JayneC: How much commitment is the PGCE? I don't mind the full-time attendance for nine months but how much homework is there?
A PGCE is hard work. I damn near killed myself on my first placement, but it didn't make me a better teacher. Use the school's resources - don't fanny about making your own if you don't need to. Don't make work for yourself - my friend spent two hours laminating her national curriculum. Why? Force yourself to stop working and go out. You won't be a better teacher by marking until 3am. You'll just be a knackered one. You have to make a conscious decision not to let it overwhelm your life. Relax - and good luck.
It was hard work, but no harder than the full-time job I'd given up to train as a teacher. You will need to prepare lessons and assignments, but on my course we were given details of all these for the year at the very beginning, so there were no nasty surprises and you could plan your workload. The key to doing well on the course and still having a life is your ability to plan your own workload. I really enjoyed the course - there's nothing to beat having a class say to you at the end of a lesson that they enjoyed it and could they do it again. That reminds you why you are doing it.
I've just finished my NQT year. The PGCE was hard work. For me, the hardest aspect was being stretched laterally - after all those years of being ploughed with information, you were being presented with puzzles to work out. You can find time for a life, but not on teaching practice. When you finish the course, choose your first school very carefully. Don't go for the first one because you think it will be your only offer. Enjoy your PGCE, and soak up everything. Keep good notes and don't forget to smile. No child has yet eaten their teacher (though some parents have tried!) For more exchanges of advice between old hands and new, visit the NQT forum at www.tes.co.uk