Sunday, 13 May 2012

Summer placement - by Theo

The University of Bristol PGCE course involves 3 teaching placements in schools: 7 weeks in the autumn; 12 weeks in the spring, the whole of terms 3 and 4 effectively; and 4 weeks in the summer. A grand total of 120 in a school setting.

As I began my final placement I was in two minds. I couldn't decide whether the final placement was; a) a bit of a pointless add-on, appended to the end of the course to ensure trainees achieve the statutory requirements for time spent in school or b) the true test of a trainee, which sorts out the outstanding from the mediocre. Let me explain.

Much like Ofsted, the course ranks students on a 4 point scale across various criteria - very good, good, satisfactory and cause for concern. So far I've been judged very good or good in all categories, and so, in my case, it seems as if I've got nothing to prove and everything to lose - I can only really be judged worse! This fact seems exacerbated by the stipulation that we are to use the 4 week placement to work on any areas of weakness and to extend ourselves by teaching year groups and topics we have yet to cover.

Yet it is precisely this which, I suppose, is the true test of us trainees as teachers - can we, in 4 weeks, go into a new class, already 3 weeks into a scheme of work and take over instantly, making a difference to these young people (or, at the very least, not doing any damage to their education). While I seemed to have had little trouble doing this in a Year 12 AS class last week, taking back my old Year 9 class and seeing that all my patient work on behaviour the past two terms had come undone during my brief absence was a short, sharp shock. Taking on a Year 7 class with extremely low-literacy levels and learning to differentiate and personalise accordingly in such a short space of time is going to be a real test.

So while (like most of my fellow trainees it seems) I've got one eye on September and my first post, and the other on my final assignment, it seems that I really should be taking this placement a lot more seriously. Glad it took me a week to figure that one out then!

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