The PGCE Files

The number of files has at least reduced now from 4 to 3 as two of the modules became combined.

I’ve managed to keep my files up to date and have everything I need included in there… I think. However just before a tutorial images (1)is a good time to check and make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing so I had a quick flick through and checked against the learning outcomes to make sure everything’s in there and in the right place.

It was a worthwhile exercise as I’m a bit confused as to where a couple of things should be so now I can check that at tutorial and it’s helped me to prepare for the coming weeks by preparing observation documentation and thinking of interview questions for my specialist subject teacher interview.

I’ve asked my mentor (the teacher who usually teaches the classes I teach) if he would be the subject of my interview and he’s agreed to that so once I’m sure what’s what with that I’ll book some time with him.

I’ve got all of my observations booked in now and they should all be done within the next three weeks which fills me with joy to know they are happening. I’ve set myself a pretty intense pace with them as I have two some weeks and there is not a week where I don’t have one this side of Easter but I’d rather focus on those and get them done than leave them to the last minute. It will be easier to address action points and compare teaching from one session to the next with them being so close anyway so there are benefits.

I’ve purposefully left a gap between my final tutor and final mentor individual observations and the last one (the joint tutor/mentor observation) so that I can really address points raised over the whole process and show clear improvement. It made it a little difficult with my first observations being mainly 2’s as the pressure was on to get 1’s in the second observation but I decided that’s ridiculous, classes, subjects and methods vary and I’m hoping to show different styles of downloadteaching in my observations so that I can get feedback on them. So really I’m hoping for more action points and if that means lower marks then I can wow on my final joint observation and show that all I’ve learned and been advised has been taken on board and improved. Well that’s the plan anyway. The way I see it is it’s best to try things and fail now when I have the support and guidance of the lecturers and mentors and peers than to ace it and stick to one tried and tested formula. Teaching isn’t going to be like that in the real world and so I’m not going to cheat myself or my future students by using my best class, best subject and best methods each time.

I’m feeling strangely organised and prepared at the moment. My ILP is always up to date anyway as I make sure it is checked each week and I’ve selected the two targets to write about and done a mind map for those. My mentor meeting log is all up to date with copies of notes slotted in and copies of emails, my teaching log is up to date with reflections on each session written up either as word download (1)documents or as blog entries. My blog’s been well used. I have around 50 hits a day which is pretty cool and close to 100 followers and I’ve had some fab discussions and messages and lots of interest besides requests for advice from people thinking of taking the same route next academic year. I enjoy that element of blogging it’s what makes it worthwhile as well as being valuable to me as a place to mind dump. It’s not bad really especially for a blog which I haven’t aggressively or even actively marketed, I think I’ll have to continue with it after I’ve graduated and put it to some use whatever I end up doing next year. The only thing I don’t like about blogging and this is only fleeting is that it pees me off when people comment on how much I blog… the self appointed blog police. I wasn’t aware that WordPress set a limit on how much we should or could blog and if people don’t like it stop following it. It’s really that simple. I can’t for a second think of why I would follow something that I had no interest in but then that’s me. It’s mine, it’s my space, if you don’t want to be in it get out but what I do in it is up to me and nobody else and some people actually enjoy reading some of it.

I’ve got some research and statistics done for my conference paper and have submitted my documentation for that and I have lots of ideas to make that interesting and engaging as well as useful.

The PGCE course can feel very bitty I find. It’s lots of pieces of work which slot together ultimately to give a fair appraisal of our teaching ability but also of our grasp of teaching theory which underpins all that we do in the classroom and as part of the teaching profession. It’s hard to see how those bits do fit to make the whole until you get to the point where nearly allformerlyfluffy-wls-insurance-mountain-of-paperwork of the bits are completed. I can understand how anyone who is not keeping an eye on all of the paperwork might struggle to see the relevance of some of the work and might struggle to create that whole picture of what we are doing in their mind.

For this reason I would strongly advise anyone embarking on the course to get everything up to date even if it means a long drawn out study session. See it as preparation for the real world of teaching when you will have an ‘office day’ or ‘paperwork day’ where there is no teaching and you sit and plough through the mountain of paperwork and get everything in order, planned and structured so that you can function well within the classroom on the other days. It is well worth doing and means that you need only spend a short time each week updating those records.

It’s sad but true that the role of teacher increasingly involves dealing with lots of administrative tasks and if you sink under those your teaching will suffer as you become stressed so it’s best to keep on top of it by creating good self managed administrative systems like a good brought forward system to keep you on track and make sure you don’t forget anything, paperworkgood use of diaries and planners, weekly prioritisation and daily review of priorities. I guess I’d be at an advantage here given my background and it’s something I did factor into my decision to become a teacher. I’ve seen so many practitioners in other fields drown under administrative tasks particularly if they have no professional administrative skills or experience and some of those have had a secretary!

Keeping the files on the course is about more than just presenting our work, it’s preparing us for working life where paperwork will threaten to engulf us so the sooner we get used to managing it the better.


3 thoughts on “The PGCE Files

  1. Very true Andrea, I don’t think people realise how much admin you are required to do as a teacher. You make the point that the pgce prepares you for this, and in some ways I would agree as it does give you an understanding of the importance of being methodical and organised, however I would also argue that it does not go far enough. The pgce gives only the basics as to what is required from teachers, whereas in practice it is a lot more work than lesson planning and basic admin. I noticed several weeks ago that you blogged that you were prepping lots of lessons in advance Even though you did not know if you would be teaching them. When I read this I remember thinking how sensible this approach was, as when you get a teaching job you have so much to do you are limited for time, which makes the lessons you plan sometimes not as good as you would like, so I would recommend to anyone currently doing a pgce to get ahead of themselves and plan for lots of different lessons so you have a decent portfolio for when you start your teaching job. Unfortunately I did not have that luxury, but thankfully I’m managing to stay on top.


    • Thanks for your comments Marie. I’m glad I’ve not wasted my time with the lesson planning 🙂 Since my placement was rejigged I’ve been spending a half day just learning about the behind the scenes stuff, the paperwork and admin, updating electronic records, preparing for the curriculum meetings and such and there is a ton of stuff to keep on top of. There’s no wonder the teachers say they only lesson plan when Ofsted are coming. I’m feeling glad that I have an administrative background so I should find it easier to stay on top of and organise myself but I’m sure it’s going to be one big shock for anyone who has only been exposed to the teaching side of being a teacher.

      In fact I was speaking to my mentor about this today and he said that it’s so important for trainees to not just teach but to take time to attend the meetings and to get introduced to all of the admin just to get a fair picture of what to expect. He also said he really thinks it’s valuable to see the whole process through from planning to setting assignments to marking otherwise in our first jobs we’ll be thrown in at the deep end and not have a clue.

      I guess this is all part of taking control of your placement and making sure you get everything out of that you need and not just being a free spare teacher.


      • I totally agree with your mentor, when on placement you need to experience all aspects of teaching, it is only then that you will know if this profession is really for you. It sounds to me that your placement is good and you are getting lots of valuable experience in and out of the classroom. As for attending meetings, do so because they give you a real valuable insight into all aspects, teaching, curriculum, etc. I recently attended a periodic review meeting. This informed us of our strengths and weaknesses as a school, it was really interesting and it helped piece together the things you learn in the PGCE. My advice to you would be keep being organised and forward planning, and get involved with as much as you can, whether that be teaching more classes, helping to write exams (I did this semester a and it’s has proved invaluable) attending meetings, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

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