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Any advice on what to do about a mentor who is making your life very difficult?

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by am504, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. My mentor has fulfilled her duties in terms of weekly progress
    meetings, observations and paperwork. She wrote my first term report, in which
    she primarily outlined areas for development. I felt that it was slightly
    unfair but I signed and accepted it, partly out of fear and partly out of
    accepting that this must be the way it is when you are an NQT.


    It is now the second week of the Spring term. My mentor
    had not spoken to me about my progress or communicated any major concerns to
    me. We had one planning meeting where she looked over the maths plan I wrote
    for the year group (the first one I had ever done), told me how I could improve
    it and that was it. However, I was unaware that she had communicated serious
    concerns to the SLT. I arrived to a meeting with two members of the SLT and my
    mentor where they spent an hour telling me that they need to see accelerated progress
    from me over the term in order for me to pass. I felt shocked and overwhelmed
    as I had not realised there were any serious concerns about me at this stage.
    When I asked for specifics, they found it difficult to tell me. Some points my
    mentor made about tackling low level disruption and doing more detailed
    planning were fair but I felt that these could have been discussed at our next
    target review. Other points I felt were very unfair and I had to correct her as
    she was communicating exaggerated and wrong information about me on certain
    points. She is not part of my year group and some criticisms regarding planning contradict what my year group leader has asked me to do.


    I feel that as a mentor, she is doing all the official
    duties, but is failing to provide me with psychological support, in the form of
    encouragement, positive feedback and trust. I cannot trust her. She has gone behind
    my back to the SLT so how am I supposed to go to her with any problems I may be
    having without worrying that the SLT will receive an exaggerated version of
    these. I live with the fear of unexpected drop ins to my classroom and the
    criticisms and threats I may receive afterwards. I feel that 90% of her
    feedback is negative in contrast with observations which have been undertaken
    by other colleagues where the feedback has been more balanced. I have been
    threatened numerous times with the possibility of failure which I feel is an unnecessary
    pressure to put on NQT. This year is challenging and demanding enough as it is,
    without having a mentor who is keen to trip me up at every hurdle.
    <font face="Times New Roman">

    </font> I
    survived a tough and demanding PGCE year, undertaking three highly successful
    placements and received the grade of &lsquo;outstanding&rsquo; after achieving this mark on
    almost all of the QTS standards. I came into the school naively believing that
    I would be receiving adequate support from a mentor who has my best interests
    at heart and it is very upsetting for me to discover this is not the case. I
    know myself that I am working very hard and I am doing a good job. I fully
    admit that I have areas for development, like any NQT, but I feel that I am
    being threatened rather than supported in working towards them. I am
    professional in all areas of my job and I feel that I am not being treated with
    the same respect. I want this career, I deserve to pass this year and I am
    going to stay strong and fight my corner. I am grateful for my supportive year
    group and other kind and caring colleagues who have my best interests at heart
    that I can go to for advice. Advice from anyone on these forums would be greatly appreciated too? Should I get unions involved at this point?
     
  2. My mentor has fulfilled her duties in terms of weekly progress
    meetings, observations and paperwork. She wrote my first term report, in which
    she primarily outlined areas for development. I felt that it was slightly
    unfair but I signed and accepted it, partly out of fear and partly out of
    accepting that this must be the way it is when you are an NQT.


    It is now the second week of the Spring term. My mentor
    had not spoken to me about my progress or communicated any major concerns to
    me. We had one planning meeting where she looked over the maths plan I wrote
    for the year group (the first one I had ever done), told me how I could improve
    it and that was it. However, I was unaware that she had communicated serious
    concerns to the SLT. I arrived to a meeting with two members of the SLT and my
    mentor where they spent an hour telling me that they need to see accelerated progress
    from me over the term in order for me to pass. I felt shocked and overwhelmed
    as I had not realised there were any serious concerns about me at this stage.
    When I asked for specifics, they found it difficult to tell me. Some points my
    mentor made about tackling low level disruption and doing more detailed
    planning were fair but I felt that these could have been discussed at our next
    target review. Other points I felt were very unfair and I had to correct her as
    she was communicating exaggerated and wrong information about me on certain
    points. She is not part of my year group and some criticisms regarding planning contradict what my year group leader has asked me to do.


    I feel that as a mentor, she is doing all the official
    duties, but is failing to provide me with psychological support, in the form of
    encouragement, positive feedback and trust. I cannot trust her. She has gone behind
    my back to the SLT so how am I supposed to go to her with any problems I may be
    having without worrying that the SLT will receive an exaggerated version of
    these. I live with the fear of unexpected drop ins to my classroom and the
    criticisms and threats I may receive afterwards. I feel that 90% of her
    feedback is negative in contrast with observations which have been undertaken
    by other colleagues where the feedback has been more balanced. I have been
    threatened numerous times with the possibility of failure which I feel is an unnecessary
    pressure to put on NQT. This year is challenging and demanding enough as it is,
    without having a mentor who is keen to trip me up at every hurdle.
    <font face="Times New Roman">

    </font> I
    survived a tough and demanding PGCE year, undertaking three highly successful
    placements and received the grade of &lsquo;outstanding&rsquo; after achieving this mark on
    almost all of the QTS standards. I came into the school naively believing that
    I would be receiving adequate support from a mentor who has my best interests
    at heart and it is very upsetting for me to discover this is not the case. I
    know myself that I am working very hard and I am doing a good job. I fully
    admit that I have areas for development, like any NQT, but I feel that I am
    being threatened rather than supported in working towards them. I am
    professional in all areas of my job and I feel that I am not being treated with
    the same respect. I want this career, I deserve to pass this year and I am
    going to stay strong and fight my corner. I am grateful for my supportive year
    group and other kind and caring colleagues who have my best interests at heart
    that I can go to for advice. Advice from anyone on these forums would be greatly appreciated too? Should I get unions involved at this point?
     
  3. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Your HT would have needed to see your term 1 report. They have probably only just got round to reading it properly and were then concerned about the areas for development. Your mentor probably got her wrists slapped for not having been more proactive in ensuring they knew sooner about the areas for development and so SLT decided to take over the meeting.

    By the end of your second term you really do need to show evidence that you have met almost all the standards. Ask your supportive colleagues for help in doing so and be really proactive in letting SLT and your mentor know all the progress you have made. Ask for a meeting with the three of them again at half term and go over the areas for development from last term, showing how you have dealt with each one. If they weren't fair then, it should be easy to show you don't need to improve any more in those areas. Ask for help with the standards you cannot see how you can meet.
    Lots and lots of people get support and encouragement from those who are not 'officially' their mentor/line manager/whatever. I know I do. In a way it is easier to be supportive and kind when you are not someone's mentor. The mentor does have the job of pointing out the problems which is really tough and horrible sometimes, I hate doing it, but is necessary. It is not your mentor's job to be a exactly the person with the personality you want them to be. It is easier when they are, but it isn't a requirement.
    For what reason?
     
  4. Thanks for your advice. My end of term 1 report was read by all of the SLT in December and there were no major concerns at that point. I had made sufficient progress on all my targets from September. Since we are only a week into term 2 and I have not had any observations or had any targets set for this term, this meeting came as a shock to me and I feel it was an unnecessary move on their part as it has only served to knock my confidence when I felt I was getting into my stride. I understand that I have areas of development,like all NQTS, but I believe they should be discussed between myself and my mentor first as is only professional.
     
  5. I would also like to add that all of my colleagues in my year group have no concerns with me and are happy with my progress.
     
  6. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I think you might be mistaken about what is and is not professional. If SLT have concerns they will almost certainly speak to your mentor first and then to both of you together. This is what seems to have happened here. And they very possibly left it until now to stop you fretting all over Christmas.
    This, though nice for you to know, is largely irrelevant. I have colleagues who think I should win outstanding teacher of the year and others who think I would be better off working in tescos! None of whom have any responsibility for my performance or progress.

    You need to get used to the fact that the people who think most highly of you are not always those whose opinion matters. Next year you will have performance management targets and a manager. They may or may not like you or think you are fab. You just need to show evidence to prove you are doing all that you should and have met all your targets. Having one who is encouraging and supportive is lovely and makes life much easier, but it isn't guaranteed.
     
  7. I know I'm not the only one to have a tough mentor. I feel that so far I have not been standing up for myself enough and I'm going to start doing that now. Since most of the points of the meeting were made by my mentor and not the SLT, and many of the criticisms were to do with a plan she looked at after Christmas, I am fairly sure that this was not something that they have been waiting to say for a month. I'm just scared that my fate is in the hands of someone who has another agenda. But I suppose this is a 'welcome to the real world' type of moment.
     
  8. Looby_Lou14

    Looby_Lou14 New commenter

    I'm sorry that you are experiencing this.
    This sort of contradicts- Do you mean you have been threatended with failure since the meeting with SLT? If so, then I agree, no threats will help, you need structured support.
    If you have been threatened since the start of the year, well, that is a clue that there are some serious concerns, but again you should have been given the support.
    Unfortunately, this doesn't really mean a lot. I, too, got the same gradings as you in my PGCE and now I am in my NQT year I feel it is completely different and have found times when I think I would barely scrape a pass if it was my PGCE year. Now is now, so try not to think too much about the past- unless you are giving yourself a bit of confidemce as in "I can do this".

    I take it you are primary? Are there any other NQTs at all who you can talk with / compare experience?

    I am finding my NQT hard at times too, I am secondary but we may be facing the same difficulties, you never know.
    It is brilliant that you recognise this- it would be ten times worse if you thought "there's nothing I can improve" and also very unlikely. if you let us know what your areas for improvements are then perhaps people will be able to offer more specific advice.

    In terms of not feeling like you are getting the support, make sure you are keeping a log of you trying, for example:

    14.1.12- Asked mentor to help me address areas for improvement
    15.1.12- Emailed Mr. Bloggs to observe his class in order to meet standard X. Awaiting response.
    16.1.12- second request for meeting regarding addressing areas for improvement.

    I am not 100% sure how much this will help, but it takes seconds, and may cover your back should you need it.

    Please don't think that your mentor is "out to get you". The liklihood of that is low, Although i perfectly understand how hard it must be.

    Make sure you are stilll trying to meet standards and noting/ filing what evidence you are already collecting, and if you are not getting support for your weaknesses from your mentor, let us know what they are and there are plenty of people on here who can offer suggestions for you to try out.

    Minniemix is right- absolutely no need for unions as nobody is doing anything wrong. Just focus on you, and what you can do to help yourself.

    Good Luck,
    Looby xx

    p.s sorry for typos- just got in from doing the horses and hands are too cold to type properly! :)

     
  9. Thanks for your advice Looby, that has been helpful to read. Yes I'm primary, in key stage 1. I should just clarify the first point you made. I was threated back in september by my mentor that if I didn't step up on behaviour management I would fail but my term 1 report outlined that I was progressing satisfactorily towards this target and my mentor was happy with my progress on this. The possibility of failure was then brought up in the SLT meeting after my mentor popped in unannounced on one of my lessons and noticed one child was looking at her instead of me and another child was restless. So low level disruption is my next target.
    My other target adequate planning and differentiation. I have only started doing maths plans for my year group this term and I type up the plan that is decided on during planning meetings. My year group have had to defend me to my mentor many times about planning as we agree on all activities together. So I feel confused about who I am trying to please. As I have only just begun to plan and they are very different to the plans I wrote for the PGCE, I know this is an area for development and I will be showing my plans to my head of year every week for her advice.
    I also have one extremely difficult and disruptive child in my class and I teach alone in the class 80% of the time. I have been asking since september for more support for him and nothing has happened as of yet.I have devised my own behaviour management strategies for him but it's all trial and error. I have followed advice from the school counsellor but the senco has yet to help.
    Other teachers (who have also been mentors) in the school have approached me to say that I am being treated unfairly by my mentor so I suppose all of this is getting to me. The other NQT in the school is very supportive and is shocked by the different style of mentoring we are being given. I suppose this is all getting me down but I have written out an action plan for myself and made myself my own targets (as i was not given any in the meeting), which I will be showing to my mentor and SLT on Monday.
    You are right, I will be more proactive and keep a log showing how I am trying to meet the standards like you suggested.
    Thanks again
     
  10. Just realised I have made lots of typos too, sorry! :)
     
  11. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Be very, very wary about listening to such gossip. This could simply be them not liking your mentor. They cannot know the ins and outs of the situation, unless you have told them which would definitely not help your cause at all.
    Be prepared for the fact they may have different priorities to you and so want to change some of your plan.
    You really need a log that shows how you HAVE MET the standards, not trying to. If, at the end of term two, you have still not met a fair number of standards then the school and LA will have to step up support for you to help you pass the year. (You cannot fail on a term by term basis, just give concern that you may not meet all the standards by the end of the year.)
     
  12. I haven't been telling anybody about what's going on, it's just their own observations of the situation. I appreciate your advice. I am intending to be proactive about my situation and seeing as I didn't receive any targets from the meeting, and was given no indication as to when I would, I thought it best to devise my own based on the conversations that were had. I do of course have evidence on how I have met certain targets and my log will be about how I am meeting the criteria for the remainder of the standards.
     

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