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does a teacher ever realise they're just not up to the job?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by afewgoodmen, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. I read a lot of posts on here from people who write about being bullied at work via capability proceedings. Not once has anyone ever said they realise teaching hasn't been for them and they are just not that good at the job. As someone who has been on the 'other' end of capability I can assure you that noone I have ever worked with has taken it lightly, that support has been given in copious amounts and that we have always desperately hoped the teacher might get better at being in the classroom- sadly, so far, it hasn't happened. Surely people on here must realise that sometimes teachers are not good at teaching (they're not bad people! just people in the wrong job)?
  2. AlwaysAdaptable

    AlwaysAdaptable New commenter

    Read the retirement and NQT forums and you will find that some teachers have left when they realised they are no longer upto the job or realise they have made a mistake entering the profession. Also how do you explain when a bullied, face doesn't fit teacher takes CA, goes to another school and is outstanding? You say you have given support, could it be that you yourself had preconcieved ideas about the person you supported.? Did you fail that person because the head, deputy head observed the teacher in concern and failed that teacher so you followed because you pulled ranks with your SLT and supported them instead of the teacher.
    I think you might be walking on 'dodgy ground' with such opinion.
  3. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Are you saying that not a single teacher that went on Capability with you ever made it successfully through to the other side?
    Not one?

  4. Some of us have been on the other end as well. I have given hours of support to others including a range of students, an NQT, teachers on support packages and other colleagues as part of my role. I have been observed and monitored by advisors, advisory teachers and other staff within school and I have several very good Ofsted reports under my belt. At one point I was visited nine times in a week and got feedback in my little brown envelope and not one was unsatisfactory or lacking in any way. I know that I have always challenged myself to improve,as I continued to do during the four week fast track I was subject to.
    I know that when I was put on informal capability my children were achieving well, my classroom was stimulating and my curriculum exciting. I was still fulfilling my role as a Senior member of staff and with the full responsibility of several subject leader roles, as is often the case in small schools. When I questioned this I was told that as a teacher on UPS3 I was expected to continue in these roles. I was put in a position of extreme stress, I was ill and I was monitored in an unrealistic and unfair way, On two occasions I was not even in school and I received unfavourable monitoring reports which I had no opportunity to challenge or discuss. The time-table for four weeks of fast track was unachievable, in one of the weeks I was actually teaching for only one complete day due to courses, meetings and visits. I was told by the monitor that my assessment was really quite good and then by my professional supporter that it would still be graded as was unsatisfactory. My on line assessment was also being tampered with and nobody was willing to investigate it. Assessment was always considered one of my strength.
    Perhaps my teaching was not as good as it usually was, but by the last week of the fast track,I was really ill and I was still putting in 100%. I also believe that the school used my monitoring reports to show Ofsted that they were monitoring rigorously, among other things.
    I was determined not to give up but at the point when I went off sick I realised that it wasn't fair on the children in my class. I do not believe that I was in the wrong job, I was dedicated hardworking and effective.
  5. I am SLT and I did an awful lot to support two teachers that have been taken through capability. For both of them I taught in their classrooms so they had release time to observe colleagues, I planned and taught a unit of work and team planned and team taught a unit of work. I paid for a coach to come in and meet with them so they could have private coaching and I was a listening ear as often as I could be when they needed. Together we chose CPD for them to go on. One of them, a really nice man who I respected, just didn't have patience with his class - he thought he was being 'funny' with them but his children felt bullied by him and they were. The other was just dreadful at classroom management and had very poor subject knowledge. I liked both these people a great deal and so wanted them to succeed but one took early retirement and one left 'sick' and didn't come back. Neither admitted they just weren't up to it. And they really weren't. This is not the case for EVERY teacher, of course not, but surely SOME of those put on capability aren't capable? Yet eery single response to every post on this forum immediately assumes that SLT are bullies.
  6. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    What an interesting question (and one timed nicely to act as a good displacement activity from my revision!) :)

    I was SLT too and in my experience can honestly say that the majority of teachers I have witnessed or supported on capability really were not up to the job. I am talking professional competence here not I'll health. Procedures were started only after comprehensive evidence was gathered of incapabity.

    I have also suffered as a dept head with someone who was dreadful, but having a weak line manager who would not support me in seeing it through because dept member cried all over him and made excuses. We were talking serious incompetence in which kids lost GCSE passes because of poor teaching and coursework.

    I have also been.SLT in a school where I witnessed senior colleagues planning how to get rid of people although they used trumped up misconduct charges to do it.
  7. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    I forgot to add that, in respect of this forum, we can only judge by what posters choose to tell us. Of course among the bullied there are bound to be those who had actually been on the end of robust but fair capability procedures. What is clear is that many are at the end of their tether and desperate for information or support. I take the view that it is not for me to try to second guess which of the posters has genuinely been bullied. It's not for me to ay judge and bury.
  8. You might have a point but there are a few commonalities among the people who have been put on capability
    * often the news comes out of the blue and they are blind-sided, left shocked and upset
    * meetings are called at short notice and other procedures rushed or ignored
    * they are often informed right at the end of a term and so have time to stew and get even more upset
    * they are given no, or conflicting, information about the process that they have suddenly become subject to

    I could go on but the point I'm trying to make is that it is little wonder that they are on this forum looking for information and support and they are, quite naturally in my opinion, feeling defensive, Good for you if you have been a supportive as you say you have been. Sadly this seems to not be the case in the scenarios we see here.

    Surely there must be a better way of dealing with 'inadequacies' (for want of a better word) than this stressful, combative system that we have now? A system that seems to be, and is, supportive of the needs of the teacher and of the school? Above all it must be independent, because the overall feeling that people on capability, or threatened with it, seem to have i one of helplessness in the face of a system that is out to get them. It's not surprising that they don't come across as willing to admit faults. They are just hanging on for grim death and know that admission of fault will be used against them.
  9. anon8315

    anon8315 Established commenter

    I think if we're honest, there are aspects of our jobs we're all better at than others. I know an area of weakness for me is classroom management. I don't have riots breaking out but I haven't got a very forceful personality so while children trust and like me (usually) I don't have the "fall silent" element some staff have.
    It's quite possible I am sure for someone to conclude that I am not up to the job. I think they are right - in certain schools, I wouldn't be. However, my planning is excellent, I have very thorough subject knowledge, am highly ICT literate and I have a very tactful manner with difficult parents/staff. These are all qualities that make me a good teacher but yes I will concede some schools would not be right for me.
    The problem is, it isn't always possible to glean this information at interview or on visits and you can be an outstanding teacher in July and by October, in the muddle of a new school and a terrible timetable and unsupportive management be deemed incompetent. It's easy, from the outside to say "move on!" but on the inside there is the - "I can't leave yet! What will people think?" Confidence is also lost as well.
    I have a teacher in my department who is outstanding - at our school. I'll be honest and say I think she'd struggle in a high achieving school. Not necessarily be incompetent, but all the same I don't think she has the subject knowledge to really stretch the high ability students. Likewise, I don't have the crowd control skills for twenty-five bottom set year 11s (said with feeling - how I am dreading period 3 tomorrow!)
    I don't know what point I'm making. I suppose just that yes, I agree a few teachers aren't competent, whether through disillusionment, lack of training or support, illness or anything.
  10. Your post makes a lot of sense to me. I've just retired after 30 years and one's abilities and strengths fluctuate and change throughout your career. If teachers are to be expected to work into their mid sixties it is only fair that there is an honourable exit for teachers who have given many years of loyal and faithful service.
  11. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    As much as I agree with Badger girl.. that there are aspects of the job we probably all feel we could do better at, I can't help but wonder if even the best teacher could hit the kind of targets that are set up for teachers in those circumstances.

    Perhaps the original OP is very different from most, but my own experience... and from what I have gathered on here... capability proceedings seems to be full of targets and very little support. I don't know anyone who would find it 'supportive' to be told the have to meet new deadlines, provide additional evidence of their work and perform to a high standard in the classroom... having just been 'told' they are not up to scratch.

    Is it not the role of senior management to provide the right training and additional support in terms of positive reinforcement for those who 'struggle' to hit all the high targets set for teaching staff. We would never teach children the way we 'train failing teachers'... nor would we be surprised when it not only failed but if the kids became despondent or disruptive as a result... or even if they just absented themselves from school.

    I would ask the OP... having noticed that one of the people they put through capability took early retirement... I'm guessing that they had been teaching for some time... is she suggesting that this person has never been suited to teaching? Or could it be that the work environment has changed beyond all recognition since they started and no one bothered to keep tabs on whether that person was coping, no one took the time to ask about further training? Couldn't something have been done without placing someone on capability... which is, to be frank, quite insulting at the best of times.

    I know I found it downright insulting when someone I knew could barely form a cohesive sentence, let alone write in paragraphs started judging my ability to teach my subject area... I couldn't believe when another member of staff who's behaviour management revolved around shouting and 'scaring' kids started telling me how to run my classroom... or rather criticized the strategies I had in place, without asking what my reasoning was behind them.

    A friend of mine has been teaching for three years now. I worked out very quickly that her planning is brilliant... she's really creative and weirdly good at rattling off AFs in relation to her planning and assessment... something that doesn't come naturally to me. She's quite small, very pretty and can appear to be quite quiet (until you get to know her!) She really struggled with behaviour management... but over the last three years we have worked on it. I don't work in her school but I have taught her strategies, given her advice about her body language, shared my ethos of how I view the students I teach. During her first two tears in teaching she was terrified that she was going to be put on capability because she didn't feel in control of the classroom... she now has much more confidence, and lots of tricks up her sleeve... and if she hits a problem she calls me and I give her positive feedback and ideas for ways to deal with the kids. In other words... with support and practical advice she is now a good all rounder with exceptional planning skills.
    Amazing what a bit of positive support and practical advice can do... blimey... almost like what we do with the kids! Funny that!
  12. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    There is. It's good people managment skills.
    I have seen some colleagues mentor stuggling teachers brilliantly and been able to bring them to the realisation they might not be cut out for teaching (a bit like we do with students who have too high or too low expectations).
    These colleagues never had to be brought to capability proceedings but were able to move on or out.

    Sadly in many cases the purpose of eg SLT is to make a show of support rather than actually supporting.

    I have been called in to support colleagues identified as failing. Never, have I felt, has this been set up in a supportive way but rather as something we have to do to show we are supporting. In at least 1 case it was apparent that I was 'supporting' only so that the box is ticked. My recommendations (following just 3 lessons of support with 1 class) for how the teacher could be helped, developed etc were ignored.
    They left the school.
  13. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    I can only really speak for myself - I was put on capability a few years ago and it was a hellish experience - only now do I really feel like the wounds are truly healing. When I've posted on here (and I don't that much these days) it has been with the aim of supporting the person posting - after all they are asking for help. I can't judge whether they are a good teacher or not as I don't know them. I do know the damage it can do to people - at my lowest I felt suicidal - quite handy for my school as I handed in my notice and they could tick a box saying they had got rid of an inadequate teacher. So when I read about people on here going through it, my first thought is how damaging it may be to their health. Even if someone should be on capability they are going to need support - after all, it's very frightening when your job is under threat.
    I taught successfully for many years before and have taught succesfully since - indeed I still teach now. There will be people going through capability who aren't up to the job although in RL I know of only one case of this whereas I've heard of several people who were good teachers ending up in this situation. I also taught with a couple of really awful teachers who were just allowed to get away with it.
    I'm not anti-SLT per se - my current SLT are fantastic but I used to work for an SLT who wanted the money and the glory but didn't want to do the work. I try not to judge too much about SLT I read about who I don't know but there are some awful stories on here.
  14. What teacher can say for certain that they are suited to the job? We all have good or bad days, and it is in the nature of this job, with its subjective and isolated character, that individuals reflect and soul-search, and become strict self-critics, in their efforts to be sure they are doing things right. Teachers have to put their faith in results, in their training, and in their certificates. And have every right to ask, when suddenly finding themselves the subject of management criticism, "If I am an inadequate teacher, how come I passed the course; NQT year; threshold; have previous favourable observations." and, "If I am not cut out to be a teacher, how come I have managed up till now?"The nature of this job makes individuals extremely vulnerable to criticism, and means that the criticism is deeply undermining of an individual's confidence and self-esteem. This is because the teacher is isolated in the classroom and has to rely o their own decisions minute by minute, and it is because the judgement of what is good teaching is subjective, there are object richly objective measures. How many teachers put I the spotlight like this basically crack up? Creating a self-fulfilling scenario. Management does not even have to bully in order for this to happen. The individual bullies themselves, tells themselves they are inadequate and useless. The result is that they feel humiliated within the school, even more isolated, and even less trusting of their own judgement of their performance.
  15. Please excuse typos, I tried to edit but it wouldn't let me. I hope it's not too unreadable!
  16. I agree entirely with you there - I have been put on informal capability- I am not a 'bad' teacher- in my previous school I got 'very good' observations: been told constantly you need to improve or that your children need to make accelerated progress because your a UPS teacher really does dent your confidence: I have now been signed off with anxiety and believe I'm rubbish (even though I know deep down I'm not) If we did this to the children we teach there would be public outrage
  17. The fact is that you will rarely have posts on here about the difficulties of administering and taking a member of staff through capability proceedings because a person doing this is not having his/her livelihood, self-esteem and professionalism attacked. Likewise, there will be few posts about capability proceedings which are administered well. If this is the case the teacher would get good support, training opportunities and be give respect. They would have no need to feel bullied and humiliated.
  18. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    Hi, I would like to add my thoughts here too :)
    I am a NQT and was extremely successful during my PGCE-obtaining an outstanding grade. In my current role as a NQT I have been rated as good so far and the school seem to be happy to leave me to it without any concern.
    However I have realised that I am not up to the job because I have found that I just can't cope with teenagers! Even though the school say I manage behaviour well and teach inspiring lessons, in my head I am stressed because I don't enjoy the challenges of working with teenagers and lets face it you have to be a certain type of personality to enjoy this and seconday behaviour can be awful and is a real shock particularly as a NQT going it alone after the PGCE.
    For me it is not that I am incapable in my abilities as a teacher but more that I am incapable at managing the stresses of teaching well and as such consider that I am not up to the job of educating teenagers.
    I attended secondary school myself in the early 90s. I remember my Science Teacher as an incompetent teacher who let the class run riot for the hour and would actually take the mickey out of you if you tried to get on with work or asked him a question related to the topic. My whole GCSE class (top set) did appallingly-Es and Fs mainly. I found out he was not dismissed until some years later in about 2000. That teacher ruined a lot of opportunities for me as I didn't hold GCSE Science and in the end I retook and achieved an A. I wish something has been done sooner about him!
  19. Yes, Georgia, but again and again on here, it is teachers who, like yourself, have a history of teaching with success, some good observations under their belt, sometimes have passed the threshold, who are suddenly deemed, on the flimsiest of pretexts, in need of support. And it's also those teachers, with their tendency to be conscientious, self-critical and careful of the children's well-being, who suffer most stress from being judged like this.By the way, hang on in there, you sound like a promising teacher. The first year is tough.
  20. anon8315

    anon8315 Established commenter

    Better hope no one decides you are incapable, then.
    I'm not being harsh there (or not intentionally, at any rate) but I don't understand how taking time off yourself is helping either your situation, or the situation your department was in and while I would want to be supportive in all instances I would be wondering if the individual concerned was up to the challenges of HOD if someone else's incompetence meant they needed time off.
    One of the questions you ALWAYS get asked at HOD interviews, in one form or another, is how you would deal with difficult staff.
    I don't know why the head would say this, but yes you do sometimes have to work with difficult people, and I say that with feeling: I am working with chief difficults from difficultown this year and I won't lie; it gets me down, it makes me fed up and it annoys me. But maybe think how you'd feel going back in school to be faced with capability after going off with stress and 'standing up' to somebody. Confused, frightened, upset, angry? That's how many of us have felt and we haven't been able to do a thing about it - it stinks.

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