‘Have you got anything for September?’, ‘I got offered a job the other day.’ ‘That’s great, at least you’ll get your Dip started’. The Dip; two words that cause a sense of fear and confusion. Ever since day one of college people have been talking about this famous ‘Dip’. Still to this day its relevance hasn’t been properly explained using simple terms. Four years of college is finally finished and now this is the final hurdle.
For me personally this is my first year out from college. Trying to find your feet, get yourself organised, tackle the Dip, teach and look after your class is tough going. If it was an Olympic sport I’m sure the world’s best athletes would find it hard.
Applying for the Dip
I applied for my Dip straight away once I knew that I’d have a contract for the year. I wanted to put off applying for a while but the thought of the inspector looming is enough motivation to start the paperwork. Teaching practice, in a sense, prepares you for the paperwork which is needed; termly and weekly plans. It did take me a few weeks to realise that I was planning for my own class and not a class that I was going to hand back to the teacher after four weeks.
Before beginning I planned to be prepared and to have all my plans and resources finished by Saturday. However, you can still find me editing plans at five on a Sunday evening but God loves a trier! The main thing is that the plans get done in time and teacher isn’t too stressed on Monday morning. I’ve quickly come to realise that you can’t plan for every single moment of every lesson or you would be planning all the time. Having your own class allows you time to go with the flow while covering the content in a manageable way for your class.
Finding your feet
There is loads of advice based on doing the Dip. However, there is no hard or fast rule that will tick every box for every teacher. The biggest and probably one of the best lessons is finding what suits your situation best and adapting any advice, materials and resources to suit your class. Trying to modify your class to suit resources you have found will only end in chaos and twenty confused faces looking at you.
Discovering what works and what doesn’t takes time… especially seating arrangements. Will I leave the tables in groups? Would rows work better? Can they see the board from here? Will someone block their view? Every time I rearrange the seats I ask myself these questions. Even if I can answer yes to all of these there will be problems that need fixing once the children have their new seats. It’s all trial and error and if something doesn’t work, cut your losses and learn from your mistake or reflect on what you could do instead. It’s a learning environment not just for the children but for the teacher too.
I don’t hold the answers to how to survive doing the Dip but I’m one person who is willing to share my own personal experiences in a hope to help others who may be in the same situation. If you find yourself fixing plans on Sunday evening after two weeks off don’t worry… you’re not alone!
This is the first in a series of blogposts – ‘Surviving the Dip’ by a teacher completing her DIP this year!