Doing a PGCE is hard work. I'm sure, however, that there's not a single individual on the course in the country who wasn't warned about the workload. It may have come as a shock to the system; it has not been unexpected. However, my experience on one night out I could not have foreseen.
A friend and I were heading home after an evening on the town when we were assaulted in a random attack. Two weeks before my second placement, I was left with a broken jaw, suspected broken nose, a fracture of the eye orbit floor, fractured cheek bone, masses of bruising around the eye and a face twice its normal size. Not ideal for heading into Year 6.
This sort of assault leaves psychological damage as well as the obvious outward bruising, a concern my tutor expressed when she saw me. However, her suggestion that I might have to stop and re-start the year was the most upsetting aspect of the whole ordeal.
To be left looking like an obese panda is one thing, but to be robbed of half a year's work and the possibility of having to do it again was too much. This was the motivation that pulled me through, stopped me lying in bed feeling sorry for myself and got me moving again.
Thankfully, I was placed in a sympathetic and understanding school that appreciated my need for a week off. I was greeted on my first Monday by the class teacher with: "You're not as ugly as I thought you'd be." Luckily, my swelling had subsided to leave me looking like a slightly thinner panda. I was able to complete my placement, albeit with a fair amount of pupil inquiry. "Oh, I did it playing football, it's nothing," I lied, making a mess with my soup each and every lunchtime and being banned (on doctor's orders) from shouting.
It still hasn't been that long since the incident. I've successfully finished my placement and I feel quite recovered. Apparently, teaching is bad for your health, so my teacher friends tell me. But as far as I'm concerned it has been very good for my wellbeing indeed, and certainly compounded the fact that it is what I want to do.
Also, how many student teachers can say they got through their placement in Year 6 without shouting?
Andy Wallace is taking a primary PGCE at the University of Plymouth.