Reflecting on first year

Despite the fact my exams finished over two weeks ago, I don’t think it has fully sunk in that my first year at university is over. It’s such a bewildering thought! Where has the time gone? Everything seems to have flown by so quickly. It doesn’t seem two minutes ago that I was registering at the Goodwin centre and now here I am. Mad. It’s been an incredible year, though, and I am proud of all the amazing things I’ve managed to accomplish and excited about the challenges 2nd year has to offer.

One of the most invaluable experiences of this year for me has been work experience. It’s helped me both in affirming my career aspirations and also in developing confidence in my abilities and especially in myself. Before I actually took part in any form of work experience, I suppose my perception of teaching was rather idealised, so that when I did come across other areas of the profession, such as administration (i.e. marking, filling out student progress sheets, data capturing), the level of intensity the job requires hit me hard. (This is why I get incredibly frustrated when people view teaching as a kind of ‘back up’ choice.)

I observed, too, whilst I was on placement, the significance of resilience in teaching; children look up to you, the adult, to be their role model, so it’s imperative that you’re able to put on that coherent front they expect from you. Initially, though, this was an area that worried me a little and I experienced moments during my placements where I thought I might not have the right personality to suit the job. This is mainly because take every piece of criticism incredibly to heart and overthink the tiniest of details at an alarming degree of concentration. That’s when I started questioning my leadership abilities: will the children listen to me? How do I maintain control over 28 9 year-olds? Will they take me seriously? After pushing myself to undertake leadership tasks during my work placement and talking to lots of teachers about their own experiences in the education industry, I sort of came to recognise that it is impossible to ‘prescribe’ the perfect candidate. You have to channel your own strengths into the job, and that is what I am going to do. It sounds simple, but that small little push really helped me a lot.

From the modules we studied this year, I came to identify areas of my discipline that I seem to be better at than others; this was rather useful as recently we were asked to choose our modules for next year (so I knew to avoid Syntax at all costs). I enjoyed the freedom to choose some of my own modules at the beginning of the year as this gave me the opportunity to test myself. As you may well remember, though, from some of my previous blog posts, I am not, in any way, an artistic person. This was why I was slightly apprehensive about picking a literature module on film, titled LIT181: An Introduction to Cinema. As it happened, however, the module was solely theory and analytically based, so this suited me just fine. Through it I discovered a love for realist films, especially British social realist documentaries and that’s why I’ve decided to take a module on post-war British realist cinema next year! I’m very excited about this.

Aside from all the academic aspects of university life, next year I’ll actually be moving out into a house in Sheffield! It feels like I’ll be a fresher again. I’m looking forward to moving out, mainly because I spend most of my time at university, or in Sheffield, anyway, and it’s difficult always having to plan around my hometown as a kind of base. Normally, it’s only a 15-minute train journey from Rotherham to Sheffield, which isn’t bad at all, but it’s all the waiting around for buses to arrive and walking to and from destinations that makes the commute a lot more tedious. Ironically, too, just as I’ve managed to get my head around how trams work, they’ve stopped running! So for the past few weeks I’ve had to walk literally everywhere.

I’m hoping that a change of scenery will do me the world of good, too. I’m at that point now where things that used to intrigue and enthral me about Rotherham now seem to blend into the background to become mere quotidian aspects of the landscape because I’ve visited particular places that often and exhausted their appeal. Maybe taking time away will make me appreciate my hometown more. I hope so; Rotherham really can be a lovely place.

I’ve loved my first year at university. It’s been tough adjusting to the workload, but you get there. Things do get better. I’ve met some absolutely wonderful people through societies, such as Mental Health Matters (of which I am now the new Web Officer!), and through my course. I can’t wait to get back in September! For now, however, I think I’ll try and make the most of what little ‘sun’ we have.

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