Life as a PGCE student isn’t easy, and trust me if anyone says it is I don’t believe them. But by god is it worth it. In less than a year I have made a full 180 with my life in a positive way. My PGCE has given me direction in my life as well as clarity in so many aspects; for the first time in my life I have something I want to do, and that to me is the most exciting thing.
I never knew what I wanted to be growing up.
My go-to answer was always “something where I make lots of money, probably an office” and wow have I changed a lot there. But I think without that uncertainty I wouldn’t have ended up on the path I am now. It led me to my International Relations and Politics degree at Cardiff, which to this date is still one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and all the friends and memories that came from it. And it led me finally to my PGCE last summer.
It has been the most intense year of my life., personal life/social life aside. I worked long hours, for no money; spent time agonising over lesson plans; cried with joy and sadness; felt stressed about deadlines and observations; but ultimately I did it all for the same amazing reason. Because I want to be a teacher, and a bloody good one too. And I would do it all again.
It’s crazy to think that this time last year I hadn’t even had the interview for my course, and here I am now: a Newly Qualified Teacher with my own class in just under three weeks time! So to all those who got their A-Level results yesterday, it took me not getting into any of my first choice unis, changing my course (twice) and then a post-grad course to really figure out what I wanted to do! So don’t panic if things didn’t go your way!
(I also was one of the younger/less experienced ones on my PGCE, there were a couple of people my age but many of my closest friends were a year or two older and some who had had different careers before they decided teaching was for them. So if things didn’t work out the way you planned right now, it will eventually. It always does)
So I made it, and you’re wondering how you can too? Ultimately, to survive a PGCE you need three things…
An unshakeable desire to want to be a teacher
Some people thought they did, but then after starting the course realised it wasn’t for them (AND THAT’S OKAY!), and those of us that did made it through. If you haven’t got that passion, I’ll be real blunt: you will not make it through. It is long hours, a big commitment, you won’t be able to have the same social life as you did on your undergrad. You will have to make sacrifices, but if you want to be a teacher enough, these sacrifices will be nothing compared to the feeling of pride and gratitude every single day when you see progress in both yourself and the lives of the children you teach.
Half decent organisation skills
This is something I’ve always prided myself on, but it got tested for real this year. You will have assignments to complete whilst on placement so managing those alongside lessons plans is something you will have to master – and you can! Get a planner you like or one that is easy to use and use it! Write lists after lists so you know what you need to do and prioritise the things that are most urgent.
To know when to slow down
This is something I wish I’d learnt sooner. One of my Programme Leaders was known for her catchphrase of “Breathe” and I get why she says it so much now. Taking time to stop and breathe is so crucial to making it through, otherwise you burn yourself out and are forced to take time off from school (trust me from personal experience here). Your body is a machine and needs rest days or it will burn out, it can’t just have it’s parts replaced it needs to be treated well.
There are so many ways you can do this, but these are the things that worked for me…
I tried to keep my Saturday as school free as possible. This meant working more on weeknights or having a Sunday afternoon school prep sesh. I also got into school about an hour earlier than I needed to in the mornings to prepare and do extra stuff, but that’s because I’m a morning person! Do what works best for you!
At least once a week or twice if I could, I aimed to give myself a mini pamper session. This was anything from a nice relaxing bath or a quick face mask if that’s all I had time for. I noticed a boost in my mood whenever I did this midweek and always looked forward to it! I even would plan that time into my week so I knew I had to do it.
Ultimately just do things that make you happy when you have the opportunity to do so. I would visit old uni friends in Manchester and Cardiff and would see my boyfriend for date night in the week or weekends.
I learnt so much in my PGCE that I can bring forward into so many aspects of my life. It’s helped bring about new changes for me with an exciting job in an amazing school.
As you’re here why not read one of my favourite posts!