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lack of observations

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by Thelastchancesaloon, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. I'm in my 2nd placement, having returned to a PGCE after a disastrous first placement in 2009 where I had a terrible mentor relationship, was given virtually no support and only ever received negative comments, leading to me suspending my studies while I got myself in a better state to continue. One of the constant issues was that my mentor refused to observe me more than once a week despite me telling her the uni required more frequent observations. Academically I was doing really well and still have no concerns there. In between returning to PGCE I worked as an unqualified teacher and loved it - so I know I can do the job.
    On returning to the PGCE I was placed in a nice, local school and - compared to P#1, it couldn't be more different - BUT - I am still getting next to no observations - I have had fewer than 15 since arriving in January. If I get two in a week I would be amazed. I teach alone and unsupervised almost all the time - there are serious staffing problems - and this in itself doesn't bother me as I'm used to being alone in the classroom - but it does mean I still have very little evidence of meeting standards and then, when I am observed, I suddenly get picked up on lots of little problems which makes me feel like I am making no progress. Because I have no experience of what good mentoring is like, I don't know what I should be expecting in my mentor meetings and my uni tutor has said my record sheets are inadequate (not blaming me - he has brought it up with the placement school). The uni have also contacted the mentor and explained the other trainee & I need lots more obs and an email has been sent by mentor to the rest of the department - but nothing has changed. Mentor said I must tell the class teacher I want an observation but tbh, I have a million and one things to think about as I go into a lesson and frequently, I don't even know if the teacher will BE there, let alone if they'll observe. My mentor is very experienced and very nice and has made it clear that she has no qualms about whether I'll pass and that I shouldn't stress about that aspect. I do receive verbal feedback fairly often, however, I have so little written feedback that I find it hard to recall what teachers suggest I do and this verbal feedback is usually a brief chat at the end, when either me or class teacher are rushing off to teach another lesson - so no chance to write down their suggestions. I am very critical of myself and reflect constantly but my over-critical nature makes it hard to be objective - I need a balanced view of what I'm doing well and what needs work.
    I'm feeling really demoralised about the experience especially when I've already had one bad placement - I really hoped I'd get the support I need this time around and, while I don't feel clinically depressed like last time, I am frustrated and worried that it is getting to be too late to gather enough evidence to meet the standards. I've worked my a** off to get here (up till midnight planning most days) , am hugely in debt and struggling to keep my family afloat and I cannot afford to fail at the last hurdle. I got 2s and a couple of 1s for my last review point but they were plucked from air really as mentor has not seen me teach enough to comment objectively. For all I know, I could be scraping a 3 in reality.
    Uni are aware and are annoyed about things - they have said they will pull me & other trainee out if necessary but the thought of going to yet another school and starting afresh at this late stage is just another stress I don't want.
    I've asked uni how many observations I need in my file and no-one seems able to tell me. Can I be failed for not having enough? I've repeatedly asked for more but week after week, there's always excuses why it hasn't happened.

  2. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    As mentor I only observe trainees once a week at most, so I'm not sure why that is an issue. However the teacher whose class the student is covering will see them teach more often and give bits and bobs of feedback, though not necessarily a formal observation. The number doesn't matter, what matters is evidence you have met all the standards. You might meet all of them in one lesson!

    Make yourself a checklist of the standards, if your uni doesn't provide one, and jot down at least one piece of evidence for each. Most have no relevance to actual lessons anyway. Any you have no evidence for think how you can get some. Then go to your mentor and tell her what you need to do. Be proactive in sorting out your own needs (one of the standards!)

    If your school is confident enough in your abilities to leave you alone much of the time, you aren't going to fail! You will be fine. Stop worrying about your file (which in all probably no-one will ever look at!) and get on with enjoying teaching in a lovely school with a lovely mentor.
  3. nemo.

    nemo. Occasional commenter

    UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you ever be left alone with a class. That is serious prof misconduct by the teacher doing it. You should refuse to enter the class and line them up outside the class and denNd a member of staff to be there.

    Write a formal letter of complaint to your uni and get them to do the nasty work immediately. I am shocked you are left alone!!!! Join the NUT if you already haven't and get the nut rep immediately involved.

    Do it monday!
  4. rainbow_gold

    rainbow_gold New commenter

    You need to find out how many formal observations you need per placement - this will be in your course handbook or something similar (at my uni it is five formal per placement), and as long as you have those documented then there is no worries about you not having enough observations.
    I was under the impression that schools aren't insured to leave a pgce student alone in the classroom, in case something happens to one of the children. I certainly have never been left alone with any of my classes, so I agree that something needs to be done about this.
    Finally not sure if you already realise but you don't just need observation notes for evidence, lesson plans, pupil work etc can all be used for evidence too. It is your responsibility to gather the evidence so perhaps just start taking copies of everything and filing it away so you are safein the knowledge that you are meeting the standards.
    I hope you feel better about it all soon - not long to go now! x
  5. davi_theuk

    davi_theuk New commenter

    Could you please tell me how you organised your tuition fees? Do you have to pay for this placement as well, or is it already paid from last time? My situation with my 2nd placement is very similar, so I would love to have a break as well.
  6. I only got bursary from feb till may as I'd already had two months' worth last year - so will have zero income from may! My tuition fees I got a loan for same as last year, but again, because I'd had my final instalment of fees last year, I had to pay that back (almost 2K) first before I got the new amount.
    I feel so much better for the break and was lucky enough to get paid teaching job in the interim too which really helped my confidence regrow. Still looking for next year's NQT job but the end of the course is definitely in sight now.
  7. On my final TP I was left to teach alone all day every day [​IMG] Then, at the end, I was graded lower than I was graded on previous TPs and also given a mediocre grade for my evidence towards the standards despite the fact that the class teacher didn't watch me teach or look at my file so had no idea how securely I had met each standard. I was also used to cover the class if the teacher was sick or on courses. No one told me at any stage that this was not meant to happen.

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