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What a terrible start to my teaching placement.....

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by radhadee, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. Ii am a very new pgce student and am on the third week of my placement.
    I have never taught before formally and have had experience in reception and year 1.
    am on placement in year 4 on a primary PGCE. I have had very limited
    support or guidance on what is supposed to be guided placement. On my
    first assessment it went wrong and i must admit that i was in the dark
    on my teaching planning and had virtually no help and was thrown in
    literally at the deep end. I lost sleep and could not eat and this
    added to the stress i was under. After this first assessment i was given
    an F which really upset me but i was determined to try and get to grips
    with the planning. I took on board all feedback and I was told that my
    UT would be coming again the following week. On Monday last I was told
    that the head was concerned about me teaching the class, (the head, by
    the way has never spoken to me or met me only getting the information
    via my AT and UT whom i have the impression do not like me. My AT has
    never worked with a student before. So they would be returning on the
    Friday of the same week to re assess a lesson. Then i was told that a
    senior pgce lecturer would also be attending as a joint observation.
    This put added pressure to the stress load i was carrying and by Friday i
    felt i was up against the firing squad ! I was so nervous i admit i
    messed up the lesson making fundamental errors. I was brought into the
    staff room to serious faces from the two university tutors. They
    suggested that i re do the GPP in what would of been the FPP. At that
    time i was speechless and just listened to their criticism. I have had
    time over the weekend to reflect and realise my mistakes culminating in
    my emailing my UT to explain my actions. I have a deep passion to
    become a teacher and feel that i have had limited support and no
    encouragement whatsoever. I have been in the dark so to speak trying to
    fumble through. I am disappointed that my UT is totally unappoachable
    and after writing this email detailing everything she has sent a very
    blunt email saying she will see me tomorrow and clarify a few things !
    That was it...... very ominous indeed and now i am literally terrified
    of what she will say tomorrow. I dont know where to turn for help. I
    thought the UT was there to assist me, I thought the AT was there to
    guide me, I have had non of this. The head has an impression of me only
    by what the AT has told her and my UT. If tomorrow, the worst scenario
    happens my question is what can i personally do about it. Do you think
    I should go to the head of pgce, the course director to discuss what
    has happened. I never in a million years envisaged this outcome so
    early into my course. Surely they should be there to help a new student
    after all how can a total novice suddenly be able to teach a flawless
    lesson after only a matter of weeks. Everyone deserves a second chance
  2. amyliv88

    amyliv88 New commenter

    First of all, wait and see what she says tomorrow. Explain your side of the story again and that you feel like there is no support for you. Try not to worry too much tonight (easy for me to say I know).

    If you do have to re-do the GPP when you should be doing FPP this isn't the worst case scenario. I had to retake a placement but had to wait a year to do that and you'll find when you go to back you've learnt a lot from what happened and if your like me it'll just make you even more determined to succeed and show them.

    If you haven't been getting the support from your UT there should be someone who you can go to, say the head of PGCE. Explain where you think you went wrong and where the AT and UT have failed to help you.

    Like I said, I had difficulty too, so I know what your going though. Keep your chin up, let us know how it goes.
  3. God this type of situation makes me mad! What the bloody hell do all these idiotic big-wigs expect? Of course you can't waltz into a school and teach a perfect lesson. You are a student - you are learning. Mistakes are part of the learning process. They all sound as though they are on a massive power trip. They are putting you under intense pressure and scrutiny and getting a litttle kick out of watching you squirm. Utterly pathetic.
    Giving someone a fail for their very first observation is just plain stupid. You don't need a PhD in psychology to know that the word 'fail' has very negative connotations and handing out a fail on the first observation is a completely unnecessary, and in fact stupid, way to knock someone's confidence. It's just plain daft to give a fail when you are obviously going to be making lots of mistakes - that is why you are LEARNING to be a teacher.
    The psychotic nut-job of a link tutor that ruined my pgce was literally DYING to fail me on my first lesson observation. The only reason she didn't was because she was being observed by someone. And the reason she was being observed by someone was because students had complained about her. The minute the 'observer' left the building she started threatening that she was going to fail me on my file (my very first week in the school).
    They are SUPPOSED to be supporting you but they are doing THE OPPOSITE!

  4. I hope someone has some good advice for you. Unfortunately I had such a melt-down that I dropped out of the pgce. It's a DISGRACE that students are forced to put up with what is actually abusive behaviour. It would not be tolerated in other fields.
  5. it is disgraceful, but not much we can do, no where to turn as reprisals would be their response.

  6. Nead2604

    Nead2604 New commenter

    No one expects a flawless lesson from a new PgcE student. However, students are expected to progress in every lesson. If you made fundamental mistakes, then that can be serious because fundamental is basic and at the point when you are entering the classroom, you should not be making basic mistakes.

    The bottom line is this: Your observers are looking to see if you have taught a lesson with a clear objective, where students have, by the end of the lesson , learned something. You should be able to manage the classroom and keep the kids on task. At the end of the lesson, they should be able to say what they have learned. That is basic,
    You will get very little guidance during PGCE and what seems like all criticism. It will be constant and ongoing. You will get very little praise and practically no guidance. You will have to create and deliver lesson plans, listen to critical analysis at the end, try to take it and improve. That is it. That is the PGCE experience. Hopefully, you listen and improve whatever they say, and you get through it. But KEY is that you have ONE or TWO clear objectives. You deliver it. The kids learn it through the tasks and lessons, and you at the end you make sure you get the kids to say what they learned. That is what they want. That is all you have to deliver. And don't make 'fundamental' mistakes. That is a big NO.

  7. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    I would try to defer this horrendous sounding placement. Even if this means your course will take longer than expected, it'll be worth it. I got out of a very bad placement with unsupportive tutors although the school were ok. My state of mind at the time wasn't great due to a sense of faliure at every turn. Best thing I ever did, deferring the placement and re-doing it at a later date in a much nicer school and a different UT.
    Good luck.
  8. I think you need to keep calm and realise that you can only learn from your mistakes.
    I am in my final year of doing a BA in Primary Education. When I think back to how much progress I have made since the first lesson I ever taught I am amazed, you can't become a perfect teacher overnight these things take time and lots of it.
    When you're on placement you have to be on your best behaviour all the time, you have to do whatever your class teacher and placement tutor want, because they are the people who will write your report. But ultimately you have to remember that this is only for a very small proportion of your life, and before you know it, it'll be over.
    Hope this advice helps. xxx
  9. It's stange though, isn't it, how what are effectively relatively trivial 'mistakes' are considered to be something of a crime whereas unprofessional behaviour, poor character and lack of emotional stablility and maturity are considered to be acceptable? The lack of professionalism shown by the so-called 'mentor' and the nut-job of a link tutor that I experienced on my last placement was breathtaking.Why are there so many people with serious 'issues' working in the teaching profession?
    To clarify, the teacher who was supposed to be 'mentoring' me did nothing of the sort. So why use the title 'mentor'? That suggests guidance, but she didn't provide any. On the contrary, she deliberately tripped me up on trivia. What's more, she even had the cheek to criticise me for adopting some of her (admittedly rather useless) behavioural strategies. Okay, with the benefit of hindsight she was probably a decidedly mediocre teacher who was threatened by students.So why use her as a mentor?
    The link tutor was a psychopath or possibly sociopath or maybe even a combination of the two. It doesn't really matter but again why employ someone like that in this role? I suspect she got shunted out of the teaching profession years ago but hangs around on the fringes getting her jollies out of humiliating students. So pathetic and such a waste of everyone's time and resources.
    The bottom line is that there are (hopefully a minority) of people working in the teaching and the teacher training profession who have serious personality/mental health issues. They lack character and emotional maturity so instead they pick on other people - those who have the qualities that they lack - in order to keep others who are more suited to these kinds of jobs at bay.
    It's that simple really. In order to discredit those who might show them up for what they are (weak, lacking in integrity, bullying, personality disordered) they focus on trivia in order to disarm and discredit others.
    As for 'fundamental mistakes' - I would suggest that the most fundamental mistake is that of allowing weak and dysfunctional people to hold positions of power over others whereby they cause great harm and prevent positive growth.
  10. Don't worry chin up. Some people in education are absolutely horrid. But I would say the majority are nice. Stick in there and keep going.
  11. GeeMarie

    GeeMarie New commenter

    If the PGCE experience is all criticism and no guidance, I feel for you. I'm on a GTP so obivously it i slightly different for me, but the PGCE students I know have regular meetings with their tutors and get a lot of help. I don't think it is the same for everyone, from what I have seen and heard. It shouldn't be ALL criticism- it should be constructive, and you should be told what you are doing well, as well as what you can improve on. That way, you can keep doing it, as well as adapting and learning.
    As for fundamental mistakes: you don't say what they are, but you obviously feel you missed out things that are vital to a lesson. Possibly it was the objectives, or behaviour management. But I speak from experience when I say that: sometimes, it happend. I've missed out the objectives. I was called up on it, kindly, and I apologised and haven't done it since. It's how we learn. The fact that they seemed to be actively attacking you after almost deliberately making you nervous (was it 3 observers? That is mental!) is appalling. I would have gone to the course leader myself. People I know on bad palcements have done so, and been moved. It's just as difficult on a GTP placement but the majority of people do NOT want you to fail and will help you.
    Are you out of this placement now? Have you managed to sort out the problems? I hope your next placement is better and that you don't give up as a result of people who are clearly unstable.

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