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How realistic is teacher training to the actual job?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by leo2690, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. Hey guys,
    Just wanted a few views, how realistic is teacher training to your first NQT year or even the rest of your career?
    At the moment I seem to spend all day in school until about 6ish, arrive home and work on plans/ resources/ assessment until midnight (I have some friends who aren't far from quitting who are staying up until 2am :S ) and then spend all day saturday and sunday working.
    However, lesson planning, is individual, sometimes 4 pages long with the detail uni are looking for and i realise that most schools simple ask for a weekly plan (I can't wait!!)
    Thanks!
     
  2. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter


    I'm 7.5 years in and staying in school until 5.30/6.00pm is about the norm for me. I don't work until 2am (and didn't as a student either - if I heard this was one of my mentees I'd be having serious words about time management). In my NQT year, planning was the biggest time constraint and still took ages. I was staying up working all evening until about 11pm, then going to bed.
    However, the long hours DO continue with all the marking etc. Plus you have a FULL timetable to deal with once you are past your NQT year.
    The PGCE is very tought due to the additional assignments etc for uni, but never will your teaching load be lighter. As your career progresses, you will probably pick up additional responsibility and this doesn't always come with an additional time allowance.
    The most important thing is to plan your time carefully, use it efficiently (i.e. actually marking books, not keeping one eye on the TV/Facebook at the same time) and stick to it.
     
  3. I am finishing my NQT year now and I thin that the NQT year poses a whole new set of challenges than the PGCE did. I stay til 5 most days so I can stay on top of things, good planning and organisation can save you a lot of time, I will stay even when I really don't feel like it so I can be more relaxed at home. Different strokes for different folks.
     
  4. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    I did a Primary PGCE a couple of years ago. I worked so hard, particularly during my placements. I'd be at school from 7:45pm - 6pm, then work all evening and all day Sunday (I tried to take Saturday off where possible, so I didn't go completely crazy!).
    I think your NQT year can differ, depending on the school you're in and what's expected of you. My school didn't demand I kept a standards folder during the year and gave me as much support as I needed. I still spent a similar amount of time in school, but was able to reduce my workload in the evenings and on Sundays.
    Now I find my workload has reduced to such that I feel like I lead a normal life most of the time! My hours at school aren't much changed, except I will make sure I leave before half 4 once a week. Apart from some marking my evenings are my own and I only work at weekends if I want to get ahead of myself! Again, a lot of this is down to my school; people are not expected to be at school until a certain hour at night, plans are not demanded in advance and SLT do not place too much on us, especially at busy times of the year.
    I think once you find the right place it seems to work. Because my expected workload is not unreasonable, I choose to take on afterschool clubs, help on evening events and have students in my class.
    Good luck with the rest of the year!
     
  5. englishteach101

    englishteach101 Occasional commenter

    I'm doing a secondary GTP and am told that this is the most work I'll ever have to do in teaching, let's just hope that this comment is correct as I have very little time for myself or my husband at the moment....
     
  6. My PGCE 2 years ago was hard. The in depth lesson plans, constant written evaluations and essays was tough and I spent every evening and all day at weekends completing this work. However, since doing my NQT year (which is also tough from a learning curve point of view) it does get easier. Lesson plans usually are for your benefit so are less detailed unless you are being observed. You have to learn quickly how to write reports, mark exams etc, inputting data along with making lessons/resources. But you get better at it, and so life gets easier. I get to work at 7:30am, do a bit of work before school then teach my day. I leave no later than 4:30pm most days and have evenings to myself. I plan the next weeks work on a saturday morning.
    Time management and organisation is crucial. In school holidays, I plan 'roughly' the next terms work including resources etc. Then on a saturday morning I spend a few hours where I just tweak them to suit where I am at or make a new lesson if necessary. The base is already there then and means other than a bit of planning in PPA time etc, I do get evening and weekends to myself.
    Its a tough profession and requires committment. Not just the workload but the stress of the job needs to be managed too!
    It WILL get easier, just manage your time. Alot of your time at present is taken up writing lesson plans? When qualified not all schools will expect you to do this for every lesson and so I just write brief notes.
    All the best of luck, keep going - Its a rewarding career!
     
  7. Informant

    Informant New commenter

    NQT year is generally acknowledged to be the hardest, although I did find it easier than my GTP year as I had a significant teaching timetable from day 1 (it was a few years ago). Your performance is under close scrutiny in year 1, so it does become less stressful later with fewer lesson observations and less performance management
     
  8. thequillguy

    thequillguy New commenter

    During the PGCE placements I would finish in school between 5:30 and 6:00. Dinner for 30-45 mins. I'd work until 9, read in bed to sleep for 10-10:30ish. Wake up between 5:45 and 6:15. Between 30 and 45 mins to get ready in the morning. I'd never work Friday evening, and I'd largely do all my chores on Saturday if I could.

    When someone says 'working all day Saturday', I doubt they actually meant that they are working from 6am until 10pm with only toilet and food breaks. However, I don't doubt that they feel they are working constantly. And, if they are, whether they are actually working productively all that time. Do you plan your day? Do you work at a task until it is finished? Or do you allocate a set-time and stop the task when the time is up?

    As people say, the biggest take-up of time I found is the planning. I found that getting into school for 7 and planning for 1:30 hours to be far more productive. Yes, you can plan in the evening. But I find my body slowed down after dinner.

    To reiterate another poster's point, I would have serious concerns if someone was working until 2am. How can you hope to have any energy and without suitable sleep? I had a colleague who could do that, but if she did she'd be the only one. Admittedly, I have worked late at times because the effort invested makes me feel that the lesson is 'better'. But this shouldn't be anything on a regular basis.

    I think the single biggest thing you need when starting to teach in schools is confidence in your judgement. And that is a field where a) there is tremendous disagreement and b) beyond a few guiding principles, only you can know what is a wise decision for your situation. For example, how to deal with behaviour events, or judging where your finite time is best devoted. Where I think I was fortunate is that I did cover teaching for a couple of years before qualifying, so I was quietly confident in some of my judgement.

    Some, that is!

    So, aim to allocate time to your tasks. Go to bed early. Wake up early and plan in the morning. Avoid having a long commute if you can.
     
  9. To achieve work/life balance when you are teaching full time you need to play the game.
    1. Only plan in detail is for observed lessons, otherwise use your departments schemes of work - that is what they are there for.
    2. Don't be ashamed to do textbook lessons with classes now and again.
    3. Stick to the minimum requirements of your marking policy - make the students mark their own work wherever possible.
    4. Copy and paste school reports.
    5. If there is a blame culture in your school resist the incompetent management by not taking on unpaid extra responsibility such as after school clubs.
    6. Focus your time on behaviour management, targeting C grade students or whatever your SLT's fad of the week is.

     
  10. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    I am in my NQT year and I feel like I am working through it quite comfortably. My PGCE had me in school 8-4 and then library 4:30 - 10. Plus in uni all weekend/bank holidays/school holidays.
    Now I get to school for 8, set up my classroom then sit in staffroom with colleagues. Leave school by 4 every day. No work of an evening and I usually plan on a Sunday. I think it differs depending on stage and subject. I teach RE to KS3 and so only have to plan 3 lessons a week which are then rotated between classes. I use my free periods to mark books so I'm not working late.
    I was advised with marking that books don't need to be marked every week and I agree. I teach 15 groups a week and so would go insane if I tried to mark 3 sets of books a day. I mark on a 3 week cycle to cut it down - y7 one week, y8 the next, y9 and then back to y7. If you do a lot of AFL in your lessons then you can see pupils understand/ don't get it without marking their books every week.
     
  11. Thanks for the replies!
    It's primary teaching that I'm doing.
    I set aside enough time, however dont use it wisely, get distracted easily and find any other job!
    Hopefully I will apply myself better with more experience!
     
  12. englishteach101

    englishteach101 Occasional commenter

    I was a bit like that at first, one thing I've found (and has been my saving grace over the last term) is that I use to do lists.
    If I'm working on a non-school day, then I actually plan in small tasks, even the home stuff, which makes you feel like you're achieving and not procrastinating by doing the washing up or putting the washing on. You could go as far as putting things in order to make you intersperse the house stuff with the work stuff, but once you're used to working to the list, you'll find it much easier. Also, be a little bit realistic in what you can actually achieve, don't write yourself a list that's as long as your leg as you'll just feed disheartened when you don't ge through it all. I find that getting to the end of a shorter list, makes me feel really good!
    It's worked for me, but you shouldn't be working until 2am, that's not healthy. Can you push back at all if you're doing too much or if too much is being asked of you?

    Best of luck with it all!
    [​IMG]
     
  13. I have to plan in detail for every lesson,c an'tdo textbook lessons, have to write individualreports, etc etc. None of that bothers me, though.

    The one thing that bothers me about this, the one thing that the training didn't prepare me for, is the pressure to perform. When you have a bad lesson as a PGCE student it's not the end of the world, but I feel like my school wants to drop a skyscraper on my head for not being outstanding yet in my second/third term as an NQT.
     
  14. amarantine

    amarantine New commenter

    I have to say, I'm a PGCE student now and I don't do as much work as that - you must be working SO hard - admirable!
    I usually get into school about 8ish, and leave by 4:30 latest. I use all my frees at school (mainly on a Tuesday, when I only teach one lesson) to get planning/marking done. I'm never usually in bed later than 11:30-midnight-ish, but I don't start working at home till about 5:30ish because I have a 45 minute commute and always have a cup of tea and a half hour break when I get in.
    The upshot of this is that I don't think I'm working hard enough compared to other PGCE people who seem to be working the whole damn time. I hardly ever work at weekends, I do a bit of planning Sunday evening but usually I've planned my Monday lessons in my frees on Friday. Am I not working hard enough? I am genuinely quite concerned about this, it feels like I do NOTHING compared to fellow PGCE-ers!
    Does this mean I'm going to get a kick up the backside into reality when I start my NQT or have I got a decent balance?
     
  15. I am in quite a similar position. I find myself quite comfortable with quickly planning lessons and not working much in evenings after school much at all. I get to school for 8am, have 30 mins to prepare for the day and lots of frees during the week to plan lessons for future. This means that currently I am able to leave school within 30/45 minutes of the school day ending. I actually get to bed before 10:30 every night - getting a good 8 hours in each evening. I still wake up feeling rubbish mind!

    Weekends, I may dedicate a sunday morning or afternoon to some planning/marking, but otherwise I am doing fine. I don't think it is a concern that you or I are not working hard enough, or that others are working for longer periods of time. I set myself achievable goals in time-management through use of to-do lists and try to minimise the writing within my lesson plans. I know that when I first wrote plans out they were nearly scripts of what I wanted to say/do. Now it is more a brief mention of the activity - aiming to fit everything onto 1 A4 side (though that is difficult with 100minute lessons!).

    My mentor has explicitly told me to keep my planning to a minimum from here onwards (obviously without damaging the quality of the lesson), and focus more on reflecting upon previous practice and observations. Assignments havn't really been an issue due to completing the majority of them during holiday times or the odd weekend.

    A balance is certainly healthy, and I should think that at this PGCE stage, with near enough 50% of lessons being frees, we should be fairly comfortable. I think so long as we produce enough evidence for the Q standards, continue to produce a high level of teaching and keep enjoying it, we'll not be in danger. NQT year may be a different story however, but I should think that the highlight of having your own classes and really getting involved with them will mean that the lessons are quite free-flowing anyway, with that potential to long-term plan and really get organised far in advance. I am excited!
     

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