The start of PP2 definitely did not go how I had expected or planned. Where I was left with little to no mentoring on PP1, suddenly I had someone who cared, who was very particular, who was very detailed focused and who was a bit of a control freak (aren’t we all?!). Suddenly, I had forgotten how to teach. Worse: I had forgotten how to plan. By the time Easter was looming, I couldn’t think of a starter to save my life.
As I fell into the holidays like an exhausted clubber falls into bed, I decided I needed to do something to recharge my creativity. The first step was simple – rest. Forget work for a bit and recharge the batteries. Second, I needed to meet up with people who would inspire me. I would read books. I would organise myself. I did all this (the latter to a lesser extent than I would have liked!) and by the time I was back at school for the summer term, something had clicked. Something had changed. I was no longer fazed by the prospect of planning. Instead of eschewing advice and starter ideas, I starting putting these ideas into my lessons. I was like a different teacher.
Looking back, the fog that I was in before Easter was the ever-increasing panic that I might not be able to actually do it. At no point in the five years doing my OU degree, nor in the time before applying for the PGCE did I ever entertain the notion that I might not be able to do it. It sounds like the most horrendous arrogance to say that it just never occurred to me that I might fail. At some point last term, I was faced with not failure necessarily but the prospect of being severely mediocre and that was terrifying to me.
I have had a slow return to school since Easter due to illness (first my daughter, then me ugh) but I feel so calm and in control. I was just thinking of my resolution to be ‘tough’ – this still stands. I need to take the criticism and not let it get me down. I need to stare that panic down when I am stumped for ideas. My confidence is back and I really, really hope I can cling on to it until the end of the course because it really makes this whole thing a lot easier.
I have a lot to be getting on with. Some of this stuff is big stuff (find a job, write two essays) and some is a bit smaller (learn about SMART board software, read Macbeth). I wish I was built to work steadily and consistently whenever I had spare time. In the past hour, I have blogged to my Tumblr, tidied by desk, read a bit about behaviour management (I will tell you about the awesome Pivotal Behaviour conference I went to last week at some point) and starting writing this blog post. None of these things were on my to do list (although tidying my desk was a prerequisite for getting anything else done so I’ll give myself a break on that).
I think part of the problem is that my to-do list is so large that it makes me balk and then hide my head in the internet. I have read enough productivity blogs (because how else can you be über-productive but by wasting hours reading blogs?!) to know that I ought to be picking out my three most important things and concentrate on those first. Three things is a lot more palatable than twenty. So my three things for today are:
- Make resources and plan starter for tomorrow’s Macbeth lesson.
- Write at least 500 words of my PDP assignment essay which I have not yet started and which is due on 15th of this month.
- Finish reading Macbeth.
If I get more done, great. Nothing else on the list has to be done by tomorrow so I will not worry about those items. For now.
Don’t forget to be awesome.
Borrowed from the Nerdfighters (created by John Green and his brother Hank), this applies to both me any my pupils. Don’t wing it. Don’t do just enough. Don’t scrape by. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t be lazy. Don’t be scared. Be awesome.
Remember that children are human becomings.
Tomorrow, we are back at university and I am at once eager and reticent. I want to get on with my training and having learned where I will be posted for my second professional placement (PP2), (I am pleased by the way) I am keen to get back on the teaching horse, before my nerve leaves me altogether.
This leads me to not only reflect on PP1 but also look forward. I think a lot of the issues that arose on PP1 were avoidable (although looking through the lens of hindsight makes things oh so clear). I think the biggest lesson I learned was that I must not rely on other people to take the lead in terms of my training. I had simply assumed that the school mentors would be well-versed in the course expectations and as such, I left it to them to lead the way. It is now clear that communication between the university and the schools was not as joined up as I had assumed. I was too focused on the business of getting teaching that the small matter of evidencing my progress was not in my radar. I have made a list of resolutions, in the spirit of the new year, which will remind me of what I intend to do during my second placement.
If nothing else, I certainly feel more prepared to go back into school, the second time around. I have a clearer idea of what is expected and what I can expect. I hope I will be able to focus on being outstanding, rather than simply surviving.
Golden Rule 2: Questions are good (but make sure they are relevant).
Of course I want to encourage questions in my classroom but as I learned this term, so folk just want to ask question after question with little or no relevance either to waste time or just for the fun of it. It didn’t come to this but if needed, I was prepared to resort to giving a three question limit to the main culprits so that they had to learn to prioritise their questions.
Despite the fact that I knew I would be busy with my course, I couldn’t resist starting this blog so that I could safely, anonymously and honestly track my progress as a PGCE student. I wanted to tell the truth. I wanted to reveal all. I wanted it to be so much more than it is. The reason that it doesn’t do any of this seems obvious now. With a full-time course/job, homework, assignments, household duties, motherhood, husband, friends and family and a craft club, I was insane to think that I would have time to maintain yet another blog! This long introduction is my apology for not writing more. I can’t promise that this up-coming term will be any better. But now I am here, let me take you through my first placement by way of one of my favourite things: a list.
In no particular order:
- It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
- I really want to be teacher. Still.
- Within 10 minutes of teaching my first ever class, I had a kid express a racist view and I was totally stumped (mainly due to a surprising amount of rage I felt!).
- I think I might have made a tiny difference to a naughty kid who everyone else has given up on.
- I think he is still naughty.
- I made two wonderful friends.
- I will not miss the school at all.
- I was terribly naive about my own responsibilities in terms of observations, meetings, evidence and targets. I expected the mentors to take the lead. That was an error.
- I am slightly less worried about teaching Drama.
- I still need to read a buttload about Drama.
- I now know what a complex sentence is.
- Unfortunately, this knowledge came after an observed lesson on complex sentences.
- I am so ready for PP2 it’s not even funny.
- I need to find out where I am doing my PP2. (This might change my enthusiasm above).
- I am actually not dreading going back to university.
- I need to stop needing praise and believe in myself more. I am great at seeing the stuff that needs work. I am rubbish at seeing anything I do well.
- I suck at not being perfect at stuff.