As I roam around the blogging world and read posts by other PGCE students I can’t help but notice a distinct difference in the placement experience and expectations of students who are essentially studying the same course albeit with different universities and in different parts of the country.
I’ve read of placements which are more or less a full-time job (unpaid I’m assuming) and then there are placements like mine where I spend 3 hours a week and have had to beg for some extra time… I can’t even take that personally as a reflection on my teaching as I’ve not had an observation yet so they don’t have a clue what my teaching is like. I’d love to have the chance to show them.
In terms of the academic elements of the course I can’t help but wonder if this is slightly unfair as some are struggling to manage hours of teaching and the associated hours of planning alongside the academic demands and then perhaps a life as well. That life might even include some responsibilities or some of that stuff called fun. How do they pack it in and why should they deny themselves it when their fellow future colleagues are sitting with their feet up typing blog posts and watching back to back episodes of Prison Break?
I’m not saying this is a good or a bad thing. I imagine that those with far more independent teaching under their belts, with more experience of lesson planning, who have tried and tested methods which include, embed, embrace and all of those other things we have to do as well as after it all reflecting to within an inch of their lives will have more to stick on a CV or application form and definitely more to refer to at interview (but then you only have to give the odd example at interview so maybe less is more and would aid focus in this respect). Whilst those who have been eased into teaching may find the whole thing far less stressful, much more manageable and perhaps more enjoyable (moderation in all good things and all that) and be more enthusiastic about their future career and their ability to perform as a teacher. On the other hand, the latter group may be falling into some delusion that teaching is interspersed with lots of gaps and time to prepare and plan and reflect as well as a whole heap of time to do the academics.
I don’t know which is preferable, I get frustrated because I want to teach more but then is this a case of the grass is not always greener on the other side? I don’t think I’d be getting as much out of this period of training, of development and learning if I was essentially performing a full time job alongside a full time course of post grad study. Then on the other hand, I’d rather be teaching more and having difficult experiences now, while I have the support of my tutors, mentor and fellow students and whilst I am under the protective trainee umbrella.
My thoughts are all over the place on this, I’m not sure which I would prefer, there are pros and cons to each side but it does strike me as odd that experiences can be so vastly different from institution to institution, student to student and course to course when we will all be qualified to do exactly the same thing, in the same places. I thought the PGCE and it’s friends (the other PGCE and the Cert Ed) were meant to standardise teacher training… I don’t see how that’s working in practice.
Oh well, just some thoughts and a bit of rambling…