Sunday, December 18, 2016

8 Tips for your English Teacher Training Interview

I am currently half way through my PGCE year, and it seems like ages ago that I went for my PGCE interview. The UCAS application is fairly straightforward and after sending mine off I started hearing back about interviews. Beginning a new career can be a daunting experience so I hope my experiences may be of use for anybody else who is going through a similar process at the moment. 

Here are 8 tips to help you if you're facing an teacher training interview for English:

Brush up on your knowledge of YA fiction

Interviewers are going to be looking for your ability to engage with readers who are obviously younger than you are. YA fiction is hugely popular at the moment so it is important that you know as much as possible about it. They may ask you to recommend some books to read to a teenager who is disinterested in reading or who enjoys playing football, for instance. Take a look at the bestsellers list on Amazon - how many of them have you read? Yes, Jane Eyre is on the syllabus: it doesn't mean young people will enjoy reading it though!

Keep an eye on developments in the field of education

Education is constantly changing. Your interviewers are bound to ask you for your opinion on some of the many changes to the English GCSE course, so brush up on them if you're unsure. The best way to do this is to talk to teachers who are currently changing from the old format to the new - whether face-to-face or on Twitter. If you're in schools as a TA or observing, ask pupils what they make of the changes. Read teacher blogs on the changes, look for how they have adapted their teaching style and content. Keep an eye out on new developments - what's your take on grammar schools?

Spend time in schools

This is so important! Get into as many schools as possible, write to all of your local ones to get a feel for the different types of schools out there. I would also advise that if you want to teach secondary English to observe some English classes in primary schools too so you can see what is being taught there (and what you may need to brush up on in your spare time). 

Get a Twitter account

If you aren't on Twitter, make yourself a Twitter account. There's so much helpful stuff on there. Be it experienced teachers sharing resources, trainees talking about their courses, or fellow applicants going through exactly the same thing you are. Get on there and join in with the chats. You'll start to appreciate the community of teachers who are available at all hours to help. #TeamEnglish and #ITTchat are good places to start (and follow me - @ellekayem)

Stick to your strengths

If you're asked to prepare an activity, presentation or starter for a class: stick to your strengths. Choose a topic that you're passionate about and your confidence will come naturally. If you're stuck for ideas, don't forget the helpful teachers on Twitter who are sharing resources and advice constantly.

Remember that not everybody loves English

Presumably you're thinking about becoming an English teacher because you love English. Your experiences of English lessons and being told to 'read in silence!' won't have you waking up at night in a cold sweat. Not everybody feels this way. Some people struggle to read, to hold a pen, to voice their opinions in front of their peers. Always take this into consideration whether you're planning an activity for your interview or your first lesson. How will you accommodate these children? How can you make sure that English isn't a lesson that they hate?

Keep an open mind

I remember sitting in my interview for my course when they said "you know the places on the PGCE course are full?" Errrr no I didn't! They asked me if I had considered doing my training with School Direct, handed me a 30 page list of the schools they worked with and told me to choose. Don't worry if things don't go to plan - there is probably something much better suited to you and the type of teacher you will be in the future.

Know the school or course you're applying to

There are so many different training options available: why have you chosen this particular course? Or this particular school? Your interviewer is almost definitely going to ask you. Read the Ofsted report, the online syllabus, scour the website until you know everything there is to know about it. They will be impressed that you have taken the time to come to your decision and researched it properly.

Most importantly: take your time, don't panic and rush into something you're unsure of. It's a career, not a hobby. Make sure you're certain before dedicating yourself to it.

I hope that this was of some help, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to comment below or send me a tweet (did I mention how much I love Twitter!?)


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

First Month at Slimming World

It has been four weeks since I began my Slimming World journey. To be honest, it has gone so much better than I expected! My first week I was a bit disappointed as I had only lost 2.5 lbs. When you sign up they tell you about how easy people find it to lose lots of weight so I was left wondering why I had only lost 2.5lbs! The second week went a lot better and I managed to lose 4.5lbs, the following week I lost 5.5lbs and the week after that I lost 4.5lbs again.

I have lost just over a stone so far, and these are the things I've found really helpful:

- Finding different recipes to try out (I look online, in the Slimming World magazine and recipe books as well as taking recommendations from people at the meetings)

- Staying for the meeting! I've tried several groups because the first meeting I went to was a bit hopeless to be honest. I've since found a really lively and sociable group - which makes all the difference! Talking about your week and sharing ideas is really helpful and helps me refresh my focus for the week ahead.

- You have a bad moment, meal, day, or week. Okay, now you will rectify it immediately. It's so easy to just give up after you've lapsed in your diet. Every week I have lost weight, but this doesn't mean I haven't been popping into Nandos or munching on Minstrels! It just means that I make allowances for moments like those + then head to the gym or top up my speed foods!

- Take it one week at a time. A week is a long time when you're monitoring everything you eat. Having a weekly food menu so you know in advance what you'll be eating and when is so helpful for eliminating those weak moments when you would normally opt for an easier (and unhealthier) meal.

- Get out and about. Although you don't need to exercise to lose weight with slimming world, I just find it quite relaxing and even a light walk or quick swim helps me to remember what my body is capable of.

I hope you've found these tips helpful. Let me know if you have any advice or tips to share in the comments.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

A beginning to my Slimming World journey

My mum and I decided to take a leap and start attending Slimming World meetings to help support our new healthy eating regime.

For as long as I can remember I have been overweight, but now I am obese and it is definitely time to do something about it.

We went along to a local meeting where we were greeted at the door by a friendly face, our group leader. She sat us down with two other newbies and explained how the diet worked.

You have unlimited ‘free’ foods (fruit, vegetables, meat (so long as there’s no visible fat and it isn’t cooked in oil), and rice, pasta-esque items), then your healthy extras (1 dairy item and 1 bread item – these need to be weighed and monitored), and your ‘syns’ (those naughty extras are allowed so long as you keep them to 15 syns a day).

The first recipe we tried is this dinner -- perfect in its simplicity. A nice and healthy take on a British classic: fish and chips.

You can find the recipe here.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Where have I been?

On the one hand, I can't quite believe that it has been over a year since I last blogged. On the other, however, I really can believe it. I needed the time and space to want to come back to blogging - to find a purpose to blogging once again.

Blogging became formulaic. It was something that I had to do, regardless of the content quality. 

I honestly thought that I was done with blogging. 

I started a new job which was draining – the work was endless and uninspiring. The hours I worked seemed to go on forever and any chance I had of finding time to read was simply non-existent. Looking back on the past year I can't even tell you what I did with the time. It just seemed to fly by - but I feel as if I have nothing to show for it.

However, I started to work on my PGCE application, was accepted, and have now started my course. 

I am now training to become a Secondary English teacher. 

Funny how when you’re not in a job you hate you can find time for the things you love once more!

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