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PGCE troubles

(23 Posts)
BoundForFreedom Sun 16-Nov-14 19:09:19

I'm a few months into my PGCE and finding it really tough. I didn't go into it thinking it would be easy, but oh my god I had no idea it would be this difficult! I feel like I want to be a teacher for all the right reasons, but so many things just get in the way of being able to teach. It takes me hours to plan each lesson and I'm barely left with any time to sleep, let alone do anything else. I really, really want to be a good teacher but right now I feel I'm mediocre at best. How do I get through this next year without having the optimism and enthusiasm beaten out of me?!

OldRoan Sun 16-Nov-14 19:37:04

Which subject/age group?

It is tough, because you are having to research everything as well as plan it. Don't think of it as time wasted during your PGCE, think of it as time invested for your future career. Every hour you spend getting to grips with a topic now, or making resources for a low attaining child, is an hour you've saved yourself next year.

You will get quicker with planning. Does your training provider/placement school have a format you have to follow? When I moved to my second placement school they told me to abandon the training provider's plans and use the school ones because I might find them easier, and it saved me a lot of time.

You get through the year because every Sunday night you sit thinking "I'm a fool, what did I do this for?" is followed by a Monday morning when a child says or does something to make you smile. And you forget about Sunday night for the rest of the week. repeat process for every night of the week.

pieceofpurplesky Sun 16-Nov-14 19:42:27

Teaching is like every other job or activity you take part in. It takes time and patience to be good. One day you will be an excellent teacher who can plan, mark, teach and play.
PGCE is a hard year, but it does get better so don't beat yourself up - talk to your mentor. We've all been there!

noblegiraffe Sun 16-Nov-14 19:43:07

You grit your teeth and get on with it. Planning will get quicker. Learn some really good websites for your subject that you can just steal stuff from, you don't need to write your own stuff every time. Ask for help. Cut corners. When writing essays I wanted to write brilliant stuff, I should have settled for stuff that would pass. Same for worksheets and lesson plans.

BoundForFreedom Sun 16-Nov-14 20:43:27

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement, it is very much appreciated. I'm teaching primary, and find literacy particularly difficult. I worked in academia before, in a research role. I'm finding the differentiation particularly difficult. I didn't anticipate how much guidance the children would need, and I feel like I'm constantly confusing the children in my class. Although the moments when a child understands something or tells me they really enjoy my lessons are priceless. I guess it's just difficult because I feel like my placement school expect me to know what I'm doing straight away. I'm in an outstanding school and standards are very high. I just want to live upto them and not have a negative impact on the children I'm teaching.

OldRoan Sun 16-Nov-14 21:01:08

I just finished my NQT year last year - one of the best pieces of advice one of the teachers gave me was
"that feeling that you aren't good enough, and you're going to let the children down? That shows you are good enough, and you care. Everything else will come."

Hang in there.

BoundForFreedom Sat 22-Nov-14 17:19:12

Hi just wanted to come back and update a little bit. I had a much better time this week and worked really hard to improve my classroom presence. I had an observation on Thursday and got a 2a :D. I know there's going to be lots of ups and downs over the next few years, but I'm feeling more like I'll be a really good teacher one day. Thank you for all the encouragement everyone.

larrygrylls Fri 28-Nov-14 18:00:45

I did my PGCE (as a second career) and am now doing my NQT year. It is still hard work but I am enjoying it so much more. You can build real relationships with your classes and you don't have another adult critiquing your every move.

The PGCE is an entirely artificial (though admittedly useful) experience. It is just a question of getting through and, despite all the criticism, it is surprisingly hard to fail. So, take the criticism with a pinch (or even a bucketful) of salt and learn to be reflective in the true (rather than teaching course) sense of the word. Were you happy with your lesson? Do you think the students got it and enjoyed it? If the answer is yes, do you really care about whether your starter was appropriate or your plenary had enough AfL in it?

We had one (now head) teacher who gave quite an inspiring talk to our cohort as we were nearing the end of our PGCE. I seem to remember he said something like: 'when you look back at your schooldays and your most loved teachers, were they the ones with the best plenaries or starters, or did they inspire and motivate you with their love of their subject and communicating it to you'....enough said,

DontGotoRoehampton Sat 29-Nov-14 13:45:16

Well said, Larry.
I am a supply teacher, and love it. Occasionally I am with PGCE students because I am covering the regular teacher, and the detail in their lesson plans is incredible. when you have qualified you will remember the best bits from the plans you did (I still use stuff from my PGCE) but you are free to improvise and to follow a line of thought where the class decides to go, and those are the best 'pupil-led' lessons.
A few weeks ago I covering a Y9 drama lesson with some likely-lads who were clearly scared of losing their street-cred by actually participating in the activity. I got them to think about being a film-director and how you would act. I got some fab 'Alfred Hitchcock' type stuff (paper cigars an' all) - they loved it, worked well, and the progressed.
This week I saw some of them for a maths cover - they behaved like angels grin
I could never have got away with the 'director' stuff into a lesson plan as a student (since everyone acts like an Ofsted inspector when they observe a pgce student) , but when you qualify, you - and they- can really have fun!

ZebraDog Sat 29-Nov-14 15:45:18

I posted recently as my DD is doing a PGCE to (but school-based, TeachFirst route) and is finding it incredibly hard for all the reasons you describe. She is very up and down - some weeks she is on the edge of tears and feels like all confidence she has is bashed out of her...other weeks she loves it and feels that she is making progress. There doesn't seem to be much in between.
I got some great advice to pass on to her including to mark off time each week which is your 'me' time, think in the car journey home of three good things from each day, talk to colleagues (perhaps don't say you are hating it etc as they may think you aren't coping) and hint that it is hard some days - you will be overwhelmed by the 'Don't worry, I felt exactly the same' comments and it is very comforting.
I am also a teacher myself and the only advice I have it to remember that for every bad week or bad day there will be good weeks and days coming. All the hard work will be worth it. Learn to cut corners (not big ones though)... learn to recognise when you are so tired and run down that what you need is time out rather than to spend an extra few hours perfecting a resource or lesson plan.
Also remember the holidays - they make teaching a much more attractice career choice.

ZebraDog Sat 29-Nov-14 15:48:19

PS - I agree with Larry! You have to get that sense of perspective or you really will just drown in the criticism.
DD is struggling with being watched the whole time, she was left alone for a lesson and said it was like a weight being lifted off her.

BoundForFreedom Sat 29-Nov-14 20:55:20

I am so grateful for the replies. I am really struggling with the constant criticism this week. I welcome constructive criticism and I am fully aware that I still have a lot to learn. However my teacher just seems to want to pick me apart at every opportunity. I'm trying to keep it in perspective, but it's so exhausting to be constantly told you're shit. She doesn't seem to want me in the classroom when I'm not teaching anymore either, she keeps sending me to do jobs for her. I feel like I could be learning so much more by being in the classroom but don't feel like can I object.
I feel your daughter's pain zebra, it's such a roller coaster. All my friends on the course are finding it really difficult too.

ZebraDog Sat 29-Nov-14 22:57:20

DD said the exact same thing Bound. But then she added (she was feeling frustrated) that when she thinks about it she could pick apart her 'outstanding' mentor's lessons which she has observed too. It is just the fact you are trainees - they have the opportunity to pick it apart and psychologically they know you are inexperienced so think it helps.
In reality you are never going to be perfect, yes it helps to know what to work on, but equally some mentors do seem to like to crush a little rather than being constructive. DDs mentor is treating her pretty badly too and using her as a bit of a slave at times.
Just keep it in perspective - one day your mentor will have been ripped apart and treated like a junior the way they are critisicing and treating you. I told my DD to see it that they are probably a little threatened that you are a trainee but can actually stand up and teach a decent lesson (maybe not true but it helps her have some positivity). Getting that perspective really is the only way!!

larrygrylls Sun 30-Nov-14 07:21:23


She probably does not want you in the classroom as she is teaching poorly prepared lessons and is embarrassed for you to see them.

I was always amazed how one teacher at one of my placements was an amazingly astute observer but some of her lessons were nothing short of appalling (think showing a series of scarcely relevant slides with little explanation or giving out worksheets with no explanation or help). I could not understand this until I realised she had two frees a week and was doing hundreds of reports.

DontGotoRoehampton Sun 30-Nov-14 10:29:33

Just before I moved from a dire placement to a great one (the uni finally has to agree the dept I was in was appalling for a number of reasons that would out me if I elaborated) I asked my Uni tutor who was there to observe me, to hang around for a while an see the mayhem in the class my HoD was teaching. (HoD never gave me any positive feedback, all negatives, but her own lessons were chaotic.) Tutor said he could not observe my HoD (protocol hmm) but did wait, and stroll slowly past her classroom 'on the way to the loos', and was horrified at the din from inside, and those who had been sent out roaming the corridor having a good old chat together.

rollonthesummer Sun 30-Nov-14 16:33:41

Another depressing teaching thread sad

What makes me sad is that my PGCE was brilliant-it all just went downhill after that! PGCE was such a low timetable, it was actually quite pleasant. The NQT year was much harder but I did get 1 day NC time per fortnight which was brilliant. The year after that was really hard as I got no NC time (this was in the days before PPA as well) and was suddenly given 2 subjects to coordinate-that was hard. I just want to tell people contemplating teaching to run, very fast, in a different direction!

Which year group have you got? What topics? Use online things to help you-there are some great ideas out there. The TES and Primary Resources can be useful. BBC learning clips have some nice clips and if you google IWB resources-some good bits pop up. Try to get AFL/talk partners into each lesson as well as ICT, remembering not to talk for too long and regular mini-plenaries should break up your lessons a bit. It's hard.

funnyface31 Sun 30-Nov-14 16:57:51

There's a great page of facebook. Primary teachers - resources, ideas and stress relief.

Lots of support and a wealth of knowledge from different teachers.

Good luck x

rollonthesummer Sun 30-Nov-14 21:12:10

I'd forgotten that one, Funnyface-that's great, too.

TheDuchessOfSalford Sun 30-Nov-14 21:25:05

Bound, if your teacher doesn't want you in her classroom when you're not teaching, why don't you negotiate some time 'observing' in other classes?

It's so useful to see other teachers' teaching styles and to have an idea of what the work is like in the year group either side of yours - it can really help with differentiation to know where the learning has come from and is leading to.

rollonthesummer Sun 30-Nov-14 21:48:20

That's a really good idea, Duchess. You could sell it to SMT by saying that you'd really love to see a range of different teaching styles across both key stages etc. That would give you opportunities and give her a break from the fish bowl!

Even now, as a teacher of nearly 20 years, I still love getting the chance to observe people teach. I find it fascinating and will always take something from the experience.

Good luck-only 3 weeks until the holidays smile

BoundForFreedom Wed 03-Dec-14 21:21:40

Thanks again for the great advice. I've tried to negotiate spending time in other classes but apparently I'm meant to be doing work for her when I'm not teaching :/. I'm going to keep pushing for it though. I'm literally counting down the days until I finish for Christmas now! I'm still sure I want to teach, I just hate my placement.

bk1981 Thu 04-Dec-14 18:15:51

Bound you absolutely should not be doing jobs for her when youre not teaching. That is your time for your professional development, which should include visiting other classess. Have you spoken to your uni about this?

rollonthesummer Thu 04-Dec-14 22:00:48

Blimey- what work are you doing for her?! It sounds like she's using you as a slave?!

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