For any trainee, stepping out in front of a roomful of pupils and taking charge is a pulse-quickening prospect. Anthea Davey offers advice, and PGCE students and tutors offer more
The relationship that PGCE students have with their mentor is a fundamental one. It is therefore very upsetting for students if their mentor is too busy to give them much attention, possibly cancels the weekly meetings and generally makes them feel a burden. This problem, advises Paul Woods (featured left), is best tackled directly. Acknowledging the competing demands on the mentor's time and trying to be self-reliant are good starting points, but the weekly meetings are part of the course and should be insisted on. If all else fails go to the school-based tutor. If you share questions and problems with other colleagues, it may create additional support and reassure the mentor that you are not overly dependent.
In some cases, a mentor may feel threatened by a student who seems very confident and react by withholding praise. Again, it is probably best to address this directly. Make the mentor aware that you are benefiting from their expertise, but would also value their encouragement.
The mentorstudent relationship can, in rare cases, be difficult, but it also has the potential to be rewarding. Ideally, it is a process of open discussion, resulting in a qualified teacher who is confident and reflective.