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Some advice on a class teacher, please?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by Lucy_cat, Nov 24, 2010.

  1. I'm at my first placement on my PGCE, and last week had a particularly bad lesson, behaviour wise in particular. Nothing was said to me at the time, and it was only yesterday that I was asked to have a 'meeting' with my subject mentor andthe class teacher. The class teacher had also asked me to take that day's lesson 'off' and that she would take it- I assumed she was going to talk to the class about their behaviour, and thought it might be embarrassing for me to be present.
    However, at this meeting, I was given the observation notes from this lesson, containing not one single positive comment, and pretty much claimed that I did not care about the children at all. I was then told that in that day's lesson, contrary to my belief that the pupils would be reprimanded for their behaviour, she had invited them to comment on everything they didn't like about the lessons I had taught thus far.
    Neither the class teacher nor my subject mentor seemed to think anything was wrong with KS3 pupils being invited to criticise their teacher without the teacher even being there to defend herself, however, I am shocked, as are the few other people I have spoken to about the matter. I taught the class again today, and the teacher commented on noticing an improvement. I was obviously very nervous at the prospect of teaching a class who had openly been asked to criticise my practice. The biggest troublemakers in the class were, by chance, off, and most of the rest seemed fine, altough one girl refused to respond to me or even aknowledge me for much of the lesson, which I feel she thinks is appropriate because her normal class teacher has as good as told her that I am not worth listening to.
    I am not sure what to do about this situation- I feel that I should inform my university tutors, but at the same time, I don't want to make life more difficult for myself by causing the class teacher to dislike me for causing trouble for her.I'm also not sure what theuniversity could actually do about the situation, however, my gut feeling is that this was srong, and someone should know.
    I do apologise for the incredibly long post, but if anyone has any advice on the situation, it would be much appreciated.
     
  2. I'm at my first placement on my PGCE, and last week had a particularly bad lesson, behaviour wise in particular. Nothing was said to me at the time, and it was only yesterday that I was asked to have a 'meeting' with my subject mentor andthe class teacher. The class teacher had also asked me to take that day's lesson 'off' and that she would take it- I assumed she was going to talk to the class about their behaviour, and thought it might be embarrassing for me to be present.
    However, at this meeting, I was given the observation notes from this lesson, containing not one single positive comment, and pretty much claimed that I did not care about the children at all. I was then told that in that day's lesson, contrary to my belief that the pupils would be reprimanded for their behaviour, she had invited them to comment on everything they didn't like about the lessons I had taught thus far.
    Neither the class teacher nor my subject mentor seemed to think anything was wrong with KS3 pupils being invited to criticise their teacher without the teacher even being there to defend herself, however, I am shocked, as are the few other people I have spoken to about the matter. I taught the class again today, and the teacher commented on noticing an improvement. I was obviously very nervous at the prospect of teaching a class who had openly been asked to criticise my practice. The biggest troublemakers in the class were, by chance, off, and most of the rest seemed fine, altough one girl refused to respond to me or even aknowledge me for much of the lesson, which I feel she thinks is appropriate because her normal class teacher has as good as told her that I am not worth listening to.
    I am not sure what to do about this situation- I feel that I should inform my university tutors, but at the same time, I don't want to make life more difficult for myself by causing the class teacher to dislike me for causing trouble for her.I'm also not sure what theuniversity could actually do about the situation, however, my gut feeling is that this was srong, and someone should know.
    I do apologise for the incredibly long post, but if anyone has any advice on the situation, it would be much appreciated.
     
  3. katnoodle

    katnoodle New commenter

    Lucy_cat that's awful, I really feel for you. I also really admire your courage going back in there knowing what went on. I really think you ought to contact your university tutors - they will be experienced in dealing with sensitive issues and shouldn't take any action that might harm your relationship with the class teacher.
    I really hope you get it sorted - good luck!
     
  4. Contact your university tutors. That is DISGUSTING behaviour. That department should not be allowed to mentor students if that is how they are going to treat them.
    El
     
  5. I felt the need to reply as I'm currently mentoring a PGCE student myself and was disturbed by what I read in your post as what you describe is NOT professional behaviour!
     
  6. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    Lucy that's terrible. They should be supporting you as a new teacher and giving you advice to develop your behaviour management skills. I feel that what they have done constitutes misconduct and I would certainly speak to your university for advice.
    I am having a difficult time myself in my first placement school. The teacher I am with is very short tempered and speaks to me like I am one of the school children. She gives me direction on planning lessons and then criticises my lesson plans despite them being drawn up in the exact way she suggested. She picks at me about everything in quite a nasty way and shows no consideration for me being a new trainee teacher who needs time to learn and develop.
    I just keep thinking that it is only 9 weeks to go until my second placement and am trying to use that to get through it at the moment. But the PGCE is hard enough without dreading going to lessons because of the class teacher! But hey ho what else can I do?
     
  7. Hi lucy_cat,
    I'm sorry to hear about your experiences. I just thought I would add to the advice already given.
    I assume that you must have a school mentor who is not subject-specific, and looks after all of the trainees in the school (on my course they're called 'professional mentor') I think it would be worth speaking to this person, perhaps they could do a joint observation with either your mentor or the classroom teacher. That way you would probably get some positive feedback, and also more constructive feedback.
    I recently had a similar experience to you, but it was the professional mentor who was overly-critical, with almost zero positive comments. I accepted some of their comments, and frankly since it was my first lesson teaching the class on my own, I was shocked by the way the feedback was communicated, and the absolute lack of positive comments. I think it is hard to accept criticism sometimes, but the harsh manner in which some people do this is really demoralising so early in our career.
    I have now arranged for there to be a joint observation with the subject mentor, who in my opinion is very good at being honest in feedback (whilst not ignoring the positive aspects of the lesson). In other words, I don't think we want sugar-coated feedback, but don't want to be left feeling that we can't do anything right at all. Just remember that you have to word your concerns very carefully. Maybe you could say very honestly that you are struggling with a particular class, and would really benefit from another point of view.
    I would still speak to your university tutor, and ask for suggestions as to who you should deal with the situation. I'm sure they will be better placed to give you practical advice.
    Please do post again to let us know how you got on.
    Hope it all works out,
    AB87
     
  8. I meant 'as to how you should deal deal with the situation'
     
  9. ela86

    ela86 New commenter

    PLEASE SPEAK TO YOUR UNIVERSITY ABOUT THIS!!!
    This is truly awful and shocking, some people forget way too quickly that they too were once trainees!!
    Well done to you for having the courage of going back in after what they did... unbelievable... please do not let them continue with this appalling behaviour, I wonder what they would feel like if the same thing was done to them! hmph...
    This has made me so angry... how can these teachers be so horrible? I bet they are **** teachers, any teacher worth their salt would know how to guide a trainee and provide constructive feedback (just as they should be doing with their OWN students!).
     
  10. As an update for anyone who is interested: I havehad a discussion with my university tutor about this, however,given that everything seems to be fine at the moment, Imade the descision not to do anything else for now, but if anything else goes wrong, the university knows about it.
    The irony of the whole situation is that the class teacher keeps telling me to give the class more praise- even when they misbehave!

    Thanks for all the posts and reassuring me that I did the right thing in informing the university!
     
  11. Hi
    You are not alone in this treatment. I am on my first placement too and was fed back too in a way that I felt like a child or worse, dog poo on her shoe. I went to the Proff mentor and the Uni tutors and felt better for sharing how I felt. Things have got better as perhaps the Prof Mentor had a word.....
    I am on countdown too, you will be ok, xmas will be here soon then time flies and it will be spring. Chin up and rememeber the end goal of what you are doing this all for!

    xx
     
  12. I have just had a similar experience!!
    All the way through my first placement I have had nothing but positive comments (even from the children) with suggestions on this and that. I have always been really polite, helpful and shared any teaching resources with my colleagues. I've been active with after school clubs etc with alot of praise from the teacher that runs it for my enthusiasm and organisation.....until I was observed by my professional mentor.
    She started with you will make a excellent teacher, then proceeded to tear everything I did to pieces, the report she did was 95% negative and only had four bulleted points on what I did right.
    I asked the TA later how she thought my lesson went (I was very discrete!!!!!!) and told me that the SEN child in the class behaves better in my classes than anyone elses. Equally the children were well behaved, listened answered questions I set and completed the two tasks I set. The overall lesson covered all the VAK criteria etc etc.
    Whilst I understand constructive critism is good for progression, I am experienced enough in industry to know that to build confidence to don't rip a new trainee to bits for minor faults.
    I am so hacked off but I know I am powerless to do anything about it....except for not to include her observation in my folder.
    Take heart not all 'professionals' are all that professional.
     
  13. That is DISGUSTING behaviour. These 'teachers' should be seriously reprimanded for their unprofessional conduct.
    I cannot believe that anyone would do that. It certainly sounds like that teacher is on a powertrip.
    Please, please say something to your school and uni. That behaviour should NOT be tolerated.
    I'm furious for you, I really am.
    _____________________________________
    On another note, I didn't realise how lucky I am in the school I'm in. I just hope I get another supportive team in my next placement - I really don't want to leave!

     
  14. All I can say is wow! I cannot believe we have had such similar experiences. I also received the back-handed compliment that they think I have it in me to be a really good teacher, which came after spending almost half an hour, if not longer telling me off for the littlest things ('don't use a green pen on the whiteboard' being one of them) I wasn't actually told why or how I have it in me to be a good teacher. Surely, it's important to know what we are doing right, so we can try to repeat our successes. Thinking about it, how on earth are these people considered suitable for mentoring trainees? If this has happened with us, surely it's happened with previous trainees, and will probably happen with trainees that go to our schools when we leave.
    I am just so glad and so thankful that my subject mentor is so supportive. They kind of hinted that they have had trainees come to them about the same issue, with the same person, in previous years.
    I am dreading having to try to teach in their preffered 'dictator-style' for my final formal observation next week. It doesn't suit me at all. I can be firm when I need to be, but resent feeling that I now have to shut down all talk, even though they are actually getting on with their work. I know as a kid I couldn't be quiet for a full hour. It doesn't help that I'm being observed on a discussion-based lesson (not something I'm used to as a science trainee)
    Thank God for TES discussion forums. It is such a relief to know that we're all in the same boat!
     
  15. This is not an acceptable way to mentor a trainee. It always amazes me that teachers feel they can only be negative whjen talking to a trainee yet if you asked them would they only be negative to pupils - be critical, only point out what they were doing wrong and not suggest hopw they could improve they would instantly condemn this as poor teaching!
    Do talk to your university tutor about this - such things should not happen. Your tutor at uni should be experienced enough to handle this without causing you real problems.
    James
     
  16. Thank you James for your advice.
    My greatest concern is that the PM observation will be a black mark that'll follow me around....though I would say it stands out as an obvious anomally amoungst all the very positive observations from my subject mentor.
    It has been noted even by the PM my use of praise in the classroom, so I wrote a long reflection on it LOL.Hoping it might strike a chord, I focused only how it effects childrens learning.
    After 20 years in industry I know I would never have subjected a trainee to such a demoralising experience so early in their training.


     
  17. Incidently I re read the observation and it comments on all the things I did not do (which do not fit into the lesson plan anyway) rather than the things I did.[​IMG]
     
  18. Dreadful hearing about what happened to you and LUcy, But as an NQT, let me emphasise the point in telling your University tutors. I was bullied something rotten by my SE1 tutor, so much so that I would frequently end lessons in tears, she would make comments at the back of the room and the pupils would pick up causing behaviour to deterioate. This only happened in the one class though with the one teacher, who happened to be my mentor.
    I had the beginings of a nervous breakdown in February which brought it all out into the open, i was asked this time last year to leave the course by this teacher who thought that I shouldn't have been accepted, and told my University such. At last Uni fought back and I remained on the course but spent all of SE2 playing catch up.
    Not talking to my tutor caused my marks to suffer and my nerves, I had a lovely SE2 placement, but my confidence was so badly affected that I was unable to get a teaching post - all feedback said that I didn't have enough confidence in my own ability.
    Please, please talk to your tutor, they let you on the course for a reason, they know why you're there even if you dont yet and they don't want the negative figures of failiures and drop offs. My university have stopped using the school in total now which is good, and I'm still applying for jobs after taking the summer to decide if I can teach.
    DOn't end up like me, not doing what you wanted to do. Please.

     
  19. Similar (but not quite so bad) experience with me. My professional mentor seems to not give a s*** about me at any time, I've probably seen her 5-6 times since I started at the school 8 weeks ago. She observed one of my lessons, and OBVIOUSLY, that lesson had to be fully of my worst ever behavioural problems.The mentor left 5 minutes before the end of the lesson so i got no immediate feedback, the class teacher who's room it is came back to me in absolute tears, she calmed me down a bit.

    Later on i find that same class teacher, my professional and subject mentors have had a proper little talk about me without my being there to defend myself, have seen the VERY negative observation form that was filled out before I have. My professional mentor then (without speaking to me at all) has contacted my university tutor saying they are concerned as they don't think i am a good teacher/dont care about the kids/seemed to hate the class blah blah

    The first I hear of this is from my university tutor when he comes in the week later (two weeks after the bad lesson) to see what the problem is. All my other observation sheets are full of positive comments (and a few pieces of constructive criticis, obviously) but my proffesional mentors one sticks out like a sore thumb.
    And since her little chat with my subject mentor, my subject mentor has become even more horrible.

    My subject mentor clearly hasnt liked me from day one, always saying that she "doesnt have time for this" whenever I try to approach her with a concern, not telling me when i'll be observed until the morning of the lesson, constantly berating me for not getting things in on time when i have spoken to my uni tutor and passed on the message that lesson plans need to be in 2-3 days before - my subject mentor wants them in a week early. I started falling behind to HER deadlines in week one, but i've stuck to my university tutors suggested time frames. She constantly uses the threat of "i suppose i'll have to give you a not-satisfactory on your report", says I shouldnt be emailing her things at 2am, but then if i DONT have everything done by the deadline, threats of a bad report and complaints of me not being good enough. That is all she ever tells me - you're not good enough, you shouldn't be teaching.

    I've spoken to my uni tutor. He says he can't do anything and I have to stick it out. If i get a bad report, i'll just have to take it.
    There's a whole back story to this rant, but i really dont have time, i've got a bunch of stuff to do before tomorrow (OR I GET A BAD REPORT!!) and it's already 10.30pm.. i feel an all-nighter coming along :( and i have to teach tomorrow :(

    *sigh*
     
  20. Please dont't give up!
    I had an unpleasant expernience on my first placement.
    I got sick and tired of hearing "I'm sure you'll be a really good teacher.....BUT......." and there was always a long list of 'faults' that swiftly followed, but they were never specific enough to be able to pin down some key areas to work on to improve! One day I got so fed up with this I just said...."Well you show me then, how should I be doing it?"........Let's just say the observation feedback got much better after that, and I never did observe a lesson given by my mentor that ticked all the boxes I was apparently missing by a mile![​IMG]
    It did completely shatter my confindence and I also kept my Uni tutor informed - it meant that my second placement was a school where I was supported really well and allowed to flourish and rebuild my confidence.

    I am now in my NQT year and it was so worth just keeping my head down and getting through it - almost to spite rather than because of the 'help' my mentor gave me! I am loving my job, getting very positive feedback from my observations and so glad I stuck it out.

    Keep you Uni informed, and keep believing in yourself.
     

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