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Does it get better?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by LightDivided, Nov 4, 2017.

  1. LightDivided

    LightDivided New commenter

    I'm struggling. I took on this pgce so I could provide a life for me and the missus. Now, I never get time with her as I’m up to my eyeballs in plans, marking and trying to make engaging PowerPoints.

    Does it get better or should I just walk away now
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Hopefully by the end of the PGCE your planning time will have reduced, and you may have learned some tricks to reduce marking.

    Keep in mind that any resources you spend hours on now you may be able to reuse/adapt later, so teaching the same thing the second time around will require less effort.

    However, whether or not it gets better in the long term depends on lots of factors: the subject you teach, the school you end up in, whether you see good practice that you can learn from...

    I'm an English teacher, and the workload never diminished through the PGCE and the two years after that. I have had to come overseas in order to find a reduced workload.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi LightDivided

    BSD's sums it up very well. I would like to add the following.

    Firstly, well done for taking this demanding course on so you can make a better life for yourself and your wife. It does take up a lot of time, but keep in mind it is not forever and try to take one day at a time until you finish. Try this:

    1. Stop making powerpoints and either download ones that are free off the TES site or buy them. Some of them cost as little as £2.00. Of course make them when it is required to produce something original ( don't pass off the ones you get anywhere as your own), but immediately stop spending hours on making PowerPoints. Forget about engaging Powerpoints. Any Powerpoint the students will appreciate. They don't care about engaging as much as you think - most of the time, students are much more practical and just want to get on with it. Please do not strive for perfection. Do not think you are going to save the UK's education system. Don't kill yourself by working 12 hour days.

    2. Timetable time on say Sunday to be with your wife. It might have to be another day, but pick one half to one whole day to be with her. Be flexible. It might have to change from week to week, but have that time off.

    3. Buy the Lazy Teachers Handbook which is full of advice on how to cut workload while not reducing the quality of your work. Look up on Google how to find short cuts to marking while still following your school's marking policy and fulfilling their requirements. There is a Lazy Teachers web site as well created by the author of the book.

    4. Learn to prioritise. Make a list of all your jobs and label them A, B, C. The As get done first, Bs get done when you can get to them, and Cs can wait and may never get done. This is a skill you will develop and will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.

    5. Review your list each evening. Take five minutes to rearrange it for the next day.

    6. Take one day at a time. Don't worry about next year, next 10 years, whatever.

    7. Do plan ahead, however, for bigger assignments. Don't leave those to the last minute

    8. Make sure you eat proper meals since you need the energy to function.

    9. Don't compare yourself to teachers who have been working 20 years. They will be able to do this job in their sleep.

    10. Don't compare yourself to the trainees who arrive at 5:30 a.m. and leave the school building at 5:30 p.m.

    Right now your goal is to finish, since if you do you will have a qualification that you can use abroad where the working conditions are better or even in the UK in some decent school. You may decide you want to work in a special school where class sizes are smaller or even in a commercial setting where you train adults.

    I would say don't walk away now. You have just five weeks until Christmas. Then two weeks until you go back where you can recharge. After that 12 weeks until Easter. After that you are on the stretch home.

    You may find when you finish you might teach for a couple of years and then move on to something else, but you still have that qualification which you can use for life. You can never have too many skills. You might decide one day to become a plumber. After you become a plumber, then you could teach others to become plumbers.

    Wishing you all the very best whatever you decide.
  4. LightDivided

    LightDivided New commenter

    Thank you for your time and effort in replying, but in all honesty, I think I’m done. I broke down into tears last night just trying to write a lesson and I’m not a man who cries easy.
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Yes, it gets better.

    You get much quicker at planning lessons and don't need to rely so much on the minute by minute Powerpoints. Marking too, because you internalise the standards and comments you need.
  6. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi LightDivided

    You are crying since you are exhausted.

    Today, do not write anything but get some rest. Put all your papers/books away and take the day off. If you are teaching tomorrow, just do the minimum to make sure you can get through the lesson.

    Don't make any decisions while you are tired. You might find that if you stop working so hard, you can cope. In the end though, nothing is worth your happiness and health. Always put those first.
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  7. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Lead commenter

    Absolutely agree with the posters above but if the work is reducing you to tears then seriously consider seeing a doctor and getting signed off with stress. The doctor is essential as it will take a well-informed medical professional to convince you (and your school, by default) that your current situation is too much.

    You may take this advice as career suicide but if a crash is coming then far better that it be in a doctor's surgery or in the comfort of your own home than in a classroom (or even in your own home at 2:30am over consistent formatting to the school powerpoint protocol)
    pepper5 and blueskydreaming like this.
  8. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Lead commenter

    Alternatively to my post above.

    I see and understand your problems, not least because Mrs C is equally fastidious and takes up a full week over a 0.6 timetable:(

    I am still in teaching though because I enjoy the interactions with the kids and because I do long/medium term supply and so don't hang around for the major hassles to build up. Simultaneously education is in such a terrible state that I can charge a high rate for Maths/Science.

    Could you aim for this model and then you 'merely' have to hang around until you get QTS and then drift around after. It's not great to sell to the missus but will ease the problem of looking at this crisis lasting for ever .... and ever... and ever.
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. a_wrinkle_of_stars

    a_wrinkle_of_stars New commenter

    I just had to come on and offer some virtual support and sympathy. I am also doing the training route this year, and although I have had my doubts since week 2 about wanting to continue into classroom teaching after the course is over (due mainly to the workload) this weekend is the first time I have actually envisaged dropping out of the whole course before it is over. I am a mature student with a family and have been successful in other careers and other postgraduate qualifications.I have never dropped out of anything before, and I'm certainly no stranger to hard work, but I literally cannot see how to achieve what they want from me in the time available. I don't feel I am really being trained, more that hurdle after hurdle is being put in front of me, and if I clear them, a bigger hurdle is added. I actually feel I have disadvantaged myself by appearing competent - the idea seems to be to add more challenges if you manage, by nearly killing yourself, to meet the previous lot. The course appears designed to break people mentally, raise the divorce rate and make families as unhappy as possible (as they say, 'think of the children' - just not your own, you won't see them because you'll be busy preparing lessons for other people's kids). Sorry -this didn't turn out very comforting, did it? At any rate, you are not alone. x
  10. a_wrinkle_of_stars

    a_wrinkle_of_stars New commenter

    I would also really love some pointers on HOW to stop working so hard. My mentor says the same thing, but I have to prepare a university lesson plan for every lesson, and am expected to plan my own lessons and scheme of work. Then I have to evaluate 1 lesson per day. It inevitably takes time, and that's not taking into account everything else that has to be done. I feel I'm learning more about Powerpoint than anything (I had no idea there was so much PPT in teaching...!).
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Make the planning you do now last for the rest of your career. The lesson plans you are developing now aim to use next year, the year after and so on. Of course there will be the odd tweak you may need to make next time round but you will have the majority of the lesson already planned. You may think you're trotting out the same old stuff every year but it will be new to every group of students you teach. I planned lessons thoroughly early in my career and memorised what I'd done so after a few years I didn't do any planning - I just trotted out the lesson that I knew worked well for me and the students.
    sabrinakat and pepper5 like this.
  12. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I was thinking about this dilemma yesterday and it appears there is a lot wrong with teacher training courses in terms of the workloads being massive. Courses should not be so intensive as to almost break people. The problems are also in the actual job once qualified. The number of students teachers have to teach are too high. The class sizes too big and not enough TAs to be in classes where they are needed. Teachers are asked to do the impossible then they leave after a few years; but the Government's answer is to recruit more people who train then leave and the cycle continues when all they would have to do is reduce class sizes thereby reducing the pressure. Once the pressure was relieved, teachers would stay.


    On Sunday just stop working. Do everything on your A list before Sunday. You have to make yourself have a cut off point somewhere.
  13. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Now that I'm working abroad I cannot understand why I put up with so much carp teaching in the UK - and I only did it for 2 years!

    I damaged my physical and mental health so much in those two years, and it was not worth it.
    Alldone and pepper5 like this.
  14. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    I am so glad you made your escape and are a lot happier and healthier.

    The Government needs to take action, but they appear unable or unwilling. They have the money to pay for extra teachers. They are just bank rolling new law centres to the tune of one billion pounds. They can find the money.
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  15. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    I can only conclude that they simply do not care, because they have not worked in schools themselves, so cannot appreciate the reality. Then they disbelieve us when we try to describe that reality to them.

    They say it's our fault when disenfranchised kids refuse to come to school, or behave poorly when they do come. It's our fault they fail their GCSEs, even though dad's in prison and mum's on drugs.. Only someone entirely out of touch with the world would draw these conclusions, and create Ofsted to reinforce them.
  16. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Apart from the problems you mention, even if all the children were behaving like angels, the sheer number of students teachers have to be responsible for is huge. 30 sometimes 32 in classes are just too large.
    geordiepetal and blueskydreaming like this.
  17. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    It's exhaustion, both mental and physical. I felt like that all the time as a student teacher. Less so as an NQT and now (aside from the odd disastrous lesson) not at all.
    Don't make decisions when you feel like this - hang in there, rest when you can and ask for help. I've never understood why there is so much focus on reinventing the wheel in teaching. Use other people's resources or even :)eek:) a textbook!
  18. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Exactly. Nothing wrong with using textbooks.
  19. LightDivided

    LightDivided New commenter

    Just as a quick update folks: Doctors signed me off for two weeks due to stress. In truth, I’m not sure if I’m going back. Thanks for all your help and advice
    pepper5 and blueskydreaming like this.
  20. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Try to relax and don't think about anything to do with the PGCE. I know it's easier said than done...
    pepper5 likes this.

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