The past year has presented many challenges and, for university students, there was lots of uncertainty around how teaching and work placements would be able to go ahead remotely. For those of us wanting to complete a PGCE placement year, the pandemic has meant that we’ve had to adapt not only to new ways of university teaching, but also to working with the schools we were placed at as they navigated various restrictions.
I was slightly nervous and unsure of how my university experience was going to be at the beginning of the year, but Leeds Trinity has worked really hard to make sure that students still got the most out of the course. The lectures have been engaging and I quickly managed to get to grips with online learning. At first, I was a little worried about using Microsoft Teams and interacting with the group online, but lectures were well planned, and everything was easily accessible.
Leeds Trinity University guided us through the year by being very responsive to emails and sending regular updates and information to support us through the ongoing uncertainty, which in turn meant that my PGCE placement was able to go ahead with relative ease.
The fact I was able to progress with my placement experience is something I’m extremely grateful for. It’s been fantastic, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve been able to go to school every day and the safety measures put in place by the school ensured that teaching could operate as normally as possible. I don’t feel as though I’ve missed out, as I have still been able to teach according to the PGCE programme guidance. If anything, I feel like I have benefitted more from being able to experience both classroom based and remote teaching.
The remote teaching side of things has helped me become more adaptable and to face any future challenges head-on. I used technology that I hadn’t used before and so gained confidence in IT. I was also involved in researching engaging and motivating content, which is particularly important for children learning remotely, and was something I might not have otherwise had the opportunity to do.
Working with younger children meant that I had to ensure the learning instructions and language were accessible for parents and carers, as they are often the ones supporting the children through the tasks online. I was not only giving feedback to children but also responding daily to the feedback of parents and carers about how the children had engaged in an activity. This was valuable for the assessment process and used to plan further activities.
At times I was teaching partly in the classroom and partly remotely, and this helped me to strengthen my time management skills. This could be challenging – as I needed to ensure that lesson planning, marking, feedback and assessment were all up to date for both groups – but it was also highly rewarding.
Whilst doing the PGCE course, I met many other students on the same journey as me and sharing our experiences was a great support. We all found our lectures really enjoyable as they enhanced our skills and knowledge, giving us the confidence to complete our placements during the pandemic.
I’ve really enjoyed my PGCE, especially watching children learn and progress while also gaining confidence and developing as a teacher myself.
The Leeds Trinity lecturers ensured that the programme was enjoyable and engaging despite the challenges that we faced. The course pushes you to develop, not only as a teacher but also in terms of your broader skills. Having to balance school-based training with lectures and assignments is demanding, but so worthwhile, especially when you meet your end goal and gain QTS!
Find out more about teacher training routes at Leeds Trinity University.
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