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Feeling like throwing in the towel...

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by Idiomas11, Oct 21, 2015.

  1. Idiomas11

    Idiomas11 Occasional commenter

    Hi everyone

    I've recently started a SCITT in MFL and have been on a bit of a downer; don't know if anyone can help/empathise.

    My mentor is normally great and very positive, but I have this annoying lesson changeover on Tuesdays going from Year 7s to Year 8s (I know this is normal life for teachers, bear with me), which means I arrive to the Year 8s sometimes a bit flustered. They are a smart but boisterous bunch but I really really hate teaching them before lunch, which is the Tuesday slot. I taught English in the UK and overseas so can plan a lesson fine but am really stuck with TL in the lesson. My Friday double morning sessions with the same class usually go a lot better.

    The lesson yesterday was 'bad' as I spent a lot of it talking myself (mostly not in the TL and in general a big no no from TEFL days), however the pupils weren't exactly as enthused with choral repetition as I'd hoped so I skipped over a lot of stuff. I was told that the pace was not good enough, BUT this has been good in previous lessons, as my mentor has recognised.

    My mentor was visibly annoyed with me after the lesson and said she and a colleague were concerned about my progress, which I thought was a bit harsh given the early stages of my training (like they never have a bad lesson??!!). My TL was strong at the start but has slipped as I deal with behaviour and explaining more complex ideas (the top set always have questions beyond the SoW and believe me I do cater to this with a modified lesson/activities, I also have native speakers with behavioural issues in my class which adds an extra challenge, so I just give them normally an A-Level article/authentic materials with questions to answer based on the topic we're studying and get them to write a lot more, as their writing is often terrible) and now I have to SCRIPT every lesson down to the minute with exactly what I am going to say and I really resent it. I am creating all my lessons and resources from scratch and have to do uni study, write essays etc and not to mention I have covered lessons for mentor at the last minute when she was off sick.

    I'm just really tired and frustrated with all the extra work and feel I am not free to teach with creativity. Also, am I expected to be able to manage 30 kids instantly after only 6 weeks' training???! I just want to give up now.
  2. Idiomas11

    Idiomas11 Occasional commenter

    Does anyone have any hints to help me use more TL in the classroom and how to use visuals on the board to help?
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Why do you have to create all your resources from scratch? Is this an requirement. Surely, there must be many things you can find that you can adapt and add your own input into it. You need to find some time saving strategies since in addition to all of your duties and tasks, you have to find time to rest and do thing outside of teaching.

    For the behaviour, it will take time to learn how to manage a class, but there are some steps you can take. Have three basic rules:

    Follow instructions fast
    Stay on task
    Work without disturbing others

    These three rules are simple and they cover most things.

    Teach routines. Teach the year 8s to wait quietly for you either lined up outside the door or at their desks in the event you are late because of room changes or whatever.

    Don't give up. Go back through your books/notes/lessons to remind you of strategies. OK the choral session did not go well, ask your mentor what youncould have tried instead. Observe as many other lessons as you can from more experinced teachers. Are there lessons on youtube or teachers TV?

    Don't worry about teaching with creativity at the moment. Look for teaching solid lessons since once you are qualified you will have more time and scope to experiment.

    It is half term soon. Then after that Christmas break. If you can make it till Christmas you will then be on the home stretch.
  4. Idiomas11

    Idiomas11 Occasional commenter

    Thank you so much for your reply - was probably being a bit dramatic. When my mentor's not there I will get the Y8s to line up. Maybe I need to go back and study as I have just been powering through and perhaps not reflecting enough. There are resources on the system but as the scheme of work has changed not all bases are covered. I can be my own worst enemy sometimes as I create my own slides so I can feel more confident presenting my own stuff - if that makes sense - and not basing it on a different mindset for a different class - so far my lesson plans and activities are good according to mentor but I do struggle with presentation. Thank you for the rules - I have made a lovely new poster for my classroom :)
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Please do let me know how you get on. I took those rules out of a book called Taking Care of behaviour by Paul Dix. When you have time, I would suggest you buy a copy.

    I did have a quick look on YouTube and there were what looked to be some useful clipsnof experienced teachers teaching MFL, so you might want to have a look when you have time.

    Have a little break if you can.
  6. BabyHippo

    BabyHippo New commenter

    I'm doing a teaching qualification in Scotland and the amount of work is stressing me out too. But I have a really good circle of classmates which is a great source of support; why don't you try reaching out to your peers who are likely to be in a similar boat?

    Criticism can be hard to deal with, but just remember that it's all for your good even if it sounds harsh. Ask your mentor for advice on what you could do better rather than letting it get to you, that's what they're there for :) don't throw in the towel just yet! Remember all the positives and all your reasons for wanting to teach before you start thinking about that; chances are, those reasons will override any negativity you're feeling about it now.

    Best of luck!
  7. JasmineFAdams

    JasmineFAdams New commenter


    I get the feeling I'm in the same boat as you. Also on a SCITT, I had a formal observation the other day, and my feedback was that there was concern. Turns out my lesson plans aren't good enough and need more detail, despite only spending an afternoon learning how to do them. In addition to that, it's only been mentioned 6 weeks into me teaching.

    I understand where you're coming from on the resources thing as well.
    It is unbelievably hard, and no lie I cry at least twice a week, but just think, this time next year when you're qualified, have your own classroom with your own students and can start to teach how you want to teach...not how someone else wants you to.

    I know it's hard, but try not to dwell on the negatives....at the end of the day, you're on your course because they see potential...and they won't fail you because lets face it, they wouldn't willingly fail a pupil.

    Chin up! And if you ever need to vent, feel free to send us a message.

    You're not alone!!

    Best of luck!!
  8. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Why would there be a requirement to ' script ' the lesson ? This assumes the students are reading it ! Teaching and learning does not happen in a vacuum. An important skill is to be able to redirect your teaching as and when depending on the RESPONSE of the students. I would be making these very valid points in my discussion with those responsible for you. You can also overthink and over prepare. I used to teach MFL in ( always ) challenging settings -it wasn't a subject highly valued by the students and the energy I had to expend, was on reflection, insupportable.
    Good Luck !
  9. Big-Bear

    Big-Bear New commenter

    Currently on a PGCE myself - we have been told repeatedly that our lesson plans will work better if we script what we plan to say and do at each stage of the lesson.

    It matters not a jot that it's not necessarily true for each individual trainee teacher - it is a box that the mentor is looking to tick, so you include the script on your lesson plan to get the box ticked as a small step to passing the placement. Sad but true.
  10. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Well I get that you should plan your questioning very carefully but as for the rest .... ? Suspect it is a bit like doing a driving test .... doing everything by the book to get the license and then going on the roads and actually learning the ropes !
  11. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    That worries me massively. As a mentor, if any of my trainees scripted their lesson I would have MASSIVE concerns as it suggests they haven't a clue what they're doing. Pre-planning questions and some prompts to remind you on your lesson plan, yes. Scripts? No way.

    In terms of behaviour:
    • Clear routines at the start/end of lessons
    • Insist on independent work being independent
    • Use praise where students are working well - preferably in your target language
    Not an MFL teacher but colleagues of mine have done things like this:
    • Get feedback stampers in your target language to put in their books to reinforce what the praise means.
    • Greet students at the door in the target language
    • Ask students how they are in the target language
    • Give your classroom instructions in the target language e.g. books out, work in silence etc
    • Have posters with symbols on the wall so students can understand the instructions when given in TL
    Landofla likes this.
  12. chicme

    chicme New commenter

    Wow, this could have been written by me, only that I am on a maths PGCE. I'm a bit relieved to find I am not alone. I am really struggling and can't wait for the christmas break!
  13. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    As someone who trains teachers I can advise you that we look at your ability to accurately reflect on your lesson. So the answer is not: what is the standard of your lesson? Your mentor is not saying your teaching is bad, even if it is, your mentor is saying your progress is not good enough. This means you aren't seeing what you need to do to improve your teaching. The scripting idea is not helpful - write down key questions yes, but scripting is not sensible.
    You are on a SCITT so that is the type of course you have signed up for. Whether this means you have the additional support of a subject specialist like on a PGCE I cannot say, but I would suggest you need to identify further avenues of input. Wider reading around questioning, additional observations of others and some good reflection on the concept of cultivating behaviour for learning would help. If you can get access and support from a strong university based subject specialist then do so as this will be helpful to you. They will have seen a plethora of approaches to teaching and have a much wider base upon which to draw suggestions for you.
  14. Idiomas11

    Idiomas11 Occasional commenter

    Thanks just looked at this thread now - just done my second QTS review with mentor and I'm still at Developing stage on a lot of them - which is still okay I suppose :/ She assures me that it will be fine and I will pass...in any case, I'm locked in with the fees now...mmm

    She has actually more or less said that to me a few times but the targets can change from one week to the next and I find as one thing progresses, another drops slightly so its back to the old target! Sometimes she is not very clear with what she wants to see plus she's PT so often doesn't /can't see me whenever and has been away a lot. I often feel that I'm walking in concrete in terms of progress so getting quite frustrated. She mentioned getting the pupils to do more independent/autonomous work but I thought I was already doing that through extended readings/written pieces in class using dictionaries etc so what does she really mean? Also I would have thought that that kind of independent work could also be carried out at home and that lesson time would be better used for input/consolidation/shorter bursts of silent practice?

    I will get in touch with Uni tutor as we don't get much subject specific training at all other than obs/occasional advice. I am often hesitant to ask other MFL teachers for help as everyone seems so busy as well but should just bite the bullet and get on with it...
  15. Idiomas11

    Idiomas11 Occasional commenter

    I have also more or less told mentor that teaching is probably not my bag anymore but will push through...hence my renewed lack of enthusiasm right now. She reckons I have potential and could be a really good teacher as does the HoD but just getting sick of not being good enough all the time when I work really hard - this course is pretty much my life! Also feel bad as my mum is a teacher (though not qualified) and has taught for years in private school/private tuition and she is supporting me with fees and it will look even worse if I can't actually make it as a teacher.
  16. boomboombang

    boomboombang New commenter

    My heart goes out to you. I hope things are looking up. I'm completing the QTS course and, trust me, I felt so hopeless in those first two terms too! It's not just you, this is completely normal!

    Please do let us know how things are going for you now.
  17. Idiomas11

    Idiomas11 Occasional commenter

    Thank you so much - still feel rubbish and wondering if I should stay or if I should go as I'm not enjoying the teaching any more :/
  18. loranp

    loranp New commenter

    I would ask your mentor for advice - if she says you need to do more autonomous tasks, explain how you are attempting this at the moment with your extended reading tasks etc and ask if she has any advice on how you can go about this differently. As an MFL teacher, I have to say - don't be afraid to spend longer doing activities such as writing in class time where the students can have your support as needed and then setting homework tasks that consolidate what they have covered in class.

    I would also ask other members of the MFL dept if you can observe them - it doesn't need to be for an entire lesson but it could be for part of a lesson and focusing on one of your targets, e.g., if your target is pace, ask to go and see a colleague for whom this is a strength. Share resources wherever you can - my colleagues and I have a shared area on the network where we share and save resources. It saves us all a lot of time and stress. Obviously, feel free to adapt resources to suit your individual classes, you absolutely should do this, but don't feel like you have to reinvent the wheel every single lesson!

    Finally - remember that teaching is a constant learning process. I've been qualified for six years and I never stop observing colleagues, reflecting on my practice and adapting. You are never going to be 'perfect' and I would suggest that you stop being so hard on yourself and expecting perfection whilst you are still learning! The training process is so hard, cut yourself some slack, recognise your strengths and realise that you are not a terrible teacher or a failure if it takes time for you to improve and develop.
  19. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    Normal at this stage in the placement. Nearly the end of term. Start looking for NQT posts at another school - next year will be different anyway, and you may find a change of scene to be just what you need.

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