The One Where You Probably Should Have Been Doing Work Over the Holidays.
“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is the story we are told time after time, especially when it comes to school placement. Each time we hear it we promise ourselves that this time will be different and that surely a placement block starting in January means we will have loads of time to prepare and have a huge chunk of the paperwork done before the Christmas period ends, right? WRONG!
For me, Christmas has proved to be nothing but a tasty distraction, an intoxicating combination of binge eating and nights out (only happening because I won’t get a chance to leave the house until after placement now). The lies we tell ourselves only add to the huge challenge that is advanced school placement. Ten weeks to prove we have what it takes. A whole ten weeks, that’s two and half months!
With one week to go before the marathon commences I am faced with the following challenges:
Theme and Scéim:
Full of good intentions I met with the class teacher before the Christmas break to discuss what topics she would like me to cover, and possible themes I might use. My enthusiasm lasted for about two days, looking through books, chatting to other teachers, and concluded with a two hour Twinkl binge. Santa, in all his wonderful, Christmassy, chocolatey, wine and cheesy goodness took over then, and it is only this week I have pulled myself from the sofa to return to the grindstone.
This week I intend to complete my first scéim coicíse and lesson notes for The Arts subjects. In the past, I have sat up long into the night typing plans for the following day. New year, new me. I really don’t think twenty senior infants will appreciate a tired teacher trying half-heartedly to entertain them.
Once I have a clear idea of what I will be covering in my lessons I will begin to gather resources. Again, my great plans for prepping over Christmas amounted to writing name labels for the children in the class, and rescuing some packaging and old containers from the recycling bin that will be used when teaching 3D shapes. I have promised myself that online searches for resources will be limited to a set amount of time, having previously lost a day or two to Pinterest.
A shopping trip later in the week will see me picking up such luxuries as paper and card, laminating sheets, Blu Tac, printer ink, pens and pencils, stickers, and if I really feel like treating myself – some fancy white board markers. While we are lucky to have such an abundance of wonderful resources available to purchase in shops and online, the hidden costs of school placement are not usually highlighted by teaching colleges.
Resources can be expensive, and ten weeks is a long time to be going without your usual salary. This applies especially to people with families, and those with expenses such as mortgages and rent, travel costs to get to your school, additional childcare costs, student loan repayments, and that’s before you ever buy the recommended books, the flashy puppet, or a printer cartridge. It’s tough, but it won’t last forever. We might even win the Lotto before March arrives.
The Fear covers everything! Not only the grogginess from the last night out and over eating, but all the questions and worries you have without even thinking of curriculum strands or planning.
What to wear? Where to park? Where are the toilets? Is it allocated seating in the staff room? Do I bring my own cup? Is it frowned upon to eat a chocolate bar for lunch? Am I the only one here not from the parish? Is that other teacher hard of hearing or is she really just ignoring me?
The Fear sneaks up when you least expect it, but has definitely been encouraged by the excessive questioning from relatives asking how is college, and when are you back in the schools again. No matter how many times they tell us the ten weeks will fly by and we will be well able for it, there is always the want to scream that they have no idea what is about to happen. This is a mountain, our Everest. We have come so close, but have a huge obstacle to face. The end is in sight but the struggle to get there is very real.
So, in this final week to prepare find out exactly what is required from you in terms of paperwork, organise your folders, gather your office supplies essentials, plan as much as you can, rest, see your friends, prepare your family for the terror you will become in four weeks, and breathe. You will get through this. Is féidir linn. When your sleep is interrupted by nightmares of everything going wrong during a dreaded inspection just repeat the mantra “No one ever died on school placement”
And if you find a confused looking student teachers in your school, please be nice to them!
This post is the first in a series of guest blogposts from a ‘stressed out student teacher’. She will write a blogpost every week during her 10 week placement.