Top 10 PGCE survival tips.

So here are my top 10 PGCE survival tips. Use them, abuse them or just read them, you never know, some might actually work.

1. Don’t buy the books that are required for your course. i spent £140 on books and never needed them. I think I read through the relevant chapters on a placement book, but the rest were never required. You’ll have a library so take advantage of that or look through Ebay for second hand ones.

2. Save what you can beforehand. Only a few PGCE students come straight from uni most of us are older and have come from another career. The minute you apply for the course, open up a separate bank account and just put what you can in. This will help you cover living expenses through that awful period of June to the end of September when you don’t get paid!

3. Make friends on your course- they will get you through. Before I started my whole class were brought together and told we would become best friends. I looked around and thought ‘never, these people are so not me.’ We were lucky, (to be honest I’ve not heard any other PGCE students say this) we became absolute best friends. I couldn’t have got through the year without my class who are really friends for life. We set up a private fb group where we asked for advice, lesson plan ideas etc. Remember that these people are the only ones who know exactly what you are going through.

4. Use your placements as job interviews. Don’t get too comfortable, remember that the head teachers (and other staff) are observing you to see if you could work in the school. Jobs are always becoming available, my placement started off with no jobs but had three posts by the time I was leaving. Getting a job at a placement school saves the hassle of interviews and has the added bonus of you knowing the children and the ethos of the school.

5. Get organised from day one. Buy a huge file to organise all your papers. On my course the would constantly ask for things that had been done months ago or I would need notes on a Science lesson I did the year before. It also helps you feel less stressed if you have everything in order..

6. Socalise- say yes to things! I was told beforehand that I wouldn’t be able to go out as I would be so busy. I went out more in my PGCE year than I have done in the past five years combined. You need that release, that time to just think about something else and have something to look forward to. I also found that having a night out made me work harder as I knew I had to get all my planning done before I went out.

7. On placement set up the next day’s work at the end of the day. I made sure that I had all the worksheets ready and stuck in the books the night before as I found it helped me sleep better knowing that I could relax a little when I arrived in school the next morning. Plus, you may not have a TA- or worse still, have a TA that is useless.

8. Have a cut off point for working. I made sure I never stayed later than 4pm on a Friday and that I never took school work home. I would stay until 5pm, but I refused to take work home. I wanted to be able to get home and just relax. knowing i had work to mark would have played heavily on my mind.

9. Which brings me to marking. Don’t let it pile up. Try and mark as the children are still doing the work, use half your dinner time. Do anything to get it done and keep on top of it.

10. Arrange your own placements. I arranged my first placement without fuss. I didn’t have any contacts for my second placement and my university struggled to find quite a large number of student’s placements. It was a terribly stressful time. I missed a week from my second placement and when I began ringing around my old schools or local school, they all said the same thing, ‘we would have taken you on if you had said, we’ve got a student already.’ Your university will say they have no problems finding placements as they don’t want to look bad or panic you. We were even told not to find out own placement, then two days before we were due to start they hit us with the news. Find your own so that you have a plan if things go wrong.

I could have wrote another 10 tips, but these are my biggies. But above all enjoy yourself. I must be a little insane- but I have just had among the best 10months of my life. I really, really enjoyed my PGCE year and I hope my NQT year is going to be as enjoyable too.

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NO SEX PLEASE…. I’M AN NQT

No sex please.... I'm an NQT

Well one thing I hope gets better/easier/do-able during my NQT year is to actually not be too tired to have sex. I got married a year before I started my PGCE and I was lucky enough to have the whole honeymoon period after. Thank God I did, because once the course started that was it. Sex went completely out of the window. My poor husband, marrying a young bride only to see her develop the sex drive of a slice of cheese. I used all the sex cliches; ‘I’m tired’, ‘not tonight I have a headache.’ The worse thing was my excuses were true! Plus, the fact that I was crashing out in bed at 9pm when my husband got back in from work at 7pm, this whole year just felt like one big husband neglect on my part. I will make it my priority to prioritise my other half next year because, in all honesty, I know I’ll be even more tired and stressed than when I was a PGCE student.

Remind me why I’ve chosen this profession again?

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I’m one of the lucky ones…. I got a job.

So, I have just completed a PGCE in primary education and I am one of the lucky ones. I got a job before I graduated and I have a school to start my teaching career in and get my NQT (newly qualified teacher) year out of the way. I like my school, I am excited to teach and due to the expansion of the school there are 2 other NQTs starting too. (Yay! i have people to sit with in the staff room).

Anyway, before any of my friends start moaning about how I got a job ages ago, I always explain how it was bloody hard and I worked like a b*tch to get one. Yes, there are quite a lot of teaching jobs out there- thanks in part to the average teacher leaving the profession after 5 years- but competition is tough! I cannot tell you how many job applications I filled in. Each one taking days to complete due to having to tailor mini essays to each school. Then there were six interviews. Six gruelling, soul destroying, confidence breaking interviews. I was at breaking point. I got rejection after rejection, after rejection. My mum told me after the 5th rejection that her nerves ‘couldn’t take anymore.’. I was so past caring that for the final interview that I had I didn’t even bother wearing a suit, I wore old pants and a normal top, my shoes were pinching so I kicked them off in the lesson observation and sat bare footed on the floor. I was tired. I didn’t plan a thing and hadn’t prepared for the interview questions. I hadn’t even seen the school. I got the job.

I was absolutely ecstatic. But more so than anything, I was just grateful. This really was my last hope. I had no more options. There were no more jobs advertised so I am still so thankful now that I got a job, a foot in the door and a chance to complete my NQT year. But like I said, I worked bloody hard. From the moment jobs started to be advertised I applied. I went to school visits. I laughed at head teacher’s unfunny jokes, every day I came home and sat at my computer writing personal statements. I wasn’t one of those lucky minorities that see a job interview, go just for ‘a bit of interview practice’ and get the job. I wasn’t lucky enough to know head teachers who just ring you up and say ‘do you fancy teaching at my school? I haven’t got the time to interview.’ I really did go for it. Some people on my course still haven’t applied for a single job, some people have applied for a few but aren’t really chasing anything. Reasons are varied; ‘I don’t feel ready to teach in September’

‘I’m just lazy to be honest.’

I don’t really have to work, my husband’s rich. This course was just to get me out of the house.’

It really hit home when one of my friends text me yesterday. She had just lost out on her dream job to someone on our course (at least I was never up against anyone I knew!). She said, ‘I’m £27,000 in debt. I’m a qualified teacher and I’ve just applied for a job at a butchers.’

I hope by the end of the year, I’m not wishing I was the one working in a butchers. Stress, you will not get me….