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HELP: Lost all confidence before final placement and considering defering placement.

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by Mrcorange, Apr 17, 2019.

  1. Mrcorange

    Mrcorange New commenter

    Hello everyone, long time reader first time poster.

    I'm a male just about to start my final placement on my PGCE course, and recently came out of my mainstream second placement with a GOOD rating and was excited to start my final placement at my special needs host school. Unfortunately, in the few weeks before starting my upcoming final placement, my confidence has well and truly been destroyed and I'm so anxious and stressed about starting my final placement I'm considering deferring my placement until September just to complete it at a different school.

    I completed my first placement at my host school, and although I passed this placement, I realised that I hadn't experienced the best training and mentorship here. I'd been passed around by 3 members of staff to be my mentor, which just made me feel like a burden, however I kept my head down and worked hard to pass this 4 week placement. In hindsight, I have realised that the 5 minute weekly meeting I received wasn't really sufficient to support my learning in my first placement and should have been a red flag.

    Fast forward to my second placement, I was at a school with a mentor and class teacher who supported me and gave me advice and time to support my professional growth, and the growth I experienced at this school was phenomenal and I had a really excellent time there.

    Going back to the host school, I found out that I had been moved into a different class for my upcoming placement. I didn't receive a reason for this which started to knock my confidence (Was I not good enough for the first class? Did the staff not like me in my first class? etc).

    Upon asking my new class teacher if he was my new mentor, he said 'I don't know, I hope not though because I have an NQT to mentor and that wouldn't be fair on him and you'. Fast forward a few experience days and I found out that he is my mentor, alongside the teacher in the 'other room' who gave me the 5 minute weekly meetings.

    As I had been attending school visits and interviews for September positions, I only had 4.5 days in this new class observing the individual routines, the children's behaviours and the different grouping for Maths and English lessons. This is a special needs school, so I had been observing routines, reward charts, behaviours etc during these 4.5 days. (Each Tuesday afternoon, 80% of the class would also go swimming, leaving me able to interact with 3 pupils in these afternoons).

    On my final day before the Easter break, he asked me to come in for an 8AM meeting to discuss his concerns for my upcoming placement.

    His first concern was that he wasn't sure if I'm "committed to teaching his class" as I hadn't made enough connections with his special needs pupils and they don't recognise me in the teacher role yet. Although I had been making notes and completing observation sheets (as part of my course!) during these days, he never introduced me to the class as an upcoming teacher, and I only had limited chances to teach and lead select groups as part of his lessons.

    His second concern hit me hard, and he mentioned that 'my class is a really difficult class, and I'm concerned that you're not going to be able to keep up the staff morale needed to make my class run effectively." This did upset me, as all I could think of was "Do they not like me in this class?" (especially because I had no reason to suspect any of this 4.5 days into visiting) and just made me feel like I was a burden in this class and this school again.

    His third concern was that I hadn't taught enough non-core subjects in my prior placements, and was concerned I wouldn't be able to plan and deliver these lessons. Again, with both prior placements concentrating on core subjects, I felt it was a little unfair to say this, I am here to learn to teach ALL subjects as a student.

    He finished off our meeting by asking me 'I need you to think hard now, as this is your final chance, and think about if this is the right placement for you'.

    By the end of the meeting, any confidence and excitement that had fostered during my second placement had been crumbled, and I had to write down all of my feelings or I would have just started crying 5 minutes before the pupils came into the school.

    I'm so concerned and anxious about having my placement in this school with this mentor, as I no longer feel welcome in this school and believe that my mentor might have some issues with me, as I felt like a lot of these concerns where perhaps overally harsh considering I had spent 4.5 days in a brand new special needs class.

    After completing two placements with no cause for concerns and good reviews/observations, I'm just so confused as to why this is happening before my final placement. I am struggling with the idea of being in this school for 10 weeks and having a mentor that doesn't seem supportive and might possibly have some issues with me, which may affect my observation results, but most importantly my mental well-being.

    I am desperate for any advice, and how I should progress.

    I'd love to complete my final placement now rather than defer it, however I'm just most concerned about what will happen to my mental well-being during the next 10 weeks.

    Thank you for reading this far if you made it down here, I appreciate any advice you can throw my way regarding the next few weeks of my life.
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    If I were you I'd speak to someone in charge of the PGCE. This guy sounds like a complete tool. His 'concerns' are BS - I'm so annoyed on your behalf! I think the truth is that he is concerned about his ability to mentor you.

    You should not have to defer your PGCE because of poor mentors. Speak to someone in charge. Then, next time you're in school, show him what you're made of!
    pepper5, MrMedia and Mrcorange like this.
  3. lentils22

    lentils22 New commenter

    I agree with blueskydreaming - you need to contact the PGCE provider. You have already had very poor mentoring from your host school (I am a SCITT mentor and spend a full hour each week with my trainee, which is her entitlement) and this new mentor seems to have made up his mind that you've failed the final placement before you've even begun or had any opportunity to prove yourself. You would have to be superhuman not to have been shaken up by his comments, but in reality it is the host school who are clearly not delivering the support they should be and are making things impossibly difficult for you, so try to bear that in mind and to think back to how confident and encouraged you felt before you had these dealings with them.
  4. smurphy6

    smurphy6 Senior commenter

    I am a mentor and what you have experienced is very wrong and not normal practice. Speak to your PGCE provider. Get moved if you can for the final placement but in the summer term.
  5. yorkshiregirl1

    yorkshiregirl1 New commenter

    I totally agree with the above posts. Having been in a very similar position for my final placement (albeit not in a special school) I can only say, speak to someone now. My placement was so awful that I felt I had no choice but to say that I wouldn't go back after the half term break. This of course meant that as far as the university was concerned I had failed my final placement and so was off the course. No-one listened to the details or asked why I had felt compelled to leave. I was very very lucky as it was mandatory for an outside head off ITT to interview potential fail students and she listened to me and drew out the full story. it was her decision that counted and she completely went against the university by recommending that I redo the placement at another school and that it be treated as the first attempt. I will be eternally grateful to her. But it nearly destroyed my confidence and my faith in the education system. I wouldn't wish anyone to go through that and it sounds as if you could potentially be in the same situation that I was.
  6. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    All trainees are entitled to a resit placement. I would, however, echo what others have said and tell the person in charge.
    I need to find more ways to stop anyone who is a mentor but not working to standard from preventing people from entering the profession through a positive experience. It’s not easy. Sometimes, the mentors raise valid concerns. Sometimes, the mentors are idiots. The answer is always not to quit, not to refuse, but to talk to the person in charge and put your foot down on insisting on a placement change.
    pepper5 and blueskydreaming like this.
  7. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    On the whole I quite enjoyed doing my PGCE, but the Teaching Practices were very stressful. Why is it that some teachers seem to enjoy making so much extra stress for poor PGCE students? Shouldn't we be welcoming them into the teaching profession with open arms, going out of our way to let me get their toes wet at the shallow end? And not pushing them into the deep end with a rock around their necks? yorkshiregirl1's experiences seem to be all too common, alas.

    Oh hear us when we cry to Thee
    For those in peril on TP.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. Mrcorange

    Mrcorange New commenter

    Hello All,

    Thank you kindly for all of the advice. It was really reassuring to see that at least I wasn't overreacting to this situation.

    I spoke to my course leader who told me not to worry and that she'd get to work on getting things put right.

    We've scheduled in a observation so she can make sure that my mentor knows what they're doing with me this placement.

    However, since teaching my first week, he's been really impressed with me and has now started supporting me instead of making things difficult.

    I would say to anybody else reading this thread, PLEASE go and speak to your course leader. My course leader was entirely on my side and calmed me right down when I was panicking over the holidays.

    Thank you all.

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