Teaching Placement

Yesterday was teaching placement day. Not very eventful really. The students all seemed to be suffering from first week back, post Christmas bewilderment. I was asked to deliver the introductory lesson for Retail Marketing which I’d prepared for December but never got to deliver. Now this wouldn’t have been a problem only for a couple of minor issues:

1. I received an email early Monday morning asking me to deliver the lesson at 9am and explained that I couldn’t due to being in lectures all day Monday. I was told the introduction couldn’t wait so my mentor would deliver it instead and I could do something else.

2. Due to the above communication on Monday I had attended placement unprepared for delivering the lesson but I said I could access enough materials via the internet and could deliver the lesson which was on marketing promotions and mainly focused on a task where the students would prepare a promotional campaign for the department to be used on open evening. When I asked if this was still appropriate to do I was told no, that would be done later in the year and as the introduction had already been done my mentor wanted ‘them’ (the students) to be taught about distribution channels this week.

3. My fellow PGCE student is supposed to be teaching logistics so for me to do it would not be in keeping with what we agreed.

I was not for the first time confused by this apparent lack of flow and structure to the lessons and to what is expected of me as a trainee. So after an hour in class sat watching a presentation on distribution, presented quite blandly from a Powerpoint presentation I asked if there could be some structure to my time so that I could plan some observations and fulfill the requirements of my course. Hurrah! I can teach on 27th Jan on market forces and I’m going to be observed for the first time by my mentor.

This is all coming a bit late in the game for me and is very hit and miss and I feel sometimes that we are making progress with the placement and then we seem to back track to a place where I feel that I’m just wasting my time.

BUT on the positive side, I did spend some time with a few of the students who are applying for jobs and managed to help them with some advice and support which made me feel useful. With my experience of having worked as a career temp for a number of years, having been interviewed and successful more times than I care to remember, as a careers advisor and as a manager with responsibility for recruitment and selection I feel my skills and experience in this area are really not recognised or made the best use of and wonder if perhaps I’m in the wrong place teaching Business and could be doing more of a service elsewhere.

As a number of the students were struggling with inadequate CV’s and no real understanding of how to target responses on an application form to match the job description and person specification, I asked them if there was somebody, anybody, they could go to for advice and assistance with such things. I was told that yes there was but the person didn’t seem interested or to know what they were doing.

I just felt so disappointed hearing that. It’s apparent that these learners, or a large group of them have decided that they need to find jobs and now is when they need to be getting serious about it. Most of the students in this position are those who have decided not to go to university next year or who have decided they need to earn some money ready to go to university. They actually want to do something and are not being supported. I guess some of that is their fault for not asking the right person at the right time but they do seem to slide under the net. A few of them said they’d really like to have some more lessons in job search to equip them for this next stage of their lives and from what I could see, they  need it.

But anyway back to the lesson, retail is something that all of the students can relate to, it’s a fast paced, dynamic industry which we all have experience of, it uses snappy, catchy, edgy advertising to reach its audience and I just think it should and could be taught in a similar way rather than from a bland power point in a lecture. I would have used more interactive ways of discussing the supply chain, used some video, some diagrams, pictures, well known brands, businesses, recognised livery ANYTHING that would have engaged them better. I do think if we’re teaching business, we should be more dynamic, like businesses are, more fired up, more up to date, more snappy… it’s a shame that business students leave a class sluggish, bored, drained and uninspired. I really do but I’m only a trainee, I can’t do much to change that but when and if I get a chance I will and sessions like this one just inspire me and help me to see what I would not do.

In fact, if I get the time I’m going to prepare the lesson as I would have and compare. At least the practice of lesson planning will be useful.

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