So, you’re thinking of completing a PGCE course… be prepared to start the most intense, yet rewarding journey and year of your life.
My blog is to try to guide you through the ups and downs of the PGCE, giving you an insight to all the tips and tricks that they don’t teach you in uni. Hopefully, you will find this to be an honest and helpful account of what I experienced on my PGCE year, both on placement and at Cardiff Met.
Here are my top tips!
- Prepare: Before you think about applying for a PGCE, make sure you have some experience in the classroom, this will minimise the shock of chaos when you get onto your first placement! Even a few days in your old school will help you to see what life is like as a teacher, rather than the student.
- Read: Once you get through the application process to the PGCE, get some reading done over the summer. I would suggest ‘the lazy teachers handbook’ to get you started. It will just give you a few basic behaviour management and general pedagogical tips. Also catching up on your subject content would be useful (as it’s probably been a while since you last thought about it).
- Your first placement: Once you get your first placement, do your research, turn up on time and get involved with as much as possible! All of it will help your experience and also can be used for proof when you have to upload your Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) evidence.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help: This is one of the most important pieces of advice I have for you. Never feel like there’s a stupid question. Use your mentor, tutor, other teachers and course mates for help. Steal and adapt any resources you can (don’t re-invent the wheel). Never feel like you’re on your own on this course, because I can guarantee all PGCE students feel exactly the same, if not worse! (You will use your university lunchtimes to vent about this with your peers!).
- Be organised: Get yourself a planner and plan your entire life out. You have to keep on top of your work to make it through the year. Plan your lessons in plenty of time, start your assignments as soon as you get them and mark regularly. If you fall behind on work, it is very hard to catch up and even harder to do it well!
- Make time for you: If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year, it’s that no matter how much school or university work you have, you must make time to do the things you enjoy. Go for a walk, go out with friends, read your favourite books, do whatever you need to do to relax and find that work-life balance. The PGCE year is tough and you must make an effort to look after your mental health and well-being.
- Enjoy it! Despite this being one of the hardest years of your career, it will undoubtedly be the best. The first child that thanks you for your lesson, when you start to see progress in your students, when the pupil who never speaks in your lesson begins to gain confidence -those are the little things that will keep you going and make all the hard work worthwhile!
My PGCE year has definitely had its ups and downs, but I am absolutely sure that I have made the correct decision in undertaking this route to kick start my Secondary Science teaching career.
I’m looking forward to starting my first full-time teaching post in September.
Good luck with your journey (and bring lots of coffee!).
At Cardiff Met you can study Primary and Secondary Initial Teacher Education courses.