Quit PGCE? Watch
I've always thought I wanted to be a teacher and really looked forward to getting into the classroom. About a year ago, before I started the PGCE I volunteered in a school as an assistant in geography lessons as a part of a module for my undergrad geography course. I went into the classroom really excited to start and I ended up hating every lesson I was in! I also worked as a part time personal tutor but ended up giving this up as I wasn't enjoying it.
Now, a year later i'm on the PGCE course, I asked to defer for a year as I wasn't sure about being a teacher after not enjoying being an assistant or tutor but I wasn't able to defer.
I'm now about two months into the course and I am very confused about what to do... I don't dread each day, but I also do not enjoy it. The students don't listen to me and I feel defeated! I have so much work to do and just don't feel happy.
I am reluctant to quit as I've always thought that this is what I was supposed to do for a career. I have got other options available such as going to do a masters in town planning next September or applying to graduate schemes but I am worried in case I dislike these more than teaching!
Anyone else having doubts or have some advice?
Thanks in advance!
I feel the same way, started in September as well. I enjoyed it for a while and now I am having doubts. I have wanted to quit for a couple weeks now, so I understand exactly what you are going through. The options we have is to stick it out until Christmas, and see what we feel like after starting the new placement, or withdraw from the course and come up with a plan B.
I know what you mean because I have wanted to do teaching for a while, I am told the PGCE is the hardest year and that it gets better, but there is no doubt that it is an incredibly stressful year.
Is there any other careers you feel you would prefer? What are the underlying issues that are making you want to leave the PGCE? You could make a list of these and sum up whether it is worth continuing with the course, I feel life is too short to do things that do not make you happy, but then again, will having the PGCE/QTS change your life in a way that will make you happy enough to think the year was worth it?
I've been doubtful ever since the interview and things had gradually got worse. I hate the workload and don't enjoy creating lesson powerpoints etc. but thought that this may be doable if the teaching element of it was enjoyable.. So far, the teaching has not been enjoyable for me, and I don't know exactly why! I think I maybe I thought I would love teaching because I loved being in school and learning things when I was a student, however the teaching element is just not making me feel satisfied or happy.
Other options for me include gradate jobs in geography related fields, a graduate scheme at Fenwick to be a Buyer or a Masters course of some kind. I think I know I don't want to do this any longer but its hard to throw in the towel and begin again searching for the right career.
How do you feel now you've left the course Dillon? And I think the fees are the same for my course, so if I leave now, it is much more beneficial financially.
And cmrj189 - what is it about it that you don't enjoy? Do you think you'll stick it out?
I agree with you totally, I enjoyed MFL at school and thought I would enjoy teaching, but it just got worse and worse, people say if you stick it out it will be worth it but I really think it depends on the individual.
I don't like the extreme work load, it takes hours to prepare resources, then you have to fill out the university documents, and dissertation etc... It's just awful. It can take all night and all weekend, and leaves you completely drained with no time to yourself. And they literally just throw you into teaching. As for the actual teaching, I start of a bit nervous and then I get into it, which I think is the same for most people, but it is an extremely difficult skill to master. I enjoy teaching one-to-one but am a bit uncomfortable with the whole class, it's exhausting and I don't think it's worth the money! The kids can be very hard to deal with, and you have to prepare everything down to the minute!
To be honest with you, I was going to hand in my withdrawal on Friday, I am 99% sure I will do it tomorrow morning.
I think starting off in careers is a learning curve, and this is part of that curve for me, I will not regret leaving the course because it is what I feel is right for me at this time. If you feel it is not worth completing the course, then leave it and find something else you will enjoy more, life is too short!
The course is extremely difficult and it is definitely not for everyone, so I don't think anyone will judge you if you decide it is not for you, at least you tried it.
Cmrj - that comment just made me feel better about my decision. It's all so true what you've said. I quit yesterday and it just seemed like a huge weight had been lifted and I'm actually happy! I'm only 23 (female) and half of my course are 30s/40s so I do think age can affect some people. Less life experience etc. I've already got an interview tomorrow for a TA position and I've already applied for some jobs in the environmental consultancy field. Haven't got much experience in that field though (office, consultancy etc) so I think it's going to be difficult to get noticed out there but I'm going to continue and try! To me, teaching is an act and if I wanted to act I'd have done drama at Uni, it's so target driven and political too. I am not going to feel defeated because I know it is not for everyone and I know it's okay to want a job where you actually come home from work and have time to spend spend doing the things you want to do and be happy!
You will only really know for certain in 3 or so years time. I quit QTS 4 years ago and it really was the best idea ever. I still teach but I teach English in Lisbon, Portugal where I love my lifestyle as well as my job. I also small classes (max 12), with kids who actually want to learn. Plus don't have the other paperwork, box ticking and other duties like those teaching in the UK.
I know that from talking to PGCE students or NQTs at my school that they all agree that their PGCE year is/was crazy with the amount of work and expectations but ultimately they enjoyed being able to teach, the role itself and the thought of their futures. You have to have that underlying passion, it's what pulls you through the difficult times.
Unfortunately, sometimes you don't realise until you're on the course and it's up to you to decide to stick it out (having a PGCE under your belt is a whole career opening) or to leave and learn from it. Bare in mind that leaving a PGCE now and possibly returning in a few years may restrict your chances a second time around.
Like you I am only 23 and I have been staying up all night till 12pm planning, making resources, filling out university documents etc with no time for myself to cook, clean or really even relax. I live in my own place with my boyfriend without my parents, i have found it is very hard for me to be able to keep up with anything non-school related. No other job or even my undergraduate degree (where I worked 20 hours a week alongside it) ever made me feel incapable of keeping up with 'life'. I began to hate how much work I had to do as it hung on my head whenever I finished school.
I would question for anyone wanting to do School Direct route whether it is the right way. As I have worked for a few years after University I was sold this route that it would be a more hands-on and less lecture-based route. Yes, that is correct but the support structure is not there. If I wanted to do it again (slim chance) I probably would go the PGCE route for the structure, support and breathing space you get (although not much) in comparison to SD. I had a mentor that was always busy so I was always chasing him for mentor meetings/subject specific training (so imagine doing this all year it was tiring in itself), we were in normal teaching hours and were expected to go to ALL after school events such as Monday and Wednesday night PPM till 5.30, open evenings etc and we had the same workload as a PGCE student but on top of the pressures of a full-time teacher. There was PGCE students at the school from the same university and they had a lot more allowances made for them such as 'study days' and they weren't made to stay after school but I know for a fact they still overworked and hate many elements of the course as much I did.
I too have an interview today and two tomorrow for a Grad TA role with elements of cover supervision so I already have the ball rolling ( I applied a few weeks before I decided to leave). I have also got another job interview for another field of work as I am not sure if teaching is for me. I thought it would be hard but my two best friends are teachers who have been teaching for 3 years said to me it doesn't really get much easier as once you have more experience you have to take on more responsibilities which comes with of course more paperwork!
I hope everything works out for you all, you are not alone. Teaching is an extremely hard profession and I don't think teachers get enough credit for it, no wonder the statistics for people dropping out of their training year, NQT year and first 5 years of teaching are so high!!
If you do want to go back to it don't listen to people that say it restricts your chances. There was 2 people on our cohort that had dropped out last year and reapplied and I have spoken to other universities before I made the decision and they said as long as you meet the criteria there should be no reason why you wouldn't be able to reapply. I may put in an application next year or in a few years time to give myself enough time to read over everything prior to the course but first I think I just need to see what is best for me.
In all honesty it will get easier in places but if you are this point already and you are near the start of your course it will only get worse. In that they will give you more and more resposibility. I would hate for anyone to go through what I went through.
My story is that I did a 4 year QTS, where we had a 6-12 week placement each year. My first 2 years were OK. I am not saying I sailed through but I passed with a 3b/3a both years. I was used to the ridiculously long hours and hard work. What most of you are experiencing was just my normal day too. Between placements I remembered having nightmares about going back into schools but I was adament to continue as this is what I always had wanted to do.
In my 3rd year I had a horrible placement in which I fell out of my mentor. My confidence dropped and I was getting worse rather than better. I couldn't sleep. I was getting up at 6:30am and going to bed after midnight. My weekends were non-existent. Looking back I should have stopped after 3 or 4 weeks but instead kept going for 6 weeks. The only reason I didn't do the last 2 weeks was because on Friday or Week 6 I just bursted into tears for no reason and couldn't teach any more. My University were lovely. They suggested I went to a doctor as they believed I was depressed.
In the end I was diagnosed with cognitive-behavoural anxiety. Even 4 months later, just someone mentioning the school's name would cause me to burst into tears. My Uni persuaded me to do an aftenoon a week in a middle school, it took me several weeks to just to teach one lesson without shaking or crying.
I dropped QTS and although I am teaching still it is in a better environment and has taken me as long time to get to this point. Even now, nearly 5 years later, I still get butterflies if I smell scents that remind me of that school or anything which gives me flash backs. It took nearly 2 years after to stop the tears in total.
So... please if you feel your mental health is being effected just stop. The consequence can effect the next few years and it is just not worth it. Like I said I would hate for anyone else to go through this.
This is the short version. If you want to see my full story, you can read it here:
www.lifeascarlybishop.wordpress.com, under 'The Story So Far'. [It won't let me paste a link]
I thought it was just me, but I think anyone would be bemused/hopeless with
- Being completely sleep deprived
- Lost in my lessons (observed twice in 2 months...)
-Told I was not good enough for OFSTED (how can you be after 1 month????!)
- Having to drive at high speed across the borough to get to my training on time and then back for parent's evening, no time for dinner
- Every minute micromanaged
- Being given "the worst student in the school" and told to give him chocolate bars when he didn't "play up" (i.e. if he underlined the date and stayed in his chair all lesson)
- Being left alone to monitor the year 9 playground on my own, in a playground surrounded by trees where noone else could see me (me, a petite 20 something woman and 100 teenage boys, very safe)
I felt like I was completely incompetent and the world's worst teacher although I had worked and volunteered really successfully with teenagers before. Although it makes me so so sad to read that other people have had to suffer experiences like mine, at least I know that I'm not the only person who has experienced severe anxiety from the teacher training. Hey, maybe some people are cut out to work 12 hour days and give up their relationships and family life, but let's be honest, it's not sustainable when you're past 25.
I felt gutted to have to be signed off, but I was the same as you Sportycb, I had panic attacks about even going anywhere near the town where my school was and couldn't go in to take my stuff back. I was unable to drive and even began to feel a bit suicidal as had spent my whole year focusing on finishing my Master's and starting teaching the subject I loved. It made me question everything I thought I was good at. It was a combination of many things, but the ridiculous skills test was just the start. I had already been given a teaching role, but had the stress of passing the maths (nothing to do with my subject) and it all being dependant on my result (despite my first in languages, where I got the highest grade in my year). The total lack of support exhausted me, drove me over the edge,and left me on anti depressants. It makes me despair that trainees are driven to this. I'm slowly improving, but please, if you are that unhappy, hand in your notice. Nothing is worth your health.
Although I love teaching, working in a state school is toxic for many people and the government has serious work on their hands if they want to stop people from leaving and trying the "real world" where their job doesn't leave them with 3 hours sleep a night and a blubbering wreck. I hope everyone on this thread has found a job which enhances their lives and wishing you lots of luck in your job hunt!x
I, too, am doing a Schools Direct PGCE and in all honesty, I've never been unhappier. The initial weeks were ok where the workload hadn't quite hit me yet but after that first half-term where you're given your classes (and essays begin on top of that), my motivation and mental well-being have plummeted.
I've always really enjoyed my subject and thought a great way to spend my life would be to pass that enjoyment on (I always felt my best teachers at school were the ones who obviously enjoyed it). I didn't know how exactly I would do it and had initially planned to teach abroad after university in some role or other but when my mum was diagnosed with cancer, I stayed home and a PGCE seemed a logical way to give me a good qualification and remain local.
However, despite being told of the workload, I had no idea that it would affect my life so much. Quite literally, the only times I have socialised have been at half-term or Christmas. Even then, your mind cannot switch off as you always believe there is work you should be doing. I have lost sleep, woken up in the middle of the night panicking about imagined classes. Despite being a 24-year-old man, stress has reduced me to tears more than once. Most days, from the moment I wake to the moment I go to sleep, every minute is dedicated to working or stressing about work. I have a long-distance relationship which is constantly put under strain by my frustration and complete lack of time. An hour's conversation with her will make me feel like I've lost an hour's working time.
In November, I was seriously on the verge of quitting myself and it is mainly the financial incentive (and having a qualification to show for my time spent doing it) that stopped me. I have continued to this point and would think it foolish to quit now given how far I've come but I have no doubt that I will continue to hate it until the end of the year.
It must be said, however, that there have been moments I have enjoyed. When you have a nice class who want to learn, you have characters who you enjoy speaking to, you get glimpses of the reasons why you wanted to get into teaching. On the other hand, these moments are eclipsed a hundredfold by the stress and pressure.
Unless you're seriously committed to being a teacher in the UK and you see it as a life-goal you couldn't live without achieving, then do the PGCE. Otherwise, do not.
I started a secondary maths pgce this year and left just last month. I understand how everyone feels and how tough it is. I had a really strict mentor and I was in a really challenging school, she would constantly shout at me and criticise me for the smallest mistakes I made. It was like she expected me to be perfect from day one. I did really bad on my first placement and my confidence was really low due to the experience I had in placement 1 thus ultimately I decided to quit. I am now working as a TA in a secondary which I really enjoy and I may go back into teaching in the future but I'm going to have a good think about whether it's what I really want to do. Because I found even though you get some lovely kids it is very difficult to manage behaviour a lot of the time. I think I prefer working in smaller groups and I find teaching a whole class is quite difficult and nerve wracking.
Hope everyone finds happiness in whatever they decide.
I can sympathise with the relationship part. I hope you can talk to your girlfriend so she can understand how stressful it really is. I miss some of the great students and the way they made me laugh every day. Yet it still doesn't make up for all the hours of tears and lost time with my family. Best of luck Boromir
I completely agree with that sentiment though, you weigh up both sides and it's not a difficult choice. Plus being that stressed outside of the classroom is hardly conducive to a healthy well-being and can only be a detriment to your teaching.
Being a TA is something worth considering though as I/you would still be able to make an impact.
I wish you the best as well
My coursemates, my friends and my family all said that I'll make a great teacher, and I did manage to get some positive outcomes from my interventions in the placement prior to my withdrawal due to stress. However, I am really not sure now. Yet if I stop the course now, it just seems that I have thrown away a good working environment (12 years industry experience) for nothing but stress, unemployment and a massive student debt.
Was it difficult to gain employment as a TA/LSA after dropping out from PGCE? I am still committed to education but am worried that schools would look down upon my experience.