PGCE support thread

(57 Posts)
pgcestudent Fri 09-Nov-12 18:10:47

Hi All
Sorry if there already is one of these, but I couldn't find one and thought others might also appreciate a place to get support, share tips and let off some steam.

So, I'll start... I am doing a secondary PGCE and am currently on my first placement. School seems nice and I have taken a couple of full lessons so far. However, I am getting somewhat demoralised as even though my lessons were not perfect by any means (I am still learning though ffs), my mentor only ever seems to go through things I need to work on to improve my lessons next time but never actually mentions anything which might have gone well (or even ok).

So, am I being oversensitive? Should I just take the fact that he only ever mentions things to improve as a hint to just give up now? or what? I ended up going to the toilets to cry after my last meeting despite feeling that my lesson prior to the meeting was reasonable (not brilliant, but not too bad considering had never met the group before and was teaching in a room I had never been in before).

Sorry, that is such a long whingy post, but the constant focusing on what needs to be improveds without even mentioning even small things which might be ok, is really getting to me.

FromEsme Fri 09-Nov-12 19:17:08

Hi there, I'm on my first placement too but doing Primary.

Could you have a word with your tutor at the end of the next lesson and say something like "and what went well?" I wouldn't take it too personally, it's probably a case of wanting to point out where you can improve more than anything.

I personally actually hate my school. The kids are great, but morale is low, the teacher chats with the TA at the back of the class during my lessons, behaviour management consists of shouting and talking down to the children. There's very little focus on learning. My mentor - well, I've seen her once for about 5 minutes and I've been in for more than a month.

I'm just trying to keep my head down and get on with it. Before I started I was teaching ESL so I know that I'm not a terrible teacher. I'm a VERY frustrated one at the moment though as I feel I'm not doing my best and have very little support.

pgcestudent Fri 09-Nov-12 19:52:05

Hello, FromEsme. Sorry to hear your school is not good and you have little support. Have you had any formal observations yet? If so, how have they gone? How much longer are you in your current school? I am in mine until Christmas, so not long and we find out where placement 2 is next week.

I am dreading my formal observations though as I've had very little experience (though am a career changer) but they seem to expect brilliance from the start, instead of just that was OK, but you could have improved it with x,y,z. Tons of coursework to be handed in soon too.

FromEsme Fri 09-Nov-12 20:59:40

Not had ANY observation. My teacher says she'll observe me then wanders off or chats to the TA. My college tutor is aware and says to plough on. I've told her it's important, that she must do it: nothing. She hasn't given me any feedback, when I ask how I'm doing she says "oh when you get your observation, make sure that's the really good lesson, that's what matters." She doesn't give a damn, basically, about me or her class.

I'm only in school til Christmas too, thank God, but then we're not in again til April. And yes, ASSIGNMENTS, er, when the hell are you supposed to have time to do those? I have 6000 words and a practical task to do by mid-January!

I wouldn't worry about brilliance, seriously. A lot of our tutors have been a bit like that, but others have said to treat first placement like a practice and try out things to see what works. Those are the tutors I respect, they have realistic expectations and they tend to be the ones who are good teachers themselves.

pgcestudent Fri 09-Nov-12 21:39:58

I thought by law they had to remain within the classroom or easily accessible whilst students are teaching? It is dreadful if she is not around at all!

I have a 3000 word essay to complete by start january, another 3000 word one for a month later and a 6000 word dissertation for june.

Is your second school at a contrasting place to your first? Ours is supposed to be, which for me could mean anything!

FromEsme Sun 11-Nov-12 09:43:04

She is always in the classroom: just not really paying attention to what's going on (unless it's to yell at the kids.)

Our second placement has to be a different key stage, not sure if it has to be a different type of school.

FromEsme Mon 12-Nov-12 17:38:21

We can't be the only two PGCE-ers. Anyone else about?

OP, did you chat with your mentor today? Any improvements?

EcoLady Mon 12-Nov-12 19:42:31

Just wanted to say "hang in there"!

I started my PGCE (Primary KS2) last year but needed to retake my final placement. I've been in yr 6 doing that this term.

Today they signed the form for my QTS grin

It's a long slog but you will get there. Sometimes it is with the help of great mentors, sometimes despite the lack of help from poor mentors ... but you WILL get there :-)

pgcestudent Mon 12-Nov-12 21:04:58

Thanks, Ecolady, it is good to hear.

Esme, sorry for deserting the thread, I had a ton of planning to get done for today so I was up until stupid o'clock last night trying to get through it. On the plus side, apparently the lesson my mentor saw today was "much better" (could have fooled me - I thought it was much worse!), whereas the one he didn't see completely went to pot.... Argh!

On the plus side, sometimes I am vaguely getting a glimmer of understanding as to what I should be doing. This will have vanished by the end of the week of course, when I have my next formal meeting... I am also having a formal observation next week. I am so blooming nervous it is unreal - especially as the kids are just starting to test my boundaries now.

How is it going for you?

EcoLady Mon 12-Nov-12 22:48:58

Oh, and planning gets faster and easier too :-)

pgcestudent Tue 13-Nov-12 19:40:57

Thank god for that!

Got another late night lined up for tonight. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ I am so tired.

pgcestudent Wed 14-Nov-12 17:08:32

What a thoroughly, thoroughly shit day. It was almost farcial (sp?)

FromEsme Wed 14-Nov-12 18:30:05

Oh dear, what went so wrong?

I have my university observation next week. The only time my tutor can come in is during a PE lesson or during art, neither of which I've ever done before. Would I be mad to do it during PE, considering I've NO experience of teaching it?

Any ideas guys?

pgcestudent Wed 14-Nov-12 21:28:13

Just overtired from several nights with only 4 hours or less sleep due to lesson planning, feeling ill and then to top it off, I read my timetable wrong and failed to show up to a lesson blush, so my mentor was (quite rightly) majorly pissed off and I was majorly pissed off with myself to mess up like that. Gah!

pgcestudent Wed 14-Nov-12 21:34:05

On the subject of your university observation though - I guess the main things they will be looking for at this stage are things like your interaction with the children, your ability to plan out what you are doing with them and your ability to keep them under control as well as wider involvement with school life (i.e. from chatting to you and/or your ITE coordinator). I'd stick with whichever one you feel more comfortable with even if you haven't given it before. PE is possibly safer I imagine., Less things to potentially go wrong!

FromEsme Wed 14-Nov-12 23:10:01

Oops, that's a shame you missed the class. I'm sure it happens though, so hopefully they'll forget all about it by next week.

How on earth are you doing so much work that you only get 4 hours sleep? It sounds like you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself. I try to keep lesson planning to a minimum, see what works and what doesn't rather than stressing out about everything being perfect.

Hm, my involvement with school life is practically nil, I hate the place and am out of there as soon as possible. The thing I'm worried about in PE is the idea of two of the kids running into each other and getting concussion or something. They have absolutely no self-control.

SandStorm Wed 14-Nov-12 23:15:08

I'm not doing a pgce - I'm doing a GTP. Got my first uni ob this week. She's coming to observe a maths lesson which would be fine but it's not been going great so far this week. Last week's lessons went a bit tits up but slowly back on the up now.

Fingers crossed and keep smiling I think is the answer.

pgcestudent Thu 15-Nov-12 18:26:57

Hi SandStorm - GTP's count too!

Are you doing primary?

SandStorm Thu 15-Nov-12 20:01:16

Upper KS2 here. Uni ob tomorrow (maths). I've had a mixed time with my maths but I had a really good lesson today so I just need to repeat it tomorrow. I've got a mixed year 5/6 class so lots and lots of differentiation.

pgcestudent Thu 15-Nov-12 20:13:20

Dumb question, but you know when we get observed, is it based on the stage we are in training or on say the same criteria experienced teachers would be judged on for e.g. on ofsted inspection?

Good luck SandStorm!

FromEsme Thu 15-Nov-12 20:25:44

Good question. Looking at our inspection criteria it doesn't really seem fair. There are things like "all children are learning/some children are learning/children aren't learning" and the inspector picks one of those.

Well in my class loads of the time some children aren't learning because my teacher doesn't teach them or just gives them things to copy down. When I try to do anything that isn't just copying, they have no idea how to do it because they've never worked independently.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 15-Nov-12 20:31:22

When we have trainees in, they get written feedback on every lesson they teach. There is always a teacher in the room, so there is always feedback to be given.

TwllBach Thu 15-Nov-12 20:34:57

I'm not doing a pgce - I'm an NQT - but I just wanted to say keep going! It is genuinely the best job in the world grin I remember feeling like I didn't have a clue, and I think for the most part I'll always be learning, but honestly it's so rewarding. Keep on keeping on!

FromEsme Thu 15-Nov-12 20:53:55

TheFallenMadonna your school sounds great. I have to beg my teacher for feedback and when she finally gives it, she doesn't really say anything.

I'm starting to get the feeling the school have put me in there because she is so crap that they want someone to support her. It seems so unfair.

pgcestudent Thu 15-Nov-12 21:44:05

I get written feedback after each lesson and this is great, the oral feedback though tends to vary from one teacher to another. One for example tries to balance out all the improve this, improve that with this went well, liked that idea and so on. Another tends to only focus on feeding back improvement targets which can be a bit demoralising.

In addition to this though, we also have formal observations where we get graded. I'm not really sure how this is graded though iyswim.

Twllbach, glad to hear there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Bumpstart Thu 15-Nov-12 23:29:14

Hi, I m a teacher and i currently am the mentor of a young lady doing her detlls, which is for life long learning [adults]

I do't give her written feedback every time, but I do give her absolutely loads of advice, support encouragement etc, to the point where it is a major distraction from my own work. I am giving her lots of support now in the hope that she will gain confidence from it and be a genuine asset to the team before the end of the placement.

I am sorry to hear that some of you are having a difficult placement. I have colleagues who I would never expect to mentor a trainee, as they just don't know how to engage in supporting someone in this way.

Teacher trainers are really a special breed, and if you think your tutor at university is good, then you are lucky. I'm not sure I could be one.

Best of luck with all the assignments!

pgcestudent Sun 18-Nov-12 16:04:53

Thanks bumpstart. It is useful to have views from the "other side".

Thankfully the end of my week went slightly better - though that may have been my mentor taking pity!

Still, trundling on... (and spending Sunday afternoon planning lessons...)

I hope all is well with everyone else.

FromEsme Tue 20-Nov-12 22:45:18

Oh dear, had a really bad observation today sad My tutor underlined two elements as not meeting the standards. I'm so embarrassed - I actually started crying in his office sad

I'm just so stressed. My class teacher is really unpleasant. She simply doesn't care at all. She uses no behaviour management - so I'm not sure how I'm expected to. I spose I just have to go for it, this is the element my tutor picked up on.

I feel really dreadful and stupid about all of this sad

pgcestudent Wed 21-Nov-12 17:02:08

Oh no, Esme. If it is any consolation, I had an observation today with the normal class teacher which was a big pile of poo. I suspect that many things didn't meet the standard (to the point she didn't give me feedback yet). The whole class were a nightmare, I kept 4 in for detention afterwards, the level of the work was too high for them and one of the ones I kept for detention tried to threaten me. Thankfully I have no planning to do tonight, but I'm verging on the giving up side of things atm.

FromEsme Wed 21-Nov-12 18:28:57

Oh dear, sorry to hear you had a bad day. I am feeling better today and you will be soon too, I'm sure. I think it's a bit of a rollercoaster like that.

Nice one on having no planning - can you do something nice instead? I'm working through The Hunger Games as my relaxation time.

Don't give up though! Just think, however shit it is, you can make it through the year and then you'll have the qualification. You don't HAVE to teach in the end.

Is there anyone on your course you can contact for support? Or someone at university? Ours do drop in sessions every week. Our head of department said that he has seen so many people cry at these sessions that we're not to worry about getting emotional!

SandStorm Wed 21-Nov-12 20:13:29

I'm at uni this week and one of the things that has been said to me by a lecturer is that (and I quote) "everyone has crap lessons". This was a teacher of 40+ years experience as both a teacher and head. It was really nice to hear because most of the time we're being told how we have to be so on top of everything, all the time. And actually, we can't. We've only been at this for 2 months.

My observations have been okay so far (my appalling lesson wasn't being observed thank heavens, but was still the subject of discussion in the staffroom afterwards). Just remember, if you're outstanding now, where do you go?

We will do this! When I get down I just remind myself how many people apply for PGCEs/GTPs and how few actually get offered a place.

pgcestudent Wed 21-Nov-12 21:41:21

Very true, SandStorm. I guess I'm feeling a bit demoralised as all the other students in my school are loving it and getting great obs. Then someone from my course put as his status on Facebook how he'd just an observation and got goods with some outstandings and had been told how great he was. Now, sorry to sound bitter, but those kinds of comments to a blanket audience are not the most sensitive for those who've had a shitty day sad.

FromEsme Wed 21-Nov-12 21:58:01

pgcestudent yes, I find it REALLY annoying when people are like YAY I'M DOING SO WELL! It's very insensitive and I never do it. I really think people need to take step back and think about how others might be feeling.

EcoLady Wed 21-Nov-12 22:12:12

My final two days as a trainee ... and we've got Ofsted coming in!

I'm solo in my class as my mentor is covering another yr for someone signed off sick.

pgcestudent Wed 21-Nov-12 22:14:49

It wouldn't be so bad I think, if they were equally as quick to share their 'downs' as their 'ups'.

Anyway, let's hope tomorrow is better all round!

I had an email from my tutor today that she will come and observe a lesson next week - all fine and well, but she picked my worst group when I am doing stuff with them that doesn't fit into the observation-friendly 3-part lesson... Hooray!

pgcestudent Wed 21-Nov-12 22:16:37

Good luck, Eco. Sorry, I didn't mean to ignore you, just cross-posted. Do you know if Ofsted are planning to observe your lesson?

EcoLady Wed 21-Nov-12 22:24:37

I can expect them to drop in as part of their touring around. They may want to talk to me about the way the school has supported my training.

It's quite exciting really - I've been signed off as passing QTS, so I have nothing to lose and can gain from the experience.

pgcestudent Thu 22-Nov-12 19:29:09

How were Ofsted, Eco?

I just got my details of my second placement and they have decided to place me in a school which was in special measures until this summer. I am going to complain.

FromEsme Thu 22-Nov-12 20:49:31

Wow pgcestudent that's tough...

EcoLady Thu 22-Nov-12 21:41:44

A school that has just come out of SM is likely to be doing the very best of everything. Weak staff will have gone and everyone will be striving for improvements. It's probably a great place to train!

I've had a 'normal' school, a 'fraiffully naice' school and a 'more challenging' school. I learnt the most in the challenging one, had the best Mentor there and the most supportive atmosphere.

It's where I'm being Ofsted'ed now and I will be very sad to leave them :-(

pgcestudent Wed 28-Nov-12 19:18:32

Hi all - everyone still hanging in there?

Got an obs. tomorrow, not looking forward to it and certainly not prepared! The subject is very dull as and dry and the group is my worst. Gulp!

pgcestudent Thu 29-Nov-12 18:17:52

Hi guys.

Just popped in to say obs went great. It is such a relief!

How are you doing?

EcoLady Thu 29-Nov-12 18:26:14

Well done pgcestudent!

My final placement school have given me my first bit of supply teaching this week :-)

pgcestudent Thu 29-Nov-12 19:34:39

That's great. It must be good to actually be earning after all the effort of qualifying!

FromEsme Fri 30-Nov-12 20:11:55

Oh dear, truly awful day sad My teacher has suddenly decided she's going to be helpful and when I had a meeting with her and my tutor she made out I'd been really lazy about asking for help. Such bollocks. I know my tutor had a word with her before and now she's trying to pass the buck and make it look like it's my fault I'm not doing that well.

Really pissed off.

Leafmould Fri 30-Nov-12 20:25:01

Oh dear esme, I am so sorry you are not being supported by your teacher. Hopefully you will have contact with other teachers soon who are able to offer you their full support.

EcoLady Fri 30-Nov-12 20:40:31

Oh Esme, poor you. My first mentor was crap too, I just didn't realise how poor they had been until I got a better one. Chin up - you WILL get through this. You ARE learning and you ARE making progress :-)

FromEsme Fri 30-Nov-12 20:43:08

Thanks for your support - I'm feeling really shit about this.

pgcestudent Sun 02-Dec-12 13:57:25

Hi Esme - I tried to post a reply several times, but my tablet kept eating it! Not sure what was happening there.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I hope you are feeling better about things. Just remember, if your course is like mine, you don't have much longer to go in your current school, so try to grit your teeth and get out of it what you can - you'll be in another school soon.

Also, have you tried taking notes about your mentor? For example, when you have approached her for help, write down exactly when you approached her, what you asked her for and what her response was. Also, try to be as visible as you can when asking for help from her, so that other members of staff see you asking her for stuff and she will therefore be forced to respond. Just make sure you gather evidence that it is her, not you who is being uncooperative as asking for help to improve teaching comes under teacher standard number 8, which you will need to evidence that you do this at the end of the course (if your course is set up like mine).

Hope that helps at all.

Keep with it, it's almost Christmas smile.

nkf Sun 02-Dec-12 14:09:43

Keep going. Try to see another teacher at work. That can help. Or even better, follow a difficult class to another more experienced teacher. See how she/he handles them.

Some people are useless at mentoring. Utterly useless. And you often don't realise they are useless and think it's all you.

Finally, you can learn as much from a crap lesson as you can from a good one.

Good luck.

clam Sun 02-Dec-12 14:21:14

I have a pair of students at the moment - preliminary visits at the moment, then main placement later (B.Ed 1s)

Presumably your teachers went to the mentor training at your university? The one thing that stood out for me was how important it is as a mentor to be welcoming and supportive and that all feedback really should start with the things that went well. Not rocket science, is it? Sounds like your teachers drifted off at that point in the training. Not good.

My students are LOVELY and a pleasure to have around. They're keen, enthusiastic, helpful and pro-active.

pgcestudent Tue 18-Dec-12 23:23:57

Hi all, if any of you are still around! Sorry for the absence, mainly due to a work overload.

However, I'm now in the last week of first placement and wondered how everyone else was getting on?

After the last few posts, I think I finally nailed discipline (with the current classes, which means it may well be crap at the next school) and had some fab lessons and really good obs. However, I just had my summative report meeting with my mentor and am back to pissed off again. He marked me as "good" against four of the eight teacher standards and "satisfactory" against the other four, whilst saying in the written comments what a good job I'd done and whilst also saying in his oral feedback that in cases where it was borderline between the two, he'd put the lower grade. Then, because he marked me satisfactory for 4 standards, he marked the first placement as satisfactory overall, saying "no-one should get a good or outstanding in their first placement, you can't because you've only been doing it for 7 weeks".

Now, I understand the last comment, but, I had to write my own schemes of work, current teachers at the school have asked to use my lesson plans for future lessons and both my university tutor and the ITE coordinator at my school graded the lessons they observed as good.

I think he has issues with the fact that he received a good grading in his last obs and therefore won't give me the same, but am really pissed off given that all comments were positive etc and in his own words "you've done a brilliant job and fitted right in to the department" hmm.

Grrr. I know it's a pass, but still, grrr.

EcoLady Thu 17-Jan-13 21:10:04

Just popped in to see how you guys are getting on this term?

I got QTS at end of Nov, a few days supply in the same school in Dec ... then landed the first job I applied for! Amazing luck. It's close to home, the age range I wanted and a lovely school. Having to do the extra placement really worked out to be the best thing for me.

There are two PGCE-ers in my school. right now, going through the trials and tribulations.

Chin up everyone - it is so worth it in the end!

pgcestudent Sat 19-Jan-13 00:21:40

Hi Ecolady.

For my part, I am waiting to start my second placement now, so I have a nice easy university-based couple of weeks (when I should be working on my assignments, but am actually using the time to catch up with dc's) before placement 2 starts.

Still miffed over the end of placement 1, but hey ho. Never mind.

Otherwise I'm just trying to get started on some job applications. The other scary bit - getting a job at the end!

How is your NQT going?

pgcestudent Sat 30-Mar-13 23:49:52


I just wondered if any of us student teachers/nqt's are still around?

Currently in my second placement school and HATING it. School is so-called "outstanding", but lots of box-ticking, "how can we be outstanding today" type training sessions. Lots of focusing on, "you should do this to get an outstanding observation" and lots of arrogant children who are much less likeable than those at the last school (far from middle-class arrogant).

I won't be applying for teaching jobs after this. I'm just aiming to get through the course atm.

(NC'd Eco here)

Don't get demoralised by the box ticking sad. It's just how that school does it. Every school is different, which is why everyone says to visit before applying for jobs if you can. Chin up - enjoy some time for your self over Easter and take the positives from this school. It's all great experience, even the box ticking and dealing with arrogant pupils.

I'm exhausted after my first full NQT term but loving it. The "Oh! I get it!" moments mean SO much more when it's your own class. I've got some demanding parents but they seem to like me so far. We're "Good" with a Head pushing for "Outstanding" but it seems to be in a very supportive way.

You WILL get there! All schools are not the same. Eat chocolate, drink wine, sleep and look after yourself. smile

pgcestudent Tue 02-Apr-13 21:53:28

Thanks. I think it's just the "this isn't going to end" aspect. Good to know there is light at the other side.

Definitely relying too much on chocolate though - it is doing my waistline no good!!!!

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