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Dear James - Please Help GTP - (and anyone else) CRISIS

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by tehmina87, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. I started my GTP in September and unfortunately suffered a very close bereavement a week into the course resulting in me having to have three weeks off work (due to stress and health issues). Alongside this I was just recovering from a serious health issue in the summer for which I have to attend weekly hospital appointments (once a week during the school week) for treatment to prevent my illness from re developing. The treatment sometimes causes a reaction and as a result I had to have a few days off work once returning after the bereavement as I was kept in hospital under observation.

    The school who have taken me on as a student knew I would be attending hospital on a weekly basis prior to the course and I also have a doctors letter stating I am fit to work (the treatment being in place to prevent illness). However, my trainee school and especially my mentor have not taken to this very well at all (which I can understand) as I have missed a lot of the first term. However, as I have explained losing an immediate family member was not something I have caused and I can only apologise for circumstances out of my control.

    My mentor however has become very hostile towards me and difficult to work with - stating they are completely at loss with the training as we have missed things that we were supposed to do and that she feels demotivated about it all. I have been accused of not being pro-active enough (although my folder is up to date considering all I have had to contend with personally) so I have been trying to do as much as I can in the classroom. My mentor is also assistant head so has a lot of work to do - so when at times I have tried to discuss the course with her - she has said it is not the right time for her (which I understand) however she seems to be holding my rocky start against me. Last week a very abrupt conversation took place (where I was mainly listening) about how she felt I was perhaps unfit to do the course (even though I have health checks stating otherwise) and also how my family member had not been dead all this time and she could not see how we will catch up on missed time (as the university reassured) in the next term. She has also accused me of not being professional as in my attempt to being pro-active I began to scribe some notes down on her introduction to a lesson last week whilst she was teaching which she stopped me from doing as she told me I should have discussed it with her (I do realise now in retrospect why she may not have liked this but I was trying to crack on and use initiative) In a meeting with the university, myself and the mentor she also said she feels I am not where I should be or she thought I would be (after my 5 years of TA experience in another school) and that I have become an irritation which she does not have time to bring up to scratch. This conversation took place whilst another member of staff was in the room. She will now only consider continuing the training if the uni are prepared to help me with my training plan instead of me and my mentor creating it.

    In my attempt to be pro-active, I discussed an issue with a parent today that had arisen at dinnertime regarding a child. However, my mentor accused me in the meeting later of being rude and not being professional as I should have consulted her before speaking to one of her parents. I did think I was being pro-active and also see the class as a shared one where we both can speak to parents but the mentor was not happy...also it was difficult for me to speak to her prior to this as a supply teacher was in the class today in place of her whilst she was busy so she was not available to speak to.I have also been accused of not knowing the children's names (which is untrue) and also just 'hovering' The latter is a result of being left to just observe due to my mentor not knowing the outcome of whether I was going to stay at the school until the meeting today and whenever I have tried to approach the training issue with her she has appeared annoyed. I voiced my opinions today that I feel like I have become a nuisance and treading on eggshells and my mentor in the presence of my head said I was right...I am treading on eggshells and I have become a nuisance. However, the training is still continuing at the school provided I have no further time off (I better not fall ill!) and the training plan is to the satisfaction of the mentor.

    I feel completely a nervous wreck, on edge and lost with all this...I have explained none of what has happened has been my fault and they say they understand that but the tolerance seems non existent. I feel like I am being set up to fail now (although my uni assure me that won't happen) and I have been told I have to work doubly hard to prove myself else I may be taken out the school if my mentor decides so. I am worried that this stress may result again in my health issues resurfacing as I do not feel at all supported. My university have decided to leave me at this school for now...my mentor is not at all happy with me...I have been labelled....and I really feel upset and depressed. I am still recovering from losing my family member but trying to plod on. Can anyone please advise me?

    School placements are hard to find...and I can not defer until I find another one as I can not afford to not be paid a salary in the time I may not have a school...but the school I am at, the relationship with the mentor looks difficult to mend...she dismissed most of what the university said after the meeting (which I can understand to a degree as she says they do not work in schools and do not know what goes on) but I feel like I am being punished for something I have no control over. I didn't ask to have ongoing health issues or for a bereavement.

    Please help me, I loved teaching until a few weeks back, was passionate about it...but now...I feel completely insecure and unconfident after being told I am not as good as expected and an irritation.

    What can I do? What are my rights? I do not want to leave GTP as once you leave it will be hard to get back on to any course...and I have always wanted to teach. But maybe this new school is showing me I can not.
  2. Hello,

    I really sympathise with your situation as something similar happened to me last year. I would say you need to speak to your university tutor asap and if this doesn't help, contact the GTP course leader. They can speak to your class teacher and sensitively raise some of your concerns in a "I'm sure you're already doing all of this, but just remember to complete such and such etc". You need to try and pin the class teacher down at a set time to discuss your needs as a trainee on a weekly basis - agree a suitable time together.

    I also want to mention that it must be difficult for the teacher to marry all her responsibilities along with helping you. Having a GTP student is a unique experience and you need to allow for a transition period. At this stage, I feel you should be consulting with her regarding communicating with parents - for various reasons, it may be better that the class teacher deals with more sensitive issues as she knows the family etc.

    I agree with your university that you can probably catch up but you won't if you have any more time off. It will be a hard slog for you now and you need to be prepared for that - come up with some strategies to help combat stress or you will end up going round in circles.

    If you want any more advice then PM me and I will share my story with you.

    Hope everything works out for you.
  3. lilykitty

    lilykitty New commenter

    From what you say (and obviously you can only say your interpretation of the situation) it sounds as though your mentor has realised that you are going to need a lot more work and attention from her than she had thought. I don't think this is down to you, or even necessarily your circumstances. I know of quite a few cases where students (and GTP students in particular) are taken on with the sole focus on the cover they will provide for the mentor teacher. The school's focus is on a cheap teacher to free up the assistant head or SENCO or whatever other role the mentor has and not on the commitment to the student.
    No one likes to get things wrong, and it sounds as though your mentor does not like the fact that instead of making her workload lighter, she has increased it. She is therefore stressed and blaming you. The amount you 'irritate' her is a direct reflection of her stress levels, not your ability.
    It's very hard to change a situation like this. I don't know how possible it is, but finding a different school placement (or switching to a different mentor within the school?) could well be your best outcome. Make sure you are maintaining your relationship with the university and ensure they know all of the work you are putting in so they continue to see you in a positive light.
    However difficult it is, try to leave your mentor's problems with her - just because she says you are the cause doesn't make it true!
    Don't feel like I've helped much, but hope things start to improve soon.
  4. Clearly it has been a very difficult start to the year for you and, as you say, not your fault.
    It seems as if many of the things I would suggest have been put in place - such as a meeting between all parties to explore all the issues and to make sure that everyone is appraised of the situation.
    Reading between the lines here (and I may be wrong) it looks as though the school has uinderestimated the support necessary for a GTP and this is now having a negative effect as the mentor realsises that people need more help and support. Many schools feel that now we work in universities we can't possibly understand what happens in schools and what the 'reality' of teaching is like. That's wrong, even though I havn't taught day to day in schools for a long time, I do understand the pressures and the stress as well as the 'reality' of teaching.
    So, how to progress from here.
    Get back on to your university tutor and ask for specific help and support - it may well be that the university has a system for additional support for trainees who require more help. It may well be that extra visits from the uni tutor can support you and the mentor to ensure that ypou are back up to speed ASAP. I am assuming that there is a support plan in place (after the meetings you describe?) If not ask for one - one that deals with specific issues identified by you, your uni tutor and your mentor. It should also identify how the support will be provided.
    In my experience resentment buidls when someone feels that they are having to do more than would be normally expected. That said some trainees need more help and, in such cases spreading the help around will help stop resentment.
  5. p.s. you have been quite specific here about your situation and it may be possible for the school to identify you - if you are concerned about this and feel that what you have written may annoy or upset your school you can contact the web team and ask for the post to be removed.

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