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I don't think I can continue

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by mandolin123456, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. mandolin123456

    mandolin123456 New commenter

    Thanks all for your replies to my previous post when I asked for advice. I have tried to give it a few more weeks at the school but I feel like I am really too stressed out and going to fall apart any minute. For those who aren't familiar with my last post - I started this job in September and by day three I was sobbing my heart out because I felt like I had made the worst mistake and I felt so stressed already. I need to say that I have suffered from some sort of anxiety in different forms since I was a child so I am aware that I take things to heart and get stressed out when others wouldn't. However, I feel like my current environment is making me ill. It's not that it's a terrible school - the staff have been mostly supportive and friendly. The students are mostly okay. I really enjoy teaching - I like the classroom, I like the subject. However, I am exhibiting behaviour that is worrying me and it stems from the feeling of being watched all the time - the book looks, lesson observations, a colleague ratting on me to my boss because he thought I wasn't getting through material quickly enough and then been hauled into a meeting. First, the book looks - we had one recently and I know that my books aren't marked as well as they should be and that I haven't ticked all the boxes as a brilliant (or probably even satisfactory) marker. I heard my manager talking about another set of books that they had just checked that another colleague had handed in and the conversation went something like "he hasn't marked the books at all" (said in a conspirational whisper) and I'm just letting you know so that you can, in a supportive way, keep an eye on him and make sure it's getting done. Now I know that will be the case with my books too ... I'm so tired of this ... I feel like I'm on tenterhooks all the time waiting to be told the next thing I'm not doing in enough detail and having someone watch me (in a supportive way!) to make sure it gets done. There's another book look coming up and I share a class with another teacher for this KS4 class - I checked their books and they have much more marked work from the other teacher than me. I look shameful. I'm tired of feeling so useless because I'm starting to believe maybe I am. Maybe I'm not a good teacher - perhaps I have been deluding myself. I feel sad about this all because actually I do enjoy teaching and I try my best for the kids I think ... but, according to the current system, I'm no good.

    Now, the reason for the 'I don't think I can continue' post title - I feel like I am heading towards a nervous breakdown. I am not taking care of myself properly, I never bother with make up anymore etc etc. Students come running past my classroom banging on the window and I feel like I am going to flip, when I walk through the school and students scream at the top of their voices I also feel like I'm going to flip. My heart starts beating faster and I feel like I'm just going to fall apart. I find myself going into a daze for no reason and sort of realise after a while that I have bene completely zoned out. I start saying aloud before a certain class "please let me get through this", "please let me get through this" over and over again. Bad behaviour in the class is something I feel like I cannot control anymore and I feel like I don't care that much ... and when a kid does something naughty or is really rude I feel my whole body tensing and again I feel like I am going to freak out.

    So, lesson obervations, book looks etc. and the feeling of being watched all the time and yes, it is the way I perceive it, perhaps I should just accept it and get on with it but i don't feel like I can. I woke up crying yesterday, I went to sleep crying the night before. I drag myself to work. I'm only happier when I leave. I really am not feeling like I am coping.

    I'm posting because I feel ashamed - I feel like I have to take time off or get signed off because I feel like I am falling apart - but, I don't want to let colleagues down, I don't want to let the students down. I feel so guilty - I feel like maybe I'm just lazy and don't want to work. I don't think this is the case though. I need to leave this school because it's not for me. My anxiety condition, coupled with a recent bereavement, coupled with the unrelenting stress of everyday is driving me mad (I feel like it). But i feel guilty. I don't want to go back to this school because I don't feel like I will cope. But, like I said, I feel so guilty as I don't want to let people down and feel like I should just accept things and stop fighting. However, I don't want to accept being micromanaged constantly because it makes me feel like an utter failure and that I'm no good at my job (even though the micromanaging is done in a "supportive" way). If I leave teaching what will I do - that also scares me.

    My family think I should leave. My doctor is of the opinion that I am grieving from my recent bereavement - I think I was coping with this ok until all the stress of the new job compounded it.

    So, I don't really know what I'm looking for here. I'm entitled to sick leave but I've had sick leave off for stress before at a previous school - so, again, I feel like it's me and I should just accept it. I'm really battling to get my thoughts in order and feel like I'm not making much sense here. All I know is that I can't go on like I am as I feel like I'm falling apart. I have been to my GP (numerous times), I have tried medication, I'm on the waiting list for counselling but I think it's all down to where I'm working and having to put up with crazy stress and expectations every day.

    Thanks for taking the time to read. I feel a bit selfish because I have posted twice and never offer advice on other people's workplace dilemmas.
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Can you ring the Education Support Line and have a long chat about anything and everything? They aren't a counselling service as such, but can act in a similar way and give you advice on where to find support and possible courses of action.

    To be honest, having students screaming in corridors and banging on windows and doors doesn't sound like a great school to me. Certainly it's behaviour I've never seen, but I've only worked in what could be called 'easier' schools. Have a look around for other schools which might not have the high level of scrutiny and tricky behaviours.

    Time off isn't the end of the world. Students will still learn. School will carry on. Do what you need to do to get through this and worry about work another time.
    Stiltskin, gemfrome, drek and 9 others like this.
  3. AlwaysAdaptable

    AlwaysAdaptable New commenter

    So sorry Mandolin. Leave and go on supply. Try primary. You would make a good year 5 or 6 teacher. Try it. If you don't like it go back to supply.
  4. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    I could have written a lot of your post - last weekend, I thought there was no way I would be able to walk into a classroom ever again. It's what acute anxiety / panic attacks do to you.

    It may not be of any help to you, because everyone is different, but I rang the Education Support line and they are ringing me on Monday. My GP offered to sign me off and prescribed anti-anxiety medication, neither of which I was keen on, but he also recommended a book called 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' which I downloaded and read straightaway. He said I could maybe try some of the strategies in the book but also talked to me about not over thinking things.

    It has been hard, but I have managed to go into school this week. What I've realised is that I do tend to over react to stress, and then panic, and make things worse. Mornings are the worst. The solution ((apparently) is to ACCEPT that you are going to panic and will feel awful for maybe an hour or so in the morning, but keep thinking to yourself that it is going to pass and you will then be ok. The first morning I tried this, I was feeling sick, my heart was racing and my chest was really tight; I was very sceptical but I kept telling myself it wouldn't last - after about an hour, I still felt stressed but the day seemed do-able, so I went in.

    It's only been a week and I may be a gibbering wreck on Monday, but it made sense to me: if the problem is not wanting to take time off work, the solution is to find a way to go in; if anxiety/panic attacks are what is preventing this, the solution is to find a way to control that; if you don't want to take medication, the solution is to find another way - which is what has brought me to where I am.

    You have to do what is right for you. I do think the stress and workload in more and more schools is becoming unsustainable and driving increasing numbers of teachers to seek support just to be able to carry on doing their jobs - which is just wrong.
  5. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    The first thing you must do is get out of the school. Resign and get signed off by your doctor as soo as you possibly can - you can't stay there - it's affecting your mental health too much.
  6. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    What makes you think things are any better in Primary?
    bevdex, BetterNow, Stiltskin and 8 others like this.
  7. eleanorms

    eleanorms Occasional commenter

    If marking is a struggle, years 5 and 6 are so, so, so not for you.
    OP, you are unwell. If you had appendicitis, you wouldn't feel bad about feeling ill and needing time off. And this isn't much different. If you can afford it, is part time an option? That school you are in sounds rubbish. Too many people looking at books and not sharing the responsibility of improving attitudes and behaviour.
  8. frankxwilliams

    frankxwilliams New commenter


    I had a class for the summer term which had a 1/3 of kids in it who were awful, most of the time.

    I happened to do some supply for a day in a city school this term with a year 4/5 class. Arrived, surprised to hear no planning as was told the opposite. They had had 3 weeks of different teachers each day so it was unsurprising to see the behaviour was terrible.

    A very long, stressful day, happily not been asked to go back and have since gone to secondary schools with much better behaviour, on the whole.

    This is the reality in many places if you take supply. Don't be fooled thinking primary is an easy transition.

    Lots of great reasons to make the change but it's still teaching after all.
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I know the feeling of starting to panic when students run past doors banging on them and screaming. It isn't somewhere where you want to be.

    As peakster says, resign and get signed off. Get advice from your union.

    Take some time off to get well then perhaps think about a change of career or some supply as a stop gap until you know what you want to do.

    Trust all works out.

    Do call the Education Support Partnership as they will be able to point you to other agencies/give advice etc.

    Take care.
    mandolin123456 and agathamorse like this.
  10. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    You are not well enough to be working at the moment. Go to your GP and get signed off. You need some time off to heal a bit and think things over. It could be teaching is not for you or the school is not for you. Maybe the school needs to realise that you are unwell and do more to help you.
    When I was ill, I kept going into work even though I knew I wasn't right. It only got worse until I had to have time off. I'm fully recovered now. There is hope. Don't feel guilty. If your family think you should leave it's a sign things are wrong - they're the ones looking out for you.
  11. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    You need to get signed off, it's not worth soldiering on. You have nothing to feel ashamed about. Where is the shame in trying your best? Don't rush into resigning. Take your time. Get better first and work out your plan B whilst off sick.
  12. mandolin123456

    mandolin123456 New commenter

    Thank you all for replying. I’ve been thinking all day and sleeping a lot too because I’m just so exhausted. I keep beating myself up and thinking I should just persevere, what about my pension, what about my future ... but I don’t think I can carry on. I feel like I’m not thinking straight and I really wanted to make this work but I’m so exhausted. Then I think maybe I just want to get signed off because I’m lazy but I don’t think that’s true. I thought to make myself feel better I should get signed off and resign straight away but that’s also a bad option as I do need the salary ... then I go back to thinking I’m just selfish. It’s such a horrible cycle of thought. I just know I need to make a change but I don’t want to hurt or inconvenience anyone. I need to stop overthinking.
    agathamorse, JohnJCazorla and pepper5 like this.
  13. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Forget primary - the stress of SATs would make you worse.
    You are ill.
    You aren't able to do the job properly at the moment.
    Get signed off.
  14. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    The job is making you ill. The stress you are suffering can lead to all sorts of health issues. You need some respite. get yourself signed off. Think rationally if your job is going to get better or will you always be on the back foot regarding the marking. How much of your life are you prepared to sacrifice to make sure your books are as well marked as some other teacher's? Is the behaviour at your school going to improve? Is there anything you can do to make things better?

    If the future simply holds more of the same as your current circumstances then you will become ill, your family will suffer and you will have that breakdown. Seek out another school or consider your future in teaching.
    mandolin123456 likes this.
  15. NoseyMatronType

    NoseyMatronType Star commenter

    I agree with the other contributors to this thread: you are not well enough to be at work right now.

    In the longer term though, there are two 'road tested ' publications that are cheap to acquire and should help you to get back on to a more even keel:

    The Mindful Way Through Anxiety : Break Free of Chronic Worry and Reclaim Your Life by Susan M. Orsilo and Lizabeth Roemer

    Power Over Panic by Bronwyn Fox
  16. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Of course you do.
    I don't know when you first wanted to be a teacher, but for many people it happens young in your teens already. "I want to be useful" "I want to make a difference" "I want a professional role" "I want the chance to progress" "I work well with kids" "I'm really good at my subject and want to share that". All that.
    Nobody bursts that bubble, because it is a laudable acheivable goal. "Hurrah" they say. "Go for it. It will be lovely to be able to say you are a teacher".
    So you get good GCSEs, then you get your A levels and then you graduate and then you do teacher training. Blood sweat and tears, dilligence and poverty, assignments and practicals, all toward the goal.
    You spend years giving everything to a goal, yet with one piece of the jigsaw withheld until you are actually in there. It is in fact a shiit job, designed to suck every last shred of self respect and competence from the strongest person.
    Eh? Why did nobody mention that in the first place? Before the years of toil whilst you were still a developing person? This deception is just about too much to take on. What a complete wind up! What a purposeful royal waste of your time!
    However, if you can tell yourself you are rubbish, it makes more sense, doesn't it? Because nobody would have been mean enough to say that to you.

    Fact is, you need to make a choice between the two opposing realities. Is it a shlitt job, or are you an inadequate person?
    I don't think you need a self help book here, because that means there is something about you that needs fixing. There isn't. you are perfectly nice and kind. Literate. Qualified. Caring. Resourceful. And so if you take the job out of the equation-BAM-what a life!
    I hope you find a way. They are your circumstances, they are truly complex, but it is never impossible to gain a new life by making just one major change. Never impossible.
    verers, MsBehaving, Alice K and 8 others like this.
  17. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    You accept that you need to leave - this school is bad for your health. One worry you cite is that of the effect on your pension. It's not worth feeling anxious about a pension if you won't live to enjoy it, is it? You've been working in teaching for a while now (I am not quite sure how long) and you will have built up a small pension pot. And it can now sit there until you need it. If you need fuller information, contatc a pension advisor. But the pension is no reason to put your long-term health at risk.
    No-one knows what the future will bring you, but something may suddenly appear which is perfect for you. At the meoment, you are unable to think clearly, and you deserve to be in a better place. One decision has been made - you need to leave - so resign. Deal with the rest afterwards.
    Oh, and don't feel selfish. When I was off with WRS I lurked for two years, taking in all the advice. I didn't post until some years after I had left the school. So your posts are probably helping others who are reading them, and so is the advice many wonderful TESSERS offer.
    Take care.
  18. mandolin123456

    mandolin123456 New commenter

    Thank you all. I did go into teaching because I wanted to make a difference: from sbkrobson post (I don't know how to do the fancy box text stuff!!) : I want to be useful" "I want to make a difference" "I want a professional role" "I want the chance to progress" "I work well with kids" "I'm really good at my subject and want to share that". All that.

    Unfortunately I feel like I was deluded and maybe a bit naive.

    I qualified in Australia so have been teaching full time in the UK for eight years so I don't have too much of a pension saved. Thanks mothorchid for your advice. It was a difficult transition teaching here because I hadn't been taught here and I have always felt on the back foot.
    Shedman and agathamorse like this.
  19. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Get signed off for work related stress. As others have said see your GP.

    Don’t make any big decisions yet. You are not yourself at the moment. Next resignation deadline would be in February for Easter (? I don’t know exact dates).

    Are you an NQT? School should be giving you support.
    Look after yourself for a few weeks.

    Concentrate on eating properly, getting exercise and trying to find a hobby you enjoy doing.

    Contact Education Support line as others have said.

    Think about alternative careers. (There are online tests online eg National Careers Service).

    If you need work later Invigilation (few hours low pay), 1:1 work, TA work still in education but lower pay. No after school work is the advantage.

    If you do day to day supply, primaries want about 90 books marked by the end of the day so stick to secondary.

    Supply can be a good way of getting your motivation back but irregular work so can be stressful in that way. With poor behaviour you can take a deep breath and think “I never have to come back here ever again”. It makes you feel a lot better. Also, you realise that schools aren’t always good at judging how good/bad behaviour in their school is.

    If you feel behaviour is bad then it is. If the school has no systems in place that help you follow through then it is not a good place to work.

    Good luck.

    Please take time off.

    I haven’t read your other post but I am just beginning to get back to my normal self after a bereavement 5 years ago.

    Take care.
  20. install

    install Star commenter

    Do you have a support base in the uk that you can rely on - friends that you can talk to (outside of your job) ? What matters more than your job is YOU, more than teaching and more than marking is YOU.

    So - be selfish and love YOU. Go to the GP, get signed off. Do things that make YOU happy if you can.

    You need to find HAPPY YOU again :):):)

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