It's been a long time coming, but I finally have no months left of the Masters because...I'm finished! Or at least, I hope I'm finished - still have to actually get the results that I've passed my thesis/Irish oral...
My last update was two months again, during the first week of my final placement block, needless to say a lot has happened since then!
As to be expected, placement was tough going. The good news though is that I didn't find it as hard as the previous placement block, so it does get easier...and less messy! It helped a lot that I had such a relaxed cooperating teacher who really just let me do whatever I wanted, and was often not even in the classroom - really gave me a proper sense for what it'd be like if they were my own class! On Advanced Placement you essentially teach all day long. Occasionally their teacher took them for confirmation prep or homework correction, but she always asked when it'd suit me and I very much decided what the timetable for each day was.
I never did manage to crack ever getting to bed early or having some relaxation time in the evening...it baffles my mind when I see people saying things like 'set yourself a cut off time of 10pm'. Lesson plans were due at midnight each evening and I often needed up until then to get them done! I didn't need as much 'resources' on this placement - bit of a difference between Senior Infants and 6th class - so that definitely made things slightly easier. I generally just got into school a little bit early to print out the worksheets needed for the day, sometimes I'd throw together a PowerPoint the night before but I found Twinkl really useful for saving time on PowerPoints.
I don't generally like sharing results, as I think it can stress people out comparing themselves to others and I think it's important to take results with a grain of salt - I really don't think good teaching can truly be measured by a marking scale! However I will share that I got a first for my Advanced Placement, just to show that it's possible to do it without lots of fancy resources etc. For me I would say that solid organisation, a good relationship with your students and an engaging presence in the classroom are the most important things - I always find it useful to remind myself that the best resource in the classroom is me!
I used the following themes whilst on placement:
In hindsight I probably at times did a bit too much 'shoe-horning' of themes into lessons, placement can make you do strange things! I would worry more about lesson content than whether or not it fits to a theme. I won't go into too much placement detail here though, I think it needs its own post!
The day I finished placement I headed to Wexford for the long St Patricks weekend, full of guilt because I really needed to start working on my thesis...I ended up getting myself roped into subbing in my placement school the following week and got no thesis done, so I put my foot down after that in relation to anymore subbing and I entered into full-time thesis mode.
The thesis was a slog, to say the least. I had done very little of it prior to starting placement so was left with around 4 weeks to write the whole thing. Definitely manageable, but stressful! There were times where I wondered if I was doing it right at all and those were the times where it would have been useful to share drafts with my supervisor...had I the time! We had a few exemplars to work off though and the thesis is very formulaic, so it was just a matter of working my way methodically through each heading. Managed to get the first two chapters to my supervisor before submitting, so at least I know that half of it is decent enough anyway! Submitted it with 30mins to spare, quickly running it through Grammarly to check spelling/grammar. There was no time to relish having it submitted though because I had to turn my thoughts to the Irish oral happening the following week...
With only one things left between me and being finished the Masters, my motivation was at an all time low to get studying! I dug out my old Leaving Cert oral notes and wrote out a few short bits on the Masters, placement and the Gaeltacht. Ultimately, not a massive amount of study was done...I zoomed a friend on the course the night before to chat as Gaeilge, did a mock oral with my older sister and headed to bed feeling a bit underprepared. I was very nervous waiting on the Zoom call for the examiner to appear but she was very lovely and it ended up feeling like a casual chat! Didn't talk about anything I'd actually prepared, but there was a good dose of laughter and the 15mins flew by.
So the Masters finished as it had started, sitting in my study and looking at Zoom.
It's been a week now and it's slowly starting to sink in that my time is my own. I really do think that during the past two years I've had a cloud of guilt/stress hanging over me because there's always something to do, something that I should be working on.
I've been celebrating by doing exciting things like tidying my house and finally sorting through my box from placement. No subbing for now, definitely need a break to do nothing, but I'll probably dip my toes back in again a bit before the Summer break!