Yesterday evening I rushed up to University to join up with my fellow trainee teachers for a final meal together. Most of them (a couple, for one reason or another, have ended up postponing their last placement and will continue in September) had just officially signed the necessary paperwork and could now call themselves ‘teachers’. It’s something that I’ll be doing in a couple of weeks too, which will be a big relief (see my last blog post if you’d like to see why!)
It was great to meet up with everyone, considering it’s the first time since April that we’ve all been together. As I’ve said many times, the P.G.C.E year is tough, but having a good group to work with makes it easier. We can look back now at the embarrassing moments early on and those times when the idea of being left alone in front of 30 excitable six year olds would have resulted in mass panic, and smile. We’ve done it – well, almost.
Of course the thing now is to get a job. Five out of my group (which, at the last count, was around 23 – we lost a few on the way) have managed to beat the hundreds of candidates to secure a school for next year. Four of those are in Manchester, which is a bit too far for me to travel. The majority of us are still looking for jobs – as I’m sure a large percentage of current students and last year’s intake are. It’s a tough career to get into, and I’ll keep banging on about that. People who ask me whether teaching would be something worth getting into are always told two things: it’s not as easy as non-teachers will have you believe, and despite all the advertising there’s a real lack of jobs out there. It’s something I think prospective teachers need to be aware of, especially as this time next year they’ll be another few thousand adding their names to the list of ‘unemployed teachers’.
Another concern is the fact that supply work could be thin in September. I’ve noticed a lot of schools seem to be taking on a floating member of staff to cover PPA or sickness, while others are using HLTAs to fill in when needs be. This saves money for the school – something that’s always going to be a priority, of course – but means that less are calling on supply agencies to help them out. So all those of us without a job could find that we’re competing with a few hundred people for the odd phone call a week to fill in somewhere.
Scary stuff if you’re hoping to be earning some money.
I’ve actually just applied for a HLTA post myself, at a school I used to work at as a level 2 teaching assistant. I’d much rather dosomething in education for a year than go and work in retail (I’ve experience of that, after initially planning to do management training at Tesco. All it did was convince me that my desire to be a teacher was overriding.) I know the money won’t be as good, but right now that’s not a pressing concern. I’m lucky in that I still live at home and have no commitments such as a family to raise, but I can really understand the concern that others have who do have such responsibilities.
I’m now into my second-to-last week of my placement, and while I’ve not been quite as energetic as P.H (pre-hospital), I’ve got through 8 days so far. It’s a shame for me personally, because I know I could do things differently at times, but I’ll admit that I’m taking the easy option at times. Simply because I’m so tired right now. Sitting down and spending hours making a blog, or designing a pretend website for the children to browse, is something I’d love to do –but not right now. After travelling the hour journey home from school, all I want to do is rest. So simple lessons seem to be the order of the day, unfortunately.
It’s not great, but I’m being honest. I could even use this as a bit of an analogy for teaching – I’m always being told that you start of enthusiastic, putting in extra hours to make resources extra special, planning lessons that will blow the children away. But eventually, with time pressing, it’s easier to photocopy that sheet from that website, and all of a sudden a weeks’ worth of SATs tests means less planning.
It’s not an attitude all teachers have, I know, and it’s certainly not one I want to be having after just nine months. I’m seriously looking forward to this summer holiday: resting, recuperating and recovering. Then I can get back in the classroom and watch as the children shrug their shoulders at the latest resource that I spent hours working on.
I just need to get a job first, of course.