Second day back at school

I feel like a big boy now. I didn’t even cry when my mother dropped me off at the gates.

Another day spent mainly observing, which I’m not complaining about. A couple of the classes were the same students as yesterday so I got to see how their lessons were followed up. A few of them were more used to seeing me around and I assisted a little more than just watched.

I also popped over to a second year class and – like when I was visiting a Primary school a few months back – found the pupils automatically more responsive to another adult in the class, immediately using me as a source of help when they were stuck.

I’d been informed that S1 and S2 pupils were, on the whole, better behaved. As they reach the S3 point they also hit the teenage age bracket and “turn”. This does seem to hold true (in general – everyone is an individual after all), though I’ve also noticed that by the time they reach S5 they’re often over this phase to some degree.

Remember, though, I’ve only seen a smattering of classes and pupils!

During one period, we had a brief talk regarding “Raising Achievement” – methods the school uses to ensure pupils do as well as possible. This takes into account things like battling truancy and ensuring that bums are on seats for exams. Some of the children haven’t got the best home lives, so parents sometimes can’t be relied on. The lengths staff have gone to to ensure they make it in are astounding in some cases.

One anecdote was set a couple of years ago. An invigilator called the support team to report a boy in an exam hall who seemed “on something”. He was taken to one side, and he was indeed slightly wobbly and red-eyed. He was also a Celtic supporter and this was the morning after they lost the UEFA Cup Final… “All” he was suffering from was the shock of defeat and a resultant loss of sleep!

By ensuring he was kept in isolation while they fed him tea and consoled him, they enabled him to re-enter the exam hall after the rest of the pupils had finished. This meant he could actually sit the paper.

The teacher going through all this was obviously incredibly enthusiastic about her job – and about the other staff at the school. One thing she said very much echoed my own thoughts, and statements to other people, when I was considering going into teaching. This is one of the few jobs where you can make a difference. And everyone at this school is hugely geared towards this.

If things continue to go like this, I don’t freak out when I actually have to take a class myself, and I pass the course – this is very much a school I think I’d be happy to be a part of.

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First day (back) at school

A teacher writing on a blackboard.
Not as hot as some of the other students on my course :-p

First up, I’m going to be very careful not to mention anything to even remotely identify any staff, students or schools during any placements. A handful of friends and relatives know where I’m at at the moment (including one who turned out to be an ex-pupil there!) and that’s as far as it need go. Any posts about the course will be about how I’m getting on and my impressions. No specifics. Sorry if that bores you but I have other people’s anonymity to protect as well as a professional code of conduct to adhere to.

Professional. Me.

Oh dear, this will all end in tears.

Anyway, I’m glad to say the whole Disclosure thing was dealt with swiftly this morning. My copy had arrived in the post, but the uni hadn’t received theirs courtesy of lazy postal workers who fancied an unpaid holiday (my student card is still missing for similar reasons). As a result, I had to make a detour via the uni so they could check out the form, call the school and ensure it was OK for me to go in first thing – which it was.

I got there at 9:30, which wasn’t too bad all things considered, and only missed a meeting with the Head Teacher. We were given some useful bumph, a timetable of events scheduled for us then taken on a quick tour by one of the Deputes. After break, I was handed over to the teacher who is to oversee me for the next two weeks.

Unfortunately, and understandably, as she’d been told on Friday that I wouldn’t be in due to the Disclosure mess she had nothing planned for me. Instead I sat and observed through a few lessons, but that was by no means wasted time. We’ve been asked to spot things and gather “hints and tips” if you like by watching practised teachers.

As such, I started making bullet notes with small subtitles: Discipline, Equipment, Routine, Questions Asked and the like. I could do with getting a new watch so I can time the way the lessons are split up – my 1000 Kyat Rolex died a few weeks ago. How the pupils are handled does vary a lot depending on the individual and what/how they’re doing.

Overall, the kids weren’t that bad (with two exceptions) and behaviour was vastly different from age group to age group. My guiding teacher is very forthright and honest when talking about students, the school, materials, government guidelines and everything else. This is incredibly useful and something for which I’m grateful. She’s also pretty cool, though I guarantee the kids don’t see her that way!

The school itself is really good. They have plenty of original programs, support networks for students who require a huge variety of types of aid, a decent canteen, a great staff room, and a good reputation from those I’ve spoken to. The walls around the place have newspaper clippings detailing achievements by the staff, pupils and the school as a whole.

I really think I’ve landed on my feet with this as my first placement, especially after talking to another student who’s not had anywhere near as nice an experience on her first day. Sure, it’s not 100% perfect but where would the fun in that be?

My overseer has already mentioned me taking a class or two. Perhaps before the end of the week. I put on the calm “yes, let’s see” face while inside my stomach kind of clenched. I don’t think she noticed the sudden cold sweat either.

Actually, it’s more the fact that I don’t know what it is that I’m supposed to teach that’s my main issue. Specifically, I’ve not been able to find any syllabuses online. If they are there, they’re very well hidden. Thankfully I should be the owner of either a URL or a photocopy of them sometime tomorrow. Aces. I also think I might try to borrow some past papers for the various levels from the school library. If I can’t answer the papers I shouldn’t be teaching the subject!

As I’ve discussed with several others on the course, this is our last “easy” couple of weeks. Once we return to uni in a fortnight, things are going to ramp up a notch. The workload’s going to be daunting, to say the least. I’m going to make the most of this temporary freedom!

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Lock up your sons and daughters!

Carry On Teacher
Carry On Teacher

OK, in a rare “about me” post, and a break from the deluge of film reviews to come: hear this!

I am going to be a teacher.

Scared yet? Let me get specific. I’ve managed to wangle my way onto a course in Secondary Education with Computing at Strathclyde University, hopefully resulting in a PGDE. I applied late and went for interview a couple of months ago. I didn’t make the grade for the highly-contested last two places, but I was persistent. When I got back to the UK this week, I contacted them again and asked if there had been any drop-outs or no-shows.

I guess there was.

Today I got a call asking me if I could start on Monday. This will be two full weeks into the educational calendar so I’ll have a lot to catch up on. At present my biggest concern is finding somewhere to live. The commute from Perth, where I’m staying with the folks, isn’t too long of a day but it’s far too expensive in the long term. Chances are I’ll end up staying with family for a couple of weeks.

The nature of the course (few weeks at uni, few weeks at a school, repeat) means that I won’t necessarily be based around Glasgow for the entire duration of the course. Not helpful when trying to organise a rental agreement. I guess I’ll find out!

However, what I can say is that I’m really looking forward to it. OK, so it knocks my travelling on the head for a while but perhaps that’s a good thing. Given that I should get the course for nothing having been “resident” in Scotland for over three years, and that I can get a full student loan to top up my dwindling savings I could even come out of it a little better off than I went in.

It’s a new challenge and something I’m really excited about doing. Career prospects aren’t too bad at the end, either – I’ll still have all my IT history as well as a new qualification. I may even go on to do a PGDE in Primary Education at some point and cover all the bases. See how this one goes first, though.

So expect a few posts about the course, being a mature student, life in Glasgow and more film reviews as the next few months progress. Don’t worry, I will update the travel blog from time to time and I intend to go abroad during the holidays as long as I can afford it.

Now, how many laptops do I need to take with me?

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