10 tips for a trainee teacher

Well, the time has come for my (not – so – but – also – slightly) dreaded placement block. I was having a nosy on my memory pen earlier and noticed that I had this typed up for some very strange reason, so thanks past me. I won’t lie and say that I am bursting with excitement for tomorrow or the next seven weeks but I am happy to say that I feel a lot more confident than I have in the past years.

It’s strange to think that this will be my last placement as a student teacher and in a few months time, I will offically be a qualified teacher ready to take on the world of preparing future generations. So god help anyone who has their child put in my class, just kidding lol!

So, for those of you who are about to embark on their first, second, third or maybe last teaching practice, here are some top tips. Not that I really need to tell any of you.

Truthfully, I think these tips are mostly for me and I won’t lie, having read them for the first time in a while, it was strangely calming. I might actually put a reminder in my phone to read these once a week. So without further ado,

Dear future Chloe,

  • Take an extra 10 minutes before you go to bed to do a verbal checklist of what you need for the next day – this could save you a lot of panic and a cold-sweat moment as you’re lying in bed worrying about whether you are prepared or not for your next day with the little darlings.
  • Choose your placement outfit for the next day, the night before – again another time saving moment in the long run. Nothing is worse than running about your house at 10 to eight screaming to your mum about where the newly ironed placement clothes are. Have this screaming match the night before, instead!
  • Make your own resources – it is very handy to just make a quick trip to TPT or Twinkl but making your own resources can be better in the long run as you have a sense of accomplishment and you have it up your sleeve for later years!
  • Don’t panic about tutor visits – yes, of course they are scary, believe me, I know. But, there is no point in getting worked up about it – if you are nervous, this will translate to the children! Be confident, you know the kids!
  • Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself – following from tutor visits, if your tutor says something that you don’t agree with or aren’t sure about, SAY! You are an adult and there has been times where I wish I have said something but been too afraid because I am the student.
  • Get involved in school life – try to involve yourself as much as you can, take opportunities, make links. This is an opportunity for you to create a (good!) name for yourself, so take it.
  • Pack a nice lunch the night before – nothing is better than making it to lunch time on a placement day knowing that you have a cracker lunch up your sleeve! For easiness, I tend to bring Heinze spaghetti or soup but nothing is better knowing I have Granny’s homemade soup or some leftover chilli con carne from the night before.
  • Stay on top of your workload – I won’t beat around the bush, placement is a busy time in the university year so make it easy on yourself by staying on top of your lesson plans, schemes of work, daily evaluations and round ups for the week. It will be much better doing this than rushing all of it in preparation for a visit from your tutor!!
  • Stay on top of your marking – another perk of the job. Not unlike staying on top of the university workload, you must stay on top of your marking as well, even if it means being almost last to leave. Nothing beats the pleasure of knowing that you won’t have much to do towards the end of your block.
  • Show your thanks to the school – this one is probably the most important. Show your thanks to the teachers, classroom assistants and the Principal. It might be overwhelming knowing that someone is watching you teach but they are there to help and offer some great advice if you let them.
I don’t have a picture looking teacher-y but here’s me in my slippers with a big glass of pink gin!

10 must-dos when you go to Walt Disney World

While it may be a little over a month into 2019 and I am knee-deep into my dissertation and preparing for my final-year teaching placement, I can’t seem to stop thinking about Disney!

It has become something of a running joke in my friend group that I worked for Disney as it is still something that REGULARLY comes up in conversation. And it’s not that I mean to brag, but it’s something that I’m still incredibly proud of, even a year and a half later.

Graduating from Disney University!

So with that in mind, I figured I would write about 10 must-do things when in Walt Disney World.

1. Get a picture in front of Cinderella’s castle

This is often considered a necessity when getting the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World. Did you even go to Disney if you didn’t get a snap of yourself looking class in front of the castle? Push yourself to the front and wedge yourself between the hundreds of others trying to get the perfect picture and get that sweet, sweet insta!

2. Meet your favourite characters

Going to Disney means only one thing! Getting the chance to meet your favourite characters from all of your favourite Disney movies without going to one of those weird shopping centre events with the meth-head Mickeys. Over the course of my Summer working there, I made it my mission to try and meet as many characters as I could as it’s something I knew that I probably wouldn’t do with my brother and parents in tow when returning. I was most excited getting to meet lovely Flynn at the Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast in Trattoria al Forno, as I am a VERY big Flynn Rider fan. I also got a great photo opportunity with Stitch on the 4th of July in Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom.

Make sure you check the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date times for character meet and greets to bag yourself a spot in the large queues.

3. Watch a night-time spectacular

Fireworks from Happily Ever After

Across the four parks, there are lots to do at any time of the day but I would fully recommend taking a moment to catch one of the night-time spectaculars. I would particularly suggest Happily Ever After which is the night-time fireworks show in Magic Kingdom. It truly brings a tear to my eye every single time I watch it and never fails to give me goosebumps as the castle changes colours and shows some of my favourite scenes and characters. It’s quite hard to find the perfect spot but most would suggest plonking yourself as close to the partner’s statue (the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey) as you can! Make sure to get there early too, to avoid disappointment of obstructed views.

If you don’t get a chance to see Happily Ever After, there is also Fantasmic or Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular at Hollywood Studios, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at EPCOT and Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom. Truthfully, I would recommend seeing any and all of the shows but if I were to choose to just one, it would be Happily Ever After.

Show times of the shows are subject to change depending on the parks opening hours and if there are any events being held, such as, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, so make sure to check the MDE app for up-to-date information or ask a Cast Member.

4. Try a dining experience

There are lots of different dining experiences to visit over your time at Walt Disney World from delicious hot dogs at Casey’s Corner to dining with the Beast himself at Be Our Guest. While there are so many great restaurants to try, my top three boil down to: Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch at the Polynesian, lunch or dinner at the Garden Grill in EPCOT or dinner at Be Our Guest. All three of these options require a dining reservation via phone call or the MDE app but are totally worth it!

However, if quick-serve is more your forte, there’s plenty of options to choose from too. When it comes to something quick, my go-to are always nachos from Pecos Bill in MK or La Cantina de San Angel in the Mexican pavilion in EPCOT, a hot-dog from the wonderful Casey’s Corner in MK or chicken fried rice from the Yak & Yeti in Animal Kingdom.

Meal in the Garden Grill

But of course, whatever your preference, there is most definitely an option for you.

5. Celebrate with a celebration button

One of my favourite things about Disney is the opportunity to celebrate even the smallest of occasions. With the celebration buttons available to be picked up at any Merchandise location or at the City Hall, guests have the chance to celebrate anything! Over the course of my Summer, I celebrated: becoming a Cast Member, earning my ears, like 5 different birthdays (none of which were mine), the 4th of July and so, so much more.

By wearing celebration buttons, you’re bringing Cast Members attention to your celebrations too and you can bet that at least one Cast Member will wish you well on whatever it is your celebrating and sometimes they will do what they can to make it that little bit more special!

6. Drink or dine around the World

As mentioned above, there are various opportunities to dine across Walt Disney World and one of these is the infamous dining or drinking ‘around the World’. This is not something that is organised by Disney themselves but where guests take it upon themselves or should I say, challenge themselves to dine or drink (given that they are above 21 years of age) around each of the 11 countries represented in the World Showcase in EPCOT.

Depending on what side you begin with, the countries are as follows: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada. Or in-reverse if you start at the Canada side.

This activity can become very expensive depending on the drinks or food purchased so one recommendation would be to share your drinks or snacks with a friend or a few so that you still get the experience but you have more chance of staying upright and your pocket isn’t as light.

7. 4 parks, 1 day challenge

Another challenge organised by guests is the 4 parks, 1 day challenge where guests need to attend all four parks within a given day. It should be stated that in order to complete this challenge, it is essential that you have a park-hopper pass as you must be able to hop from park-to-park within the same day.

As this, again, hasn’t be officially organised by Disney themselves, rules differ from group to group depending on what guests want from their challenge.

When my friend, Luke and I completed the challenge, we decided that our rule would be we would ride 1 ride in each park, and if we had time we would do another activity such as, another ride, a parade or a character meet and greet. I think the order we chose worked best, but again, this is entirely up to the guests and what they want out of their day. We chose: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT then Magic Kingdom.

I would always suggest trying the 4 parks, 1 day challenge to anyone who was going to WDW, as it’s a great way to see all of the parks but I would say that if you only have a short amount of time at the parks, it’s maybe not the best idea as you don’t get to truly experience the atmosphere or the magic of each of the parks due to time constraints. 

8. Pin trade

Pin trading is a massive hobby had by many WDW guests who want to find and trade for unique and special souvenirs of their trips. As a previous Cast Member, I loved pin trading as it was an easy way to speak with and get to know guests. However, as a guest, pin trading was never something I could get into myself. I love the official Disney pins and some of the pins that come in to Cast Members are spectacular, but I just preferred to purchase specific pins that represented important things to me.

This photo was literally on the wall in my work location

That being said, I have a lot of friends who loved pin trading and obsessed over what pins they were going to bring with them to the parks that day in order to trade with them.

If I was to give any advice about pin trading, it would be to approach any and all Cast Members about their pins and any potential pin boards they might have in their Merchandise location. Another piece of advice would be, avoid buying bulk packages of Disney pins from EBay as these are mostly fake pins and die-hard pin traders can get very upset when they spend tons of their money on official pins and they trade for fake, cheap pins.

9. Flight of Passage!

Across the four parks, there are TONS of rides to go on, aimed at children, adults and families alike. Whether you like fast rollercoasters, like Rock ‘n’ Roller starring Aerosmith or iconic slow-moving rides, such as, It’s a Small World, there is something for everyone!

A personal favourite of mine is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios which is a drop ride inside a cart shaped like an elevator that takes the theme of stepping into the 5th Dimension of the Twilight Zone. I was even fortunate enough where I got to visit the ride on a backstage tour as part of a perk of being a Cast Member. Easily hitting one of the best moments of my life.

But this point isn’t about the TOT, it’s about flight of passage! Easily the most immersive and mesmerising ride I have EVER been on. I would wait in any length of queue to get on it, because it just is that good! The sights, the smells, the feelings. Everything about this ride is out-of-this-World INSANE.

In fact, the whole of the Pandora area of Animal Kingdom is perfect! It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the movies, not seen the movies or Avatar is your favourite movie of all time, upon entering Pandora, everyone will feel like they are suddenly in Pandora! It’s amazing.

A Na’vi in the Flight of Passage ride

10. Take your time and enjoy the magic

Finally, this one goes without saying really, take your time and enjoy yourself.

When visiting WDW, there are always people fanny-ing around, desperate to see and do everything. And I get it. People spend a lot of money to be there, and want to make the most of it. But when they spend their whole time rushing around to each FastPass+ and Advanced Dining Reservation, they never take a moment to stop, look around and take in the magic that is Walt Disney World.

So stop, take a moment, take a few photos, sit on a bench, watch a parade and ENJOY THE MAGIC.