Jenny Blackett is a PGCE student from Sheffield Hallam University, who is currently working this year on placement in Rotherham College’s Performing Arts department. Jenny shares with us her experience of her teacher training so far:
“Morning Jenny!” I hear from Denny, Performing Arts lecturer, who no matter what morning he is still as enthusiastic and awake as the day before, whilst I am catching my breath after stomping up from a train that is usually delayed! In an effort to mirror his energy I quickly head off to whatever lesson I am teaching or observing next. This has been one of my biggest lessons I have learnt this year; to start every morning with maximum energy and positivity. It is easy with such a busy schedule to allow oneself to just ‘go through the motions’, but if you’re not energetic how can you expect your students to be? It’s my first lesson of the day and as I greet the students I am trying to gauge which ones are excited, which ones are still drowsy and who’s running late!
Over my time at Rotherham College I have tried to get to know my students, allowing them to know me as a person as well as their teacher, so that the ‘I’m still tired’ first thing in morning lessons, or after-lunch slots when they’ve eaten too much and are overly giddy, are easier to navigate through. I have to say, getting to know your students is worth the time. Now they might complain that I tell many a story about when I was their age, but each story has its purpose and consequently they now even tell me some of their own! Some stories make me laugh, in fact it’s safe to say I have some pretty hilarious students, but as well as being funny and excitable I have learnt how considerate and caring my students are. After becoming unwell this year and taking time off, I was nervous upon my return to placement, but not only were my fellow tutors incredibly understanding, but the day I came back I was flooded with well wishes from students.
As the day progresses I choose to spend some time in the staff room and attempt to get some university work done. What people do not tell you when you sign up to a teaching course, is how much you can learn from staff room conversations! This may sometimes be my excuse to procrastinate, but it has also been an opportunity to ask fellow and more experienced teachers for much needed advice. Even if it’s just bouncing lesson plan ideas off another teacher or sharing knowledge within our subject specialism, talking to other teachers can be so beneficial. However, my time in the staff room has taught me a valuable lesson; that I am definitely not the most qualified person to answer the door. Almost each time I open the door with such confidence and a smile, a student asks a question for which I have no idea of the answer and must look around the room in hope that another teacher saves me.
Ultimately, no day as a PGCE student is ever the same as the last, but I think that’s what prepares you the most for a career in teaching. Being able to adapt to situations quickly and thoughtfully means that no matter what the day throws at you, you are in some way prepared. That being said, if I had any advice for future PGCE students it would be to always be honest and transparent with your placement. It’s a hard and stressful year and sometimes the workload can exceed what you’re capable of.
There will many late nights trying to catch up on work and there will be times when you feel that you’ve handled a situation terribly or taught an awful lesson, there will be moments when you feel like ripping your hair out or taking a nap! Teaching is a wonderful and worthwhile career, but you won’t get to see how fantastic it is if you’re clouded with stress. So thank you to Performing Arts at Rotherham College, and the students, who have made me laugh and smile even when I’m swamped with work, and to the tutors for supporting me through the biggest year of my life!
If you’d like to study a PGCE a little closer to home at University Centre Rotherham, please click here