PGCE, GTP, DTLLS – Are they really useful?

I was browsing the education pages on BBC news and came across this news story…Image

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21659908

The third paragraph in particular caught my attention. “The government wants more teacher training to be delivered ‘on the job’ instead of in university-based courses”. So should the conventional, theory led teaching qualification be scrapped in favour of an apprentice-style award?

If you ask anyone who is currently doing their teaching qualification, they will all say one thing – there is so much theory. Now ask them if they think it is useful and the majority will state that its all useless. During my studies I thought that the whole process was just a box-ticking exercise and a real teacher doesn’t need to know what behaviourism or the process model is – they can just teach. I had already been teaching for 6 months in a FE college so I believed that I was a natural born teacher and spending hours with Petty, Scales and Tummons would not change a thing. But I was wrong…

This afternoon I sat down with my team and my manager explained to us that our formal observation week would be in a few weeks time. The format would be the same as last year, one observation at any point in the week. My manager then went on to pass out a 2-sided A4 sheet of paper with everything the observers would be expecting to see in the observation. I was one of the last to receive the handout and I was seriously worried watching the faces of the ‘old guard’ as they read through the list. The handout finally reached me and I was surprised…..pleasantly. The list demanded lesson plans with differentiation, class profiles, assessment records, schemes of work with employ-ability skills and reflection periods. So whilst my esteemed colleagues were quaking in their boots, I was thanking my teaching qualification for teaching me all about professional practice. Now I am starting to realise that my teaching qualification really has helped me become a better teacher. If the process moved out of the classroom and did become more ‘on the job,’ I doubt I would have been prepared for the observation week coming up. 

Don’t get me wrong, there’s no point learning all the theory if you don’t have the natural ability to teach. We need to have an element of learning on the job so that we can put any theory we learn into practice. For those of you sitting through countless lessons on curriculum theories, hang in there. It may seem like what you’re doing is pointless, but it is sinking in and it is affecting your professional practice in a very positive way!

Lets hope I can make my teachers proud by getting an ‘outstanding’ in my obs week!

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Schemes and Dreams

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You cannot put down any of my students for thinking big. My first 2 lessons today involved setting business students the task of and running an event. I gave the students the added incentive that if they make a profit from this event they can keep the majority of it as long as a portion of it was given to charity. Suddenly my room was full of Alan Sugar’s and Richard Branson’s. I’m going to place a wager with you – First, ask any 16 or 17 year old to organise an event that aims to make a profit. I bet you my job that every single one of them will come back with the same idea – a party. 

“Let’s do a project x!”

Lets not! After setting out some ground rules on the events (no alcohol, gambling, fighting, nudity) the students really got their creative of juices flowing and came up with some great ideas. Unfortunately, the were some that were not so good. You have to worry about the future of business when one student claimed that “if we hire a field, put a bouncy castle in it and charge £20 or summin” I had serious doubts that my students would pull this off. Other not so great ideas were – selling sugar (not really sure how that is an event), teacher UFC and a strip club in college (“dont worry sir, it will be classy”). Eventually with a little bit of guidance, the students have settled on some good ideas and I was really proud when the majority of them said that they would donate all of their profits to charity. It’s not something you would expect from kids that age to give away hard earned money so it surprised me – well done guys!

I also spent the evening interviewer school students who had applied to start my course next year. I’ve got to say that the students I met this evening where polite, courteous and gave a great account of themselves. Each one of them expressed an interest in learning more and developing their skills and they shared their dreams and aspirations like any naive 15 year old would. I really cant wait to get them in my class and teach them.