Week 3 – Uni, Uni & More Uni

Late again! Apologies… my To Do list is never ending!

As part of the Schools Direct course, we don’t really spend too much time at Uni. Except for induction week. And, by God, do they make up for lack of contact time that week. In general, it was probably much the same as any other induction: “Here’s a load of forms to fill in, here’s a lot of stuff to read to go with them, here’s some new people to meet and here’s some online learning bits to do too.”

It could have been worse, but it has definitely confirmed to me that SD was the right choice for me. By the end I was itching to get back into the classroom and deal with real pupils, real teachers and real subject content. Had I picked the traditional PGCE, I’d have been spending a lot more time in seminars mulling over teaching as a concept and, even with my very limited experience, I believe that there’s no substitute for actually being in the classroom and doing it.

The main focus on the first day was admin and getting to meet the others in our Faculties and on the other streams that the University of York is accrediting. There are 2 other SD Alliances and one ‘Core’ PGCE group. The latter and one of the former spend a great deal more time at University, whereas my Alliance and one other have a much higher proportion of school-based days. We should all be learning the same things though, whether that be through placement schools, SD ‘Hubs’ or Uni days.

My Alliance is actually quite big and we make up about 50% of the total cohort but there are only 3 Mathematicians! So this week gave us a chance to meet our kindred spirits. This boosted our morale a little I think, we had been worried that we were so under-represented and wouldn’t have as much support as everyone else, but that really doesn’t look like it will be the case. Everyone is lovely, and it seems like we’re going to have a great year.

I did learn on that first day that I am TERRIBLE at names. We did a starter activity where we introduced another person to the group, and I couldn’t remember more than 5 names out of 28 afterwards… In my defence, there was a lot of confusion caused by Charlotte holding up the poster for, and introducing, Hannah etc. but it did get me a little worried about remembering class names! Thankfully, I found our Facebook support group that night and a little bit of revision, putting names to faces, meant that the next day I had at least 20 names down before I even got there. By the end of the day I could remember everyone. I think that software like SIMs/electronic registers with school photos on will really help me in school, so the kid’s won’t be too offended with any luck!

Most of the rest of the week was centred around the Primary Placement debrief, an introduction to the course and assessment, setting up our Teaching and Assessment Files and introducing assignment one. It was a lot to take in all at once, but after a weekend of letting it settle I think I know where I am headed on the course. It was also nice to hear everyone else’s views and experiences, because we have all come from such different backgrounds.

The assignments are a whole other kettle of fish though. As a Mathematician, I haven’t really written an extended piece for 6/7 years, let alone ever done a serious amount of referencing. That coupled with the anti-plaigarism, anti-collusion and ‘how to write the most perfect essay ever’ tutorials I did this weekend have really started me panicking. I am trying to remain calm about it though – I believe I know what good teaching and learning looks like and I just need to find some ideas, jot them down and find things to support that in my reading, then make them fit into my essay seamlessly…. Easy right?! Anyway… I’ve already taken out 6 books on Effective Teaching and Learning so that’s at least a start. I now just have to find the time to read them!

We also took some time out on Friday afternoon to start our Subject Knowledge Audits. This involved doing the 14/15 GCSE Maths paper and marking down anything we couldn’t remember too well. I think this was the most enjoyable part of the week for me, and it took me back to the A Level Maths lessons where Fridays were reserved for Maths Papers and Cake… Yum!

On top of all that, it turns out pulling a load of students that have just spent a week at Primary School together is not a good idea for health reasons. We have all contracted a mutated version of Freshers Flu that feels like death, which made the tail end of last week really enjoyable *sarcasm*. Though, it did mean I had the time to do all those online tutorials while I was in bed on Saturday!

Last but not least, the lovely ladies over at @ITTChat on Twitter are unable to host the #ITTChat tomorrow night so I have offered to host for them. Please feel free to join in and send in your thoughts and comments. It would be lovely to hear how everyone’s week has gone/year so far. So that’s tomorrow, Wednesday 7th October, 7-8pm BST.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful week last week, and that this one is going just as well. Hope to speak to you during #ITTChat tomorrow!

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