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September 25, 2010

Opening Words

So I sit here, exhausted after one of the busiest and most information-packed weeks of my life, and try to find the words to write a reflective journal. This journal, I'm told, is to be a professional, reflective examination of recent events on the PGCE Secondary Drama with English course and how they affect my evolution as a teacher.

It's hard to find the words to write professionally when you don't feel like you're a professional yet!

Oh, I'm perfectly confident that this excellent course will provide me with everything I need to enter the world of teaching. I'm confident in my knowledge and my ability as a potential teacher. But it still feels like yesterday that I was looking at teaching as something that would be done in the future; now, it's an all-pervading part of the present.

For a session this week, we were asked, in small groups, to note down as part of a display any aspect of our previous knowledge that we felt would help us in our progression through the course. The resulting effect of this exercise was one of mild awe: we are a group of 21 immensely experienced, talented theatrical experts and, from an academic and professional point of view, I can think of nothing more exciting than continuing the journey with these people as my support and supporting them in return.

The one thing that does fill me with a sense of foreboding is lesson plans: I find it easy enough to take a piece of work and think 'Oh, yeah, simple, perfect for a creative writing exercise' or 'A few quick rhythm games and then a readthrough of the text and this lesson's golden' but fitting that into a workable, referential framework that can prove its objectives and merits - that's the hard part. Teaching is like an alien language to me at the moment, full of objectives, outcomes, WILFs and WALTs and levels and standards . . .

The instinct, the passion and the desire to educate - they're all here, ready to work. The framework and the understanding to take the instinct, passion and desire and turn that into enjoyable, exciting and engaging lessons - well, that's what the PGCE's there for, right?

September 23, 2010

First impressions

The main thing that the first three days of the PGCE have taught me is the need to organise. Having spent the first three days here meeting a vast number of people, taking in a huge amount of information and, frankly, doing a stupid amount of miles up and down the motorway every day, my mind is now utterly spinning.

But somehow, half way through day four, it has started to make sense. The reason? I have made notes. I have started using my diary. I have put a wall planner on the wall. I have declined an invitation to a wedding my attendance was requested at (thankfully not my own) and I will be catching up on work, all day - although I will try and make it to the evening 'do', if I am still awake.

Why? So I can spend Sunday with my wife and son (THIS IS IMPORTANT) and so I can arrive here on Monday next week, hopefully, feeling if not refreshed then at least slightly more on top of things than I was at the start of this week.

I'm sure my head will still be swirling, but hopefully not quite as fast. I am ticking boxes, I know. Meeting entry criteria, reading chapters, writing assignments, finding the right room at the appointed time - and hopefully taking in what I am told, sorry, what I learn through a variety of learning styles (VAK anyone?), as I - we - leap another week closer to our first day in school.

On another note, I reflected today what a wonderful place drama spaces are. We are lucky. Ours is great. But a drama space only exists as a drama space if it is defined and continually reaffirmed as a drama space.

With the addition of two dozen desks, ours could become any other classroom - even an exam hall. But it was affirmed as a drama space, and reafirmed as a drama space . . .  and creativity flowed. It was amazing to see the creativity in the room, and the bravery, particularly from those not so used to 'getting on their feet'.

So, with this in mind, I now know than anywhere can become a drama space - a school hall, a temporary classroom, a disused changing room. It doesn't need a nice wooden floor, expensive black drapes, or stage lighting (although these help). It just needs people with the desire to create, and the good nature to support each other. And that is a very encouraging thought.