Do teachers eat their young?

My Mum was living with us last week to help me out with the kids; doing school drop-off/pick-up, homework, giving them attention etc and simply just helping me out with everything!  I am doing a 5-week teacher practical experience at a high school and somehow I am managing, only just!, to teach/learn as best as I can, to still be a *decent* Mum, wife, friend, daughter and researching/writing for 3 big University assignments and preparing for an exam in June.  Oh and I was sick for most of last week too.

So I’m obviously stressed.  Yet, it seems normal/right to walk into the school with a smile on my face and a positive attitude.  It’s been nearly 3 weeks now and I think many people reading this would be surprised if I told you that there are still some teachers at school who still can’t look me in the eye and say “Good morning” back when I greet them. I’ve heard teachers *rant* about how the prac students have “got it easy these days…..when I was a prac student I didn’t even have a desk in the office!”  So if your prac experience was so “horrible” then why not celebrate the fact that it’s better here NOW at YOUR school?  What does this say about the teachers and their support of beginning/prac teachers?

Today my copier number (which is shared with other prac students and other teachers know the number also) ran out and so I had to ask for it to work again.  Guess what happened?  I got a lecture about how I’ve racked-up 500 pages in the past 2 weeks!  I don’t even have network access to the copier so most of my printing is actually done at home.  I argued my case, of course!, and stated that at most I would have likely copied 40-50 pages in the past 2 weeks.  I can’t imagine I would have had the nerve to argue back in my early 20s.  Plus it didn’t really feel like a lecture about the copier, rather a performance of hierarchy, like putting me in my place – you are just a prac student and don’t forget it.  The sad fact is that this type of behaviour happens a lot & seems to be culturally OK… my opinion, this would be especially demoralizing if I had been young and less aware of business-etiquette, workplace culture etc.

Fortunately, my actual mentors are pretty cool.  I’ve somehow managed to get 4 different mentor teachers this time; it’s been interesting!  🙂

So, while my Mum (she’s a nurse) was here last week we discussed this type of thing and she told me about all the research and realities in nursing regarding “nurses eating their young”.  From what my Mum described and what I’ve read online it sounds like young nurses can sometimes have a really rough time of it and it’s often linked to the stress that the supervising nurses have in their daily job.  I find this type of thing really discouraging.  I believe there should be a culture of nurturing training nurses and teachers, or with any other type of job mentoring.

Joe Bower also posted about this type of thing but in relation to beginning teachers, not prac teachers….I recommend reading it.  I wonder if we could retain some of the teachers that leave the profession early if we gave them a little time and showed them that we care.  I look forward to the day when I become a supervising/mentor teacher, I will help those prac students grow, learn and find their own teaching style.

5 comments on “Do teachers eat their young?

  1. jasbrix says:

    Hi Elke, I hope the rest of your prac experience went smoother and without photocopier troubles.We should make a pact to help ensure our prac students in the future don’t feel like they are going to get eaten!


  2. Margaret says:

    …as I have always done too Elke with student nurses. It is worth it!


  3. […] that I am not sure if they are even aware of it!  For an intern or prac student I find this culture to be non supportive and uncaring. These types of working environments may be one of the reasons why many teacher leave the […]


  4. […] I think I stumbled on this hierarchy problem first when I was on Practical experience while completing my degree: Do Teachers Eat their Young? […]


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