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PGCE - when does it get better?

(27 Posts)
McDougal Wed 01-Nov-17 16:09:14

I’m into to my sixth week in school. School is fine, kids are fine...just fine. I’m really not enjoying the teaching side of things. It’s all teach to test and there’s no creativity anywhere to be seen.

It genuinely makes me sad that poems are being read purely for annotating prior to exams. Novels are reduced to extracts where a particular theme needs to be evidenced.

If you can’t tell, I’m secondary English.

Honest opinions...is it worth me sticking it out? I have the option to transfer to an English course unrelated to education and seriously considering it.

Any advice would be massively appreciated.

BobbinThreadbare123 Wed 01-Nov-17 16:12:35

I'll get shouted down as a doom monger, but teaching is not a profession I would be attempting to enter right now. I quit last year and do a totally different job now. I was secondary physics. The lack of creativity is symptomatic of the profession, now. I had a measure of it in an independent school, but the state sector was crap. I'm not sure the PGCE is worth the paper it's written on currently, either. Certainly not outside teaching! Think hard, OP. NQT year is a bitch.

McDougal Wed 01-Nov-17 17:23:59

Thank you for the reply, Bobbin. If I’m really not enjoying it now, NQT year will be an even bigger bitch, won’t it?

I loved the theory stuff. We have an ex teacher as our course leader and she really has an idealistic view of what it was when she was teaching. She does hate the lack of creativity though.

Does anyone still love the job?

Lowdoorinthewal1 Wed 01-Nov-17 17:32:10

I love it, I would do it for free. Yes there are awful days, awful weeks even, but it genuinely make me happy.

However, I am a specialist and senior, and in a school I love to the bottom of my heart, all of which makes a difference.

IME it gets better in your 4th year.

McDougal Wed 01-Nov-17 17:36:53

That sounds like it makes a big difference, Low. It might just be a case of finding my school. The workload isn’t too horrific as yet, but my subject seems to be resented by the kids as it’s core and they need a decent GCSE to get much further academically.

If it was this way when I was at school, I wouldn’t have chosen to do a degree in English confused

PotteringAlong Wed 01-Nov-17 17:37:44

I think there was a turning point for me 5 years in.

Caulk Wed 01-Nov-17 17:38:58

July. It gets slightly better then.

McDougal Wed 01-Nov-17 17:42:41

So did you all just struggle through unhappy until the turning point?

I left work to do my degree because I was so unhappy as the job didn’t require any thought. I just wanted a job that challenged me! It doesn’t seem too much to ask, does it grin

I love my subject, I really do, but I can’t see myself coming to terms with the education system as it is right now.

BobbinThreadbare123 Wed 01-Nov-17 17:42:57

Yeah, you've got to love it to do it. It's taken me quite a long time to get over having any time to myself in evenings and weekends etc. I did really love the teaching; just not the SLT and the narrow mindedness I encountered. My PGCE tutors were very nice on the whole, but woefully out of touch with what was actually happening in schools. I'm glad I did it, but I certainly wouldn't do it now.

susannahmoodie Wed 01-Nov-17 17:48:05

It genuinely makes me sad that poems are being read purely for annotating prior to exams. Novels are reduced to extracts where a particular theme needs to be evidenced

Secondary English HOD here......

I strongly believe that enjoying a poem and appreciating its beauty and annotating and deconstructing it are not mutually exclusive. Yes students need to know the texts they are studying for the exam. Doesn’t mean they also can’t enjoy them and gain personally from them hmm

Lowdoorinthewal1 Wed 01-Nov-17 17:48:20

I was unhappy at first but I shopped around. Trained for Secondary Science, hated that. Did NQT year in mainstream primary, hated that. Worked as an educator for a charity for a year and loved it... but got bored giving the same 'session' over and over. Then took a job in SEN and never looked back.

McDougal Wed 01-Nov-17 18:24:54

Thank you for the hmm, susannah.

Perhaps they are enjoying them and taking from them personally, but reducing a text to annotations in lessons serves the exam. I wish I had seen more students enjoying lessons (I’ve observed practically all the teachers in the dept).

I was wondering whether SEN might be a good fit for me, Low. I suppose it’s just sticking it out until it’s gets better.

Of course, I could always return to responsibility and get myself in employment again. I’ve been stuck in this student bubble for far too long.

susannahmoodie Wed 01-Nov-17 18:38:34

Serves the exam? You mean prepares them to pass the GCSE which will allow them to access further study and employment opportunities? Are these y11 students you are talking about?

PotteringAlong Wed 01-Nov-17 18:38:59

I wasn't unhappy for the first 5 years, but it got a lot easier after that point. I had a bank of resources, I was much better at my job, I
Knew where and how I could cut corners.

McDougal Wed 01-Nov-17 18:48:08

Yes, susannah. I have no issue with students being prepared for exams. There have been so many changes, though, that students are starting in year nine in order to fit all of the information they need for a 5 or above at GCSE.

The intention of my post was not to pick fault with how English is taught. Just that the way that things are in education don’t seem to be for me.

I’m still no closer to making a decision but intend to speak to my course leader at some point for her point of view.

wobblywonderwoman Wed 01-Nov-17 18:52:05

I think if you feel like this six weeks in, you are going to get more and more frustrated with the system.
I think I would transfer to the other course if you can.

McDougal Wed 01-Nov-17 18:57:25

Thank you,*Wobbly*. I don’t think I’ve let any of this show at school but, if I carry on feeling like this, I should leave.

My mentor also mentors another student so it would be better to let her concentrate on him.

I’ll wait it out until I see my course leader, I think. I’ve got a couple of lessons tomorrow so I’ll see if they change my mind smile

McDougal Wed 01-Nov-17 18:58:27

Thank you,*Wobbly*. I don’t think I’ve let any of this show at school but, if I carry on feeling like this, I should leave.

My mentor also mentors another student so it would be better to let her concentrate on him.

I’ll wait it out until I see my course leader, I think. I’ve got a couple of lessons tomorrow so I’ll see if they change my mind smile

McDougal Wed 01-Nov-17 18:58:49

Whoops. Sorry for the double post. Stupid phone.

Goodasgoldilox Wed 01-Nov-17 19:18:25

I agree that things are tough and the pressure is on !

However, there are creative things you can do - even when working towards the analysis of poems for exam purposes.

Memory works better on things you have really engaged with - so there is justification for say introducing the theme/idea in a poem and getting your class to come up with different ways of expressing this. Doing this first and then looking at how the poet approached it brings the thing to life.

I am saddened by having little time to cover whole books but you can take care that the extracts or sections studied are presented as 'tasters' and lead to interest in the book as out of class reading for pleasure.

The challenges change - but you can make a difference. English is still a great subject to teach. It gets inside students in ways that other subjects don't.

Fffion Wed 01-Nov-17 19:29:59

McDougall,

Responding to your OP, haven't RTFT.

Yes, it is absolutely worth sticking out. As a qualified teacher, you will always be able to find work.

School is fine, kids are fine - that is a pretty good placement. You can work on developing your craft without having to get totally demoralised by bad discipline.

Jump through the hoops that need to be jumped through and look forward to your next placement and then a job.

McDougal Wed 01-Nov-17 19:37:44

Thank you both, Good and Fffion.

I’m really hoping I can build in some creativity! Some feedback we both got was that group work was ambitious but that was with a really lovely class who we have never had any issues with, even being left alone. I thought that was odd but they’re experienced teachers and I’m not so I have to take their advice as it comes.

I think I will try to fit in more creative stuff where possible. I can’t imagine my course leader being happy observing one of my lessons where there’s not much engagement and just me annotating on the board.

I really haven’t experienced any bad behaviour (yet) and I’m pretty up to speed on the praise/behaviour systems so hopefully can use those to my advantage where needed.

I might still have a quick chat with my course leader - maybe just to check I’m just human having these doubts smile

Fffion Wed 01-Nov-17 20:34:52

You need to meet the standards, but you don't need to exceed them dramatically. An all-singing, all-dancing lesson can be confusing to students, especially when they are conditioned to be 100% teacher led.

It's not easy changing the culture in the classroom. You just need to demostrate your more creative side in 10 - 20 minute bursts. As students get more comfortable with active learning, you can do more of it.

McDougal Wed 01-Nov-17 21:18:30

Thank you again, Fffion.

Yep, I agree bursts are the way to go. We’ve heard horror stories at uni about a previous trainee getting a year seven class fired up and not being able to peel them off the ceiling to do any work so I definitely want to avoid that!

Thank you to everyone for your responses. I’m now fully planned for the rest of the week and feeling a smidge better smile

Alphvet Fri 10-Nov-17 21:05:41

Hated pgce and nqt. Quite like it now. You just need a good attitude and to not be a perfectionist. 10 years in and enjoyed it from year 2 bit depends on the school. Some jobs I've enjoyed much more than other

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