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Good riddance PGCE! I QUIT

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by dashep, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. After months of questioning whether I wanted to stay in this nasty profession, I finally quit.

    I was bullied in my first placement and became a shadow of my former self. I have seen many of my fellow trainees go from enthuastic fresh graduates to exhausted depressives. Second placement was okay but I had lost all confidence that the thought of starting to teach again terrified me. I felt guilty spending longer than 15 minutes in the shower because I had planning to do. I would be up until at least midnight every night and then told the next day I am not working hard enough.

    I told the university about my experiences and basically got the impression that trainees can either suffer, suffer more by talking about it, or quit. They didn't want to get involved with complaints about the rubbish mentor or bully teachers because they didn't want to lose their precious placement school. I was just told to be "professional" at all times (?!). I wasn't the one making personal remarks about trainees to staff and pupils (!)

    Now I have a job interview tomorrow for something completely different. I have had a nice break, the weight has been lifted and I have no regrets, have regained my health and spirit and feel free as a bird. I do miss the kids, but that's it.

    I just want other trainees to know this - don't be scared of quitting. If you are thinking of it every morning like I was, it's not the job for you and life is too short. It's not like the money is great or the holidays are worth the extra time spent in the evenings and at weekends. You don't have to pay any of the bursary back either.

    Good riddance :)
  2. There are certain parts of your post I completely agree with however it's all about going through the process. From my personal experiences so far, each term is getting easier, particularly due to the fact I teach Design and Technology. I'm not for one second suggesting the subject is easy as the knowledge and understanding is something that can quickly become stale unless you are on top of your game. As you create these endless resources and lesson plans you begin to accumulate a bank of documents which can be re-used for later classes thus cutting down the workload. I must say, I too spent many of nights working until 1, sometimes 2 o clock in the morning and I shared many of the experiences you have had however, as time has passed and the content I am expected to deliver replicates that delivered to previous classes, I can refer to my bank of documents and cut down my workload to sometimes one maybe two nights a week. It's a shame to hear you have quit, perhaps some reflection on your experience whilst pursuing an alternative career will see you re-visiting your ambition for teaching at a later date. Whatever your decision, I wish you all the best!
  3. Good for you and it sounds like the right decision for you. I had doubts on my PGCE but stubbornly refused to leave the profession until 3 years later, and my mental health was in tatters by that point. I wish I had quit earlier on.

    I don't know if you agree with anything I've written here, Things I Wish Were On My PGCE But Weren't
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. Notwithstanding

    Notwithstanding New commenter

    Let's not call ourselves quitters, just those enlightened to see that teaching wasn't FOR US. It is the perfect job for done, I know, but I felt like the writing was on the wall when very good, experienced teachers, whom I would have wanted my teaching career to go like (genuine respect from staff and pupils, proper interpersonal relationship skills) would talk daily about how they need to get out before the changing landscape makes then bitter. They got good results, which was met with even harder year on year targets from slt.
    pepper5 and Tonilea like this.
  5. F1sydney

    F1sydney New commenter

    Best of luck to you. I know exactly how you feel and can fully understand what you have experienced. I didn't have the guts to quit, but now find myself with a PGCE (but not wanting to teach) but without a job either.
    All the best for your future - enjoy [​IMG]
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. I totally understand where you are coming from. Good for you!
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. I empathise and also wanted to post for ppl in similar position now reading this thread.

    I quit my pgce at xmas. Like many ppl on online forums, I was seeking 'permission' from others to quit; I hated getting responses like, 'just stick it out...it's a useful qualification to have anyway'. The thought of continuing made my heart sink and it was a relief when my sister finally text, 'just tell them to go to hell; life's too short!'

    In fact, when I came to quit, it didn't even feel like a decision made in my head, but more my body made the decision for me! I was at a uni that spread the first placement out till end of January, unlike other unis that sensibly make use of the 'natural end' you feel at xmas. So the thought of returning to that awful 1st placement made it easier to quit, frankly.

    I don't believe having a qualification ur not going to use is 'useful'. I have an undergraduate and masters - I don't need another useless degree, esp. one that is so demoralising. And u will only have to further explain why u didn't end up going into teaching! Quitting at least shows u know urself well enough to know when its time to pursue something else. Yes, it's only a year, but those 4 months were the longest in my life. The hardest thing really was giving up the idea of teaching - something I have wanted since a child, as well as the thought of finally having a 'proper', respectable profession. But that is not a good enough reason to endure every day full of misery and anxiety.

    I was disillusioned with so much about the profession. I found there were so many contradictions banded about. In uni, you'd be taught one thing; on placement, the opposite would be taking pace. There was no actual 'training' per se; on the first day, the lecturer declared that everyone could go straight into a classroom with all their qualifications and experience (?!), as tho' he was trying to get the uni 'off the hook', like tell us from the start there is nothing they need to teach us.

    I also hated almost every other aspect of it. My subject mentor was a messy, lazy, disorganised oaf, who took on different roles just to bump up his salary (and did all of them badly). He gave me my timetable on the first day, with loads of gaps in, saying I was free to do whatever in that time; consequently, where others were getting a thorough intro to the school, I was floating about, trying to get in to observe other lessons, but feeling like a complete imposter. I stopped going to morning tutorial, cos it knocked my confidence for the day - my subj mentor would have his head in his laptop and I didn't feel like there was any in-road to connect myself with the Yr11s who were sitting round sneering in groups. I know others might think it was my fault - I should've just bolstered in with massive enthusiasm, but it's very hard to start from nowhere. The worst part was that the prof mentor was the opp of my subj mentor, so when he didn't bother telling me about after-school meetings, she thought it was my choice not to turn up!

    I didn't find any solace at uni: my tutor never replied to my emails (until I started copying in the faculty Head!) and when he spoke to me, it was to tell me that he knew I hadn't gone to the pub with the other students, who, btw, were fresh from their undergraduate degrees, so 10 yrs younger than me, talked exclusively about their boyfriends and sex lives, and said things I found immature and offensive, e.g. blaming teenage girls for leading on paedophiles. But it seemed he deliberately didn't answer my 2/3 emails becos we should be supported by each other (?) and leave him to his own academic pursuits outside his role as pgce tutor. So, when one lecturer said we MUST have a register form signed each day on our placement, yet the form is nowhere to be found on the portal, this is something I should discuss first with my fellow-students, before bothering him with the basic Q...? (They hadn't got a clue either, btw).

    Tbh, the course was a mess. I don't want a libel case against me, so I won't name the uni, but msg me privately, if u want to know. They hadn't got the online system running properly; they didn't seem to know what they were asking us to do, so how were we supposed to know?!

    One of the most bizarre lectures given was by a headteacher, who brought in 5 of his former pupils who all read testimonies of how great a teacher he'd been. ...I just really question where the 'training' was in this teacher training course. It was like there was a massive hole - the bit that tells u HOW. There was plenty about what not to do - don't overuse IT, don't give a lecture, don't assume the class is all of the same ability, don't use textbooks, don't believe that lessons have to involve writing, don't correct spellings (but do 'encourage literacy')...

    If ur given a class to teach where the class teacher is unable to control the class, then it's just impossible. I lost my voice trying to compete with their noise, but when I tried to implement the school's discipline policy, my subj mentor overrode it and let them all off.

    The assessment would've been a good opportunity to show the Yr9s the consequences of their behaviour, but to my surprise and humiliation, the worst behaved pupils achieved the highest scores! I couldn't understand it, but as the class teacher (not me) had marked the tests, I asked to look at them. They were pitiful! I questioned the class teacher, who admitted that she knew they were "rubbish", but the Head would disapprove if he saw inconsistencies across subjs for the same pupils. OMG! This was the nail in the coffin: I had to congratulate the same pupils I had been trying to get on detentions to actually complete one, single homework! Worse still, the pupils who had made an effort over the term were given lower marks, even tho' their tests were no worse than the complacent, supposedly 'high-achieving' pupils. I still feel awful over those kids now


    The main thing was I realised how bloody awful secondary school is. There is so much time wasted; I really don't believe it is 5 yrs that is more than the sum of its parts, i.e. some ppl seem to think that even when pupils are not 'learning', then they are learning social skills, etc. They are NOT! The bullish kids learn how to intimidate and the quiet kids learn how to become invisible to avoid getting bullied. Having the pgce experience has left me more disillusioned than ever and I remember things about my own schooling that I must've repressed in the intervening years.

    A couple of other pgce students were 'crossing off the days', which I thought was silly - are u going to cross off the rest of ur life, too? After pgce, comes nqt and even beyond that there doesn't seem to come a freedom from those aspects ur trying to escape during the pgce yr. My advice to anyone in the same boat, is to listen to ur feelings:

    If u find urself thinking about other potential careers while ur supposed to be immersed in the pgce;

    if ur heart sinks at the thought of planning another lesson;

    if u feel like more Qs are being raised than answers;

    if u feel like it should be Thurs/Fri, when u've only just got to the end of Monday;

    if u feel more like a pupil more than a teacher;

    if u hate the institutionalised aspect, the stampede of feet in the corridors;

    if u feel a massive relief whenever u leave the school grounds and r amazed that normal life still continues outside, while ur trapped in that building (shops are open, ppl are walking along the streets and in the park, ppl might throw litter and -guess what - u don't have to do a thing about it - u don't have to tell them off!) ;

    if u feel each day drags like a year, while at the same time, conversely there isn't the time to fulfil the tasks or even to get organised;

    if anxiety builds as u approach the school and u actually enjoy the commute more than the school-day;

    if u start wondering why u aren't investing all this wasted energy into ur own [potential] children;

    if u imagine how much more fun and productive it would be to work with dogs, cats or peaceful, free-range, organic farm animals (!);

    if u feel that u no longer even know what 'education' is for...

    ...then u should give urself permission to quit!
    Alice K, pepper5, TEA2111 and 5 others like this.
  8. oscillator

    oscillator Occasional commenter

    I agree with a lot of what was said here. However, that was just what my training felt like.

    But fast forward a few years, and I get on pretty well! I am at a school where I am respected and respect my colleagues. I am a pretty ok teacher - though I still have a huge amount to learn!

    If it really isn't for you, quit. But if every instinct always told you that you wanted to be a teacher and this few months of learning loads of new things (whether by osmosis or otherwise) seems too much, talk to anyone who will listen about coping strategies!

    Best advice I was given - be proactive!! You are an adult working with other adults! If you have questions, ask. Do not feel like you're imposing, even if you are. You are responsible for your learning. Teachers are just facilitators of learning - they cannot MAKE you learn. So go out there, read some books, talk to teachers in other departments, people you know who are teachers, or anyone else who will listen; ask questions. You are not there to be 'taught', you are there to learn, by any means necessary. Or at least, that is what I tell my pupils.
    pepper5, bishbashbosh3 and suzy1stan like this.
  9. mab7689

    mab7689 New commenter

    I am 3 weeks away from finishing my SD course and I cant wait. I passed last week and will have QTS but if I have to honestly admit I have hated it and can't wait to jack it in. I have no intention of doing an NQT year and staying in teaching anymore as I want to actually work with young people, not become an android from all the **** a teaching role expects you to do. I was a T.A and Cover Supervisor before this and I loved them both but I hate teaching. My experience of teacher training has been 50-70 hour weeks and still only satisfactory at best and constant beration and I have lost my enthusiasm and passion to stay. I know I am sacrificing a better salary and pension but if I am not exhausted, stressed and hacked off with everything I will make that sacrifice. I've tried but I don't like so I am out.
    MissLytham, Shedman and pepper5 like this.
  10. Constantly telling trainee teachers how **** they are is bewildering and simply the profession shooting itself in the foot. How many good people must they lose through this appalling reverse psychology technique? I saw a short film a few years ago of a young primary school trainee. He was dressed completely inappropriately in an awkward suit, but his mentor was so polite and encouraging - partly because it's hard enough to get men into primary school teaching roles, without slagging them off as well. I'm not saying there shouldn't be criticism, but as the post above says, if it's 'adults working with adults', why do mentors so often try to make the trainee feel like a failing pupil?
    MissLytham, Shedman and pepper5 like this.
  11. suzy1stan

    suzy1stan New commenter

  12. LightDivided

    LightDivided New commenter

    Best thing I ever did was quit at Xmas. I’m actually starting to feel human again. Moneys a little tighter without the bursary but wouldn’t go back for anything. Kudos to those who can hack it though
    MissLytham, Shedman and pepper5 like this.
  13. GeneralClaudius

    GeneralClaudius New commenter

    I quit mine at Christmas as well. Very cathartic. Things started to take a bad turn in November, when my mental health was invaded by the whole thing, resulting in a two week break. I came back for two days in December, but decided to take back control and end it there.

    It's a shame because I was highly convinced that teaching was for me, until I actually did it for two months. The main reason was the distinct lack of work/life balance. I won't be considering it again, that's for sure.
  14. Schifoan

    Schifoan New commenter

    I'm sticking it out myself, but I couldn't blame anyone who quit. I can't think of a course less likely to encourage someone to teach.
  15. observer1

    observer1 New commenter

    It's worth getting to the end just to qualify, however if it affects mental health - get out immediately imo. Nothing is worth your health.
  16. lemzy123

    lemzy123 New commenter

    Hi there, currently enrolled in the pgce. Thinking of quitting, wanted to know if it is generally required to pay a portion of the fees if you quit 3 months into the course?
    pepper5 likes this.
  17. thin_ice

    thin_ice Occasional commenter

    I’m always amazed by trainees who are surprised by what school life is like. You must be very slow on the up-take or badly prepared if you hate everything, like you say you do.

    It’s like a new truck driver detesting their job because they didn’t realise they had to drive up the M6 or that their vehicle was bigger than a Corsa.

    Reckon you thought it would be a doss.

    Get out now and save the school and uni staff their time.
  18. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    All schools are not the same. There are well run schools where it is a delight to be in and there are AWFUL places to be in. As a day to day supply teacher I have been in both and there are some places where NOTHING would prepare you for it.

    The poster JaID has since gone as the post was one around 2014.
    sarahduffy0810 and peakster like this.
  19. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    You have to be a little resilient - my first two years were very tough but I knew that I would one day find the school for me - which I did.

    As pepper said - not all schools are the same
    sarahduffy0810 and pepper5 like this.
  20. thin_ice

    thin_ice Occasional commenter

    Hang on... good point @pepper5

    OP March 2012. I don’t think they’ll have noticed my stinging rebuke. Ah well.
    PGCE_tutor and pepper5 like this.

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