Teacher Training Diaries: Summer Preparation.

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I have decided to start a series of blog posts about my experience on my teacher training course, which begins in September. It will be submitted as evidence of my progress, a reflection of my pedagogy as a trainee teacher and a perspective of my journey from PGCE to NQT.

It is four weeks until my course begins. My summer preparations include: taking as much time as possible to relax before the craziness starts, reading up on the national curriculum and familiarising myself particularly with KS1 (as this is my main school placement), learning about phonics and all the jargon that goes alongside it and doing a short course online provided by the university to remind myself of the academic writing standards and referencing systems.

I am training to become a primary school teacher through the school direct route. What this means is that I learn all of the practical aspects of being a teacher in a chosen school and two days a week, I complete the academic side of the course, the PGCE, with a university.

I decided to do this route because I wanted the hands-on approach to learning. It’s been three years since I graduated university and I didn’t want to begin my training by returning to a lecture hall. I wanted to observe, be in the classroom environment and see every side to teaching, the good and the bad. I have one years experience as a Teaching Assistant, but I doubt it will prepare me fully for how difficult it is to be a teacher.

I feel a mixture of nervousness and excitement as September approaches. My biggest worries are my overall confidence in the classroom, managing behaviour and juggling the academic side with the practical aspect of the course. Luckily, I am one of those organised-obsessed-colour-coding-highlighting-everything kind of people, so I will have no problem with staying organised. I am good at managing my time and creating to-do lists is second nature to me. I also think the reflection part of the course will be naturally easier for me, as the basis of my Creative Writing degree was learning to reflect on yourself and your writing. The only difference is, I will be reflecting not on my writing, but my teaching practice.

The next blog post will probably be after my first week on the teacher training course. I can only guess that I will probably be exhausted, I will be running on caffeine and adrenaline and I’m sure I will be feeling overwhelmed but excited about the year ahead. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!

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Twenty-Four

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So tomorrow is my twenty-fourth birthday. If I could use one word to reflect on the year that has passed between my twenty-third birthday and now, it would be strength. I have found a strength that helps me to get back up when I fall. I have found an inner strength to do what I know I am meant to do, teach. The road to being a teacher is going to be a hard one but I know that my passion, dedication and strength will get me there.

I have also realised the importance of gratitude and appreciation of the little things that make me happy. It isn’t easy for me to be positive but I always try to think of at least three things I am grateful for each day. No matter how bad my day may be or how I feel about the direction of my life, I always try to step back and evaluate the blessings in my life rather than the imperfections.

Some days I do feel stuck, like the world is passing me by, the clock is ticking and I am no closer to getting the life I want, but I am learning now to stop, notice my negative thoughts, then change them. This is something I learned in therapy and I am starting to slowly apply it to my life.

I have to keep telling myself that my life path has its own timeline and what may take someone one year to do, may take me five, but it doesn’t matter. I strongly believe that in life ambition will lead you to success, perseverance will lead to positive actions and positivity will lead you to happiness. I remind myself on a daily basis of my goals and I always see each day as another small step towards achieving them.

My challenge for myself during the next year of my life (before I reach the grand old age of 25) is to start living in the present moment. This is something that I struggle with and is the root cause of my anxiety. With a combination of studying Buddhism, meditating and practicing yoga, I am slowly but surely on the way to learning how to be mindful and just ‘be’.

Another challenge in my path this following year will be balance. I know that when I start my teacher training in September (if I pass this maths test), I will struggle with the work-life balance. Finding time to relax and enjoy life, with the chaotic, stressful and challenging year of studying, working and learning.

Whatever happens in the 365 days between now and my twenty-fifth birthday, I hope that I find joy in the little things, I hope I learn to believe in myself more, to laugh, love and live each day with a positive attitude because life is passing me by and I don’t want to waste any more time worrying about things I can’t control or choosing to live an unhappy life or surrounding myself with people that don’t allow me to be the best version of myself.

‘Lion’ Film Review

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One of the greatest films I have seen in years, the gorgeous and captivating tale of finding your way back home, Dev Patel stars as the Indian orphan Saroo, who uses Google Earth to find his way back to the family he lost at the age of five.

Based on a true story, Lion begins by showing how 5-year-old Saroo was tragically separated from his brother one night and ends up getting lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. Many cruel encounters follow, making you sit on the edge of your seat, wondering if he will make it to a place of safety.

Luckily, he gets adopted by an Austrailian couple and manages to live a privileged and contented life, far away from the poor streets of his hometown. At the age of twenty-five, Saroo longs to see his birth mother and brother again. Due to the technology of Google Earth, Saroo finally has a chance to use the memories he has to find out where he came from.

There is a terrific cast, Sunny Pawar is adorable and really sets the film alight with his realistic role as five-year-old Saroo. Nicole Kidman and David Wenham shine as the charismatic couple that adopt him.

If you do one thing this weekend, watch this incredible film, you won’t be disappointed.

Five stars!

 

 

The Best Resources For Teachers & TA’s.

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Twinkl is one of the best places to find teaching resources. Some of the lesson plans, resources and worksheets are free but it’s definitely worth purchasing a premium account with your school.

There are a variety of primary resources for EYFS, KS1, KS2 and EAL. Secondary resources for KS3, KS4 and SEN. Another great thing about Twinkl is that it is universal, providing resources for England, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Wales, USA and Canada.

Twinkl also has many support communities on Facebook, a place where you can get answers from thousands of other Teachers and Teaching Assistant’s.

www.twinkl.co.uk

 

Sparklebox is another great place to find resources for class. The amazing thing about Sparklebox is that it is all free to download!

Whether it be topic worksheets, maths or literacy activities or signs and labels to brighten up your classroom, Sparklebox has some good resources to chose from.

 

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Primary resources is another free website to download worksheets, signs and labels and activities for various topics such as Literacy, Numeracy, Science and ICT.

There are lots of powerpoint presentations that can be used as lesson plans. The website also categorizes the content into year groups, so you can find the perfect fit for whichever class you are teaching.

 

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TES is a wonderful community for teachers, you can find plenty of free lesson plans, assessments and activities by age range and curriculum subject. Similar to twinkl, you can buy resources and there are a a variety of different licenses.

 

 

 

Writer’s Block Or Life Block?

typewriterrrr.jpgI was reading Writing Magazine a few days ago and came across an article about writer’s block. It’s something I have always struggled with. I go through phases of no writing at all and I always blame it on writer’s block, I either have too many ideas and can’t seem to pick one or unfortunately, sometimes, I have no ideas at all.

I’m sure all writer’s can relate to this, the ongoing struggle to get the beautiful poetic voice in your head to somehow find its way to the page, to find the right words and put them in the right order and to finally turn an idea into an actual story. However, I’m starting to realize, after reading this article mainly, that it may not be writer’s block.

Every writer has their ‘perfect mood’ to write. Some wait until the world is falling apart around them to finally get a poem on the page and some have to be in a happy state of mind to even consider putting pen to paper. I am the latter. I’ve been through a lot of personal struggles and during this time, I haven’t been writing. Now I feel I am moving away from the shadows and finally feel myself again, I want to write.

Strange isn’t it? Maybe I was intentionally choosing to let life block my writing muse? The events of my life were forcing me to ignore the writer in me. I was so focused on just getting through each day and understand the range of emotions I was feeling. I was failing to do the one thing that helps me get through almost anything and that is to write about it.

I feel like my ongoing battle with depression and anxiety has not only killed my happiness, but my confidence too. I had no belief in myself that I could write anything good, so I didn’t write at all. Silly really. I shouldn’t care if my writing is good or not, I should do it because it’s what I love to do. Only now that I am on the other side of a long, dark tunnel, do I actually see what I have been doing all of this time.

Now, I don’t know if this feeling of being myself will last. So I’m going to make the most of it. My typewriter is sitting on my desk, waiting for me to carve words from my mind and piece together something beautiful. I’m going to do what I do best, I’m going to write and no amount of self-doubt is going to stop me, not this time!

365 Days Of Gratitude.

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For 365 days, I have been writing down three things I am grateful for each day and it has had some surprising results.

We all know the power gratitude can have. In the darkest times, if you can find at least one thing to be grateful for, even if it is something as simple as having running water, a warm home to live in or food in your fridge, it can change your perspective entirely. This is what happened to me.

I embarked on a journey of gratitude in 2016. It turns out, it was the perfect year to do it. I have had a difficult year. I won’t go into detail but it’s been really hard to stay positive most days. I downloaded the app Gratitude Journal on my phone on the 31st of December 2015. I wanted to see if writing down three things every day I am grateful for would actually impact my wellbeing and change my perspective when experiencing bad days.

It actually worked. Each night, I would write down three things I was grateful for that day. Sometimes they were very similar – my partner’s name, home and food. However, some days I managed to write down five or even six things I am grateful for. I didn’t feel like it changed anything at first. However, after a couple of months. It started to rewire my thoughts. Reflecting on my day each night with a list of things that made me feel grateful, happy and loved made me realise that life was about the smaller things.

Whenever I got caught up in a negative spiral of I hate my job, why does this always happen to me? and why am I not going anywhere?, I adjusted my thoughts. I  remembered my list. I am grateful for my friends, my partner and my home. It instantly reminded me to be grateful for what I have and not to focus on what I don’t have.

It had such an impact on my life that I’ve decided to carry on my gratitude list into 2017. It may not work for everyone but if you feel like you need to remind yourself every day of all the amazing things you have that make your life great, then start a gratitude list.

The Danger Of High Expectations.

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We spend a lot of time waiting for things from other people.We’re told from a very young age that we should treat others in the same way that we expect to be treated but sometimes, despite your best efforts with someone, you get nothing in return. In this situation, some people walk away and never look back. Then there are the people that don’t give up, that carry on trying with people because they want to believe that everyone has the same heart as them, I fall into this category.

I know that I’m a nice person, I’m kind, caring and thoughtful. I’m empathetic towards everyone around me and unfortunately, this leaves me open to getting hurt. The biggest problem with being a highly sensitive person is sometimes you give so much to others, that you neglect to take care of yourself. However, I’m learning that even my heart has a limit and I have reached a point where I have to let go.

The image in my mind of how I think certain relationships in my life should be and how my family should look was leaving me emotionally empty. I was going down a path that had no end, searching for a picture-perfect life that wasn’t there. Now, I feel like I am finally at a pinnacle of acceptance. I’m moving on from the childlike family portrait idea that clouded my judgement for so long. Sometimes families fall apart, sometimes it’s people that are in no relation to you that become your family and they show you that blood is not thicker than water after all. Relationships can change over time and not always for the better.

I now know that having high expectations of other people only leads to disappointment. The only expectations I should really have in my life are those of myself. I am the creator of my own life and I should work on improving myself as a person, instead of hoping that those around me fit into a mould of unrealistic expectations. I can’t change another person, no matter how hard I try. We are who we are. We can only change ourselves. Some of us learn from our mistakes but many of us never do.

I’ve learned to accept that I will never have the relationship I wish to have with some members of my family. I’ve realised that I should focus on the good relationships I already have. My life may look a little different to what I originally imagined but there is no reason why I can’t embrace this and be happy.

 

 

The Second Draft.

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I’ve finally finished editing the first draft of 1:58 and if there is anything I have learnt from this experience of using a red pen on my own work it is this – I can be brutal. Many writers say that they don’t like to ‘kill their darlings’ but I found it quite easy to use my inner-editor to cross out sections that didn’t work, be brutally honest about my use of clichés and accept that there were parts of my novel that just didn’t work.

I had a dream a few nights ago about my novel, when I woke up I realised all of the mistakes I was making with my story and I quickly jotted them down. I’m going to make some major changes, from the name of the novel to the events that take place in the narrative. It’s still the same story in many ways and I am keeping the characters that I have grown to love but the novel didn’t excite me when I read it back. If it doesn’t excite me, then it’s definitely not going to excite a reader.

This is the first time I have completed a novel and edited my own work, so it’s an entirely new process for me. I am excited to get started on the second draft, it may take three or four drafts before this novel is ready but I’m willing to put the hard work in to really create the best story I possibly can. No one said it would be easy. Ernest Hemmingway once said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” A little dramatic but he definitely has the right idea.

 

 

 

 

Zest For Life: Autumn Issue

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When I’m not writing or teaching, I’m designing and making my own positive lifestyle magazine. Zest For Life has been going for nearly a year now and the fourth and final issue of 2016 has now been released!

There’s lots of great subjects discussed in this issue including what parents do that they don’t like to admit, what we can learn from children about happiness, why you shouldn’t put your dreams on hold and books to read this autumn. There is also some yummy recipes, positive news and winter horoscopes to read.

To download the magazine for free to all of your devices click on the front cover at the top of this article 🙂

My First Week As A Teaching Assistant.

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I survived my first week as a Teaching Assistant.

This week I’ve been overwhelmed and exhausted, I’ve felt nervous, anxious and even a little bit awkward at times. However, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. The first week was a chance to find my feet, learn, observe and discover if being a Teaching Assistant really was a perfect fit for me. I’m happy to say that it is. I love children, I love education and I love to help others and make a difference. Perfect job 🙂

Going into a brand new school, meeting new people and building relationships with the children in my class is all a little bit scary. The school I am working at is huge. There are lots of rules to learn and procedures to follow. I know that I’m never going to have the same day twice and that’s one of the many things I love about it.

The staff at my school have been so welcoming, every single person you pass on the corridor asks how you are and if you are settling in. The team feeling in the school is comforting and makes the transition from being unemployed to full-time Teaching Assistant a lot easier for me.

The only thing that wears me down a little is the travel. Due to the distance between my house and the school, I have to get up at 5.30am every day and travel for an hour and a half on two buses. This can and will be frustrating some days but it will be worth it. I may have only just started my career as a Teaching Assistant but I’m already thinking ahead about whether or not I want to train to be a teacher.

I think the only thing that is making me hesitate is my lack of confidence in myself. I know deep down I can do it and I would be an amazing primary school teacher but my insecurities and anxieties hold me back. Only time will tell if I have what it takes to be a teacher but right now, I’m enjoying being a Teaching Assistant. I will learn something different from every teacher I work with and all of my experiences will shape my future career and my future self.