First days on placement | PGCE: Day in the life

Last time, I wrote about my first four weeks of teacher training while studying at the University of Birmingham. It was tough adapting to such a different lifestyle, especially after only working a minimum of 14-hours-a-week in the previous year. My workload had increased to as close to full-time as a student can get.

My first few days on placement were just as busy, but just as fun. Here’s a run-down of how they went.

The Morning

We’d been advised, by our tutor, to do a ‘trial run’ of the commute to placement prior to our first Monday there. My intentions were there, but with an assignment looming until the previous day, my trial run never came to fruition.

So it’s no surprise that, in the morning, I was dashing outside to catch the exact right bus (or else risk running late). Traffic was poor but I arrived on time. The thirty-minute commute spread across two buses gave me plenty of time to catch up on podcasts, but I eventually swapped to Spanish lessons on Duolingo to pass the time.

You can imagine how upset I was after forgetting to practice one morning, losing a 100+-day streak.

Anyway, 8AM reared its ugly head on my watch face as my mentor rounded the corner, joining me and another coursemate who had been given the same placement school. It was really nice knowing that I wouldn’t be starting my teaching journey completely alone.

Our mentor dropped us off at a training room, where we were given an induction into the school. This included setting us up on school-provided laptops and systems, such as SIMS, and touring us around the school. We also listened to various teachers speak about EAL, SEND and pupil premium, among other important topics. These discussions were spread across a couple of days to give us time to fully absorb every detail.

I heard of a lot of people who didn’t receive quite this level of induction, but I’m really glad that I did. I felt fully equipped for the term ahead. There were frequent coffee breaks, too, as well as a buffet lunch. Yum.

The Afternoon

Following a filling lunch, we returned to our mentor – an experienced History head, whose passion for the job positively radiated from every fibre of his being. Observing his lessons really taught me what it means to be a Teacher of History. We took notes on his pedagogy according to various aspects in an observation document sent to us by our University.

Later on in the week, we started to interact with the kids, in a similar vein to that of a Teaching Assistant. Eventually, we’d be asked to plan and deliver our own lessons, but more on that later.

The steps that we took towards taking on classes independently were small, which I really appreciated. It eased the pressure and gut-wrenching anxiety that is completely normal for ITE students to feel throughout the course of their training year.

The Evening

My journeys home were fairly difficult in the first few days of placement. On the first day, I left too early, and caught a bus crammed full of students I’d spent the day with. On the second, I left during rush hour, and my half-hour journey turned into an hour-long excursion.

4:30PM turned into my ideal time to leave, especially during the Winter, when it would get dark early. I was fortunate enough to have a desk at home, though would highly recommend that you minimise working from home to maintain a work-life balance.

My evening was really similar to how it was during the first four weeks at Uni. I went to the gym, lifted weights, ate a protein bar and pre-prepared meals; but this time, I played a few rounds of Smash Bros. with my housemate. Actually, instead of the word ‘played’, the better phrase would be ‘I absolutely smashed my housemate in a game of Smash Bros. because he had never played before’. It wasn’t long before practice made perfect, and he started to get his own back.

Next month, I’ll walk you through how I planned and delivered my first lesson and what to expect from yours (it’s not as scary as it may seem). Hopefully these posts are giving you an insight into how teachers do, genuinely, have lives outside of work.

Now that you’re done, why not click here to read the rest of my Initial Teacher Training series?


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