Teacher Training Diaries: Learning & Practice.

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Well I made it! I survived my first seven weeks as a trainee teacher. It was a long slog of training, learning and observing. I have had training sessions on Mathematics, Science, English and different types of assessment. I have started my first university module ‘Raising the Achievement of Children’ and had half the autumn term to get to know the children in my home school.

Now, the real work begins! It’s half term now but when I go back I will begin teaching a full class of 5 and 6 year old’s. Starting with six lessons a week, working up to fifteen by the fourth week, yikes! I feel like this part of my teacher training journey is ‘learning and practice.’ Taking everything I have learnt so far and putting it into practice.

I know you have to teach to become a teacher but the thought of teaching a full class, on my own, makes my palms sweat! I know that once I start doing it, teaching will become second nature to me but it’s the anticipation, the worry about what may go wrong that keeps me up at night. I’m not the only one that feels this way. There are twelve other people in my school direct cohort and they all have the same anxieties.

The teacher training course is going to step up a gear as I will have to juggle writing lesson plans, teaching lessons, keeping my files up to date, writing university assignments and pre-reading and tasks for training days. I’m trying to keep a work/life balance the best I can because if I am going to make it through this training year, I need to learn to take a break and have some time for myself.

When I go back after this break, I will be in my home school for four whole weeks and then I will be returning to the old routine of three days in school and two in university and training. Hopefully in my next post I will be more confident in my ability to teach and will have many stories to tell about the lessons I have taught. I will be reflecting on what went well and what I still need to work on, as that’s what being on this journey is all about, the ups and downs of what it takes to become a fully qualified primary school teacher.

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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!

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.

2014: A Reflection Of 365 Days

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2015  is fast approaching and when the clock strikes at midnight tomorrow and the celebrations begin, I will do just that with a smile on my face because I really have had an amazing  year. 365 days ago I was a different person, I was in a different situation and I had a different perspective. Now, I am one step closer to being the person that I want to be. There have been many moments in 2014 that I have felt proud, happy, grateful and optimistic and unfortunately, there have been hard times when I have felt like giving up. However, I’m starting to discover the way that life works and although 2014 had its challenging times, the amazing moments still shine for me. It’s the little things that make me smile when I reflect on the year I have had, walking hand in hand with the one I love alongside the River Liffey bridge in Dublin on our first holiday together, shaking the chancellor’s hand as I completed my university journey and was awarded with my degree and the feeling of wanting to dance all night as I celebrated with my best friends at our graduation ball.

I don’t like to make new years resolutions because I no longer feel like I need to resolve anything in my life. I can always change however, every morning when I wake up I have the choice to change my life or my attitude, I don’t want to give anything up or set myself unrealistic goals. What I want to do instead is carry on growing as a person and learn to be happy. I have discovered this year that happiness isn’t something that is guaranteed. It’s so easy to slip in and out of happiness and despair, there is no secret to happiness, it must come from within. I need to learn to be happy with how my life is now, rather than think about the future or the past. Only then will I be truly happy.

This year I have started to believe in myself and my abilities. I wrote a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. Before November, I didn’t believe that I could do it but I did. I graduated university with a 2.1, the three years of hard work and determination finally paid off and wearing my cap and gown was one of the best days of my life so far. I want to do my masters one day and hopefully I will get there because I want to keep going. I have started to learn sign language this year and I have really enjoyed it and I am going to carry on with it in January. I have had many voluntary writing positions this year, I am getting my articles out there and making a name for myself. I am slowly getting to where I want to be and although I can often be impatient, I am proud of what I have achieved so far.

I like to think of a new year as a new book, with empty pages and I can paint them with words and memories. I need to think of the future but also need to stay in the present, enjoy every moment and seize every opportunity. I have learnt many lessons this year and I’m sure there will be many more to come in 2015. My biggest problem is I like to plan things, I like everything to be perfect and I like to control everything in my life but I need to try and let go and let life happen. I’m starting to realise that I can’t control everything in my life and the future will write itself and I will never have control over what happens to me and the people that I love. 2014 has been a year of growth, a year of learning new things and a year of new adventures. That’s exactly what I see beyond the horizon of January the 1st, 2015 is a new adventure and I can’t wait to see what happens next.