Starting PGCE? Don’t waste this summer!

I was briefly involved in the very valuable Twitter chat that happens every Wednesday night on hashtag #ITTchat. (I had to break off because I was actually attending my daughter’s end of Year 6 play – this year has been mostly SATs and Drama – on many levels).

I managed to answer one question, and my responses are attached in the image. But I will elaborate now. The question, with my responses below, was:

Question 1: With the year drawing to a close, it’s time to reflect. What advice would you have wanted/be giving ITTs in September?


What I meant by the above was: this summer is your last free time before the hard work begins. If you read my earlier “rollercoaster” or “Repeat after me” posts you will know that the PGCE is a tough year. It’s going to get manic, and you will never have enough time. What will go out of the window first, sadly, is reading time. You will get a long reading list from your tutor, and you will be required to reference a lot of academic material when the assignments come around – which will be quicker than you think. Also, this material helps you build your classroom practitioner skills, and develop your “teacher identity”. Ask your tutor for the reading list now, and borrow or buy some books to read over the summer. Ask other trainees or NQTs what they read, and read that. It doesn’t have to be academic literature, on my course reading list were some “mainstream” books including Mindset and Why do I need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google? and the “Teacher Toolkit” material is pretty much essential.

Get on Twitter too, and follow #ITTchat, #ukeduchat and #NQTchat conversations, build your “Personal Learning Network” (PLN) now, and subscribe to blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels related to teaching. Fill your head with teaching material. Going into teaching is a change of lifestyle, it’s a profession with its own language and codes, its own way of looking at the world, it is ever evolving and in many ways it is like a huge global conversation. Get involved now, to grow your understanding, develop your skills and – probably mostly important – to discover why you want to do this and what you hope to bring to the party.

There will be times you doubt yourself and your ability to teach. There will be what I call “kick the dog days“. On those days you will need to be strong: remember what you’re doing this for and who you hope to become. You will need to have at least the beginnings of what we call a “teacher identity”. It’s easier to cope with the lows, if you have a sense of what the highs might look like. It’s easier to keep going if you know what you’re aiming for. And it’s easier to cope with the challenges if you are well-prepared. If you have several books full of teaching experiences, ideas and strategies already in your head before you start, you’ll be better placed to cope with whatever the classroom (and your tutor) throws at you!

But don’t forget to relax, enjoy the summer and see lots your family and friends. Because soon it will be all lesson planning and late night assignments. It’s a tough year but one of the most rewarding. Teaching is a noble profession. Be proud of who you are becoming.


By mraharrisoncs

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

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