PGCE, the best rollercoaster ever. 

I found myself in front of next September’s PGCE cohort yesterday. It was an accident, I was at MMU Brooks building for the CAS Manchester Hub meeting, and spotted my tutor. Introductions duly completed,  I found myself talking rather freely about the year just ended. 

I told them of the ups and downs, the “punch the air” days, and the “kick the dog” days*. How you will need to store up the good stuff, to get you through the bad. I recommend keeping a diary, blog, social media feed… something you can look back on for encouragement when things go wrong. 

It is only June, and the trainees are on the Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE). I advised them to make good use of the summer: read the course overview, familiarise yourself with the coursework requirements and the teachers’ standards. The better prepared you are now, the easier it will be to ride out the coming storm. 

And get fixed in your mind, now, why you’re doing this. Why are you going into teaching? What’s the difference you’re going to make? Why is it important to you? One thing is certain, you’re going to question your ability to teach, at some point in the coming year. Get your answer straight now, and that self-doubt won’t become a crisis. 

Fill your mind with teaching knowledge, read education books, listen to education podcasts, talk to other teachers and to people young and old about their education. You’ll be writing several essays based on education literature, use the summer to get ahead on coursework and simply to grow the teacher in you. 

Finally, talk to your friends and family, warn them of the tough year coming upup. It’s more intense than undergraduate studies. You’ll need understanding, supportive people around you. 

Its not my intention to scare anyone, but to prepare you. It’s been  a tough year, but possibly the best year of my life. To see those lightbulbs come on over kids heads, to get a spontaneous round of applause from a previously awkward class, to get heartfelt, hand-made leaving cards from dozens of kids… there’s no job in the world like it. Go in prepared and make the most of it. 

*No dogs were harmed in the making of this teacher. 


By mraharrisoncs

Freelance consultant, teacher and author, professional development lead for the NCCE, CAS Master Teacher, Computer Science lecturer.

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