Letting go of what we think is the best outcome

by Hazel B
(Eastbourne, East Sussex)

Many years ago on a month long teaching practice, I was allocated to a class of 7 year olds. The teacher, Mrs M, appeared friendly in the staff room but took every opportunity to undermine me in the classroom. I worked hard to prepare topics and materials as instructed, but she kept contradicting her instructions making me look unprepared. We students knew that complaints would be seen as excuses so I resigned myself to unfairly getting a low grade. As my previous grades were high I decided to put this experience down to bad luck and move on but I must confess to some resentment.

Before I left, the Deputy Head told me that the staff saw Mrs M as an unsuitable trainee teacher mentor as students allocated to her were always awarded low grades, starting off enthusiastically and then becoming dispirited. But the Head refused to see a problem, so the situation just carried on.

The following year my tennis partner, Dave, was allocated to Mrs M. This is a truly remarkable coincidence as he was the only student I knew in the year below me and the placements involved hundreds of students and schools over a wide area.

Fore-warned, from the very beginning he got her to sign and date every instruction which he put in writing. Despite this, she still tried to get up to her old tricks. By the end of the first week, he had all the evidence he needed and applied to the Training College for a transfer which was granted.

Although my experience wasn't happy, it was rewarding to see that it was a necessary step in the process of changing what had been a longstanding negative situation and prevented the unfair treatment of future students.

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