Je suis très bien!

I passed!!! I got a ‘very good’!! (In other words, the top grade possible.)

I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging; if anything, I’m a little disbelieving to be honest. It is something which I never thought would happen and I’m very excited about it.

It’s my penultimate day at my placement school and I’m starting to feel a bit sad – I really love working here and, although I’m excited about my new job, I’m not overly pleased to be leaving here…! But only time will tell 🙂

End of course interview

So I’m just at the library waiting to go for my final professional interview. At the end of every phase (term), we have an interview with our university tutor to check our progress, tick off any teaching standards that we have met and to go through the comments made by our school mentor(s). This one is a bit different though, because it is the last one! That means that (hopefully) I’ll be able to tick off the rest of my standards, get my essay back and know that I have passed the course. It’s a bit daunting, although I’m not sure why because I have been doing pretty well all year and I’ve done everything that I’m supposed to (unless I’ve forgotten something really important…but I don’t reckon I have).

It’s very strange, actually. I can’t believe that I’m so close to the end of the course already. It only feels like yesterday that I was starting my French course prior to the PGCE, yet at the same time, this course has completely taken over my life and I can’t actually remember doing anything with my time other than teaching, planning what I’m going to teach or thinking about what I taught…! This course definitely completely consumes your life – in some ways, I think that it is a good thing, because I’m not sure how else you’d be able to get through it. At the same time, it has meant that a lot of other things in my life have been neglected (and, in some cases, even lost over the course of the year). I definitely feel that I am making the right choice with this career, at least for now. I love teaching and everything that comes with it, although admittedly some things more than others. There are some parts of the job which are unendurably boring and tedious and some days I get so angry or irritated that I really struggle to remember why on Earth I am doing this to myself, but at the end of the day, I’ve got a job that I really love and I work with some of the most hilariously funny people I’ve ever met (yes, my year 10 class, I’m talking about you!).

The one thing I am sad about is the fact that I’m going to be changing schools. In some ways, it’s really exciting! I get a completely new start in an exciting, new school with completely different people. It is really daunting, though, and I’m really going to miss the department at my current placement school, because they are really fantastic. I’ve only got four more days at this school, which does make me feel like I haven’t had the time to enjoy being there as much as I would have liked, but then again I was just saying that this course has consumed me, so I guess I shouldn’t be as surprised or sad about this as I am!!

Anyway, I think it’s time to get my stuff together and go for my final interview. Wish me luck! 😉

Feedback on Written Work

Really interesting ideas about giving written feedback

ELT Blog

In a standard course the learners receive feedback on their performance in a variety of ways, ranging from oral feedback on a whole class-level, through individualised comments on a one-to-one basis, to lengthy prose on their written work.pen_madamepsychosis

While it is easy for feedback to backfire in general, it is all too easy for written comments to backfire horrendously or even be completely ignored.

Imagine you are a language learner, you get your written work back and it is covered in red marks – every line has at least two errors highlighted. How would you feel? Do the words ‘deflated’ or ‘demotivated’ come quickly to mind?

What is the best way to give feedback on written work which is both informative and constructive yet not overwhelming?

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Two (and a bit) weeks to go…!

I am well aware that this blog has been neither frequent nor well updated and I do apologise. I suppose it shows how busy this year is that I haven’t even managed to update regularly since I started writing a couple of months ago…! Also just how frazzled my brain is at the moment, as I’m sure none of this is particularly cohesive or coherent.

Well, I’m into my penultimate week at my school, then one full week at university and then *gasp* starting my new job immediately afterwards…! It is an absolutely terrifying thought that in under a month (well, less than three weeks, now) I will be working in a school as a real, actual member of staff…absolutely terrifying. A friend of mine who is currently almost at the end of their NQT year has assured me that a lot of things will be better next year, but that the sheer quantity of paperwork simply changes from one load to another…that’s going to be great fun…! Also, this friend seems to spend the vast majority of their time marking books, although I have been assured that they have simply been left for far too long.

I’m not really sure where this is going, to be honest. Just my tired ramblings, I suppose. It’s funny, really, because half term (last week) was the first holiday I’ve had this year where I have not had an essay to be working on or any looming deadlines interrupting my sleep…yet I feel absolutely exhausted! It’s as though I haven’t had a rest, yet I barely did any work last week (shhhh…). Who knows? Maybe the course is just classically conditioning me to thrive (well…’thrive’ might be a bit generous) under pressure, stress and overhanging deadlines, rather than allowing me to benefit from actual time off…?

Ok, too many ‘…’s and weird, rhetorical-y questions. Time for bed. Thanks for listening (reading). I’ll try better next time! 😉

Welcome to phase 3

I’m currently about equally torn between the “I have the absolute best job in the world – how lucky am I?!”, the “I have HOW MANY assignments to mark?!” and the “you are just awful”. I’ve gone from two lovely weeks of Easter holidays with beautiful weather and lots of time to relax (something which I haven’t had the opportunity to do properly for probably an entire year), straight back into school which is even more manic than normal thanks to GCSE controlled assessment deadlines, the department printer breaking down (and mine on exactly the same day – trips to the university library every evening this week have been in order) and my final joint observation less than a week after going back. I’m almost at the end of the second official week of phase 3 – the final phase! – of my PGCE now, which is elating and terrifying at the same time! Oh, yes, and I’ve got a job!! Really exciting and a massive relief, to be completely honest, but that also raises the rather scary thought that has been hiding away at the back of my head that in just over a month’s time, I’m done with my PGCE training and will be straight into my NQT year (which I’ll be starting in June, to give me time before the holidays to get used to my new school). I’m sure my writing reflects to catastrophic chaos which my life has become after just a week and a half back at school and I’m almost certain that none of this makes any sense, but we shall see…!

 

I actually really love the teaching part of my job (ok, well today doesn’t really count) – it can be so uplifting and hilariously funny…then again, it can also be just the opposite – and I do have days where I go home and wonder what the hell I’m doing and how on earth I think that I will ever be able to manage this job. It’s really hard, actually! There are so many things that are involved in teaching and which have to be crammed into every lesson that sometimes I feel like a juggler with an infinite number of things to keep in the air. Children can be horrible! But then again, most of them are lovely and they try so hard and it’s so exciting when something really pays off for them.

 

I’ve introduced the handing out of stars in my lessons with my younger students (three stars equals a merit) and you would not believe the effect it has had! We’ve also been playing live bingo this week (each student has a piece of vocabulary or a verb or something and they are split into four teams; when their thing is called out, they have to sit down and the first all-sitting team wins). We’ve been working with the mini whiteboards, playing around with the interactive whiteboards, tomorrow we’ll be playing battleships and next week we might even try puppetry! There are so many fun things you can try and I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy teaching so much – if you’re able (and willing – and trust me, some days I’m really not) to put the time in to planning the lessons, they can be hilariously good fun.

 

So if you’re at the point where I am, hang in there! We’re so close to the end! (Even though the end is just the terrifying beginning…)

When you realise why being a teacher can be so awesome

A group of students I have been supporting with a language competition as part of my teaching time got into the final of their competition last week and this evening we attended the final. The girls have put in so much effort over the last weeks and months to get through some massive challenges as part of their journey in this competition and the regular supporting teacher and I were so proud of them to even get to the competition. The fact that they made it through to the final was absolutely fantastic and even then they didn’t stop putting in the enormous amount of effort…and to top it all off, at the final this evening – they won!! It was an amazing experience to be able to support them throughout the term that I have been at my placement school and I am so proud of them for everything that they have achieved. Being at the final this evening and waiting on tenterhooks with them, their parents and families and the other teacher was so intense (!) and then finding out that they won was the best way I could possibly have ended the day and also (almost!) the term. It’s moments like these where it feels so easy to forget how tired and drained teaching makes me and to feel like I have the absolute best job in the whole world. As I’ve said before and with doubtless say again, the lows of this course and of this job are so incredibly tough, but the highs that come with it are one of the best feelings ever and it only takes one moment like this to make me feel so happy that I have chosen this career. It just goes to show that sometimes all of the hard work (of the teacher but more of the students) really does pay off. I’ve got some lesson planning to get back to but even that can’t dampen my mood after such a wonderful evening. Just remember that it is worth it to have a day like today. If you’re ever struggling to get through the planning and paperwork and horrible lessons that spiral manically out of control, try to remember that. I really hope it will help me!

Feeling a bit pensive…

I’d be lying if I said that I’m not enjoying the course, because some bits of it are fantastic. All the little things, like being thanked after a really good lesson, or having a eureka moment where things just click. But equally I’d be lying if I said that it isn’t the hardest year of my life. It’s exhausting, an absolute rollercoaster of emotions and you really do need to be ready for that. You have to be prepared to give up all of your time and energy and realise that this isn’t just a university course, it’s a full time job on top of that. You have to be willing to give up most if not all of your free time and be prepared that some days you’ll be going to work on just a few hours sleep. You’ll have to grow up a considerable amount – and I really do think that that’s true regardless of your age or experiences. The highs are amazing and the lows can seem absolutely devastating and you have to be able to just box it up and keep going until it gets better sometimes.

You make amazing friends but you’ll also probably lose some along the way and you’ll have to work with people you don’t like or even respect sometimes. You might lose your partner or you might be able to keep going with them but they will have to sacrifice the time they get to spend with you. You’ll spend hours planing lessons that go horribly wrong for no reason at all and you have to develop a really thick skin because you’re constantly being scrutinised and picked apart, sometimes by people with no regard for how exhausted you are or how what they say might make you feel. You might even put in all of that and realise that you don’t even want this at the end of it. I’m not trying to put you off because I’m sure that when I reach the end it will all be completely worth it, but you need to go into this feeling prepared that any of these things could (and probably will) happen to you and if that already sounds like too much to sacrifice then this course – this job – really isn’t for you. But if you go in feeling prepared and with a strong mindset from the beginning then you’ll be in a really good position to make it.

I have changed so much throughout this year and my life is completely different in some ways to how I would have predicted it, but I think (hope) that in the end it will all be worth it. I really do.

The best of luck to you because it’s going to be a really bumpy ride. But if you make it, you’ll be so incredibly happy that you did it.