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Help and advice needed please - Thinking of quitting the course :-(

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by ps2mint, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. ps2mint

    ps2mint New commenter


    I'm currently doing a PGCE secondary and am seriously
    thinking of finishing things. I have had previous experience working
    with students as a TA for a year in a secondary school, and I initially
    thought that this was the career for me...soon turned out to be wrong

    My first placement went really well - I was on a 'paired
    placement' with a girl from the same course. We got on really well, and
    we both had each other for support and advice which was great because
    at numerous points things got a bit heavy for both of us, but together
    we got through. I ended the first placement with a ofsted score of 2 -
    classified 'good'.

    Passed my first masters assignment in between placements and at this point in time things were looking good.

    began when I started my second placement. I was placed in a school over
    60 miles away from where I live and have to commute each day. This
    alone proves to be a killer, so in effect 3 hrs of my day is spent
    driving, and during the journey I cannot complete any planning or
    marking. I'm also on my own at this school, which is different from the
    first placement.
    Things have just seemed to go backwards at this
    school - in my recent grading i've moved from a good to a satisfactory
    and i'm told that my organisation needs to improve. I now have to hand
    lesson plans in for the week on a monday - none of this had to happen
    before and to be honest it seems like i'm being treated like a naughty child.
    Also, i'm getting told I don't look comfortable infront of
    the class, and it looks like I don't really want to be there - these
    things are making me question whether I have the fight left in myself to
    complete the course. Surely I should be improving and not going
    Is anyone else in a similar situation? If my heart is no longer in it, is it best just to pull out now?
  2. No one can answer that question for you. Ultimately it is something you need to seriously think about and weigh things up. The PGCE is almost over, you have already made it this far. I understand things can get quite tiring, lonely and stressful on this PGCE, but to come all this way and quit now would be a real shame. Speak to people on your course and your course tutor, maybe they may be able to encourage you and boost your energy again. Yes you should be improving but we all have our dips, and I don't know of any one on my course who hasn't felt how your feeling now.

    Don't be disheartened, be persistent.
  3. Hi, I'm sorry to hear you're thinking of quitting.

    Please think really carefully before you do quit. I'll tell you why - and my experience... I'm a Primary PGCE student so things might be a bit different - but there are many similarities.

    I failed both my Masters assignments - I'm in the process of resubmitting - but at the moment, the QTS is the most important thing! You've done well to pass that.

    Firstly, my university told the class teachers and mentors not to give us anything above a satisfactory on our first placement - so that we couldn't go backwards. However, this didn't stop some - and some people HAVE gone backwards and quite a few people failed their last placement. Mine was very difficult due to my class teacher (I loved the kids and the school) but I carried on through it and I'm very glad I did. It's actually made me a lot stronger. He gave me a lot of criticism with no positive feedback. I could've let this knock me down - even quit the course - but I got through it somehow. I just kept thinking of the children.

    You CAN get back to a 'good' - different mentors give different grades, and you could just be having a 'bad placement'. And ask yourself: are you comfortable in front of the class? If you're not, you need to practise acting! And tell yourselves - they're children. They're not your friends. Don't be scared to make a food out of yourself. I had to sing 'Old Macdonald' in French on my own to model it - to Year 6s - and I put in a load of actions and dance moves. It wasn't something I'd do at home but it HAD to be done to show them how it was supposed to be sung! Take a risk - they're only children and they'll love it.

    Is your heart in it, or is that your observations telling you that? If your heart IS still in it, you can go forward. Good luck with whatever decision you make.
  4. Hi,
    I am in exactly the same situation. I did really well in my first placement, yet my second is awful. I have no support, apart from the my Universuty Tutor who has been brilliant, and have been struggling to fit in and actually teach .
    I have gone from feeling 'I can do this!' to 'OMG I can't teach' and have hit rock bottom. My obs are not as good as my first placement and i was really upset about it all, however, i am learning to 'let go' of the mindset that i really want to get 'ggod' or 'good with some outsatnding' and am aiming just to pass the course. At the end of the day it is just 'pass' or 'fail' and I refuse to let an unsupportive school wreck my chances of doing the job I love.
    You don't have long to go now...you could well be telling me this next week when i go back to school! You are not alone, and help and support is here if you need it.
    Best wishes
  5. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Unfortunately, you are not alone in this. It must be awful to have to travel that far every day. However, it IS common practice and is only for another 4 - 5 weeks (think of how short this half term is, and how many of those days are bank holidays and INSET days).
    This is, again, very common. You are teaching more hours on your long practice (or should be - my current mentee is not as they are struggling) and therefore there are slightly fewer hours available for marking/planning/filing. Remember though, that your mentor is just trying to make sure you are prepared for your induction year, when your timetable with be much fuller, and for beyond that, when you will have the minimum PPA allowance and no more.
    The travelling time each day is obviously affecting your performance, so you need to organise yourself in such a way that you minimise this. Perhaps discuss this with your mentor and ask for help in organising things. Do you go straight home after school and work there, or do you stay in the school building and get work done before going home? I'd suggest that it's a good idea to try the latter, given your long commute. If you stay in school until a bit later, you can leave the portion of work you get done there, without having the drag it home. If I was your mentor, I'd be cutting you a bit of slack in terms of attending unnecessary meetings: I excused my mentee from a meeting on the last day of term (INSET) because it wasn't relevant to induction and he'd already met the standard it would have convered anyway; I felt his time was better spent getting ahead with his planning for next half-term and/or finishing his marking from this half-term. Perhaps discuss this with your mentor: obviously there are certain meetings that you should attend to fulfil your professional duties standards (department meetings, CPD, training etc) but there are other meetings that aren't really necessary (I excused my mentee from a meeting in which we were standardising this year's coursework folders; he's met the standard previously, and he won't be teaching that Spec anyway since it's the outgoing AQA spec for English).
    Each school is different. Some are willing to give a bit more freedom, others keep a tight rein on their student teachers. Neither is wrong and both have their pros and cons.
    If a school is too laid back, the student can feel alone and without support. It's difficult to know where to begin if you are just left to it. If a school demands to see planning in advance, it can be stressful to meet deadlines. That said, you DO have a significant amout of free time; it's good practice to plan well in advance AND the school have a right and a duty to oversee the children's progress. Don't take it personally, it's probably not a reflect on you, more just that the school does things a bit differently.
    Different school, different situation. Of course the change in circumstances impacts your performance: the commute, the new mentor, the different approach to things like planning etc....they all affect you. What you must do is pull it together in front of the class and 'perform'. At the end of the day, what ever the stresses outside of the classroom, inside the classroom is your bread and butter and you need to take a deep breath and get on with it. It's only a few more weeks. Then you can look forward to your induction in a school or your choosing where you have your own class and more autonomy.
    As for 'going backwards'...you probably aren't. Your first practice is very short and it's difficult, as a mentor, to pick up on and deal with ALL of a trainees areas for improvement. Perhaps you WERE more comfortable in your last practice; or perhaps your 2nd practice is just more demanding in terms of teaching hours, travelling etc. Either way, a pass is a pass and it's not unusual to go from 'good' to satisfactory.
    This close to the end, I'd always advise sticking with it. You've only got a few weeks left, are you really going to waste that last 8 months of your life by quitting now? If you decide not to take up an NQT post, that's fair enough. But you'll always have QTS and you can come back to it later in life if you so wish.
  6. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    We have students on their first placements who do really well. They can spend hours and hours planning the two or three fabulous lessons they lead in the week and are confident in the class with the teacher present. But I do often have to say to them that things will be much harder on their second placement. They will have more work to do and the teacher will not always be there to help out. They won't have got worse or gone backwards, just much more is expected.

    Different schools mean different situations and expectations. We had a student this year on a third of four placements. In her first she, by her own admission, was little more than an extra TA in the classroom and got a fabulous report. In her second she was in a school that used bought in plans for everything, again she got a fabulous report. She came to us for her third placement where she needed to plan and teach for the majority of the week and struggled massively. She had to plan all her own lessons from long term plans as that is what we do in our school and she was largely clueless. She had to be given the opportunity to manage the class for mornings and/or afternoons on her own, something she hadn't done before and really struggled to keep going for that length of time, let alone who days. Had she become a worse teacher? Had she gone backwards? No, it was just a more realistic workload with higher expectations.

    You also won't have gone backwards, just are now working on your own. Teaching can be a bit lonely sometimes. You now know that you CAN cope.
    You have a long commute, at least you know that you won't ever apply for a job more than an hour away. Some people make that mistake in their NQT year and are stuck for the whole year.

    Giving up now because you don't like your current school would just be daft, sorry to be blunt. Apply for jobs in schools nearer to home that will be exciting and enjoyable and next year you will love teaching again.

    Always change schools before you change profession. You can't do that by choice right now, but you will be able to soon.
  7. Hey! I bet your heart is in it still- you just can't feel it right now. Remember, this is one experience and it will be over shortly. We've spoken about this on my course - it's a very subjective course and you can work your very hardest and do everything to the best of your ability - following all the guidance from tutors, mentors, and texts, but still come out as 'Satisfactory' in one school and 'Good' in another. It can be very disheartening and can be off-putting. I too am near the end of my PGCE and have gone from 'Good' to 'Satisfactory' and felt like quitting (for one day!). But, I do think how you feel affects your performance.
    Go back after Easter, do everything you know how to do, do it well and ignore all those grades. I am now. It can get you down. You know what you can do. So, if you can, try to get your confidence back and you'll definately look comfortable again in front of the students. When you start to get down about all these things you describe (I've been there) it can show. You got this far, so try to fight your way to the end now. It's just a suggestion. Better than you quitting I hope?
    Also, if they want to treat you like a naughty child or you feel that way, you have to do what a lot of us have decided to do - grin and bear it. It's not for long. In fact, give them all the plans and more a week before if you can. But hand them to them without being asked, with a smile on your face and giving off the sense that you are organised and in control. It's difficult if you don't feel that way. But, you will start to feel that way hopefully. Then during that week in your 'frees' do next week's batch and give the plans to them on the Friday before. You only have 3 days of teaching next week, so you should have some time to get a week ahead?
    I hope this helps. Good luck.


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