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Question for James (and anyone else who can offer support!)

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by tuliptouch, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. Hello,

    I am very worried about my husband who has two weeks left of his Primary PGCE course.
    None of his observations have gone badly. A mixture of 1s 2s and 3s which is to be expected. He doesn't expect to be perfect straight away! The problem has been his mentor. I feel that she is using her position of authority in a negative way. She is very critical of almost everything that he does, making petty comments about the tiniest of errors and continually moving the goal posts. To give one example of this, in one recent observation my husband was criticsed for not telling a child who shouted out to 'move his peg'. He took this on board, and in the next lesson when the same boy shouted out my husband duly asked him to move it. He was then criticised for being too harsh. I hope this doesn't sound petty. There are really too many examples to list and I don't want to whinge too much!

    His mentor says that she has no confidence in my husband's ability to make it 'in the real classroom' in September, even though in his weekly observations his university mentor says that many aspects of his lessons are good with a few satisfactory features. Personally, and considering the stress that she is putting him under I feel that this 2/3 average score is very good. His mentor has also said that she doesn't 'agree' with PGCE courses and that you cannot possibly learn to be a teacher in the one year course.

    He has had an undue amount of stress place on him over the last few weeks. Of late, the mentor has: had other teachers in her school observe him, giving him a only few minutes notice (literally); told him that a previously agreed lesson plan was '****'; and and generally systematically broken down his confidence to the point where he can not sleep, suffers from stomach pains and dreads going to school.

    This is itself has been awful. But our chief concern at this point is that in todays meeting with her and his university mentor (who was giving him his feedback on a lesson that he had assessed as 'good') she suddenly threw in that she thought my husband was 'unsatisfactory' as far as his subject knowledge is concerned as he got one question wrong in a Maths lesson three weeks ago. My husband explained that he had gotten himself momentarily confused during this lesson and that it had not happened again. My husband has passed all his assessments to Masters level and has had no other incidents of subject knowledge mistakes. Surely the odd slip in these early days is acceptable? I teach English language A Level and occasionally forget the name of a theorist in a 'Who said ...' situation. I still consider myself a beginner and an active learner in my second year! As long as you are honest about an error and make sure that you rectify it ...

    The question is, at this point in the game, with two weeks to go, can she fail him? She clearly wants to.

    He is not a lazy, care nothing student. He worked every day for up to ten hours every day bar one of the whit break and he takes this very seriously. he is not above constructive criticism and wants more than anything to keep improving his practise.
    As I teacher myself I know all about bullies. There are plenty in the large comprehensive where I teach. I'm just wondering what power this one has, and what to do for the best.
     
  2. Hello,

    I am very worried about my husband who has two weeks left of his Primary PGCE course.
    None of his observations have gone badly. A mixture of 1s 2s and 3s which is to be expected. He doesn't expect to be perfect straight away! The problem has been his mentor. I feel that she is using her position of authority in a negative way. She is very critical of almost everything that he does, making petty comments about the tiniest of errors and continually moving the goal posts. To give one example of this, in one recent observation my husband was criticsed for not telling a child who shouted out to 'move his peg'. He took this on board, and in the next lesson when the same boy shouted out my husband duly asked him to move it. He was then criticised for being too harsh. I hope this doesn't sound petty. There are really too many examples to list and I don't want to whinge too much!

    His mentor says that she has no confidence in my husband's ability to make it 'in the real classroom' in September, even though in his weekly observations his university mentor says that many aspects of his lessons are good with a few satisfactory features. Personally, and considering the stress that she is putting him under I feel that this 2/3 average score is very good. His mentor has also said that she doesn't 'agree' with PGCE courses and that you cannot possibly learn to be a teacher in the one year course.

    He has had an undue amount of stress place on him over the last few weeks. Of late, the mentor has: had other teachers in her school observe him, giving him a only few minutes notice (literally); told him that a previously agreed lesson plan was '****'; and and generally systematically broken down his confidence to the point where he can not sleep, suffers from stomach pains and dreads going to school.

    This is itself has been awful. But our chief concern at this point is that in todays meeting with her and his university mentor (who was giving him his feedback on a lesson that he had assessed as 'good') she suddenly threw in that she thought my husband was 'unsatisfactory' as far as his subject knowledge is concerned as he got one question wrong in a Maths lesson three weeks ago. My husband explained that he had gotten himself momentarily confused during this lesson and that it had not happened again. My husband has passed all his assessments to Masters level and has had no other incidents of subject knowledge mistakes. Surely the odd slip in these early days is acceptable? I teach English language A Level and occasionally forget the name of a theorist in a 'Who said ...' situation. I still consider myself a beginner and an active learner in my second year! As long as you are honest about an error and make sure that you rectify it ...

    The question is, at this point in the game, with two weeks to go, can she fail him? She clearly wants to.

    He is not a lazy, care nothing student. He worked every day for up to ten hours every day bar one of the whit break and he takes this very seriously. he is not above constructive criticism and wants more than anything to keep improving his practise.
    As I teacher myself I know all about bullies. There are plenty in the large comprehensive where I teach. I'm just wondering what power this one has, and what to do for the best.
     
  3. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    I am sorry your husband has had this experience as I also had it on my second placement, my mentor told me my resources were great and she wanted them but I couldn't teach them properly. She also gave me a 4 on my first observation for my subject knowledge because I didn't specify something that was completely irrelevant to the topic and got my left and right mixed up when talking about the difference between English and Hebrew.
    Has he spoken to his uni tutor about it, I did (well I cried to him several times) and he ensured that it wasn't going to be a problem and he would sort it. Presumably your husband will have a final meeting with his tutor and mentor to get signed off and so his mentor won't have the final say as they have to agree to everything. In that meeting my mentor suddenly became all sweetness and light and I passed no problem. If his tutor feels that he is doing well he will definitely be encouraging the positive in the final meeting.

    With regards to how your husband feels now, I can empathise completely. I used to wish someone would drive into me on my way in every morning. He needs to repeat to himself 10 days and then he never has to see this person again. It also helped me that I booked a holiday for after, is there any chance you could arrange even a weekend away to give him something to look forward to?
     
  4. The relevant sentence for me in this post is:
    " His mentor has also said that she doesn't 'agree' with PGCE courses and that you cannot possibly learn to be a teacher in the one year course."
    I suspect that she did the 4 year BEd - there are a number of issues that arise from the route you take into teaching.
    Sadly there are bullying mentors - there are also wonderful mentors. It can sometimes be a bit hit and miss - though of course it should not be.
    On a PGCE there should be set procedures for mentors to follow if they genuinely feel that a trainee is a cause for concern and this will ionvolvce notice to that effect as soon as possible, an analysis of the problem, suggested support and targets for improvement and the involvement of the university. Ultimately no one person in a PGCE programme has the power or authority to simply fail a trainee with no warning and whwre all the evidence is to the contrary, unless there is a serious professional misconduct issue - which is not the case here from what you write.
    Your husband should document the issues and problems and communicate these to the tutor ASAP. It may well be that there is a need for mediation here between the mentor and the tutor. Do also look at the handbook and see what the procedures are for notifying issues and problems - with just a few weeks left it is veryt late in the day and I suspect that this mentor is just picking hoiles for the sake of it.
    James
     

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