PGCE - Want to leave teaching...advice please Watch

John Mullen
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Hi all,

Pull up a chair, this is going to be a good one.

I am now halfway through (as near as damn it) my PGCE, and in all honesty I should have left at christmas. I was full of enthusiasm going into september, being able to talk about my subject (Maths) on a daily basis, interacting with the kids, teaching things how I wanted to teach things and really enjoying helping the kids to learn.

We are now in February, and after spending all of January on the uni parts of the course, bored out of my mind, I am now going into placement 2 with no desire to teach at all. All this course has done is put me off teaching. All the hassle involved with the job makes me want to leave. Pressure, Ofsted, Government moving the goalposts all the time, Behaviour, Workload of marking, planning etc. It just is not my cup of tea. It is not what I want it to be, and not what I thought it would be.

It is just a nightmare. I have little freedom in my teaching. You must have a starter, you must have a plenary (I hate the things), you must use millions of different stupid activities (chalk and talk or using textbooks are a no-no according to these ofsted driven robots). You must do everything possible to engage these youngsters in something they have no desire to do at all. Any talk of SEN demoralizes me. I wanted to teach Maths! I am not Merlin the Magician!

I have no desire at all to be an NQT, and as such have not applied for any jobs. Others on my course seem to be embracing the challenge, but I just don't want the hassle anymore. Ever been to an NQT meeting? There's an experience. The session leader with comments like "that would not be outstanding." and "that would be inadequate". Education is ruled by this desire for 'ofsted outstanding'. The privatisation (academisation) of schools is a worry, as are a number of other things such as changes to pay.

I am really disillusioned with teaching as a whole. Has anyone got any useful advice to give me? I am still young and just want to leave the course and do something completely different. I don't see the point of staying on for another 5 months, I don't want to teach anymore.
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Shelly_x
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Could you wait until you start placement 2 at least? You might find your desire to teach renewed when you're doing it again.
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Mr M
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It sounds like you have already made up your mind to me but the advice above to give your second placement a go is sensible. If you think you have experienced hassle and pressure as a PGCE student, I promise you have seen nothing yet! It gets much worse.
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John Mullen
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(Original post by Shelly_x)
Could you wait until you start placement 2 at least? You might find your desire to teach renewed when you're doing it again.
I have started it. I just don't want to do it anymore. It is not for me. It won't get any easier if I stay. It will just get harder.

I am going to talk to my uni tutor for advice. I'd like to leave now and start looking for something else. I could stay and complete the qualification, but it would be a heck of a lot of work for something I no longer want. I don't think there is any shame in saying I tried it, decided it was not for me.
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John Mullen
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(Original post by Mr M)
It sounds like you have already made up your mind to me but the advice above to give your second placement a go is sensible. If you think you have experienced hassle and pressure as a PGCE student, I promise you have seen nothing yet! It gets much worse.
Exactly, I don't want to still be struggling through when it gets 'much worse'. I want to get out as the whole idea of teaching no longer appeals to me - nevermind the workload.
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linkdapink
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This is really killing me to read. I'm a Maths NQT, and I know how you feel, but its only just coming to me in my NQT year. Give your placement school a chance, and hopefully you might be placed in a not-so ofsted driven school where you have greater freedom. I had my placement school in a outstanding ofsted school, so as a consequence, we didn't "have" to do plenarys, marking was done at the end of units ONLY, learning objectives were displayed at the start and then again at the end, but didn't even HAVE to be levelled, and there certainly wasn't this absolute drive and drilling to get pupils to know what their target grades are and how they have to get there.

I am constantly snowed under at my school now because we are expecting ofsted any day now! The paperwork is ridiculous, though I am constantly reminded that it is for my own good (doing two different "intervention reports" for each class - and then another to highlight "subject mentees" in each class - I teach 7 different classes!!!). I've also been given very low ability sets, so most of my lessons are definitely NOT Ofsted outstanding because I have NOT got behaviour sorted yet (and the behaviour policy of the school??? sorry, but I don't even know what that is!).

But... I enjoy teaching. I enjoy being stood in front of a class and teaching something. And seeing level 3 kids do level 6/7 work, and helping out those that really want it, and struggling through and eventually getting good relationships with those that are a battle anyway.

Can you find ANYTHING with teaching that will keep you at it? If nothing else, you will have another qualification, and this does give you a lot more to talk about in interviews for other jobs etc?

EDIT: Killing me to read because I can identify with it an awful lot!
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John Mullen
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(Original post by linkdapink)
...
Thanks for your input, i'm glad you understand. I just feel quite bad when I think about doing any teaching at the moment. I just don't want to be there anymore. I don't think changing the placement would have any effect as my issues are not specific to that school. The kids at the school are really nice, staff are helpful, but I just don't want to be there anymore, I feel like a fish out of water, and would rather be somewhere else.

I won't be staying in teaching beyond this year, never had any desire during this course to apply for an NQT role. I can't bring myself to do any more planning as I'm sick of it, and I am not in the right state mentally to be teaching kids - they deserve someone who wants to be there.

It is such a complex and high pressured job that is far beyond my idea of what teaching should be. These people should be earning a lot more than they do. I have got a first class in mathematics, so there must be options out there that will suit me better with far less pressure.
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paddyman4
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Well if you want to leave, just do so. You just need to be absolutely sure that you won't ever in the future want to be a teacher, as leaving now pretty much burns that bridge. Some people pursue another career and then return to teaching later on - so question whether it is worth finishing the course for the sake of that eventuality.

In addition, whatever you go onto next - it may look better on your CV to have finished the PGCE and decided teaching is not for you, than to quit halfway through. It may (not definitely - may) look to some interviewers as if you are the kind of person who quits when things get challenging.

Also, beware thinking that you'll easily find something else with a lot less pressure. I taught for a bit and understand the pressures, but I am under no illusions - these days pretty much every graduate job in the UK is highly pressurised.
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Lexi99
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Im exactly the same!

Im halfway through mine for post-16 teaching and I can safely say I have no intention of doing NQT after this. Like you, I wanted to teach about my subject but all the other stuff around it like planning, marking, etc is so dull and not what I want to spend my life doing.

I nearly dropped out before Xmas but friends and family convinced me to stay so I'm going to finish it. If it helps I went to see the career lady at my uni who said that a PGCE is a good qual to have for other things even if you don't go into teaching. Up until recently I couldn't really see any other job for me, other than being doomed to life of teaching but trust me, you can be anything you want to be.

I know if sucks but the course finishes in June, and now you've started you might as well finish, especially after paying so much in fees. My advice would be to go see your careers person who can tell you about other options, but I just think it will be such a waste of time if you quit now

Edit: btw it's nice to finally hear of something who feels the same way as me!
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John Mullen
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(Original post by paddyman4)
Well if you want to leave, just do so. You just need to be absolutely sure that you won't ever in the future want to be a teacher, as leaving now pretty much burns that bridge. Some people pursue another career and then return to teaching later on - so question whether it is worth finishing the course for the sake of that eventuality.

In addition, whatever you go onto next - it may look better on your CV to have finished the PGCE and decided teaching is not for you, than to quit halfway through. It may (not definitely - may) look to some interviewers as if you are the kind of person who quits when things get challenging.

Also, beware thinking that you'll easily find something else with a lot less pressure. I taught for a bit and understand the pressures, but I am under no illusions - these days pretty much every graduate job in the UK is highly pressurised.
Well if you ask me now if I ever want to be a teacher then the answer is no unless the whole system dramatically changes, and even then I would think twice.

I realise it will not look great on the CV, but as far as I am concerned, I had a damn good shot at it, did not leave in the first few weeks, have taught lessons for several weeks and got to a point where I just can't do it anymore. Even if I finished it there would be the inevitable question "why aren't you still in teaching?". It would probably make more sense financially to go sooner rather than later anyway as I would not be liable for the full 9,000 - I think only half of that.

I fully appreciate it wont be easy to even get a job anywhere else in the current climate, and there will be pressure, but I want to be able to go home and not have tons and tons of work to do before the next day. If I really enojyed teaching then I could do it, but I don't.
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John Mullen
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(Original post by Lexi99)
Im exactly the same!

Im halfway through mine for post-16 teaching and I can safely say I have no intention of doing NQT after this. Like you, I wanted to teach about my subject but all the other stuff around it like planning, marking, etc is so dull and not what I want to spend my life doing.

I nearly dropped out before Xmas but friends and family convinced me to stay so I'm going to finish it. If it helps I went to see the career lady at my uni who said that a PGCE is a good qual to have for other things even if you don't go into teaching. Up until recently I couldn't really see any other job for me, other than being doomed to life of teaching but trust me, you can be anything you want to be.

I know if sucks but the course finishes in June, and now you've started you might as well finish, especially after paying so much in fees. My advice would be to go see your careers person who can tell you about other options, but I just think it will be such a waste of time if you quit now

Edit: btw it's nice to finally hear of something who feels the same way as me!
Nice to hear from you too!

I don't think I could finish it, even if I wanted to. And even then there is no guarantee I will pass it. My mentor can't understand why I am not doing more work - driving myself into the ground like they did 4 or 5 years ago. I was told off for reading a paper for 15 minutes the other morning!

I don't have the motivation or the desire, and I don't want the spend the next 5 months doing stupid amounts of work for something I no longer want, paying double the fees of what I would if I left now. Even the forms have got space for targets for NQT year - which I have no intention of doing.
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Lexi99
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Have a chat with your mentor/tutor/careers service and find out what your options are, especially with the fees
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Lexi99
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Just think though, i dont know the course is for you but ive only 4 months left, thats not really long and considering all the time and effort and mental breakdowns ive been through so far i want to have something to show for it, even if i dont ever end up using it
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polka_dott
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The PGCE is still a respected qualification and can be used to go into other things - would you consider teaching abroad or something? I know what it is like to be in a job you feel you really do not enjoy at all but you are over half way through now and the course is not forever.
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Woostarite
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(Original post by John Mullen)
We are now in February, and after spending all of January on the uni parts of the course, bored out of my mind, I am now going into placement 2 with no desire to teach at all. All this course has done is put me off teaching. All the hassle involved with the job makes me want to leave. Pressure, Ofsted, Government moving the goalposts all the time, Behaviour, Workload of marking, planning etc. It just is not my cup of tea. It is not what I want it to be, and not what I thought it would be.
I'm a Maths GTP, and although I've been largely positive about my experience so far, I can identify with at least some of the frustrations you've been having (some of which are undoubtedly common to all teachers!). Here's a few responses:

  • As some have said above, the quality of your experience is often largely dependent on your particular school.
  • As a PGCE, you lose out on the novelty of having your own classes. When I had to spend a half-term at other schools (which I'm about to finish), while they were valuable experiences, I missed my usual classes (who have had a cover teacher this half term), and I didn't have quite the same bond with the students at these other schools, because I knew fully well that after a few weeks I would no longer be responsible for their education.
  • Planning-wise, I ended up only writing written lesson plans for lessons where I was being observed, which reduced the tedium/workload a little (this was actually advised by someone within my training agency). I find any slides and resources I produce are sufficient to dictate the lesson structure and general teaching skills are enough to fill in the gaps.
  • If you ever visit TES forums, you'll see that the issue of 'Ofsted outstanding' lessons are somewhat contentious. Ultimately the priority should obviously be the progress that students make; innovative activities may be a key component in keeping students engaged and demonstrating some mathematical concept effectively, but the quality of your exposition and assessment of students' understanding are probably the most crucial elements of the lesson.
  • I've been told on numerous occasions that not all lessons fall into the "starter-main-plenary" structure. But there's a variety of non-contrived ways you can utilise a plenary. For example - I've got a Powerpoint template I sometimes use where students can choose a question from 1-6, which (via appropriate hyperlinking) flicks to the appropriate question slide based on the particular topic - it works particularly well with an interactive whiteboard, and when dividing the class into teams! There's millions of things you can do that avoids a tedious "here's a slide listing the things we learnt today".



(Original post by John Mullen)
I have little freedom in my teaching. You must have a starter, you must have a plenary (I hate the things), you must use millions of different stupid activities
The last thing you mentioned is probably the one area where I disagree with my external mentor, who for example criticised the fact that, even after a highly interactive starter and plenary activity, then I only had one activity in my 'main', despite the fact the students loved the activity (problem solving Pythagoras questions I had come up with, some of which required some algebra skills), and the eventual difficulty as the questions progress extended their understanding well beyond that expected.
Some Ofsted inspectors who I have spoken to have debunked some of the myths of what constitutes an outstanding lesson, but be rest assured that there are many other teachers that share your pain.

(Original post by John Mullen)
The privatisation (academisation) of schools is a worry, as are a number of other things such as changes to pay.
Many schools have made clear in their conversion process that teacher pay will not be affected. And if a school screws you around, the luxury of the sector is that teaching is highly mobile, where you can just find a job elsewhere.

All I can say is stick with it for the moment!
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John Mullen
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(Original post by Woostarite)

  • Planning-wise, I ended up only writing written lesson plans for lessons where I was being observed, which reduced the tedium/workload a little (this was actually advised by someone within my training agency). I find any slides and resources I produce are sufficient to dictate the lesson structure and general teaching skills are enough to fill in the gaps.




Many schools have made clear in their conversion process that teacher pay will not be affected. And if a school screws you around, the luxury of the sector is that teaching is highly mobile, where you can just find a job elsewhere.

All I can say is stick with it for the moment!

I agree with that in Bold, but I am not allowed to do it - every lesson must have a full on plan (im sure it is the same for all PGCEs). The class teacher is always in the room with you so you are constantly observed anyway in a way.

As for pay, and schools screwing you around - the profession is just a mess. Every day something changes (usually for the worse and making teachers lives that little bit harder). The government certainly know how to make it unnattractive.
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Woostarite
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Which is why you should have done a GTP instead! (where I have more lessons to teach than a PGCE, but am only observed once a week).
Obviously, you'll only have to write these millions of lesson plans during your PGCE year.

I think you're somewhat exaggerating the changes that affect a teacher's day-to-day routine - the teaching profession is not a mess. Ultimately, the core components of good teaching aren't going to change; most changes tend to be procedural (e.g. abandoning January exams for A Level).

All I can say is this - don't let your exasperation with the PGCE process and the 'evolution' of the teaching sector put you off. Teacher training is for many a pain, and slightly overwhelming in terms of everything you have to get used to (both in and out of the classroom). Do you have lessons that go well and students seem to enjoy it/get a lot out of it? Then stick with it.
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John Mullen
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(Original post by Woostarite)
Which is why you should have done a GTP instead! (where I have more lessons to teach than a PGCE, but am only observed once a week).
Obviously, you'll only have to write these millions of lesson plans during your PGCE year.

I think you're somewhat exaggerating the changes that affect a teacher's day-to-day routine - the teaching profession is not a mess. Ultimately, the core components of good teaching aren't going to change; most changes tend to be procedural (e.g. abandoning January exams for A Level).

All I can say is this - don't let your exasperation with the PGCE process and the 'evolution' of the teaching sector put you off. Teacher training is for many a pain, and slightly overwhelming in terms of everything you have to get used to (both in and out of the classroom). Do you have lessons that go well and students seem to enjoy it/get a lot out of it? Then stick with it.
It is not just the training it is the whole thing. I hate the thought of it now. Any planning I do is criticised by my mentor and "is just not good enough". I am expected to know everything presumably as I have done the first placement. It is just a nightmare.

The thought of going in on monday, and for them to watch my lessons and absolutely grill me after them (which is likely as I have no confidence or motivation now) is terrifying. I have to do lessons in a certain way (plenary, starter, activites,...) not how I want to do them. You have a vision of how you want to teach when you come in to it, and you are not allowed to do it as it is either viewed as not good enough or 'ofsted would not like it'. The lack of freedom is frustrating and I won't take it any more.

Whatever you do in teaching, it is never good enough. You can never solve the problem, it is a lifelong problem that can never be solved. You can never get to the bottom of it, can never suss it out, can never be prepared. I just mentally/emotionally can't do it anymore. I don't know what to do.
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Woostarite
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a) Your mentor may just be a bit of a douche. In which case, thankfully it's transient!
b) There are few jobs in which you have some problem in which you just 'solve it'. Teaching, like many other professions, is one in which you gradually hone your craft.
c) From what you've said so far, I still think it just sounds like you're going through a rough patch, and allowing yourself to become overly worked up about your frustrations. You say the problem is the "whole thing", but you then go on to describe your relationship with your mentor.
d) Keep in mind you are still only halfway through the academic year, so even if you're having teething issues adapting to the classroom environment (not to suggest that you are), you still have the second half of the year to improve your skill. Don't let any negative feedback get you down.
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John Mullen
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(Original post by Woostarite)
a) Your mentor may just be a bit of a douche. In which case, thankfully it's transient!
b) There are few jobs in which you have some problem in which you just 'solve it'. Teaching, like many other professions, is one in which you gradually hone your craft.
c) From what you've said so far, I still think it just sounds like you're going through a rough patch, and allowing yourself to become overly worked up about your frustrations. You say the problem is the "whole thing", but you then go on to describe your relationship with your mentor.
d) Keep in mind you are still only halfway through the academic year, so even if you're having teething issues adapting to the classroom environment (not to suggest that you are), you still have the second half of the year to improve your skill. Don't let any negative feedback get you down.
Thanks for the advice. At the moment I don't want to teach any more under the current system - I don't agree with it. It is too complex, too stressful, for very little reward. My mentor may be a douche, but I have problems with the whole idea of teaching, not just specific to my current placement. I have sat in the Uni sessions over the past few weeks and just thought to myself "what am I doing here?" as it is so boring and does not inspire me. You spend most of the time clockwatching.

I have found it very difficult to get up and go in this last week, and on Friday I left convinced that I was not going back. Tutor has not got back to me - maybe he doesn't know what to say. I am not in the right frame of mind to be teaching kids as I don't want to be there.
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