Tag Archives: teaching

Checking In!

1 Jul

Wow. It has been a long time.

I must admit, I actually forgot about this little gem. A lot has happened since I went to Egypt last summer. I have since spent one awesome year living with ‘the Crew’ (as they have so aptly named themselves, well, Sarah has named us) at Artillery Street, and I have finished University. I graduated with a First! I know, right? I’m clearly a genius! Ha. Actually, I feel this result to be more of a combination of fluke, hard graft and having a very engaging and motivated seminar supervisor for my final year (yes, I am looking at you, Dr. Don Leggett!)

My time at Enfield Grammar went extremely well! Do you remember I spent ages agonising over that letter to the head teacher? Well, by the time I left, I had been told be two different History teachers (one being the department head) that they thought I “had what it took” to be an awesome teacher, and that they knew I would do well. It made my heart swell! It was awesome. Nearly cried. Didn’t. But nearly.

I have also been accepted onto a one year PGCE with Canterbury Christ Church University, wooh! One step closer to achieving one of my main goals. They gave me a conditional offer informally on the day of my interview, which I was chuffed to bits about. The condition was a 2:1 in my degree, of course. But there was also the little matter of scoring only 3/12 on their numeracy test.

Yes, all right… I’ve always been pretty crap at Maths. My lack of confidence began (or rather, the destruction of my confidence happened) in Primary school, and I’ve never really got over the humiliation or the frustration I experienced there. So, yes… I’m not very good at it. But, perhaps I should explain?

In order to gain QTS (that is Qualified Teacher Status for the laymen), you need to pass two skills tests. This changed recently (thank you again for your crappy policies, Mr Gove) from having to pass three, including ICT, but being able to take them as many times as you liked. I now have two chances, and then I get chucked off my course and can’t retake them for two years… urgh.

The literacy one I can do with my eyes shut if I really apply myself to appropriate grammar and spelling (let’s just ignore the lack of such application in this blog…) but the numeracy, hmm. You have eighteen seconds to answer each question, and the first half of the test is verbally recited to you without any opportunity to see the question written down. I failed miserably at the first two practice tests I tried. So now I’m just trying to get quicker and quicker; it’s not that I can’t do it full stop, I just can’t do it quick enough.

Anyways! Enough moaning. I will pass. There is no other option. As Mike remarked only last week – ‘if you could become a teacher by walking across a floor of hot coals and broken lass, you would, wouldn’t you?’ Yes, yes I would. And numeracy is definitely comparable to hot coals and broken glass in its pain equivilancy. Speaking of pain… I spent a week in a Primary School!

Nah, it wasn’t that bad. It’s a necessary pre-requisite to starting your PGCE. The staff were lovely, and the children were fantastic fun. I was baffled by the sheer diversity in ability there. In one Year 2 class I spent two hours doing paired reading with each child individually.

With one, I read Spot the Dog – this is Spot, Spot is yellow – and with the next I was reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He wanted to know about everything he read – what’s a Poltergeist? Are basilisks real? What does ‘askew’ mean? – which was fantastic. I finished the week with many valuable experiences, a painted father’s day card, a greater understanding of the embalming process and a glowing report from the Deputy Head. Mission accomplished.

I also spent three days in Sawston Village College; a very high achieving, mixed secondary school. Mike went there, which was kind of weird. But Mr. Steve Mastin – the head of History – was very helpful and accommodating. I learned a lot about positive behaviour management, and how to teach History in an engaging and creative way. Many, many ideas that I can’t wait to put to use myself.

So, the end of my first post in an entire academic year. Graduation posts, and numeracy woes to follow!

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Dear Mr Harding…

27 Jul

I’ve had a lucky break with my attempts at becoming a teacher. A friend of my Mum’s has a contact at Enfield Grammar School, who just happens to be the headmaster, who just happens to have taken an interest in me. The only problem is that I have to open proceedings by writing a formal letter about why I want to teach, why I would be an asset to his school as a volunteer, while trying to make myself seem as genuine and as humble as possible. Oi…

We’ve all had our English lessons on ‘how to write a formal letter’; the syntax, the language, the thesaurus you should arm yourself with to try and make every other word about twenty letters long. But let’s be frank, it’s still bloody hard to write an application to anything, be it a job, a placement or a university. My sister has just finished her Personal Statement for her application to University – they grow up so fast! – which she struggled with for several weeks. I have to admit, having done it myself, I wasn’t very helpful in saying ‘it’s easy, you just have to put why you want to study your course’.

You may argue that if you love something then it’s easy to write why you want to study it, or work in it, or whatever. Wrong. If you really love it, then it’s easy to just splurge out in a passionate hysteria about why it’s so awesome and if you were a cat you’d be rolling all over it like it was cat nip, but to structure your thoughts, opinions, hopes and desires into a formal, readable few paragraphs has to be one of the hardest things to do. Well, for me, anyway.

So here I am, staring hopefully at a word document, willing it to outstretch its digital fingers and pluck a few ideas from my head to write the letter for me. It could happen! No, no.. it couldn’t. Somehow I must find a way to communicate with Mr Roger Harding why he should give me a volunteer place on his staff roster, and why I want to be a teacher at all. Right now, the majority of me just wants to write ‘Give me a place. I’m awesome. That is all.’ Le sigh!

Holidays: Productive or Relaxing?

26 Jul

My family and I have very different ideas as to what makes a good holiday. While I would prefer to go on a two week expedition to China with the GVI to help conservation of the Giant Panda, the rest of my family would much prefer to while away those two weeks lounging by the pool side of some tourist ridden resort in Spain, Turkey or another such magnet for British tourists. While I have to admit, maybe a few days of relaxation time on a nice hot beach, swimming in the sea and maybe going on a tourist orientated tour of a Greek island would be nice. But only a day or so. After the third day I find myself craving something productive, something exciting, something different. But it’s so damn pricey!

I’m currently in the process of looking up holidays for my Mum. I’m very picky. I pour over reviews, scout the area on Google Earth and read yet more travel blogs and reviews of the area. None of them seem particularly attractive to me, as most of them appear to be trying to replicate Britain, but in a hotter climate. So far, I could have 7 nights in Ibiza (yeurgh!) for £245, but if I wanted to visit Venice? Rome? We’re looking at £500-£600 at least, probably with a whole lot of extras to be paid for as well.  Now, I could stay in a Youth Hostel, go self catering, limit my baggage to carry on and all that and save myself a few hundred pounds, but my Mum would be aghast at the very thought of any of that. Damn it!

In this current financial climate, I’m very lucky indeed to be even considering going abroad, but I still yearn to do something productive and beneficial during my time away from this ol’ sceptered isle. This got me thinking about how these young people manage to get themselves out to Africa and China caring for and aiding the animals and people there, and I began to browse the internet looking for ways. I stumbled across this little gem; http://www.gvi.co.uk/ . It offers interships, holidays, volunteering opportunities – everything I was looking for. There’s one problem. You know those two weeks with Pandas I was talking about? It’ll set me back a juicy £1450. Ouch. For a student, that’s a little bit unachievable.

I started looking for other things. And then I stumbled across something that would not only help others, but also me in the long run. It was http://www.evergreeninternational.co.uk/ , thanks to a friend of mine. It provided teaching opportunities for students in China. Bingo! Not only will I get to visit China – somewhere I’ve always dreamed of going – but also, I’ll be able to gather valuable experience about another culture, as well as the teaching experience that is so essential if you want to get onto a postgraduate teaching course. And what’s more is that they don’t charge you through the roof prices, because they’re a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation. They have a £185 administration fee, and the rest is down to you. Brilliant.

So, I’ve started saving up already. I really want to do this. I’ll get my £500 deposit back for my house at the end of the year (as long as we don’t burn it down in the mean time), so that’ll give me a nice boost to financing the trip. Moral of the story – there are plenty of holidays with a difference, a) if you’re willing to pay the price, and b) if you’re willing to really look for them.