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News

So… S and I are going to be married!

How mad is that? It seems like the right next step for us but also something very different and new instead. Like all new things, they seem too grown-up when you first start them and then I’m sure you start to grow into them. Anyway, we are getting married. Not until 2016, but nonetheless.

There are two things you probably want to know.

This is the first: I asked him, and it was completely out of the blue. S had just that day got back from a solo holiday in Vietnam (I’ve just started an MSc; no way was I taking time out of uni just to go gallivanting around the planet, no matter how envious I was/am!). We were getting ready to go out to dinner with some friends, and it just struck me that I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, so why not say it. What actually happened was a bit less smooth:

‘S…’

‘Yes, darling?’

‘Never mind’ [suddenly panicked and changed my mind]

‘What is it, Jenny’

‘Nothing!’

‘Jenny…?’ [sternly]

‘Um… I love you?’

‘Nope, that definitely wasn’t it, was it?’

Then I said:

‘…

‘Um…

‘Marry me.’

And he said yes.

Here is the second thing:

IMAG0319

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Dear Authors, Love, Your Copy Editor

Hi.

I’m employed to copy edit your books. Not necessarily yours personally, but copy editing is what I do. Some books instead get sent to be copy edited abroad, and some (I believe) even get put through a computer programme that does the job. Those methods have their advantages and disadvantages, but for now, assume your book is going to be sent to someone like me.

Now then, let’s make this clear. I like reading the actual text, helping clarify your writing, marking things up for the typesetter and correcting your grammar (yes, you do make mistakes, everyone does, and if I wrote a book I’d make mistakes too. There are also customs that fall into that grey area – is it a ‘rule’ or is it just ‘what we do’ to never split an infinitive, put ‘However’ or ‘And’ or ‘But’ at the beginning of a sentence, or finish on a preposition?).

And my guess is that your spelling hovers, like many, somewhere in the Atlantic ocean. And whatever my preferences it’s my job to correct it to whichever one I’ve been told to go with.

All that is the fun bit. Or rather what makes it fun is reading your book, and honing all the rough edges, and turning something weirdly formatted with errors and issues into something that sits neatly on the page, reads well, and conveys what you meant, while still being very clearly your style and your book.

However. Referencing. This is not the fun bit. So I’m going to give you some guidelines. This isn’t a ‘how-to’ on Harvard Referencing (or your style of choice). This is a ‘how-to’ that should mean that, no matter in which style we end up presenting your references, you actually give us all the information we need first time and don’t then land up with hundreds of queries from us, giving yourself hours or days more work further down the line. I know you want to get your manuscript off your hands, but if you get this wrong it’ll land up back in your hands for much longer than you anticipated.

So, in no particular order*:

  • Please don’t use the ‘referencing software’ that routinely comes with Word and other processing packages these days. We have to literally copy and paste everything out, which will take us hours and probably result in some confusing due to residual invisible formatting. Given that the referencing is the first thing I check, this is also likely to result in a bad first impression: I will start to hate you for having unintentionally made my life harder. Honestly it takes you no more time to simply type out your reference the old-fashioned way.
  • Write your references as you go along. In a separate document, whenever you refer to a person’s work, just write a reference. You can also use the ‘find’ tool to check you haven’t already written a reference for that person and that particular work. If you do this first time through this will eliminate the ‘reference missing; please provide’ queries that will otherwise litter your book. I did this when I was doing all my writing as a student; I’m sure writing a book is a bit different, but I’m not that organised and I still managed to do it. Please.
  • Check spellings! I’m sorry, it takes me much less time to write a query to ask if you mean ‘Thomson’ or ‘Thompson’ as you’ve used both than it does for me to Google the work in question (and looking it up isn’t really my job). And I will write that query (or copy-paste it) wherever it occurs, and you will start to hate me for it. If it’s a name you struggle to spell, put it on a literal post-it on the edge of your monitor so you get it right every time.
  • Giving me the web address doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility for providing other details. Please give the author, where possible, as well as organisation/publisher, date, and location. Please also provide the date when you last checked this link – I may not need it but some style guides ask for it.
  • Think about your reader. For example, here is some imaginary text: ‘While the Veterinary Convention condoned dyeing all cats neon orange (Jones, 2012) the RSPCA (2013) said this advice was arbitrary and cruel’. When I as a reader decide I want to look up Jones, 2012, I’m fine. There is ‘Jones, A (2012). Report on the Convention for Supervillain Vets‘ right in front of me. But when I quickly glance for ‘RSPCA’, I’m not necessarily going to notice it if instead the reference is ‘Royal Society for the Protection of Animals, (2013) Please don’t dye your cat‘. Instead write, ‘RSPCA (Royal Society for the Protection of Animals), (2013).**
  • Be systematic. If you always reference your works in the same way, this helps in a number of ways. Firstly, it helps you make sure you’ve given me all the information I need, because sticking to a pattern helps you spot when you’re missing a detail. Secondly, I have a style to stick to, and if all your reference differ from that style in the same ways, I can often do a ‘global’ change where I change one particular feature of all your references in one fell swoop (this isn’t fancy, I use the Find and Replace feature in Word which can be found by hitting Ctrl+F if you’re using Windows). I will always have to change your references from ‘your’ style to ‘my’ style in some way, and that’s not a problem.
  • It’s not rocket science. Yes, different types of references are referenced in different ways, and while you should be A-OK on journals and books, Green Papers, White Papers and what on earth is this brilliantly useful but completely obscure PDF I picked up might not be so easy. But essentially I need the same information for any kind of publication, so here is how to think about referencing obscure and complicated things. 1) Who wrote it – a name or list of names is great if they exist (do some sleuthing) but the organisation it was written on behalf of will do. 2) A date. Again, you may need to sleuth. 3) A title. This should be the most obvious thing to find. 4) if the reference is a report or paper of some kind, or maybe even a speech, then the title in (3) is the equivalent of a journal title, so you still need an overarching title, such as what series of reports it is from. If (3) is just straight-up the title of this thing, then you don’t need this bit. 5)Publication details – preferably a geographical location, followed by a publisher (except for journals, or reports in a series, where I need volume/issue numbers/serial numbers/any other identifier of that nature). If there isn’t a publisher, then it’s probably published by the organisation that also ostensibly authored it. Never mind, give me that information again anyway. As for place, if you don’t know, just google whatever you’ve identified as the publisher. That should provide your answer. 6) If: you think it’s useful/you’re still not sure you’ve given enough information/whatever, give me the web address and when you accessed it (if you accessed it online). If nothing else, that will help me if I can’t figure out what your reference is meant to mean, and it will obviously help your reader. Job done.
  • Re: rocket science. The above point is not a definitive guide to referencing anything. But it should give me all the information I need to construct a reference properly from whatever deluge of information you’ve provided. At the end of the day I’d much rather a deluge of information which gives me the tools I need, than ‘HMRC, (2012) Some Random Report, But Whatever‘ which leaves me stranded. In the fullness of time I might make a flow chart, which I’m sure will be incredibly helpful to the three people that read this blog.

That’s more or less it. I should probably go back to checking the references of the book I’m currently working on.

*If this all looks like too much hard work/you feel tired thinking about just reading my thoughts on references, try and mess up your references so much that I have to charge extra hours to fix it, but bear in mind that this method will also create a lot more work for you to sort out afterwards, and to be honest, I would rather have an hour’s less money and easier references to deal with even if that means I’m eating exclusively from the Clearance shelf at Nisa for a month.

**I’m reasonably certain no-one condones the dyeing of cats, and I made up the Veterinary Convention, so if such a thing exists, I’m sorry for the resemblance, and I’m sure none of its members are supervillains. Sorry. And please don’t dye your cat.

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Wandering Weekend

This weekend just gone, S and I had an adventure which I’ve been thinking about since S first moved here. The Cleveland Way, one of the many long-distance paths one can do around the British Isles, passes right by our door here. It runs down a good chunk of the North East coast but I wanted to do the stretch from Whitby back to our door.

So finally, with a long weekend coming up for this weekend, I got the map out, measured the distances involved, spotted a good midpoint overnight stop off in the form of the Boggle Hole youth hostel, booked it up, and looked out the local bus timetable. And, first thing on Saturday morning, we got to our local supermarket as it opened, filled the tops of our rucksacks with all kinds of bits and pieces from the deli counter (well, it *was* our holiday!), and then got on the bus to Whitby.

We had a lovely weekend which I’ve partially documented on Instagram (@jennydegenhardt, feel free to put in a follow request). The coastal path was beautiful, not highly varied as a lot of the land by the coast is mainly farmland but there were some lovely coastal landscapes/seascapes, beautiful little wooded dells, fantastic bays – and it was wonderful to get out and do some real walking for the first time in a while.

The walk from Whitby to the hostel was only about seven miles, so after lunch and having checked in we did another seven miles poking around the local countryside and found our way onto the North York Moors very briefly before heading back to the hostel. Then we had an idyllic evening sitting outside with wine and our books, a hearty catered dinner (we had brought stuff to cook but we felt like treating ourselves!), before a walk along the beach and an incredibly restful night’s sleep.

Incidentally if you’re planning a UK holiday at any point, you could do much worse than the Boggle Hole YHA. It feels like a real escape as it’s tucked into a tiny inlet about a mile down the beach from Robin Hood’s Bay, a beautiful little fishing village. the hostel is right on the beach where a small stream runs into the sea, and it’s tucked into some lovely woodland (which is great for children to explore as well, as it features a ‘storytelling circle’ with a throne and benches surrounded by a wicker fence, various other little ‘scenes’, and a cottage where the Wolf from Red Riding Hood sleeps ominously…). We were offered a private room as the place was otherwise fully booked, and our room was twice the price of sleeping in dorms, but was no different except that there was only one set of bunks in our room, so I would argue it wasn’t worth the £60 we paid, but nonetheless we had a lovely time. Note that if you don’t take a private room, a bed for the night is only £13, which is very good value for the stay we had, and the staff were all lovely – so with that one reservation, I would strongly recommend it!

Our next day then was a long one – about fifteen miles – which was a bit much for  S’s not-fully-broken-in boots and my general unfitness! We made it home though, and had a great weekend. A hundred yards from home, S said to me, through a fixed grimace, ‘next time you suggest something like this, I’ll punch you in the face. I’ll still say yes, but I’ll hit you first’.

I’m pretty sure we both had fun.

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So much for weekly updates!

Hello,

To be honest, not too much has happened. I made another skirt – this one was self-drafted! – of which photos are on my phone so will probably never make it here because I’m a lazy technophobe.

I am also making a long-sleeved jersey top using the Renfrew pattern from Sewaholic, from a lovely cream and grey striped jersey which I bought from Guthrie and Ghani on a whirlwind visit to family.

My dad meanwhile has started a blog about his work in social policy and the third sector. I won’t link here, but email me if you’re interested and I will pass on the link. And I do mean email, because then I know that I know you!

S’s birthday was recently and we had a lovely meal out, a good night in the pub with friends and an unexpected pub quiz, and I made a cake (a rare feat chez OTB!).

We have also found a beautiful flat in Old Cathedral City, sharing with our friend M, which is in the very centre of the city surrounded by twisty little streets, amazing pubs and bars, intriguing little shops and plenty of yarn/fabric shops as well! The flat itself is gorgeous with big windows, a huge central room, a balcony in our bedroom and a bedroom that literally looks like it came from a hotel. There is also a quirky little platform in one corner of the lounge which M and S are planning on turning into their ‘man cave’, filling it with cushions and beanbags and then all the screens and games consoles you could wish for. It’s OK, I will be allowed in – S recently got a PS3 so we’ve been playing some awesome karting games and platformers. I’ve tried some shooters but I really can’t get my head around walking with one stick, looking around with the other stick, and also attempting to jump/duck/crawl/peer/sprint AND potentially shoot/change weapons/aim… I do try but I lose patience very rapidly.

We are also going to be getting a car at the end of this month! We’re both having refresher lessons because it’s been a long time.

That really is about it.

 

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Bump!

My Charlotte skirt post has now been updated with photos. Although the originals were taken on S’s DSLR, and the edited JPEGs are juicily large, for some reason WP doesn’t like them and so they are pixelly if I put them any larger than this. Even though (promise) you can blow them up to ridiculous proportions on my screen.

Look out for future crafting posts though, because they are surprisingly close to fruition!

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What’s occurring?*

This is one of those posts where I’m trying to convey a sense of my life while obfuscating details and disguising emotions. My chosen method for obfuscation, disguise and display today is a list. Blogging is a strange thing.

  • I have now made two skirts. I have another project on the go, something lined up for tomorrow, and a head full of future ideas.
  • I have got really stuck in to a knitting project  which was promised for last Christmas and may take the rest of my life, but I’m really enjoying it, and I hope it’s loved when it finally reaches the intended recipient. Jokes aside this should be before said recipient’s birthday.
  • I am very excited about some future possibilities based around where we are moving to next, and the possibilities this opens up. I am considering carefully my future options, but at some point in my life it’s possible that I won’t be working from home and playing ‘house’! This is a career dream and I am a) so concerned about internet security that I am convinced there are spies everywhere who will find this blog and think I’m not someone they want and b) convinced I will jinx myself by revealing any more.
  • I am playing in a fantastic orchestra. We’re doing some amazing repertoire and I love having my cello out again.
  • The scenery around here is fantastic and now S’s walk home takes him past the seaside I have taken to meeting him to walk or run home.
  • We will be moving in the summer to a bigger city. While I love our seaside home, I am looking forward to all the extra fun things this will involve, like climbing, a new choir, more board games and a sense that more is going on.
  • I seriously considered joining the WI a few weeks ago.
  • We have been playing a lot of board games. I am really enjoying them, and starting to get semi competent at them, which is great.
  • I want to make ALL THE CLOTHES EVER.

That’s approximately it from here. There is more, but it’s pretty similar to what’s there. I did have a job in sales. I wasn’t very good at it. I left before I was asked to leave, and while I am now working hard to feel busy, and I’m sad I never started to turn friendly acquaintances from work into genuine friends, I’m glad I left.

Blog-wise, S has started a new blog about the things he enjoys doing. I think I might do similar – attempt to write once a week about the things I have done that have been fun. It might encourage me to finish more of the things I start and make more time for the things I enjoy, rather than just crashing out in front of the telly of an evening.

*At some point in the less-employed parts of the last few months, I (years after everyone else) actually watched Gavin & Stacey. I loved it.

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Charlotte Skirt

I’ve finally got photos taken of my wonderful Charlotte Skirt! I bought the Skirt Kit while I was teaching because I didn’t have a lot of time and I really wanted to get started on a project. Then it turned out that I actually had no time, because teaching is a thing to do if you suddenly think you never want to do any of your hobbies, sleep a whole night, or see any of your friends and family ever again. (I’m joking, and I mean no disrespect to the teaching profession, but seriously: No. Time).

Anyway, bought the kit. Stared at it longingly for months. Finally, made it.

2 - Tartan Charlotte Skirt  (2 of 8)

I’m really happy with it, actually. It was easy to sew, and the instructions were really clear. I didn’t alter the pattern at all because I wouldn’t know where to start, but I think it works well on me as-is. It’s not very neat on the insides (at least around the  zip, and I did something of a hack job on the hem) but all seams bar centre back are Frenched (I don’t have an overlocker but I like doing French seams even if they are time-consuming!).

I had some trouble with the invisible zip – it’s a bit hard to visualise and I had to unpick and restart twice – but the instructions again were pretty clear, I’m just a beginner sewist who can’t tell her lefts and rights! I also googled some tutorials for it (I’m sorry, I didn’t save links). The one thing I did learn is that while the instructions tell you to use the invisible zipper foot while doing them, if you don’t have an invisible zipper foot, a normal zipper foot will also work. It’s harder to get the zip truly invisible though. Some fantastic people can do it, and as for me, well, it’s not invisible, but I can live with and work on that!

2 - Tartan Charlotte Skirt  (7 of 8)

I was proud of my hemming which I did by hand, it’s very nearly invisible from the outside. The waistband though I really didn’t do a good job of! Some lessons very definitely learned about how to attach a waistband, and subsequent hook and eye placement!

2 - Tartan Charlotte Skirt  (1 of 8)

Overall though I’m very happy with my skirt. I love it styled like this for every day (though I would love to pair it with a leather jacket, which in my case I have not got) but I also have worn it to work and it goes with a variety of blouses, and with the right shoes and top would make a good going out/pub outfit as well (if I was the type to go to the pub ‘dressed up’, or if indeed there was anywhere even half-worth going to in Seaside Town other than pubs). It’s close-fitting, and very pegged (i.e. it tapers in a lot to the knees, so not much range of movement), so if I were to make a longer version it would have to have a split or a kick pleat in the back because I take such big steps and I walk a lot. I’m not really impractical enough for fashion!

Anyway, there you have it – one Charlotte Skirt! Already planning a few more, but I’ve got other projects I want to make first…!

2 - Tartan Charlotte Skirt  (6 of 8)

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Lessons Learned

Teaching wasn’t for me. A big part of this is frustration and anger. One of my classes, and the class that left the greatest impression upon me, was a class of year 7s (11-year-olds) to whom I was teaching a module about basic scientific concepts like pH (acidity/alkalinity of liquids), particles, what a chemical reaction is and what it isn’t, and so on.

Parts of this were great fun and the class was brilliant, a lovely, lively bunch of young people with some very distinct characters. But what frustrated me immeasurably was that a sizeable portion of the class were effectively innumerate and illiterate. And if that’s where your class is, you actually can’t teach them science. I tried. I tried taking out the requirement for reading as much as I could. I tried setting them worksheets designed to help their reading. I tried differentiating so that everyone could do something. I tried drawing step by step worksheets on how to do practicals. But at the end of the day there were children in that class who were not going to grasp much, if any, of what I was trying to teach them, simply because everything else about being in that classroom was already enough of a challenge. And that made me angry, and I wasn’t the right person, or in the right place, to fix it.

Another big part of why I left was that it was quite literally taking over my life. When I was in school, I was teaching. If I wasn’t teaching, I was preparing: printing, photocopying, marking, finding resources, practising experiments, etc. If you can think of all the things you ever did in lessons at school, just remember that all those things were prepared, sought out and dreamt up by your teacher. And think about how much time that must actually take up. Your science teachers have to sit down for a big chunk of time each week and decide what experiments they’re going to do with you, then decide exactly what kit they need, not forgetting one test tube or one simple reagent, to put on a list for the technician, and if you forget to say which lesson you need it for or what room you’ll be in, you simply won’t get it.

When I was out of school, I was planning lessons. And this honestly took up all my time. Every evening, every weekend. I stopped for long enough to eat dinner and watch some telly, but if I wasn’t eating, I was working, sometimes until gone 2am. And that done, I was getting up at 5.30am to make it into school the next day in time to beat the traffic and photocopy the living daylights out of all the things I’d prepared before a new day began, before staying late in school to do more planning and preparation or talk through the lessons I taught with real teachers.

I got to speak to S on the phone for maybe ten minutes at a time, usually twice a day. I usually spent most of that time crying out of sheer exhaustion. My mum came to visit twice in order to tidy and clean my flat; on one of those visits she sent me straight to bed for an hour before letting me get on with work. And once, in the entire six weeks, I went out for drinks with S when he came to visit, a wonderful four hours off that nearly made me weep with gratitude, but I couldn’t relax and enjoy myself because I was so worried about making sure I got enough sleep for once, and not getting a hangover.

Once, I had a wonderful surprise. S was supposed to be visiting but couldn’t arrive until midday on the Saturday. I was worried because I knew I didn’t have the time to take time off to see him, but I really wanted to. I was getting to the end of my tether. I had a terrifying meeting on the Friday lunchtime with my tutor at university, which I told S about when I phoned him that evening. After we got off the phone he texted me to say that he’d arranged a surprise present to arrive but the only time he could book a courier was to arrive at 11.30pm that night, and was that too late? Of course it wasn’t, I was still going to be planning lessons. 11.30 rolls around and he calls me to say he’s got a text from the couriers and it should be on my doorstep, as per his delivery instructions. So I head down in my slippers, and no. ‘Is it on top of the bins then? They sometimes do that’, he says, and I head out onto the street. There’s no sign of a present, but I suddenly have a flash of realisation – and I turn around and run towards the shape walking towards me, silhouetted in streetlight. I can’t stop smiling and crying, and S is here.

The next week, I caved.

And now I’ve moved from Uni Town and I live by the sea, in a little house, with S. I am puzzling over what to do next, and how  to get there, but I have learned a lot of things in the last few months, most of them positives, as it happens, and though teaching wasn’t for me, I am really glad I tried.

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3/8

Last year I worked from home. It wasn’t a very fun year, but I didn’t have a huge number of other options, and it paid the bills. The bit about not having many other options is only partly true, though. I worked from home. I was sent work, and given perhaps a month in which to complete it. And Parkinson’s Law (“often used in relation to time usage: the more time you’ve been given to do something, the more time it will take you to do it”) more or less ruled my life. The same article from which that quotation comes (don’t worry, link to follow) suggests that of an 8-hour business day, most working people only spend 3 hours doing productive work. I assume that most working people then spend the remaining five hours gossiping round the water cooler about Youtube videos of cats and the results of Bake Off (you can tell me now; I’ve finally managed to watch the final).

The article I’m talking about also talks about how an 8 hour working day is something big businesses promote: “Under these working conditions people have to build a life in the evenings and on weekends. This arrangement makes us naturally more inclined to spend heavily on entertainment and conveniences because our free time is so scarce”. You should read this article – it makes for depressing reading but it might also make you feel better if you spend all your working hours looking at cat videos.

It made me very happy, though. As well as depressed. Working from home didn’t suit me – I hated how long simple jobs seemed to take, how lonely and demotivated I felt, how somehow leaving the house or putting some thought into my clothing or hair seemed like a luxury all of a sudden. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t feel much better if I’d been doing the same job but had to go to an office to do it. The work – when I did it – was genuinely quite enjoyable – but there was no reason for it to take over my day. Somehow I felt more time-pressured last year, trapped in my house in front of my laptop, than I had the previous year, dashing between work, musical engagements and university commitments with a healthy dash of social life, hobbies and other commitments thrown in – even though the previous year definitely felt far busier.

Now, training to be a PGDE, I am once again spectacularly busy. I’m on the staff-student committee, I’m still holding down that healthy social life, and for crying out loud I’m doing an insanely large fraction of a master’s degree alongside a very intense training course. When I get home at the end of each day I am satisfyingly tired, and I know I’m only going to get more so as the weeks go on, once I’m in school four days a week.

And I know (as I hope many of you do) that my time in school will all be full-on, full to the brim. I couldn’t possibly do in three hours what I do in eight, because I’m going to spend more than three hours of each day up in front of a class, and there’s no way you can really make children learn faster than they do (or certainly very little you can do once they reach you at the age of 11). And if you could make them learn faster, you’d get them to learn more, rather than telling them to go home early. You’d hope that they’d want to. The school day runs for six-and-a-half hours at my school. I will then be working in the evenings to get ready for the days yet to come – on lesson planning and organisation and marking and all my own course requirements. I might waste the first few hours of each evening, and do some more work later, but work will happen. And Parksinson’s Law barely gets a look-in because I don’t have the time to let the task fill that time. I will be using very nearly all the time I have.

So big business won’t have stolen my inclination to use my leisure time for all my hobbies. Work will steal my leisure time, and what I manage to salvage has so far been used on things that make me genuinely happy. Although I’ll admit that alongside all the smug running and visiting of tourist attractions and wandering by the seaside, that sometimes includes Bake Off (and cat videos).

If, meanwhile, your 40-hour workweek, and the sapping of your energy for all the amazing wonderful free things you used to do with your spare time, has made you long for a simpler life and less material joy, think carefully. This article from the Guardian brings together lots of peoples’ experiences of poverty, in the UK, here and now. People have written of their experiences of poverty as elderly people, students, highly-qualified ex-professionals – ordinary people like you and me, having an unimaginable time.

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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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