MA Education at last!

This blog has taken a back seat and it shouldn’t have really. Even though it was started as part of my PGCE study and I guess was meant to fizzle out after that I have kept it going with updates now and then and it still attracts a good few views. I’ve decided to officially revive this blog now though and use it to share and reflect on my current educational education. It seems a better place to do that than my personal blog.

So what’s happened since last year when I updated? In a nutshell …

My businesses have begun to thrive. I have a handmade outlet which keeps me sane – nothing like creativity to absorb stress and I delivery training and consultancy on a variety of business (particularly small business) areas on a recommendation basis only which keeps things manageable and personal which I prefer. I’ve also branched into the world of demonstrations on online tutorial which is quite an interesting adventure where I’m learning a lot of new skills.

I finally got around to signing up for that MA in Education which I’m part way through now. When I thought the time was right for it I signed up and then at the beginning of semester one devastating things stuck my little family and we had some major adjustments to make and a new way of living to get used to and it kind of took it’s toll big time. In semester two now everything is under control I have some catch up to do but I’m confident that I’ll get there with the support of the uni and my family and friends.

I’ll talk about how I got onto the course, the requirements and details of the course as well as fees in due course but for this semester I have one module to study and I chose Digital Technologies in Education which already is proving to be really interesting and we have a great small group of students with lots of diversity to add richness to discussions, so it’s pretty much the perfect set up. I’ll talk more about the assessment for this module in due course too but let’s just say it’s very different to anything I’ve done before and is very much in keeping with the subject material.

So if any of this might interest you as a mature student, a prospective MA student or somebody who specifically wants to study further in the education discipline check back and have a read of anything relevant to you over the next few months.

As always happy to answer any questions.





New Year New Things!

I’ve began 2015 with finally enrolling to do that AAT level 3 which I’ll swiftly follow up with level 4. It will be useful to me in teaching in the future but it will be useful to me in my business now. In my Business Degree and through various work roles I’ve picked up lots of accountancy ‘stuff’ but the AAT just consolidates and professionalises that and I wish I’d just done it alongside my degree but didn’t think of that at the time.

Anyway because of my degree and prior knowledge I was able to start at level 3 which was great and what was even better, I got funding for it so I only had to pay part of the course fee. I opted against doing it at my local college and went to a private provider, it’s quicker and I think my move away from the place I’d spent 4 tough years was a good one. So that is going well.

I’ve had an opportunity to offer training to groups of business people in a whole range of areas from business administration through to logistics, from social media in business to production management, from recruitment and selection to contract law.

It fits perfectly with what I wanted to do and it is all flexibly arranged to suit me and my time and commitment. This is fantastic as it means my new business launch at the end of this month can go ahead as planned and I will not only be doing something I love and which I find very relaxing and therapeutic for my living I also get to teach, my other passion in life.

It is worth noting that as a PGCE holder especially if yours is in LLS that there are many options for teaching out there in formal or less formal settings, as an employed person or freelance/self employed. Fees for course delivery can be very significant particularly if delegates pay per delegate for sessions or companies pay per half, full day or multi day sessions.  The more bespoke your training becomes the more you can adjust your fees.

It is worth remembering that although you might do your training in a formal school, college or HE environment, those are not the only places your PGCE will be recognised or useful to you. My PGCE prepared me better to deliver a higher standard of private training as a self employed trainer and I feel that reflects in the quality of the content and delivery of my sessions.

Keep your options open and be aware of all of those options. Training is a big thing in industry and quality trainers with experience in business or a variety of  businesses with a sound academic knowledge to back that practical experience up is very valuable.

Happy New Year PGCE students and brace yourself for a busy few months as you ride to the end of this fast paced and demanding year. Keep on top of the work, keep focused and keep your mind open to opportunities for teaching, don’t become tunnel visioned and think that the area you train in is the area you have to or will ultimately teach in.

Happy Birthday

This blog has been ‘alive’ for a  year now. So much has happened in that year it is pretty incredible.

I keep noticing spikes in viewers and wonder if this year’s cohorts are not finding it out and if they are well then I hope they are finding it useful.

After all of that I didn’t stay in teaching very long. I wasn’t really teaching in the sector I wanted to teach nor the subject I wanted to teach and so as we were unable to relocate right now I was happily treading water and signed up for MEd. But then someone planted a seed in my mind and now I’m heading down a different road, where I’m the boss and that is a good place to be.

It’s caused all kinds of chaos but I’ve had some really good advice and support through my switches and changes and at the moment it’s good to have that bit more time to spend honing up skills as I do my share to help in a family crisis. Things all just worked out right in the end and once we’re through this period of uncertainty with family health issues we shall be good to pick up and run with the fledgling projects which are currently underway.

The best thing is I get to do some training and that’s always good, so teaching and all I learned about it has not been fully abandoned and it is something I hope to step back into in the future when the time is right for me… or rather when the place is right for me.

People keep telling me that it’s a shame I’m not a teacher because I was good at it and I reminisce and nod but then I reflect on the many opportunities we have to be teachers in our lives and know that I am, was and will ever be a teacher in one form or another and all that I learned and continue to learn will stay with me and is being put to use and will always be put to use. Nothing I do is ever wasted, if I thought it was going to be I would never do it.

All the best of wishes to those of you coming to the close of semester one of your study. Next semester will be a tough test as your teaching steps up and all of that theory begins to come in thick and fast. Top tips – plan your observations well, keep up to date with your paperwork and mentor meetings, keep your blog up to date unlike many on my course who just slapped a couple of entries in at the beginning of June and take every opportunity to learn as much as you can now especially about the curriculum and about other qualifications which you might teach at the same level. For instance if you are teaching BTEC level 2 or 3, at FE or in a school, do a bit of research into GCSE, AS and A level too and look at some NVQ’s if they are relevant in your subjects and also look at apprenticeships and what is taught in them. You might find as I did that you become familiar with one type of qualification, the type your placement offers and then when you get to looking for jobs you find you have no knowledge or experience of any of the others in the wide range of options available at levels 1, 2 and 3. Having some knowledge and insight if not experience can make the difference when you are looking for work. Also keep on top of changes to age of participation and to the GCSE as we know it to prepare yourself for interviews.

EdX Course – Design and Development of Educational Technology

In my spare time… I said that without laughing or asking myself “What’s that?”…I’m taking a couple of EdX courses.

Like Coursera these are free online courses designed and delivered by universities around the world. Successful completion of courses results in awards and certificates and increasingly such courses are seen as being real examples of continuing personal and professional development for individuals to include on CV’s and online profiles.

I’ve taken many online courses in the past and most recently have been following a course on the situation in the Middle East. Students talk about these things and ask questions even if it isn’t within your role to teach them and I don’t know about anyone else but I like to be able to respond and know that my response is accurate or at least historically correct.

This week I also started a course which looks to be very interesting already, the clue is in the title of this post, it’s Design and Development of Educational Technology developed and delivered by the prestigious American university MIT.

It looks at educational theories, mainly constructivism and constructionism and links them to the development of technology for educational use.

If like me you are keen to develop yourself as a technologically savvy teacher or if you want to delve deeper into these learning theories as part of your PGCE this could be a good one for you. Also if you are studying a masters in education either as part of a real class or through distance learning there are ideas which may help you to develop your own academic thought and opportunities to discuss ideas and concepts with people involved and interested in education technology from around the world, at all levels of knowledge with wide and varied experience. It’s all good stuff and comes free.
Just follow THIS LINK TO EDX and see all of the courses on offer and also check out Coursera here too, they have lots of courses which run in the same way on their site.

Useful techy teaching resource

This is a great little ipad app which I spotted shared by a friend on Facebook. I had seen it before but it was on my list of things to look into further and her post helped to jog my memory to do that.

Post it Plus turns an image of post it notes gathered as part of a class discussion, exercise, Q&A or whatever into digital post it notes. How cool is that? They can then be used again, shared for use on one of the many virutal desk tops/whiteboards that there are available now or just shared with the group as an aide memoire or jointly constructed class notes also other users can add to the notes so useful for students who were not at a session or who may think of something later.

Follow THIS LINK for more info and a short video demo.

Behaviour Management in LLS Recommended Text

download (2)I can not recommend Managing Behaviour in Further and Adult Education by Susan Wallace enough as an essential read for anyone working in the LLS or training there or heading there in the future.

I love the easy writing style, the use of case studies which will be all too familiar to many NQT’s and PGCE placement students who are in FE in particular but also in HE.

It puts to bed the myths that students in LLS are there because they choose to be and as such will be model students, impeccably behaved and reasonable… crikey I was in a class of trainee teachers many with recent BA degrees under their belt who didn’t know how to turn up on time, stop giggling, keep on task, prevent themselves from doodling and chattering during lessons, presentations and guest speaks. If people who are trying to manage behaviour in classrooms as teachers can’t behave when they are students then there is no class out there which is immune from behaviour management issues.

As it’s titling suggests also prepare for gaining QTLS (if we figure out what is happening with that) so if that’s where you are heading and it probably is then it’s even more essential.

This is the most up to date version of this book and is available here from Amazon at around £11 plus p&p, £17.50 for the Kindle version and around £15.00 if you buy through Prime. The second edition is available here for less on Amazon and if you are really strapped for cash it’s still a useful purchase. Don’t be put off by the slightly different title it is still the previous version of this book. I have both and either are really useful but of course the updated version does have some useful updates relevant to changes in the sector. I’m not sure if it’s available in the Kindle library to Prime members for a free hire I’ve not checked but it’s one you will want to keep in my opinion anyway so for a reasonable text book price and for one that isn’t massive and hefty that you can stick in your bag and read in bed without danger of caving your face in if it slips from your hands it’s a good investment.

Thoughts on Educating the East End Episode 4

This is going to short and sweet. I always thought that exclusion was pointless, unnecessary and detrimental to the development of a child, but after watching last night I’m of a different opinion. It was clearly a difficult decision, there was nowhere left to go with discipline, other children were going to suffer and I am sure there was far, far more to the story than we saw out of respect for the child and his family. It was easy to forget that Jebb was introduced as a boy who had been excluded from another school previously as his dimpled cute smiling face touched our hearts and his plight and obvious struggles with coping with his parents’ divorce brought tears to our eyes. I felt deflated when he was excluded and couldn’t help but think that he was bound to become a statistic, a failure and then I was delighted to see that he is doing well, that the actions taken were right for him, they worked, he’s happy and thriving.

These programmes are never going to give us the whole picture but I think this is one of the reasons this team win awards, they take us on a realistic journey and they lead us to make assumptions and then they turn all that on its head, they challenge the way we think and our haste in making judgements.

Well done on another fabulous episode.