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Desperate to quit NQT

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by nqtnxiety, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. nqtnxiety

    nqtnxiety New commenter

    Hi all,

    I never thought I'd be one to post something like this on a forum, but here I am.
    I have finished my second term as a Secondary NQT (maternity cover), and embarking on final term.
    I have been having regular panic attacks almost every morning since January. I have been crying at work, locking myself in cupboards at break times for a bit of peace and quiet (there's no staff room), and falling asleep as soon as I get home during the week with no energy to even make dinner (my poor husband has been a star). I am physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. I feel empty and numb, and cannot face going in to work. Term only started yesterday but here I am again, taking a day off due to uncontrollable sobbing.
    When I go in to school, I want to escape it so badly with every inch of my being. This is not fair to the kids.

    My job is a maternity cover post, and she has now come back to work. The headmaster has told me I can stay to complete my NQT but if I find a job that starts immediately then he can afford to let me go.
    My family thinks I should suck it up for the final term as I would regret not completing my NQT year. I told my line manager about my severe anxiety and depression yesterday and he agreed that I would regret it.

    I'm in a horrible cycle of being damned if I leave and damned if I don't. I have no idea what I will do if I leave. All I know is that this job is making me seriously ill. I have never felt so low, ashamed and helpless.

    If you have been in a similar situation, how did you get past it??
  2. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    It might not help to know that you are not the first to feel like this - but you very much are not.

    It is a huge step from being a student doing some lessons to being a full-time teacher with all the responsibilities that go with that.

    But, can we take a positive look for a moment - you say the full-time postholder is now back in school.

    What does that mean for your workload? I imagine there will be rather less responsibility??

    It could just be that you will have a lighter load until the end of term.

    Just try to see what happens over the rest of this week and then take stock again

    One day at a time - it's already not the job it was last term.

    Good luck - whatever you decide.
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Sorry to hear about this. I agree with post #2.

    BTW Have you sought medical support via your GP? If not, I'd suggest that is your next step.
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    Wishing you the best - this is not an easy situation, nor an easy decision. You may well find there is less work this term than before. You may lose exam classes which should help. (Schools work differently, but there ought to be some gained time)
    Your line manager sounds positive - is he also your mentor? Can he suggest some ways forward. Could you team teach with others in the department? This would help your own classroom practice but also lessen the load for you.
    I would also suggest that, unless your family work in education, they may not be in a position to give informed advice about the job. Though, of course, they know you well and have your best interests at heart!
    Do you like the school? Do you think you'd like to stay in teaching or not? If you finish your NQT year, could you manage part-time work?
    Lots to think about, and big decisions. Take your time over them.
    Good luck.
    phlogiston and grumpydogwoman like this.
  5. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    What is it that you least like?

    Have you a history of anxiety?
  6. vinnie24

    vinnie24 Lead commenter

    There is nothing more important than your health.

    You should just leave.
  7. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    See your GP - it sounds as if you are currently not well enough to work - or make major decisions.

    Obviously if you are signed off for too much of this term, then you won't complete your NQT this term, but if the school is happy to keep you on, then you at least get a chance to return if/when you're feeling better, and see how that goes. (I don't know what your notice period is; it's possible that they will decide to give notice if you are off ill - check with your union what gives on that one. You're quite lucky that they offered to keep you on after the postholder's return.)

    When you are feeling less exhausted than you are at the moment, you need to work out whether you want to give teaching a try in another school - it's not clear from your post whether your current state is because you don't enjoy teaching, the school is not for you, or because you put too much pressure on yourself.

    Don't worry about the NQT year in itself - you need to work out whether you want to stay in teaching or not. But first you need to get better.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I sympathise, but am unsure of all the circumstances.
    It sounds as if your current head is going above and beyond the minimum needed to help you get your NQT year sorted.
    If your panic attacks are a consequence of walking through the door of the school, or the tiredness caused by the busyness of teaching, then perhaps you are not cut out for a full time teaching job.
    If the anxiety is caused by poor behaviour on the part of students or staff, then it may be that a change of environment would enable you to find your career.
    If you thrived during your teacher training, then maybe the school is the problem.How have your observations been? If they have been positive, then maybe the work environment is not the cause.

    The behaviour you describe suggests that you are under a lot of stress and perhaps need support from the medical profession. See what your doctor says.
    There is no dishonour in trying a job and deciding that it doesn't suit you.
    Good luck in finding a different niche.
    strawbs likes this.
  9. nqtnxiety

    nqtnxiety New commenter

    Thank you all.
    The headmaster is really generous in offering to keep me until NQT year is up, and I have always been grateful to him for that. It's a small department with just two full-time staff (me and HoD) and one other part-time teacher. The postholder who I have been covering is returning for two days per week, and she is taking three of my classes. I'm not sure yet how much of a difference that will make.
    My training year was very up and down. I was training quite far away from my husband and I put a lot of the anxiety I had then down to being away from family and friends. I did see a GP and had a course of CBT which helped.
    What I dislike the most about teaching is battling with classes every day, one after the other, for their attention and willingness to learn. It is a good school, but I feel the kids don't take me seriously as I am young and relatively easy to crack. I often find myself repeating simple instructions (like 'write today's date') 5 or 6 times because they collectively ignore me.
    My observations have been good - I feel when another member of the staff is in the room, behaviour is much better. As soon as they leave, it's back to being difficult.
    pepper5 likes this.
  10. themidlander

    themidlander New commenter

    I went through this, in part because the school was the wrong fit for me and completed my NQT year at another where I loved every minute. On reflection my/your immediate health is your number one priority. I was in touch with the GTC as it was at the time and the paperwork was dealt with by a new mentor at the second school. I'm sure your union will be able to advise similarly as well as appointed commenters here. Personally, I wasn't prepared to martyr myself but the NQT year is worth completing. Look into doing it elsewhere as an option as I didn't have to do it in one go. For context, I now no longer work in schools but it felt wrong to have the full extent of QTS.
    Cooperuk likes this.
  11. nqtnxiety

    nqtnxiety New commenter

    @themidlander Thanks so much for your insight. When you say you didn't have to do it in one go, what do you mean?
    pepper5 likes this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Your situation is undoubtedly tough.

    If you love teaching and really feel that you are cut out for the profession, then find another school. The best thing the school could do for you is to say 'it was a maternity cover and the original teacher came back.' Keeping you on is not actually helping, though I can understand why they think it would and I applaud them for an unusual degree of humanity.

    Finishing or re-doing your NQT year somewhere else would not be the end of the world. Don't tell anyone, but - it doesn't REALLY get easier as an RQT. What makes it easier is finding the right school.

    If you don't feel you are really cut out for teaching, then don't worry about it. Why would you want QTS anyway?
  13. vickysimpson1989

    vickysimpson1989 New commenter

    Sounds harsh but I would be tempted to suck it up and complete it. It is a very stressful time and I wouldnt say anyone finds it easy. But wouldnt it be worth the achievement even if you didnt continue teaching?
  14. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    It won't be much comfort to know that if you stayed next year behaviour would improve. It's not you it's them.Once they get used to a teacher things are normally better. Everyone finds it hard when starting a new job and the nqt year is notoriously hard. You have good obs and your school seems to want you to finish. You must be doing something right. Believe me if you were not making the grade most schools would be relieved if you said you wanted to go. See the doctor- you might be surprised how many experienced staff are getting help and if you can hang in there. Good luck.
  15. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    The classic "getting them to shut up and take notice".

    I see.
    • In the old days you could shout and/or bang a ruler on the blackboard/bang a book on the desk. Probably still can. But not during an observation.
    • Start writing on the board 5. Pause. 4. Pause. "What ya doin', Miss/Sir?" Say nowt. 3. Pause. "But Miiiiss???" "Just counting down until I start making a note of names for detention. I wonder how long the list is going to be....." Hope they shut up then.
    • The old "pretend to bang your head on the board".
    • Use the board again. Start drawing a picture of a fiver. Wait for some interest. Could be anything. But you could say you're offering a reward. They get excited. "Yes, this healthy apple I have here!" Brandish apple
    • Start a YouTube video (anything) really loudly. Make them jump.
    • Twirl a baton.
    Anything. Just make yourself someone to be reckoned with. Even in eccentric fashion. Kids love eccentricities. You back off on the razzmatazz as time goes on. You won't need it.
    pepper5 likes this.
  16. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi some very sound advice so far. What strikes me is that the school sounds supportive and you have had good observations. Perhaps you are just exhausted but you certainly should not be to them point of crying and locking yourself in a cupboard during breaks.

    You are just starting out and it is TOUGH to manage classes in 2018. However, with the support of your HoD you can get through the rest of this year, get your NQT then rethink your next step.

    You need to go back into the classroom with more confidence and ACT like you are confident even if you don't feel it.

    Be firm but fair. In your heart you have to believe you are the BOSS - every time. Let them know in no uncertain terms what you expect, tell them, praise them when they do it, and STAMP down on what you don't like immediately. You don't have to raise your voice or scream - just tell them and when they break the rules then there will be sanctions as night follows day.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  17. themidlander

    themidlander New commenter

    You have or had in the system I was within, a limited but not tiny amount of time with which to complete your NQT standards assessment elsewhere provided so much of it had been already submitted. I left one original place with part done NQT and worked for a little while at a school, who then eventually agreed to complete the process for me. My NQT year became more like an 18 month period but it would be worth reading up on how long after QTS you have to complete the NQT standards, as in my hazy memory it was quite a while, if not indefinite. Check with your union rep for specifics; my info would be quite hazy.

    I made sure and went and got well 1st. Life's too short to be crying alone and bearing things just because other people seem to do it and cope. Get yourself well, first and foremost the short breather was great for giving me perspective. Though I would look into the time frame you have so you can make a more informed choice and gauge whether the full QTS is worth obtaining. I'm glad I got mine as it's always there now should I choose to go back; but get yourself well 1st and out of that cycle.
    pepper5 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  18. themidlander

    themidlander New commenter

    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  19. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Go and have a chat with your HOD and see if the person returning can effectively team teach with you for the classes they are taking on, at least until you get some confidence back. Also you'll get some extra time which helps with the madness of it all. Use some of that time to observe the classes who drive you nuts with other teachers. Either you'll pick up some tips for managing them, or you'll realise they are a nightmare for everyone.

    Go in to work tomorrow and speak to your mentor, your HOD and maybe your head. Sort out a plan of action for the term and what you will do in the freed up time, who will come and cry with you at lunchtimes, who will bring you coffee and biscuits at break and so on. A dept of two is always a bit odd. Get some tips for how to socialise a bit more with staff. (I can't advise on how to do it with no staffroom...stupid idea to get rid of them!)

    What you describe as children not listening is totally normal for NQTs and it gets easier and easier as the years go by. Don't give up on teaching because your NQT year is hard or because you don't feel as good a teacher as everyone else. It takes a while to perfect the preventing poor behaviour strategies and the deadly stare. You'll be fab in the end.

    I also think sticking it out is the best idea and that you'll regret it if you don't.
    pepper5 likes this.

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