When I was growing up we lived not far from a well thought of Teacher Training College at Caerleon in South Wales. I harboured no desire whatsoever to become a teacher and had little or no interest in what went on there. I assumed it was mainly to do with learning to write nicely on the board. I think I must have been ahead of my time in my “philosophy” because as far as I could see there would be nothing else to learn if you wanted to be a teacher. “Just Tell ‘Em” I believe it is now called. Teachers were clever people, they knew things. All they had to do was tell others about these things e.g. dates in history, maps in geography or explain how to do things e.g. sums. Just tell the children what to do and they will do it and they will enjoy doing it. I did. Sometimes the teachers from school went on training days and this led to exciting things like curved stitching in maths and Jackdaw packs in history. Life was very straightforward. Sometimes we even had student teachers who were so clever that they could teach science as well as the recorder.
I taught English as a Foreign Language for a year in Dakar Senegal. I was untrained but had classes of motivated adults, desperate to learn English and we had some hilarious times. There was a textbook. We followed it. I was a native speaker of English and who cared about my abominable board work. They thought I said one day that Joan of Arc was burned as a steak! Lots of laughing. I tied myself in knots teaching phrasal verbs. To cut up, to cut down. Easy. To get on a bus. To get off a bus. Easy. To get on with someone. To get off with someone! More laughing. Language really is fascinating.
Fast forward to the IoE (UCL) early eighties and my wonderful MFL PGCE tutors. If only I had known all that they taught me when I was trying to teach EFL…the rest is history and enough of me.
So why, I have been asking myself for some time, has the term PGCE tutor seemingly been used almost as a term of abuse by some Tweeters and Bloggers?
I decided that we needed some positive memories of ITE. So I sent out a tweet.
“I would love to hear some memories of things people found inspiring and replicable on their PGCE courses. Apparently only bad things happen.”
Now I know that the way you phrase a question will to a large extent govern the replies. But I am not a researcher and neither are some much louder voices on Twitter who ask a loaded question, get the answers they like and then hope that these may influence government policy. I am unashamed in saying that I just wanted some good news to share – particularly with ITE tutors whatever phase they teach and in whatever structure; HE PGCE, SCITT, undergraduate level, Schools Direct, Schools Direct Salaried, GTP…all were free to comment. I thought I might, if lucky, get about 25 replies. I deliberately avoided asking the wonderful #MFLtwitterati coordinated by @joedale as I know lots of them and they know me so I thought this might seem a bit overloaded in favour of MFL.
Well…I received, and in rapid time, over 150 replies including on the main thread and by DM. Overwhelming. All positive and all so warm and many extremely tender in talking about the level of gratitude they owe to ITE tutors, school based mentors and to the schools who let them make mistakes. And many showing such respect for the children and young people who have supported them along the way in their desire to get better.
I am not attempting deep analysis or data processing. That is not my forte. Just feel good factor for me. Call me an intellectual lightweight but I leave the hard stuff to the experts.
ITE was only ever a part of my professional life and I stuck to what I know – primary and secondary languages. This is why I have, I think, a more detached view and at first did not realise that anyone was referring to me when they vilified PGCE tutors. Moi? What did and continues to strike to me is that ITE people spend so much more time than we would ever know out of hours in developing teachers – working with schools, counselling trainees, their own research, evenings spent counselling trainees and mentors by phone and email from home. Early morning coffees with struggling trainees, wobbly trainees, trainees supporting young families or with sick parents, trainees who have just lost their confidence a bit. And all the time maintaining a professional and adult relationship with those in their charge. As for the diplomacy involved – ITE tutors could offer training to the UN.
At the heart of it all is subject knowledge, phase expertise, knowledge of the deeper issues of education and society and in abundance humanity and emotional intelligence. And of course established, professional, open and supportive relationships between ITE institutions and schools.
Thank you to the following from me: David Harris, MFL lecturer, IoE (now UCL) Peter Saunders, MFL lecturer and wonderful colleague and partner in crime at Roehampton University. Sue Short – the most decent and the most creative MFL person to work with at Roehampton University. Ali Messer, Head of Secondary PGCE at Roehampton University with whom I had many a run-in about structures but never about values and who so often brought me a coffee when I was looking grumpy, Marilyn Holness at Roehampton who despite being so senior and so clever was always up for a laugh. And finally Jane Jones MFL PGCE at Kings College London – simply the best. There are many, many more…sorry to the anonymous. You are no less highly thought of.
And thank you to the marvellous @sdupp for putting in to one picture so many words
I cannot share all the replies but here are some. I could have used them all and have saved them all if anyone is interested. What is significant for me is that they do not focus solely on activities but on subject knowledge, underpinning principles of education, values and impact. Thank you everyone who contributed. Read them all at once. Read them a few at a time. It’s up to you but above all just feel good. And sorry about the formatting in places but sometimes ok just has to be good enough. and I need to share this before it is old news.
So in no particular order…
My SCITT training SEND mentor was inspirational – he taught me that the best teaching comes from getting it wrong sometimes. Learn always.
B.Ed instilled imp of giving children voice. Morag Styles taught this through poetry -amazing lecturer & beautiful results using her methods.
If it weren’t for the PGCE, I’d be a really rubbish teacher. It wasn’t until I got my first job that I had to perform for tick lists.
Best thing about PGCE was having the space to reflect at uni with people who’d been through the exact same thing. I trained at Sunderland.
My first mentor was the best. Gave critique in a positive way from which you grow from and gave me so much that I use in my teaching
Mine was absolutely brilliant at Roehampton with Peter Saunders (2002) Focus on creative ideas, behaviour support…and so much more
My tutor the late Barry Canham was inspirational. Honed my skills thru a shared passion for Spanish/LatAm music. Good guitarist too!
Dad died during PGCE. Tutor Alison Taylor (hero) supported in dark days & even got me sharing my ‘lively learning’ ideas with 80 teachers!
Went on residential with Y6 placement class. 1st time at the sea or sleep in a bed for some of the kids. Shaped every teaching encounter since.
I loved Sussex_ITE Such a range of support. Our History tutor/course Director utterly inspiring with content, style, humour, significance.
I had the most amazing
#music course from Rod Paton at West Sussex Institute of HE.
I did team teaching with an English PGCE who taught same class. So great to plan together and teach two X-curricular lessons. PGCE secondary maths at Chichester. Fab experience. Learned that attitude is everything. Adrian Pinel great tutor. Helped with MA too.
It was a great privilege and helped crystalise the understanding of what I was teaching for. Educating for fairness ever since.
She (the mentor) never realised I was struggling as much as I was. She just kept being kind and firm and resolute. Exactly what I didn’t know I needed.
Team teaching with another student. Planning together and then observing the impact – brilliant learning experience.
I had a great PGCE year at Newcastle University in the late 80s. David Westgate was the MFL tutor, he was excellent. Good placements too, with some amazing teachers. Owe them so much.
Mine was great, learned loads about delivering English knowledge and skills, great placements too. 2007/8
I loved being able to discuss lessons with a wide variety of fellow trainees all at different schools with diff experience
Visit to Linden Lodge school. Inspiring. (Linden Lodge is a school for visually impaired pupils 2 – 19 in Wandsworth)
Lots of facilitated discussion – and sometimes friendly disagreement! – amongst the cohort. Forced me to sharpen my sense of purpose
It’s where I met my wife so they’re not all bad!
We did a whoosh (performance) of The Tempest as a class seeing what active learning strategies could do for kids studying shakespeare
It inspired me to become an SEN teacher! Without that freedom to explore my interests I might not have done it.
The opportunity to deliver CPD to whole staff cohort whilst on my second placement. One of the most daunting, yet valuable things I’ve done. Great experience that has helped me enormously in my albeit short teaching career so far
Loved my BEd at Nottingham Trent.. Inspired me and gave me my ed philosophy…
An induction into the pure and unadulterated love for physics education. There are too many things to name but I’m a better teacher …because I have what feels like the continuing support of the camp pgce. People like Mark, James and showed me different facets of what is a good person and teacher.
Have to say I’m grateful for mine. Exposure to bold intellects and outstanding classroom practitioners. Gave me the confidence to teach…
Continue reading “ITE – just one picture.”