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Is there something serious wrong with ITT?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by tired999, Mar 8, 2020.

  1. tired999

    tired999 New commenter

    I'm 2 weeks into my second placement and am really struggling. Not with the students or the crazy workload but the attitude of my mentor and some of the people who observe me. I am a mature student and am highly qualified. This seems to be an issue for some of the teachers in the school, especially those who have never had a career before and are male!

    My timetable keeps changing at the last minute, lessons are cancelled after I've planned them and others are added at short notice. There haven't been any departmental meetings or emails and I teach most of my classes once a week or fortnight! I've asked to observe lessons before teaching classes but it's been refused for quite a few of my classes. The feedback I've received has been highly personal and written or in email, not face to face. When I've tried to speak to people I've been told they are too busy.

    My ITT provider have been as supportive as they can but they do not seem to have much say about how the school behaves and also want to keep them on side for future placements.

    I will survive the next 4 weeks (until the end of the placement) but why should it be necessary just to survive? I want to observe examples of good teaching to help me be a good teacher and want to have constructive feedback not demoralising personal put downs that leave me depressed. I know teachers are busy but is it acceptable for PGCE students to be spoken to like they are? If they are talking to their students in the same way .........God help them!
    MsSG likes this.
  2. fearsmarrows

    fearsmarrows New commenter

    Yes there is, I am under the impression that whilst the government is happily enticing people to retrain this is not what schools and certainly the existing teaching staff want.
    tired999 likes this.
  3. 43Meadows

    43Meadows New commenter

    Sadly your experience is not uncommon.
  4. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    Speaking as an ex-HOD who had many student teachers come through from various routes, PGCE and direct from industry amongst them, I would say that the school you are at sounds disorganised and it is unacceptable for any trainee to be asked to deal with shifting goal posts even if that is what happens to the profession in general.

    There can be a tendency for mature students to be treated differently as there may be an expectation from teachers, who should know better, that they will have experience purely because of their (your) age and who forget that you will need guidance on how to reflect on each experience. I've had mature students come into the profession having managed scientific research departments of 20-30 who just couldn't believe that they would have trouble with 20 teenagers and who wanted to pack it all in after the first week, however once they got into the swing of it and learned how to adapt their approach it all went well. We only ever had 2 student teachers decide it definitely wasn't for them and I agreed with them.

    I am surprised to hear you say that staff are too busy to talk to you as I've found most of my colleagues were only too pleased to share their experiences, though I did have to ask 1 to wait until I'd finished teaching the year 9 class I had when they arrived and interrupted me mid demonstration - this was one of the two who didn't ever quite get how you could never fully relax in a classroom even if the pupils were in the middle of a task.

    Perhaps asking your pupils who they think is the best teacher in the school and approaching them with said 'reference' might butter them up for you to observe them in practice.

    As for the personal put-downs it is very hard not to take any criticism of the teaching process personally as it is a very personal interaction that we have with pupils. In my department we had a mixture of Sergeant Majors, negotiators and, my favourite, the 'pied pipers' - I wish I could have bottled the latters abilities and skills but it just boiled down to their personality and attitude...quite often they were the least qualified and knowledgeable about the subject but the pupils would work their socks off for them.

    I hope this, from a male single-profession ex-teacher, may help.
    mark_gg_daniels1 and pipryan like this.
  5. pipryan

    pipryan New commenter

    I too was a mature student and had similar experiences. I was 40 years old (now 60) when I completed my four year Business Education (with QTS) degree. During my placement, and subsequently working in secondary schools, I noticed a marked difference between teachers who had previous experience outside academia and those who did not. I had previously worked in adult and youth training and had very few problems with discipline or attention, however I did want guidance on, and to observe, practical implementation and delivery of lesson plans etc which I struggled to get. Eventually I was ‘adopted’ by a science teacher -who happened to have been in the same army regiment as me – and I tailed him everywhere! I know this is somewhat of generalisation (with experience of only five schools) but I wonder if there is a feeling of unease with some teachers, of ‘unknown’ others being present in their lessons -maybe as this too rarely occurs. A colleague once commented prior to an OFSTED inspection ‘there are those who did who think they can and those who did not are frightened they cannot’. I concur with diddydave, go search out the ‘piedpipers’ and others who can help you.
  6. Penguin47

    Penguin47 New commenter

    I discovered in my PGCE that universities are more interested in preserving their reputation than they are supporting their trainees. I studied with one that go to great lengths to talk about about how they were amazing for producing good quality teachers, but when it came to actually providing assistance during tough times it was nowhere to be seen.

    And yes, I do blame the universities as opposed to the school, because it's the former's job to quality assurance the training experience and be certain that the right provisions are available and requirements met.
    MsSG likes this.
  7. Carltoz

    Carltoz New commenter

    I am a very mature (in my 50s) second career trainee going through the SD process. Where my base school operates an open door policy, at my SSE for most teachers I had to send an email via the PM there to observe.
    I took the view that if they were that terrified of lil ol' me watching them for an hour, I wouldn't bother. Instead I tried to watch as many of the teachers I got to know over the 6 weeks. Eventually I threw all my toys out the pram and wrote a filthy email to my PM that seemed to wake a few people up and things started to change.
    Demand better of them. Particularly if you are salaried there is a contractual right for you to be treated fairly.
    The good news is that when the placement finishes, life will feel good again.
  8. science_geek_2020

    science_geek_2020 New commenter

    I'm relatively mature, and I have been fortunate in that I do feel quite well supported. I think having a good mentor makes all the difference, and I've been fortunate in that regard. Some people take on mentoring for the extra cash but want to do as little work as possible. You can ask for a new mentor, although I would approach the subject sensitively as you don't want to ruin your relationships..

    Although saying that, tbh, I have come to the conclusion that I actually don't care how much (or how little) I get along with colleagues. Why does it affect me? I come to school, do my work, go home. In all workplaces some people are difficult and some people are great. I think this attitude has actually really benefitted me in my training year. Nothing is personal to me; I just don't care what people think. I know I'm putting in a reasonable amount of effort. I'm not trainee of the year, but I'm also not wooden spoon of the year.. and I'm comfortable with that. I care about having good relationships with my students, but I'm not trying to be best mates with people in the school,, I have friends already. Maybe just try your best to ignore it all, and just get on with your job with a smile on your face. Get through this year, then move to a school you like.
  9. inkymark

    inkymark New commenter

    I am in my mid-50s (makes me feel old just writing that) and training at a SCITT and it took me a while to get use to school life after 30+ years in a corporate role. Had to keep reminding myself that I was the one who had to adapt and not vice versa. Should of realised that most of my colleagues would be a lot younger than me but for some unknown reason it came as a shock - even more of a shock that one of my fellow trainees is the same age as my son! However, got over this quickly and realised I was the one with the problems about my age and not the other way round.

    In terms of the way that staff have interacted with me, it has been fine and my previous experience has actually been useful in lessons when trying to add a bit of "real life" experience in my subject. Students don't really care how old a teacher is - they just see a "teacher" and appear to ignore the age. As far as the students are concerned, I am just "Sir", although I am sure that some have more choice names for me!!!!

    My subject mentor has been great and while busy, always makes time for me even if it is just a few minutes. When it comes to observing lessons, my mentor has been brilliant and the feedback very well structured and targeted - I have, however, had to learn to not take things too personally! My main placement school has also been great - they encourage all staff to do observations of other teachers especially when they are particularly good at a certain aspect of teaching. There does appear to be a real keenness of sharing knowledge etc although, in the end, time is always a factor and all the teachers seem to be running on extremely tight time schedules, etc.

    I know I have been lucky with my placement - I hope that I am as luck in my NQT year!

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