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Dear James, I think I may be having a nervous breakdown....

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by BettyBackMe, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. Hi all, excuse the exaggerated title - although I'm not sure it is exaggerated.
    I am an NQT and I started my induction period, on a temporary contract in January. The school is one of the best in my county and the department, although not the same 'kind' of people as me are very nice and supportive of me in my professional judgements.
    The problem started when my PPA time got overlooked. Suddenly I was on a full timetable, 52 lessons a fortnight and I was struggling. I didn't have problems with behaviour managment per se, but I have all of the bottom sets and these children do push the boundaries as far as they'll go! My lessons are boring. I hate trying to get kids to do stuff they don't want to - I wanted to teach because I had a romantic notion that I would be "helping" people, but at the moment all it seems I'm doing is forcing them to do stuff they don't want to do in unimaginative and painfully boring ways.
    Then, last week I started imagining what it would be like to just put my stuff down on my desk and walk out of my room, walk out of the school. Every lesson I started standing up and thinking "I hate this" my classes would come in and I'd think "but I hate you!" (I know this is awful, but I'm not sparing the details here).
    Then, late last week one of my pupils asked me to explain something...and, I just looked at her and resented her (I'm not sure thats the word I'm looking for but it'll do)
    I don't understand. I've wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl, but now I'm sitting at home and I cannot face going in to work. I have had 5 days off already (3 days in January and 2 this week) and I'm worried about a) my NQT year, b) my finances, c) my references d) my sanity....(although I'm not sure worrying about my NQT year is pertinent - it doesn't exactly look like teaching is the place for me but I don't want to burn my bridges).
    I am not a nasty or vindictive person. I like working with other people, I like working with young people....what is going on?
    I can't do this....what do I do?!
    I guess, what I need to know now is: what are my options?
  2. Hi
    Everything you're feeling.....I'm feeling (and probably lots of other teachers). I got lots of support and advice on this forum recently. You are not alone!!!! Have a read....
    The fustration, the resentment, the worry, the doubt, the shear relentless nature of classroom teaching - it can feel completely engulfing.....and that's why many people get signed off with stress/depression.
    The fact that you're going through all of this, and still there, means something...you're strong, and I'm sure you're a damn good teacher.
    Easter is not that far away, and that's 1/3 of the NQT induction in the bag
    Hope things get better for you

  3. Ok, you are stressed, but probably not having a breakdown. That said, do visit your GP and discuss how you are, I'm no doctor and your health is first and foremost.
    If you are on induction then BY LAW you must have PPA time - it cannot be 'overlooked' and you must have NQT time (it matters not that you contract is temporary or even if it's a supply agency that employs you). If the school is not providing 10% PPA time and 10% NQT time making a total of a 19% reducation in your contact time then the school is breaking the law.
    Also, the guidnace states that a NQT should not be given classes that are known to be challenging - with just bottom sets the school is in some ways not allowing you to reach the induction standards.
    So, see your GP and explain what's happening and the GP may be able to advise - techniques for lowering stress - e.g. find a dedicated exercise time perhaps or some protected time for you and your partner/friends/family to remove thoughts of school etc.
    Talk to your mentor about the fact that the school is acting illegally (perhaps casually show the guidance (see: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/_doc/12703/080623%20Induction%20Statutory%20Guidance.pdf )
    and say how worried you are that the school may get into trouble with the LA...
    Talk to your union rep about the situation and seek help from them.
    Contact the teacher support network for help and support as well, phone, e-mail etc.
  4. Thank you for the advice James. I made an appointment with my GP this morning and he has signed me off of work for two weeks with anxiety and depression...and that is starting after my 5 days of self certification is up - its offical, I'm the scum of the teaching community. How will this affect my NQT induction?
    The doc said something interesting - he wanted to refer me to a psychiatrist but said "I don't do that for young people, it affects their work lives" is that true? if so, does this period of 'illness' count towards my everlasting record?
    I picked up from another teacher half way through the school year, and she had requested all of the bottom sets (incidentally she hurt a pupil and left in disgrace half way through the year) - so surely the school couldn't then alter the timetable?

    Thank you for the links

  5. And thank you Piano, I read through your threa - it's nice to know I'm not alone out here.
  6. Hello there,
    Reading your post almost mirrors the situation that I was also in back in September. I teach primary, so obviously the situation varies slightly, but generally I can completely concur with what you are going through. I started my NQT year in sept and within 3 weeks, I was signed off with anxiety and stress. I didn't eat for about 4 days in a row, couldn't sleep whatsoever as all I could think about was how much I was dreading going into school. However, my issue was actually all in my head as my school is AMAZINGLY supportive and I have a fantastic mentor and fellow staff. Without their support, I actually don't think I could have carried on. My main problem was the overwhelming feeling of this new responsibility that I had for 26 of other people's children - something I don't think my PGCE training quite ever prepared me for! I was so worried about meeting parents, planning, work-life balance, parent's evenings - all of the usual teacher related issues but I was just worrying prematurely before any of those things had really had a chance to become an issue! I was just getting myself all worked up and just couldn't face carrying on with it.
    However, after 2 weeks at home and a chance to re-group, I realised that this career is all I have ever wanted to do and I was determined not to waste such a fantastic opportuntiy. I would have been devastated with myself if I had given it all up after only a few weeks and like you, I couldn't see that it would ever improve. But, I can honestly say, hand on heart, IT DOES IMPROVE!
    With the help of my lovely fellow teachers and family of course, I started taking it a day at a time, got to grips with doing a reasonable amount of work after school and at weekends, but still allowing myself a life and time away from school, and just generally trying not to worry about things that hadn't even happened yet. I found that within days of going back to school, I had made the right choice with carrying on.

    I can now say, 6 months on, that I genuinely love it. Yes, ok, there are exhausting, overwhelming days, but they are much easier to deal with now that I have allowed myself that settling in period and realised that it is ok not to be the world's best teacher or even anywhere near it, straight away! You may find, you are unintentionally putting a lot of pressure on yourself which was my downfall.

    Please speak to your mentor, other staff and quite frankly, anyone who will listen as I found talking about it all really helped. The only other advice I can offer, is try taking up something like a new hobby, or even continue doing something you really enjoy at least twice a week. Force yourself to find the time to do it and you will really thank yourself for it. When I was going through my stressful time, a friend suggested I join a gym as she thought I would benefit from doing something that released all my stress of the day and gave me something to focus on that was nothing to do with school. I did exactly that, and now go three if not four times a week, straight from school. So, now when I get home from there, if I did have any anxiety or stress from the day's teaching, I have taken it out on the treadmill!

    Hope some of this was of use. I could just completely relate to what you wrote, but I promise from someone who couldn't see this myself, things do and will become a lot easier and more manageable.
    Lou x
  7. About 'resenting' the girl - I know how you feel. It's not that you resent children, but when you're frustrated and all you see is "But I don't UNDERSTAND! I don't get it *pout, whine, screwed-up face*" you feel a moment of irritation that they don't understand, as if they should somehow magically know and understand everything you're telling them. I'd be surprised if there aren't any teachers who feel like that.

    I have a similar problem to you. One lesson, I was panicking about the expectations on me so much so that I felt that I couldn't breathe. I wanted to snap every time a kid asked for help. I ended up running away, crying, and got someone else to finish my lesson. Pathetic, really, and until then I thought I was doing fine, but this is a high pressure job and sometimes everything just hits you at once.

    For you the problem is that you are having the law broken in three ways! NQT time, PPA, and known challenging classes. The laws are there for a reason. Just because you're unhappy there doesn't mean that you will be everywhere. Hard to believe, but some kids want to learn and listen!
  8. Hi BettyBackMe
    I hope you got sorted and stayed in the profession? I think the PGCEs have many failings and not trully preparing individuals for the first year is one, as is challenging and coping with being put upon by staff.

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