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Changing schools due to poor mentoring....

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by AnnieTA, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. Has anyone any thoughts on changing schools due to poor mentoring? In my school I am having real trouble with my mentor - partly a big personality clash but also a fundamental difference of opinion over style and approach. My mentor has gone very protective and is now actively undermining me. I told the full story to a friendly HOD in another school (who has stacks of experience and has done a lot of mentoring) and she said that I should get out as fast as possible. This HOD was appalled at what has been going on and suggested I may be able to change schools, but we're not sure if it might be possible. I have raised things with my DRB but I don't feel I should really take the Mentor to task yet (he'd go from bad to worse!). I wondered if anyone has been in a similar situation and if changing schools partway through the first term is possible?
  2. Has anyone any thoughts on changing schools due to poor mentoring? In my school I am having real trouble with my mentor - partly a big personality clash but also a fundamental difference of opinion over style and approach. My mentor has gone very protective and is now actively undermining me. I told the full story to a friendly HOD in another school (who has stacks of experience and has done a lot of mentoring) and she said that I should get out as fast as possible. This HOD was appalled at what has been going on and suggested I may be able to change schools, but we're not sure if it might be possible. I have raised things with my DRB but I don't feel I should really take the Mentor to task yet (he'd go from bad to worse!). I wondered if anyone has been in a similar situation and if changing schools partway through the first term is possible?
  3. If this is only a one term placement then I don't really see the point in you changing. You will have to go to another school, start from the beginning by observing etc and before you know it it will be Christmas. That would be a waste of the skills you are developing.

    I know it is difficult, but you only have another 7 weeks left and you could use these to learn and develop and build up the thick skin you need to have in teaching. Use it as a learning curve which should stand you in good stead for the next placement.

    If, however, it is for a longer placement, then I think you should ask to be moved. This is an important year and you need the support. Make sure your DRB are aware of the situation, maybe they can offer you more support by visiting you in school on a more regular basis and offering you advice.

    I am dreading going back to school next week (for different reasons to yours) but I keep thinking it is only 7 weeks.

    All the best with whatever you decide to do.
  4. Hi AnnieTA, I am in exactly the same situation. I am dreading going back and don't know how to get through this until Christmas, when I get 6 weeks at another school. My mentor does not have enough time for me and also constantly undermines me infront of students.

    I feel like I can not make waves as we should "feel privileged" that we are part of this programme. I am suprised that you had support from a HOD as everyone at my school seems to be terrified of opening their mouth for fear of gossip and backstabing, but good to know that there is some kind of support system in your school. My mentor actually said to my face "we don't have to keep you here- if you don't like it you can go elsewhere". As you can imagine, enthusiasm for subject and school are at an all time low.

    Good luck with the programme and let me know of any developments!
  5. Beb

    Beb New commenter

    Hi I have been in this situation and really feel for you,

    My DRB were very supportive and I was moved to another school this has not been all plain sailing and I feel that I am playing catch up but I am REALLY glad that I was moved. If your DRB are supportive let them deal with it mine attended meetings with me and sorted out a new place within a week.

    It is a tough enough 9 months without having to cope with additional stress and my feelings were that I have worked damn hard to get to this point that I was not prepared to let someone else ruin it for me.

    I have had three mentors in the space of three weeks in the school I have been moved to but hopefully things will now settle down.

    Not sure how your DRB works I know a previous poster says it is only for ? weeks, we have a lead school who we are placed with in the first and third term so if the same is true for you it could be worth moving now rather than have difficulties in the third term when you are preparing for final assessment.

    Hope you get things sorted let us know how you get on.
  6. Hi,

    This thread has been really eye-opening for me. I thought I was the only one feeling like this! It has been mentioned in previous posts, but there really does seem to be this notion that we should keep it all in and remind ourselves how lucky we are to be on the course in the first place.

    I am having a hard time at my school. The year didn't get off to the best start, due to illness - both mine and my mentor's. Since then, things have been difficult. It's got to a point now where I have to drag myself in every morning and I dread every day. I know there's only a few weeks til xmas, but is it too late to move schools? I'd love any advice.

  7. Thanks to all who have contributed - I have chatted to quite a few people about this and it turns out that problems with mentors are not unusual. I have found my DRB to be at first hesitant (suggesting that it was normal for it to be hard and that it was probably me that was at fault!) but then supportive. I have now moved schools and have another mentor who is really good. I'd suggest this: make some discrete enquires at a school you like - go meet the head of department and ask about the idea of coming to them to finish your GTP. If they say yes in principle then go back to your DRB and say you really need to move and that you have a school that will take you. The TDA grant can be moved to the new school and it will work, so don't take no for an answer (got the impression with mine that if I actually left the GTP altogether then their results would be affected, so they want to avoid this). However, try to sort out personal or professional issues with your first school before you go - it makes sense for it to be an amicable thing! Hope all that helps.
  8. How feasible is this these days?

    A friend of mine mentioned in another thread took certain matters up with his training provider along with other gtp students concerning the mentoring at his school, and thought it was sorted.

    Now, however, it seems the mentor may have turned vengeful and my friend is desperate and can't see any way to turn. From what he's telling me, what he's undergoing is harassment and bullying - something I have some experience of in a non-educational setting.

    I'm very worried for him, and going to suggest to him when I call him later that he go back to the training provider and ask for intervention. He can't even bear the idea of 1 more day let alone lasting to half term.
    I may direct his attention to this possibility IF it is still appropriate.

    I don't know anything about the set up arrangements for gtp - are there contracts between the provider and school? what is the legal status of the trainee? Does a duty of care lie with the provider or the school?

    I did recommend to my friend right at the start that he should join a teaching union 'just in case' but am fairly sure he didn't.
  9. oscillator

    oscillator Occasional commenter

    My Training provider have mentioned it to me as a possibility.... Totally different situation for me, but similar effects... I cry every day on the way to work, just because I don't see a good solution to the problem. Training provider have mentioned that I can either do a longer second placement (6 weeks instead of 4) or possibly move to that second placement school altogether, if it comes to that.
    I think it depends if the training provider place you in the school to begin with, or if you applied directly to the school in first instance and then had to be accepted on the course. They mentioned that I should ensure I do my second placement at one of the schools in their consortium in case a more permanent move had to be arranged.
    Hope things get better for your friend, but I must say he really should to to his training provider, tutor assessor, someone outside the school. This is a stressful year, they understand that. They said to me they didn't think it appropriate to add all of the additional stress of a situation where you don't feel you are getting the support you need for whatever reason. To be honest, it was just kinda nice to know they care.

  10. Hi read this thread with real interest. Illness early in the term put
    me back admittedly, but I don't feel part of a team. I am teaching in
    year 3 and other staff are very clicky women, who maybe feel threatened
    by a newcomer. Though I am very easy to get one with, something is not
    right. My mentor is in my opinion, too busy to fulfil the role. My
    mentor makes me feel stupid and undermines me in observations. They
    changed my lesson plan for an observation a few weeks back and in my
    opinion it was done on purpose to make me fail. The school has a good
    reputation though and I feel like I am supposed to be privileged to be
    there and on to be on the GTP course.
    I don't feel like I have
    anyone on my side, as my visiting uni tutor is really harsh on my
    observations, and my course leader doesn't understand what my problem
    is. I hardly get any poistive feedback and feel totally demoralised and
    depressed. I came into the process feeling excited and confident after
    some great feedback from the school I worked at previously, who told me I
    was a natural and would make a great teacher. if it wasn't for the
    lovely kids in my class and certain lovely teachers etc I would have
    walked out by now. I feel ganged up on, like they want me to fail. As
    teachers we are supposed to be teaching the kids that positive praise
    and good support is the best way to stop barriers to learning. What hope
    have we got if trainees don't put it into practice? I really feel like I
    want to change schools. Should I? Could I?
  11. Wow! What an eye opener....I am doing a GTP in Science at secondary level and my mentor is fantastic-in fact I dont know what I would do without her! It is really disheartening to hear of your predicaments-I feel for you.
    I think most of the time when GTP placements dont work out it is because the person doing the mentoring just doesnt have the time to do the job well and starts to resent their free time being taken up by us. This is no excuse as it is essentially a voluntery thing and mentor roles should be given to teachers who really want to do it and have the time to give it their all.
    I suppose the trick is to weigh up whether the stress of starting afresh at a new school is more or less than sticking at it where you are. As I said I am being given fantastic support so I dont know how you are feeling but I really hope it works out.

  12. matildablahow

    matildablahow New commenter

    oh dear, i just received the email from my uni tutor that professional mentor (head teacher) has raised some concerns about my stay in their school. I have only spoke to her twice and an hour meeting lasted no longer then 10 minutes. she made a comment about me not being English and how am i going to deal with English subject matter.? (i do have a master in English so i just mention not to her of course) but she is least of my worries... my mentor is a job sharer and i do see her only one morning when she teaches and 1 full day when it is only us two in the classroom. i have been at this placement for 3 weeks and the first week the teacher (the Monday to Wednesday) did not even registered me, made it clear that she is not there to mentor me. so she used me as TA, i did not have my meeting the first week. The second week they suddenly both became my mentors and I was given jobs like photocopying, laminating for hours, tidying serving kids at lunch time etc. I started some observations in other classes which doesn't go down that well. she is constantly telling me what i cant do. like when i need to go and observe Y6 she says why and crosses it off. on Wednesday i was meant to be in reception and she said no way, you going to join our planning in the morning. so i had to cancel with the teacher in reception only to be left in my classroom laminating whole day. she wont talk to me, wont explain to me anything just tells me when i am wrong. she made me do this display, then the other one came took it all off and told me to redo it as she doesn't like it. yesterday she just happened to come to the classroom to look for something and just when leaving barked at me to get ready as i am having my first observation when doing guided reading and she knows i will fail ....i just don't want to be there but also it is not me who is complaining it is them?? why??? i feel trapped and i am beginning to question my career choices. is it really worth it?
  13. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    Mentor here. *waves*
    It sounds like an awful situation. As a mentor I'd say for the sake of a term, I wouldn't bother moving. It's not that long in the grand scheme of things. If it's longer and you and your training provider have exhausted all routes of making it work there, then begin officially looking to move. This may be the case if you're doing a SCITT/SchoolDirect course where one school does most of the training. Your training provider will be able to help you with this. So sorry you're going through this.

    General advise to trainees about mentors (sorry if it's long but I hope it's useful):

    I can recall in my training year fellow trainees having issues with their mentor. Some had horrific situations of bullying, lack of training etc. They passed it through the official channels and whilst they had to grin and bear it, that school was no longer used for placements the following year. When they moved into their 2nd placement, they flourished and are now very successful teachers. It didn't have a negative effect on their progress and they learned a lot from the experience about the social set up of schools etc. Lesson: Schools can be very political, bitchy at times and can be hothouses for issues. Part of making it in teaching is learning how to navigate staff as much as it is about what you do with students.

    Others trainees had issues about style and would loudly talk about how '[mentor] doesn't get my style' and claim it's personal. They'd gather with other people who equally felt their mentors didn't 'get' them & spout nonsense about how 'all the older teachers feel threatened by new blood etc'. Years into their careers they still aren't in stable teaching posts, whereas most of us - including people who had genuinely awful experiences - are in promoted posts. My guess is that they liked their way of doing things and probably rubbed their mentors up the wrong way because they'd read a book on education, done a few lectures or felt they had a 'better relationship with the students'. Lesson: Schools sometimes have their own way of doing things and routines etc and that to a point, learning to fit into a school is also part of the training process. Part of being a great teacher is blending what the school wants and your style together. Trying to be the sparkly new blood who knows best is also likely to rub colleagues up the wrong way.

    I love mentoring but we don't get any extra time or pay for doing this role. We are also held accountable for our mentoring and the training we provide. Yes, there will be times your mentors have other things to do. I can recall missing a meeting with my trainee a fortnight ago because what was more important at that time was dealing with a child protection concern then checking a student who'd just had a behaviour meltdown was ok before seeing my trainee. I'd be annoyed if my trainee then felt it appropriate to say 'PurpleCarrot has no time for me because she didn't meet with me for the 3rd time this week'.

    I would not suggest doing this! I would be really annoyed if any of my trainees had gone running to other schools behind mine and the training partnership's back. There are proper channels for making changes to placement. If somebody said to be 'oh you had [trainee] didn't you, what're they like?' then I would give honest feedback on their teaching but would say 'but when they felt there were issues, they approached another school without discussing it with me/training provider so that left a bit of a sour taste'. People will read between the lines (don't anyone tell me it's wrong to ask opinions of people - it happens in every line of work. Word of mouth can help you get jobs too - I can recall telling a school that somebody was an outstanding trainee and to keep their eyes peeled for their application). Lesson: Teaching is a small world and people move between schools. Reputations will move with you - positive and negative.

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