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1st placement, Not sure if Mentor is helping or just offloading work into me

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by LightDivided, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. LightDivided

    LightDivided New commenter

    Hey folks,
    I’ve just started my first placement a fortnight ago and I need some advice. The school I’ve been placed with has no scheme of work for my subject at GCSE as I’ve been told, “ We just use the Exam specification here”. No idea if that’s usual or not, but if that’s how they do it, fair enough.

    My issue is that I’ve been told that I’m responsible for an entire unit of work, I have to use my own plans and resources from scratch (as the school has none for the new spec) and I’ll be delivering the first lesson next week after observing for a couple of weeks.

    So my question is: Is this normal? I signed on for teaching, so I’m prepared to put in the work but it seems a bit much given my inexperience.

    Thanks for listening
    Teacher-in-Training42 likes this.
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Unfortunately, some schools are like this. I say 'unfortunately' because I think it's a shame for trainees and people coming in for maternity cover etc.

    This is a good opportunity to get to grips with the GCSE requirements - and there are no consequences, because you won't be teaching the class next year, so won't be responsible for the results.

    The first thing to do is get a copy of the spec - make sure it's the right exam board and course code. What will they be doing in the exam? What skills and knowledge do they need to have? Look at an example question paper, and the mark scheme.

    Think about the end result - knowledge and skills - when planning your SOW. It depends on your subject - I'd ask on the subject forum if I were you - but for me, for example, I'm an English teacher, and I've been teaching 'An Inspector Calls' recently; in the exam they'll have to write about a theme, character, the plot, etc. and they need to know specifically about the context because that's what our exam board want from this text's question. Therefore, over the course of 6 weeks we read the play, concentrating on those things, as well as developing essay skills. I also did some language style questions, based on extracts from the play, to show them that there are 2 types of questions in the lit exam, and to guide them to understand the differences between them.

    If you struggle then check with your mentor. Come up with a rough plan first - divide everything into the number of weeks. Check everything with them.

    With English we also have to think about time to read the text - there are audiobooks online which give a general idea of how long it takes a good reader, and we can use that to guide us. Again, depends on your subject...

    I agree it seems a bit much, after only a few weeks, but really, understanding the GCSE specs is the key to being able to teach them, and throwing you in the deep end is a good way to facilitate that!
  3. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    Truth is, some schools / teachers do work from the spec rather than from a scheme of work. It works fine - I often do it. Sometimes I annotate it with dates to givenme an idea of time frames but if it's a course you're familiar with then you know the pacing required.

    But, however well this may work for an experienced teacher or a teacher in a well-run department, it's not what your college tutors will be expecting to see. They will be expecting to see that you can plan a unit of work to meet the requirements of the specification and the needs of your children.

    So, don't blame your teacher mentor - they know that this is something you will have to demonstrate and they're giving you the opportunity to do it.
    Flere-Imsaho likes this.
  4. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    For AQA English there are simplified schemes of work on the AQA site which break down topics week by week. Hopefully, other sites and subjects do the same. So, for this week, students covering one year AQA English Language should be covering Paper 1, Question 4. Critical evaluation. The assessment Objective is AO4 - Evaluate texts critically and support this with appropriate textual references (PEE). You then need to find appropriate resources and plan your lesson in order to fulfil the requirements. Maybe buy a textbook or there will be resources on TES and other sites.
    I hope that the above doesn't sound too much like gobbledygook. As a student, it took me ages and ages to navigate the exam board sites. It took me forever to understand the requirements of the courses that I was teaching - A level GCSE and Functional Skills. I felt that I wasn't supported by my mentor and I either had to sink or swim. I nearly sank before I learned to swim.
    However, it stood me in good stead and I have had many, many occasions since where I have not been supported and I have had to 'just get on with it'. Do your best. I you feel that you are floundering ask for help.
  5. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    correction; If you feel you are floundering ask for help.
  6. Teacher-in-Training42

    Teacher-in-Training42 New commenter

    This is normal, Ive heard it happen before. If you think you are not being supported enough ask your uni mentor
  7. ILoveTeaching

    ILoveTeaching New commenter

    I had to plan, resource and deliver a unit of work in both my training schools. I don't think it is that unusual.

    Over the years I have worked as a mentor with many trainee teachers and some universities expect that level of work and will want to see evidence of it in the evidence files from the trainee.

    It is different from one university to the next in terms of what is required. Also, some mentors will push a trainee really hard and some are more relaxed and let trainees just breeze through their training. I think it can be a bit "luck of the draw" in terms of who you end up with as a mentor.

    Good luck with it, as the training year is certainly hard work. :)
  8. bg31rr

    bg31rr New commenter

    I would agree that it is not unusual. Take time to clarify what she wants - does she want an overview of what will be considered each week or a lesson-by-lesson plan that specifies each task?

    It is good experience so worth getting to grips with. In a subject like English, a new HoD may decide to teach new books and then everyone's planning from scratch or specs can change etc.

    It's worth searching for example SOW - there are lots out there. They can give you an idea of how long the unit should last and the kind of things you could include.

    As long as it takes a reasonable amount of time and the kids learn what you need them to (link to AO's) then happy days considering you're a trainee. Anything else can be finessed with your mentor's support.
    ILoveTeaching likes this.

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