How I Live Now

Just to confuse you, I haven’t actually seen the film of the same name. I’d like to, incidentally – the book it’s based on is one of my teenage favourites. That’s for another day, and frankly I’ll put money on me not getting round to it.

What I’m doing now, though, is post-worthy. After a year of not doing much, I am doing a PGDE in the same old town I’ve been in since the start of uni. PGDE stands for PostGraduate Diploma in Education, and, like the PGCE, confers Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) on those who make it through, as well as a good handful of credits towards a Master’s in Education. In the case of the PGDE, we get 120 out of the 180, as opposed to the PGCE’s 90. 

If you know anyone who’s done a PGCE, you’ll know it’s a mental year. I don’t get half terms, because I go back into university for a week of classes instead. I am in university at the moment but the week after next I will be doing a half term’s work in a school. There are course requirements galore – video-teaching and analysis thereof, diagnostic proformas where we analyse the teaching we receive in university to put into words what we have learned about teaching from those sessions, and hundreds of other things to do in order to write or talk or present about every aspect of education.

Then you come to the teaching. In school we walk straight into a timetable in which we are expected to be in front of a class for half the lessons in a week. We are also the lead teachers for those classes for the duration of our placement, so therefore all the lesson planning for those lessons, and any assessment or marking or exam or coursework preparation that needs doing, is our responsibility too. Don’t forget that you’re lucky to be teaching in a school at any sensible distance from you – to be at my school, I have to leave my house at 6.45 – or will do once I’m on placement there.

And finally, the master’s assignments. As if they’re not a huge part of the course for most people on a PGCE, we have another 30 credits to pick up that PGCE students don’t have. And it’s fascinating work – you can research and read up on all kinds of topics within the titles we’ve been set and in the end the problem is usually not ‘how to write 4000 words’, it’s ‘how to get this back under 4000 words’. 

So I am loving every minute of it, but two Fridays in a row now have been Deadline Days for master’s assignments and there are so many other things I need to get done before I go into school properly in two week’s time. Loads of other deadlines for course requirements, loads of things to learn and make notes on, folders to set up, records to keep… it’s hard to keep from getting stressed.

But it’s so nice to be this busy, this purposeful, this excited. It’s been a while.


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