Tales from new teachers

28th March 2014 at 00:00
swamped by paperwork

The problem

I am doing my training year as part of a school-based programme that means I am learning while I teach. This puts a lot of pressure on my time as I am essentially balancing a full-time job with the demands of an academic qualification.

But my "trainer" at the school had no comprehension that this was the case. She demanded a paper trail longer than the Nile for everything I did and wanted a level of detail that an industrial microscope would struggle to pick out. It was getting to the point where I would get home at 6pm, write an essay until 11pm and then have to spend the hours into the early morning formulating progress reports.

The options

I come from a teaching family and both my mum and sister told me that the trainer should have been providing much of this detail herself through observations - I was doing the work for her. I spoke to other people on the same scheme as me and they confirmed that they did not have any such issues. The progress reports being demanded from me were not part of the course.

My family suggested that I send my trainer an email outlining the problem. Those on my scheme suggested a more formal meeting would be best, with a representative from the scheme present.

The result

I opted for the latter. Although it was tempting to email my trainer, I felt I probably couldn't resist becoming unprofessional as the anger at last found an outlet. So I emailed my tutor on the course and she agreed to set up a meeting. She did it really well, taking the angle of it being a "refresher about what the role of trainer and trainee entails" so that it wouldn't seem as though I had complained.

The tutor bought us both a coffee and talked through with my trainer the demands on my time and the expectations about what I should be doing. It turned out that the trainer had no idea of the pressure I was under, nor that the progress reports she was making me fill out were a hindrance rather than a help. She ended the reports immediately, apologised and said she wished I had let her know I was struggling.

This was a good lesson for me about communication, and since then I have raised any concerns straight away. We now have a much better relationship and, without having constant reports to fill out, I am getting much more sleep.

The writer is a trainee teacher in the South of England

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