So, you want to be a teacher. To do that you’ve got to survive a year of unpaid labour in school as well as keeping up with a mammoth amount of academic readings, research, writing and record keeping. Here are my top tips for survival.
Top Ten Tips to Survive your PGCE
- Be timely – arrive at the time you’ve been asked. I know this should be really obvious, but you’d be surprised how many students I’ve known turn up late. It’s not just your teacher who notices what time you rock up. Your possible employers – the leadership team notice too!
- Name them – quickly, children will listen more to someone who knows their name. It’s worth planning some name games/ ice-breakers. If names are tricky for you then ask if you can get the children to wear name labels just while you’re learning names.
- Note it – take notes when you are observing others teach (teachers, TAs, fellow students), it doesn’t have to be an essay just a quick note of something you thought was great that you want to use/ try in future. Reporter pads are great as well as post it notes.
- Flaunt it! – What’s your specialism? Can you play an instrument? Is there a craft you know? Then share it – your mentor may be learning something from you. I know I learnt tons from my students.
- Be present – in the staffroom, yes you’re super busy, but make time to sit down in the staffroom for at least 10 minutes in your day. It’s a great place to network.
- File it – Keep your file up to date and organised (whether virtual or paper). You don’t want the headache of having to get everything together last minute.
- Be nice – if you’re lucky enough to have one or more TAs in your class – treat them right. They have lots of experience and knowledge. Utilise this, plan effectively for them and ensure they feel valued.
- Snap it (ask first) – take photos of displays, classroom layouts and resources. Analyse what is good and what could be better. This will be a great help when you are setting up your own classroom as an NQT. Do you see something that could be enhanced? Maybe you want to improved the experience of EAL learners in the classroom. Plan and discuss with the class teacher how you could make improvements to displays and resources. The HP Sprocket is a handy device to take instant pics and add them to your files.
- Display it – Offer to do a display or set up a role-play area. Your teacher will be very grateful, but a stand out display will help you stand out with other teachers and the leadership team.
- Listen up – to the good and the bad. Don’t ignore the good. It’s very easy to dwell on the things you need to do to improve than remember all the good points your tutor/ mentor said to you. In my experience a good tutor/ mentor will tell you what went well and give you one or two pointers to take away; you could be fabulous and you should still get one or two things to work on. If not – they’re not really helping you grow.
Good Luck in your PGCE year!