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Do mentors practice what they preach?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by minnieminx, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    My trainees generally see me teaching everyday lessons. Sometimes, if the situation arises, they see me teaching a demo/observed lesson. There isn't a vast difference other than I write a fuller plan and make sure everything is perfect in the demo lesson.

    For my trainees I see their everyday teaching all week, but once a week I 'observe' them and so want to see them pulling out all the stops. I want them to care that they are being observed and so do the very best they possibly can, probably at a standard they couldn't sustain all week.
  2. Really? I find that odd. I qualified via the GTP last year. I always said to my mentor and anyone else that they could observe any lesson, and I wouldn't change a thing.
    If you mean that you give them targets to work towards, let them try things out in non-observed lessons and then nail it in the observed one then I guess that's different. But I always feel that it is cheating the pupils if you do more in an obeservation than you would in a normal lesson.
    I never cared whether I got a satisfactory, good or outstanding* as I always suspected that there were some people who got outstanding for their observed lessons because they spent 5 hours planning it, had 10 redbulls before the lesson and then slept for three days afterwards because it was so draining (I'm exaggerating, but you get my point) whereas I was happy that I was always giving my pupils my best (or pretty damn near it!) in every lesson.
    It also meant that they didn't react in a "why is sir doing all this weird stuff just because Mr so-and-so is sat at the back of the class?" way and I didn't have the risk of things going wrong because I was trying them for the first time in my observed lessons - I've heard horror tales falling into each of those categories from other trainee teachers.
    * EDIT - ok, maybe I did care a bit. I obviously preferred getting a good or outstanding, but I didn't hold outstanding up on this pedestal and wear it like a badge of honour like some people do.
  3. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I take your point, but I tell the trainees that it is a bit like your mum coming to visit you. Most of the time the house is probably tidy enough and certainly not a pigsty. But when your mum comes you still find things to sort out and make perfect. Similar in a lesson. Most of the time what you do is perfectly fine, but when your mentor (mum!) comes you still do those little bits and bobs.
  4. I see your point - thinking back I made a bigger point of some aspects than I would do normally, just so that whoever was observing would definitely see that I was doing it so they could tick that standard off. I would still do them in a normal lesson, but I would "neon light" them when the observer was there. I suppose it's the distinction between doing something different (what some trainees do, and what I disagree with if it's done a large scale) and doing something differently.
  5. oscillator

    oscillator Occasional commenter

    My mentor's mantra: 'do as I say, not as I do.'
    This makes life as a trainee teacher a bit tricky, in terms of observations of how to practise best practice. However, my mentor was once a trainee too and had to jump through similar hoops to what I am jumping through now... I guess I see it as paying dues?
    If I do make it in this crazy teaching world, I only hope I won't be quite so laissez-faire, because the 'official' observations I get definitely aren't so laid back!
  6. EcoLady

    EcoLady New commenter

    Do you mean things like saying "Don't keep them on the carpet for more than 10 mins for the starter" ... then keeping them on the carpet for 38 mins? (Yes, I did time it!)
    "Never walk in front of the projector when you're talking. It's not fair on the hearing impaired child in the class"... said directly following a lesson delivered predominantly with writing projected across their own face.
    When giving feedback: "Peter, sit down. Always give positive praise. Peter, stop it. It's not good to always be negative. Peter, I said stop it. You must praise the good behaviours as much as the PETER I SAID ... "
  7. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    I'm not sure that's true. When I observe someone teach, it is totally about them, and I make sure that the feedback is a dialogue rather than simply my views.
    Very cynical. None of my mentors are interested in making themselves look good - they are respected for their work without needing it to be off the back of their trainees.
    As PM, I want our placement to be rated highly, but that's done by being honest and fair, not by hidden agendas.
  8. ILoveTeaching

    ILoveTeaching New commenter

    On your driving test you have to do it all by the book despite plenty of the people all around you getting it wrong.
    As a mentor I often give "best advice" which includes things that I dont do myself! For example I would not have a full lesson plan written down but a trainee has to. I may wing a plenary and would never let a trainee do that. I guess that I have years of experience and can wing a plenary but a trainee is new and it might not work as well?
    One other point is the mentor may have 26 lessons a week (I do) and the trainee may have 10. This does mean that the trainee has time to put a lot more into each lesson.
  9. Bit of a contradication surely?
    You say that your experience means you can knock something decent up very quickly when necessary (no doubt true). A student can't do this as easily, so for them to plan 10 lessons to your normal (good-but-could-be-better) standard would probably take them longer than for you to plan 26 lessons. Therefore the argument that they have more time isn't true if you compare what each of you can realistically achieve in the time you have.
    Hope that makes sense! I agree students should demonstrate best practice wherever possible, but it is sometimes hard when it isn't modelled, but then critiqued in observations. My uni tutor actually implied I shouldn't copy my school teacher too much as her lessons and style weren't what was needed to get good grades.
  10. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    The difference is, your mentor is telling you what you need to do to pass your course and go on to be a successful NQT. What they do in THEIR lessons is what an experienced teacher can do when they are not under scrutiny.
    You've got to learn the rules before you can break them. Sorry.
  11. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Erm, no, you're talking rubbish. Qualified teachers teaching a full time table also have break duties, cover lessons, data to enter into datebases, reports to write, intervention, lunchtime clubs, after-school revision classes, tutor group responsibilities, whole-school projects they are working on, marking and assessing of all their class, marking of mock exams, parents evenings etc etc need I go on. And since the majority of trainees are young and do not yet have families, many qualified teachers who are older and more likely to have families also have to go home and take care of children etc too.
    I'm not saying that the PGCE year isn't hard - of course it is. But when you're teaching 10-12 hours per week there are many hours in the day when a student teacher is sitting around in the department office or staff room just able to get on with planning. This is very rare for someone teaching a full timetable since usually in your PPA times, you are dashing about dealing with the bits and bobs that have arisen during the day. And don't forget, if you are mentoring properly, you will be using one of your PPAs for mentor meetings, observing the student teacher or writing up the paper work associated with them.
    At this stage, if I knew that a student teacher I was mentoring was staying up until midnight every night preparing and planning, I'd be having a chat with them about efficiency and lesson planning, since I think it's unreasonable to need to stay up until midnight to plan the two lessons they will be teaching the next day, especially if they've been free for two or three hours the previous day. If that's the case, then they are either doing too much and it's probably having a detrimental effect on their teaching, or else they haven't got clear enough guidance on what they are teaching and need more information.
  12. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Often quite true.
    The teacher with the highest GCSE results in the school at my place gets only satisfactory when observed for performance managements purposes or drop ins. But they can't argue with him because his results and the best and the kids absolutely LOVE him.
    In the maths department, an AST who taught fancy singing and dancing lessons and was rated 'outstanding' on every observation go only 5% of pupils on target for their results. Yet the stalwart of the department, receiving only satisfactory got the highest results in the faculty.
    Now, student teachers are sent along regularly to watch the 'outstanding' AST, but rarely sent to watch the 'satisfactory' teacher who gets the best results. I regularly receive 'good', yet get my classes better results that those rated 'outstanding' within my department. Funny, no-one ever comes back to me at the start of the new year and asks my opinion about how to improve results, yet they always want to know what the 'outstanding' teachers are doing, even though they don't produce the results come August.
    You'll soon learn that teaching is all about playing the game and jumping through hoops when necessary. Then doing your own things (so long as it actually works) the rest of the time. So if you want to pass the PGCE with flying colours, you have to play the game. But I think you should look to the other staf in your school for tips on how you're realistically going to do things when you're on your own.

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