What an unusual first term we had before Christmas! I don’t know about you, but I felt knackered. I’ve been told that the autumn term is always the hardest, and I don’t doubt it.
Lots of experienced teachers echoed that it was likely the hardest September-December they’d ever faced so, whether you’re training, a veteran or an NQT, well done. You made it. We all did. This term, though, is likely to be just as tricky, so it’s important that we hit the ground running.
Here’s how you can do just that, as a PGCE student starting your second placement this side of Christmas:
Meet all the people
Your first few days on placement will likely be devolved into administrative tasks, like getting set up on SIMS, learning the lay of the land and receiving your timetable. It’s likely that you’ll feel really overwhelmed, but before that happens, try your best to meet as many staff members as possible.
This should be a priority because you’re likely to get a lot busier in the coming weeks, as your contact time with students ramps up. You might not, therefore, have the time to meet and speak with the SENCO, which for me was a requirement while on placement (not only was it necessary for me to pass one unit, it’s also just good practice in general to know the levels of support offered to children with special educational needs and disabilities).
Plan all the things
You might know this by now, following on from your first placement, how important it is to plan good lessons thoroughly. Well, now that your teaching time will shoot up, it’s more important than ever before to get on top of your planning. If your provider allows it, I’d recommend transitioning from in-depth planning for every lesson, which may have involved individual pro formas that broke down the timings of every activity, to medium-term planning.
Unlike short-term planning, which offered massive support while at placement 1, medium-term planning involves generating a scheme of work with a summary of the objectives and where you would like learners to be by the end of each week. They’re really useful for planning ahead and getting on top of things, as well as providing longer-term support.
It also makes you feel more like a proper teacher, which is a fab feeling as a trainee.
Wind all the way down
With that all being said, you shouldn’t go mad with planning, preparing and meeting other staff members. If you’re on site from 7am-7pm, you’re putting in far too many hours. Decide on a cut-off each day that means you will not work past then. I know that this is easier said than done, and you will occasionally break your own rule; I know that I did. Sometimes we just have to get things done, and crunch is inevitable.
However, if you give yourself a deadline, you might find that you’ll naturally work faster to meet that deadline; I know that I do, and I still do that now. Decide, as well, if you work better at home or at the school. I always do better at home because I’m lucky enough to have a good workspace setup, and it means that I can give my other goals for the year a go in my own time, but do whatever works best for you.
How are you preparing for your second placement? Let me know in the comments below.