How to prepare for the PGCE

When I applied for my own PGCE course I left it rather later and had my interview in July. So by then the university had sent me everything in one package that they had sent to everyone else in dribs and drabs over the year. Obviously I had a lot to do and very little time to do it. However if you have been accepted for a PGCE course around this time of year, you have plenty of time!

That being said, if you are anything like me and sadly enjoy preparing and feel like a nervous wreck sitting around letting time idly pass by then here are a few things that you will find beneficial. Do these and you’ll be top of the class 🙂

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The first thing you will want to do if you haven’t done so already is register with http://www.tes.co.uk/. It’s free and has fantastic resources, ideas, and general help for PGCE students, new teachers and experienced teachers alike. Do it and do it now!

Behaviour management is a major worry for most. Will they listen to me? What do I do with the screaming child sitting under tables? etc etc 😉

Well there are plenty of great resources out there to prepare, a lot of great articles with advice on behaviour management can be found on the TES website as linked from above! When you get onto school placement you will be expected to follow the same behaviour management system as the school so there is little room for freedom. Having said that your observers will be looking for a balance of you being able to follow school procedure and developing your own style so here are a few of my favourite little behaviour management techniques.

  • To call a busy classroom to attention without raising your voice pre-inform the class that when you clap a rhythm you expect them to stop everything they are doing and join in with the rhythm. This is great because 1. it means they have to put everything down and won’t be fiddling. 2. it allows you to gain attention almost immediately with little effort and no shouting!
  • Whilst writing that first one I used the word ‘expect’. Clearly explaining your expectations and instructions is much more important than you realise. Unless you explain step-by-step what you want a class to do, something will go wrong! No more than 3 steps at a time is a good rule to follow.
  • STAY POSITIVE. This is important, every instruction you give must be a positive not a negative one. This is tricky at first but once you get into the swing of it it comes naturally. For example say WALK instead of DON’T RUN. Say PUT YOUR HANDS UP rather than DON’T CALL OUT. Say KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF instead of STOP HITTING. If you lead with a negative instruction it is likely the child will only hear the bit you don’t want them to do. Not only does this keep a positive, happy learning environment but the children will respond better too- no one likes a telling off 🙂

I’m not going to go on with that as like I said there is great behaviour management advice right at your finger tips on the TES website.

Ok let’s see, what else would you benefit from doing… Ah yes, brush up on your maths and science. It’s probably been a while since you’ve done either, unless you’ve just graduated and did said degree or A Levels. Anyway it won’t hurt to get to grips with what you’re going to need to know. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ is fab for this and regardless of what year group you think you’d like to teach in you really need to be up to GCSE standard for both of these. You certainly need to be ahead of the children anyway!

Getting to grip with some uses of ICT in the primary classroom would be a good idea. Even I (and I consider myself to be pretty tech savvy) benefitted from this. There are hundreds and hundreds of ways to enhance learning both through and from ICT. Just a few things you might want to start off with: animation, blogging :p, audacity, photo stories, windows movie maker.

Finally (all I can think of for now and this is a fair bit to keep you going) start immersing yourself with children’s literature. You need to make sure that you’re exposing your pupils to the very best books- sub standard stuff just won’t do. Here are a few to keep your eye on if you’re wondering where to even begin: Julia Donaldson, Michael  Morpurgo, Mini Grey, Anthony Horowitz and Michael Rosen. They should whet your appetite a bit 🙂

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And please make sure you enjoy your free time now while you have it. You’re in for one heck of a ride with this course- There’ll be ups, downs and loop the loops. But by the end of it you’ll be caught up in the excitement and thrill of teaching and you won’t want to get off!

Miss Sykes

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