Student teacher blog: starting my first placement

Mia is getting stuck in to her course. She’s begun her first placement and has found herself very busy, but still has time to make a reading recommendation…

So, four weeks down and still going strong! The workload that everyone had warned me about is starting to creep up, but I am really enjoying the course. It’s challenging but challenge is a good thing. The best thing about the course so far is that every day is different.

I don’t know if it is the same at other training providers, but currently we are spending Monday-Wednesday in our diagnostic placement school, Thursday at a different school with all the science PGCE students together and Friday in university either doing subject specific days or tutorials and seminars to support the assignments.

This is where the workload and challenge comes in as I have reflections, planning, subject knowledge learning and so on to do for my placement, plus research and planning to do for the second school projects and then reading and assignments for uni all going on at the same time. It’s definitely worth spending some time getting organised!

I’d been hearing all the horror stories about where you could be placed, how bad some of the schools are and how early you have to get up to travel out to them. So it was a relief when I found out that until Christmas, I would be in an ‘outstanding’ school only 5 miles from my house. In all honesty I don’t know anyone on my course who has ended up anywhere awful. A lot of people worry about behaviour management and say it is their biggest concern before starting teaching, but the kids at my school are fantastic. Yes, some are a bit cheeky but that’s all it is really, plus, it would be boring if they were all impeccably behaved!

The second and third weeks we received a lot of professional development from the school which has been very useful in making us feel at home there and in understanding all the systems that are in place. I spent these weeks making observations not just in science but in a variety of departments and seeing a lot of different teaching styles. This was a great experience and I would definitely recommend seeing as many different teachers as possible as I have picked up a lot of useful tips and tools… as well as the inside scoop on the naughty classes and notable pupils!

My one piece of advice for starting at your first school is to get stuck in straight away. If you are given any opportunities to do extra stuff, take them, and if you aren’t, ask. I have helped in transition days for new Year 7 pupils and open evenings at two different schools, attended child protection courses and various CPD events. The first few weeks are the time to do all this because when the teaching starts I don’t think I will have as much free time.

I was given my teaching timetable last week and I have year 7, 8 and 9 classes as well as year 12 and 13. I was slightly surprised at them letting me loose on the sixth formers but my mentor reassured me that it is very good experience to have done some A-Level teaching in my first school. I am missing KS4 but it simply couldn’t fit and I will have to ensure that I get some KS4 classes in my long placement. I think I am on around 45% timetable which doesn’t sound like a lot but I’m sure it will feel like much more. So far I have taught a few starters and done some micro teaching but the full lessons start after October half term.

My targets for the next week or two are to try and learn the names of pupils in my classes and get some solid lesson plans done so I am ready for the start of my teaching. I have been doing a lot of reading and there is one book in particular I would recommend: Teacher’s Toolkit by Paul Ginnis.  It is full of exciting and engaging activities that can be used in the classroom and several teachers at my school have a copy that they often refer to. Some of my favourites that I have seen in action are Back to Back, Market Place and Bingo. Don’t let anyone ever tell you a class is too old for a game of bingo – the A-Level physicists love it!

Oh, and my most comedy moment so far: being told I look like Miley Cyrus by the Year 8s. Not sure if this was a compliment or not?!”