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Should I complain about my mentor?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by ams00, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. ams00

    ams00 New commenter

    I am doing a secondary PGCE and I am not sure what to do about my mentor's behaviour towards me. Most of the time she is okay and supportive. But, at times she can make very personal comments about me. I am 22-years old, finished uni this year and she brings up my age a lot, saying I am the youngest member of staff.

    As I was getting into my car, she said my trousers were too tight for school - they were just plain black, fitted work trousers, which I wore with a cardigan and smart shoes.

    I can be quiet sometimes if I am getting on with work or busy, but I will chat to colleagues too. She says that when I am being quiet that I come across as rude, when I am not, I am just getting on with work. She said that I will struggle to build relationships if I do this. This comment made me feel awful, as if something was wrong with me.

    She said that a member of staff said I was rude to them, I asked who and she wouldn't tell me. I said that I did not like that staff were talking about me, and she said that it was 'normal' for them to.

    I just don't know what to do about my mentor. She made personal comments to me before I was about to be observed by my university tutor, so I was upset and tense even before my lesson had began. As a result, I was a little strict and on-edge during my observation. I found her timing of these comments to be very unfair considering I was about to be observed by uni and was nervous anyway.

    I don't know if to complain to university about this, or what to do. She says my teaching is fine, but is always making personal comments about my personality or me as a person, or she will say that other staff talk about me, which makes me self concious. Can someone advise me?
    blueskydreaming and pepper5 like this.
  2. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Duh! Of course you are the youngest member of staff. You have just left uni. Duh! This will change as you get older!
    Do be careful about what you wear to work. Ask someone to do a VPL check before you leave in the morning. You may have put on weight during the PGCE. This is normal. It's a good idea to have a long cardigan which covers your bum. Also check your camel-toe :eek:(oh the joys of being a teacher).
    Ok, so you are quiet. So am I until I get to know people. Use this 'quiet' period in order to suss everyone out. You will soon learn who is worth getting to know and who isn't; who will be supportive and who won't.
    You do need to build relationships. You need someone to laugh and cry with. Without this support you will crack up. I hope that there is someone on your PGCE that you have palled up with. You will probably bump into them at a later date as you progress through schools and teaching.
    Unfortunately, it is normal to talk about the newbie. It's human nature. Just get over it. You need to be tough to be a teacher.
    Complaining about mentor? Hmmm. How much longer have you got to put up with them? Christmas? 4 Weeks? Grin and Bear it. Until the end of the PGCE? Ask for a new placement. You could have a 'quiet chat' with your Uni mentor but don't make a complaint at this stage. Perhaps you are being a little sensitive. Perhaps not.
    My Uni worked out for themselves that my mentor was useless.
    blueskydreaming and pepper5 like this.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Perhaps not complain but speak to someone in confidence in the counselling section of your university. The dilemma you have is that you don't want to upset the mentor but on the other hand, you would like the personal comments to stop. The objective for you is to pass your course then you can wave goodbye to the mentor and her personal comments.

    The other thing you could do is just carry on and ignore the personal comments because she has said your teaching is fine and it sounds as though you are on track to pass which is good.

    This is my own personal opinion only, but I might consider just ignoring her and getting won with the work. If people are talking about you it doesn't matter a jot as long as you pass your course then you are a free agent and can find another playground.
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  4. ams00

    ams00 New commenter

    I have built relationships with other colleagues and pgce students at my school. I chat to them about it and they told me to ignore comments about me being ‘rude’, which I’m not.

    I think I won’t tell uni but I came home in tears last night over her comments to me.
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. simonCOAL

    simonCOAL Occasional commenter

    As someone who has been involved in mentoring PGCE students in school and at university for 10 years now, I suggest you do have your feelings on record at the uni (depending on their systems). You can insist on confidentiality. It can be just a quiet word.

    It will help having shared your worries.

    If things get worse, then you’ll have an evidence trail. If things stay the same, I’d keep quiet at school and like others have said, stick with it for the last few weeks.

    Sounds like jealousy to me. Surprisingly common I’m sad to say.
    pepper5 and saluki like this.
  6. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Can you have a chat to your uni mentor in confidence? Not to 'complain', just to let them know you think it's inappropriate and ask for advice.

    If your placement mentor makes further personal comments ask her which teacher standard it relates to :)
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Just to add, unfortunately people are meant to talk about you on the PGCE and NQT (they should not be making comments about your personality, of course!) It is horrible though, you don't get that in other 'professions'.

    The things people say about you indicates their level of intelligence. Whether they're commenting on your subject knowledge or haircut says a lot about them, not you.
    Dyathinkhesaurus and pepper5 like this.
  8. ams00

    ams00 New commenter

    I can be shy sometimes and lacking confidence. But, I really felt like I had made progress since starting at this school. This comment has just knocked my confidence.

    When I asked who had called me rude, she would not tell me who had said it. She said it before I was going to be observed by uni, and it made me Upset before my observation and stressed out. I found the timing to be inappropriate.

    I cried in front of my university tutor and mentor yesterday; it just got too much for me. :(
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    During my NQT year my 'mentor' (inverted commas because she doesn't deserve that title) told the Deputy Head that someone had complained about me. She told me who, and I apologised to the person who had 'complained'. It turned out she hadn't complained, but instead had told my 'mentor' she thought I was stressed and needed more support. Which was true. If your own 'mentor' is of the same personality type as mine (4 letters, starts with a c), then it could have been a similar situation.

    Being quiet and lacking in confidence is not a personality flaw.

    How long are you at this placement? Start counting down the days.

    How can you rebuild your confidence? Focus on the things you know are your strengths, e.g. subject knowledge, building rapport with students, being a nice human being in general...
  10. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Certainly flag the issue to your university tutor. If it blew up in any way then they'd have a trail. You should be ok to get through the process, but if they hear you have a mentor like that then they tend to avoid using the mentor for a future placement. Unless you are on a school centred route in which case someone will suffer that mentor twice a year.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    It is not sin to by shy nor it is a sin to lack confidence.

    In general, many people are gossips, so you have to understand that. You have to vow to yourself not to be a gossip nor listen to gossip. When your mentor tells you "somebody" said you were "rude" it is probably NONSENSE. In other words IGNORE it.

    I know this is all difficult for you but you have made it through three years of university which is evidence enough for me that you have a tough enough character to make it through this. You have to have a very thick skin to be in a school no matter where you are since people are people and some like to be critical. Your mentor has said your teaching is fine and that is so very positive for you. If she says something about you adjusting something you deem as "personal" just smile, note it down and say thank you for pointing that out.

    Take it from me Mrs Pepper 5, you are doing very well. So there.

    Look upon it as character development and gaining leadership qualities since one day you may be a mentor yourself and therefore can empathise with your students. You will also be teaching students who find themselves in the same position as you and you can empathise with them as well.

    It is all part of the process of developing as a person since sooner or later you are going to have to deal with difficult people. However, I would also agree with all Mr Media writes.

    From what I read on these threads there are a lot of mentors who shouldn't be mentors.

    Well done for all you have accomplished so far.
  12. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I sympathise that you are finding this hard, however, from my reading of this, you have no grounds for complaint against your mentor.

    Good! she is doing her job!

    well you are, and this will affect you in many ways, experience of life, work experience, etc, its quite likely she is mentioning your age in the context of your lack of experience, and feels this is the best way to rise this, as it is non judgmental and explains maybe an attitude arising from naivety

    It is her duty to get such messages through to you, you certainly shouldn't be wearing tight trousers to school, and if you are doing so you will eventually get told in a far nastier way than mentor commenting to you in a car park.

    Again, it is her duty to have such difficult conversations with you, and as a teacher, the first thing you need to learn is not to take professional criticism as criticism of your personality.

    Again, it falls to your mentor to raise this with you, and yes, your behaviour at work is public, up for discussion and evaluation, and always will be. If a complaint is made, it will be followed up with whatever manager you have at the time.

    You can't really use these comments which in my mind are totally normal mentoring conversations as an excuse for performing badly, you are always going to be observed under pressure, for your whole career, personally I hate it, but it is what it is.

    I would say actually, that your complaints are based in an expectation that life will be easier than it actually ever will be, so I am guessing that the comments about how young you are is in response to this attitude, as to be honest, the way you are coming across to me here is very young and naive indeed.
    pepper5 likes this.
  13. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

    Your age and being the youngest member of staff are both facts. It's not something you need to worry about. At every school in the world there is somebody who is the youngest member of staff. It's not something anyone would consider a problem, something to be ashamed of or something to worry about.
    Remember you will have your back to your pupils whenever you are writing on the board. Take a look in a full length mirror and consider your mentor's opinion. Decide whether you agree that your teenage pupils might be distracted by your too tight clothing. If you disagree and think your trousers are fine, ignore your mentor's comment.
    Taking time to chat colleagues is good for building relationships. Not wanting to chat when you are needing to concentrate on planning, marking etc is perfectly reasonable and good time management. If someone is desperate for a chat at a time that doesn't suit you, it might be that you just need to suggest that you'd love to talk to them later on but right now you really need to get your marking/planning/whatever finished before your next lesson. When you next have time available, casually approach that member of staff and begin a conversation. That way they won't feel snubbed and will realise that you understand the need to prioritise.
    Not the best timing, but perhaps your mentor didn't think the comment they were making was going to affect you the way it did. Is it possible that you were already nervous and stressed about the upcoming observation (both perfectly normal feelings in that situation) and you may have been a little more sensitive at that time than you would normally have been?
    Staff always talk about students and new staff. How else are they to find out how they can help them? They might be able to help you by suggesting strategies for getting the best out of a particular pupil; where to find the resources you want for a lesson you're planning; which textbook has what you're looking for; who to talk to for good advice about a topic you're doing... Talking about a PGCE student does not necessarily mean talking about them in a negative way. It may be that they were discussing how well you are doing. Given that your tutor 'says my teaching is fine' that's more likely to be the case than saying that you were doing badly.
    The PGCE course is stressful and tiring. Make sure you take some time out of each day to do something you like. If you don't, there's a danger the constant scrutiny of your progress could become overwhelming. When you're not actually working (PGCE related stuff, teaching, planning, marking etc) try to forget about it all and focus on life outside of teaching. It'll help you maintain your heath and sense of wellbeing.
    imaginarynumbers and pepper5 like this.
  14. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    I think that if I were you, I wouldn't let it bug you so much - although it is quite hard. You have been given some wonderful advice above. This is only one small part of your life and perhaps you could smile and thank her for her advice, and just get on with it. Don't let it get you down. Thank her, in particular, when she gives you advice which is truly beneficial and say nothing when the advice isn't something you like. Let's hear next year that things are going better. Good luck.
  15. roberwilson_01

    roberwilson_01 New commenter

    I think you just need to ignore her, there is no need to complaint to university. You can talk to her and tell how you feel when she made these kind of personal comments. You can sort it out yourself, if she still make personal comments then you too start commenting on her.
  16. SteffenCarter

    SteffenCarter New commenter

    I completely agree with robert , i also think you just need to ignore her behaviour and mind your own business. We get a lot of people who demoralise us but whats important is how we handle them, If we start taking their behaviour personally then it would become difficult to survive in any field.

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