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....

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