Okay, so this doesn’t start the greatest but stick with it and I promise, you it gets better. I’ve heard a few of these stories before, the horror stories that you never think will happen to you. But you need to be aware of them during your training. This is a story that one of my friends told me. But it is not exclusive to her; similar things happen all the time. But for this post we are going to focus on my friend, we’ll call her Gertrude. There will be nuggets of advice scattered throughout that will be highlighted in red.
Her first placement was lovely, she told me how supportive they were and them loads of time and attention when it was needed and was always available to talk to her when she needed it. Never underestimate how important enjoying your first placement is and how you will miss it in the hard times. The first placement is probably always the best because it has the least stress. However, you always have to move on to greener pastures. And that is exactly what it happened, or so it seemed for a while.
Placement two is no picnic, the amount you’re teaching increases and with it comes the stress. Unfortunately I don’t have any advice to help you deal with that. My stress manifests differently to Gertrude’s, as yours will too. Persevere and make sure you’ve got a good support network at home, mine was my boyfriend and family. I’ll talk more about them once I’ve finished telling you about Gertrude’s eventful teacher training journey.
Gertrude’s second placement was at an all-girls school, not too far away. This is irrelevant to what happened, it’s just always good to paint a picture it must be the storyteller in me. Everything started fine, she used to tell me how nice her mentor was and how helpful she would be. The only thing was that she didn’t work the full week, but that didn’t seem to bother Gertrude, as she wasn’t having any problems, everything seemed smooth sailing; hind sights 20:20 ey?!
It came to the end of her second placement and things had gone a bit askew; she was no longer getting the regular feedback from lessons, or the mentor meetings. She really didn’t seem to be getting the support she had done at the beginning of the placement. Her AP2 (Assessment Phase 2) evaluation and she told me that almost everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The picture she painted of it made it seemed a little bit of a train wreck. She was put onto Cause for Concern by her university mentor to help her get back on track. It outlined the different areas that needed the most work. She told me about all these plans that her school mentor and PCM had made about all the types of lessons that could be put on to help support her and show her what makes a good teacher. She seemed really reassured by this prospect. If you can get it, ask for it because it does sound like it will help and would give you some good activity ideas that you could adapt/adopt/improve. You want to try and get as many different strategies and activities as you can in your bank of resources.
Gertrude told me that none of it actually happened; if anything things got worse for her. Her mentor meetings stopped and no feedback from lessons was given any more. She told me how alone she felt in the school. Luckily she had friends like me to help her get through it. She had me, I had my family; gotta love the people who help to build you, just remember that they are suffering with you. The stress you feel, they feel, the sadness you feel, they too will feel.
AP3 went pretty much as badly as it started, little support from who she was supposed to be getting it from. That’s not to say that she wasn’t getting any, there were teachers at the school who helped her and gave her ideas; she got ideas from people on the course and from me. If you’ve got a group of friends on the course, use them to bounce ideas off as they may be thinking the same sort of thing. Basically, for Gertrude, communication had broken down in a major way. So when her university mentor came for her AP3 observation, she told me how shocked she was that her mentor had talked to them and not her.
She showed me the observation from the university mentor and it seemed okay, but she said that it wasn’t a good lesson and that she was not pleased with it in herself. In the meeting she told me that they said she had to move schools, you could see how devastated she was. When she was telling me she could hardly speak; you could see she was trying to hold back the flood gates. It cannot be avoided that a good listener is a lifesaver. Having someone that will listen to you unload at the end of a day is a beautiful thing.
So that was a Wednesday. To say the next few days were a whirlwind is an understatement. At the end of Wednesday she had given up. She was so deflated that she was questioning whether or not she wanted to continue. Thursday was a bit turbulent as she found out that the school she thought she was moving to had fallen through and when she thought she was leaving had changed which she did not handle well. We were helping a friend move into their new house on Thursday and she got a call offering her a job, and then had a call from a mutual friend’s friend who was calling to set up a talk to a school’s head teacher for a job. So we sat down and wrote an email to the new school’s head teacher. From that, she got a call on Friday asking her to come in for an interview on Monday. Then in the afternoon she found out that she was moving to a different school to finish her placement on Tuesday. When she told me she was leaving that school she was so happy.
On Monday, Gertrude had her interview and was called later that day to tell her she got the job; then started the new placement the following day. It was the best thing that could have happened to her. A new start, it’s always the best thing to do. In the new school she thrived, flourished and strived for greatness. With the new support she improved at an accelerated rate and ended passing with a good.
My advice to you is to persevere and you WILL succeed! This is not an uncommon story to be told, unfortunately, and it is important to be aware of ti while you are training. You need to have the support at home to help you get through this important year. It will be a hard road and you there will be bumps in the road but that does not mean that the journey is not worth the ride. You need to keep in mind that you are doing this because you genuinely want to and because you enjoy seeing the students’ progress and thrive under your supervision and you will be fine. Finally, be thankful what your experiences because they shape you and help you become a better person and teacher, whether they seem like it or not. Everything that happens is a good learning curve for you so take the opportunities that come around and push it to the fullest.