As I write this I have just completed my first week on my journey to becoming a teacher, the week most have said is the easiest.
A scary new prospect for me, the decision to do this PGCE course caused me so much anxiety that even when I got the acceptance letter I was still unsure. It was a matter of making it ‘past the point of no return’ really – where I had to follow the path I had chosen because too much in my life had altered to go back.
Before I thought about embarking on Teacher Training, I had just finished a Masters that I had done part time, while working full time in retail and it was just a thought. A next possible step when I thought I wanted to get something more out of my life after the hard road I had gone down during my Masters.
And it was that thought that pushed me along, but the biggest thought that held me back was the thought – the fear – of change. I’m still really young, only 26, but content in my working situation and already having bills to pay, the fear of changing it all kept me questioning my resolve.
One of those ‘points of no return’ was when my hours were cut at work from full time to weekends.
That is when the panic set it.
That was when, before my student finance had been approved, that I thought “If this all fails what will I do?”
But I had to think of the long term. I had to think I am only 26, there is still time. If it goes wrong I’ll figure it out. I’m lucky enough to be supported by people around me, I don’t really have any serious commitments in life (like rent to pay or kids to support) so that if it does go wrong it’s not all that hard to fix it. Not really.
So I took the plunge, I started!
And new anxieties began… the largest being “do I know enough?”
I began to question if I really knew enough about my subject to teach this to others, and I feel that this sense of not knowing will probably never leave me.
I am not teaching one of those subjects that are strictly set to a curriculum; I won’t have to teach the same thing year in year out so students can pass an exam.
My subject is ‘Art’. There is so much out there, and I know I know a lot, but trying to get over the anxiety has for me, been about looking at my subject and accepting that I will get a student with ideas that I won’t know. That I will have to keep learning my subject, and that thought, although scary is actually really exciting.
The first week of my training (AKA ‘The easy week’) was filled with understanding polices (there are loads), online training courses (which there are quite a few of) and understanding where I am going to be teaching.
The College where I am placed are advocates for the use of technology in the class room, and to aid their own organisation, and this is what has caused the most stress in this ‘easy week’, getting my head around it all.
I never knew there was so much to know. Staff intranet, reporting technology, online learning (AKA Scheduled Online Learning Assessment, or SOLA for short), it is pretty mind-boggling stuff for a reasonably technology adverse person. However, it is something that I will learn and I feel we were not expected to take it all in right there and then, 100%. The college has, what seem like, a fantastic support network, Progression Coaches, Mentors, specialists in this SOLA stuff and referencing and just about anything else you might need help with and that has been incredibly reassuring.
Technology aside I’ve enjoyed getting a feeling for what is to come next. I met my personal Mentor and a couple of the teachers who I will be shadowing and working with and I am excited to get into the class and see what it is all about.
For me this PGCE has another barrier to cross, which I am honestly slightly less apprehensive about, and that is that the college focuses on Btec awards. I have come from a world of A-levels. This is a whole new way of talking about education for me; everything is discussed as ‘Levels’ and it has been hard for me to translate this information into what I already know. That is why I am excited to shadow, to get into the classroom and talk to the teachers so I can understand and clear these apprehensions, so I can relax into the stress to come from assignments and actual teaching.
A big part of this whole process for me has been trying to not get worked up and stressed about what is to come. I’m not going to be thrown into a class with no idea of how to do a lesson plan, or even who I am going to be talking to… that is to come.
This week has been about taking each day as it comes, settling into the nerves, meeting people in the exact same position and understanding that I have just taken my first tentative step onto the rocky, stressful, “you will be in tears by Christmas” road to becoming a teacher.