Reflecting on the PGDE

Having just graduated last week I can’t shake the feeling that after an incredible, roller-coaster-like year, the real fun is only just beginning. I am so very excited (60% of this is probably nervous excitement) about having my own class for a whole year, but before I get carried away about looking wistfully in to the future, imagining what kind of teacher I am going to be, I thought now would be a pertinent moment to reflect on the year that has just passed. One area I feel I have developed most in this ear has been my ability to reflect, so I am going to flex that muscle and wax-lyrical about my experience and how I feel the year went.

Firstly, I just want to say that the PGDE has been the toughest, most tiring experience of my life, but I would also say it has been one of the most rewarding.  The course has dramatically changed my outlook on education and I feel I have progressed to a point where I am a confident, well-informed educator as a result.

One of the main reasons for enjoying the course so much is the fact that there was a strong theoretical aspect underpinning everything we did. This helped me to fully appreciate all of the practical experiences I gained throughout the year. I now have a strong appreciation of learning theory, educational psychology, developmental theory, theory relating to assessment  and pedagogy as well as a whole host of other theories that I engage with on a daily basis. I feel that having this theoretical grounding has helped me be a better teacher and I will do all that I can to keep up to date with developments in theory and research.

The PGDE in Edinburgh structure the practical experiences as 4 placements, starting with nursery then early years, middle years and finishing with upper. I felt that the way we progressed through the placements was perfect and when we reached our last placement, taking control of the class for 3 weeks, on our own, I was more than ready for the challenge, and was actually reluctant to hand the class back to the teacher at the end. I feel that the practical placements have provided a supportive and encouraging environment that has allowed me to take risks and try new things as well as becoming fully confident with what it takes to be a teacher. I would not change the practical side of the course at all, I know there are those who would disagree, but for me it was a great experience.

On day one of the course we were split in to colour groups, and little did we all know that we would be stuck with each other for the rest of the year. Fortunately, I was in the Red group, and was together with some fantastic people that I  will definitely continue to be friends with long after the course is finished. I think the social element of having great people to bounce ideas off, support each other and just have a moan every now and then has been a huge part of getting through the course. Having a group of colleagues like this is a resource I will draw on throughout my teaching career. Sharing and exchanging ideas has been a great way to progress as a teacher and I will continue to seek out new ways to build on this network of teachers I can draw on and have a professional dialogue with.

With my reflections coming to a close I feel that I can now permit myself to think about the teacher that I was when I started the course and the teacher I am now. I have grown and developed in a professional capacity so much over the year, and feel that the PGDE has allowed me to reach my potential. I think the PGDE is an interesting course because you progress so far so quickly that it all goes past in a bit of a blur. However, it is only now on reflection, that I can take a step back and appreciate it for what it has been. I feel that over the next few years I am going to continue to learn an awful lot, and truth be told, I never want to stop. I enjoyed the academic rigor of the course so much that I am already looking at Masters and doctorate courses. Dr. Moir has a great ring to it!

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