PGCE English: first half term as a trainee teacher

I’m typing this in the evening of the third day back after half term and I am already exhausted! The half term was not really a break as up until Wednesday 5pm-ish I was working on my assignment which felt like a dissertation. It was very different to the essays I wrote on my undergrad to say the least! I was away from Wednesday to Friday evening and when I got back I didn’t do 85% of the work I had intended to do. The list of things to do is endless and obviously, lesson planning and marking makes its way to the top and uni admin slips to the bottom again. But, I need to keep on top of the admin otherwise I will fail this year if I can’t keep my evidence to prove I can work at qualified teacher status. I have fully taken on a year 9 set since the week before half term, and until Christmas I will teach them. Next week, I’m going to be acquiring my year 8 class and then in a few weeks I’ll take up my year 7 set; both sets which I’ll also teach till Christmas . The pace at which things are moving at is crazy! At the moment, I’m being observed once a week as a requirement to ensure that the quality of my teaching is progressing but, to be honest, I request more observations just because I want feedback for most of the lessons teach.

I’m starting to feel apart of the school as more and more time goes on as the kids don’t give me that look anymore – you know the one ‘you don’t belong to my school’. I also think I’m building a rapport with the kids as I teach more and more through classroom interactions and marking their books. It’s a nice feeling when they say ‘Thanks, Miss’ (note to any trainee: only some (like two) say this). I’ve also become a co-tutor to a tutor group which I don’t know if I feel apart of, but I am helping 75% of them put together their tutor assembly, which they have to present in front of the whole house, so I’m hoping I’ll get to know them better through that.

I would love to teach in a school like the one I am in at the moment, even though it’s not perfect, but perhaps not that school. It lacks the cosmopolitan feel to it that I had at the school where I went to and would want to teach at. Hmm, I don’t know. Perhaps, when I move back up north after my PGCE I’ll apply for schools in inner Manchester. To be honest, for the second phase of my PGCE (second phase starts after xmas at a school where I do a six month placement) I have requested an inner city Portsmouth school but my lecturer has said she can’t make any promises. Sometimes, I think my mentor could be better – I mean she’s lovely – but so busy because she teaches a full time table along with being head of English and also mentoring me! There’s another trainee on the English department but she’s training via Schools Direct and when I see her and her mentor bantering and just chatting I feel a bit mehh, whereas my mentor it seems like its 95% formalities and civil/small talk. It’s only till Christmas anyway I can endure it.

As for uni, I have made some really good friends. It takes me a while to adjust to people -it also made me feel homesick and miss my old uni- but as more time has gone on I’ve forged some friendships. I’ve been out with them once and I think being out of that uni environment and just chilling – regardless we were talking about teacher stuff- meant that we got to know each other.

Anyway, that is it for now! I hope to write soon, if not I will update when I can.

 

Happy new year it’s finally February!

I’m so glad it’s finally February. I don’t know I woke up this morning and I thought Thank the Lord January is done with! I’m not someone that suffers with “January blues” because I don’t celebrate Christmas and I don’t really partyyyyy-partaaayyyyy for New years so I don’t feel that much excitement in December to feel low in January, but this year was different.

I don’t really know but New years Eve I usually enjoy it I watch the fireworks and the countdown, and send everyone texts but the on the eve of 2014 I was just like whatever, same sh*t different date, and because I knew I was being a party pooper I just isolated myself. I didn’t watch the countdown and fireworks, I didn’t send anyone the customary “Happy new year” texts – I basically didn’t wish anyone a new year and anyone who wished me a happy new year was basically ignored-, and I just kind of was sitting on my bed like why is everyone partying about the date changing, and I think that effected the whole of January. Obviously, the 9th of January was like the deadline of all deadlines because final pieces of work for semester one was due, and then after that I still just wanted to be by myself, I didn’t want to celebrate my freedom from exams and essay deadlines, and anything could put me in a foul mood. I kind of just fell of the wagon of life but the wagon was still zooming round the track and pushing me further and further in to the ground each time. I stopped eating healthily and stopped going to the gym, and I just avoided any social interaction altogether, I just slept or just spent time in a room constantly, and I just wanted January to be over. I don’t know if I was in some sort of “depression” and I don’t really want to use that word to describe my state because I think it’s a word that’s thrown around a bit too much, and oversimplified. Maybe, I’ll call it a “rough patch” or “a short-term loss of perspective” I don’t know, you know what I mean though?

So, when I woke up this morning, and put on my gym gear and went to the gym I felt so productive, and I feel more positive like a I’m not being steam rolled by life into the ground but I’m actually back on the wagon holding onto the reigns. These last 31 days have been a drag but I’m back with full force, and I feel so energetic and ready to give it my all. So, here to a better late than never welcome to 2014.

Happy new year!

What’s it like not celebrating Christmas?

No, I don’t celebrate Christmas – this is the part where people usually gasp in shock– and I never have done because it’s not a part of my religion. I know that most people in England don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious festival, but more of a cultural festival, but I guess growing up in a sort of hybrid bi-culture, a mix between English and Asian, and not being Christian its meant that celebrating Christmas would be like going to your next door neighbours nieces boyfriends parents 50th wedding anniversary.  Basically something you aren’t meant to be at.

To be honest, I’ve never really felt like I’m missing out even when I lived in my grandparents house,  which is in a village, and I went to a small school where I was the only Asian child, and the only Muslim. It was only awkward when we’d have to write what we did on Christmas day, and what we got ect because for me Christmas day is just another day. I just use to make it up and pretend because I guess the teachers didn’t really know how to respond when I told them I did nothing. Mainly when I was younger is watch the films on TV on Christmas day, but this year I spent Christmas day writing my English language essay.

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During secondary school my group of friends and I would exchange “Christmas-Eid” presents. It was a great collaboration of two festivals  even though the date for Eid changes every year, and there are two Eids a year.  It was fun. I guess Eid is an equivalent to Christmas because we get excited for it, we get new clothes, we get presents, we make loads of food,  we spend time with family. I think Eid should be made into a national holiday too I’m sure no one would mind.

I still love the lights and decorations and things about Christmas. I love the family aspect to it, and  even though my family don’t  celebrate Christmas, Christmas is the perfect day for a family gathering. I can tell you from experience on Christmas day all the cars on the motorway are people who don’t celebrate Christmas zooming to distant places where they have relatives.

Big cities like London, Birmingham, and Manchester, which have some areas that are predominantly Asian actually just stay open.  I know in Manchester the Curry Mile is open on xmas day and people go out to eat, but where I live everything is closed, but I like it how it’s kind of so quiet.  I was looking out my window and I saw a family park up,  and they’d bought they’re camping chairs with them.  I assume it’s because whoever they were visiting didn’t have enough,  but still it’s quite funny.

Yeah so that’s all I had to say I just wanted to share my perspective, but I hope everyone had an enjoyable day to everyone celebrating.

Happy holidays to everyone.

Dissertation meet up & first draft | Dissertation Diaries #7

So in my last dissertation post I said I was going to see my supervisor on the the Thursday, however I ended seeing him today because on Thursday public transport let me down!

So I went to see him, and obviously he’s read the introduction, and the first “chapter”, so at first we discussed the second and third “chapters” I haven’t written yet, and gave me some ideas. I realised one of the flaws in my dissertation was the bit that compared Lucy from ‘Dracula’ with Antonia from ‘The Monk’ because their situations are very different, and really they weren’t compatible. However, the similarities they do have such as their beauty, which is emphasised in both texts, and and their deaths, tie them together enough to come up with an interesting argument. If they were too alike then the essay wouldn’t really be interesting, and they have enough differences in character to discuss how they are  made abject in different ways. I think it will be an interesting fusion to discuss the themes of beauty and death in Lucy and Antonia, and hope it’ll be something a bit different. I was telling G-Dubbs that there was very few works  comparing the female characters from both novels in secondary reading (even though there’s a lot comparing religion in both books), so I’m having to bring together lots of different articles to create my own sort of argument which he said was good because “there’s no point in writing about something that’s already been written if you can’t put your twist on it, or just dropping in quotes that you agree with to ornament your essay”. I also told him about what I’m going to discuss for the character Agnes from ‘The Monk’, who is a abject mother” and he said it was good. Agnes is a stand alone in my dissertation because there’s no one to compare her to from ‘Dracula’, whereas in chapter 1 and 2 obviously I’m drawing parallels between Mina and Matilda, and Lucy and Antonia. I actually have names for each of the “chapters” but I can’t put them on here because they might pick up for plagiarism, even though it won’t be plagiarism because I’m writing about my dissertation on my own blog, but still I’m being cautious.

The other point he made is that in my draft I overused the word “abject”, and that by doing that the point was just getting a bit overdone. He advised instead to only use the word abject at the end of each point rather than all the way through because then it will have more significance and pull the strings of my argument together better. Also, In some places he said that my analysis was good but I needed to fill it out with some quotes just so it shows I’m keeping to the point, and not going off on a tangent. Some of the quotes that are embedded in the text I didn’t follow up with a page number which we have to do for our referencing style, however I missed them out because when I was doing the draft because I was also doing my Modernism essay, which wasn’t a draft, so I will put the page numbers when I do the final piece. Another pointer he gave was that when mentioning a critic or secondary source for the first time give their full name, or the full title of the work, and then it can be abbreviated for any other mentions throughout the essay, for example I might introduce Julia Kristeva, but after that point I can refer to her as Kristeva. This isn’t something I’ve ever been picked up for before, but he’s the guy marking my dissertation so I want all the brownie points off him. I think it also gets read my a moderating board just to check I’ve been given the right mark ect.

Overall, he said it was a promising first draft, and my writing was good, and that I’d obviously realised some of the pot-holes in what I had originally proposed, and thought of ways to to make the argument work.

That’s really it! I don’t know if I’ll do another dissertation diary post before my final hand-in because I’ve got a language essay to write, and an exam to revise for, and this to finish too, so my blogs probably going to be quiet. I do have one or two “here’s one a prepared earlier” posts which I will post but after exams I will be back to blogging!

If you haven’t already please subscribe, I have 90 followers, and I would love to get to a 100!

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If you haven’t read all my dissertation posts then you can read the whole series of posts I’ve done it!

First dissertation post

Second post

Third post

Fourth post

Fifth post

Sixth post

 

Dissertation reading | Dissertation Diaries #1

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I’ve finally finished reading for my dissertation which is going to based on these two books. I started off reading ‘Dracula’ which I was meant to read for one of my modules in summer term but never finished  it.  I have to say it’s a good read but in some places it does drag. If you’ve read this book you can totally  see why it’d appeal  to the Victorian reader and their  longwinded-ness (I’m unsure if that ‘V’  should be capitalised? Don’t judge me).  The other book I’ve read for my dissertation is ‘The Monk’ which  eventhough has quite a packed narrative,  by packed I mean Lewis  probably could’ve written the book in less words,  the read itself is quite gripping. I actually finished  it quicker than ‘Dracula’.

I wouldn’t say my dissertation reading is done because  I’ve got to do some secondary reading that supports what I’m going to argue in my dissertation. No one’s  going to take my flimsy undergrad statements as persuasive  if I don’t  find material  that kinda  sorta  backs it up,  c’monn.  My argument is how the female characters are constructed in the Masculine Gothic which is the genre of these two novels. I would put my actual working title up for my dissertation but I don’t know if that’d flag up as plagiarism when they check your text against the Internet. I’m being extra careful.

This isn’t the only reading  I’ve got to do before uni starts  I’ve got to read novels  for my other  core  English  Literature module  too,  ‘Modernism’,  which includes the hefty beast of a read ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce along with 5 other novels,  and another  few books  for other modules. I’ve got so much reading to do  but I really want to be on top of my game for my final year at uni. Okay,  I should  probably stop rambling  now and do some reading!

Byeee!

Question: Can you read English?

Most of the time when I’m at home I either have on my pajamas’s or my Asian clothes on. Now unless your Asian or your like a cultural hybrid (where your ethnic culture is different to that of the culture of the country you live in) you’re probably thinking why I’m differentiating my Asian clothes from like my jeans, skirts, tops, and shirts and it’s because I only wear my Asian clothes at home, when I’m visiting relatives, or either at weddings or Eid. My Asian clothes perhaps represent a different part of my identity to the clothes I’d wear out or to uni and stuff.

Anyway, this morning I was just sitting around in my living room flicking through TV when a man knocked at my door. So, I opened the door and this is how the conversation went:

Me: Hello

Man: Hi there, I’m just promoting this magazine it’s about nature, world geography, global issues and things would you be interested?

Me (thinking it’s some sales ploy): No thanks

[ My mum (from upstairs in Bengali): Who is it?

Me (in replying in Bengali): Oh, just a sales person.]

Man: It’s free and very interesting

Me: Oh, okay sure I’ll have one.

Man (flicking through showing me some pictures of the rainforest): Can you read English?

Me (brain thinking what did he just ask, mindlessly but politely answers): Yeah

Man (Hands me the book): Good girl, here you go, have a good day.

Me: Thanks, you too.

So, as I closed the door still completely baffled by the question “Can you read English?”, “Can you read English?”, “Can you read English?”, “Can…. you… read… English?”. It really kind of hit me when he said that because I’ve been born and bought up in England, England is my home, and English is the language I use most. Even though I’m bilingual and speak, read, and understand Bengali my writing in Bengali is very basic. Moreover, the fact I study English Literature and English Language at uni shows that English is my “thing”, the study of English is what I’m dedicated too, and to be asked “Can you read English?” seemed pretty insulting and an ignorant question to ask. The “good girl” that follows it is perhaps is even more patronizing what made him think I couldn’t read English. I probably should have replied back to him with something sarcastic like “why, don’t you offer a reading service? or “Why is this book exclusive to English readers?, or something but I didn’t I wasn’t quick witted enough.

I don’t understand why he needed to even ask that. I wondered if he assumed that I was new to living in England or perhaps that my Asian attire made him assume that I’m a girl from a “backdated” culture that suggests I wouldn’t know how to read English. Was it because I switched from English to Bengali to English with no hesitation why did he ask “Can you read English?”. I don’t even know it just bugged me inside and it still kind of is. Does he think the tribes of people in the rainforest would be able to read English? Does he think all the tree’s cut down every year are made in to paper only for the English language and it’s readers? I don’t know but I find it ironic that this person is promoting educational literature about the rainforest, nature and stuff and in some way that question made him seem like he was from a superior culture because he assumed I couldn’t read English.

My street is pretty mixed with all sorts of people from all over the world so, I just feel like either this guy was ignorant or just offensive. If you didn’t think I could read English then you should’ve left when I said “No, thanks” but anyway, I just found it a weird and irritating experience like someone was questioning such a big part of my identity. I just find that uncomfortable someone was trying to make my identity different to theirs, inferior even.

Or perhaps I’m reading too much into it? What do you think?

Picture from a studentea life

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Yes tea represents Britishness but in my eye’s tea is the symbol  of a hard working student.  A student keeping the speed of thier thoughts at the optimum.  Tea is the petrol  of the mind,  the courage of the heart, and the energy of a student who has left thier assignment to the last minute.

As you can see,  I’m a lazy being who doesn’t take my cup downstairs,  washes it and makes a new cup.  No,  I must dirty ALL the cups. I feel quite satisfied  with this collection.

Also,  does anyone find that they must have a stainless steel spoon  in thier tea for it to taste right or is it just me who likes a hint of the metallic flavouring?

If you’re  a lover of tea say ‘TEAAAAA’ or whatever you call it perhaps  a brew,  cuppa,  or chai in the comments or how you like your  tea,  sugar?  Milk? Tea bag left in?  I’d  love to know!