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Horendous Mentor

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by james190370, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. james190370

    james190370 New commenter

    I am in need of advice. I have just started my NQT year at a Primary School. My mentor has taken an instant dislike to me and has made life increasingly difficult, Unfortunately, my headteacher is very close to her and takes everything she says as gospel.She has been obstructive, failed to pass information to me and even told lies to me and about me. My mentor is on the SLT and I feel limited in what I can do. My first term was difficult and I found it all a bit daunting, and I have to be honest I did not teach well due to nerves. I got a rollocking from my mentor and the head at the end of the first term and spent my half term reflecting and getting more organisation and structure to my teaching, this term I have been observed twice, once by my head and once by my mentor, both times I was graded as satisfactory (an improvement), my classroom learning environment has improved beyond recognition and was praised by an external consultant. To top it off we had the joys of Ofsted last week, I was observed three times by two different inspectors, I received two 'good' grades and an 'outstanding', for the first time I felt I was making progress. My mentor has not mentioned my success although my colleagues and head have been very complimentary, however, I was told today by my mentor that I will be getting additional mentoring from an AST as she has serious concerns about my ability and that she is failing me for my first full term. I am feeling incredibly frustrated I have achieved everything that was requested of me this term and my Ofsted was very positive and yet I am being failed, I have been told there are no issues with my classroom or pupil management and that my relationships with colleagues, pupils and parents are good and that the only problem is with my teaching.... I am also angry ( although I havent shown this) as I feel my mentor is on a power trip... apparently she has done this before. I feel like handing my notice in at the end of the term, doing some supply to rebuild my confidence and try again next year. Firstly, can I do this? secondly is it worth ringing my union? I dont want to rock the boat but my career in on the line. Any advice would be graetly appreciated.
  2. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Go and talk to you HT. If you have been graded ad good and outstanding by ofsted there is no way your HT will want to lose you. If you can think of another experienced member of staff that you feel has supported and encouraged you this term then you could suggest them as a new mentor for next term.

    No point handing in your notice as you can't leave until Easter now even if you did. You have not failed this term as you cannot, just that your mentor has concerns you will not meet all the standards. So all you need to do next term is take the support from the AST (Goodness knows I'd bite the hand off one that came to help me and I have been a leading teacher in the deep dark past!) and make sure that lots of people, other than your mentor, repeatedly observe you.

    Ask the LA NQT person to come and see you teach. Email them and say that your mentor has concerns about your teaching, but you don't and ofsted don't and so you would like some impartial advice.

    Ask your HT to observe you as well. Tell her you aren't sure how to improve further now and would like some advice.

    Are there other members of SMT who can observe you? A DH and so on. Ask them to. If you have a whole series of good and outstanding observations, your mentor won't have a leg to stand on.

    Your mentor possibly has a reputation for doing this and so people will know not to believe her. I know that is really, really hard to believe but it is true. At my current school when I first arrived I shared a year group with a colleague who did just what you say your mentor is doing. Told people lies about me, told me lies, forgot to give me all kinds of messages, told people I didn't want to go here or there when I didn't even know about the events. It was awful and being new I didn't have a clue who to turn to and honestly thought everyone would believe her as they didn't know me well enough to doubt her. BUT you will gradually find that you do have friends and allies and that people don't believe her half as much as it feels they do. And as people know you more and more, they will learn what the truth really is. Make sure you spend as much time as possible in the staffroom to get to know other people. Talk about good things that have happened in your lessons and so on. Then people will see the real you and will start to support you more and more.

    Do not leave...supply and getting another post is a very unlikely scenario. Leaving with a less than ok first term of induction, however unfair, is not a good move for future employment. Seriously, things will get easier and you are stuck until easter anyway. Do look around at other jobs, but leave with one to go to, not for supply.
  3. james190370

    james190370 New commenter

    Hippo, thank you for your insightful and constructive feedback, it was really useful. Are you by any chance my mentor?
  4. As an NQT on induction you do not pass or fail term by term, you simply complete your first and second term. Any judgements about your progress towards meeting the standrads should be holistic, that is take on board not ust an observaton but all aspects of your work, including the OFSTED reports. Your mentor should be ust that, a mentor, they are not in control of you making final judgement. It is the LA that ultimately decides on whether or not you pass or fail at the end of the year. The head merely makes a recommendation.
    At the end of term one there should be a meetimng to discuss progress, if the mentor has 'serious concerns' then these should have been put to you in writing with an explanation of what the concernbs are, which standards she feels you are in danger of not meeting and what extra help and support she will be arranging to ensure that you do not fail. If you are set targets these should have success criteria.
    Often mentors can forget that identifying issues results in more work for the mentor in setting smart targets, providing extra help and/or training if necessary and extra observations and feedback. It is sometimes the case that when mentors such as the one you describe are faced with the full extent of the support they need to give, they back down and the 'serious' issue becomes minor.
    In the end of term meeting, if there is no mention of the OFSTED gradings on your lessons, then you can always supply thyis information yourself in the section where you comment on the support and progress you have made, if your mentor is also not providing full written feedback with targets and success crietria that could be mentioned as well.
    Also, if there are serious concerns then the LA adviser should also be informed and asked to moderate the judgements being made and, where necessary provide extra help and support.
    I would ask forn a report on the 'serious issues' along with the targets, success criteria and timescales as well as aking for suggestions for extra help, mentoring and possible training opportunities - once faced with such requests (which show you are taking what they say seriously) the major often turns to minor. You can also contact the NQT LA adviser for help as well.
    I would also advise that you contact your union and appraise them of the situation - not ask them to intervene, but just to get things on the record now in case things go wrong later on.
  5. james190370

    james190370 New commenter

    James and Minnie

    Thankyou for your advice....you have made some valuable comments that have made me think differently.
  6. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, I am your mentor. How did you guess?
  7. As a mentor, what a childish and non productive reply you have made, not a good representation for a teacher are you?
    Don't try to correct my grammer, I am on the poorer side of education (a tutor) and work in the real world with less resources and wages. I am also a person that needs help at times from my mentor, fortunatly I have a GOOD mentor.
  8. Good afternoon, Hippo
    If you *are* the mentor in question, I feel for you. I really do.
    Being faced with your own behaviour is hard. It really is. It takes intelligence, empathy and courage to do it.
    Far easier to be aggressive - to pick up on the easy points - to feel superior. It's like slipping into a lovely warm bath, isn't it? A lovely, lovely warm bath surrounded by your favourite bubbles.
    If you *aren't* the mentor, same applies.
    OP, don't worry, I've seen this scenario a few times and however difficult, unfair and exhausting it feels at the time, it always ends one way.
    Like I said, Hippo, I feel for you.

  9. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    I'm fairly sure it's hippo that is in love with working overseas so unless OP is located overseas I don't think he is his/her mentor. He's just being deliberately unhelpful.
    I had a friend on the PGCE who's mentor for her final placement was awful and barely graded her as satisfactory for things which she'd been good/outstanding on on the previous placement. After 4 weeks of this, my friend went to her and said "Please can I go on special action (can't remember the name of it but it meant you were failing and gave you specific things to improve on, and also gets the uni involved) as I'm clearly no good at this" at which point her mentor looked at like her she was mad and said she didn't need to. Think it made the school and mentor realise there was an issue and the mentor was being really harsh. This mentor actually refused to write a final report on my friend as she said "there has been no progress since the last report, so it will say the same things". It was a difficult situation, but it was only an 8 week placement so she just stuck it out. As she had such good reports from her previous placements the uni sided with her, passed her and is not sending students to this school any more. I can't imagine what it must be like to have this issue in your NQT year :(
  10. wendyw00

    wendyw00 New commenter

    Hi James, I also feel for you- I'm currently a trainee and also having problems with my mentor, she's been on my case constantly and stated yesterday that she would be writing that I am just adequate and no more in my report- I understand thats all I am to expect to be right now but its really frustrating when other teachers feedback that I can deliver brilliant lessons and that I am a good teacher in the making- I accept that obviously I'm not perfect but theres constructive feedback and then theres just put downs.
    I really feed cross and wish that teachers who opt to become mentors do it for the right reasons rather than the extra pay cheque!!

    I hope things work out for you
  11. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    No, I am not really anyone's mentor. I was joking.
  12. Do mentors get paid extra for it??
  13. In most cases no, but some do get paid for mentoring. Providers will pay schools to take on trainees and in some schools they use the money to create a post for a teacher to oversee trainees in schools, in other schools the money is split between departments who take trainees (sebcondary) and sometimes mentors are paid direct by the school for the extra work.

  14. James - I really feel for you. You are in a horrible position. I have already posted today about the possibility of bullying on another thread. From what you say, at best you have a very unsupportive mentor and at worst, you are being bullied. Please take the time to read the forums about bullying so that you can make an informed decision about what to do next and whether to get out. If she has bullied people in the past, did they eventually pass? This will tell you if it is worth hanging on in there and trying to ride things out. I cannot see how she can have much reason to raise potential concerns, particularly given the impartial evidence from OFSTED. Whilst not 'passing' the first term is not disastrous nor unusual, what is going to change in her attitude between now and Term 3 when you might be failed? Jobs and supply work are scarce so don't rush in to anything. You could involve your union, negotiate a compromise agreement and leave, but if you can stay until Easter, that will be another induction term completed. I was in a very similar position and tried to see things through but the constant negativity and lack of support near enough destroyed all my self-confidence in the process. In my experience, whatever you do won't be good enough if they truly are a power-craving bully. There will always be something they are not happy with which they use to try and control you. Don't expect the Head to do anything - she obviously hasn't in the past. In my experience the LA will be toothless as well. Supportive as they might be, don't expect any colleagues to stand alongside you in the firing line either. They have to look after number one first. If your mentor is lying to you already, won't they continue to be manipulative and convincing? You will very unlikely win any battle if you choose to take them on and it will drain you and distract you from what already is a tough job. Take care witrh the AST. I also had a AST work with me who was personally supportive. However, all their praise of what I did well was ignored and their constructive criticism was used as more ammunition to criticise me in NQT paperwork. Lastly, I may be being paranoid, but if you have personal details in your sign on name and your mentor or someone else reads these forums, you may be identifiable. Change your sign-in to be on the safe side. I wish you all the best.

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