“My partner wanted to teach – until he encountered a mountain of paperwork and a lack of support from colleagues”
“It should have been a sign of things to come. In a gauche attempt to persuade my partner to become a teacher, the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) sent him a little cardboard box that made the sound of breaking glass when opened. “By this time of the year,” ran the motto inside, “most resolutions are broken. Do something meaningful in 2009. Turn your talent to teaching.” Spool forward to January 2011 and my partner’s resolution to turn his talents to teaching lies broken, like so much shattered glass.
It was, said my partner, as he quit the PGCE course he started in September last year, a case of “death by paperwork”. Had he persisted, he believes he would have qualified merely to become a dull bureaucrat.
Far from giving him the tools to become an inspirational educator, three months of a PGCE course and six weeks’ teaching practice in a local school reduced him to a workaholic, glorified activity organiser whose waking hours were filled with lesson plans and mealy-mouthed eduspeak. His experience of teacher training may be unique – or it may suggest wider problems with the system.”
To read the full article by Lucy Rouse click here
The article by Lucy Rouse highlights the issues that many trainee teachers face during their training. In my experience people are usually attracted to the profession by … following in the footsteps of their inspirational teachers or have a desire to ‘make a difference’ ~ some may even be attracted by what they see as ‘ long holidays’, however I have never yet met anyone who has been attracted to the profession by the long hours and tedious paperwork! The PGCE process is mainly an exercise about ‘ticking boxes’, so that a judgement can be made about the competency of the potential future teacher. The standards against which these judgements are made are necessary, and one hopes, ensure that the trainee receives a range of relevant experiences. What the process doesn’t guarantee is that inspirational, creative future teachers are motivated and enthused throughout the process to ensure they continue to contribute to education in the future.
PGCE students often have differing experiences in schools, with the support of their mentors being one of the most varied element of the entire process. In my previous life as a ITT mentor in a specialist Science College, I was often asked by the link university if I would take up to three or four students in each phase. I only ever agreed to take as many students as I could ensure I had ‘quality time’ for, which tended to be at least two and usually three. I felt I had a duty to provide the formal meetings that our ITT students needed, which was the equivalent to a scheduled hour per ITT per week but also to have an ‘open door’ policy on an informal basis to provide the emotional support when things got a bit tense in the classroom and the additional humour when times were tough.
My desire was borne out of the fact that my own PGCE mentor in a placement school rarely met with me at all during my time at the school and somehow managed to attribute my extra-curricular contributions to various trips, plays and clubs to another PGCE student also on placement at the same time! My experience of my first placement meant that I was extremely disillusioned with the entire PGCE process and considered giving up on the course, however my husband convinced me to stick it out until I had had my second placement.
My next placement was the opposite of my first in terms of location and type of school – whereas the first had been a rural secondary school, the second was a tough inner-city comprehensive with limited resources and challenging students. The main difference I noted straightway was my mentor, in the second school it was a fairly young teacher who had been teaching 5 years but was full of enthusiasm and support, we spent hours discussing creative ideas to engage students in the classroom. He made time for me to bounce ideas and management strategies – often sharing experiences to guide me along. If it hadn’t have been for this second experience I would never have become a teacher at all, which would have meant that I would have missed out on so much.
Because of my personal experiences I decided that, if given the chance, I would ‘pay it forward‘ and ensure that all ITTs in ‘my care’ would have the mentor experience they deserved. I tried hard and think I did ok, a few of my Science mentees are now my closest friends (you know who you are) ~ I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be involved in their first teaching experiences.
What have been your experience of the PGCE process? Good, bad or indifferent why not share them with us using the comments box below?