How has a year nearly passed? There has much that has happened that did not get a blog post. Why? Because I have had fingers in too many pies. I have been juggling a lot of balls, and keeping up with the blog was not high on my priority list. 2020 – must do better.
2019 was the year that I decided once and for all to make myself a qualified teacher. Not qualified in the eyes of the UK, but I have successfully completed my distance Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). I started it in January 2019 and received confirmation of my Pass (only Pass/Fail) in December. It has been a struggle, studying at night, being a mum, wife, boarding parent, a college counsellor with no reduction in my caseload until August, and Head of the House system (I write in my letters of recommendation for my students going to a US university – think Harry Potter). I put myself through it. No-one asked me to do it. School didn’t pay for it and because I was doing it for me, for the first 6 months I was doing everything I would usually do as well as studying and preparing for/writing lesson plans for my lessons and teaching the lessons and then reflecting on those lessons. The words I didn’t want to hear were the words I heard most frequently, “oh I don’t write detailed lesson plans anymore”. But I survived.
What am I teaching? Well technically I am qualified to teach anything – in reality – this is far from true. But what I have been teaching and have been given my own classes in is Life Skills. Or PSHE (personal social health and economic education). I am learning fast. The scheduled lessons with Year 10 in my first six week teaching block in February/March was SRE – Sex and Relationships. In my second week, I was assessed by a Sunderland tutor. I quickly got over any embarrassment I had, the students took a little longer but after my first teaching block, I reckoned that once I had taught SRE, everything else would be fine! And it has been. School gave me 8 periods of my own to teach this year and reduced my counselling case load.
When I started teaching the year 11s this year (they were year 10s last year), they all thought I had turned up to teach them SRE again – I showed them I wasn’t just a one topic teacher!
I last did any major studying and writing of case studies when I completed my application to be on the Children’s Panel (a solicitor who could represent children in court proceedings). But as for university level work, the last time I wrote an essay of 5000 words was probably for my law degree. I can’t even remember writing many essays for my Diploma in Legal Practice, but that is 15 plus years ago. The iPGCE (international PGCE) was something that I had seen friends go through. The husband of one of the English teachers who arrived with Martin did it when I first joined the school. Sian, my best friend in Suzhou before she left also did her iPGCE and kept telling me throughout her year that I really should get on and do mine. So I have let her say “I told you so” as I recently agreed with her that I really should have done it years ago.
I won’t be able to teach in the state sector in the UK. But I don’t want that. I am happy in boarding and teaching life skills. I will probably never know the true effect that I have on the students teaching the material that at times is confronting for them. But if they think about what they want from relationships sexual or otherwise, how they can keep themselves safe, and develop an awareness of their own mental health and have strategies for coping then I hope that I have made a difference to their lives.
So what next? will I do what Martin is doing and do a Masters? Maybe, and I might have found one I want to do. But for now I will be developing my own teaching style, learning from others and keep learning.