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


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?


iPod Shuffle Game!

The idea for today’s post comes from my friend Kat. If you’re new here you might not realise that I have what most people would call a terrible and eclectic taste in music. Personally, I think I have a smashing taste in music, but then again if you’ve read any of the Christmas or Valentines music posts, you might be able to make a case to the contrary.

One day in our uni computer room, Kat and I decided to shuffle our iPods and see which of us had the weirdest (or worst, in fact) music come up. Needless to say, we probably should have been doing some work but this seemed more important at the time (and it’s given you a blog post to read, you lucky devils). Needless to say, this then gave rise to her idea that I should do it again some time and post the results on here.

We’d better get started then…

1. Wings – Little MixThis is one of those guilty pleasure songs for me. I know I shouldn’t like it but I cant help it! It’s really catchy, nice and happy, shiny pop music. It’s also great to have on a running playlist! Just so you don’t think I own the full album, this song did come as part of NOW83, not a specific Little Mix album.

2. Heartbeats – José Gonzalez
This has been on my iPod for as long as I can remember. I don’t know why it’s there or how it got there to begin with but it’s a lovely song anyway. I remember hearing it on pretty much every TV show around for ages and it’s just such easy listening that clearly I couldn’t help but download it!

3. Moon Boots – The Script
You know when you download a new album and then transfer the whole thing to your iPod to listen to it? I did that with 3 by The Script and up until now I didn’t know that this song existed. Listening to it now, I quite like it even though it’s pretty much like every other pop song out there. Nice and chilled out, The Script never disappoint!

4. Lets Go To The Pub – Bowling For Soup
Let’s not beat around the bush, I love Bowling For Soup. They’re my favourite band. This song is just one of those happy, catchy ones that fully emphasise why they’re such a great band: They’re relateable! Which group of friends out there hasn’t decided to go to the pub to blow off steam after having any number of crappy experiences in a  day? Or even just to celebrate having a good day? Standard fare for BFS, this song epitomises their “We like to have fun and make music” philosophy.

5. I Want – One DirectionThis song is absolutely awful. Another casualty of the “whole album shift”, One Directions first album got uploaded onto my iPod to see if it is as bad as everyone was saying. Half of it is, the other half I quite like (commence flaming in the comments…). Sadly this song falls into the first category.

6. Feel Like Home – Fort Minor
Back in my teenage years I absolutely loved both Linkin Park and rap music. Therefore when Mike Shinoda, the rapper from Linkin Park started a rap group I was in heaven. To do this day, Fort Minor make the cut for my iPod and I always love it when they crop up on shuffle.

7. Battle of Jericho – Hugh Laurie
I like all kinds of music, especially blues and soul, so when Hugh Laurie released his album I checked it out and quite liked the sound. Battle of Jericho is based upon the biblical tale of Joshua and it’s a nice song if you like this kind of music. Plus, Hugh Laurie isn’t just an actor, he can sing too!

8. My Name Is – Eminem
I went through an embarrassingly long phase in my early teenage years where I wanted to be just like Eminem, so much so that I even unsuccessfully dyed my hair blonde at one point. I thankfully out grew it (both the hair dye and the phase) but I still like the music Eminem produces.

9. Bread – Alex Day
I knew we’d get to the weird part of my iPod before long. Bread is a cover of Alex Day’s flatmates original with a more electronic/dancey feel to it. A biographical song about Flora Spread, a baker with ambition, Bread is a little weird, but I quite like it. Plus it conveys a message at the end.

10. Selfish – Daniel Powter
Most people only know Daniel Powter as a man that has a bad day but he’s so much more. His latest album is brilliant if you like the standard pop music genre like I do.

Well there you go. You’ve now had a look into the first ten songs that appear on my iPods shuffle function tonight. Maybe you liked one of them and decide to try out the band, maybe you hated all of them and think I have the worst taste in music possible. Either way, why don’t you shuffle your iPod and leave the names of the first 10 songs in a comment? Let’s see if we can dredge up some terrible songs that you forgot were on there!

Oh and if you want to know what my friend Kat’s first ten shuffle songs were then I’ll try and get her to comment them below for you! I’ll warn you now, her iPod has some right rubbish on it!



Anti Valentines Day

Well doesn’t this just suck? Valentines day, that stupid, pointless corporate sell out of a holiday designed solely to shift greetings cards and over priced heart shaped chocolates. Happy singles awareness day everybody!

As if the fact that the streets are lined with shops frantically pushing fake roses and teddy bears holding out hearts with little cutesy messages on them wasn’t bad enough, the radio stations will be playing those insipid love songs all day! Could it get any worse?

Well, cheer up my lonely, bitter pal because I’m here with 5 Anti Valentines songs that celebrate the crappy side of love. Shall we get right into it?

Up first are the Kings of anti love songs Bowling For Soup. They have so many break up songs from guy perspectives that always give you a bit of a chuckle. It’s what you need around this time! Here is the rather aptly named Not A Love Song

Have you ever been in that situation where you really, desperately like someone but they don’t seem to have a single ounce of care for your your feelings? Who am I kidding, we’ve all been there! Here’s Patent Pending with a song about it!

Anybody out there ever been dumped on Valentines Day? If so, you might want to check in with Good Charlotte and take part in their Broken Hearts Parade!

If you have, unfortunately been the victim of a cruel, cruel cheater at some point, I hope you’ll find solidarity with this next song from The Dollyrots. It’s all about those people that ruined your life and left you.

To all of you out there have been through enough and have decided you’re too hard to be hurt any more, there’s a song for you too. It’s a ska tune so it’s a pretty catchy too!

Well there we go! I hope you enjoyed the Anti Valentines music!
If for some reason you’re one of this people that like to celebrate valentines day then you can check out the alternative happy valentines songs right here: Valentines Day Songs

Bonus song:
I couldn’t not put this in for all of our poor fellows in the Friendzone. I’m sure that everybody has at some point been stuck there, through no fault of their own. Here’s another bowling for sop song about what you have to do in that situation.

Valentines Day

Well well well, it’s that time of year again! February 14th is upon us and it is well and truly Valentines Day! Whether you’re in a relationship or not, anybody can embrace the spirit of the day and spread some love around (although let’s make sure it is only love we’re spreading around, as a rather creepy email from the NHS decided to remind me).

In the spirit of the day, I’ve decided to share a few songs that could be called “Valentines Songs” if that we’re a thing. These won’t be your classic love songs and I promise I won’t put ANY Barry Manilow or Neil Diamond in and definitely no Adele. Bloggers honour.

Kicking us off, here’s a cracker from Patent Pending! Not all relationships are the standard Mills and Boon, happily ever after, perfect match scenario. Some are hard work and others are downright dysfunctional. This song really captures the element of being in love with a crazy person – a feeling I know all too well…

Next up we move on to a lovely little ditty about how, sometimes it’s true that opposites attract. This ones just charming, considering their song with Valentine in the title is about killing your crushes boyfriend. Maybe I’ll use that one next year…

Not all Valentines Day stories are about those already in a relationship. What if you’re using the day to take your shot and ask out the girl (or guy we’re all modern here) that you’ve been secretly crushing on for a while? I mean, you’ll be a huge cliché but hey! Here’s A Rocket To The Moon with a song about it.

Robbie Williams has a lot of love songs. The man writes them by the truckload. With that in mind, I really like this one which sums up why a relationship just works!

And finally, you know that feeling you get when you develop a crush on someone and you can’t stop thinking about them and talking about them and then all of a sudden your friends are getting annoyed with you and rolling their eyes every time you open your mouth because they know that its going to be “so and so said this” and “so and so looked at me today”. We’ve all been on both sides of this situation and we know it can’t be helped really, so why don’t we embrace it with this little Bowling For Soup number.

Well there you have it, five not so stereotypical love songs for you this Valentines Day. Whether you’re committed and in a healthy relationship or you’re chasing after that dream girl or guy I hope you have a smashing Valentines Day!

Oh and don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, bitter single people! Check out the SECOND part of my Valentines Day song blog for your songs, right here: Anti Valentines Songs

Bonus song:
I couldn’t leave without giving some final advice to those of you that might use today as a chance to go ahead and ask out that person that you’ve been friends with for ages. Here’s the Suburban Legends! Good luck!

Christmas Music 5 – The Finale

Oh yes, the (I sense long anticipated) finale to my late advent calender of Christmas music for you, strategically designed to end on Christmas Eve! Lets get straight into it.

Kicking us off today we have Vibeke Saugestad, a Norwegian singer and her lovely and cheery Jingle Jangle Christmas!

Barry Manilow is one of my ALL TIME favourite singers. He’s got cracking songs and a lovely sound. And the message in his Christmas song is pretty apt too!

Time for a Christmas Country crossover. Toby Keith provides all the Country music you could want this festive season!

Tim Minchin is a brilliant comedic song writer. With that in mind, when  I tell you that he has a Christmas song, I assume that you’ll be cringing in fear at the atheistic re imagining of Christmas that he would come up with. In reality, it’s just a lovely song from the heart about family and love. Not what you were expecting I’ll bet!

And finally, here we go with the biggest festive mover and shaker of recent times. This song is one of my all time Christmas favourites and fair play to you Mr Buble, you’ve done it incredibly well.

Well that’s all from me before the big day! I hope you’ve enjoyed some of these songs and I hope you’ll share them around and start to love them as much as I do!

Have a very Merry Christmas, take care of yourselves and enjoy the holiday season! I’ll be back before the New Year, you can count on that!


Christmas Music 4

Day 4 of my “late Advent calender” to you guys. If I were a more organized and inspired man I would have started a song a day from the start of December. Never mind…

To start this morning, here is another of my favourite bands at the moment, The Dollyrots. A few of my running friends have asked for Christmas songs that you can run to so here we go: The original, non-Christmassy version of this song is pride of place in my running playlist so try this festive cover on for size!

Up next, Bob Dylan! Yes, he released a new (ish) song a few years back now. No, he’s still wearing as badly. At least the song is pretty damn catchy!

Elton John. That’s a name everybody must know, and we all know “Step Into Christmas” his most famous Christmas song. Well, here’s the B-Side from that record and I think it’s not half bad…

Eels are a band that I’ve loved ever since I first heard them in the “Shrek” soundtrack. I’m not ashamed to say that either. Their Christmas song is written from the perspective of man’s best friend – the dog!

Your final song for today, here are The Wombats with a song that sounds like it’s from a little bit of a Student perspective, what with the mention of the overdraft…

Christmas Music 3

I know, it might start being a bit of a Festive Cheer overload right now, but here we go with part three of our Christmas music spectacular! This time, here are some of the slightly odder songs I’ve found, most of which haven’t gone onto my own playlist yet – though I’m sure they will do at some point!

Let’s kick it off with Patent Pending, one of my current favourite bands. Their christmas song is written about THAT girl who’s a little bit out of control. We all know one…

Jonathon Coulton, or JoCo as he’s known in most online circles has an insane ability to write songs about any subject. His triumphs so far include a song about IKEA and one written using only photos from the creative commons section of photo sharing site Flickr as inspiration. With that in mind, here’s a bit of an oddity of a Christmas tune, set in a post apocalyptic world… I warned you…

MC Lars is one of my favourite lesser known performers. Anyone that created a genre known as “laptop rap” needs some recognition. Plus, as a geographer, I quite like his environmental Christmas message.

I notice that a fair few of these songs have been a little more rock and pop based. I also know that isn’t the musical taste of some people out there. In order to counteract this matter, allow me to present to you a Hip Hop Christmas collaboration. I was incredibly happy when I found this…

Last one for today, here’s a brief Holiday song to send that one person whom you would happily throw into a pit. There’s always one of those people in your life and here’s the Holiday song for them, because why leave them out of the celebrations?