I attended various continual professional development courses after the completion of my PGCE. I attended a three-day online event hosted by Cambridge Live, which consisted of continuous lectures from 4 am till 7 pm. They were on a whole host of topics, though I found a talk on positive psychology fascinating, the overall message of which was to teach students that happiness is the starting point for success, not the end. There was also a lecture on trauma after Covid-19 and how to spot it in your classroom, and several social distanced learning activities. I also attended a CPD day on live self-assessment by the Skills and Education group, though this was more aimed at teachers in managerial positions and how to assess departmental progress. Attending this day did encourage me to consider how to assess the success of a school.
Furthermore, I completed two training days and nine training modules on teaching adults ESOL, for EF First. I’ve attended three seminars held by City and Guilds on ‘Functional English and Maths in Prisons’. While I am unable to teach in prisons, the seminars have been useful in finding better ways to embed maths and English into my lessons, and the topics included on the level one and two syllabuses. I attended a talk entitled ‘Dark Matter for Beginners’, conducted by a lecturer from UCL, as the topic lends itself to philosophical discussion and could be adapted for a class discussion. I attended the ‘Further Education and Skills Teachers Group’s’ event on online teaching, which consisted of three sessions. There were many useful activates, which were mostly aimed to be compatible with asynchronous teaching, as many online courses exist with pre-recorded videos and tasks rather than having a live teaching element. Such an idea was a message board where learners can share resources.
Teaching and Learning
I taught adults ESOL online for six months with EF First. The lessons took place in classes as large as six, or one on one lessons. I would teach five to seven hours a day five days a week, also writing feedback for each student. The lessons were premade, most of my teaching decisions focused on increasing student talking time and decreasing teacher talking time. In a group class, a good way of doing this is by getting learners to ask and respond to questions going down in a line. This way, the teacher only needs to introduce the activity. I also found that classroom management is different in an online classroom. I ask all my learners to turn their microphones off and to raise their hands when they wished to answer or ask a question. This makes it easier to control class discussion and to ensure all learners have been asked an equal number of questions.
For the tutoring, I began to plan my own lessons and make PPT’s, conducting the lessons on Zoom. I have helped university students with structuring essays and with content, including Hume, Kant, and Girard. I was paid for a month block of weekly ESOL lessons by an Albanian electrician from Stratford. I decided to have three lessons focused on learning new content and the last as a recap lesson, serving as an assessment of and for learning. I also provided feedback sheets after each lesson, providing three points in three categories (what went well, even better if, do now). Under these categories, I would provide specific advice on how to address each point raised. Lastly, I helped develop three lesson plans for an art workshop with BudStudio. The workshop will be held in a primary school in Tottenham Hale, aimed to produce a design which could then be made into a mural.
I received the marks for my last PGCE assignment, for which I got 100/100! This can be seen in the link leading from my ‘CPD’ website page. I attended many academic writing workshops during my time at UCL, the PGCE helped me focus on my weaknesses. I feel much more competent with structuring essays and using a variety of modes of referencing. I’ve been writing 10-20 stories a month for Eduland, aimed at helping learners to learn English. These learners are aged between 6-16 years old. At the end of each story, I write comprehension questions to encourage deep learning. Writing stories regularly has helped me consider the features of a good narrative and what makes interesting dialogue, such as conflict. These new skills will help me hold creative writing workshops in the future.
I wrote two articles, one for Arttouchesart and another for Tutorhunt. These are now both published on their websites, and can be seen in the ‘Creative Writing’ section of my website. The first concerns Ecopoetry and how it is represented in a recently released hip hop music video. The second is an introduction to Daoism, explaining its keys texts and core beliefs. Writing these articles made me aware of the importance of having my own library of articles, which I have started to collect and store on my Google Drive. Not only is this useful for writing articles, but also for teaching, especially in higher education.