6/16/2011 4:43:26 PM
Creating the set
The water dragon
6/16/2011 4:32:49 PM
Where has the year gone? No seriously, where
has it gone? If somebody told me last week that they were wrapping
Xmas presents, I could actually believe them. This year has gone
super fast and I can’t believe that I am supposed to be at the end
of my course! I am currently on my final placement for my Primary
PGCE and it takes up so much time I’m going to have to start
planning in my sleep soon!
Either way, this is the final blog that I will
be writing and I know that my blogs over the year have been quite
the same formula (that formula being a lot of writing that could be
mistaken for an essay, except I rant a lot in it!), so today I am
going to mix it up! Five little essays for you to look over. But
this time, instead of a rant, I’m going to give out some advice.
Lots of people have contacted me asking questions about the course
so I have decided to break it down into 5 simple pieces of advice.
If you thinking about or already starting a PGCE course in
September, here are something’s to keep in mind:
I know I have clearly stolen this from the
scouts, but to be honest with you, they are onto something. The
thing that kept happening to me throughout this year was always
being laden down with more and more work. If you want to succeed in
a PGCE course, you need to be organised. You need to be on top of
all your work/planning and make sure you are ready for the next
one. There are a lot of assignments and little things that need
doing, so get ready for some stress.
The other idea to take from this piece of
advice is to be prepared for anything. Seriously, anything! I had a
child come up to me and tell me he couldn’t eat sweets and when I
asked him why he replied “My mum says sweets are evil.”......... I
mean, what do you say to that? Children come out with the most
wonderful and strangest things...always be prepared.
creative – but only when you have to
When you learn to become a teacher, you will
need to be creative. Working with children, you want to inspire
them to be creative and in order to do that, you have to be
creative yourself. You will get the opportunity to do some
wonderful things, trips, displays, performances, so many chances to
express yourself. The thing to remember is that there are only so
many hours in the day. Be creative, but remember to leave time to
teach, time to plan, time for yourself. There are some wonderful
resources on the internet, so use them! Don’t spend forever making
resources when there are fantastic ones already out there. You have
to create a balance.
3) Networking is
PGCE’s are hard! This will not be the first
time I say this. If there is one piece of advice to take away from
this, it’s that you need support to do this course. Friends and
family will make life so much easier. But networking will go
further than just friends and family. As a teacher, you are forever
learning and the best advice you can get is from your peers. You
will make some mistakes on this course and every other teacher can
learn from it. Share your experiences and they will do the same in
return. You will get ideas from them, have discussion to further
your own, even if it is just a chance to rant, the more people
around you the better.
4) This is not an easy
PGCE’s are hard! (Told you I would say it
again). People talk about how being a primary school teacher must
be easy. You get great holidays, weekends off and you don’t have to
know that much. Then they say that teachers get really annoyed when
you say that. Well, as a soon to be teacher.....I get annoyed when
people say teaching is an easy option! Your holidays will be taken
up by planning, assessing and training. Your weekends will be taken
up by more planning and assessing. Your evenings will be taken up
by....you get the idea. There is so much to learn when training to
become a teacher, so much that I can’t even begin to list them.
When I started this course, people said it was one of the hardest
things they have ever done. I agree with them. But just remember,
at the end of the training, at the end of the gruelling hours of
planning, is a rewarding, fulfilling job. Teaching is not an easy
I know I said that networking is the most
important piece of advice, but I suppose this one really is. Have
fun! This course will be demanding and draining. So many times I
have wanted to quit, but I am glad I stuck at it because it is one
of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Doing a PGCE course
sets you up for your career and what a career it can be. From head
teacher to educational consultant, you can go to so many different
places. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey! You will make tons
of friends on a PGCE course and see so many wonderful things. Just
enjoy the ride.
So that’s it! Those are my pearls of wisdom
that I have picked up over the past year. I hope you have enjoyed
reading my blog over the past year and hopefully it has given you
some insight into the life on a PGCE course. I would just like to
thank everybody who has read these and that it has been a pleasure
writing them. So from me, Charlie Crouzieres, farewell!
P.S. Thank you to all the Banana’s who
made this year one of the best of my life!
3/28/2011 3:46:50 PM
It has been a lot of fun for me over the past
few months to write these blogs. It gives me an excellent chance to
document my thoughts as well as get some general perspective about
what life is like at university. The only issue with this at
the moment is the fact that for 3 weeks now, I haven’t really been
in the university. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing stuff
for my PGCE course.
Let’s talk about the most interesting part
first. For the Primary PGCE course at Wolverhampton we get given a
week to spend time in an Alternative Educational Setting (AES).
This is where we can spend a week somewhere, with children that are
not in a primary classroom where we can experience working with
children from a different perspective. Some people went to
specialised schools for children with disabilities; others went to
high schools to work with children of a different age. I went to
work with a company called Artburst (http://www.artburst.co.uk/) which
devote their time to running creative workshops for children,
focusing on drama and art. I was an assistant on a weeklong
workshop, working with around fourteen children ranged from nine to
twelve. We helped the kids write, design costumes and set and
perform their own show. We heavily guided them through most of the
process but by the end of it all, it was their own work. We put on
a production of “The Dragon’s pearl” (full story here: www.theserenedragon.net/Tales/china-xiaosheng.html).
The children would write down the names of the roles they wanted
and when they were assigned them, they made their own costumes and
help design and create the set. It was a fantastic week; I
personally had a lot of fun and gained experience about how to run
these types of workshops.
The problem that occurred with my AES
placement is that it had to take place during half term as this is
when the workshop was run. If I worked for Artburst during the week
the university had set aside for us (this week), then I would have
spent most of it in an office doing paper work (not the most valued
experience of working with children). I was happy to do my week
during half term and so was the university. The slight blip for me
was that I also had two assignments to do that week as well as take
part in the workshop. I would drive and hour and half into London
(that’s right, London!) every day for 9am, finish around 3, then
drive and hour and half back to then spend the evening doing
assignments. It was an incredibly tiring week, but well worth it in
the end for me. The AES is an excellent idea and I hope that other
students this week have got as much out of it as I did.
Speaking of this week, what have I been up to
if I haven’t been on my AES? Well there was this trip to Barbados
that I...only joking! I have been doing more assignments!! Joy! SO
I finally struggle to complete two assignments whilst I am on my
AES week and I get rewarded with more assignments! But, I hear you
shouting out; don’t I have some free time as I have already done my
AES? That would be correct if I hadn’t already agreed to do some
free lance work for my old job. So I have spent most of this week
looking after children in an after school club. Not that it hasn’t
been nice to earn a little bit more cash to drip into the ocean of
my over whelming debt (that may be going over the top but it
certainly feels that way), but I have actually spent little time
this week working on my assignments. True, this week is our science
essay which I could certainly put down as one of my favourite
subjects, but I also wanted to get a heads start on my Masters
essay. Oh well!
All in all, it’s been a fun three weeks and
hopefully I will be back sooner to talk about how the lectures have
changed since we enter the final few weeks of teaching! Also
shouldn’t write again until I have finished my science
2/21/2011 10:41:40 AM
Firstly, I know I have been a little short on
the blogs the past couple of weeks, it is very tough to find time
when you are snowed under with too many lesson plans to count. I am
back at uni now for the next six weeks, so hopefully more will be
coming very soon!
“It was fun but tough.” That is what I
told everyone who asked me how my placement went. It may be a very
general statement but it is nether the less true. I know I went on
in my last blog about how difficult my placement was, but when I
got back to uni yesterday, it seems I was not alone.
First major problem for re-adjusting back to
university life after spending five weeks on placement is the
timetable. Sure I had been given the timetable in September, but
that doesn’t mean I haven’t forgotten about it. We were split into
two groups as you can attend these types of lectures with 70 other
people in the room. So I came to look at my timetable on Sunday
evening and completely got mixed up about which group is doing what
subject and when. This results in me turning up an hour and a half
late for my lecture (in my defence, first time I have missed one)
and decided to just leave it all together and talk to my lecturer
at the end. He was fine about it, mainly as it’s me who is missing
out by not attending the lecture. I asked my friends what I had
missed and got a full explanation on my timetable (at least for the
Unfortunately, it isn’t just me who has been
missing some lectures. I have some friends who have been ill, so
therefore not able to attend, but that isn’t the real tragedy. I
knew that there were some people who had dropped out of the course
and there were some people who failed their attachment. I wondered
who but couldn’t find out as I was quite busy myself. However, I
got back to uni and was able to find out who these people were and
I was quite sad about the results. A few of them had been my
friends and I will be very depressing to know that we probably
won’t see them at the university anymore. Hopefully we will be able
to catch up with them outside of lectures, but the workload has
suddenly reared its ugly head again!
That’s right, we have just finished all our
lesson plans and now our assignments come back to haunt us. It is
nice to get back to uni to see everyone again, all the lecturers
and everyone we missed for five weeks. The one thing we didn’t miss
was the amount of work we still have left to do. This is one of the
biggest draw backs of doing a PGCE, you spend so much time in
school, learning, doing your experience and then suddenly come back
to a ton of assignments. I don’t know how the B.Ed course is
structured but I would hope that it’s nice to get some breathing
space between attachments.
All that moaning aside, it is nice to get back
into the uni life. Despite how many assignments I have, it is a lot
easier to handle then doing multiple lesson plans every night.
Assignments are a pain, but I have been doing them for over four
years, so they are something I know how to write. The rest of the
course? I can’t say I am super confident about the big attachment
coming in May/June, but I certainly understand what makes them say
“PGCE courses are hard!”
1/24/2011 2:10:47 PM
...for the PGCE student to do his work!
I am going to be honest with you. I know that
over the next three and a half weeks, my blog writing time is
going to suffer. But feel better knowing that it’s not just the
blog I am having to take time off from, it’s pretty much everything
in my life. Why? Because I am doing a PGCE!
Ok, that may be being a little melodramatic,
but it’s not too far from the truth. I have been back off Christmas
(which I had a lovely time, hope you did too) for about three
weeks now and the course is getting intense. The main reason for
this is that I have started my attachment 1b, in which I teach 60%
of the timetable and I am being assessed for it! This pretty much
makes or breaks me as a teacher and so far, it is slowly
Alright, another melodramatic moment. Not only
am I not the only one feeling it on my course, but I’m fairly
certain that any PGCE student around the country is feeling the
same thing I am. We want to get our lessons just right. For me,
that means spending hours on my lesson plans, trying to make them
unique as well as doable. Spending far too much time on my
recourses (some of which, I foolish tried to make myself!), but
most of the time, I'm pointlessly stressing about actually doing
Before I started the attachment, I wasn’t too
worried about actually delivering the lessons. My first time round
I had a wonderful class, that did as they were told and were
reasonably independent. I am now teaching significantly younger
children who to need hand holding at most junctions. But at least
they are a very sweet bunch of kids and I get to watch Cbeebies
So, content. What have I actually been doing
(university wise) since the last blog. Well, I have only had two
lectures in the past three weeks. Some would think I was
lucky, but not when compared to what I have been doing for 3 weeks
(stated above). It is always nice to get back into uni after a
break. You get to meet everyone again, which is brilliant as you
have so much to catch up on. Everyone had a nice Christmas, but
wasn’t much time to catch up on the first day as we had three
back-to-back lectures, most of them being about assignments. That’s
another thing that makes this course hard (I am going to go off on
a tangent here, so skip ahead if you like). I have spent the past
week stressing about my lessons, gathering everything I need for
them and trying not to panic whilst I am delivering a lesson to 30
kids. And when it hits the weekend, you think I could take a break?
Sit back with an ice cold beer and just relax before the next week
of teaching? NO!! I have assignments to think about! So I spend my
Sunday, sitting in the library so that when I do and deliver my
lessons, the only panic I'm feeling is about whether I am achieving
the learning objectives, not whether my assignment is due in or
Right, rant over. Thanks for sticking with me.
So the second day of lectures is a little better. Mainly because
one is canceled, the second is a tutorial and the final is science!
It’s a shame when lectures get cancelled because you know the work
will have to be made up at another time (possibly more inconvenient
time). But hey, you can’t win them all. The tutorial was good as it
allowed to know fully what I was doing for this attachment (and set
the date of my formal observation! Argh!). But any progress is good
progress so I can’t be sad about that!
Sorry not much of this one has been about
being in the university, this is mainly because I haven’t been
there! Don’t worry; I can post another stress blog when I am
finished with my attachment, hopefully with pictures then!
12/20/2010 12:33:44 PM
Well Christmas is just around the corner and
that makes it even harder to focus on a PGCE course. For a start,
whenever you are in school, all the kids are thinking about it
Christmas so it becomes ten times harder to try and teach them
anything. Also trying to get all your shopping done whilst you have
a gazillion (that is the correct number by the way)
assignments to hand in is quite trying. However, we are all coping
It has been useful that the PGCE Primary lot
have had an easier week due to most of the lectures being
consolidated into one easy lecture on the Friday. A lecture which
ended with mince pies and cake provided by our very own lovely Mr.
Chris Randall. But the lack of lectures certainly doesn’t mean a
lack of work. We are all starting to feel the pressure build up
(well I certainly am). I completed one assignment on Wednesday and
for just a mere 250 word essay I read about seven books! It may
have been a little overkill but for this course you certainly want
to be thorough.
Pile of reading
It has been a happy week too with lots of
people of the course passing their QTS skill tests. These are tests
which trainee teachers have to take in order for them to achieved
their NQT (newly qualified teacher) status. These tests are set in
three subjects; ICT, Literacy and Numeracy. They are subject
knowledge tests and are designed to make sure that teachers know
their stuff. I have been recently doing some practice Literacy ones
and I appear to need a little more subject knowledge. Hopefully it
will all come together when I take my test on Thursday.
Now I know that my blog entry last week was
very, how should I say…focused on the weather. This was mainly due
to the fact that it was the main focus of the week! It was what
everyone was talking about and it caused complete mayhem for some
people. So when this week started, I was quite happy to see that
most of it had melted and it seemed that the worst was over. That
was until this weekend started!! I have been down in London and it
is seriously crazy down here! Over a foot and half of snow has
fallen and people just seem to be completely stuck. This being
said, I did try to make a snowman (with disastrous results! The
snow just wouldn’t stick together!). This meant trying to get my
car out one morning was not very fun as I had to result to using a
broom to get rid of all the snow. It would be really nice if we had
a white Christmas, but at the same time, if it means we cant travel
to our families houses then I don’t think it will be worth it.
Look how much snow we've had!
My car with lots of snow on it.
That's a lot of snow to scrap of my car!
My attempt to make a snowman.
School of Education in the snow this week.
Well that’s all from me for 2010. Going to be
very busy with assignments and enjoying Christmas to write anymore
for this year, but I will be back in the new year with all the news
from the PGCE Primary course at Wolverhampton University. Until
then, Merry Christmas everyone!
12/13/2010 11:21:28 AM
“Oh my god! It’s cold outside!”
How many times have I heard that phrase over the past week. If
you don’t live in England, then this may come as a slight shock to
you, but it’s been very cold this past week, with the result of
snow and lots of ice! It was fun for the first few days, making
snowmen and having snowball fights. But when the snow melted a bit
and froze again over night, my road suddenly became and ice rink,
as did many of the other streets around me. Due to this spat of
English weather, we all suddenly lost our heads and forgot how to
cope in such “extreme” conditions! Of course we are all
forgetting that we had weather like this only 10 months ago and we
all managed just fine.
This meant that attendance at University of
Wolverhampton was quite low last week and the beginning of
this week. I sat in my maths lesson on Friday with 13 of my peers
wondering where the other 20 of them had gone! It seems that people
who have to commute into uni (and that is around 99% of our course)
has real trouble dealing with the cold. But this is a PGCE course
and there is no room to slack!! There is a chance that people can’t
get off the car park and it is a death trap trying to cross it
without falling over. Hopefully, everyone will be nice to each
other and give them lifts to their cars and not leave them stranded
at the wrong end (you know who you are!). At least when you are in
uni, the weather doesn’t bother you that much. Hot coffee, 35
people in one room and central heating means that all our recent
lectures have been nice and toasty!
This weather didn’t just cause disruption in
uni though. I spent two day this week in my placement school and
attendance was at an all time low. This may have been caused by the
hazardous conditions (but more likely that parents took the
opportunity to have a day off from work). In a school of around 200
pupils, only 80 turned up last Wednesday, so it was declared as a
fun day! This isn't really helping towards me achieving my teaching
qualification, but hey, a fun day is a fun day!
It still has been really fun to have our
winter weather a month before Christmas, especially as we have been
able to moan about it and we British love a good moan! Hopefully in
the next few days it will get a bit warmer and the ice rink outside
my street will melt and we can return to the normal, wet, cloudy
weather that here in England we are proud of!
12/2/2010 3:48:10 PM
Blog 3, Reunions, reviews and guess what.......more
This week has been quite special. The most
important thing for us PGCE’rs is that we have finished our first
attachment and I think most of us did quite well. There are of
course some funny and sad stories, but what's the point of bringing
you all down right at the start!
Of course, with us all finishing our first
attachment, my friends and I (along with everyone on the course)
got reunited!! I got to step into the Uni canteen on Monday just
gone and see all the lovely Bananas again. I should perhaps explain
that sentence as it may not make any sense. First, the canteen is
the refectory. That isn’t the most complicated sentence, but I feel
I should mention it anyway. Second, there is a reason I called them
the Bananas. Whilst on the PGCE course, we learn about very
different methods for separating the children into groups. 1, 2 and
3 are all well and good, but the kids might realize that they are
in the bottom group if they are in group 3 and that stigma “might
cause them psychological harm!!!” So they suggest you use different
names. One of the suggestions our ICT lecturer gave us was to use
fruit; Strawberry for the top set, raspberry for the middle set and
banana for the bottom set. So we decided that we were the Banana
Anyway, so we are back together! Back in the
canteen for our morning coffee before our lectures again. It is
really nice to be back inside lecture rooms again. It’s a nice
environment, I felt quite productive whilst I’m sitting in front of
a PowerPoint presentation with my pen and pad. It is a bit of a
gear shift from teaching in a school to being taught at uni. All
the staff have been really supportive though, they have put up with
all our stories (bare in mind there are around 70 of us, so that is
a lot of stories!). I also think I have learnt so much from other
peoples times in their respective schools. The different
experiences they have had, good or bad, gets you to think about
your own experiences and how you can improve yourself as a
Despite being back into the routine I grew to
love over the first two months, the whole work load that had built
up before my attachment suddenly came rushing back. We all got
reminded about all the assignments that were due and how close some
of them are. I still have to finish one for Tuesday, but that’s
what the weekend is for! I can’t work today, not after the science
lesson we had. We got to burn stuff!! Well, Tom burnt lots of
stuff. There was a point to it, but we did get lost half way
That is one of the great things about being on
this course. We actually get to live as a primary student for a day
or so, doing the lessons we are about to teach for the rest of our
lives. It really helps model our skills. I am learning so much. But
for now, I still have a huge load of work to do and so much little
free time to do it in!
All the bananas!
Burning purfume experiment
Hard at work in science
Toms huge flame!
12/2/2010 3:43:59 PM
Blog 2, School Time, missing friends
and even more work!
Its very strange being a PGCE student. I have
been doing the course now for about 8 weeks now, spending over two
of them in placement at a school. I have been thoroughly enjoying
my time at my school and to be honest, it’s the main reason I’m
doing this course, to get to spend time in schools.
The main problem with spending so much time in
school for the past 2 weeks is that I have been apart from my Uni
friends. These are people who at the beginning of Sept I didn’t
even know existed, yet by the end of Sept I am really close with
every one of them. We spend six weeks seeing each other virtually
everyday, talking all the time and basically living our lives
together. But then we have two weeks where we are thrown into brand
new environments, new people and none of my buddies are there to
share it. I have shared everything with them up until now, but
suddenly that is all gone. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we are all
sharing the experience of being in a school and teaching for the
first time, but its not the same when they are not there.
That’s not to say that I haven’t been loving
my time in school. I have been really loving it. It really is
needed to understand what we have been taught so far.
Wolverhampton’s Primary PGCE program is great that they give us 2
weeks before Xmas to really sink our teeth into teaching. It’s much
better than just doing two big placements throughout the year. This
way we get to build our confidence and get some practice in before
we get assessed.
The only downside for me personally is that it
takes up a lot of time and energy and I have completely ignored my
assignments whilst I have been on placement which is not good!! But
I have this weekend to try and work on them. There is so much work
to be thinking about all the time. I’m actually getting worried
about assignments I don’t have to hand in until January. That is
how organized I am having to become. It is one of the things I am
looking forward to most about going back to Uni next week, getting
back into the assignment mood! Emily always gives me a push when I
hear about how much work she has done. That woman is like a
machine!! We are all so jealous.
In the mean time, I am going to enjoy my last
two days at school. I’m teaching a science lesson tomorrow and we
are making parachutes!! Its fun to be a teacher.
11/4/2010 3:30:24 PM
Blog 1 - PGCE, friends and lots of work!
Let me start off by saying that I am VERY
talkative! Anyone who has met me for more than two minutes will
agree, so I apologize if these seem to go on and on!
I have been doing the PGCE Primary course at
the University of Wolverhampton for just over 6 weeks now and I
heard all kinds of rumors about what it would be like. Everyone I
ever spoke to about it said it would be hard work and they weren't
wrong!! The first week, we got our inductions, we got our work load
and were set loose! It's not that its super hard work, its just
there is a lot of it. A lot of work to fit into nine months and
that doesn't even take into account our placements!
One of the key aspects (and in my opinion,
essential) is the people and the support system you gather on the
course. I have made lots of lovely new friends through this course,
friends who I hope to keep for the rest of my life. They can really
help you through the tough times, with both work on the course and
other problems too. It’s quite nice to sit in the Lounge (comfy
area on Walsall Campus) and just eat our lunch and chat. We
generally talk over the lectures we have just had, our plans for
the weekend or anything interesting that pops up. This kind of down
time is needed on such a "hardcore" course like a PGCE.
The campus is actually quite a nice place to
spend the day. We start off with our morning coffee (or food if we
have missed breakfast). We have our lectures through out the day
(whether it’s sounding out phonics in English or doing some
orienteering for Science). We then either split up for lunch,
library time, talking to lecturers about our endless needs or just
going home to deal with that huge pile of work. Occasionally (as
Alan is always kind to book the pitch for us) we get to play
football which helps with the stress!
As I write this (doing an excellent job of
ignoring that mass work load!), I am extremely nervous about
everything that I have to do, both on the course and off. But it's
great to know that if I do have a problem, I have got a boat load
of people who will not only listen, but understand and help me with
it. It's that kind of support that you need when doing this course.
No doubt you will hear about them in the coming blogs, especially
if I get my camera to take some pics!!