Sunday, 19 June 2016

Top Tips for a PGCE

Hello! I'm guessing that if you're reading this you're about to start, or are thinking of starting, a PGCE. If you're not, I'll just warn you that this might not be the most entertaining post to read, you weirdo!
PGCE Primary KS1 Placement Experience

I've just completed a PGCE in primary education, and I'm currently waiting on some marks back from assessments before I gain my qualified teacher status. The job hunt is on and I'm feeling very sick with nerves at the idea of my NQT year. Before I started the PGCE back in September 2015, I was constantly Googling questions about the PGCE and stalking the forums on The Student Room. As a course rep, I've been asked to speak to future PGCE students at the pre-course day and this has caused me to think of some advice. I thought I would compile a little list of tips that might be helpful to anyone thinking of studying a PGCE.

1. Don't read the PGCE thread on The Student Room.
DON'T DO THIS! I was religiously reading this thread where students currently on the PGCE would write about their experiences. They were all negative experiences and everyone sounded like they were having the worst year of their lives. It made me feel so nervous for the course and I honestly believed I would drop out by Christmas. I even told my boyfriend that we'd probably break up by the end of the course! Obviously, these people were only posting because they were having bad times. The people who were managing on the course had no reason to post, because they didn't need help! It's very important to remember that. But more important to stay away.

2. Make friends with the people on your course.
This is so important. Nobody understands the pressure of a PGCE except teachers who've done the course, your course leader/tutors and your fellow students. Boyfriend complaining that you're spending too long planning on an evening? Whinge to your course mates. Teacher changed the planning last minute and needs it sent by 7pm that evening? Ask your course mates for lesson ideas. Nervous about an observation? Ask your course mates for tips! Need to get drunk on a Saturday evening? Get your course mates out! They really are a valuable support network and understand what you're going through completely. I made a really great group of friends and I just know I wouldn't have gotten through the course without them.

3. Stay on top of your targets.
Nobody wants to be in the position of writing out three weeks' worth of targets before your link tutor comes to look at your placement files. Trust me, I've been there and it wasn't ideal. I had so much else I wanted to focus on, but I needed to make sure all my targets were there. They seem like a pain, but they are actually helpful and continue on to your NQT year - so they need to get done! Think about what you want to develop in your practice - behaviour management? Use of talk partners? Get them in your targets!

4. Develop your subject knowledge as you go.
As you're on a one year course, your seminars and lectures won't cover everything you need to know. Sentence types? Fronted adverbials? You're going to have to learn them on your own! Long division? Might not get covered at university! Seminars are there to teach you HOW to teach these things, not what to teach. But what you shouldn't be doing is revising the whole curriculum in your PGCE year. When you're on placement, find out the planning for that term. Oh, you're teaching direct speech, story writing, Vikings and multiplication? Revise those as and when you need to.

5. Keep in touch with your academic/university link tutor.
This might differ depending on your university, but at Sheffield Hallam we had an academic tutor for the university side of things, and a university link tutor for the school-based training side of the course. Within my group of friends, we did have a few issues with our course (nothing too bad, though!), and always our advice to each other was to consult our tutors to see what they said. My link tutor was fantastic, and really gave me loads of support when I needed it. My academic tutor was the course leader (so thankful for that) and she was OUTSTANDING. She'd reply to emails within the hour - even when she was away! They're there for a reason - don't suffer in silence!

6. Get stuck in with your placements from the first day.
This is something I wish I'd done. We had two long placements - one in KS1 and one in KS2. I wish I'd got stuck in a bit more from the beginning of the placement instead of stepping back and getting through the first few weeks. Get the teachers on your side, ask them for advice and most importantly: tell your mentor/school-based tutor what you need! Policies, class list, pupil targets, assessments, signatures, weekly review meetings etc. Make sure they understand what they need to do so you're not getting it all done in your last week!

7. Evidence, evidence, evidence.
I think your evidence varies from university to university. You will need to collect evidence to show you're achieving the teachers' standards. Not heard of those yet? You will! They're basically 8 sentences that describe a teacher's job. You'll be assessed against these throughout your teaching career, so you've got plenty of time to get to know them. In your file you will need to prove you're achieving these. At SHU, it's pretty relaxed in terms of physical evidence but I've seen a few universities asking for files and files of the stuff. All I needed to do was collect work and assessments from three focus children in my class. Start collecting evidence from the first day!

8. Most importantly: don't compare yourself to anyone else.
In my group of friends, most of them finished with a 1 or 1* overall. I'm so proud of them and they've worked so hard to achieve these grades. I finished with a 2 overall and I can't help but compare myself to them. The truth is, we've all had different placements and experiences. The grades are decided by your school-based tutor so it's very subjective. I need to focus on the progress that I've made and the experiences I've had. You never know what grade you'd get if you were at a different school. We've all worked incredibly hard and have made it to the end.

I really hope these tips help you. If you've got any to add, leave them in the comments. If you've still got any questions, leave them below or you can find me on Twitter @rachaelamyreads

Rachael Amy

Follow Rachael Amy Reads on:


Monday, 6 June 2016

Why Do We Love Books So Much?

If you're anything like me, you'll love nothing more than browsing through numerous bookshops and drooling over all the beautiful books. Not much makes me happier than sitting amongst piles of pristine, amazing-smelling, wonderful books. But why? What is it about them that makes us so happy?
Look at these beautiful old books! #bookstagram #books #bookbloggers

Let's be honest now. Does anyone ever read all the books they buy? Or do they keep them on their shelves, ready to be flicked through or stared at any moment to bring instant joy. If I'm completely honest, I don't read even 50% of the books I buy. I will eventually, but at the moment my buying/reading ratio is very off balance. Normally, I would never buy anything I didn't plan on having a use for. But for some reason, it seems perfectly acceptable to do this with books.

Take, for example, these Shakespeare books I bought from a charity shop. Do I like Shakespeare? He's ok, I wouldn't choose to sit and read his work but I like Henry V. So why did I buy them? Well, they look beautiful for a start. And they were cheap. And they'll look good on my bookshelf. I'll feel happy when I look at them! They smelt really old! I like the pretty colours! Is this a good enough excuse, or am I judging a book by its cover?
Bought these amazing #Shakespeare books from a charity shop! #bookstagram #books #bookblogger

Why do I get so much enjoyment out of books I haven't read yet? Is it the anticipation of reading them? The beautiful covers? Am I just a crazy hoarder that will very soon be living in a library? Do I need to go on a TV show and have someone clear my house out?

Please tell me you're the same as me? I can't be the only one who reads books I might never get round to reading! If you are as book crazy as I am, let me know in the comments: why do you love books so much?

Rachael Amy

Follow Rachael Amy Reads on:


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Where I've Been & Catch Up

Hello there! I'm not sure who exactly will be reading this as I haven't blogged for a good few months. I'll actually be surprised if someone other than my boyfriend and my mum (hi) end up reading this.
Such a relaxing bed 😊 #bedroom #interiors #newhome #oliverbonas
So, yes. I haven't written on this blog for a good few months - since I hosted a day of the Elemental blog tour. Have you read that book yet? It's great, you should. ANYWAY. Where exactly have I been?

Well, I've been finishing my PGCE. The placement side of it, anyway. I still have two deadlines looming hence why I've decided to restart this blog. Procrastination probably should be my middle name. I've posted a little bit about my PGCE on here before, but I've never really gone in to too much depth. Mainly because I'm not sure if anyone is interested in hearing about it (if you are, catch me on Twitter @rachaelamyreads) and also because it was such an exhausting process that I've almost blocked it from my memory and dread thinking about anything education based. It was a great experience and I've had a fantastic time, but now I need to focus on the job search and having a grand old time relaxing until September.
I did it! 🎉
What else have I been doing? Well, mainly just that. Seriously, you don't get much of a life on a PGCE. I have, however, just acquired a new house. I say acquired, my boyfriend and I have bought it. We're now living in sunny Basford in Stoke-on-Trent. Although I do like to say we live in Newcastle-under-Lyme because it's a little bit nicer and we TOTALLY live on the border. Also, the house isn't new. It's ONE HUNDRED YEARS OLD. So we've had the task of re-plastering the walls; ripping out the skirting boards, dado rails and architrave and pulling up the carpet. It's been a long job but we're about ready for the joiner to come in and give us pristine skirting boards and a nice new wooden floor.

Other than that, life has been boring and uneventful. I haven't even had time to read any books! I have just started The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie though and I am enjoying it greatly!

What's new with you?
Is anyone actually reading this?
Say hello if you are!

Rachael Amy

Follow Rachael Amy Reads on:


Saturday, 13 February 2016

Extract & Blog Tour: Elemental


PAGES: 448

FIRST LINE: "That boy, Bruce's Sandy, he was a one for plucking the world from the sea."

"Nearing the end of her life, Maggie Tulloch takes up her pen to write a story for her granddaughter. It begins in the first years of the twentieth century, in a place where howling winds spin salt and sleet suck from ice floes.
A place where lives are ruled by men, and men by the witchy sea. A place where the only thing lower than a girl in the order of things is a clever girl with accursed red hair. A place schooled in keeping secrets.
Moving from the north-east of Scotland, to the Shetland Isles, to Fremantle, Australia, Elemental is a novel about the life you make from the life you are given."

It's been a while since my last post due to being incredibly busy with everything PGCE related, but today I have something a little different and really exciting! I can share with you an extract from a fantastic book that I am currently reading (and enjoying so much). The book is Amanda Curtin's latest release - Elemental. I have to admit, I've not finished reading the book yet but I started reading it a few days ago and I am well and truly invested in this book. It's taken priority over the other three I'm currently reading, too! Elemental is written by Australian author Amanda Curtin and is based in Scotland, the Shetland Isles and Australia. The book is based around a grandmother writing her memoir for her granddaughter to read. Her memoir tells the story of her growing up surrounded by a family of fishermen in a world where a woman's job was to look after the men around you, and the years that follow. I am thoroughly enjoying Elemental and I am sure I will post a full review when I have finished reading the book. Anyway, read the extract below, and enjoy.

I was born in a village as far north-east as you can go on the Scottish mainland, closer to Norway than London. Roanhaven was only two miles from the town of Gadlehead, and I’m told they’re all the one place now. But back then, oh, we were a folk apart, we thought Gadlehead as much a stranger-place as Fraserburgh to the north, Collieston to the south, and all those inland villages where Ma would sell fish from the creel on her back.
Our house was a but-and-ben – a wee two-room cottage, that is – like the others in Tiller Street, squat and polished smooth by the wind. That wind! Ach, a force, it was, a furious spinning of salt and grit and sleet sucked up from icefloes, ashpits, the spume of the ocean. It could scour the hairs off your arms, freeze the mud on your boots. Every year it took a little more of the houses in Tiller Street, wearing them away grain by grain. Not the frames, no, for the pink granite of Gadlehead will survive more generations than ever I’ll know, but the soft matter between that yields to the elements.  
I was the youngest at number 8 Tiller Street. The others – well, there was Da and Ma, Granda Jeemsie, my brothers, Archie, Jamie and Will, and my sister, Kitta. If you had asked Granda, Da or Ma which of them was head of the household, each would have owned the name and looked at you as though it was the feeblest of questions, too plain to need an answer. Although my mother would not have been telling you this in words. No, Ma had Looks for that.  
In the smallest but-and-ben in Tiller Street were Da’s sister Unty Jinna, and her daughter, Liza. And next to us, Sailor Wattie, who had his own boat and a share in ours, the Lily Maud, Ma’s sister Unty Leebie, and their children, Andrew and Elspet. Liza, Elspet and I were about the same age, so it was like having two more sisters. They could never come close to Kitta in my heart, though. No-one could.  
We were sea people. We lived by its moods and rhythms as much as the fish and birds that were part of the order of things. From the time we could stumble along the boatie shore on our own feet, we’d be working – collecting whelks and limpets for bait, pitching stones at gulls pecking at the fish on our mothers’ drying racks. Later, boys were expected to go to sea on the family boat or a neighbour’s, while girls were put to service in the large estates thereabouts, or married young to another fisher family and made useful that way. A fisher canna be in want of a wife – that was the common wisdom and no-one quarrelled with it back then. When we children stood with our bare toes in the icy sand, gazing out to sea, I fancied there was freedom in what Archie, Jamie and Will saw, a ticket to the wide world, beyond the life I would know. To catch a glimpse of my future, I’d to turn in the other direction, to the land. There I would see the labour of the mending sheds, the worn tracks between the peat country and our fireplaces. Tubs of grey, soapy water where woollens were scrubbed on wooden boards. Roadways leading to the farms and estates where my mother and aunties walked to sell fish. For me and Kitta, for Elspet and Liza, the pattern of the years ahead would be plain and safe and all the dreary same.  
It didn’t stop me from yearning, mind. Even my earliest memory ...  
I was a wee bairn when I tottered into the winter sea. Straight in, clothes and all. Folk said later I was blessed to be alive, that my heart didn’t stop, nor my blood turn white. Jockel Buchan, an old fisherman, strode through the shallows to reach me. Waded in, he did, almost to the knees of his great seaboots. I remember this, aye, but I don’t remember feeling frightened, or cold, though how could I not have been? Nor the sound of Kitta and Liza squealing like piglets all the while he was hauling me ashore. Nor Unty Jinna shaking my shoulders and calling me a raickless bairn. These things they told me later. What I remember –aye, even now, I remember – is struggling to be free of the arms holding me safe, twisting round to the water again, searching the sea for another glimpse of the huge white wings that had lifted from the waveslick and flown far away into the sky. The most beautiful thing, lambsie! Ma used to say my pretty birdie was a kittiwake or a solan goose that had strayed too close to the shore, and what a foolish bairnikie who would droon herself for that! But I knew it was something miraculous, and I cried to fly away with it.  
Granda Jeemsie took on a rage about my little rush into the sea. He muttered for weeks and shook his head. He spat on the ground and marked a cross on the sand with the blade of his gullie knife. He gave a sixpence to the widow of Jockel Buchan when the old man and his yawl were taken by a storm that same winter. Jeemsie Neish giving away a sixpence! Now, that was a thing to remark on.
Doesn't it just make you want to read on?! Let me know what you thought of the extract, and make sure to check out the other blogs on the blog tour - there's a giveaway, reviews and Amanda Curtin herself has written a guest post!

Rachael Amy

*Affiliate links have been used in this post.

Follow Rachael Amy Reads on:

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 Instagram Review

2015. What a year! It's been full of exciting changes, travelling, time with family, time with friends and a whole lot of books. I thought it would be fun to write an overview of my year using some of my favourite Instagram posts. Let's go!

We started our 2015 in Paris and I think it really got the year off to a good start. I love this photo because it reminds me of how chilled and peaceful Paris was at 10am on New Year's Day.
After Paris we travelled to Berlin and even though it was too cold to do much, we still managed to have a brilliant time at the Quasimodo club seeing a band (Funk Delicious) play. Such a fun time! If ever you're in Berlin I'd recommend checking to see if they're playing as they're regulars at that jazz club.
I can't think of a better way to spend a cold January afternoon than snuggling your nephew in a country pub in the Yorkshire Dales. *heart eyes*
Bob and I were lucky enough to win a ballot to see Laura Marling in a tiny venue. We were at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge which is one of the best venues I've ever been to. I also had to drive in the worst snow ever to get there! Great memories.

I turned 25! And Bob bought me some cupcakes which was just the sweetest thing ever.
For my birthday, Bob surprised me with a trip to Iceland. It's now my favourite place in the world and I am dying to go back!

I read The Shock of the Fall and thought it was an extremely wonderful and thought provoking book.
I FINALLY finished knitting this intricate lace scarf for Bob's mum after so many months and so many tears.
I loved going for a walk with my sister and my nephew - just look how cute his big eyes are!

Bob and I went to Japan and it was FREAKING AMAZING! I can't even put it in to words.
Mad. Life dream achieved! I want to go back so desperately.

I started May with some new shoes. Somehow I just don't think it tops Japan.
May consists mostly of pictures of food and my face. This meal at Urban Cookhouse in Manchester was so tasty!
May also involved a quick trip on the ferry to Belgium. This is a picture of Hotel The Boatel in Ghent - yes it is a boat!

June also features more photos of auntie and nephew cuddles. They're the best.
Doing a bit of book shopping in my favourite bookshop in Hebden Bridge.
We celebrated this guy's birthday in Prague.
And Vienna. And even Bratislava! Look how amazing our hotel room in Vienna was. It was the 25hours hotel.

I spent some more time with my nephew in July (I hope you're not bored of him yet).
We also visited the Hockney exhibition at Salts Mill. These were created on an iPad!!

I went on my best friend's hen do in York and we had a great time - some of us got a little drunk. It wasn't me though. *cough*
Bob managed to convince me to go to the cricket at Scarborough with him...
...when we arrived we realised we were wearing EXACTLY the same outfit.
We spent my mum's birthday at the races and didn't lose too much money (result).
We took my mum and dad to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and I left crying my eyes out at how amazing it was!

I took this photo on my way to my first day as a trainee teacher. I can't tell you how scared I felt! (Also, hello new glasses).
Bob bought me these amazing flowers to wish me luck - how cute! :)
My best friend got married and I was lucky enough to be one of her bridesmaids. It was such a beautiful wedding!

This time it's uncle and nephew cuddles. :)
Look how brave I am! Lying on a bed of nails!
We went to Edinburgh and obviously paid a visit to the Camera Obscura - SO MUCH FUN!
We also visited Glasgow, walked up the steepest street known to mankind and saw Beach House play.
For Halloween we dressed up as Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone.

In November I chopped all my hair off!

I had a fantastic Christmas with my family and to top it off I passed my first placement at university - what a great year!

Rachael Amy

P.S. You can follow me on Instagram here or @rachaelamyy 

Follow Rachael Amy Reads on:
© Rachael Amy Reads | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Created by pipdig