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To want to be a teacher but be shit at writing essays?

(18 Posts)
MrsRBrand Mon 11-Nov-13 11:43:25

I am in my second year of a primary school teaching degree, my course is made up of long school placements, essays and group presentations.

I grasp the concepts well, I can plan for and deliver lessons and am capable of the aspects of teaching (proved by last years grades) and successful school placements.

However, I have 5 essays due before Christmas and I am so bad at them.

I can pass with just a D- which is what I aim for but I find it so frustrating that I can't draw my research and ideas together and communicate them coherently and with clarity.

I am improving, my referencing and general grammar are getting better slowly but the course is not moving slowly enough for this to be apparent.

I have been having anxious dreams each night and I don't want to tell my teachers because they might just say the course is not for me.

My confidence is at rock bottom and I don't know what to do!

Catsnotrats Mon 11-Nov-13 11:50:45

Firstly your lecturers won't want you to leave the course, they get judged on their drop-out rates so would much rather help you than ask you to leave.

Secondly does your university have a study-skills/academic writing support service? Most usually do and in my experience they are extremely helpful. A few sessions with them about structuring essays and making coherent arguments may make a real difference to you.

Being bad at writing essays is not necessarily a barrier to becoming a teacher, but not asking for help when you know you are struggling is. As you go through your career you are going to come across many challenges and knowing how to ask for help effectively is vital if you want to succeed. See this as an opportunity to develop this skill rather than something to be frightened of. It will stand you in dry good stead in the future.

Anchoress Mon 11-Nov-13 11:51:01

What are you told is wrong with your essays? I am a bit alarmed that you mention your grammar as being poor. Forgive me sounding harsh, but I would not want that person teaching my child under any circumstances. That you are good with children and an effective verbal communicator in the classroom won't mean much if you aren't able to teach the children to write grammatical English, surely...?

You need to talk to your tutor ASAP.

BarbarianMum Mon 11-Nov-13 11:51:14

Please do talk to your tutors - or one of them at least - and get them to explain where you are going wrong. I learnt the 'right' way to write essays at university - it is a skill and can be taught, but many of us do need to learn how.

From your OP it's clear you are perfectly capable of communicating the salient points of a problem in a coherent way that develops your 'argument' - an essay is just a padded out for of this, correctly referenced.

You can do this, honest!

BarbarianMum Mon 11-Nov-13 11:52:51

Anchoress does the OP sound like she has grammar so bad she couldn't teach? I have seen many semi-literate posts on mumsnet but this is not one of them.

Anchoress Mon 11-Nov-13 11:52:54

Sorry, my post sounded more negative than I meant. Do seize the opportunity to rectify this problem. I'm sure it's doable, but not if you don't take the bull by the horns.

clarinetV2 Mon 11-Nov-13 11:53:03

DD1 had this problem. She's good at Maths and Sciences, but not so hot on writing essays, and in her first year of teacher training she found them torture. Does your uni have an academic skills department or similar? The one my daughter went to had a specialised academic skills advice unit independent of the Education department, so none of the people she went to see were directly teaching on her course, meaning she wasn't worried about being told she wasn't good enough. The department ran workshops on reading and writing academic English and also provided (limited amounts of) one-to-one advice on essay-writing. She also used this book and said it saved her life:

Wyse, D. (2007) The Good Writing Guide for Education Students. London, Sage. (There may be more recent editions as it seems to be reprinted every year.)

DD got through to the end of her course safely and has now qualified and is loving primary teaching. By the last year of her course she certainly couldn't claim to love writing essays, but they weren't objects of terror for her like they were at the start, and she got through her dissertation relatively painlessly. Good luck!

yetanotheranyfucker Mon 11-Nov-13 11:53:28

YANBU because anyone can improve by learning the skills to writing a good essay so that's what you need to do. Have you got any resources for teaching you how to write essays? If not, try some of these perhaps:

The Study Skills Handbook
Writing Essays for Dummies
Good Essay Writing

Anchoress Mon 11-Nov-13 11:54:09

No, BarbarianMum, it doesn't, but she does talk in her OP about her grammar in essays 'improving slowly'.

MrsRBrand Mon 11-Nov-13 11:58:14

Thank you so much, I have a kind of educational problem (which I'm now understanding, stems directly from a very chaotic and dysfunctional home growing up).

But I don't have the time or money to deal with that so can only look at the matter in hand.

I equate my self worth with my abilities so when I'm not good at something I get thoroughly disheartened and doubt myself until it almost makes me ill.. very unhappy anyway.

Every time I hand in an essay my heart sinks because it doesn't represent my grasp of the subject at all, I get so frustrated.

In some ways I think its grist for the mill because in the future I will be able to help children with similar learning barriers but for now I'm trying to make it through day by day.

I will contact the university and see if they offer any essay work shops.

Thank you.

hollowhallows Mon 11-Nov-13 11:59:45

Talk to your lecturer about this. Is it possible you have an undiagnosed learning disability? I have family members who have found out at uni that they have dyslexia or dyspraxia. I struggle with essay writing so i understand your worry but these issues are fixable.

clarinetV2 Mon 11-Nov-13 12:09:09

OP, I don't mean to diminish what you're going through - I know it must hurt like hell. But essay-writing is nothing more than a set of skills that you have not yet acquired, and if you are properly taught, you'll be able to acquire them. From your posts it seems you're perfectly able to express yourself in writing. Now you need to learn how to organise those thoughts into lines of argument that flow logically. I really hope your uni has someone good teaching you how to do it, because if it's taught well it really is surprisingly straightforward - though of course takes practice and determination. Nothing will sabotage you more, though, then getting upset and giving in to self-doubt to the point of illness. You're struggling because it's difficult and you haven't been properly taught yet, not because you are intrinsically unintelligent. Try to tell yourself that as often as you can, especially when things look bleak. And I agree with hollowhallows, might it be worth getting tested for specific learning difficulties? Your uni should be able to arrange it, probably through a disability office or similar.

MrsRBrand Mon 11-Nov-13 12:22:58

Thank you all, it is great to read something expressing the voice I used to have inside when I first joined the course but has been somewhat silenced by self doubt and that is that essay writing is a set of skills that I haven't acquired yet and bears no relation to my intelligence.

I have identified that it is just this which is the key issue and will go to my tutor to express my concerns sooner rather than later.

I have stopped working in a job so I have perfect conditions for applying myself fully, I am working so hard but not seeing the results, this has been the most alarming thing this year.

Thank you, I shall carry on with my essay now.

MrsRBrand Tue 12-Nov-13 20:47:42

I had a meeting today with an academic volunteer from the centre for academic practice at my university, she was so lovely and really supportive, I feel more relaxed and happy now. Thanks everyone for the encouragement.

neunundneunzigluftballons Tue 12-Nov-13 20:59:59

Academic writing is a skill. Like any skill you can build, develop and improve. Can you ask for feedback mid way through an essay to get a clear direction at that point rather than just a result at the end. As another poster pointed out your OP was very clear and well structured which means you can do it. Best of luck.

greenbananas Tue 12-Nov-13 21:00:42

Good luck MrsRBrand.

I want to say that your posts here do NOT make you come across as somebody who has problems with grammar!

I have a good degree from a respectable redbrick, and I used to be rather good at writing essays. It is mostly just a knack, which csn be learned. Part of it is understanding the structure (e.g. introduction, 3 points to develop the argument, followed by a conclusion that pulls everything together). Part of it is just having the confidence to say what you really think.

I'm trying to type on my phone, so am more than usually incoherent. You are not at all incoherent, but seem very good at saying what you mean.

Again, I say Good Luck.

MrsRBrand Thu 14-Nov-13 10:58:01

Thanks so much, I feel so much better now.

Confitdecanard Thu 14-Nov-13 11:08:54

Remember as a primary teacher you won't be asked to write any essays once you qualify. The really important bit is how you are "at the chalk face" - how you communicate with pupils and help remove barriers to their learning. You sound like you have this bit sorted. Do get support with the essay writing bit but remember that it is a means to an end.

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