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Training to be a primary teacher, very discouraged.

(31 Posts)
jennifersofia Wed 29-Jun-05 21:32:02

I am nearly done with my PGCE, which I will finish but the trouble is, I wonder if I should actually teach. The truth is I just don't enjoy it very much. I find it so stressful, and so tiring, and most of the time I feel overwhelmed by a feeling of failure. I don't feel that I have really cracked the behaviour thing, and feel that most of my lessons are boring, lack creativity, pitched at the wrong level (which of course has the dual impact of not helping them learn and affecting behaviour), and too bound to the strategies. Days that I have felt happy and relaxed with a modicum of confidence in the classroom I could count on one hand.
I know it is different when you have your own class, and things (maybe) get easier, but many teachers I have spoken to say that it usually gets better after 2-4 years. Don't know if I can stick it out for that long if it feels like this. It is affecting my relationship with my own children and my husband - they mostly see someone who is short tempered and too busy to give them much attention.
Oh! I feel quite upset and unhappy about this - what should I do? I don't want to go back to a stupid job that means nothing to me, I know I wasn't happy being a SAHM, yet I really have doubts about whether or not I can make a good go at this.

happymerryberries Wed 29-Jun-05 21:40:28

Have a go and see what you think.

I found that things were ,usch better when the kids realised you were a 'real' teacher and not 'the student'

It also helps when you don;t have someone looking at you every move. Not being watched helps your confidence no end imho

A lot of the rest only comes with practice. Every one has crap lessons! But you get to treasure the good ones more as you grow in confidence and get more tricks up your slevav

bee3 Wed 29-Jun-05 22:35:11

I so feel for you. I have to say that I think a Primary PGCE is one of, if not the most stressful, intense and exhausting courses that you can take in a year, and to do it with a young family is an incredible achievement. Having said that, your NQT year, if you decide to do it, isn't going to be easy by any means as the pressure is on in different ways. But to give up now would mean you would never know if teaching was really for you or not.
Could you try for an NQT post, and see how it goes? If you completed that year at least you would have QTS, and then if you wanted to work part time, or supply, that would always be an option open to you for years to come. And it is easier when you have your own class. You would get 10% reduced timetable as an NQT, and a further 10% planning and preparation time (statutory as of Sept 2005), so you would effectively be teaching four days a week, and have a full day to plan and prepare which might take the pressure off a bit. Or you could possibly find a part-time post where they are still willing to induct you, it would just take longer than a year. What are the schools like locally, and how easy would it be to find a post for September (considering it's already late for applications)? What would you do otherwise? I have been teaching primary for about 12 years now (not at the moment, though, as I'm on an 'extended' maternity leave - I'm just not working!), and I'm completely torn between desperately missing my job, but knowing that if I went back my home life and family would inevitably suffer, so I understand some of what you are going through. Not much help, but perhaps a little food for thought?

jennifersofia Wed 29-Jun-05 23:18:16

So kind of you both to post, it is helpful to have an outside point of view. I am a bit reluctant to express my hesitation to my immediate family only because they have busted their butts to enable me to get to where I am (looking after children, personal sacrifice, etc).
I am trying to get a job, but as you mention, not fantastically easy at this stage. I am in east London, so there are possibilities, although many around at the moment are either RC schools, or looking for experienced, or in late KS2, which I am a little hesitant to go for. I think too because I have been emotionally hesitant about it that is hampering the process.
If I can't get a job I could either do supply until Christmas (or whenever I can get a job) or put it off for a year or so. Not sure if supply would = good job experience or simply = horrible experience which would put me off totally. Also concerned that if I did put off the NQT year, I would find it that bit harder to come back to it.
Don't mean to sound like a terrible whinger - just have lots of concerns.

moo2 Wed 29-Jun-05 23:38:03

Go for it- training to be a teacher is nothing like being a teacher, i was ready to quit before I started, it is a rewarding but hard job, don't do supply, it's lonely and whatever you do you will not be thanked for it. Get your own class and you will learn on the job and will feel good about everything you achieve. Be realistic and don't be hard on yourself, the fact that you care so much about doing the right thing shows already you have the dedication to do it. That is what teaching is about. Giving a shit about what you are doing!!!!

likklemum Thu 30-Jun-05 00:37:33

Im on maternity leave in my 3rd year teaching. Like you, my target after NQT year was behaviour management. I found it very helpful to observe other teacher b-management (choose someone in your key-stage and get them to write down some pointers too). I must say that my NQT year was very hard as i didnt get the support i shoul have. I was ready to give up. it got a bit better last year and this year i really enjoyed it. i think it falls into place after a bit, coz you know what sort of lessons work best, what things the children respond best to etc. also, you know what things are a priority, rather than not having a clue and trying to do eveything!!! As an NQT, it will take you longer to do things and you will have to put longer hours in. But this is relatively short term. You will soon build up the experience needed to lighten the load. Good Luck!!
ps. the old chestnut - dont smile til 1/2 term serves well. go in hard as nails.

homemama Thu 30-Jun-05 10:29:12

Sorry to hear that you're feeling so down. As Bee3 says, the intensity of a PGCE is overwhelming. Unfortunately, that intensity can still prevail throughout the NQT year. The difference is that you should be supported and given the opportunity to work through the areas that you find difficult.

Supply teaching is an option but it can be very isolating. If you cover, say, a mat. leave til Christmas, don't forget to ask them to observe you as anything more than half a term in a block counts towards your QTS.

It does get easier after the induction year. I was surprised at how much more I knew and how much better a teacher I was after the first year. The other important thing to mention is that I didn't begin to enjoy it until the Easter of my NQT year. Just think of it as being half way through the hardest two years you'll ever have (and the PGCE is more stressful than the NQT YR)

Sorry if I've not been much help, but I think if you can cope with bringing up a family whilst doing a PGCE, then you can cope with teaching.
Good luck

Arabica Thu 30-Jun-05 12:00:03

I really feel for you, too, but want to encourage you not to give up as you have done so well to get this far. My DH is in similar position (maybe even at same college)--he's just about to finish his PGCE and all the observation/judgment really did his head in--especially as he was assessed as 'borderline' and had to have an extra observation; he was terrified he was going to fail the whole thing. Also everyone else in his tutorial group found work AGES before he did. But now he has a firm offer of a job and has finally come through all the observation, he feels 100% better,and has already had some very positive contact with his new employer. Being treated as a professional rather than a student has really boosted his confidence and I hope getting a job (which I am sure you will eventually) will make you feel much better. Sorry to ramble but just feel it would be such a shane to stop now when you have done so well!

popsycal Thu 30-Jun-05 12:12:35

i did a primary pgce when i was young and single and found it the most stressfu year of my life so hats off to you doing t with a young family

that said, yuor nqt year will also be very had work
teaching is great for the holidays but you have to work your bacside off in term time
i return to work in 2 weeks after my second maternity leave and am dreading it

i couldnt think of another jib i would rather do if i have to do a job at all though

popsycal Thu 30-Jun-05 12:13:38

sorry about typing - ds2 here

Ameriscot2005 Thu 30-Jun-05 12:22:41

Jennifer -

Are you getting good feedback from your tutors and mentors? If so, then you should take encouragement from this. Finishing your PGCE is just the start of your teaching career and you are not expected to know it all. You will continue to get training after you have started your first job and I can't imagine any primary school colleagues that would not give you the support and encouragement you need.

Teaching is very hard emotionally, as some days it is great and other days it is awful - you just want the good things to outweigh the bad. And also to turn that bad behaviour around must be one of the most rewarding things.

The second year of teaching is much better if you have much the same job - but there's no point in telling you that the first year will be easy, except for all the extra support you get. But it is different from being a student teacher and easier in many ways as you will quickly develop relationships with your own pupils and hopefully the discipline issues will melt away.

Rarrie Thu 30-Jun-05 12:33:54

I'm secondary, so what I say may be of little value... but I found my PGCE year, to be the hardest year of my life. I think it does get easier when you become a teacher, because you relax into it... you teach 'your' way of teaching, instead of teaching how your mentor wants you to teach! Obviously the work won't get much easier for a couple of years yet... However, if you are not in desperate need of money, you could always teach part time? I do 0.5 and it has changed my life and turned teaching from something I do into something I love! Yes, I do far more work than 0.5 and basically end up doing an extra day in prep but I find I have got more time for prep and so it doesn't seem so hard. You are so close... just keep going and maybe try for part time in Sept (if you can afford to?)

fee77 Thu 30-Jun-05 13:01:25

Don't give up now - you have done most of the hard work. And it is sooooo different when you have your own class. You set the boundaries, you build up relationships, and you understand what makes them tick. Teaching is a really hard job, but is also very rewarding. Supply teaching is tough - you need good behaviour strategies to survive, and various lessons up your sleeve, but that said, i enjoyed my two years on supply. It really taught me to think on my feet. Of course there is very little support for supply teachers.
My advice would be to complete your nqt year, and then have a rethink. Where abouts in east london are you? I started off in barking and dagenham, and they had fanastic support for nqts, that was some years ago though!
Good luck with whatever you decide.

jennifersofia Thu 30-Jun-05 20:37:59

Thanks for all of the kind and encouraging posts. Today was a little better - had some non-contact which enabled me to do a little of my assessment and gave me a bit of space, and also felt a renewed bit of energy for the job thing - going to do an app. over the weekend and having another one sent to me. I will just keep on trying I suppose.
I am presuming that most of the job offers will dry up as soon as term ends - do you know at what point in the year there would be a fresh lot? (eg - there were lots after the half term of this term because that was the deadline for giving notice).
I am at the Institute of Education Arabica, where is your dh? What you say about his experience sounds familiar. Well done him for getting a job!
I am in Tower Hamlets, fee77.
Again, thanks to all who posted, it is touching to feel that people I don't even know are willing to give advice and a kind word.

honeyflower Thu 30-Jun-05 20:58:41

I'm sure you know this, but - the Institute of Education is one of the best places in the country to train to be a teacher. And so it's one of the most selective. They wouldn't have taken you on if they didn't think you had the makings of a good teacher. Go for it!

bee3 Thu 30-Jun-05 21:03:38

I'm glad you've had a better day. It's so hard to focus on the positive aspects of what you have done when you feel stressed and tired, but it makes you feel so much better if you can.

Most posts will have been filled by now for a Sept start, but there will still be a few around in the next couple of weeks (I've just sent off for details of a job with a July 15th deadline). The next lot will start appearing around Oct to start in January - I think the resignation deadline will be around halfterm (last week or so of Oct), so schools will know about available posts by then. London usually has much more movement than a lot of other areas, so there should be plenty.

Before moving to the depths of Cornwall I worked in london Primary, and was the schools tutor for IoE PGCE students for 5 years (Islington cluster though, not Tower Hamlets), so I know how hard the course is, what a fantastic reputation it has , and how hard it is to get on to - so you should be congratulating yourself on that score alone .

I'm sure you have loads of support from tutors, other students and your placement school, but if there is anything I could help you with, or if you just want to vent, please feel free to CAT me for my email address.
Hang in there - not long to go...

jennifersofia Thu 30-Jun-05 23:44:37

Thanks for that bee3, I just might take you up on that offer!

homemama Fri 01-Jul-05 08:44:51

Also, JS, one of the hardest things over the first couple of years is building up a bank of good ideas for lessons.
Feel free to CAT me any time, either now on in the next year if you need any ideas.
Can't promise they're any good though!

Littlefish Fri 01-Jul-05 12:25:44

Pleeeeeease don't be discouraged. I had a really awful time at one school when I was training, and almost failed that module in my course. I was completely demoralised and convinced myself that I was a useless teacher with nothing to offer. However, it simply wasn't the right school fo me. When I moved to a new school for my second placement, I scored all A's. I worked with a wonderful mentor at the new school who really boosted my confidence. I've now worked at 3 schools and am a deputy head. It is COMPLETELY different when you have your own class. Did you have many opportunities to observe other teachers? I always found that to be the most valuable way of learning.

If you haven't got a job for September, would you consider doing some voluntary work in a school near you (your children's school perhaps?) which would give you the opportunity to work alongside a more experienced teacher just to build up your confidence. I know that I would love to have someone like you in my classroom with me!

The PCGE is an incredibly intense course. It is the end of the year and you are probably absolutely exhausted. Take some time over the summer to have a really good rest, put a bit of distance between you and school and then think again in September when you are feeling rested.

Homemama is also right about building up a bank of ideas/lessons. Feel free to CAT me too - I'm experienced in Yr 1 and Rec, and from September will be working in mixed KS2 class.

Arabica Fri 01-Jul-05 12:26:16

jennifersofia, My DH is at the same college, but not in your cluster group. He doesn't know I have spoken to you on mumsnet, so I don't know if you know each other in RL. But if you would like to talk to him please CAT me.

jennifersofia Sat 02-Jul-05 10:27:49

It is amazing what you describe, Littlefish - very similar to my own experience. Bad spring placement which emotionally really knocked me for a loop. The school I am in now is great, with a really supportive teacher tutor, and a chance to observe some really good teachers, which is very inspiring, and helpful. I am also in KS1, which I get on with much better than upper KS2.
I do feel like I was quite an idiot about jobs not to have applied earlier. Somehow I just couldn't face the thought of promoting myself (in the springtime) when I felt like an utter failure. Good advice about volunteering though - I might try and do that until the next hiring phase. This would also give me the chance to settle my daughters in school - dd1 is just entering reception in a new school, and my other dd is going into nursery in a different school.
Which would do you think would be better career wise - to do supply until I can get a job, or to volunteer? It wouldn't be brilliant financially if I didn't work, but we could swing it for a little while.
I am so grateful for everyone's help and input. Thanks for the offer to CAT, Homemama and Littlefish. I will do that if I get quite stuck. I don't know if I know your dh by name, Arabica, but I am sure I have seen him - there aren't many blokes on the course unfortunately!
Ameriscot2005, have you taught in the US? I would be interested in your opinion about it if you have, as I am American myself and wonder about teaching there (eventually that is - have to get a job and experience here first!).

Littlefish Sat 02-Jul-05 19:10:50


It's a tricky one about September isn't it! It all depends how confident you feel by then. If you are still feeling a bit insecure, then volunteering might boost your confidence and give you the push you need to get a job after Christmas. You can legitimately put on your CV that you wanted some time to make sure your dd was settled at school before taking paid work, but that in the meantime, you have gained experience by working with groups etc. supporting class teachers, broadening your knowledge of different year groups etc. by volunteering.

If on the other hand by September you feel more positive about teaching and feel that you are ready, you could try and get some supply work. There's no reason why you couldn't start with just one day a week and see how you get on.

I'm sure that a lot of schools still haven't sorted their PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) cover yet, so there should be schools looking for teachers to cover that - a good way to work in different year groups. I saw an advert recently for a school looking for PPA cover for 2 hours a week on a Monday afternoon - what a great way to test the water!

Like you, I really struggled when applying for jobs in the Spring, and in the end I applied for a private school where I knew there would not be any behavioural issues. My "bad" placement had been in a school with big discipline problems (actually, it was me who had big discipline problems, but the school was a challenging one nonetheless). Although it wouldn't be right for everyone, it was a lifesaver for me at the time. I only stayed there for 2 years, but it gave me the time to find out that in the right environment for me, I really could teach. I've gone on to work in 2 state schools which I much prefer, and now, even when faced with challenging situations, have no discipline problems because I'm confident in my own abilities and have had time to develop many different strategies.

Look at your Spring placement positively - it has shown you the sort of school that doesn't suit you. When you go for visits round other schools, you will know what sort of questions to ask and will undoubtedly have a gut feeling about whether you are in the right place.

Please CAT me if you need support over the summer.

jennifersofia Sat 02-Jul-05 20:43:08

Once again, sage advice, many thanks. I will have to think it all over, in the meantime still apply to the few jobs that are left! If no luck there, I think I will try to do a few days supply for the experience, and to keep it all going. Do you or anyone know if there are supply agencies which are better than others in London? Excuse me for shamelessly mining your intelligence!
I know you are right about the spring experience, that actually it gives me a good basis for knowing what I don't get on with! Ironically, that school, which could hardly be closer to me, was offering a job in KS1. I was kicking myself because it would have been so practical, but I don't even like to go past the school gates, so there was no way I could have applied for it!
Onwards, and hopefully upwards. Now to plan that poetry unit...
Thanks again for everything.

Littlefish Sun 03-Jul-05 08:53:27


Sorry, I can't help with supply agencies - I don't live in London. I'm sure someone on here will be able to help, but you may need to start a new thread to find out.

jennifersofia Sun 03-Jul-05 16:18:23

Thanks all the same. Anyone else?

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