PGCE, GTP, DTLLS – Are they really useful?

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

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!


changing students mindsets with no help from the Arctic Monkeys

I suggest you listen to a song. It is by the Arctic Monkeys and it’s called ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cos I Move Your Chair’. In the song, the ‘Monkeys take you through a list of things you shouldn’t do. From listening to the song I now know that I shouldn’t ever “find a well known hard man and start a fight” and I definitely shouldn’t wear a shell suit on bonfire night. But the Sheffield boys missed out one key lyric from their song….

…don’t give back marked work at the end of a college day…

I’m not sure what you would rhyme that with, I’m not sure whether it would sound any good sung along to drums and guitars. But I do know that giving students their marked assignments back at 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon is a definite no no….especially when it hasn’t passed. I can understand my learners points of view. They have to attend around 4 hours of lectures of a course they signed up for and they even had to go to McDonald’s for lunch. So why now is this teacher who spends hours marking their work telling them they have to do work?! Bless them, they are naive. They think they can half-ass an assignment and pass it first time. Once I had explained to the students that the ones who had passed could go home and the ones who hadn’t were staying to complete it, I knew I had done my job! No I’m not being sadistic, my job isn’t making students life hell. Those students who did stay completely changed their work ethic and I swear I could of heard one of them say “I’m gonna work harder on it next time”. Giving students these small life lessons is why I do the job. The reason I am a teacher is not only because I want to pass on my knowledge, I also want to improve each student as a person. In my eyes, it is my job to make polish the rough diamonds I have and to make each student more employable. When you see a students mindset change, it makes it all worthwhile 🙂