Your First Year in Teaching as told by Peep Show (Or how you’ve basically become Mark and Jez without realising it…)

Almost two years ago I wrote a blog post at the end of my Teacher Training, summing up the whole year in song titles (CLICK IT – YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!). I’ve been meaning to follow that up since I passed my NQT year last year and never got around to it, until today! I know that a lot of people outside of the UK might not resonate with me using Peep Show images but do you know what? I don’t care. I like Peep Show and I think it shares a lot of similar themes with your NQT year as a teacher.

 

This post is going to differ slightly to the last one by looking at only a few key moments throughout the year, but I swear that it hits all the key points! It also doesn’t only apply to my own experiences of completing my hellishly nightmarish NQT year (of which I have been less than kind on this blog already..) and instead will focus on a mildly more generic year… Although not too much as where’s the fun in me not complaining?

Guess we’d better get started!

The First Day

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Oh those first day nerves might well get the better of you and you end up standing awkwardly in the staff room during briefing as you haven’t figured out where to sit yet (trust me, it’s an important decision) but overall you’re happily optimistic. This year can’t be any harder than Teacher Training right? You know what you’re doing… You’ve got this… Right?

When you realize your tutor group don’t *quite* understand the “I’m here to help spiel…

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You’ve got your own tutor group! What a great chance to bond with the students and nurture and encourage a small group of pupils! You try to be as positive as possible with them, you let them know the rules and that they can come to you if they have any problems. Now, when you said that you were expecting it to be things like timetable crashes, lost kit or even some GCSE option decisions. What you didn’t expect was the endless tirade of tales they tell about each other. You can only hear so many renditions of “So and So took my pencil in maths” before your eyes start to glaze over and you hear yourself utter the phrase “I’ll have a word with them tomorrow”.

Still, as often as they can be irritating, your tutor group can also be amazing. Nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing a formerly naughty and underachieving student improving based on your mentoring. (Personally I love being a Form Tutor – it’s one of my favourite parts of the job!)

About 3 weeks into the second half term…

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Oh this one’s an easy one. You’ve made it past half term, you’ve had a week off and you miss the easy days of university (personally I had 8 hours a week in those golden days – now I can EASILY do 8 hour days and then some). You start to get a bit disenfranchised and pine for the 9-5 that your uni friends have going on. Oh what a world it would be where you didn’t work in the evening and at weekends…

Your first Christmas build up

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Here’s a warning for those people like me who absolutely LOVE Christmas. Not everyone does. Most schools don’t really do a large amount for Christmas, and of course since you’re a grown up, you have to be sensible and keep churning out the usual lessons for your students, no matter how much you might want to watch Elf for all 6 periods of your day! Being responsible sucks sometimes.

The Marking. The Horror.

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This one is very much self explanatory. IT’s a repetitive task but you’ve gotta do it. Keep on going!

When the dark days take their toll on your eating habits…

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It’s after the Christmas break, you’ve already abandoned your new years resolutions and you’ve caught yourself buying endless amounts of Uncle Ben’s Rice Time pots instead of making your own meals from scratch. It’s been three weeks since you even contemplated eating a fresh piece of fruit. It’s a sad reality of teaching that if you don’t work hard to keep yourself healthy and eating right it can slip easily and once it does its a downhill slide to rock bottom. You realize there’s only so many Rustlers Microwave Burgers you can eat before you start to feel repulsed by yourself… You resolve to make some changes that probably won’t ever happen but it’s comforting to lie to yourself…

6 Little Letters – OFSTED

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It’s probably your first time facing the onslaught that is Ofsted. Everyone goes into panic stations and the school stays open later so you can get your lessons plans sorted. You spend longer planning a single lesson than you ever have and make sure you’ve got all the buzzwords in there! Just don’t let that panic show on the day! Remember Han Solo “Don’t get cocky Kid”.

When it all gets a bit overwhelming and yet you still lie to everyone that you’re fine.

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Hopefully this won’t be you, but it certainly was me and my friend Rachael. We lied to ourselves, to each other and to our mentors. We were fine and didn’t need any help. Honestly. I’m fine. I’ve always had bags under my eyes. No, seriously. I am getting enough sleep. I’m fine. I promise…

When you finally admit there might have been a problem…

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At least you’ve finally admitted it! You can get this sorted now you’re being honest. It’s a big change to overhaul everything and get back on track but you can do this! You’ve been through worse. You survived the placement school. You’ve got this far dammit! You can do this. Although there’s still that niggling feeling that it’s all going to go horribly wrong. Better push that aside for now…

When your friends ask you how your life is going

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Its been so long since you’ve been on a date that you start to worry they might have changed all the rules and you’ll never adapt. Before you came out tonight it took you a good 20 minutes to find a shirt that WASN’T a work shirt. You’ve not had to look presentable for the outside world in a good few months. These normal people just love to rub their free time in your face. Still, it’s nice to know that despite your massive workaholic tendencies you still have a group of friends ready to stick by you, even though they dont’t quite get why being in the pub until closing on a  Tuesday is a bad idea…

When you just start to sink into the routine

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Oh all those worries and insecurities have become routine by now. There’s no need to worry about them because you’ve got so good at multitasking you can eat your breakfast, reply to emails and brush your hair all at the same time. You’re like a highly skilled octopus which can live on land. You take whatever comes your way in your stride. It’s all just another day at the office for you.

When you *FINALLY* embrace your inner wierdo

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It’s about time you stopped worrying what everyone else thought. Let your Freak Flag fly as they say! You’ll notice your teaching gets better and your students respect you a bit more when you put a bit more personality into your lessons and stop being so rigidly by the book. Good on you!

The final push of NQT year

A little bit of you has died inside. You’re very much a different person. This year has changed you. You’ve been to hell and back and dammit all if you didn’t survive. You feel more confident. You finally know what you’re doing. You can go into the summer holidays happy that come September you won’t have the same freak out you did this year. It was tough, but it was worth it! No more evidence folders! That’s got to be worth the hassle alone…

 

Well there you have it! Some key NQT moments summed up with Peep Show Quotes.

Obviously I must point out that a few of these moments, whilst startling similar to real life events that many newly qualified teachers go through, have in fact been slightly exaggerated for comedic purposes. It’s a great job, Teaching. I don’t think I’d trade it in for the world, despite the ups and downs!

Maybe there’s a part 3 coming soon. Maybe not. I think I need to spend a bit more time experiencing it before I try to make light of it all!

Until next time teachers!

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When I said I wanted to run more… – A TftMaBoL Update

Recently, I followed the lead set by YouTuber Craig Benzine (WheezyWaiter) and set myself some tasks that would help to improve  my life and lifestyle. The Tasks for the Maintenance and Betterment of Living The Tasks for the Maintenance and Betterment of Living (or TftMaBol for short). One of these tasks was that I wanted to run more, and boy did I do just that.

When I said I wanted to run more, I didn’t mean I wanted to do it all in one day.

Last Sunday, the 17th July 2016, saw World Emoji Day roll around (it’s a thing – check the internet) and a good friend of mine, along with the rest of his running events company, On The Whistle, decided to mark the occasion by holding the World Emoji Day Run in Havant. The World Emoji Day Run (WEDR from now on because I am a lazy blogger) was a 6 hour timed challenge to complete as many laps of the 4.5 (ish. And I mean ish) mile course within the time limit. 1 Lap earned you the medal. 3 Laps, you’d completed a half marathon. 6 Laps and that’s a little over a marathon. 7 or more? Well that’s insane an Ultra.

It was a great day for running, not too sunny (to start with at least), not TOO hot (but still very muggy!) and the whole event had a great atmosphere. Very friendly marshals marked the key turn points on the course and the rest was marked by tiny pink flags which, as Race Director Kiernan mentioned in his safety briefing prior to the start, “If you haven’t seen a pink flag for a while – you’ve got lost”.

Luckily I didn’t get lost thanks to that innate Geography Teacher Compass (that’s a thing right?) and made it round the course, thanks mostly to the encouragement of the people I was running with.

My first lap saw me trying to hold on to the pace set by fellow blogger Paul Jeffrey as he is a bit of a veteran of running longer distances and I thought that if I could stay with him then I’d be fine. Sadly, I didn’t even manage a whole lap with Paul, slowing down well before he did and finishing my first lap by myself. I really must thank Paul for coming back to check on me when I slowed down and for all the encouragement at the Rest Stop and on the course -I wouldn’t have made it round my first REAL long distance run (besides that half marathon I did a few years ago) without you checking up on me!

I then was joined by fellow parkrunner Jason H who I did stick with for more than a single lap and in fact managed two laps running alongside (mostly, I got a bit carried away and sped off at the end of the laps!) before letting Jason speed off for a lap as he had a deadline to stick to in order to get out on the course for a final lap. Jason kept me going with good conversation and a great strategy of run/walk where needed and again, I don’t think I’d have made it round without him! I completely forgot about the fact that I’d breezed through lap 3 and thus 13.1 miles which WAS the furthest that I’d ever run before! 

So that takes me to 4 laps completed – 18 miles. I thought that was respectable enough and hesitated on finishing my 4th lap to ring the hand bell and end my time on the course. But then the little voice (insane little voice more like it) kicked in and said “If you’ve gone this far, why not make it 5 laps? You’ve got plenty of time…” and lo and behold I’m piling haribo into my mouth, refilling my water belt and I’m back on the course jogging (slowly. Basically speed walking. In fact probably not even that) around to start another 4.5 (ISH) mile loop. Quite frankly this was a ridiculous thing to do. I’d already changed my shirt once due to it being drenched and at the end of lap 4 I took it off completely, preferring to risk being a bit cold to having super chafed nipples – they’d already been ripped apart in the first 4 laps. Now, I’ve never run 23 miles before. I’ve only ever run 13.1 as I stated and I had no idea how much my feet would HATE my decision to carry on. They got through though, just, with thanks to all the fantastic people I met on the way round and I crossed the line for the 5th time, having just completed 23 miles. Ten miles more than I’d run previously.

After crossing the line, I was told that I had 4 minutes to make a decision about whether I was going to finish there at 23 miles or get back on the course for a 6th and final lap and push towards my first marathon…

Thankfully I made the right choice, realised how tired I was already and rang the bell to end on 5 laps, 23 miles. The marathon can wait for another day. One where I’ve trained for it and I’m 100% happy with how I’m running. I got given my medal, complete with half marathon badge and finished very happy, but very sore!

I loved the WEDR – it was a great event in a great location, organised by great people and I cant recommend On The Whistle enough for all your 6 hour challenge running needs or desires. The next event is in September, and after that November.

See you at the start line!

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My Running Story – Volume 2

Just a little under three years ago I wrote a post entitled “My Running Story” which you can read if you click on the title just now (the blue words. CLICK THE BLUE WORDS!). In this post I outlined my transition from a run hater to finally using the word runner to describe myself, over the period of a year. I also shared a brief bit about why I started running and why I decided to continue. (Spoiler alert: I started running to impress a girl. Of course I did, what else was it going to be?) Today I thought it was finally time to update my running story and see what has changed in these last three years. I’ll do it in three parts…

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My newest pair of road shoes, which I got from my parents for my 24th birthday. These are my 4th pair of “proper” running shoes for roads (and the easily the brightest)!

Part One (Hundred)

Straight off the back of that blog post I kept on running and never looked back. I didn’t get particularly fast and never did manage to bring down my Newbury parkrun pb time (it’s still at 22:17 to this day). I found myself actively enjoying running, to the point where it quickly became my favourite thing to do. I found myself going out running in the week, not just at parkruns and I entered and completed a few more organised race events (I say race loosely, I have never and will never run one of these with the intention of racing it to win. I just like organised routes and medals). I injured myself a bit but nothing major and I kept ploughing on with the distance, eventually getting to the point where I entered the BUPA Great South Run. I finished the GSR in a time of 1:24:08 (I think – somewhere around there anyway) and whilst my legs hurt for days after it, I was incredibly proud of what I’d done.

My friends had all left Portsmouth at the end of our final year in University, that previous July, around the time of the last post, and I found myself mixing a lot more with the Havant parkrun regulars. I’ve made some wonderful friends through Havant parkrun and I if I’m being completely honest I don’t think I would still be running today without their support. It gets hard sometimes (more on that in Part 2) but the people I’ve met and run with kept me going. The crowning achievement of this next year of running was the day that I ran my 100th parkrun, earning entry into the coveted 100Club and getting my next free parkrun T-Shirt. I was even incredibly lucky to have two of my three best friends and ex-housemates come down for the weekend to run with me on my 100th, in addition to the Tea Themed course and Hi-Vis vest that I received from my parkrun friends. I was happy in my ability to run and felt more comfortable doing it, talking about it and enjoying it.

Part 2  Mojo No Go

It all went a bit to pot after the 100 Club. I’d suffered at the hands of my PGCE year and put on a bit of weight. That continued throughout my time in my NQT year and found myself stressed and working so hard to keep up with the gruelling demands of the school. I lost myself a bit and didn’t run as much. I hardly ever went out in the week and my road shoes sat neglected on our shoe rack. I had no mojo to go out and run. By the time I’d got home from work and had dinner it was usually 8pm and I had books to mark and lessons to plan. I was writing a new scheme of work each half term, and frequently even wrote two of them since I was teaching three different subjects at this point. I even had to plan my own RE lessons since it was apparently a “weakness in my teaching” (I did take the time to explain on multiple occasions that yes, my RE teaching wouldn’t be as good as my Geography teaching because I hadn’t studied RE since Year 11 and even then I didn’t like it. I’M A GEOGRAPHER! But did anybody listen? Of course they bloody well didn’t and of course it was all my fault who else could plan those lessons? Oh I don’t know… THE RE DEPARTMENT MAYBE? No. They didn’t.)

As a result of being tired and stressed my running suffered. My times got slower and I just couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort to bring it all back together. What was the point? I was slow anyway and I didn’t enjoy running anymore. It became a bit of a chore – something I only did to keep myself vaguely active and only then once a week at the most. I tried going to the gym to get back into it, but I was too lazy. I just couldn’t be bothered anymore.

I still went to parkrun though. Every week on Saturday morning I’d get up, I’d go to parkrun and I’d run 5 kilometres. I might have been a lot slower, I stopped to walk a lot but I still did it. It was this routine, and the people I met and mentioned before that pulled me through my year and a bit of no mojo. As I said, I would have probably quit if it was only me.

It all came back eventually though. I found myself running in the week again and making time for it. I started training regularly in Tae Kwon-Do once again after taking roughly 5 years out to do University and Teacher Training and I slowly brought my fitness back to an acceptable (by my standards) level. I’m still a lot slower than I was but I’m okay with that – at least I enjoy it all again!

Part 3 This is the bit that sounds like a Bowie song (because of all the ch-ch-ch-chaaangeeeees!)

Queen Eizabeth parkrun’s annual Summer Barbecue. I blame this place and tie as the catalyst for where everything about my running story changes. For years, since starting parkrun and catching the bug for it I’d wanted to be a Run Director (One of the people who is in charge of the run for a week and makes sure it all goes smoothly) at Havant parkrun. In my “Year of running dangerously” (or running more and enjoying it if you prefer) I’d ingratiated myself into the volunteer team at Havant parkrun. I hung around to help pack stuff away, I volunteered more and I enjoyed it. I became a bit of a regular fixture and got to know people really well. I wanted to Run Direct because I wanted to give back to the place and the thing that had kept me going through a year of hating work, through three years of learning to love running. It felt right and I was always on the lookout to see if a spot on the RD team ever opened up (it didn’t).

My enthusiasm must have been noticed by Dave, the Event Director (man who is “in charge” as it were of all the RDs and deals with parkrun HQ) who also happened to be the parkrun Ambassador for the area (person who helps new parkruns start). Dave mentioned that there was finally scope to get a new parkrun in the North of Portsmouth since the Southsea parkrun was doing so well. The funding was in place as long as a willing, enthusiastic and passionate team could be found to organise it.

Dave asked if I’d be interested in taking the reigns and becoming the Event Director for this new run.

I said yes.

Things kind of floated by for a few weeks until One Fateful Day at the QE Summer Barbecue when I asked the first two people to join my core team as Run Directors. From there we went through a bit more recruiting and a lot of course design, redesign, measuring, remeasuring, finding funding, finding people to run with us, finding volunteers to help organise us and around 8 months later we finally held our inaugural parkrun.

Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun has just had it’s 7th event and we’re still going strong. The 4 of us on the RD team have settled in nicely and it’s got a great atmosphere – largely down to the fact that all the volunteers we get helping are such amazingly positive people, and we’re lucky to have so many of them stick around with us as our Core Volunteers who we can always rely on to help us keep the parkrun going. I love being the Event Director and overseeing everything, working with my team to make the run happen and some of the stories you hear from people are so heartwarming and positive, it really makes you remember why you do it.

I love parkrun. It made me a runner. It made me a volunteer. It made me a better, more rounded and friendly person.

It also made me run in the week more and realise that if I can stop being lazy for an hour, I do still love running!

I’ll be back with Volume 3 one day, I’m sure…

 

Tasks for the Maintenance and Betterment of Living

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a rut and have found myself at a loose end. It all started around February 2015 when I noticed that I wasn’t really happy. I had put on a lot of weight (over a stone since I started teaching), I wasn’t doing much that I enjoyed and as a result found myself just being incredibly lazy. A lot of this I out down to work. I wasn’t happy working in the city – the hours were long, the job was hard and I felt trapped, being a country boy at heart. As a result my teaching suffered and I was forced to work twice as hard as ever just to keep myself from going under (seriously, you have no idea how awful it is to arrive at school at 5:30 in the morning and not leave until 19:00 at night). I started to hate everything and withdraw from a lot during this  point in my life. So I decided to start doing something about it.

The job seemed to me to be the root of the problems and so I looked elsewhere for employment. I found a lovely school in a little suburban village and applied. I prepped hard for the interview and luckily (or should that be thankfully) I got the job. The hours are just as long (not 5:30 am long though!) and the teaching is just as hard but I enjoy it. My department is so supportive and I love working around people that inspire me so much. Everything else would just fall into place now that this was sorted, and it did. Kind of. But not really.

Even though I enjoyed my job now I was still finding myself piling on the pounds with another stone going on between September and Christmas. In February I topped out at 13st 13lbs – the heaviest I’d ever been. My waistline had expanded a bit and I couldn’t blame work and lack of effort anymore. I was training in Tae Kwon-Do again, I’d joined a Gym and was running a bit more. Something was still wrong though since I just kept gaining weight. Turns out, I’m an avid snacker. I’m the sort of person who snacks when they work. Marking books? Snack time to get you through it. Bored? Make a snack, it’s something to do. Stressed? Have a snack and you’ll better. Well, I decided to change that yet again.

Around February, I started to actively try to lose weight and eat better. It went well for a while but I relapsed and started again with new determination at Easter. Since February I have gone from 13st 13lbs to 13st 5.8lbs (as of time of writing). That’s a good enough place to start, but I’m still not there yet. It’s not just losing weight either. I’ve been inspired…

Recently, I’ve got back into watching some old youtube channels that I used to watch and one of them in particular stood out. This man had overhauled his channel from the kooky, quirky comedy that I’d loved throughout university to a new daily vlog style of channel where he just talks about his life and what he’s doing to improve it. (Can you see that I’ve not so much been inspired by him as shamelessly copied him). This man was Craig Benzine, or WheezyWaiter as he’s known on youtube. I saw one of his videos titled Improving My Life and thought it was a gret idea. In this video he gets himself a whiteboard and writes a list of things he’s going to do to improve his life. This was called the “Tasks for the Maintenence and Betterment of Living”. As a result, I decided to create my own shameless rip off of wheezywaiter inspired goals. A few of these are the same as those Craig sets out in his video, purely because I liked them so much and thought I should do my own version!

 

Tasks for the Maintenance and Betterment of Living

  • De-clutter physical stuff – I have too much stuff, a fact that my entire family will attest to and I’ve finally decided to get rid of some of it.
  • Lose Weight – This is one of the things I’ve been focusing on for a while as I’ve said it’s going well. I’m not on some weird diet or crazy exercise plan. I’m just trying to move more and eat less than i burn. To do this, I’m relying on my trusted fitbit, which is now a year old. I’ve gone back to (roughly) tracking the number of calories I eat to make sure that I’m not tempted to snack, and trying to hit my 10,000 step goal, as well as trying to do some form of exercise, however small it is, for 5 out of 7 days.
  • Cycle more – In 2014 I bought a bike to get to work, since it was only a 10 minute ride from my flat. I think I cycled less than 5 times in the year. I hsaven’t used my bike nearly enough and rely on my car to get to places. I enjoy cycling and so I’m using my bike more, and will track it monthly to see how many times i use it! (I’ve used it today to cycle to my favourite coffee shop to write this!)
  • Read more – I love reading and yet i never do enough of it. So I’m going to read more and to do that I’m going to start by…
  • Watch less TV – Why do i need to watch the same episode of Scrubs for the 20th time? (I mean don’t get me wrong I love Scrubs but it’s a complete waste of my time!) I’m trying to keep it down to only one episode of something a day online or something interesting if it’s on the TV and I’m watching live!
  • Run more – The final task on my list is to run more. I love running and yet I stopped running as much as I used to. This will also help me achieve the second goal on the list! I’m trying to run as much as possible each week and will measure it from Saturday to Saturday (or parkrunday to parkrunday, if you know what I mean!)

So there you have it. Some tasks to hopefully make me feel better  and more energised. So far? It’s going pretty well. I think. I hope. We’ll see! I’ll keep you updated! (That’s the next thing to go on my list – Write more!)

 

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The TftMaBoL Whiteboard that I’ve put on my bedroom door so I have to see it everyday! 

 

A Cinnamon Danish and an Oddly Seductive Picture of George Osborne

There are things in life that we may not necessarily like. If this (and the really rather strange title) seems like a strange way to start a blog post, bear with me and it should all be a little clearer soon.

As I said there are things in life we don’t like but regardless of personal feelings we have to do them. For me, one of these things is going to London. I can’t stand it. Nevertheless at 7:15 I was entrenched upon the local station platform surrounded by an ocean of commuters, some dressed rather scruffily for work in my opinion whilst others (myself included) were dressed to the nines. There was a rather sombre mood permeating the atmosphere, not only owed to the pregnant pause between the weather waiting to rain and actually raining. No, as if to add to the drudgery of my days task the train was delayed. Combining the shambolic attempts of a certain UK rail provider (who shall remain nameless but whose name does indeed rhyme with the phrase “Burst Eight, Heston!” You make your own deductions from there)  to organise a train on time for once, my general disdain of the general public and the fact that I was on my way to the urine soaked, antisocial hub of wretched debauchery and assorted unsavoury miscreants shining jewel of civilisation and prosperity that Is our capital, it was safe to say I wasn’t in a brilliant mood.

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The trains had been delayed for so long that people abandoned all hope of going home and set up camps on the platform

Soldiering on like the trooper I am I suffered through a rail journey (once the train arrived of course) spent entirely stood up for an hour whilst penned in shoulder to face with my fellow cattle passengers. I eventually emerged at London Paddington and with surprisingly little fuss I was on an underground train and arrived at my final stop before a short walk to the secondary school that was to be my final destination for the day.

Just before moving on I’d like to briefly mention that for all the fuss made about how fantastically amazing and modern and culturally advanced London is I could not, for love nor money, find anywhere to buy a coffee that wasn’t out of the back of a gentleman’s Peugeot106 (and I use the word gentleman very loosely). Whilst I do love coffee I prefer mine not to be purchased in a car boot sale style, only being one small step away from swapping a manilla envelope of cash for a brown paper bag hidden cup of java underneath an underpass. If this is what being modern and culturally advanced is, I’ll stick to the dark ages thanks.

Skipping ahead my mornings plight was rewarded at registration for the event (which was a meeting of network connected geography teachers as I know you were clearly wondering) with a large cup of steaming hot coffee and a gigantic cinnamon Danish (ooh mystery 1 solved) it almost made up for the events of the morning. Almost.

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The event itself was actually quite interesting, sharing good practice ideas over pastries (a practice which needs to be adopted as the sole way to do this in any situation) before having some interesting talks from members of the Royal Geographic Society on the changes made to GCSE and A Level geography in the UK.  All in all a useful and thought provoking few hours which I’m very glad I got the chance to listen to. The real treat however was still to come.

Post comfort break (as teachers we can’t be expected to sit still for more than two hours without moving around or else we begin to act like our students during after lunch lessons) we were treated to a bit of subject knowledge enhancement on the topic of Hydraulic Fracking (which was fracking interesting if you ask me). It was during the lecture that the aforementioned picture emerged. When discussing the pros and cons of the process as a viable source for meeting UK energy needs in the near future an oddly seductive picture of George Osborne became emblazoned on the SMART BOARD to highlight the fact his views are that we should push on with fracking despite the impacts that this may have and use hydraulic Fracking as a transition or “bridge fuel” between the current over reliance upon fossil fuels and sustainable alternatives. To use the really rather brilliant metaphor that the teacher leading the Hub shared with us, Fracking can be seen as the methadone to the heroin addict, a way to wean us off an unhealthy and unsustainable addiction to fossil fuel.

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All in all the experience of working collaboratively with other teachers in the network, some of whom have been teaching for years, some like myself at the beginning of their careers and some at the very start of it all doing their training year also known as the worst year of your life and a surefire method of driving you to alcoholism in order to survive was incredibly positive and it was great to get view points from different perspectives and to, as the horrifically irritating man stuck in my group much to my chagrin (well it was going too well for him not to be) kept saying, see concepts through a different lens. I’m not sure if he was an idiot. No, actually I’m positive about that point a secret lover of photography and ophthalmology or just a man utterly in love with metaphors but if his point was to leave a lasting impression of the complexity with which we should examine  global issues as opposed to the simplistic, singular point of view that we often take then he most definitely succeeded in changing my thinking.

Even if it is only until I get back in the classroom tomorrow…

Teacher Training as told by song titles (or how the most stressful year of my life can be summed up musically)

I haven’t written a blog post in over a year. That’s actually a lie, I’ve written lots of them for about 5 minutes each. Then I’ve realised that I have too much to do and gone back to my work instead of procrastinating with the hope that I may actually get to bed before my alarm goes off in the morning. The reason behind my absence is that I have been doing my teacher training this past year. Yes, I am now a qualified Geography Teacher and although the process of getting there was incredibly arduous and resulted in a lot of blood, sweat and tears (and the largest amount of coffee that I think I’ve ever consumed) not to mention the constant feeling of stress, I believe that it was all worth it to have a job that I enjoy (that no doubt will turn out to be equally as stressful in the long run but ho-hum).

Boromir knows the deal for all PGCE Teachers

If anybody out there among you readers is wondering exactly what it takes to undergo your Initial Teacher Training (through a PGCE course at least, though I’m sure that many other trainees will tell you the same regardless of how they underwent their training) then I am here with the answer. This post will explore the entire year from beginning in September until the end, with Graduation in July and even a little bit of starting the new job! Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Let’s begin…

Day 1: It’s A Beautiful Day – Michael Bublé

That first day of the PGCE: nothing can go wrong, you’re starting out on a new path, finally going to take the career world by storm. You can’t be stopped, you’re on your way to the top and today is your first step on the path. You’re excited, nervous and enjoying the world; whatever this year throws at you, you’ll be ready for it. Nothing can ever bring you down.

First day of placement: Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble – PJ & Duncan

You’ve sat through three weeks of lectures and countless seminars on subject knowledge and the importance of a good starter activity. The big day has come and you’re ready to get out there and inspire some pupils!

First full week of placement: Gonna Fly Now – Bill Conti

The training wheels are off and you’re in school full-time, no more Thursday or Friday lectures for a while! This is the time when you’re sure you’re going to be amazing and nothing can stop you! You know what you’re doing after all!

Final day of the first placement: Farewell – Rihanna

You’ve completed the first 3 months of your training and you’re ready for a holiday. You’ve laughed, cried and loved the kids you’ve taught, as well as hating them on occasion (it’s okay, we all feel that way). It’s your last day at School number 1 and it’s a sad time for you. That Christmas break looks REALLY appealing though…

First day of the second placement: Starting Over Again – The Dollyrots

Christmas has come and gone and you’re back to start your second placement school. Buoyed by your success at the first placement you feel ready to completely boss this placement stage and become the outstanding teacher you know you can be. Time to begin again!

The day you get a job for September: Everything Is Awesome – Tegan & Sara ft. The Lonely Island

You went through all of the possible questions you might be asked, planned and re-planned your lesson and checked it through with every member of your department and guess what? It worked! You’re employed! Hooray! (This step may come earlier or later in your year, it came right around this point for me though.)

The day you start struggling to balance everything: In Too Deep – Sum 41

Again, this stage can move around in your year. Mine came just after half term where I had spent the week doing nothing; no marking, no planning, no nothing. I had just finished my second written assignment for the course (which i had decided to take at Masters level because I am an idiot and hey who wants any of that “free time” stuff anyway?  it seemed like a strong career move, thinking about the future.  You will struggle and everything will start to become too much. Just cling on and make it through!

The day you have the observation that gets you back on track: Not Afraid – Eminem

You’ve been struggling, swimming against the tide trying desperately to claw your performance back to where it should be and that day arrives when you will be observed to measure this performance. This is a big one, if you mess it up then there’s a very terrifying conversation (which is in no way a conversation at all, more like a character assassination of your flaws) in your future…

But you’ve got this. You’re ready.

The day you realise everything is awful and you start hating your job: Welcome To Oblivion – Madina Lake

That’s IT! YOU’VE HAD IT WITH THIS JOB AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH IT!!

You’ve had a really bad day and, most likely a really crappy few weeks. My moment like this came straight after the third and final assignment. I had a complete melt down and everything started to go to pot. My department weren’t overly supportive of me and I’d been feeling the growing disinterest from them for a while (ever since they didn’t hire me actually, but that’s an escape I feel lucky to have had) which when combined with the department shake up and my mentor becoming the new head of department lead to me feeling isolated and unsupported which resulted in a colossal F-Up. Know this: it gets better.

The day after the meltdown: I’m No Superman – Lazlo Bane

You’ve had a breakdown and you think you’re alone but trust me, you’re not. This is the day where you realise that you have friends around you. Those people on your course with you are there for you, they know what you’re going through because they’re in the same boat. You’re like war buddies, all fighting together and forging an indestructible bond with each other. You don’t have to do this alone, you can get help from them as long as you’re willing to help them out when they need it.

The final day of Placement: We Made It – Busta Rhymes ft. Linkin Park

It’s finally here, thank goodness. The day you’ve been waiting for since you started hating your job and focussing on “getting through it”; the LAST day of placement. You’ve got through it with some help from your friends and those around you. You are finally here, despite everything this year has thrown at you. Now just a final week at university to finish off the course. Whew.

The day you graduate: Celebration – Kool and the Gang

Enough said, right? Enjoy this day. You earned it.

So that’s the PGCE in a nutshell. This is how I’ve spent my last year and now I have the new challenge of being an actual qualified teacher ahead of me. It can’t be that bad, can it?

Questionable Content

So I’ve hit a little bit of a creative block lately. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got lots of things that I want to talk about, I just can’t quite get them down onto the page so that they look “right”, if you know what I mean. With that in mind, I didn’t want to stop writing things until the issue is fixed, so I’ve fallen back on the old faithful and stolen content from tumblr decided to join in these question and answer tag games, without actually tagging anyone because none of my friends have blogs, seriously why am I friends with them? Though if you happen to be a blogger, please feel free to consider yourself “tagged” and do your own version of this! Be sure to link me in the comments so I can have a read!

Without further waffle, onto the amalgamation of a few question sets that I found under the tag of “nerdy” on tumblr (I take no responsibility for the nerdiness or lack thereof):

 

1. Kirk or Picard?

 

I’m not really a trekkie, but Picard. I like Patrick Stewart in almost anything he’s in.

2. Warrior, thief, or wizard?

Wizard. C’mon, Gandalf’s a wizard. No other reasons needed.

3. Favorite subject in school?

Predictably, Geography.

4. What would your Patronus be?


A dog.

5. Favorite Superhero?

Iron Man. He doesn’t hide his identity and doesn’t care.
http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_md8polzsWt1r6v0ko.gif

6. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars.

7. Marvel or DC?

Marvel, hands down.

8. In what un-sports related way to you keep in shape?

I keep in shape in sports related ways. But i suppose bending down to plug in my iPad charger is an un-sports related way…

9. What is your dream career choice?

Iron Man. ‘Nuff said.

10. Favorite video game?

Too many to name, I’m quite a Ninendo fan nowadays but I suppose the crown goes to the Crash Bandicoot games.

11. Favorite author?

J.R.R Tolkien

 

12. What is the nerdiest thing about yourself?

Probably my love of all the things that I “should have grown out of” such as video games, Pokemon games, books involving swords and sorcery and dragons, superheroes, etc, etc..

13. Playstation3, Xbox360, or Wii?

Wii.

 

 

 

14. Jocks: Friends or foes?

Do we still split the world into Nerds and Jocks? I thought it was just nice people and idiots?

15. Old school bit games, or modern 3D graphics?

New games look amazing, but 8-bit nostalgia is fantastic.

16. Nerdiest Pick-up line?

“If you were an air mass you’d be tropical maritime because you’re so damn hot!”

17. The nerdiest article of clothing you’ve ever owned?

I don’t really know what classes as nerdy, but I like corduroy, tweed and cardigans. True geography style distaster

18. Do you have a random, useless talent? What is it?

I can pick up a lot of things with my feet, although that has proven to be useful on numerous occasions.

19. Do you read the book before seeing the movie?

it’s 50/50 at the moment.

20. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Gonna break my tradition and go with something a little odd that I really like in the latest X-Men film: reactive evolution. The ability to adapt to whatever environment you’re in. Useful? Yep. Cool? Double yep.

21. Theme song for your life? 

Clearly it’s “Handsome Man” by Robbie Williams. Right?

22. Favorite movie? 

Serenity

23. Favorite TV show? 

Castle

24. Favorite book? 

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Cheating I know but sue me)

25. Favorite quote from a movie, TV show or book? 

This, from Firefly:

Zoe: First rule of battle, Little One: Don’t ever let them know where you are.
Mal: (runs in with guns blazing) I’m right here! I’m right here! You wanna come in? Yeah you do! C’mon! C’mon!
Zoe: Course there are other schools of thought.
Mal: That was bracing! They don’t like it when you shoot at ’em. I worked that out myself.

26. One cancelled TV show you would bring back without a doubt? 

Firefly. Obviously. The show was fantastic.