I lie awake planning what I would say to my daughter’s teacher should he ever be unfortunate enough to be stuck in a lift with me. After three weeks in his classroom, my daughter has gone from being enthusiastic and highly motivated to disillusioned and completely lacking in confidence.
I am not a doting mother whose child can do no wrong. Nor is she a five-year-old starting school. She is a PGCE student on her second teaching practice. She was so well regarded on her first that they offered her a job in September. Clearly, then, she is not incompetent.
But since she started this new school, she has experienced nothing but negativity from the form teacher. During the first week, he failed to acknowledge her beyond a curt “good morning”, or to involve her with the class. He does not offer advice and he returns her lesson plans over and over again, each time requiring a different alteration. He shows no warmth or interest in her progress, clearly regarding her as the cross he must bear this term.
As a mother, I am naturally sad about this, but as a teacher I am outraged. Teaching is a challenging profession for us all, but particularly for people starting out.
If we who are experienced do not support those who are new to the classroom, how will they ever learn to be good teachers? If we know that constant criticism is detrimental to our pupils’ success, why would it be acceptable with student teachers?
I try hard to keep my daughter excited about teaching, talking about how learning to work with difficult people is a useful skill and that she owes it to the children to persevere. But privately I despair that she – and no doubt others – are being deterred from teaching by colleagues who should relish the chance to pass on their skills.
The writer is a teacher in the South of England
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