Tuesday, 29 March 2016

PGCE - March

I mentioned a little while ago that I started my second teaching placement on the PGCE at a fairly local school (near to where I went to school myself) and I am now 5 weeks into it. That works out as about half way through the placement - its gone really quick. I've already been on two school trips which I really, really enjoyed. The school itself is completely different from the school on my first placement. For starters its an all girls catholic school! Funnily enough my Grandma really wanted me to go to this school when I was a child as it was the local catholic school to her. I've also got a cousin that attends the school which has been nice :) I'm forever walking around the school hearing kids asking if I'm their friend's cousin, not that I mind. 
Anyway I found the school quite easy to settle in to, the kids are intelligent and the other PGCE students who are here are really friendly which always helps. On this placement I have two mentors - one is the head of department and the other has just finished her NQT (newly qualified teacher status), which has turned out to be quite useful as I always get a range of advice.
Currently I am teaching across Key Stage 3 and team teaching with  Key Stage 4. I'm enjoying KS3 the most as they require alot more guidance, whereas KS4 you kind of have to let them get on and work on their exam units which isn't always fun in terms of teaching. Most of my classes are full of really nice kids, one or two classes I'm still trying to win over! 
I'm particularly enjoying working with Year 9 teaching them about Aboriginal Art and Dreamtime. We are going to be producing designs on natural forms and over the next two months it will become some kind of installation within the school. I've produced a few exemplars to give the class a couple of ideas but its still in its early stages:
Part of this Aboriginal art project will be submitted as the 2nd part of the Masters credit work we have to produce on the PGCE. This unit is much more interesting than the essays we had to do last term - we have to produce a scheme of work that reflects our own practice of art, get a class to carry it out and then write a 2000 word report on it. In the end I'm hoping to end up with Aboriginal art pieces throughout the school as part of an installation.
The students themselves have had to bring in natural forms to work on ranging from wood, stones to shells. I have also got hold of a ton of driftwood for them to work with. I'm just hoping it all comes together in the end and that the school will have some beautiful work to show. The school is quite a nice building so fingers crossed...
At this point in my course besides my own exemplars, I don't have an awful lot of student work to show. This is mainly due to the fact the school does not have a working A3 printer so its been hard for me to scan things in and I'm always cautious about bringing student work home with me in case the worst happens. Although I will say that I have been teaching a range of subjects - Salvador Dali and surrealism, a cross-curricular project on 'The Jaberwocky', Picasso, colour theory....so many things that I have had to go out and research for myself. I can't believe how much I've had to learn already :o as an illustrator I am sometimes shocked by my lack of knowledge about old art.
Anyway, on the last day of term before Easter I had my official observation of a lesson by my university tutor. Once per placement, a tutor from the uni has to come down and watch you teach a class, make feedback then share it with you and the mentor/s at the end of the lesson. My tutor watched my teach Year 7 about colour theory and luckily the kids were well behaved and engaged. I felt really nervous and sick at the beginning of the lesson; it was the last lesson on the last day before Easter after all.... but I made good use of rewarding them with chocolate every time a kid worked well or contributed to the lesson. Overall I felt the lesson went quite well, my mentors and tutor said it was good but I need to continue trying to make my lessons more physically engaging and kinetic rather than "chalk and talk". Make of that what you will but I'm happy with that kind of criticism!
One of the things that terrifies me about university courses is the criticism - I always overreact and feel quite glum about everything no matter what is said. This time I held it together well (I think?). Quite a few people on my PGCE course at university have dropped out over the last two months, I'm just grateful that the course has been mildly kind to me (so far at least). It definitely helps that I have a job lined up ready for when I finish the PGCE - it does give you some kind of confidence when doing the placement as you realise that you can't be totally rubbish if a school's bothered to employ you...

So for now I get two weeks off as its Easter. I've got most of my lesson planning complete, just a little bit left to do....

Sunday, 13 March 2016

PGCE - February part 2

The Job Interview...

At the very end of February and in the last week or so of my first teaching placement I noticed that there was an Art teacher position being advertised online. I'd been looking for jobs on a daily basis, signed up with the TES job alerts and due to the early time of year there'd been hardly any jobs going. Although I found this one on a total wim by simply searching on google and it came up. It was a job for a school about 20-25 minute drive away with good reviews. My mentor on my first teaching placement and my tutor at university gave me references, so following this I went ahead and made an application.

They came back to me pretty fast and gave me an interview for Monday morning. In the email they told me I had to teach to an unknown class on the subject of 'Mechanical Form' - but I also had to put together a teaching portfolio AND an artist portfolio all in one weekend ready for the interview. Both portfolios are required upon completion of the PGCE course anyway, but at this early point in the year I had neither! Nonetheless I stayed up late every night of the weekend preparing everything...it was hard work. I kept my teaching portfolio simple, showing examples of lesson resources I had made, differentiation, examples of homework, sketchbook work and classwork.

Come the day of the interview I got there early and met the Head of Art who would be interviewing me, so it was a great chance to get to know her and the school. The school itself was very friendly and the students were well behaved and polite (thank goodness for that!). The Head of Art allowed me time to set up for my 30 minute lesson to the unknown class...I got set up with all my resources and such. Just before the lesson I got to meet the other candidates, five of us in total, 1 of which I knew from studying my foundation course years ago at UCA! 4/5 of us were PGCE students and the remaining candidate was a real teacher. It was quite daunting meeting the other candidates but in some ways it was reassuring to have someone to talk to and be friendly with. A good chat helped to calm us all down.

Anyway we all had to give 30 minute tester lessons and I was first - the lesson itself was ok; I was teaching a very well-behaved year 9 group and was observed by not only the Head of Art but the Headteacher too (I was terrified). At least the fear got me through.

Following the lesson we got given a tour of the school by the students themselves which was good because it gave you a chance to get a good glimpse of the school. It definitely had a nice feel to the place.
After a little bit of waiting around we each had a 30 minute interview with the Headteacher and the Head of Art. I was asked quite a few questions such as what I could offer the school, why I had chosen to apply for the job, what did I like about the school etc. My PCM on my first teaching placement had prepared me well for the interview process so I'm glad to say it went pretty well. I used my portfolios to support all my answers too which helped to back up what I had to say.

I got asked there and then in the interview if I would take the job if it was offered to me and obviously I said yes :) Anyhow they said they'd call me by 6pm the very same day if they wanted to offer me the position or not. So I went home and waited.

Not long after I'd gone home and had my dinner the phone rang - it was the Headteacher - he made it sound like he wasn't going to offer me the job at first - but then he did! However he did ask me if I definitely wanted the job as he thought I'd hesitated when asked in the interview (if I did, I didnt mean to, I was just crazy nervous). Again I said yes I would accept the job! We agreed that I would start July 4th so I could get a good feel for the school and be prepared for September official start. I know it means I have to start working the Monday after I finish my PGCE course but I'm quite excited to start my first proper job. Embarrassingly this was only the 2nd interview I've ever had for a job. The first interview I had was at Mcdonalds when I was 16....   :)

Anyway I'm glad to have sorted out a teaching job for when I finish my PGCE. Its one less thing to worry about, I'm amazed I got a job on my first interview too, I was expecting to go through at least 5 interviews yet but its all done now.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

PGCE - February part 1

Rather alot happened in February so I am again going to split the month into two posts! To start off, our essays were due in at the end of our first teaching placement. On the course we have to provide two Masters essays/projects which count towards a Masters qualification. The first essay we had to write was 5000 words in total, looking at three issues in arts education. For each issue we were required to conduct lots of research and present it as a visual article.
I looked at a variety of issues and came up with the following articles (each article is 4 pages long/1500 words each so I have only provided the first page of each article!)
When you are doing a teaching placement at the same time as this its quite difficult to balance your time, I ended up spending alot of Sundays working on this the past 4 months or so. The research itseslf was mildly interesting and came in very useful with my job interview which I will talk about more next time.
Overall I'm relieved to have completed this unit of work and handed it in - waiting for the grades to come through this month. As the PGCE course is only a pass or fail, as long as I pass the Masters unit work I should be just fine. 

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