Half term is already upon us and with it brings a close to seven weeks of my PGCE (six if you don’t include the introduction week, which we do since that week was pretty full on).
It has been a crazy seven weeks, and I have already learnt so much but know there is still so much more to learn so I know my half term is going to be full of reading and lesson planning. I have an observation the day we get back and an assessment the day after!! So take it from me it is true, teachers really don’t have as much holiday as you think they do.
So far in this journey I feel that I am managing okay, I know my reading is behind (there is so much that I think it will never be over and it has just dawned that we have an essay to do as well! That I am the most worried about.
In the six weeks I have come to see that the main areas that I need to improve are, getting the learners more involved in group discussions/ general motivation as well as figuring out online opportunities with a side of classroom management.
My classes are two hours long and maintaining motivation is one of the larger issues I face, especially since my classes are typically workshop sessions where they are supposed to be left to their own devices however with the experience I have gained over the past six weeks I have come to see that the students become distracted after an hour or so of work. A problem I feel I faced was not wanting to disrupt the class to do something with the students but after the half term I am going to try and break up the class with an activity as after all; the learners are only disrupting themselves after an hour or so anyway, so I might as well use this natural lull in concentration to gather the learners up and do something with them (something that was suggested to me from an observation and a tactic for more stimulated learning I came across in ‘Pritchard, 2009’). I thought rather than going through all the information I want the learners to know at the start of the two hour session I could break the session almost in two, obviously this will not work all the time (or I feel that it wouldn’t work all the time) but I can only try and see how this works with these learners, if it doesn’t work I will try something else.
Technology is another element that has been suggested I explore and after having a PGCE session about such things I think the online quizzes such as ‘Plickers’ and ‘Kahoot’ are good programmes to use as starters but that using One Note would be the most beneficial for my students.
One class that I have use computers for the two hours, as they should be using the time to do their contextual research for projects but most have issues regarding printing and saving and I have also come to find it difficult to assess how productive the class has been. It was suggested that I add a submission box to Moodle but have found most of the students do not use Moodle as much as they should, however all students have access to email and office 365 at the college (some even email their work to themselves each lesson) so setting up a class One Notebook seemed like a good idea.
This notebook would allow the students to upload their work on a weekly basis, allowing me and other teachers to check what they have been writing without the worry that they need to print or have saving issues (as they can copy and paste their work into a note document). I feel that this could be a simple solution to a continuing issue but again I can only try it and see.
Classroom management is something that will forever be an ongoing area of learning (well I get the feeling teaching is forever an ongoing learning area) but that for me, right now, it is a case of learning what I could do if…
I have done some reading on the matter (Vizard, 2007. Petty, 2014) on top of the class we had but again I know that I have yet to come across any real serious issues in classroom management and that my issues tend to be related to motivation and simple control of the Primary Behaviour and low level disturbances.
I hope to use this time over half term to catch up where I feel that I have fallen behind but to also catch up socially, I have found that doing this course has taken its toll on my social calendar (not that it was the best anyway) but that I have been super busy, and super tired. Working weekends does only give me the two days in the week I have out of college to do everything I need to do but this week I should at least be able to catch up with sleep and recharge the batteries… well fingers crossed.
- Petty, Geoff (2014) Teaching Today: A practical guide fifth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
- Pritchard, Alan (2009) Ways of Learning: Learning Theories and Learning Styles in the Classroom. Second Edition. New York, USA: Routledge Publishing
- Vizard, Dave (2007) How to Manage Behaviour in Further Education. London, UK: Paul Chapman Publishing.