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Real PGCE doubts

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by ally2900, Aug 18, 2019.

  1. ally2900

    ally2900 New commenter

    Hello All

    It's getting quite late and I'm sat here typing this feeling quite stressed about everything. I am meant to be starting a PGCE in Primary the week after next and now I'm having serious doubts about everything.

    A bit of background about myself. I'm 34 and a single mum, with one child who will be going into year 4 in Sept. I admit - I have a cushy life. I have a job that allows me to work from home, be my own boss, good pay, flexible etc. I am well respected and for the most part, enjoy what I do. BUT - the job gives me no career prospects, nothing to really aim for.

    I am pretty introverted but I do love teaching. I taught in Asia before I applied for the PGCE and really loved it. I have been trying to get a grasp on what the PGCE will be like. I have trawled through hundreds of posts about how horrendous the course will be etc. I have also read some excellent posts on here about how you can make it more manageable.

    I enjoy my life, but I want a better one with more prospects. I don't want to give up on things that I enjoy - going to the gym regularly etc as it really helps me with my anxiety. I have also recently spoken to a friend who has been qualified now for 10+ years. She was so negative about everything when I asked for advice. She practically told me 'good luck, you're going to need it', It has really made me question whenever I'm making a huge mistake here.

    I have literally spent the whole day reading up on what I need to do for this year. I want to really understand what is involved .I now have a better understanding but I'm still a bit confused.

    Given what I have mentioned, perhaps someone help me answer these questions honestly?

    1.) Given my circumstances, do you think teaching is truthfully right for me? If you could go back in time would you choose another profession?

    2.) Subject knowledge. = I am trying before the course to do everything I can to help me become more confident in the classroom. I'm going through the PGCE knowledge audits that are available online. How much Grammar for example, will I need to know? I have just learnt all the main word classes, but will I need to go into more details about them? Will I need to know for example, all the different variations of a noun, and be expected to teach them?!

    3.) Mentors - Will by mentor tell me what lesson I will need to plan for, or can I chose? I know mentors can be really hit or miss (another reason why I'm unsure about this course).

    I feel like I'm already talking myself out of the course before it's even begun...
  2. celago22

    celago22 Occasional commenter

    If you want to do teaching then go for it. Teaching will be very different to your current job though so are you really prepared to sacrifice your cushy job?

    Regarding grammar, have a look at the NC appendix and have a look on YouTube or BBC bitesize for anything you are not sure about. Your pgce course should address grammar in some way or another (by asking you to teach it or by asking you to do an audit).

    Mentors are pot luck, really. You just have to play the game. Usually you agree with your mentor what lesson you should teach. They should give you time to prepare the lesson beforehand and time to run it through with them. Don't expect lots of guidance with planning.

    Expect your Pgce year to be a roller-coaster, lots of ups and downs as well as self doubt and exhaustion. I had an awful experience but managed to get through it. You can too!
  3. ally2900

    ally2900 New commenter

    Thanks celago22.

    I think half the problem is, because I do have quite a cushy job and because of my age, I'm less willing to put up with nonsense from mentors. Maybe if I was 10 years younger, I would be nodding my head and staying up till midnight each night to try and please them - but not so much now.

    You said you had an awful year - do you mind me asking why? And also, how do you feel about the profession now?

    Sorry for all the questions but I think it's good to know how teachers feel 2-3 years down the line to give me some future perspective,
  4. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    I would say that what you describe here

    I have a job that allows me to work from home, be my own boss, good pay, flexible etc. I am well respected and for the most part, enjoy what I do. BUT - the job gives me no career prospects, nothing to really aim for.

    sounds like what most people aim for in life. It's easy for me to say as I've never really been ambitious in terms of career progression - I just want to enjoy what I do (and the good pay and flexibility and working from home is a huge bonus).

    While the actual teaching can be very fulfilling and enjoyable, it's all the extras that spoil the enjoyment for so many teachers. Check out some of the workplace dilemmas threads here for an idea of just how!

    Good luck with whatever you decide, but I think I'd stick with what sounds at least to be a fairly idyllic situation!
    tenpast7, agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  5. ally2900

    ally2900 New commenter

    I guess when I do read it back, it does sound like I'm in a good situation, and I do feel very lucky to have this job, even though I have worked hard . There are a lot of pros to it. I like being "needed" and I like feeling needed. I'm one of those people who really likes making others happy, and doing my job does serve that purpose. The hours can be a bit all over the place at times - but then I can turn down work if I want to. I have worked hard to achieve a reasonable level of financial stability, and that's not easy sometimes being a single parent and being self-employed.

    BUT - (and this is the biggest issue for me) - I really have no career progression. It's just a job with money. I am desperate for a change. I want more from life than to be stuck working on a computer all day long. I want to get out there and meet people, be challenged, grow, learn, be part of a team. Also, I want to spend more time with my child. Sometimes, this job can take up too much of my time (my fault) and she suffers as a result. I need more routine in my life. Will that change with a full time teaching post? I really don't think so...

    Sorry, this has turned into a whingy sounding post now - I apologise for that! I've had very little sleep as I'm a bit anxious about what to do next. I thought with my previous experiences of teaching and working with children, I could have a real shot of making it as a good classroom practitioner. I feel I have a lot to offer, but it's a huge gamble. The more I read about it, the more I feel disheartened. I've honestly not met one person who truly feels valued or absolutely loves their job. - (Hopefully someone will come along and correct me on this) ;)
  6. celago22

    celago22 Occasional commenter

    I think you should go for it. If you don't like it, you have a backup plan.

    PGCE was awful for me because I was unfortunate with my mentors. One didn't provide feedback for my lessons and she was so inexperienced at mentoring they just didn't help at all. She belittled me in front of the class, made false statements on observation forms, told me I looked scared of certain children in front of them and much more!! It was a massive abuse of authority.
    Another undermined me all the time. She would tell me what to teach, even get me to observe the other teacher teaching the exact lesson, then I was teaching she would stop me mid lesson and tell the class that I was wrong. The worst thing was, behind my back she tried to try to fail me. She tried to get my university tutor on side. This meant that they both ganged up on me... my university tutor told me to reconsider my career choice. I won't even tell you how apologetic she was when I raised this with the university. The funny thing is that it makes you stronger.

    Now... I don't think I will stay in teaching. I had an awful nqt year (lots of bullying by HT). What I really disagree with, is all the things we have to do that do not even help the children!
  7. ally2900

    ally2900 New commenter

    So sorry this happened to you. It actually makes me angry that people can treat others like this and think they can get away with it.

    I will start the course and see how I feel. It might surprise me!
  8. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    You want honest responses, here are ine

    You won't have time to go to the gym, and if you are already anxious, you are walking into situations that will amplify that 100x


    you will never in your life choose what to teach! You will always be told

    I don't think you , and other people on here, quite gets what mentor is. I am a mentor. I receive no training, pay or time for this. Just an email telling me to do it. I have no contact at all with the PGCE provider, beyond emails and paperwork to fill in. I do my best, but I feel totally lost, a lot of the time. I frequently only have a very hazy idea of what is expected of me as a teacher, especially when the paperwork changes, or we are suddenly using a new computer programme, etc. I have to not only sort myself out and understand it, I also have to tr and sort mentees out as well.

    I don't make up what mentees have to do, I just try my best to support them to acheive what I am told they must do.

    My mentees don't stay up to midnight to please me, they stay up to midnight, and beyond, to fulfill the requirements of the job, as do I, still after 25 years teaching

    well, give it a go then, especially if you have your old job to fall back on. Anyway, once you have finished the PGCE and NQT year, then you don't have to stay in teaching. You can take that qualification and put it on your CV and look for something else. You can tutor, for example.

    well, teaching is mostly being stuck working on a computer, to be honest, I certainly spend longer doing that than I do standing up in front of a class

    This is one thing I love about teaching, having worked alone previously.

    This does NOT happen in teaching. You spend less. I am a mum. I rarely even have time to eat with my children. I have just spent month with them, but I will spend the next two weeks preparing for the start of term. I will not spend any more time with my children until the October half term. Then of course there is Christmas. February half term and Easter holidays are mostly spent at school preparing students for exams. June half term too. So time when I am available to my children is 7 weeks out of 52, all in the second half of the year. Most of the rest of the time I get up to work before they are up, and start work again after they are in bed, and rush to cook a meal to put in front of them, that I don't have time to eat, in my breaks.

    I do truly feel valued, and I would absolutely love my job if I could go part time, but I ask every term, and so far, no chance.
    agathamorse, pepper5 and Marshall like this.
  9. Lucy2711

    Lucy2711 Occasional commenter

    My personal view - tough out the PGCE and get your NQT year out of the way. There are good schools, good mentors, good managers around.
    You're then in a position to consider p/time roles that can work better with a young family. But I fully accept it's all too easy to say this ...
    TeacherMan19 and pepper5 like this.
  10. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    sorry! I've just reread my response, I miss read your question. If I could go back in time, would I choose another profession.

    YES - absolutely

    I read it, if I could go back in time would I choose this profession, no I wouldn't.

    I very much regret choosing teaching, it was the biggest mistake of my life.

    But not the actual qualification itself, but not getting out with the qualification and a few years experience, before I became entrenched, and lost my confidence, and trapped on the mortgage treadmill, and unable to free myself to look for anything else.
  11. celago22

    celago22 Occasional commenter

    I think we do understand the pressures that are placed on mentors. You seem slightly resentful that you have had to spend time developing mentees. I think that trainees deserve mentors who are positive about the profession and are willing to help.
  12. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    To the OP - a couple of Qs I'd be asking myself

    In the case that you did the PGCE and decided after a year or two or three that teaching wasn't for you, how easy would it be for you to get back what you have now? Get back your current job/work or something similar?

    And in terms of 'progression' and change, are there other areas in my life where I could make changes without risking the benefits I currently enjoy? Is the desire for progression maybe just that itch we all feel from time to time - a kind of early 'mid-life crisis'?
    pepper5, blueskydreaming and celago22 like this.
  13. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    its not a case of resentful, or not being willing to help. I am willing to help all colleagues, and frequently do.

    I am just trying to explain the reality. Which seems to be frequently misunderstood on here. Mentors have a massive time commitment dropped into their laps, on top of everything else they have to do in the job, with no training, pay or time allocation to do it, they are not there to make life difficult, they are just there to help you acheive what you need to acheive to pass the course. They don't make any demands, they simply convey the demands of the position to you.

    As to "trainees deserve mentors who are positive about the profession and willing to help" where exactly to you expect to find people with the time? students deserve teachers who are positive and have time to teach. Unfortunately, such people don't exist in the average department.

    You don't seem to be aware, we are in a funding crisis with an acute teacher shortage. maybe you are teaching somewhere else!
    agathamorse likes this.
  14. celago22

    celago22 Occasional commenter

    From my perspective the relationship between course provider and mentor is seen as more important than the relationship between mentor and mentee. I understand the time restraints that mentors are under and I understand that most are not willing to mentor without extra pay. Schools receive money from course providers and this money comes from us pgce students meaning that we pay for a service and expect a certain level of commitment in return. For example yes I would expect the mentor to fill in the course paperwork, yes I would expect them to guide me through planning, marking etc and also tell me about the realities of the job (good and bad). One mentor complained to me that she had no time to help me then spent 2 hours afterschool moaning about her colleagues. Of course she had the time to help, she just chose not to.

    My point is, is that my experience of mentors is they have actually made life difficult. Not a single mentor has shown me how to plan a lesson, not a single mentor has spent time to go over the university requirements with me or show me the best way to mark work. Maybe it is just my experience but that's all I can talk from. The mentors that I had actually were more interested in bullying and satisfying their own ego and power status, than they were in developing a future teacher. I think I was just unlucky but I also know that I'm not alone in the way I was treated. I'm also not suggesting that all mentors are the same as I know that there are good quality mentors out there. I guess mentors need to be motivated to do it and that's the problem, most aren't.
  15. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    I don't have any sort of relationship with the course provider, in fact, couldn't even name them They just email me paperwork to fill in, thats all.

    Never heard of anyone being paid for it.

    well, we do fill in paperwork, but as to guiding through planning, marking etc, there is a school policy, and I explain that, and go through that, but of course keep in mind that I may well be feeling my way though it too, these things do change a lot. Ours will be completely different this year, and was new only last year, so I did my best, but as I said....

    she probably didn't have time, and she probably needed those two hours. I've had terms when I have had no time to eat or sleep for days on end, you don't really understand until you have experienced it for yourself. That was a previous job, this job isn't anything like so intense, but even so, there is only a limited amount of time a human being can concentrate for, and she might well have reached her limit Beyond that, you just can't function. You saying she did have time, she just chose not to, shows that you haven't experienced that.

    I'm motivated, and I do my best, but time, energy and understanding are not always available.

    I'm sorry you have found mentors to be unpleasant. You will continue to find managers unpleasant all the way through your career. Because of constraints of time and energy, because of pressure, because of constantly changing goal posts, and sometimes because some people are nasty bullies
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  16. Chesters8

    Chesters8 New commenter

    I would not recommend you do the PGCE at this present time; unless you are absolutely certain you can go back to your previous work if you find teaching is not for you.
    Teaching can be a good career but only really works if you can commit to it totally, which means working most evenings, a day at the weekend, around 2 weeks of the summer holiday and some days in other holidays. In your situation I don't think you would enjoy the PGCE as you would have less time with your child, less time for interests like the gym and teaching is very anxiety inducing now. Much of teaching is a computer based role; the difference is you have to do that aspect of it in your own time on top of a day in the classroom.
    Teaching abroad does not really prepare you for UK teaching.
    If you want to do a PGCE I would wait until your own child is older.
    This is not meant to be negative, just realistic.
    agathamorse, pepper5 and Corvuscorax like this.
  17. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    excellent summary
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  18. sabram86

    sabram86 Occasional commenter

    A PGCE and QTS are certainly worth having, even if, like me, you hardly or never teach. The work is interesting and university-led PGCEs are, truth be told, not that bad. I disliked my PGCE but I enjoyed the year. I mostly worked 9-5, more or less.

    Give it a go.
  19. PGCE_tutor

    PGCE_tutor New commenter

    There is a common misconception amongst students about the amount of money that schools receive for having a PGCE student. It is a very, very small amount (nominal), and very rarely does any of it make its way to the mentor.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  20. celago22

    celago22 Occasional commenter

    Very good points! I would argue that perhaps it's best if the OP just gets the PGCE done and out of the way. Whenever it is completed it will affect childcare etc so may aswell get it done sooner rather than later.
    pepper5 likes this.

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