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Mentor asking advice from students please

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by minnieminx, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I am a mentor not a student, but if this was my student I would be contacting the university immediately and expressing deep concerns. Support from the university tutor is a must when things are not going well. You will need to show you have involved them at all points and taken their advice. It is also nice for you to have their support because failing (or even nearly failing) a student is a really horrible thing to have to do.

    I think you need to act tomorrow and not keep leaving it. You don't say how long the placement is, but if this is the situation after a few weeks, it isn't likely to get better.
    Sod sensitive, you have probably been 'nice' and 'sensitive' and 'tactful' til you are blue in the face. You need to get a bit tough with them and be blunt about the fact they are going to fail this placement if they don't shape up.

    Good luck.
  2. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    If they're turning up to teach without a plan, don't let them in the classroom. That might "encourage" them to do that properly.
    I'd be calling the college in. We have a cause for concern process with the training partner, and I would be invoking that. As far as being the
    , it does sound like you need to be (not that I actually think that this qualifies - it sounds to me like you are doing it right and they are getting it wrong.
    As cruel as it may seem, have you outright warned them that this is a pass/fail course and they're on the wrong side of that at the moment? I've had the hard conversation with three trainees in the last two years - one left, one bucked up then went elsewhere and was asked to leave, the third is making the effort and we'll see how it goes. I don't think we do them any favours by being too kind.
    Are you the subject mentor? Is there a Professional Mentor you can call upon? Trainee number 3 above came to my attention from the SM and I was the one to put in the cause for concern, so the potentially problematic relationship was mine and hers, rather than between her and the SM. As it turned out, it was just what she needed to hear.
    I wish you luck. We all want the best for our trainees but our first responsibility is to our students. If this trainee is impeding their progress, you have to act.
  3. I echo all of the above ... but with one simple caveat ... how is their teaching? You say lessons aren't planned, does that mean that they don't have a lesson plan to show you but by observing you can see that the lesson is planned ... or completely unplanned and improvised on the spot?
    Neither is particularly good from a trainee, but obviously with the former at least it's just a paperwork/admin issue which is perhaps easier to handle. If the latter, then, as others have said, don't let them anywhere near the kids until they show you some properly planned lessons.
    I qualified last year (GTP) and there were some lessons where I didn't have a formal lesson plan to show anyone, but my lessons were always well planned.
  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I think getting 4s for all observations would indicate a lack of real planning and thought.
  5. bettieblu

    bettieblu New commenter

    Thanks for the comments everyone! Yes, you have confirmed my thoughts entirely and I will be speaking to the school Prof Mentor tomorrow. I had hoped that it wouldn't come to this but other teachers comments in regards to other lessons have also given me cause for concern.
    In reference to the planning of lessons - no paperwork is provided at all, even though uni asks for it, as do I. The lessons are not ones that the student has produced just the lesson, as is, from the department. No additional resources, no adaption for the class or individual teaching style. It is literally rock up to class and put on the ppt. No consideration of how activities and learning could match learner styles or trying any thing new. I had thought after a frank(ish) talk last week this week would be better, but unfortunately not. Previous placement had also made similar comments in regards to attitude towards paperwork and creativity.
    Thanks for the advice, I feel much better now. My students are my main concern and this is starting to affect them, which is not what I wanted.
    Thanks again,
  6. I realise that I'm looking at this from the view of a student teacher, and I don't have all the facts regarding the perspective of a mentor, but I have never understood the apparently pathological need to help a student improve.
    Some people simply do not have the skills or the temperament to be a teacher - they shouldn't pass the course. A little underperforming showing improvement is one thing, but people like you've described here should be given the boot as soon as possible. They're a futile drain on resources.
  7. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I think it is that thought in your head that this person has invested time and money in trying to become a teacher and you are about to end their hopes and dreams. You are ending their career, usually a much wanted one. Taking a decision to end someone's career before it has begun is hard, even when you absolutely know you are right.

    If this teacher scraped through with a kind and gentle mentor from their last placement, but has learned nothing then you really do need to involve others and have full and frank discussions about failing them. If this is the effort for observations when trying to pass a course, they are hardly going to improve when left to themselves next year. It isn't fair on pupils now or in the future.
    LOL Like I said, sometimes sensitivity is not needed, a bit of bluntness can often be the perfect response.
  8. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    The SM of trainee number 3 left it, in my opinion, too late to involve me. I am going to formalise the process and insist that I get more regular feedback than the KAP forms so that I'm not caught on the hop again by an apparently failing trainee.
    I do agree that some people are not cut out for it, and that we have to be honest. Trainee one, mentioned above, left after I told him quite frankly that I didn't think he had it in him.
    So tomorrow, when the trainee comes in and expects to just get on with it, are you going to prevent them from teaching?
    As PM, an AHT is my line manager and I always have him in the loop - in this case, I think the same might be needed. I know that he would back me all the way in preventing a trainee like this from being in a classroom.
  9. warrenkate

    warrenkate New commenter

    I am a student teacher in my fourth (and final) year, over the years plenty of people have dropped off our course and some, like the one you have mentioned, just don't care enough. As a teacher the first priority should always be the children and providing them with the best possible standard of teaching you can provide, if your student has no interest in doing so I find it hard to believe that she is passionate about the children's learning needs. For the sake of the children you need to put her as a cause for concern immediately!

    I know that even on my first placement I wouldn't leave the building until I had asked everyone from my teacher to the head teacher if there was any extra at all I could do to help!

    Good luck, hopefully she will realise where she is going wrong!
  10. ILoveTeaching

    ILoveTeaching New commenter

    It is not easy to "get rid" of a trainee even if they are terrible at teaching and making no progress! I have had to take classes back from trainees because there is literally no learning at all taking place and no advice is being followed. Despite this, the uni did not much about it and the trainee scraped through with limited evidence. It is enough to make you not want to be a mentor sometimes.
  11. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    Many moons ago, as a HoD, my 2ic was the dept mentor. Her mentee told her to f*** off after some less than positive feedback. I rang the uni that day and told them that we wouldn't be having him back, and he never returned.
    He did, however, get moved to another placement - which he failed - before moving to a third - which he also failed. Madness.
  12. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I'm also a student teacher mentor and, like you, have always tried to be approachable and supportive. I remember having a horribly unsupportive mentor on my own diagnostic practice and it was awful. I've had success, since I'm still very friendly with most of the students I've mentored.
    But last year, there was a student who was dreadful. On his long practice with us, he never got to grips with his classes and didn't assert himself in the classroom unless he was screaming at the top of his lungs. His lesson planning wasn't clear or precise enough and didn't differentiate for weak/more able students. He had problems with pace too, and even when I planned lessons for him, he could rarely deliver more than 15 minutes of the lesson. His gave unclear instructions and was not good at assessing progress either. He either would not or could no act on advice.
    Anyway, I was as gentle as I could be. We reduced his timetable down to give him more time for planning and assessing. We planned lessons together; we team taught; I had him observe me teach the class etc. Eventually, I went to the deputy head who oversees ITT. She advised me to contact the university who came in an observed him ASAP and spoke of their concerns. On his imd-practice report he was 'cause for concern' in around 10 of the QTS standards linked to planning, teaching and assessing.
    As it happened, he quit the course over the Easter holidays. But not before insisting that all the other teachers were happy with his teaching (they weren't) and that his last school said he was good (they didn't). He also told other student teachers on his course that I was an awful mentor etc. Cheeky so-and-so.
    My advice is to offer as much support as you can, but if there is genuinely no effort to improve, then you probably need to meet with the student and outline your concerns clearly and what action you may have to take (contacting the university etc). It may be that there are some personal issues that are preventing them from improving - leaving on the bell suggests there might be an issue...
    If not, and there is no attempt to improve, then you need to alert the uni.
  13. I was also a cause for concern on my first placement... My mentor was a nice woman, so were the staff. The secondary school was pretty poor though and the grades were very low so they were under a lot of pressure. I went in there trying to help out the teachers and pick up the trade that way. They tended to decline the offers. I got a bit apathetic because it felt like they just saw me as another useless student and didn't really value my input. They kept me on starters and plenaries and I only got to teach when I was formally observed (I was really stressed out because of this and messed up the lessons).

    In contrast, I was moved to a college whom turned around and gave me 8 lessons in the first week! The staff were so supportive! They just told me to plan a lesson, let me deliver it, shown genuine interest in my materials and were really friendly. My first lessons I was quite nervous but comfortable so it seemed to go well! I identified some weaknesses and the most important thing for me was speaking to the class teacher at the end... he basically told me that the lesson was good! I'm a bit skeptical about that but still, they gave me a chance and were nice with the feedback.

    Now i'm in primary school and absolutely loving it! The children all love me and I get along so well with the staff! I finally feel valued as a person and a teacher.

    All I can suggest is to just try and give student teachers a genuine shot. My logic is that student teachers have been accepted on the course for one reason or another, so it doesn't mean they don't necessarily have the passion towards teaching (though I guess some don't ). Just be supportive, let them have a shot, work with them (and maybe pick up on something new!) and if nothing else happens then a nternationals said just cut them loose, it might just be a bad match.

    I don't think anything you do (unless it is malicious) reflects negatively on you as a mentor.
  14. Bettie,
    I have been a mentor for seven years and had always had good relationships with students until my most recent. Your experiences sound almost identical to my own except that this student would actually argue with myself and other staff about her feedback and tell us that we were not observing her properly!
    There is a time to stop worrying about the student teacher and start worrying about the pupils they are teaching and your colleagues who will have to pick up the pieces when the student leaves.
    Apart from anything else if someone is unable to meet the demands of a student timetable they are very unlikely to be able to meet the demands of an NQT timetable next year, if they are a PGCE student, and pointing them somewhere else now could actually be more helpful for them in the long run.
    Have you discussed why your student is interested in teaching? Has it been a life long ambition or is it a case of it pays well and you get long holidays?
    Contact the university straight away to register your concerns and inform your student you are doing so.
    Best of luck
  15. I have been in the position of having an awful mentor and class teacher who would not give me the time of day, I couldn't do right for doing wrong for them. I tried my best, asked for help etc but it still was not good enough (that was in year 2 of the course). They said I would never make it as a teacher....turns out they were wrong and I am in my 4th year looking for a job.
    You sound like a brilliant mentor and to be honest there is no helping some people. If they are not even bothered and don't act on advice then contact the university.
  16. This is interesting. During the first part of our course we had concerns within our tutor group - in a detached sort of way, because we're trainees! - about a couple of our colleagues. Both of them failed their first placement and one of them was told in no uncertain terms that they had to quit the course. Our evidence has to be plentiful, and every lesson plan on the correct proforma. Good to know that our training provider is more rigorous than some others seem to be! :D

  17. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    You sound like a fab mentor and I don't think you're being unreasonable at all.

    Up until you mentioned that he's getting 4s, I was wondering if it was a paperwork issue or a case of 'new school, new methods'.

    Maybe I'm blunt from a career before training. It's forgiveable to be a bit disorganised with paperwork if the teaching's up to standard, but if the trainee's getting 4s and not pulling their weight then perhaps a concern form will be the kick they need to sort themselves out.

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