April 15th, 2013
I’m now heading in the the third and final semester of my first year at University. So far, that has meant getting to grips with a new city, getting used to the daily commute, meeting a whole host of new people and forming new friendships which I think are there to stay.
I’ve also built a great working relationship with the teaching staff at Uni, particularly my course leader, and built a sense of trust in those people; the people who will guide me through the rest of my time here and make me in to a good teacher.
In my first ever blog, I talked about the inexplicable awkwardness you feel when you go somewhere new. Of course, there have been plenty of these moments but it’s certainly been worth it. You get to learn that, actually, everyone felt that way; just like we’re all feeling the same way now as we come to some important work deadlines and the way we all felt just before placement. There’s an incredible sense of team spirit and camaraderie among the people on my course which means we feel comfortable discussing any problems we might have.
It would be pointless to tell you that there haven’t been a few teething problems after the course was reduced from 4 years to 3, because there have. What’s important is that we know there are things in place to rectify what’s gone awry.
In all of my blogs, I’ve tried to think about what you, the reader, would want to know. In this final blog, I think the crucial question is: “If I had the choice again, would I still go to Sunderland?”
The answer is yes. I would.
February 28th, 2013
Update for 28th Feb 2013. Enjoy
February 27th, 2013
Here’s an update for you!
February 25th, 2013
Week 3 of 5!
February 24th, 2013
Two weeks down, three to go.
I suppose it really is a test of a person to give them a pile of work to do over the holidays. If you think that teaching gets you away from this, it doesn’t! My coursemates and I are really quite lucky to be given half-term as (in the official sense) independent study time. This is particularly gratefully received during placement, I’ve found, as people battle to keep up with the constant flow of planning, marking, resourcing and the odd bit of paperwork.
A question I often get asked is ‘how much planning do you have to do on placement?’ The simple answer is, I’m afraid, quite a lot; if you’ve already spent time in school, you’ve probably seen weekly plans from which a skilled teacher can work, sometimes rarely glancing at it. The difference is that we aren’t trained, qualified teachers yet and part of the reason for doing a course like mine is to prove that, with time, you’ll prove that you can plan and teach effectively. With that in mind, the university have to see a detailed plan for each individual lesson, or part of a lesson, that you teach. It’s the kind of plan you might’ve seen if you’ve been in school at the same time as OFSTED. It makes sense really: if we can prove that we can reach those standards in training, then there’s no reason we can’t lower them ourselves once we’re qualified and used to planning.
This coming week, I’m teaching 4 out of 5 literacy lessons plus some other full and part lessons, eventually teaching around 60% of the timetable by the end of placement. As you can imagine, the planning all adds up, but hey! That’s why we’re here – to teach!
February 21st, 2013
As you might’ve gathered from previous blogs, I like to stay involved with as many groups and organisations as possible; after all, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!
I still keep in touch with the staff and students of my old high school and because of that link, I was asked to staff a school visit to Berlin, Germany. The trip itself was from the music department; the students aged 11-18 are part of a highly successful school choir, winning awards and performing across the region in venues like The Sage Gateshead, the Metro Radio Arena and even performing with Sunderland band ‘The Futureheads’.
We were away for 5 days and performed 2 concerts at venues in Berlin. The rest of the time was dedicated to seeing the sights and absorbing the very rich culture and history of the city. We visited the remaining parts of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Television Tower, Brandenburg Gate, Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, the Jewish Holocaust Memorial and a host of other places. It was one of those trips where it’s difficult to remember what you did and when because you did so much; it was a hugely enjoyable trip and I learned a lot from staff and students alike, not just what you should do, but what you shouldn’t.
January 25th, 2013
School trips often plant the seeds which turn into fond memories of your school days. I can still remember my year 2 trip to Beamish Open Air Museum, County Durham (a fantastic day out!) and I’m sure you can recall your favourite trip.
The university and its lecturers also appreciate the incredible value of these early experiences; not just for the memories but for there unique learning opportunities. Of course, if we’re going to be let loose with our own classes in UNDER THREE YEARS (?!?!?!), we’ll have to know how to go about organising a trip, or ‘educational visit’ as they’re now called.
One way to demonstrate this, thought my Foundation Subjects tutors, was to take us on a trip; not far, but to somewhere new with an opportunity for us to think about what kind of things we need to be looking out for when planning a visit.
On Wednesday 23rd January, half of the year group met in the biting cold outside St. Peter’s Church, just opposite St. Peter’s Campus. We were greeted by a very pleasant gentleman – our guide – who introduced us to two more guides and two ladies keeping the kettle on the go! We then split into groups for a short tour of the church. This was surprisingly interesting! I had no idea that a building I’ve walked past every day since September was steeped in so much history; the place of worship was built in the name of St. Peter and it is thought that six saints have crossed its threshold over the years – in fact, it is a good few years older than Durham Cathederal.
Following the tour we had a chance to explore for ourselves and ask any questions of the guides we saw fit. It was really useful and I think I speak on behalf of the staff and students on my course when I say thank you to the volunteers who made all 90-odd of us so welcome.
In the next Foundation Subjects session, we’re going to be going over some of the issues raised on the trip and also looking at the paper based elements of a trip like the risk assessments – a little bit less exciting but vital none-the-less!
January 24th, 2013
Fel awdur bywydau ar-lein, Rwyf wrth fy modd postio am fy mywyd yn y brifysgol.
That’s Welsh, in case you’re wondering; or least according to Google Translate. I’ve never spoken Welsh. I have no idea how to communicate in the language and would be useless as a translator. I remember applying for University and sometimes feeling the same way; you come across language that you’ve never before used in that context and they can often be used in a way which suggests you should already know their meaning. I’ve put together a list of terms which will hopefully help you understand what the University is trying to tell you!
- Modules: Similar to modules at GCSE or A Level, it covers a chunk of the course. Unlike GCSE and A Level, many modules are taught at the same time. For example, I cover four modules in my first year: Core Subjects (English, Maths and Science); Other Subjects (ICT, humanities etc.); Professional Studies (how to satisfy the national Teachers’ Standards); and School Experience (placements). All of these, except School Experience, are taught alongside one another.
- Credits: I’m struggling to get my head around this! From what I can gather, to be allowed to provide a degree, a university has to prove a certain level of difficulty. This is represented by credits. Modules tend to be 20 credits and you really don’t need to worry about them! If you pass the module, you get all of the credits. If you fail it you don’t get any.
- Pass/fail: Generally, at Sunderland, you have to get 40% to pass a module or assignment. If you fail, you are not kicked off the course, you will be given the chance to catch up over the following Summer.
- Assignment: An assignment is the equivalent of coursework. You will have a selection of assignments due in at the end of a module.
- Lecture: A lecture is a session, generally, where your entire year group will be taught together in one place; a lecture theatre. Gained courses use them more than others; for example I only have one lecture per week, whereas other courses might have every session in that format.
- Seminar: This is how the majority of sessions are organised on my course. You’ll work in a smaller classroom with a smaller group (about 20 in my group). These tend to be more interactive sessions and offer more opportunity to ask questions and discuss ideas.
- Group tasks: This is one of the assessment methods on my course. You will be given a brief and a task to complete then your group (5 or 6 of you) will work on the task. At the minute, I’m preparing a presentation with my group.
- Directed learning/contact hours: This is the amount of time you’ll spend being taught by a lecturer/tutor.
- Independent learning: This includes reading, writing assignments and anything else you do at home. Of course, it’s down to you to make sure you do the recommended time; it’s harder than you’d thi
Feel free to ask if you want to know anything else!
January 14th, 2013
As far as I’m concerned, there’s very little that doesn’t look beautiful under a dusting of snow, particularly in the north east. As the cold weather set in, I decided to document a very normal journey to uni; these are the results. Do you recognise any of the places?
December 25th, 2012
There’s not a lot I can say about today other than it has been fantastic! I’m going to keep it short tonight because I’m busy gorging on Dairy Milk and chuckling aloud at local comedienne Sarah Millican’s DVD.
I had a ridiculously early start considering I’m now “an adult” but you’re never to old to see what Santa’s brought. I was up with the family at half seven (?!?!?!), trekking down the stairs. I was yet again spoilt rotten with a new camera, tickets to Alfie Boe’s concert and barely short of a metric tonne of chocolate up there in the list! Of course there was plenty of gifts from me to them too!
We then took a short drive to my Auntie’s house to see more of the family and it was soon time to tackle the mountain that was the Christmas dinner. It was then a few drinks and a few games and a few more drinks and then… Everybody crashed into a heap on the sofa – I realise how unhealthy this makes my family sound, but hey! It’s Christmas!
I have also noticed that when I’ve come to write these entries, everything comes to a blur, so I hope they haven’t been to boring! I will be posting a short video in the next week or so and getting back to normal after the new year.
I hope you’ve all had a fantastic day, whether you celebrate Christmas or not – more soon!