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.


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