I was quite awed last year about having a trainee for a full year – I needn’t have been: my trainee was competent, conscientious and also very pleasant.
When September came this year, I was confident that I would probably have a similar experience and be responsible for a youngster who was eager to learn and share teaching enthusiasms and doubts. I didn’t worry – I should have!
This year my trainee is 56. When he was younger he had no desire to teach and he went to college to study economics and management. Later he specialized in IT and worked in this sector for over a decade.
At some point in his professional life, he decided to switch to teaching and because he had lived in Britain for a number of years, teaching English must have looked like a good idea. Like all potential teachers in France, he took, and passed, the very difficult exam that allows candidates to become qualified teachers – provided their training is a success.
Unfortunately the last part did not happen and he is now repeating his training period, with me as his tutor. His weakest point is class management. This man shuns conflicts and thus implicitly allows the students to test his limits. Therefore the noise level in his classes often reaches an intolerable level as the students are busy talking rather than working.
Advising trainees on class management is far from easy. The way you manage a class has to do with who you are as a person. What works for me – apart from common sense – might not work as well for another teacher. In addition my task is all the harder as this person is older than me and not always ready to acknowledge his failings and shortcomings. It does not help that he is also not very brave and will use the same lessons and tests with very different classes.
Because of this reluctance, each of my visits is followed by a short exchange and then an email where I try and clarify what went well, what went wrong and how he could improve. So far however I have seen very little change and I am not sure how I can help him in a positive and efficient way.
I’m sorry you are having such a frustrating experience. Are you able to speak with the person who supervised him that last time to get their take on things?
I hadn’t thought of that; maybe I should try. Instead I have told our inspectors and another teacher will come for a visit to give different insights and advice. Thanks for your concern.
It’s interesting to think about what it must be like from his point of view. I’m just getting to the point where I’m starting to encounter professionals and experts who are younger than me and who I have to respect. It’s kind of a challenge for me at any rate.
I imagine that things are far worse from his point of view.
This must add to your workload. Do you find it onerous?
We have such an abundance of teachers here that I can’t imagine someone starting out at that age finding work.
When you are a tutor, you are more or less expected to visit your trainee once a week on average (I try to see different classes) and he attends one of my lessons every week.
As regards your second point, the point is that things work differently here. The special exam we take entitles us to a job in teaching, that’s why it is so hard. There are lots of candidates but a very limited number of places.
Good luck with him! Sounds like a less than ideal situation, for you and for him.
Sounds like a less than ideal situation, for you and for him.
This is putting it mildly. I feel sorry for him and frustrated that I can’t help him more. I am worried (and he must be too) that he will fail and have to find another job, which at his age will not be easy.
It must be hard for him to be in the position of having to be supervised by someone who is younger, although much more experienced.
Perhaps it might be less threatening if you were to initiate a conversation in a neutral space. And to focus on just one area on which he might focus., say volume level in the classroom. By taking the interaction out of the classroom, he might not feel as defensive hearing the advice.
I had not thought of the neutral space but am not quite sure where we could go.
Concerning your second point, I do this and try to stress one area for improvement when I write my short reports. I also think that if class management improved the rest would probably follow.
I feel your frustration and empathize with you.
I am sure it is difficult for him, transitioning, but there must be a way to blend your training abilities with his need for training. What the answer is, I have no idea.
I agree with you about his anxiety concerning the whole situation but I sometimes feel that talking to him about his difficulties is as easy as trying to catch an eel.