So half term has come and almost gone again! And that leaves just one more batch of 6 weeks until the course is over (well kind of, the last deadline is just after the Easter break with a conference in May, but then it’s over).
Unfortunately for myself my deadline is pushed forward due to a holiday (booked before I accepted a place on the PGCE) which falls on the two weeks before the Easter holiday. This means I have the most stressful four weeks I can imagine coming up. One big part of this stress is having to squeeze in four observations within those four weeks. I’ve managed this by having two in one day which isn’t perfect as I feel it isn’t really showing much teaching progress having the observations so close together. I am glad to have two in the one day however, as the day they are on is the first day back after half term which always brings its own problems regarding classroom management (A.K.A. these days are great tests of experience and sources of reflection). These observations also bring with them the paperwork and 1000 word reflections each which take up time and rely on others getting feedback to you which if they are busy delays your own work.
The observations however are the least of my worries (apart from the physical doing the lessons) as I also have to write a 3500 word essay on professionalism due the 13th March – something I should be working on now but I’ve decided to vent via blog first. The essay I understand is important but I feel time would be much better spent with more experience in the classroom, behaviour management and admin – elements which we have been learning more on the job rather than in session and I feel depending on your situation there could be serious gaps in knowledge once you get into a real job (I simply feel that there are things I don’t even know I need to know).
I know that this course has not run as smoothly as the college or any of us students wanted but coming to the end of it, I now feel that the varied classroom experience you get in a traditional PGCE is something that this course could do with adopting. I know from friends who have completed secondary and primary PGCE courses that you would typically have two or three placements in differing institutions but that with this PGCE being aimed at life-long learning the varied experience has obviously been deemed unnecessary.
With the last leg of this journey about to begin I know it is going to be tough getting everything done, but I will knuckle down and get it done – it will all be worth it in the end.
Through my teaching experience so far I have struggled with getting a certain class settled and kept motivated through the two hours and other class talking. So far I have tried to implement starter activities with the quiet group but this ‘morning news’ starter which I started doing with them fizzled out due to a lack of engagement from the students and I have yet to start something new with them.
The lively group however can take a long time to settle in the class which so far I have tried to take control of but feel that by getting them doing something as they walk in could help them focus since the class is the last of the day (on a Monday) and is after lunch. Keeping this class motivated is also difficult, they drift off task often towards the last 20 minutes of the lesson so thinking of Break-out tasks is a must to avoid wasting that time and to stop low level behaviour issues developing.
I also hope to use these activities to develop the students creative thinking as they have been very linear in their thinking which has not been helping them in their projects. This should also help the students see relevance in the activities as many have the attitude that if it is not clearly relevant to them or the course then they do not want to do it.
So far ideas considered have included:
- Quick draw activities
- Sketch journal
- Puzzles to solve (best targeted towards maths and English)
- Word association
- Perfect Monster drawing game
- Describe your partner in images
- Paired drawing – describing something to a partner who has to then draw it.
- Chindogu – useless inventions
- Paperclip uses.
- What’s in the box.
- Animal jumble
Until I try some of these however I will not know how the students react to them so it will be a case of trial and error, like the morning news idea.
The session on Curriculum I found to be very insightful as I never imagined so much went into the designing of one, I always assumed they were set by the government and exam boards and that was that (apart from small changes made by the organisations that ran them but I always saw that as teaching methods and did not consider that a part of ‘curriculum’).
I thought it was useful to consider our own curriculum during the session but found it difficult to come up with a rationale behind Art and Design, it isn’t even on the National Curriculum and is not seen as a necessary subject for many people, especially the parents of many students. It is often regarded as a stepping stone to further education rather than employment which is often seen as a lengthy process and a waste of time as it is one of the hardest areas to get work in.
For the art and design curriculum it is important that changes are made to make it more relatable to the job market but that student get the chance to experience working too. I believe more focus needs to be on developing the creativity and skills of the students which can be transferred to the creative industry workplace.
This session continued with exploring curriculum and although I felt it is useful to know the finer workings of and influences and models of curriculum I felt that much of this information would only seem relevant to teaching if directly involved in creating a curriculum from the ground up. I wonder how much say a teacher, not in a head of department role, would have in the development of the curriculum they teach beyond the methods of teaching it?
This session underpinned a lot of the teaching from the previous lessons and covered how curriculum is assessed and the idea of ‘Quality’. It made sense why everything has to be assess and I see it all as how as teachers we need to reflect (self asses) to improve however I feel that with curriculum the changes are harder to judge. There are a lot of elements that need to be considered when developing a curriculum as highlighted from the guest lecture from Debra Gray. These outside influences develop a curriculum years in advance and the reviews (assessment) are only considered annually too so changes are slow.
Debra Gray’s Passion for curriculum development and making sure that GIFHE get it right was inspiring but I feel it only emphasised my thoughts earlier that the ‘front-line’ teachers have little say in the curriculum they teach however I have come to realise that they do have a say in its development and that this is where a teacher should concentrate their efforts on – teaching to the best of their ability with what they are given and adapt when those is QA and QE decide to change things.
Being a Professional in teaching is the need to have a suitable level of education and experience within your level of teaching (such as holding a qualification up to level 5 in-order-to teach up to level 3/4) to enable your knowledge to be sufficient to teach students the information they need to, in the end goal, make contributions to society. Being a professional includes the responsibility of continuing improving and developing your practice, practically and in theory. It is about sharing your knowledge with your industry and upholding the standards of your institution and the standards expected from ‘teachers’.
Being a professional is about setting a moral standard for your students to follow, be that in the way you act and dress to respecting the expression of views and beliefs of others. It is about being fair to all students and showing no bias, about being positive and encouraging and helping them (the student) be the best that they can be regardless of their background or natural ability.