A lot of people have the misconception that Primary Education is easy, as a Primary Ed student in the thick of 2nd year I can assure you this is not the case. But despite its difficulty I believe that it is one of the most interesting and engaging courses you can take part in. Yes there are assignments, written tasks and assessments but there are also trips, activities and unique learning experiences both in seminars and in lectures. Hopefully I can give you an introduction to my course and share some of the reasons I have for loving it so much and reduce the perception that all we Primary Ed students do all day is colouring in.
First of all one of the reasons our sessions are so engaging is as a result of the variety. When coming to university I wasn’t sure what to expect of seminars and whether or not they’d similar to what I had previously experienced at school at college. One of the main things I was worried about was not having the chance to ask questions and simply be talked at whilst making notes. This worry was soon diminished. The seminars give you plenty of chance to ask questions to your tutor, talk to your peers and engage with materials. Often before or after a seminar you are given recommended reading that will aim to prepare you for your next session.
Our seminars are structured in a similar way to the lessons you would have at school. Now this may sound strange but we often take part in the lessons so we can understand how the children would engage and how we would deliver the lesson as a form of practice for our future careers. Obviously as we are students we can do this at a far more accelerated rate and discuss the benefits of the activity and reflect on the pedagogy.
One of the most interesting sessions I was involved in was the observation of snails in Science. This provided a lot of inspiration for activities I could plan and deliver in the classroom as well as increasing my confidence and understanding of using live animals. The lessons that are demonstrated to us really give you motivation to get into school and try these things out for yourself.
As you can see we have access to a vast amount of resources to aid us in our learning. Using the materials ourselves really helps to build confidence and get you ready for your time in school. As you can see we are encouraged to take photos, make notes and record the session however we feel appropriate. When we engage in sessions our notes, readings, photos and any other information we collect goes towards a PSKR (personal subject knowledge resource). The aim of this is to show how our subject knowledge and ability to teach in each subject progresses over our time at university. It also a great tool when you go into schools as you can look back for inspiration and keep work sheets, resources and lesson plans all in one place. At the end of the year we have a Viva. This is assessed and generally consists of a conversation with you subject tutor about what you have done in your PSKR and how you can demonstrate your continuing subject knowledge. As a result of this it is really important to keep your PSKR up to date, organised and relevant to you and your learning.
As well as a PSKR, you are also expected to produce a TSP (teacher’s standards portfolio). The purpose of this is to collect evidence to show that you are meeting the teacher’s standards in order to pass QTS at the end of the course. This is a really important part of the work you do whilst at university but it something that is supported by tutors and a lot of advice is given about how to full this out successfully.
I would say that these are the two largest ongoing projects you have to work on whilst at university. But there are also others. Journals are something that you will complete in your subject minor, in English and in other subjects if you feel that this would benefit your note making. Personally I love completing the journals they give you a chance to be creative whilst also demonstrating your subject knowledge.
Your minor journal goes in for assessment alongside your minor assignment but your reading journal forms part of your English PSKR.
And last but not least, assignments. Now on the scale of the things I have spoken about assignments probably rank last but they are, unfortunately, an essential part of the course. We usually have around 1 assignment per module, but sometimes there can be 2 per module particularly in subjects such as APD. The assignments are spread across the year and you are expected to work on them in your own time alongside other tasks such as PSKR’s and journals.
Overall I hope you can see that Primary Ed is not just all about colouring in, but it is not just taking notes and listening either. It is a diverse course with plenty of opportunity to learn in a way that suits you whilst also learning how to effectively teach children.