AIBU to be upset for loosing my job over this?(98 Posts)
After being unemployed for a couple of years due to chronic illness and then going to university as a mature student, I got a temporary job as an English language teacher (to cover someone who was unwell). At the interview, the lady was looking over my CV and suddenly said something like "Oh! Whoever looked at your application didn't look at it properly. We wanted someone with more experience than this, but it's too late now." For context, I had a teaching certificate from about 4 years prior and one year's part time experience.
Anyway, she gave me the job which was four hours a day for one week, with the possibility of more cover work in the future. The first few days went well, but then something went wrong. I was using lesson plans and materials made by the teacher I was covering for and I hadn't noticed that an exercise was missing from their worksheets. Some of the students noticed and started to look worried and confused. I realized what had happened and told them not to worry, to move on to the next exercise. There still seemed to be confusion so I went around the room and checked each student understood and got them to move on. I didn't think anything more of it, but the next day my boss came up to me and said a large group of students had complained about my teaching after that class, saying that they didn't understand what was going on, I had confused them and provided them with a worksheet that had a missing item. She asked me if I had given them the worksheets and not told them what to do. I said no, I explained everything, I just didn't notice that mistake at first. She didn't seem convinced and said "Well, it's partly not your fault." After that she randomly turned up in the middle of my lesson to observe me, which I guess was fine. After I had completed the week, she said she didn't think I was suitable to continue, and maybe I could contact them again when I had more experience.
I don't have much of an issue with her not wanting to keep me on (although it's a bit annoying that everyone wants you to be experienced, but then won't provide you with said experience), but I felt extremely anxious and guilty that a gang of the students had complained about me. Most of the lesson they were texting on their phones or just sitting staring into space not doing their work. They are paying a lot of money for that course, so I could understand with me being an inexperienced teacher they didn't feel like they were getting their money's worth, but they didn't seem interested or motivated during the lesson anyway.
This has completely knocked my confidence. I'm sure it seems pathetic and like I'm being too sensitive. When I told my friend about she said "meh, forget about it." It was a huge deal for me to work there, if only for a week. I am still dealing with a chronic illness and have really low self confidence. I had such a positive experience with a different group of students at the start of the week and it just keeps going around in my head that I was a terrible teacher. I don't know how to stop feeling awful over this experience and scared to work again.
Tbh the main problem is that they were on their phones or staring into space, not engaged. If that's what she saw when she was observing you, it will be that and not that there a moment of confusion over a worksheet. It doesn't mean you are a bad teacher though, you just need more experience to be able to hold their attention which can be harder with older/adult students.
It was an honest mistake and everyone makes them at some point. You did the right thing. It's also par for the course that sometimes students complain over something that doesn't really merit a big fuss. It's also been my experience that sometimes when students are paying a lot, they are less motivated because they expect you to do most of the work for them.
I get that it's really knocked your confidence but you've been unlucky. Doesn't make you a bad teacher. Get back on the horse and look for other work. The world of part-time EFL can be very insecure and you've found yourself at the sharp end of that.
I've done a lot of facilitation/teaching. I can get any group to pay attention. I've taught everyone from gang-involved young people to rich ESL students. And it is 90% experience. Therefore get any experience you can. Public speaking courses and clubs, volunteering with ESL refugees, teaching any skill to anyone.
You'll be fine. You desperately need the experience.
CMMum88 They weren't doing that when she was watching. I observed a few lessons with an experienced teacher before I started and they were doing it with her, too. She told me it happens all the time and often students get told to leave the room because of this. But you are right, a good teacher should be able to engage everyone.
DoctorDoctor thanks, that is reassuring. From the reaction I got I think the students kind of exaggerated what had happened to make me look terrible. They made out they didn't know what was going on the whole lesson because of that incident, yet the all managed to complete the work.
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What a shame for you. Hopefully you'll get another job when all this is over.
They made out they didn't know what was going on the whole lesson because of that incident, yet the all managed to complete the work.
Nope. The class is my responsibility. Don't blame the students. If you were a rock star, they would have said that. I am responsible for the class, not the students. The power is mine. You find a way. Every time. I've had classes where people were on heroin. Literally. Still gave good feedback.
You find a way to learn to engage. Because it's never the students' fault. Not if you really want to be a good teacher.
@Patsypie I would assume the spelling mistake is due to OP being upset/tired, considering the rest of the post is fine. You’ve probably just succeeded in making the OP feel even worse.
OP, sorry to hear this has knocked your confidence. I echo a previous poster...get back on that horse.
Patsypie Thanks. As I mentioned in my post I have a chronic illness. I did not proof read, my energy is limited. Hence why I work part time. I get extremely tired and have cognitive difficulties. Guess I should just give up and not work at all?
Guess I should just give up and not work at all?
Or you could read the encouraging replies and not just filter all the crap out. You need to believe in yourself to teach. You have to roll with the punches, not take things personally and learn to turn negatives into positives.
MrsTerryPratchett You are right 100 %. I didn't mean to come across like I'm blaming the students. It was more about the reaction of my boss and not being able to get over feeling terrible about evoking that response from the students.
MrsTerryPratchett I do appreciate the encouraging responses, thank you.
Keep going! Either try again - I’m sure you will get there with more practice. But if you find it too tough or too much pressure - look at other types of jobs.
I switched career to something That better suited my personality and I am much more chilled out now
Tbh you do sound a bit too sensitive and unsure to teach large groups. They will pick up on your insecurities. Could you maybe try 1:1 private tuition instead? Something where you could build a relationship?
Thepigeonsarecoming You are right I am very sensitive. I always have been, not sure there's anything I can do to change that.
The majority of my previous teaching experience was one-to-one and I found it much easier. The problem was many students would drop out after a few weeks or months because their lives got too busy/they started a new job/were too tired/moved away etc so it was a bit too unpredictable.
I’m sorry @mushu92 but unless you can secure more 1:1 (online probably now) teaching. Then I think given your health and insecurities you do need to consider other career paths
I always have been, not sure there's anything I can do to change that.
There are things you can do. Be very prepared. You weren't this time. Know your materials, know your technology, know the space. You can fake confidence. You can't fake knowledge.
Delivering other people's content in a class is always a bit nerve wracking. I end up spending a lot of time on preparation, probably as much as if I devised material myself, just to ensure that delivery goes without a hitch. You really need to scrutinise content to see that it is fullproof and that you are not shown up whilst teaching.
I agree with others; engagement is key and you need to carry and sustain your audience. If you don't have attention, you can't teach. (And I know how hard that can be as I teach in forensic mental health settings where people might be deeply unwell and/or taking antipsychotics that have major impacts on cognition.)
You need to make each student want to be in the room with you, to be like a customer that wants to come back rather than voting with their feet by leaving. I would work closely on getting honest feedback directly from students (put forms together to record this) and working to it so that you can meet their needs.
I would work closely on getting honest feedback directly from students (put forms together to record this)
And learning to read a room.
I'd say this was not a reflection on you at all. Seems she was looking for a reason not to keep you on, and just humoured you with the first week, in order to be able to use her excuse of "not enough experience"
Technically you didn't lose anything, because I don't think you would have been given it in the first place.
Move on, find somewhere better.
@MrsTerryPratchett for sure! You need to spot early if you're beginning to lose the room and adapt quickly. That comes with experience too. I take multiple resources so that I can change quickly as I can't rely on getting one set plan to work with students, especially with the barriers my students already experience.
@MrsTerryPratchett Unfortunately not the case. I once taught in a school where kids would see a new teacher and do all in their power to be awful. Someone in my form even told me "We're going to get rid of the new one just as we did with all the previous ones, we gie them two weeks", followed by a very cruel laughing from the class. School could not fill a few posts long term because people, and while some not great, some were actually pretty good teachers, kept on leaving after a few weeks.
Unfortunately it's not true that if you're great as a teacher children will just somehow magically engage. Sometimes they are just disengaged from education full stop, and oyu can bend over backwards and get no results.
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