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PGCE student seeks advice

(31 Posts)
MissPancakes Sun 14-Jun-15 17:49:26

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TheTroubleWithAngels Sun 14-Jun-15 18:50:30

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toomuchicecream Sun 14-Jun-15 18:52:35

It's crap, isn't it. But it sounds as if you've got a supportive mentor. Have you tried talking to her about it? From what you've said, it doesn't sound like an easy school and definitely not an easy class either. There are an awful lot of experienced teachers who wouldn't be able to cope with what you're coping with. So make sure you acknowledge the things you are doing well with.

In teaching you aren't always going to excel. Everyone has good days and bad days. Reading your post, I think it's probably just as well that you've hit this wall now while you've got the support of your mentor rather than a few months or years down the line when you're on your own much more. I feel really harsh typing that when you're obviously having a bad time, but I genuinely think that in the future you'll look back on this and realise it was the making of you as a teacher.

If you aim to always excel you'll end up going under. People who stay the course in teaching, in my experience, are the ones who are happy to be good rather than always striving for outstanding. Teaching is a 24/7 job if you let it be, so you need to learn when to stop and when what you've done is good enough.

Could you do part time this week? If it means you won't have done enough hours by the end of your placement, then extend it by a week. If you fail the placement, what's the worst that can happen? You'll have to do it again in the autumn. And if your school is as supportive as it sounds, you could very likely do it with your own class if necessary.

My experience of working with placement students is that universities are very, very, very reluctant to fail anyone. It messes up their stats if people drop out. They would rather wave people through (regardless of whether they are ready to teach or not) so everything looks lovely.

And (thinking as I type here) - they can't just fail you. You have to have been notified that you're a cause for concern, with action plans and targets and all the rest of it. So I think that in your anxiety you're over thinking things.

Can you message your mentor tonight and let them know how you are feeling? A more gentle start back might be just what you need. And you might even find that once you're back in the classroom it all comes back to you and you remember again why you're doing it. A few years ago a friend's husband committed suicide and I was dreading going into the classroom the next day so much that I almost told the Head I couldn't teach. But it was the best thing I could have done - once I was in front of the children I was able to concentrate on them. Suddenly it was break time and I realised I had had an hour and a half relief from the constant treadmill of thinking about it the whole time.

Good luck - you will get through it.

MissPancakes Sun 14-Jun-15 18:56:24

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MissPancakes Sun 14-Jun-15 18:58:17

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noblegiraffe Sun 14-Jun-15 19:03:27

In teaching you need a concrete overcoat. Kids will tell you your lessons are shit, parents will say you're a crap teacher who hates their kid, SLT who can't teach for toffee will pick fault with your teaching.

Don't take it personally. Was the feedback fair? If yes, how can you improve your teaching? If no, then bollocks to them, they don't know what they are talking about. You won't fail your PGCE. You've got a job. Your classes and observations have been positive. You are a good teacher. Now forget the bollocks uni observation, onwards and upwards.

TheTroubleWithAngels Sun 14-Jun-15 19:06:11

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toomuchicecream Sun 14-Jun-15 19:16:30

Don't worry what the Head thinks. They'll be far more impressed by the fact that you've hit a wall and then sorted yourself out to become stronger than they would be if you'd never hit the wall in the first place.

MissPancakes Sun 14-Jun-15 21:34:35

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TheTroubleWithAngels Mon 15-Jun-15 17:06:25

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MissPancakes Mon 15-Jun-15 18:06:32

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Charis1 Mon 15-Jun-15 18:17:07

This is what teaching is like, all the time. I recently left teaching and now work round several different schools during the week. I see the same thing going on everywhere.

Decent, hardworking, honest teachers are just being wrecked physically and emotionally, all over the place, as a matter of course.

The education system treats teachers as if they are disposable.

Just look at the demands and expectations some MN posters have!

It is not possible to ever achieve the state of being "good enough" as a teacher, such a classification does not exist, so don't think you will ever reach it, you won't.

teachers don't generally improve with experience, they deteriorate as they are criticised, insulted, over loaded, abused and ground down over many years. They have started early with you!

Don't expect an answer, or a way out, there isn't one. Either accept that this is what your lif will be like from now on, or hang around long enough to get QTS, and move into a different career.

Good luck


MiaowTheCat Tue 16-Jun-15 15:40:00

PGCE does it to a lot of us - the first time in my life I ended up on anti depressants was after I broke down in tears during a teaching practice and simply could not stop crying for an entire morning.

You have the misfortune to have "that class" - every school has a "that class" - the "that"ness of the class varies and some schools seem to have an entire school of them! If an outstanding teacher, with all the authority and aura of a long-standing member of school has trouble with them - they'll eat the average trainee alive, and have any supplies that show up there for deserts - and the fact the school are supporting you, helping you and hiring you - just shows that you must be bloody good!

Uni mentors can live on another flipping planet sometimes - mine thankfully liked me but she still threatened to fail us if we were ever caught handing out a single worksheet during a lesson and wittered on about how she hand painted and cut out all her display edging - woman hadn't been the right side of a classroom for decades!

MissPancakes Tue 16-Jun-15 18:07:25

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noblegiraffe Tue 16-Jun-15 18:16:03

Why don't you refuse to be observed by that same person again? The university should know what a shite job they gave of giving feedback and how it has affected your mental health. Demand that someone else observe you.

MissPancakes Tue 16-Jun-15 18:19:43

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toomuchicecream Tue 16-Jun-15 18:27:49

How can she penalise you???

FuzzyWizard Tue 16-Jun-15 18:35:45

I'm really angry on your behalf. As a profession we really could do without idiots grinding down and ruining perfectly good teachers. We are already facing a shortage of good teachers. Take heart from the fact that the school are backing you and really try to put the university mentor to the back of your mind. I also agree with the advice to remember that we can't all excel all the time and to not set unrealistic expectations for yourself.

MiaowTheCat Tue 16-Jun-15 20:12:32

I also remember that my second to last uni observation resembled the boardroom bollocking in the apprentice, everyone's did as my tutor seemed to regard it as the point she broke us down, before waltzing in a fortnight later for final obs, all sweetness and light, to build us back up again.

BoffinMum Tue 16-Jun-15 20:20:49

Teaching is tough, and the best advice I ever got was from a person I really respected saying to me "It's going to be a bit shit, Boff, because it's only work". Hang onto that. It's work, and whilst obviously a teacher has to be committed, you don't need to invest your entire identity and wellbeing into it. That reduces your resilience. To get on in a career like this you need to remember that your friends and family like you even if people at work don't always, and you need to at least make a token attempt to have an interest outside work even if it's only going swimming once a week. Then you will be fine.

TheTroubleWithAngels Tue 16-Jun-15 20:38:41

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MissPancakes Tue 16-Jun-15 22:38:06

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MissPancakes Tue 16-Jun-15 22:42:02

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BoffinMum Tue 16-Jun-15 22:52:16

I think just suck it up and think to yourself that you're nearly at the end now and her opinion won't count for much.

WinnieTheWilt Tue 16-Jun-15 22:58:49

I had a quirky tutor, too. He was really dour, until the lovely HT helped me out by waylaying him and charming him to death. He wanted the file a certain way. Final signing off was by another tutor who flipped out and told me she couldn't pass me because she didn't like the filing. She changed her mind when she saw me teach, fortunately. It's a stressful time. It will soon be over!
You seem to be fairly perfectionist. Try to relax, teaching can be like being on next top model with a secret acne attack. Some of the best advice I had when training is that outstanding teachers aren't os or 'excelling' every day. It's a long game and you'd burn out otherwise. never mind burning the children out! Remember to enjoy life. It helps you, and it helps you teach. Your schools sounds nice and sensible. Good luck!

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