There has been a lot of support offered to me during my PGDE year, which has helped me when supporting my students in classes. The weekly sessions at the University are an excellent opportunity to get together with other trainees in similar circumstances to my own and share thoughts. This has been very comforting (the realisation that I am not alone helps) and has given me the confidence to try out new things in lessons. As part of this process, the presence, availability and experience of course tutors/lecturers is also a great benefit.
At the college, the weekly mentor-mentee meetings have been very useful in helping me to systematically address issues that arise in the classroom. Recently, the college also scheduled workshops which are open to all GCSE learners. With revision being high on the agenda of most learners, this has been very helpful too.
Of course, there have been some challenges along the way too. No job is without one! At the beginning of my first term of teaching practice, I found several issues with learners ignoring me and not paying attention at crucial points in the lesson despite my best attempts to persuade them otherwise. In the end, following some guidance and support from my tutor at University, I learnt that just standing at the front of the class in silence and refusing to proceed with the teaching until I had the full attention of the class fixed this problem. After about a term of teaching, I was hit by a more practical realisation. This being, that if a teacher has a professional, positive and meaningful relationship with their learners, then the learners are less likely to misbehave in lessons. Also, with such an approach, issues such as lateness and attendance can be circumvented, which are known to have a significant impact on achievement.
Second chance sector
Even though criteria based achievement is an important aspect of education, in general, FE can be much more focussed on the personal progress that a learner makes. In comparison to other sectors (Primary, Secondary, and HE), FE is arguably the only second-chance sector! For example at the end of a trigonometry lesson, I was approached by a female learner in her late forties. She said, ‘I have seen SOHCAHTOA many times before but have only just understood it today.’ This was definitely a light bulb moment – knowing I had helped and supported this student in gaining that understanding and achievement. I’m also really looking forward to seeing the learners achieve the elusive Grade 4 on results day.
Advice for new PGDE students
The one piece of advice I will give a trainee starting the PGDE programme next year would be to really invest in reflective practice. Ultimately, teaching is about what you do in the classroom with learners. And if you are not prepared to reflect on your actions and experiences in the classroom, you are not going to grow. Engaging with the professional development portfolio from the very beginning of the programme would be beneficial for your teaching practice. The portfolio is a very comprehensive document, and it is clear that lots of thought and evidence-based research has gone into its design. Indeed, reflective practice is very deeply embedded in the portfolio. You should use it from day one!
About the Blogger
Our Trainee Mathematics Teacher, Harsh is training to teach on the PGDE (FE and Skills) course.