Very poor NQT(48 Posts)
Oh dear. We employed this NQT in July as a sudden replacement for a member of staff who left very suddenly. It was so late when the advert went in, we only had one applicant (I am head of department.) He seemed pleasant and he is a lovely young man.
He had to teach on interview, of course - his lesson started reasonably well and then just disintegrated into no structure, no plan, no sort of objective or aim. It was, if I am honest, a really awful lesson. I voiced my misgivings to the headteacher but the NQT interviewed well and so we decided to give him a years contract. The NQT had given the impression it was a one off poor lesson and I believed him!
However I observed him on Friday and the lesson was terrible. Again, the problems were identical to the initial lesson - no plan or structure, no challenge whatsoever to the children, behaviour was poor (and this is year 7 4 weeks into the term and they were shouting out and being silly.) I gave the lesson a '3' -requiring improvement - but really it was a 4, I just didn't want to totally crush him.
I went through the main areas of concern in his feedback - poor behaviour, lack of structure and aims that were task led (and didn't reflect on the subject area either, things like 'make a Greek mask' for an English lesson) and he accepted this. I had texts later on though apologising or his poor performance and telling me he is better than a '3'. Again it just seems too reminiscent of his interview!
Support wise so far I have arranged for him to observe me teach and also observe outside of the department. I also plan to make planning a priority on our weekly meetings but there's just so much support he needs - where to start! It wasn't as if it was a good lesson that went wrong in the delivery (we've all had those I think!) it was just a really poor lesson!
Would you have time to team teach with him or even plan a few lessons alongside?
Also you need to be honest with him, it's not kind to give him a 3 if it was a 4.
If ofsted come and observe him he will end up totally crushed as they won't be kind and give him a better grade than he deserves. And I've not even mentioned the damage he could do your school and the children's education which I'm sure is your other main concern too.
Don't drop hints through staff meetings, give him it straight and offer help with what was wrong.
What's the SoW like? Does it include aims for every lesson that he can use as a starting point? He needs to be planning solid 3 part lessons to try to get some structure in. Maybe plan a plenary task first and then work out other activities to help students develop the skills to be able to do the plenary.
Is there anyone in the dept that he can sit with to plan? Just so he can see what to do? How did he pass his PGCE year? Unfortunately some people just cannot do it. The fact that he keeps saying I'm better than this rings alarm bells that he may not listen to what you have to say. If the next lesson is a 4 next time, you've got to give it to him straight. You're not doing him (or you) any favours by giving him false hope.
I agree, but I didn't want to absolutely crush him and in fairness he was shaken enough after the 3. It was quite hard finding ANYTHING positive about the lesson at all to be honest.
His PGCE course described him as an 'outstanding practitioner' which I am cynical about - the two poor lessons I have seen plus the fact he didn't have a job in July, don't suggest this to me at all.
He is keen and enthusiastic but I suspect can "talk the talk" rather than actually do anything really constructive.
I'm not sure about team teaching - had it done to me before when I was struggling with a difficult class and I found it undermining as the children kept asking why Sir was in the room! Could be a possibility.
I don't think he has the required subject knowledge is my real concern, keeps referring to stanzas in the poem as 'paragraphs' in front of the children! Argh!
I feel for you..! It's a tough one and as a HoF I have dealt with a few of these. If the will is there most teachers can become a '2', it just takes a bit of time and modelling of good practice.
I would start with lesson planning. Do you have a school / faculty proforma lesson plan and exemplars so he can see how a good lesson hangs together? He needs to start with establishing the learning outcomes and identify the steps the students will take to get there. Sounds daft but I had a teacher who went from 3 to 2 once he really got this. He used to say things like 'I want them to listen to this song, then draw the images it creates in their minds, then write a poem' and I'd ask him why? what are they learning? He needed to start by thinking 'what do I want them to learn' not 'what do I want them to do'.
It may help him to have a bank of verbs he can use to help him set out learning outcomes - identify, apply, evaluate, compare etc - if he uses them it means whatever he does will be learning related.
In terms of challenge, does he know where the kids are now and what their targets are? Has he access to data and does he know what it means?
Ooh what's his degree in? The PGCE course sounds a bit suspect if they have described him as outstanding. Are you sure he is not actually a science teacher?
Frog, thank you, I think that will be really helpful and a good starting point from which to focus our first meeting on.
It is strange - I imagine the college just wrote brilliant references for everybody wanting them to get jobs! Truth be told if it had been up to me I would have out the ad in again and hoped to have got a better field but obviously it wasn't up to me!
It's frustrating as the department have a very high level of needs and I currently have four members of staff who need support! Hard work!
are you mentoring him? whoever is needz to be mercilessly honest (but supportive) so that he either improves, or you have a paper trail flagging up the fact that he is not good enough.
getting someone on slt to do a joint obs will help.
you do not want a situation where you focus on tge positives to spare his feelings, and he gets only marginally better (if at all)
good luck, i have been in this situation, not fun
Hi, I just want to explain I am not focusing on the positives to spare his feelings - there were few positives I could even comment on to be honest.
However, our lesson plan format for feedback does ask for strengths and I couldn't leave it completely blank. I stated he had a nice relationship with the children and the lesson showed a lot of effort regarding resources. That was it!
My real concern is that fundamentally I don't feel he understands the subject well enough to teach it.
if there a real concerns, make sure you are sharing them- i worked with an nqt who was known to be weak, but no one ever really said anything
i observed this person in the last term as a favour to the mentor and the lesson was shockngly bad. because no one had said anything, it was too late to establish this person formally as being inadequate, and so they passed. they moved on of their own accord, out of teaching but it would have been a terrible disservice to students had they stayed- this person may have got the hang of it eventually, but how many classes would have made little progress in the meantime?
i wasn't trying to get at you, just saying that you need to be very careful how you go, you could be stuck with a bad teacher at the end
I would agree with FunnyLittleFrog - it sounds like he hasn't grasped that lessons need to be objective-driven. I have worked with so many staff like that - it is fixable. More so, I would say, than poor classroom management, which in my experience can be very hard to fix, as it can stem from fundamental aspects of the teacher's personality. You hint that his behaviour management is poor - do you see this as a key issue for him, or do you think it may just be a symptom of the poorly planned lessons?
Re the subject knowledge, somewhat controversially I am going to assert that, as long as his literacy is good and he is willing to find out about new topics he teaches beforehand, and use your departmental schemes of work, this shouldn't be a major issue in English, at least up to KS4. I've been a head of English myself, in a couple of challenging contexts, and some of my best English teachers were bright, talented non-specialists.
I suspect he needs to focus on classroom management and use the department's schemes of work and lesson plans if you have them.
I agree most people can be a good teacher with the right training.
If you have 4 members of staff who need support, then you need help from outside the department. Some good teachers from other departments. Have you talked to your line manager?
I hope so.
The tasks in themselves were poor as well, though - it wasn't just 'do this' it was 'you have twenty minutes to write a couple of lines!' He had the children reading out work at the end and none of them had actually followed the task.
Classroom management was poor because of school systems not being followed - I think that is fixable. I'm really more worried about the fact he doesn't really seem to know what the pupils should be doing or why.
Sorry - I am just a bit stressed, we have a department with a high level of needs and I am therefore going to have to provide the support for him alone, along with the 33000 other things I need to do!
The implied lack of subject knowledge concerns me. It can lead to a lack of security which students sense making classroom management very difficult. Has he tried using know, understand and do to aid his planning. I also found the old all, most and some for what he expects them to get out of it.
I do have concerns about teacher training in some places. We've had some awful candidates who have passed SCITT, and (not stealth boasting - this still affects my confidence) despite being told I was rubbish and nearly being failed I have consistently got 1s in observation.
It sounds like he will need lots of support. Do you have another department member who is good at these skills and is looking for career progression? Mentoring would help them both
Madonna, yes, SLT are supportive but well, what can you do? Everyone is so busy. I have a plan in place to try and ensure staff are supported but its knackering!
In my experience it I unusual to have 4 members of staff in one department struggling ? I agree about looking for hell outside of your department, is your department representative of other departments in the school? if not why is your department struggling ? Often teachers start to lose their way when extraordinary pressures are there. is your school asking too much of its staff so that they are trying to everything and therefore achieving very little.
Yes, know understand and do is a good way of going about things. Thanks
I just feel horrible about it. Thank goodness he's got a one year contract!
You don't have to provide the support alone. When I was struggling owing to a high needs department, my NQT had a mentor from outside my department. I provided subject specific input, but I was not on my own. Similarly, your school should be helping you with your other staff. Especially as you are English!!
Do you have a member of staff who oversees NQTs or staff training? They should be involved.
Arisbottle, I don't want to say too much for fear of being identified but the problems in our department go back years, well before my arrival (September 2011.) The school is a lovely one and doesn't ask too much of staff at all.
Yes, the link member of SLT is involved. We are meeting on Tuesday to put together a plan of action.
I am also pregnant at the moment and am conscious I may not see the year out!
X post all over the place! What school can do is help you by providing teaching mentors from across the school, for all your struggling staff. You provide the subject specific input. Ideally, it would all be subject specific, but it is unreasonable for you manage it alone.
And x post again. Your NQT should have a different mentor then for sure, as you will be going on maternity leave. And your department has to be a massively high priority for SLT.
Actually someone outside the subject, like a science specialist where planning for practicals is absolutely crucial, might help him address certain issues. Is there anyone in another department who wants to get some mentoring experience and you can pair them up?
It does sound like your department is sinking rather and it's hard luck on this NQT who sounds like he really, really needs support to become a decent teacher.
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