My first week as a PGCE student

Thursday last week was my first official day of lectures and seminars at University, followed by another set on Friday.

It was overwhelming.

There was a lot of admin to go through like timetables, who’s in which group and what classroom, etc. There were a lot of rules and regulations to mention and tutorials on how to use different parts of the website.

I thoroughly enjoyed the seminars and I’m with different lecturers and colleagues for both. I’ve already met some lovely, intelligent and funny people from a variety of courses and backgrounds and I’m so glad that I have. I was worried I’d be the oldest, weirdest, odd-one-out going back to Uni but thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I’ve met people who’ve travelled, written, taught and studied. I’ve met people who’ve taught more than I have, studied longer than I have and travelled to even cooler countries than I have and this is exactly what I was hoping for. To meet people who have done more than I have and who can share those experiences with me.

However, I feel that last week wasn’t as I hoped. There was too much admin, too many things going wrong (timetables, not receiving vital emails, room changes…) and I am one of the few students who has not yet been placed in a school.

As we’re starting our placements in two weeks, this will not give me much time to connect with the school, find out the ‘first day’ requirements or even find out where it is.

What if I’m in the middle of the peaks? What if I’m in Rotherham or somewhere I’ve never even heard of?!

Monday was an emotionally challenging day because we were learning about internet safety, child protection and safeguarding, and how it all related to us as a teacher, as an adult, both in general and legally. Many people said it was ‘just common sense‘ but we absolutely needed a lecture on this (and I’m sure the university are required to give it, too).

The guest lecturer, Tim Pinto, was extremely helpful in highlighting the dangers of the internet, and how easy it is for children to be manipulated. Again, it’s not that we do not know about these things, it’s that it’s easy to forget how serious it can be when you’re not a parent or teaching under 18s.

Our seminar linked into the lecture, as they often do, but was also focusing on abuse and child protection. We were told that if we needed to take a few minutes to walk out or didn’t want to share information that was fine, and the lecturers also provided the counselling services information, which I thought was very respectful and important.

Talking about child abuse and safeguarding is extremely emotional, challenging and difficult, but it was absolutely vital. Unfortunately, it’s a big part of our societies these days, which therefore makes it extremely important that teachers are aware of what has happened in the past and how to take measures to prevent similar situations in the future, if possible. We discussed types of abuse and how to spot potential warning signs, and what we should do if we have any concerns.

Tuesday wasn’t as heavy, but equally as interesting because we were talking about equality and SEND. Although I grew up around students with a variety of SEND my knowledge is still quite weak.

When I first started teaching, I thought I was quite considerate in how I planned my lessons. I tried to ensure I had activities to suit all learning styles and to keep my classes productive, but interesting.

My first hands-on experience with SEND was when I was teaching in Poland, yet was given no warning going into a classroom about what I might face. I turned up to a brand new class of 6 year olds with one child who was deaf, one child physically disabled and many with ADHD or other disabilities. It was difficult to control a class, plan for them or even understand them because I couldn’t speak a single word of Polish, and many of them were quite new to English.

Communicating was immensely difficult and I should have had some support or prior knowledge, suggestions or ideas on managing and teaching them. They were lovely children, but I was so far out of my depth and it really brought me down.

I know with KS3 and 4 it will be different, and that I’ll at least be communicating in English, but I’m far more prepared now on how to create an SEND inclusive classroom after yesterday’s lecture and seminars.

I am genuinely so pleased with my seminar lecturer and my group, although yesterday most of us were absolutely exhausted and our conversations kept slipping to travelling, food and other nonsense.

I love the seminars because you’re given a chance to unpack everything from the lectures, but you have more freedom to ask questions or challenge what’s been said.

Now let’s see what the rest of the week brings!

If you’re currently studying a PGCE, what’s been your favourite part of the course so far?

If you’ve already completed a PGCE, do you remember what you enjoyed most?

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