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You think teaching is easy? Think again!

People who say teaching is the easy option need to come and do their placement in a school and have their eyes opened. As a placement student in school I’ve assumed the role of a teaching assistant, helping out in lessons with either less able or disruptive students. Unlike most teaching assistants I have specialist subject knowledge and can really challenge some of the students to learn more than ‘just enough to get them a pass’ which is what many students seem to aim for.
I’ve been on placement 3 months now, and have already learnt a great deal about teaching in general, and these are the things I would share with anyone looking at doing teaching after they graduate like I am.
1. Never show weakness – I’m pretty sure the students can smell fear on you. In my first week I was told that I have full teaching rights and to give out detentions if I feel they are needed. But I was not confident enough to do this and discipline properly, and they could tell I was new. As the weeks went on and I grew in confidence and learnt how to speak to the kids they learnt that I meant business! Now, they do listen to me, and if I set a detention, I’m not bluffing but mean it.
2. Children are nosey – No matter how many times I’ve told them I’m a university student, they always ask if I’m a real teacher. They ask how old I am, if I have children and if I’m married. Most of the time, they’re asking these questions because they’re bored or they just don’t want to learn. Don’t fall into the trap of answering these questions, as they’ll always find more to ask. I did like making them guess my age until one year 11 student said I looked 30… being 21, this was NOT what I wanted to hear.
3. They will not do as much work with a cover teacher – FACT, and I remember this from when I was at school. To even the best behaved students, cover teacher = easy lesson. Sometimes, just getting certain students through a lesson with a cover teacher without any other teachers having to remove them is an achievement, even if all they write is the date and the title.
4. Small arguments will be the end of the world for year 7s – In year 7, there is a huge difference in maturity, and it’s very obvious. Some students still think that, like in primary school, arguments will be sorted by the teacher, but most teachers don’t have time to monitor every small friendship issue. They will sort it in the end. They will learn.
5. You will not just be a teacher – As a teacher and especially as a form tutor (Which I am to a year 7 group) you assume the role of many other people. You’re a parent figure to some children with difficult home lives. You give advice and guide them in things that happen outside school. You council students who are struggling with friendships or find school life difficult. You’re a doctor, trying to decipher when a student is ill or ‘ill’ because they don’t want to do a test. And alongside teaching your main job is that you are a role model, teaching students not only the curriculum, but how to be a good person and how to grow into a good adult.

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Hello

I officially started my placement in early September. I had carried out practical work throughout my first and second year and I had enjoyed it, so I was excited to see what awaited me in the next few weeks.

I met my supervisor and he provided me with an outline of the year and my role within a laboratory setting. I was informed of the importance of following the health and safety guidelines at all times and about laboratory etiquette. I was also informed about the importance of behaving in a professional manner and confidentiality, as the research being conducted cannot be discussed outside the laboratory setting which I would be working in.

I was also introduced to the rest of the team. I found that the other researchers and PhD students were very friendly and welcoming. I was soon working in the lab and it was great to learn new techniques which I had studied or read about in the first and second year. Initially, I observed my supervisor carry out the techniques and I was also provided with the necessary protocols. Then, I was given the opportunity to carry out the technique myself.

I was grateful for the chance to get hand on so soon and although I had made some mistakes, I was able to make note of the process, so I could improve the next time I carried out the same technique. I found that once I had established the basics, I was able to work in a more efficient manner.

In addition to the practical work that I have carried out, I had the opportunity to use the latest software to analyse the data obtained to help me to prove or disprove my hypothesis. It was great being able to analyse the data obtained from particular techniques as sometimes it took up to 3 days to obtain the necessary data.

I have thoroughly enjoying working within AMRI, the other researchers are always willing to offer support, advice and answer my questions about various techniques. I am excited about the current research being carried out and its future implications.

Goodbye Birmingham, Hello, um, Home?

So when I started applying for placements, I didn’t really think about the reality of it all. I knew I wanted to come back home, to save some money and be closer to my friends, boyfriend and family. Throughout my time at Aston, I’ve always struggled with homesickness, so this seemed like the obvious choice. The easy option; how hard could it be?
Well, the answer is quite. And now I’m homesick for Birmingham – here are the top 10 things I miss about my 2nd home and favourite city!

  1. Uber – this sounds like a strange one, but my town doesn’t have Uber, and every time I use a regular taxi I now complain about the fact it isn’t Uber. I miss its convenience and its safety and hoping soon that my town finds its way into the 21st century.
  2. New Street – I miss being connected. From my local station (which only has one line) I can get to either Birmingham or London. From New Street, I can get anywhere. I’ve had so many tearful goodbyes there and seen it rebuilt into the architectural beauty it is now.
  3. Shopping – alongside our beautiful station we also got some new shops to compliment The Bullring. Forgetting a birthday is never an issue when I have pretty much any shop I could ask for just a 10 minute walk away.
  4. Not needing a car – don’t get me wrong, having my own car is a lifesaver and I need it to get to and from my placement every day. But I really don’t like the fact I have to pay for it. I now 100% understand why people moan about paying for parking, the cost of petrol and rush hour. I also really miss walking everywhere!
  5. Independence – Living on my own for 2 years has made me so much more confident, and now that I live with my parents again there are certain things I really miss. As a family we’ve always tried to eat dinner together, but I do really miss cooking for myself and having whatever I like to eat. (But I’m so glad I can enjoy Mum’s roast dinners again!)
  6. Flatmates – I learnt a huge amount from my flatmates. I learnt so much about different cultures, religions and ways of life. I also learnt to negotiate who was taking out the bins out, a really useful life skill.
  7. Learning – As much as I’m learning skills on my placement, I’m not learning academically. I miss lectures that really made me think and want to do my own research.
  8. Concerts – Birmingham has a really good music venues, my home town has, well, none. Being able to go to gigs and concerts and not have to rush to catch the train home was one of the best things about living in a city.
  9. Friends – although I’m at home, and have my friends here, I also really miss all my friends I made at university. Some are also on placement and some have carried on into their final year, but I know I really have made some friends for life at Aston.
  10. Coming home – I miss getting excited to visit home. I miss packing a suitcase, trying to find a seat on the train and being picked up from the station. But now I get to be excited to go and visit Birmingham, my favourite city!

3 things I have learnt from placement

  1. The importance of asking– If you don’t ask you don’t get, if you speak to the right people and ask questions and take an interest you never know what things you may get the chance to do. I got the experience to go out with a occupational therapist, but that is only because I asked, people are not going to do work for you, if you want to learn and gain experience… seek it out!
  2. Collecting resources-it is important to remember the things you have done on placement, and yes you have a brain but you may not remember that 7th housing checklist you did and what you learnt from that day- so keep a record, your reflective log is tedious and annoying to do sometimes but really keep a record of what you have learnt, it will help one day. Also all the training and stuff you get to go to, keep something interesting from the day, make a folder of all the things you have done. IT WILL HELP. 
  3. Take time for you- Remember if you are working unpaid like me you will more than likely have a part time job. Luckily for me my new job is relevant to my career goals now (I am now a neurorehab assistant for a inpatient unit specializing in brain injury- part time- more on that later) but it means I now work a 57.5 hour week, which is ALOT!!! I am tired and I am stressed I wont lie to you, but you and myself need to learn to take time out a bit. Thats what annual leave is for… if that means booking one half day off do it because that recharge of your batteries is the boost which will keep you going and being positive, and getting the most experience out of placement as you can… and that is the most important thing.

I hope this helps someone somewhere 🙂

Positive “Blue Monday” thoughts

Blue Monday is the one day a year where everyone is, well, blue. Everyone got fat over Christmas, and is now depressed they haven’t lost their weight by now. The smokers who said they would quit for new year have left the E-Cigarette behind, everyone is sad that the festive season is all over, again.

It’s difficult being an assistant in January because your supervisors are stressed because reality is back and this then impacts you. Everyone’s to-do list’s are getting longer and nothing seems to be getting ticked off.

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Weirdly enough though, I’m still positive. I know this rut will be over soon enough and this is what placement is all about. there are going to be highs, like being able to go out and really help someone with a problem they are facing, and there are going to be lows, like crying in your supervisors office because the colour coded, graph covered spreadsheet you made needs to be redone because some statistician somewhere decided it should be presented in another format…but that’s another story.

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A little introduction…

I’ve been out on placement for nearly three months now. So writing a blog about it all and trying to tell you about all the things I have been involved in… in one post, is a bit difficult. so, here is what has been going on.

I am an Honorary Assistant psychologist…

I’m working with the psychology service, within the learning disability service within the Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust, which is part of the NHS… Russian dolls or what?

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Which is a great metaphor for the service I am in, it is a specialist service!
I work with trauma and abuse two days a week and older adults the other two days a week, so i get to see specialist services… within the specialist service…

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