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Any college lecturers, biology teachers out there - end of tether

(39 Posts)
frustratedworkingmum Fri 25-Jan-13 18:39:17

So, after being out of work for many years i landed a job as a biology lecturer at the local college. Ive never taught before. Everyone told me i was mad as the college is notoriously disorganised. I wish i listened to them.

So, 8 weeks in having taken over a course mid way and then taking on more at xmas i am feeling totally overwhelmed and out of my depth. Ive had NO training, i was teaching alone from day one. I THINK ive done ok and the students respond well to me. I enjoy teaching.

BUT, i am obviously struggling with the workload - i have no lesson plans so am doing them as i go along, i appreciate that i have to do this and it will get better next year as i'll have the power points and will be able to tweak them. Thank GOD for TES as this is where i get some good resources.

The thing is im getting NO support, have had to read up on and sort out everything from schemes of work to exam entries and no one tells me what to do i have to find out for myeslf so im either ringing exams, trawling through the exam board websites etc. I came into the main course im teaching midway through and now realise that surely i can't deliver two units AND an ISA in 12 weeks. The ISA will take 4-6 weeks to do because of the way its done and marked (i'll be marking this with no experience FFS!) Ive had to look this all up myself and its dawned on me horribly that i just can't deliver this - this IS madness isn't it? 2 units of GCSE biology plus an ISA in 12 weeks of 2 hours teaching a week?

Can anyone give me some advice and tips to get me through this - i have a meeting with my line manager on monday and im close to just saying, you know what, i quit, i can't do this but i don't want to. I NEED the money - even though im working every night, all weekend, every day off - im only teaching 10 hours a week and therefore if i work out my pay, its less than min wage. But more importantly, i don't want to let the students down and without support i will do that - i am not sure im up to this? Can anyone, teacher or lecturer help me? These students are paying for their course and they are being let down. What course of action do i take.

I dont feel i can approach my line manager or her manager as they are dismissive and have been unsupportive so far, i suspect it will be a case of "dont let the door hit your arse on the way out" if i raise my concerns.

Please help

frustratedworkingmum Fri 25-Jan-13 19:23:56


frustratedworkingmum Fri 25-Jan-13 19:28:18


EvilTwins Fri 25-Jan-13 20:35:17

Your post has made me quite angry. What on earth was the college doing employing someone with no training and no experience? And then leaving them to it? What are you teaching? Are young people's futures depending on you? If so, then something dreadful is going on here. Sorry, but I think it's the wrong job for you. You are not a teacher. Did you think it was an easy thing to do? Why did you apply for a job that you are not trained to do?

I understand that sounds harsh, but I make no apology. I trained for four years to do my job. It's not easy.

Nevertheless, the college has employed you and needs to support you. You need to bite the bullet and admit to your line manager/head of dept that you are not coping, and insist that they help you. You are not playing at being teacher here. Your students take for granted that you know what you are doing. If you don't, then find someone who does and get it sorted.

frustratedworkingmum Fri 25-Jan-13 20:44:00

Err no i did not think it was easy, I am teaching biology which i studied for three years at university followed by a PhD. Sorry to make you so cross, just looking for a bit of support sad

EvilTwins Fri 25-Jan-13 20:49:59

I know, but I wonder if the reason that you are not getting it here is that others are sitting around like me thinking "grrrr... what did she expect?"

Your employer is absolutely at fault here, in that they are not supporting you. However, knowing loads of stuff about your subject does not a good teacher make...

You must go to you line manager. Don't let them fob you off, and don't leave it any longer. Your students need you.

frustratedworkingmum Fri 25-Jan-13 20:56:42

Clearly they need someone else, you have made up my mind and im going to resign. I don't pretend to be a teacher, i teach adults. I came to this section for advice, i thought that there might have been other lecturers around but obviously the staff room is a bit of exclusive club.

I obviously thought id swan in, bash out a few powerpoints and it would be a breeze hmm

I was asking if it was feesible to deliver two units in 12 weeks including ISAs which will take 4 of those weeks away. I came onto the course midway after the woman before me left. She was a qualified teacher and the students say she was awful which is clearly true because she hadn't taught them a third of what they were supposed to have been taught by that time.

EvilTwins Fri 25-Jan-13 21:14:03

I know I haven't told you what you want to hear, but in all honesty, you are doing your student no favours. It's NOT your fault though. The college absolutely should not have employed you and then left you with no support.

The Staffroom is not an exclusive club at all. However, your initial post - "after many years out of work I landed a job as..." perhaps does you a disservice. The idea that teaching is something anyone can have a crack at without any kind of training is prevalent enough as it is. Michael Gove has made it clear that anyone can do it, and that, quite rightly, makes those of us who trained for the job and have worked ourselves ragged for our students quite angry.

Teaching is not a job you "land" when all other avenues have dried up. If that's what it is to you, then perhaps it is the wrong job.

frustratedworkingmum Fri 25-Jan-13 21:25:38

I actually agree with you, but i do think i can do the job, with the right support. I have tried to get into teaching for some time, i am not in a position where i can do a PGCE because i need to be earning. I do not fit into the criteria for the new schools direct teaching in order to have a salaried post so it is not an option for me. I wish it was but my lack of confidence prevented me from persuing it before. I was hoping my lecturing experience was going to put me in a position to do a GTP but they no longer exist.

I am having to sort out the ISA for the A levels even though my line manager is the course tutor, i had to sit down and explain it to HER! She hadn't even read the info confused

It is not an established post, i am a supply lecturer and i work so hard, every day, every night - just the same as a real teacher i guess, but i only get paid for 10 hours. I am doing my best but sadly i don't think it will be good enough, but I do feel a high level of responsibility towards my students and if i walk out now they will be just as screwed as if i stay only i do give a shit and that is better, i think than someone who is just doing it for the money - believe me, i am not in this for the money, i earn less than minimum wage.

EvilTwins Fri 25-Jan-13 21:34:07

You can't carry on with no support. That is no good for you or for the students. What else is there in your area? Is there a school with a 6th form doing the same syllabus? If someone from an FE college approached me (I teach Performing Arts, so no practical help to you) I would be only too happy to help. They could help you with resources, planning and the timing issues.

On a different level, you need to do something about the fact that you have been treated apallingly. What about the head of the college? Are you in a union? There is absolutely no way you should be expected to work with no support.

frustratedworkingmum Fri 25-Jan-13 21:54:45

I have spoken to my line manager today and told her i need someone to sit down with me and discuss the scheme of works, i just don't know how i am going to fit it all in. She tried to palm me off on others but i said that i wanted HER to do it. She reluctantly agreed, will see how it goes on monday but I know what is going to happen. It is going to go tits up and i will get the blame sad Everyone in my department is so so stressed out.

Don't get me wrong, i knew teaching would be tough and i knew i would be working all hours especially in my first year but what i am worried about is that i am going to miss something because i don't have the back up and i don't know that these things need doing until someone is asking me why i haven't done it.

I only had a health and safety induction and that consisted of being shown where the H&S folder is!

Honestly, I would be fuming if my children were being taught there!

EvilTwins Fri 25-Jan-13 21:59:44

Whereabouts in the country are you?

frustratedworkingmum Fri 25-Jan-13 22:01:57

Id rather not say if thst ok i dont want to outmyself

timidviper Fri 25-Jan-13 22:02:58

Just wanted to sympathise OP, it sounds like you have been abandoned in an impossible situation. I'm also surprised and sorry that you haven't found more support from teachers on here.

I agree with you that you can teach well without all the traditional training but you do need support to do it, which it seems like you are not getting.

Please do make the college remember the students in this, if you leave what will happen to their chances?

Good luck.

EvilTwins Fri 25-Jan-13 22:04:07

I only asked because if you're anywhere near me I might be able to help. PM if you would rather.

GinandJag Fri 25-Jan-13 22:07:28

You need to insist that you go on exam training. It's a contractural requirement between schools and the exam board that teachers are trained in delivering courses and marking coursework/CAs.

StainlessSteelCat Fri 25-Jan-13 22:08:38

They were wrong to employ you and then not support you. You do need support, it's not fair on you or the students. I am a qualified teacher and have taught AS/A2 and GCSE biology. I have never had to do the amount of organising you have for exam entry and long term planning for the course.

EvilTwins suggestion is excellent, and another suggestion - is there anyone else in the science dept teaching an equivalent course but in Chem or physics? Could you ask them how they are fitting it in - the timings would be very similar. What about the science technicians? If the college has done the course before they will know a lot about the practical side.

Finally - is it feasible to fit those units in to the time available? Well, it will have to be. I have taken over badly taught course before as well, and you have to compromise. Don't miss out a chuck of the course, just cover all of it in less depth, make it clear to the students you are doing that and tell them you expect them to be independent learners. Perhaps make up packs of all the resources you have for each unit along with lists of further information/exam questions/model answers for the students, and explain you can't cover it all, but it's all in there.

You posts also make me angry. Because neither you nor the students should be treated like this. I have worked as a supply teacher for jobs like the one you describe and I have never been as unsupported as you. Why teh college thinks they can let an unknown teacher lose with a class and prepare them for exams is beyond me.

StainlessSteelCat Fri 25-Jan-13 22:16:57

lots x posts, and I've re read my post, I'm sorry if I sound cross with you I'm not. As a pp said, you have been put in an impossible situation.

I taught GCSE Biology in a 6th form as a resit course a couple of years ago.. As best I can remember the ISA was over 4 1 hour sessions - practical practice, write up practice, then repeat for real thing. The technicians were extremely helpful - they had done it the previous years.

Being sent on a training course would be lovely, but if the college is strapped for cash, that may be a pipe dream. However, you do need to know how to mark the ISA and you need to moderate it. And you need to know how to do that before you do the ISA with the students so you can teach them what is needed. All this support can and should be provided by the college.

EvilTwins Fri 25-Jan-13 22:17:30

Have you tried the TES for resources? There's an awful lot there.

frustratedworkingmum Fri 25-Jan-13 22:22:19

Thanks stainless - i didn't know if i was being expected to do too much or just being rubbish. The science department is a whole but everyone is so stressed out because they are as unsupported as i am i daren't ask. You have made me feel less crap about myself - i don't want to let the students down, they have paid for the course and many of them are relying on it to finish their teaching courses!! its madness that they probably have more teaching experience than i do hmm

Timid you are right, if I leave now the students will be shafted because they wont have anyone will they? Because lets face it, if they gave ME the job they must have been desperate. Im not being sarcastic, but i have no teaching experience apart from teaching undergraduates during my Phd but that was a world away.

Gin - i have been told to do the online standardisation

TuftyFinch Fri 25-Jan-13 22:30:14

Are you working where I used to work? I was a lecturer in FE for 10 years until I took voluntary redundancy last year. This is how they operated, it really was a case of the blind leading the blind. None of the teaching staff would ever have let their own children go there.
This is the future though. Employ under qualifed staff with little experience and hope they'll just suck it up. Manangers are being managed by consultants.
The groundwork of the experienced teachers being promoted and then managing is being eroded.
I could go on and on.
I've no real advice but if you want to stay then find a way. Your manager needs to support you but she is probablyb over worked and under experienced too, not an excuse but that's often the reality. That's what happens.
You sound like you are doing a good job and care about tbe students but you need support. You also need to try and find a way to make it work for you. Do you need to do lesson plans and SOW? Are they checked? Is there a staffweb where there are resources? Who taught the course last year, have they got lesson plans/SOW?
You could also try posting on the TES forum, there's loads of people on there who are very helpful.
Also, join the union and ask your rep for advice.
Good luck.

frustratedworkingmum Fri 25-Jan-13 22:39:16

Evil am downloading from TES like a demon as we speak, i dont like delivering other peoples ppts because i dont feel so on top of it but at least i have a framework.

The ISA is a nightmare - its basically - I have to introduce a "scenario" and guide the students to do their own research into a hypothesis and an experiment to test it, i have to mark that, then they have to do the practical (or one i make up for them as thiers may not be suitable), record their data, ten i have to mark that give it back to them for use in the written test. So thats four sessions

It leaves me 8 weeks to do unit 1 and 3 - i need a time machine!

happilyconfused Fri 25-Jan-13 23:45:36

As the very first priority get on the exam board website. Download resources from there. Check examiner feedback comments for the past couple of years. The college is setting you and the students up for a fail. Often students may know what is needed but lack exam technique with regards to how to apply, analyse and evaluate. You can not be the only biology teacher at the college, there must be regular department.

You need to apply to get on a teacher training course in a school if you can not afford a PGCE. At least you will get classroom skills, OFSTED and subject delivery training. Will the college send you on one of the exam board's spring training courses.? Ask

frustratedworkingmum Sat 26-Jan-13 00:01:56

Ive asked happily and the answer was no, do it online! I am the only teacher of GCSE biology there, the rest are BTEC. Have found some good end of unit/topic tests on the AQA site based on the past papers - you can make them up out of what questions you want to ask so will definately be using them.

happilyconfused Sat 26-Jan-13 16:09:30

Hopefully the groups are split so some are foundation and some higher. Not your fault but this is one of the reasons why I say to yr11 to stay in a school sixth form unless they are going to a good college.

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