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Second Placement Problems - the curse of a good first impression?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by with_usura, Feb 3, 2019.

  1. with_usura

    with_usura New commenter

    Hello everyone, long time lurker first time poster here,

    I'm currently on my second placement as a School Direct Trainee, Secondary PGCE. This placement is only for one half term, whereas the rest of the time I'm at my "host" school. The problems I'm having haven't had anything to do with the level of support I've received per se, or any innate problems with the school itself, which is very well run.

    The first lessons during which I was observed were very good, but my three most recent ones went pretty poorly. I really struggle to manage low level disruption in some (but not all, or even most) classes. Even though I can describe the strategies I should use going into and when reflecting upon a lesson, I just don't have the "reflex" down to the level that I feel I should have by now. Lo and behold, the class with which I've had those three poor observations are prone to poor behaviour.

    This normally wouldn't cause me much anxiety. I know I'm a trainee, I am comitted to improving myself in this area, and I truly value and try my best to integrate the feedback I get after being observed.

    The problem is that I made a very good first impression at this placement. The feedback from my initial observations at this school was quite glowing, uncomfortably so! Those first observations saw me at my best - with enthusiastic top and mid ability classes who flattered my ability as a teacher - and I tried to point this out to my observers (my subject mentor and professional skills tutor). They seemed to brush this off as false modesty, and my early observation notes gave an overly glowing level of attention to what went well, and a "normal" focus on what could be improved.

    So, now that they've seen me as I "really am", there's a very palpable air of disappointment and a certain degree of frustration on their part. My recent observation feedback gives token acknowledgement to the positive aspects, with many aspects of the lesson not even addressed (when I raise those aspects I'm told "oh that was fine", etc), but goes into a great deal of detail over what's going wrong. This is useful for me, but it's really starting to get me down. When I'm compiling my evidince bundle, it looks like I had a brief good run at this school and then just ran myself into the ground.

    I need and want the feedback further to my weakest areas to improve. But I'm struggling to impliment it, and the context in which I'm receiving it is taking something of a psychological toll. Any thoughts on what I should do, or how I should raise this with my mentor or other observers? I feel pathetic, like I'm fishing around for compliments. I'm trying to keep it all context, but it's really got to me and my confidence is pretty shot. I just cannot shake the feeling that my observers just see the negatives in me as a teacher, now.

    I'm worried that, when the time comes to assess my overall performance and development during this placement, that I'll be seen to have plateaued or, even regressed. If I am honest, I think there is a real risk that I will not pass my second placement.

    Any ideas? Do I just lack the resilience for this job? I love teaching, and up until recently I felt really confident about my capacity to improve and reflect. Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to offer.
  2. imaginarynumbers

    imaginarynumbers New commenter

    I want to say don't worry - but I know that's easier said than done. Many trainees struggle with the workload and the learning curve that it is to become a teacher. My advice ultimately is to talk to your mentor, or University link tutor, and tell them how you are feeling.

    I'm not sure how you're course works, but I would think that you wouldn't fail on just one short placement like this unless there are very serious concerns, none of which you state come anywhere close. If they are concerned about you failing, I would very surprised if they hadn't already told you and put interventions in place and given you very clear targets of how to improve.

    "I just don't have the "reflex" down to the level that I feel I should have by now." - this will take time and I would suggest you go easy on yourself - over time you will gain experience and it will become a reflex, but not in less than 6 weeks with classes who know you aren't a permanent member of staff.

    "So, now that they've seen me as I "really am", there's a very palpable air of disappointment and a certain degree of frustration on their part" - this is your subjective view, be careful not to read too much into this. Could you be over-analysing their reactions?

    In summary I would advise:
    - speak to your mentor/ University link tutor about your concerns
    - specifically ask for the strengths of your lesson as you "want to ensure you keep doing the right things consistently well"
    - ask for an absolute maximum of three very specific things that you can implement next lesson (really persist in getting them to be specific, realistic and detailed so you can clearly visualise what they are asking). If they are willing, I would also ask them to help you role play these things (this might feel uncomfortable at first, but will embed that "reflex" that you so ardently desire much quicker and effectively.
    - be gentle on yourself, you sound like you are doing a fab job - reflecting on your lessons, identifying what needs to change and trying to implement them sounds like the makings of an awesome teacher.

    Take care and let me know how the last couple of weeks go x

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