Sorry, massively behind on blogging. Here is a post summarising the rest of my first placement and time back at university before Christmas. The first half was already written, I just never got round to posting it!
After spending the weekend away, I was already panicked and stressing at the beginning of the week over not having used the weekend to plan lessons further in advance. Luckily, I was teaching both Year 8 groups the same topic, just adapting and improving the lesson for the second time. As I knew my Monday Year 8 worked slightly less independently than my other group, I used one of the ideas presented at the TeachMeet last week. We were going to look at the formation of a waterfall, and before the lesson I had written keywords up on the board, which I referred to during my explanation of its formation, using processes they had encountered last week. They then had to write their own sentences of the waterfall formation using the keywords on the board. To give them more scaffolding and support I had made three challenge cards. Bronze provided starter sentences and some fill in the gaps sentences, along with the keywords on the board, in order to help those less confident. For silver you had to use all the keywords/phrases on the board and for gold they had to use all the words on the board but putting them into their own words, not using the phrases, and SPAG (spelling and grammar) must be perfect. The class loved being able to choose their own challenge, it really engaged and excited them, and that extra support meant less “Miss, I don’t get it! I don’t know what to do!” whiny voices when they were on task! I was able to go round the class and check everyone’s descriptions and either encouraging them to pick an easier challenge or if their work was good and they were finding it easy, I encouraged them to pick a harder challenge. I think this activity worked really well and I will definitely use it again!
We were looking at vegetation adaptations to the temperate deciduous forest and hot desert this week with Year 10s, the latter for my formal observation with my university tutor. As this was also the second to last week on placement, things were starting to ramp up a bit, and I had lots of tasks to complete. Because I had established a great relationship with my Year 10s, they were really concerned about my observation and worked really hard that lesson. They were impeccably behaved, answered lots of questions, and when I marked their books, even their (usually messy) work was much neater! I was touched! And the next day on the Friday, the first thing they all asked me when I opened the classroom door to welcome them in was “Miss Payne, how did your observation go?”, “What did she say about you?”, “Were you good?”, “Does that mean you’ll be teaching us for good now?” Inwardly, my response was “Awwhhhhh!!!” My Year 10s were awesome! Outwardly, I had to tell them that no, I only had one more week left teaching them, to which they were very disappointed.
The last week of placement was jam-packed with getting tasks in my PLR completed – behaviour for learning, education for social justice and pupil care, and I interviewed the two geography teachers for my assignment Wednesday after school. We also stayed behind longer after school on another day to write and check my School Experience Profile, so towards the end of the week I was absolutely shattered, but was glad to be near completion of my PLR. This was also through collaborating with the other PGCE students! All too soon, Friday came around and I was a mix of emotions. Happy to have got through it and beginning teaching, excited to be back at uni to see everyone, but also sad and emotional through leaving my wonderful tutor group and classes. My tutor group made me a card and bought me chocolates, and my Yr 10s had made me a card which they gave to me at the end of the day as well. I did get a little upset and said how much I was going to miss them and how great they were. After school, the two geography teachers had also got me a card, chocolates and a gift, and I gave them cards and chocolates too. We then went to the pub to have a drink to celebrate!
Our first week back in uni was a bit of a shock to the system after being in school. I loved seeing everyone and catching up and hearing about their experiences, but I immediately missed school! We had a jam-packed week with lots of interesting sessions – inclusion and SEN, Assessment for learning in geography, using data in schools (a scary session with the amount of data shown to us!), inclusion in geography for high attaining students and less able. One evening in the week we met our mentor for our Teaching Practice, and I arranged to go in one evening after school to pick up some schemes of work to start planning lessons over Christmas. We also had an afternoon visiting Bilborough College with sessions on teaching A-Level geography. All of our uni sessions are so much more relevant now we have experiences to refer and apply them to. We also had sessions on our first assignment, which is due in next week and no one has started! That weekend was a panicked two days working on both our first geography assignment and prepping for our Schools and Society discussions the following week. They went well, as they were less formal, and everyone in our group was very talkative so needed little prompting to discuss our theme. We also had a marketplace event as part of our Schools and Society module, where PGCE students from each school had to make a stall with information presenting their school, and be ready to talk about the school and their time there. Taking turns, we all had chance to have a wander round and look at each other’s stalls, and especially visit the stall for our Teaching Practice school to find out information and what it is like. I found this useful, and good practice presenting your school for the future, but maybe a little too long was spent on it in relation to everything else we covered whilst back at university. Our geography assignment was a presentation critically analysing the geography curriculum of our School Experience school, looking at what kinds of geographies are taught and learned. We presented to our individual tutors and some of our cohort who had the same tutor. We all got a bit flustered beforehand so I was definitely nervous when doing my presentation. Mostly, it was just such a relief to have it over and done with. The following day we had individual tutor meetings to catch up on our work in SE, and then finally, it was Christmas!