Saturday, 14 September 2013

PGCE POST #1: My story so far

*From this point, and including this one, all of my posts about PGCE year specifically, will be published on my new blog, found here.

This week, was the first week of my English PGCE.  Before I started, I felt all sorts of different things.  Firstly, I was excited that I was finally here.  I first applied for a PGCE during my final year of my degree in December 2010.  It had been my intention since school, that I would do an undergrad, and then afterwards, a PGCE, but I hadn't really researched into it, and ended up submitting a rushed application minutes before the deadline.  Obviously, I didn't get on, and I was devastated, but it gave me a year to work, and a year to get some more in school experience, and redo my application to a better standard when the system reopened in September.

I applied the second time in again, December, in 2012.  I did, I admit, put it off again and again, but I didn't leave it till quite the last minute this time, almost, but not quite.  It took me so long to pluck up the nerve to email by Uni personal tutor for a reference, again, but she provided me with one, and I applied, this time to Primary and Secondary courses.  My experience in schools had been in Primary, but I'd volunteered at a Youth camp for 12-16 year olds for the last two years, and I really enjoyed working with that age group.  Again, I wasn't successful, something I mostly put down to my application being sent late in the cycle, and the fact that I didn't decide on one age group, instead applying to both, an approach so ad-hoc, that my personal statement probably didn't make much sense.  I got a response from University stating that I wasn't offered an interview because I didn't have an 'A' in English Literature at A Level, which I did think was unfair, seeing as since then, I'd achieved a BA in the same subject, but I suppose when hundreds of people apply to the same course, it's a way of making placing them easier. 

I did get offered an interview at Liverpool Hope, for a Primary PGCE with French, but my French was actually so rusty since A Level, that I didn't even go to that interview.

Last year, in August, one of my Supervisors in work left, and I applied for his position.  I had no intention of applying for a PGCE again, having tried without any sort of success for the past two years.  I decided I'd try to get that role at work, and then maybe try and work my way up that career path instead.  I was never a hundred percent certain about it, and I remember once I'd applied, thinking secretly I'd hate it if I had to work 40 hours a week in a shop for the rest of my life.  During my degree, I remember feeling disheartened one day when we were studying a poem, really dissecting it, verse by verse, stanza by stanza.  I remember thinking 'who does this help?  And what affect does doing this have on anyone's life?'  When I applied for that job, I remember thinking the same, but I told myself that if I got the job, I'd do it for a year, get myself enough money to live off, maybe move out, and then assess my prospects.

I didn't get the job.

I feel I was very qualified to do that job.  I'd been there for five years, in various roles.  I still do.  I don't know why they decided not to appoint me, but as soon as I found out, I went home, and I went online to find out when the PGCE cycle started again.  I waited, and I weighed up my options.  I decided I was going to apply to Leeds as my first choice, because I knew people there, and they'd never rejected me before.  Plus, I was 22 and had never lived on my own before  As soon as the cycle opened, I applied, switching my top two choices at the last minute, I don't know why.  Gut instinct?

By Christmas, I had an interview at my current Uni.  I studied so hard for that interview.  My Mum's friend has a daughter who was on her PGCE that year, so I asked her for possible interview questions I could prepare myself for, I found out what to look at, I joined the TES website, I read and re-read the National Curriculum, I got myself a volunteer placement in my old secondary school.

At my interview, there were only six of us, I thought it was pretty funny because bar one, we were all twentysomething blonde girls.  I remember feeling so nervous listening to the other girls' stories of their experiences, but I was confident that I'd done just as much, if not more than them.  The part that scared me most, was that the girls' degrees were all at least 2:1, or they were predicted a 2:1, and my 2:2 hung around my neck.  I was prepared to explain myself to the interviewer, but when I asked if there were anything from my personal statement he had an issue with, and wanted to discuss, he said no, he liked my personal statement and that's why I'd been invited to interview.  We were told as a benchmark, we'd find out around the 8th February.

I found out I had a place in January.

So now, I'm here, and so far, so good.  I know it's going to be the most difficult year I've had, and I know I'll not be able to go out much, and that I'll have no money, and I'll probably have a nervous breakdown in December.

I know my grammar needs to be better, and I need to make sure I don't swear in the classroom, or use too many colloquiallism.  I know I need to be firm, and that I can't let the students walk all over me, and I need to get myself a 'teacher stare' and not laugh when the students say inappropriate things, no matter how funny I find them.

I know it'll be hard, but I can't wait to face this year.  Let me have it.


Friday, 30 August 2013

So long, Summer!

Hello eight!  (I don't even know if you still are eight, but it has a nice ring to it).

So, in a week's time, I'm going to be back at my old Uni, enrolling on a PGCE.  I've been trying to get to this point for so many years, it's quite surreal that it's finally happening, but, it is, and I keep flipping from being so excited, to be being a massive puddle of nerves, especially in work a few weeks ago, when some of the boys were feeding me horror stories of how horrible they were to their teachers.    One of them bricked a particularly unpopular teacher's car (remind me to park Tracey far, far away), and another said I'd probably be lucky because I'm pretty (let's hear it for feminism).  

So basically, I'm terrified.  
I'd like to think I'm going to be a nice teacher, but not so nice I'm a pushover/the one they make cry, and I've always felt it's what I should be doing, so I'm sure I'll be fine, but there's a horrible part of my mind screaming 'WHAT IF I'M NOT!  WHAT IF I TURN OUT TO BE TERRIBLE AT THE ONLY THING I'VE EVER THOUGHT ABOUT DOING?'

Time will tell, I suppose.

Anyway, in preparation for the next year, I've made a lot of changes this year.  I left my band (sob), because I know I just won't have the time, and I've cut my hours back in work to just one day a week, for now.  I've read a lot of articles/blogs/opinions, saying they wouldn't recommend working through a PGCE, but I don't get any sort of bursary, just the basic loan, and I don't think it'll be enough for me to live off, especially, after being on basically full time hours for the last two years, but, if worst comes to worst, I'll just have to leave and try my best.

As well as cutting stuff back, I decided to make the most of every minute spare I had this summer, so I went camping, I went to Zante, and I finally went to a festival.  I've relished every moment with my friends, and my boyfriend, made some new friends, and as cheesy as it sounds, made memories that I hope will get me through the hard times I know I'm going to face this year.

So, I'm hopefully going to be writing about my experiences here, but you can see from my posting history what I'm like.  For now, I'll leave with a few of my favourite memories from the summer.

H x

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Love, Love, Love

Hello Eight! 

As we all (probably) know, it's Valentine's Day tomorrow.  I'll throw it out there, I'm not a fan.  It's weird, because I'm SUCH a romantic, and a bit of a cheeseball, I love happy endings, and I cry at most films/soaps/montages/adverts (and what?).  I've seen the episode of Friends a million times where Chandler proposes to Monica, and I still tear up.  I love engagements, and I love Weddings.  I already know pretty much how I want mine one day to be, I know what I want for my first dance and I occasionally worry that I'm gonna have too many bridesmaids even though I'm not engaged, nor am I expecting to be any time soon, and I did this before I was even in a relationship. 

Anyway, put simply, I'm a sap.  I don't know who to blame, because none of my friends are like this, nor is my Mum.  And it's definitely NOT from my Dad.  Maybe Disney?  But, I am a sap who doesn't like Valentines day much.  And I'm not just saying that, I don't like it.  When I was younger, and single, it was fun, the anticipation of getting a card, or the should I/shouldn't I of sending one yourself, and one year, the mission impossible of helping my friend send one to a boy in my form without him knowing.  Then, as I got a bit older, it just didn't really affect me, I was usually working, or my friends' boyfriends would be away, so it didn't matter.  The only time I remember wishing I was part of a couple, was in work when one of the girls' boyfriends sent some flowers to the shop, and even then it was just 'Aww, that's nice, hopefully that'll happen to me one day', rather than 'I'm so LONELY!'

Although it never affected me so much, Valentine's day seems to suggest that everyone is supposed to be in love, and if you're not, then you don't get to celebrate, and I think that's wrong.  The best Valentines I've ever had was when I was seventeen and went for a meal with three of my girlfriends', then went to some clubs afterwards, the first time my baby face had ever managed to get in anywhere.  Around this time, clubs tend to put on Valentines' parties, or traffic lights parties, were everyone is encouraged to pull.  Just a bit of fun, but also potential for a LOT of regrets the next morning, when you remember necking that sweaty, sleazy drunk on the dancefloor.

Valentines Day is JUST A DAY.  The 14th February literally means nothing.  I don't want to spend my (little) hard earned cash on cheap tat that doesn't mean anything, and I'd love to get flowers from my boyfriend, but I'd love to get flowers on the other 364 days of the year too.  I'm in a couple, but I'm not going all out to get dolled up and have a meal at some resturaunt that's gonna be mad busy and full of PDA's.  I am, spending tomorrow night with my boyfriend, but it'll be in my PJ's with a pizza and some chicken wings, in front of BBC3. 

I'm a sap.  But I like being sappy off my own back.  I don't even mind cheap tat, but I like giving cheesy gifts when I feel like, rather than because that's when we're supposed to. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

London BABY!

Hello Eight!

A bit of adventure going on in my world recently!  For the past five years, I've been the biggest fan of the musical 'Wicked', I know all the songs, the plot, I watched Glee excitedly when I found out Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth would be starring, I LOVE Kristin Chenoweth.  I wish I was Kristin Chenoweth.  I sang 'The Wizard And I' in my final exam in Performing Arts when I was in Sixth Form, (and nailed it), and I've performed 'Defying Gravity' to my bedroom wall a million times.  The only thing I hadn't done, was actually watch it.  (Badly filmed snippets on Youtube don't count).

Enter boyfriend, and Christmas.

So, as my belated present, I jumped on the train to London, in 2hours8mins!  (Sorry, but that is a tiny amount of time!  It takes 2 hours to get to Leeds via coach, and that's not nearly as far).

So from Euston, we just walked, and walked, and walked, and ended up in some Bootle-esque area of London, that was not at all like what I'd imagined.  Before we'd gone down, we decided that we'd avoid the tube, Andy worked in London a while back and hated it, and when I'd been down as a kid, I remember just feeling dead claustrophobic, nevertheless, we bit the bullet, it was cold, our bags were heavy and if we wanted to go to Bootle, we could've walked there.  Cue us standing by the big map in the train station looking like we definitely weren't from round there, and trying to work out what all the little coloured lines were for about half an hour.  But eight, we DID it, and by the end of the trip, we were Tube naturals.  And it turns out, I'm a bit of a tube nerd.  I find it fascinating how there's so much going on underneath the streets, and how many different tunnels there are.  I found myself amazoning a book on the history of the tube today.  I think a monster may have been created.

Anyway, we ended up round Oxford Street, which was a lot less like Bootle and a lot more pleasing.  Andy showed me where he worked, in some big hotshot building, and we had a little look around the shops before heading to our hotel, which turned out to be the most confusing hotel in the history of the world.  We were on the 'second' floor, and by that, I mean we took the lift to the second floor, before climbing a little set of stairs, crossing a hallway, going down another little set of stairs, around a corner, through a door, and up another set.  The room was lovely, but the bed had a plastic sheet underneath the bottom sheet (incase of wee?) and was pretty annoying to sleep on as it was so noisy.  We had a little nap and then headed to the cutest little Nando's (because who doesn't love a Nando's?), and were going to do the chicken wing challange but chicken winged out.  If anyone's ever in the Earl's Court Area though, I'd reccomend it, I know it's just a Nando's, but it was so quick, and delicious, and the staff were lovely.

After Nando's, we headed to the Apollo Victoria for the main event.  The bar was a bit pricey, but I expected that, however if I ever go again, I reckon I'd ask my good friend Danielle if I could borrow her bag with the secret vodka pocket in the lining.  Our tickets said we were on row 'ZC', so I thought we were going to be at the very, very back, but we weren't, we had really good seats, right in the centre.

I loved it.  It was definitely worth the wait, and the cast played their parts so well.  Elphaba's always been my favourite, but I absolutely LOVED Galinda/Glinda, and Gina Beck played her perfectly, so, so funny.  Now I've seen it, I couldn't imagine her played by anybody else.  Louise Dearman who played Elphaba, played Glinda in a previous run (living the dream), but she sounded exactly how Elphaba should sound when singing her parts.  Her voice completely reminded me of Idina Menzel's.

Andy said he liked it, though he wished he knew the songs, and it wasn't really his thing. (He didn't realise it was a musical until about two weeks ago), and he made me laugh right at the end, when Glinda said the line, 'I will be known as Glinda the Good', he thought she said 'Glinda the goat.'  And that pretty much had me in hysterics through the whole of the finale.  Then I picked up my coat upside down and dropped all the change from my pocket, (which seemed to be all of the change in the world).  We got a taxi back to Earls Court and had a drink in a little pub before heading back to the hotel.

We'd decided to set our alarms for 8:30am so that we could spend the full day around London before catching our train home, but we're both snooze button fiends, and ended up rushing around packing everything half an hour before check out time at 11.  We then put our bags in storage (£8 for a day, not too bad) in the station and headed straight for some lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.  I got a (small) burger, and it was the nicest burger I've ever had (I didn't think it was so small though) and it wasn't as pricey as I expected, I'd definitely go again.  We had a little look around their merch shop next door too.

We spent most of the day by the Thames apart from a quick trip to Covent Garden (couldn't find the actual market part), and had a go on the London Eye.  I've been on before, about nine years ago on a school trip, but I couldn't remember much of it apart from mistaking a telephone pylon for the Eiffel Tower (the shame).  I loved it this time though, I loved seeing where everything was and being up above the city.  Plus the Pods are really big, so I didn't get claustrophobic.

We had a look in one of the souvenir shops along the front, and I had a pretty embarrassing moment when suggesting a gift, due to my general giddiness/excitement/stupidity I just started picking everything up, and going 'what about this?'  Which probably wasn't too funny until I picked up a condom with 'London' written on it and loudly asked if it would be a good present, and holding it up for a good few seconds before realising what it was, and probably going the same colour as a Beefeater's coat. 

Before heading home, we HAD to have a go in the arcade by the London Eye.  Who can resist a good arcade?  They're definitely one of the funnest activities no matter where you are.  I challenged Andy to a dance mat contest but changed my mind cos I'd have to probably pick the easy songs, so we settled for a strange, valley shaped version of air hockey, GIANT CONNECT FOUR and multiplayer pacman.  I was pink pacman.  I was pacgirl.  I didn't win :(. 

Finally, we headed to the station, to get our sad little train home.  I would've stayed for another night, if I could have afforded it, there was still so much to do, but alas, I have no money.  Maybe one day eh?  We met Andy's friend at Euston and had a hot chocolate with her before heading back, and it was nice to meet the person who put him up for the weeks he had his job down there. 

Hopefully I can go back soon, this year at least. 

I'll write soon!
See you later, eight :)