I finally decided to do something useful over summer in preparation for my PGCE year, by making a start on Game of Thrones. It probably won’t help in at all in regards to my PGCE preparation, but it’s definitely useful I suppose.
Whilst exploring the various teaching forums and blogs, because I have nothing better to do, I stumbled across a common theme. Students that were about to embark upon a PGCE, like myself, decided to hop upon the blogging bandwagon and write about all of the wonderful (and probably unnecessary) ways in which they are preparing for their PGCE year. Through some carefully crafted lies, I have decided to do the exact same thing, probably because it will make me feel better about myself.
Reading. No, not the town which hosts disappointing music festivals on an annual basis. Reading, the act of interpreting written matter. The lovely admin team at the University of Nottingham decided to give me a pre-course PGCE reading list with a list of books that I should (/could) read over the summer. Amidst the sarcastic tone, I have purchased a few small books in preparation for the year ahead. And yes, I did order them based on ascending page count. Amongst my Amazon impulse purchases were the following:
– Getting The Buggers to Behave – Sue Cowley
– Becoming a Teacher: Issues in Secondary Education: Issues in Secondary Teaching – Justin Dillon
– OCR Computing for GCSE Student’s Book – Sean O’Byrne
– My Revision Notes OCR Computing for GCSE Computer Systems and Programming – Sean O’Byrne
In all honesty, books such as Becoming a Teacher: Issues in Secondary Education are extremely convoluted, and too big to read over the summer, well for the sake of pleasure at least. It appears to be a book that one would refer to whilst doing an assignment on a particular topic within secondary teaching, the polar opposite of light bedtime reading material. It’s also the perfect size to be used as a monitor stand, which is pretty neat. Getting The Buggers to Behave is a jargon-free, easy piece of text to read. It demonstrates how to get pupils to do as you say, how to get them to want to behave and how to manage it all when things do go wrong without stressing yourself out too much, skills that will definitely be needed throughout the PGCE.
In terms of the two revision guides, they are both extremely well laid out, illustrated and clear, with examples given for the current OCR specification. However, the Department for Education recently announced that GCSEs in Computer Science will be re-developed for first teaching from 2016. Taking into consideration OCR’s revamped specification, it’s probably best to wait a year or so before purchasing a revision guide. That being said, it does cover the foundations of Computer Science, so unless if developments in AI increase exponentially and robots end up taking over the world before next summer, then purchasing the current revision guide is still probably a safe bet. Any other books off the reading list I’ll be avoiding until the course actually starts.
WordPress’ Reader is also a pretty useful utility if you want to have a cheeky stalk and see what other bloggers are blogging about, in regards to anything and everything that’s being tagged as PGCE-related.
Learning To Program
As mentioned in my earlier blog post, I’m currently learning Python 3.4 before the start of my PGCE. Needless to say, it is sill an ongoing process.
Locking Down Social Media
Earlier in the week, I was browsing TES, and I came across an article which was a guide for parents on how to do a background check on their child’s teacher. Now I love to vent about how pathetic of a football team Tottenham Hotspurs are, and I still hold that opinion. But knowing that parents, and more importantly, students could be snooping around my Facebook/Twitter feed and finding photos that I would rather not have shared around the playground, or videos such as the ones of me streaking in public wearing nothing but a horse mask, well it’s just not something that I want to happen. It is an alarming prospect, so I made use of TweetEraser to remove any tweets containing profanity, and made my Facebook profile even privater than it already was. I’ll definitely be taking the advice of fellow teachers and making my Twitter private come the start of the school term. However, until Facebook amends its policy and lets me change my surname to GreatestPokemonMasterThatEverLivedEver, my surname will remain the same.
Watching (somewhat pointless) TV series
There are definitely some good teaching-related series out there to be watched whilst consuming a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, my recommendations would include the following:
1. Teachers – Brilliantly written, probably the complete opposite of what teaching life is like, and it gets boring after Season 2 as the main character, played by Simon Bird, gets replaced. But the first two seasons provide plenty of comedic moments.
2. Tough Young Teachers – Six graduate trainees who have never taught before, start at three of London’s toughest schools, learning to teach via the Teach First route. I thoroughly enjoyed this series, definitely worth watching, although I don’t know what I learned from it exactly.
3. Educating Yorkshire – Maybe it’s because I’ve just finished spending 4 years living in beautiful Hull, but this show really does show what it’s like to grow up/work in the North.
4. A Year in the Life of an NQT – Okay, being totally honest, this isn’t a series. And I watched it once, primarily due to the fact that none of my YouTube subscriptions had uploaded anything interesting. However, it does touch on what it’s like being an NQT and the importance formal assessments.
5. Are Our Kids Tough Enough – A new series by the BBC that began last week, based on a British school that takes on Chinese teachers and Chinese teaching methods – but, outside of a country where education is based on authority and respect, things soon descend into chaos.
Other than that, the majority of this summer break will be spent attempting to win the Champions League as many times with Arsenal on Football Manager and powering through my own personal reading list. One of the key sticking points given by all former PGCE students was that it’s natural not to know everything, the university doesn’t expect you to be the world’s greatest teacher straight after your induction week. So browse your favourite subreddit, laugh at self-righteous divas on Tumblr and Keep Up With the Kardashians, because it’s probably the only time you’ll be able to for quite a while. Until the next blog post!
Are there any crucial points that you feel as if I have missed out? Any tips that you would give to someone about to embark on their journey on a PGCE? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!