Trainee teachers get a raw deal



Does a medical student get to work on a patient/diagnose a patient for the first time unsupervised?

Does a trainee mechanic get to work on the brakes of a car for the first time unsupervised?

So why is a trainee teacher who is on teacher practice in a classroom, usually unsupervised?

Because the main teacher has buggered off, that’s why.
Sooner or later the Department of Education will have to clamp down on this, and we as professional teachers will have to toe the line. Now some of us spend this time productively, while more of us use it to have an extended coffee break, or if we get lucky we can even leave the school early or arrive late in the morning.

In fact if we plan it out properly in advance we can even give ourselves the day off.

Point is, this shouldn’t happen. In a training hospital there is an understanding that the ‘master’ doctor (isn’t ‘master’ a horrible term – or am I just too PC?) assumes responsibility for the trainee; shows him (or her) the ropes, and gradually exposes the trainee to a greater level of responsibility. Why do we get away with not doing this?
Yes of course I am generalising, but does anybody even know to what extent? Do some schools have a policy on this?

The temptation is often to give the trainee teacher a transition-year class and the rationale may be publicly that it is unfair to an exam class to expose them to a new teacher, which certainly seems reasonable, but then a transition-year class is always going to be more difficult to motivate – and discipline (could this add to the attraction of ‘fobbing it off’ onto a hidip?). So if we are sticking a new teacher with this class, the onus should be on me as the main teacher to remain in the class at all times.

It does create a slightly artificial atmosphere, but what I have found is that most of the time the students quickly forget about the teacher at the back, and just get on with on it. If the trainee-teacher has problems controling the class this will soon become obvious, with or without another teacher at the back.

Isn’t there also an insurance issue with leaving an unqualified teacher to run a practical session in a lab?

This brings up a second issue.
Why are these trainee teachers teaching classes at all?
Wouldn’t they be better off observing as many teachers as possible to critique the different teaching styles? After all, they can be ‘blooded’ at any stage but chances are they will never again have the opportunity to sit in on a colleague’s classes. I’m arrogant enough to think that a new teacher could learn something from observing my teaching style; maybe it’s only how not to teach a class – but that’s still a valuable lesson that otherwise may never be learnt.
A colleague of mine is hoping to initiate a group of like-minded teachers who are prepared to let colleagues sit in on their classes, but purely from a timetable point of view it may prove unfeasible.

At least it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

It’s almost 40 years since we first put a man on the moon.
Is it possible to create a space/forum/platform for teachers to discuss these issues?
How would we respond?


One comment

  1. I agree with you. It is unfair on both the students and the trainee teacher. It promotes lowering of standards. Helpful supervisions of a trainee would improve standard and avoid long term problems

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s