinch with pride!" I live in Wales and one of our teaching standards is collaboration. Sharing good practice is encourgaged - we are not trying to reinvent the wheel. Always ask before you go into the shared drive to access your department's schemes of work out of courtesy, but take all of the resources you can get your hands on!

Have a pencil case full of spares for students who do not have their own - there will be plenty. Many of the classrooms I taught in had no resources like this, so having my own avoided disruption. Same goes for board pens, board rubbers, highlighters, clickers for PowerPoint etc.

I did buy a laminator (Tesco £20 ish) I only used it a couple of times, but it's a good investment.

Establish your routine - one that works for you! Mine was:

All of my free lessons consisted of uploading anything onto my online portfolio (yours might be an actual folder) Your portfolio has all of your lesson plans, resources, research and enquiry tasks (you might do an independent enquiry/observation in the ALN unit to see how your school supports students with additional needs for example). Then, you'll need to 'tag' or label everything in your portfolio under the relevant teaching standard to show you are meeting them.

My evenings consisted of around 3 hours of planning lessons. HAVE A DAY OFF OVER THE WEEKEND. You will never complete your list of things to do whether or not you give yourself a day off, so give yourseld a day off. Friday night and Saturday was my free time.

I'll be honest, I didn't give my all in the assignments - your teaching is all that matters. I got 55 and 65 in my assignments but walked away with 17 QTS standards because I focussed on my teaching. Luckily, mine were due 2 weeks after Christmas and 2 weeks after Easter, so I just cracked them out over the holidays.

I didn't use a diary despite buying a posh for about £20! I lived by lists! I always had a list for what needed to be done by the end of the day, a list for what needed to be done by the end of the week and an 'important but not urgent list'" So, if I did have a spare hour, I'd look at the important but not urgent list and do something from there. You will not mange to complete everything on time perfectly, but keep going in and keep doing your best. As long as your lessons are planned - that's the MOST important thing. You'll even have days where you won't feel as prepared for certain lessons - just wing them! Be honest with your mentor and say "I'm so sorry I don't feel too confident with this lesson today, but I'm going to give it my all!"

I don't have children, but so many did - you won't be alone! I'm sorry if anyone else has already said the above - I have't read any other replies. Everyon is different, you have to do what works for you, but this is what worked for me.

Best of luck, and welcome to teaching - it is the best job in the world! xxxx

Frlrlrubert Mon 10-Aug-20 23:53:51

Something I didn't need until NQT because I was coddled/lucky on placement, but may be useful.

If you are struggling with a particular pupil/group, go and observe them in a subject they enjoy and behave well in. It'll give you insight into what motivates them and also they then know you know they can be 'good'.

Also, if you have an area of practice you need to improve, ask your mentor which teachers are known for being really good at it, and observe them but more important actually talk to them.

Join the trainee WhatsApp or whatever.

Don't spend ages googling the perfect picture for your PowerPoint (I'm still sometimes guilty on this one).

Don't spend ages wondering whether to give a mark, decide and move on.

Yourownpersonaljesus Tue 11-Aug-20 10:23:58

I would recommend buying your own laminator - only a cheap one though. I’ve had mine for ten years and it’s still going. When I first started teaching I used it at home a lot for making resources for displays mostly. I now keep it in my classroom. We share one laminator between nine classes and it’s kept in the corridor nowhere near my classroom so it’s much quicker to use my own. Also the shared laminator sometimes breaks! With regards to making powerpoints, worksheets etc as many people have said you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. My new mantra is ‘good enough is good enough’ - I used to spend hours making my own resources and this was just a waste of my precious time.

namechangedyetagain Tue 11-Aug-20 10:49:33

This is so useful, thank you. At the risk of asking a stupid question, what is a 'card sort' @MrsHamlet?

I forgot to say, it's a primary PGCE should that make any difference. My mentor said on my initial visit that I needn't worry about planning etc until at least half term. I want to get to know the children first as I am quite terrified to be going into Y6. I mean it was only last year DS was that age and DD is about to be Y6 so I should be used to that age group!

I know I'm feeling worried as I'm having anxiety dreams about DSs GCSE results and he's only just going into Y8 🤣

OP’s posts: |
BlessYourCottonSocks Tue 11-Aug-20 19:10:55

A card sort is more or less literally what it says. With primary - perhaps matching up the word apple on one card with a picture of an apple on another. They are handy as a starter often (I teach secondary) - I would probably be giving out key words and definitions - match them up. Or perhaps sort them into groups that go together and justify the connection.

I love my laminator. Things look clean and tidy once laminated. I would laminate a child if they stood still long enough..I've got lots of resources that I've laminated over the years and it means they can be reused. Each to their own, however.

MrsHamlet Tue 11-Aug-20 20:57:03

@namechangedyetagain it's the devil's spawn! You spend hours making nice matchy matchy cards, the activity takes 45 seconds, someone peels the laminate from 30% of the cards, and 5 go missing.

I've personally found very few card sorts that can't be done more effectively on a piece of ordinary paper.

My students think it's hilarious on the rare occasion we do one. They know my feelings on this 😂

year5teacher Sat 15-Aug-20 14:59:56

The thing about the PGCE is it’s highly dependent on who your mentor is, so the important thing like others have said is to get the relationship with them right. You don’t want to be too formal and not get on, but you also don’t want to be overly pally. You have to remember they are assessing you so they’re not your mate even if they’re very friendly with you.

You’re going into what is essentially someone else’s already established classroom with its own routine and structure. You won’t be able to change up the daily routine or the classroom ethos, you’ll have to work around it. You must also stick to the behaviour policy of the school, I worked on placement at a school that was incredibly prescriptive of using the same language across the school so I had to follow that. I don’t want to come across like the PGCE has no scope for freedom or experimentation, but you have to learn to work to someone else’s style which might not match yours. This can be hard if you haven’t been a TA.

I had two very different mentors and I had to adapt to both of their styles because sometimes you will be told to change a lesson that you thought was great, or encouraged to do something you wouldn’t have necessarily thought of. This is actually an opportunity to challenge your own preconceptions of what is “good practice”. Also, sometimes you learn just as much if not more by seeing/trying things you didn’t like.

Keep a reflective journal 👏 even if you’re making it up or blagging it a bit, it’s good evidence towards TS (the one about reflecting on effective practice or whatever it is haha) and also it will help you if you have to write an assignment on reflective practice. It’s also good to get easy material for any weekly reflections you are asked to write.

When uni ask you to read a 20 page reading, 90% of the time it never gets referenced in the seminar so.... use your judgement 👀

DO NOT REINVENT THE WHEEL. Use twinkl (within reason), use TES, get on Instagram and use free resources. Good instas - teachpal, yesmissdaniels. I have tons of their stuff in my classroom. Do NOT spend hours making your PowerPoint pretty or laminating stuff that doesn’t need to be laminated. You want to look like you’ve put in effort but you will burn out, and may get questioned of whether your choices actually impact the children’s learning.

Always think “will this further the children’s learning?” If not, bump it to the bottom of the to do list.

Be organised - you don’t want to spend time planning a great lesson for an ob and then get the feedback that you forgot to print a sheet!

Sorry that was a million things. Remember it’s a JOB it’s not your life and it’s not worth burning out for. I actually found it not too bad in terms of workload. X

year5teacher Sat 15-Aug-20 15:03:36

Just to say I’m not advocating cutting corners. Your mentors and uni will hopefully be very clear about the expectations and you need to meet them. I’m just saying that from experience people can grind themselves down trying to get everything perfect and sometimes that can take away from time that could be better spent really thinking about what will make an impact on the children. Sometimes you’re going to be a better teacher the next day when you switch off for the evening rather than spending two hours making a beautiful slideshow or poring over a reading that never gets discussed. (It’s best to skim read sometimes and pick out important points)

lifeafter50 Sat 15-Aug-20 15:22:08

Focus on the standards.
Everything you do can tick off one or some of them and document as you go. I have been teaching for years now but still keep a list because is useful for appraisal and progression, and actually just being professional.
As PP said don't sweat the essays, do a good enough job but if they are perfect you have spent too much time on them.
Resources - I spent way too much time in powerpoints -now I have a portfolio of standard frames for slides on specific parts o the lesson so can easily slot in specifics. If you go onto TES you will see some spectacularly busy and awful stuff in PowerPoints -don't bother downloading them just find ideas and express in your own format.
Less is more. The pupils learn better when there is one key idea you want to get over to them rather than cramming and confusing.
For behaviour-the best thing I was told was 'catch them being good'
If worked on supply for a few years and was always called back because Ihad good behaviour management -there was no secret, it was just ignoring goading and focusing on the good stuff (it has to be authentic -even the lariest hard it secretly craves praise, tho with teenagers don't do it publicly or they lose face 😀

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