There is no two ways about it the PGCE is a tough and stressful course and not for the faint hearted! Everyone had told me how difficult it was going to be but through planning and preparation I didn’t find it so bad. Sure there were days I’d cry with exhaustion but seriously you can get through it and it is worth it (hey, you might even enjoy it!).
You’ll find yourself back in university type lectures with a heavy workload, I had come straight out of my undergraduate degree and so this wasn’t a shock to the system to me. Although some of the more mature students did find it difficult.
This first survival tip is common sense: KEEP ON TOP OF EVERYTHING. Simple to say but very easy to forget to do when you’ve so much going on. You’ll have research to do, “homework”, and don’t forget the Masters credit modules where you’ll 5000 word essays to write. Just be prepared, take on the work as it comes and you won’t end up surrounded in an endless sea of papers and books till 5am in the morning.
The university based learning of the PGCE is great; it allows you time to meet new people and socialise with them out of university hours. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS. Once you get onto school placement you just will simply not have the time to see them.
School placements are where you learn the most and they are enjoyable, however I’m going to give the truth, warts and all.
- You will get stressed- beyond belief. It will take you at least an hour to plan your first few lessons (it does get easier- I can now plan a whole week of maths and literacy in that time!)
- You will feel sick and nervous before teaching. For a lot of people (as it was for me) it will have been the first time you have stood up in front of a class of children and attempted to teach them something…anything!
- You will spend hours making your own resources (don’t! there are many great resource websites out there, save your precious time and energy. You can always edit them if you’re not completely happy).
- Due to this you will stay in school till 6pm most nights, come home, have tea then work till midnight.
- You will feel like a total failure… at least once.
(keep reading I promise there is light at the end of the tunnel)
However, there are hundreds of other PGCE students, all in exactly the same boat as you. This brings me to my second survival tip. SHARE. Those other PGCE students know exactly what you’re going through. A good venting session on Facebook is sometimes all you need, just knowing its not just you (and trust me it really isn’t) makes it better.
Like I said you will get better- and if you don’t make any improvements by the end of your first block placement then it may be time to start thinking is this the right career choice for you.
This is my last survival tip- see it can’t be that bad when you only need 3 tips! Those moments when you’re working with a group of children, or you’ve taught a lesson where the children have learnt something, are THE BEST feelings in the world. Just one of those moments can wipe out a whole difficult week. And that’s what makes it worth it- the children. Treasure that moment- it will get you through 🙂
There is light at the end of that long, dark, scary tunnel. I am now in my third term of my NQT year- I rarely get nightmares any more 😉 and I come home most days beaming with hundreds of stories to tell.
It really is the best profession- exhausting, demanding, stressful, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world!