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On the road to capability. Broken and need to wail.

(37 Posts)
neverputasockinatoaster Sat 11-Jan-14 14:51:02

I have been a teacher for well over 20 years. I have been in my current school for over 13 years. I am pretty much the last of the people who were there when I started.
I am not an outstanding teacher and I admit I never will be but I am a good, steady, competent teacher.
3 years ago our school was Ofsteded. I was observed twice. Once I was told my lesson was a solid good lesson, nothing special but good. In the second lesson I went against all my instincts and crashed and burned. I was the first to admit it was a shite lesson. SLT did not take my failure well. At that inspection we went into Notice to Improve. As one of the teachers who was seen to be inadequate I was subjected to a high level f scrutiny and I have now developed a high degree of anxiety around observations. It does not matter how much I prepare, who I get to check my planning, I still perform badly.
My role over the past two years involved boosting individual children and covering for team leaders on a rotating timetable so there is very little evidence of progress for children I teach.
In the terms that followed I was observed by people from the authority and the SLT. On one memorable occasion a group of children didn't understand so I adapted my planning to suit and addressed the issue. The observer was full of all the positive things I'd done but then graded me as inadequate because the children who hadn't undstood hadn't made enough progress.
I then had a series of lessons graded as good with outstanding features and began to breath again.
At my end of year interview last year I asked to be moved out of my current year group and into the key stage where my strengths lie. My request was refused and my role was changed.
I teach a group of children and I have the brief to get them to level 3 by the end of ks1. We have a culture of 'optimism' over children's levels and, unfortunately, the group I have are not as bright as perhaps their levels suggest....
I was observed at the midpoint of last term and given requires improvement, the criticisms were fair and I worked to address them. I was put on a TIP and I worked hard to meet the tasks on there. About a week before the follow up observation I was/asked to vacate my teaching space and move to an area that is basically a corridor. In my follow up observation it was noted that I had addressed all the issues from before. I was, however, given requires improvement for a new set of issues....
I was then off sick with a chest infection and a sinus infection and the support I was promised did not materialise.
I was observed on Friday morning by my 'mentor' who gave me a list of things I do well and a few minor things to address. This is the sum total of the support I have had.
I will be observed again on Tuesday by a member of the slt as a follow up to my last requires improvement lesson.
I have also discovered on Friday that I am to be subjected to a lesson 'pop in' , two learning walks and a third formal observation. This will all happen before the end of January.
I am broken. The kids I teach are making progress but, spookily enough, it isn't linear and is not fast enough for the liking of the SLT. I spend my lessons building confidence, convincing these children that they are capable of the work. They are just starting to blossom but it isn't fast enough.
I know I will be on capability by the end of next week.
I am broken. Maybe they are right and I am rubbish. They are holding up the fact that my team leader's group have made faster progress than mine but there are times when she has 15 children in her room and 4 or 5 adults.
I can only see one way out.
I apologise for the epic length! I doubt there is much you can say. I just needed to wail a bit to people who might understand.

Selks Sat 11-Jan-14 14:58:33

You poor thing. I am not a teacher but just wanted to say that you sound like a good and very caring teacher to me who is being set up to fail effectively by an over pressurised system. Please try not to internalise all this, and do be aware of your stress levels - you need to try to look after yourself.
I'm sure folks better qualified to comment on the teaching side of things will be along soon but just wanted to post in solidarity with you. Best wishes.

partystress Sat 11-Jan-14 15:43:34

It all sounds horrible. No wonder you are feeling anxious and keep getting ill.

I have not been in teaching anywhere near as long as you, but long enough to know that schools are a hotbed of scapegoating (with a lot of teachers happy to turn their back on the poor 'slowest zebra' being pursued by the SLT pack: as long as it's not them, they are OK...), that observations are almost totally subjective and that if your face isn't fitting, there will always be something that you will be doing wrong. You might be a great teacher, you might be rubbish - I don't know. But it does sound like a fresh start in another school might be worth trying before you decide to give up altogether. What kind of reference do you think your current HT would give you? Could you afford to supply for a while to check out other schools and see whether you feel more comfortable in a different environment?

Crimebusterofthesea Sat 11-Jan-14 15:46:45

Hi OP, I'm not a teacher but my DH is and there is a thread on here about him and formal capabilities. I am so sorry you are having to go through this, your story is scarily similar to his and unfortunately is becoming more and more common. There is loads of advice and support on the other thread, just thought you might want a read. Take care x

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 11-Jan-14 16:40:27

In terms of moving to another school - I am top scale and, due to my son's needs (he has an ASD) I can only work part time. There are very few posts available. As to a reference - the HT is very good at weasel words and would probably write me a reference that looked good on the surface but was daming damning with faint praise IYSWIM!
I will go and read that thread crimes topper, thank you.

GW297 Sat 11-Jan-14 16:52:38

Contact your union? Consider doing supply? They would have to give you a factual reference or you'd have strong recourse. Sorry this is happening to you.

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 11-Jan-14 17:01:16

I'm in contact with my union.

Do you know what really really pisses me off? In the lessons graded good and in the lessons graded requires improvement there was very little difference in my teaching. I tweaked minor things at the request of the SLT but the more I do what they ask the worse I seem to get!

It is very, very, very tempting to hang on until the end of feb, go off on long term sick and then resign in may but I have too much integrity and a sense of loyalty to the children I teach.

clam Sat 11-Jan-14 17:09:29

So sorry to read this. This is exactly this sort of thing that makes me despair - and move a step closer to chucking in the towel. I have to say that there but for the grace of God go any of us.

It probably doesn't help your situation practically, but I have zero confidence in the whole process. I remember once, years ago (when observation criteria were a little different) following an exact lesson that dh had done in his school (for which he got outstanding and Ofsted raved about its structure, content and delivery) and my then HT (who had an issue with me at the time, for securing a part-time post that he didn't want) ripped it apart on grounds of poor structure and content. Delivery is subjective, I know, although I also know dh's teaching style and I reckon we're pretty similar. The make-up of the class was very similar too. I pointed out Ofsted's response in our post-mortem, and he just shrugged and said "these things happen!" angry We got over it (although I never forgave him!) and within a year I was golden girl again.

So, basically, they will find what they want to find and we're all victims to it. Dark days in the teaching profession!

clam Sat 11-Jan-14 17:11:10

neverputasockinatoaster Integrity and loyalty are commendable attributes, but the bottom line is that they won't pay your mortgage or help you avoid a breakdown. Please look after yourself!

toastedmarshmallow Sat 11-Jan-14 17:20:31

I don't have any helpful advice except you need to put your own health and family first- no-one else will! You sound like you are under a huge amount of stress take proper care of yourself.

Also have you tried posting on the TEs boards- the workplace dilemmas section has some very knowledgeable and helpful posters.

GW297 Sat 11-Jan-14 17:21:57

I agree with clam - put your health (both mental and physical) first. They should be supporting you to improve not trying to make your working life do intolerable that you leave.

clam Sat 11-Jan-14 17:31:44

And the children will survive! Your health might not.

SilverApples Sat 11-Jan-14 17:33:32

Sadly, you are replaceable. The children will manage fine. You will not if you are pushed over that cliff. It's easy to fall and a very long, hard climb to get out of the pit.

JuliaScurr Sat 11-Jan-14 18:08:00

what about teaching eg excluded/home ed kids? Prisoners? Job seekers?


might be easier to move 'sideways' iyswim
loads of teachers in your position

clam Sat 11-Jan-14 18:19:44

And a whole lot more who have it coming! sad

neverputasockinatoaster Mon 13-Jan-14 18:35:11

A small update - I had my pupil performance meeting this morning. On the way to work I had a small anxiety attack and threw up.
In the meeting I couldn't get my words out at all. They began by tearing me to shreds. They asked me what support I needed to do my job properly. My response was that I didn't know because it didn't matter what hoops I jumped through - they just kept finding more I was doing wrong. I said that it seemed to me that the more I tried to teach the way they wanted me to the less like a good teacher I became. I used the phrase duty of care.
It then transpired that the lack of accelerated progress is NOT confined to my group at all but is common across the year group' including the classes of two outstanding teachers.....
At the moment I am not on capability but it has been threatened. I have a meeting on Friday to let them know how they can help me.
I'm not sure what else I can say apart from 'leave me alone to do my job!'

clam Mon 13-Jan-14 18:49:03

Oh dear. Sorry to hear this. It sounds horrible. They seem determined not to support you, for all they're going through the motions.
Apologies if you've already said, but are you in a union?
I'm also wondering if you should go and see your doctor. Throwing up in anxiety is not good.

not2nitedarling Mon 13-Jan-14 18:51:29

ok, so first of all you need to take a deep breath...
It is a very stressful situation that you are in and you probably cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are not irreplaceable and the children will survive if you leave BUT... I think the first thing you need to do is speak to union rep. You need friends or family members to talk to and try to get all this upset out. I bottled everything up and ended up having to leave. Your mental wellbeing is paramount. Try to listen to what they are asking and do that. (keep a record of everything even if you use a Dictaphone) When I was was so upset and felt helpless and alone in trying to do my job I think it would have helped me if I could recall what was said EXACTLY at these meetings. It felt to me like goal posts were being moved.. I really hope that you have A GOOD DAY ON FRI. kEEP ME POSTED. pm ME IF YOU WISH.

Jellypudmum Mon 13-Jan-14 19:08:02

I went through exactly this alongside two other colleagues 18 months ago. I was a deputy head and was bullied out of post by a new head. I was ill for 12 months following and despite passing my NPQH, having taught others how to observe and been an acting head many times, feel I cannot teach any more. I was on long term sickness with stress and got the union involved. I resigned and have found long term supply which is gradually rebuilding my confidence. It meant a downwards step but I feel the calmest I've felt in two years. Due to have an obs any time soon and feel sick at the thought of it, but almost feel that whilst on supply, it's not quite as pressurised? Please feel free to pm me; I know exactly how you are feeling. I did the whole sick / panic attack thing!!!!

Meow75 Wed 15-Jan-14 15:05:48

Been in a similar situation but I just tried to battle through it, doing as I was asked, etc.

Dec 9, I set off for work and about 1/2 way couldn't go any more. I pulled over, had a MAHOOSIVE cry, called in sick and drove straight to the dr's.

After a telephone convo with my GP and organising an appointment for 2 days later, I went home and had a miserable day - alternately contemplating suicide or telling my lovely lovely DH that he should divorce me and I would take all our debts while he took the assets (not many, tbh).

The upshot of that is that I wasn't courageous enough to do either of those things, had another massive cry on DH's shoulder, started AD's after seeing the Dr and resigned with 2 weeks' notice on Dec 16th. I concluded that the HT wouldn't fight me as she clearly didn't want me on the staff anymore, despite 12 years good service, and I was right.

Officially unemployed now, but I'm not suicidal any more. I guess the drugs will be helping with that though!! wink

manyhands Wed 15-Jan-14 21:18:51

I've been there too and whatever I tried, I seemed to get worse. It started at the same time as my son got a serious disease. I too got seriously depressed. I left and went to supply and it was the best thing I could of done. My confidence soared in supply, my pupil's results were great and I now have another job. It is a truely lovely school and although I am dreading my next observation, I am happy in my job again. So there is light at the end of the tunnel.

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 18-Jan-14 22:21:37

A quick update.
I had an observation on Tuesday. The person observing me spent the feedback session telling me how fab it all was and then gave me a requires improvement. I cannot win.
This week I have a 15 minute 'pop in' observation, a formal lesson obs and 2 learning walks....
I have decided I will be resigning in May effective for the end of the year. Up until that point I will remain calm, do my best and save as much as I can.
I have asked that someone else take a lesson with my maths group as I cannot seem to get them to succeed at the level required of me. I will observe and learn what to do. Personally I believe someone else will find, as I do, that when they are challenged they go to pieces.
I just have to hang in there uuntil July

not2nitedarling Sun 19-Jan-14 12:50:22

Such a shame to read that you have decided to leave. I currently do supply and it is unreliable. Are u going to change profession? I hope this experience has not put u off. I changed career for 3 years and went back to it having very little confidence. good luck and pm if you want to xx

Grockle Sun 19-Jan-14 14:19:37

Oh sad

I sympathise.

This is why I am ready to walk away from teaching too. I suspect I have all this coming because my face doesn't fit & it has been made clear that my boss wants me out.

Best of luck to you x

neverputasockinatoaster Mon 20-Jan-14 21:51:09

Oh I had a wonderful 'ner ner ner ner ner' moment today - just done a KS1 mock SAT with my group - who apparently are not making enough progress......
All but 2 got a level 2b or above with 4 getting a 2a.....

I so wanted to do the sticky out tongue, finger waggling dance but I was professional!!

At the moment not2nitedarling the plan is that I will take a term out. I need to heal.

My OH and I are redoing my CV and I will be looking for something outside teaching. I would consider TAing. I'm an excellent 1 2 1 teacher - I'm very good ant finding gaps and helping children catch up.

My children deserve better than this, they deserve a mummy who has the energy to play and do great things with them. Today I took them to the park after school and, as we were leaving, DS and I were playing a silly bumping into each other game. We were laughing so much and I just thought - this is how it needs to be, I need to drop my stress levels so that I feel like being silly with my kids.

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