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Subject Mentors - what's your experience?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by REgirl, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. The allocation of subject mentors on secondary pgce placements is a game of luck....
    An amazing mentor can make your placement, an unsupportive mentor can break your placement....... and even perhaps your desire to teach at all...

    I wasn't as lucky as some but more lucky than others during my pgce with the mentors allocated...
    Although to everyone in schools it appeared everything was hunky dory, as I started and left both schools on a very positive note!
    To be honest both of my mentors found ITT students a bit of an inconvenience and wanted as little contact or interference as possible throughout the placement, making this very clear and at times quite awkward. One even said when I was leaving, "You have been great, not a pain in the ass like the students we normally have. Usually I can't wait for them to leave!!"
    Thankfully I enjoy to work independently so I survived very well and finished on a 1 from both of my placements and from uni... so you could say I thrived regardless, but I do think back and those students who aren't quite as independent or forward thinking are sure to struggle (and have done from what I have been told) as there was little support throughout!
    I do worry for the survival of others when allocated my mentors in the future....
  2. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    In which case, I hope that you have passed that on to the schools concerned. As PM, I ask my trainees to be honest about the quality of mentoring, including mine, and I do act on it. Two subject mentors this year have had poor feedback: one won't be having trainees at all next year and the other is being retrained.

  3. The two mentors I was allocated both coincidently had similar personalities, both head strong and big characters, so although in an ideal world being totally honest would be the best thing, at the end of the day it is about self survival and t this would certainly not have gone down well with these big personalities. I coped very well in both placements, but that said more about me and my dedication than it did the mentoring and I didn't feel the need to make either placement horrendous because of tension between myself and my mentor....

    The university were informed and given a full explanation of the conduct of both subject mentors, so they are well aware of my experience and it is down to them to decide whether to send future students back, I preferred this option than placing myself in the vulnerable line of fire....

    The students I worry for are those who aren't as strong in challenging environments where little support is provided. The university were informed of placement A in plenty of detail, yet still sent a placement B who went on to struggle, with cause for concern... somehow I can't help but think in this case it was mainly the uni to blame.
  4. hannamarie

    hannamarie New commenter

    My placement A mentor was very hard going and not very supportive. They had very little time to give to me and instead of being constructive they waited until my last mentor meeting to tell me all of the things I had done wrong. I had to be very independent on first placement because he department as a whole were uninterested and I didn't feel like there was anyone I could go to for help. My uni tutor had been made aware of the problems with my mentor and I get the impression they wont be a me tot again next year.

    My mentor on second placement was much more supportive, as we're the department as a whole and as a result I made much more progress more quickly on second placement. I felt like the whole team really hot behind me every step of the way which was really helpful and they even managed to arrange for me to do 4 weeks cover teaching at the DVD of my placement.

    My advice would be that if you are unhappy with your mentor then pipe up as soon as possible and tell your tutors what you think you need. Don't struggle through because you really shouldn't have to do it all by yourself.
  5. nsv

    nsv New commenter

    I think I was very lucky. I trained in FE Biology this year and it was my mentor's first year in the role. The department did have a trainee the previous year, mentored by a different guy and all I heard about this trainee (from staff and students) was horror stories. Didn't turn up, didn't have materials for observed lessons, constantly late, didn't arrive at meetings etc etc. Clearly I knew that was not me, but was quite concerned that their previous poor experience would cloud my own experience.
    Fortunately, I was wrong! My mentor, although a little forgetful, was helpful and attentive and always willing to offer advice and support. We shared classes, as he had the same groups on my Uni days, so we had to maintain constant liaison to ensure material was covered. He was simply fantastic, as were all the other staff and technicians. I am fortunate to now have a role in the same college on a maternity cover and am extremely happy. I have made it clear to the Uni that this particular chap is an excellent mentor and they would do well to place other students there. I do hope they don't send a lazy student though, as I wouldn't want to see his enthusiasm for helping and mentoring to go.
    So, whilst there are bad mentors out there, there are also good ones. And there are a lot of not-so-good student teachers, who have probably affected the outlook of some mentors out there. Sad but true.

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