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Joining in September and leaving at Christmas - my anxiety is crippling me

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by blueturtle23, Sep 16, 2019.

  1. blueturtle23

    blueturtle23 New commenter

    I’ve just began my fourth year of teaching at a 2 form entry primary school. I’ve just relocated to the area and have moved in with my partner. Lots of new things have happened to me over the summer!

    Here’s something is took me a long time to admit. I’ve always had battles with anxiety and self esteem. They’ve varied in their severity and how much of an impact they’ve had on my life but right now I can feel myself spiralling and worry I’ll spend a large part of this year having to get signed off.

    I’m beginning to question whether teaching and the workload, pressure and stress we have put upon us is a trigger for me and I’m now more certain it is. This devastated me as I thought I’d wanted to be a teacher since I was 12 years old and it’s what I trained to do for 3 years at university. In all honesty, I feel deflated and defeated right now and that I’ve failed.

    This new school also does things in a way that I don’t necessarily agree with, primarily in terms of behaviour management and teaching and learning style, which has also been causing me to become more anxious. I’ve been feeling physically sick at the thought of going in and know it can’t continue. I appreciate this is early days but I’ve been given an overview of the way this year is going to look and I can’t say I’m pleased.

    I know for my mental heath and wellbeing and for the children and school having a mentally fit and able teacher, I need to leave at Christmas. However, I am scared what this is going to do for me future career wise. I don’t know if the school will be reluctant to give me a reference if I leave after such a short amount of time and potentially “leave them in the lurch”.

    I feel so uncertain about what to do as I don’t think I can mentally cope with a whole year here, but at the same time I don’t know what the future will hold for me career wise if I leave teaching potentially without a reference. I’m considering supply from January while I look for non-teaching roles.
  2. blueturtle23

    blueturtle23 New commenter

    Didn’t seem to post all of my message!

    Here’s the end:
    Does anyone have any experience with leaving after a short period of time like this? Did it have an impact on your employability after? I also would like to know how likely it might be that my school might be difficult and not give me a reference.

    Thank you in advance.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi blueturtle

    You tried teaching, it is not a good fit for you and if you are young, you can retrain and move on with your life.

    You are not a failure. I don't know the exact figures ( 40%?) of newly qualified teachers leave within 5 years of qualifying. Are they al failures? I hardly think so. Two factors affecting people's decision to leave are workload and behaviour but there are other reasons as well.

    Get some advice from your union on what the school's legal position is as far as giving you a reference. If you haven't done anything apart from deciding you want to leave, then they may have to give you a general reference of some sort which the supply agencies will accept.

    Once you leave then you can start to think about taking some further training in another field or stay in education in another role.

    You might benefit from some careers counselling to see what talents and skills you have that you would like to develop further.

    Ove on the supply forum there is a thread for people new to supply which might benefit you in January if you decide to do supply.

    These things happen. Life isn't always as smooth as we think it might be and no matter what lies ahead, you have done well to complete your teacher training.

    Thousands of teachers have trained, left and survived to tell the stories. Why do you think there is a teacher retention crisis??? One supply agency I know of has a director with £3 million in shares. How do you think he got all that money???? By hiring teachers desperate to get out of permanent roles!

    God bless you and all the best for your new beginning or whatever you decide.
  4. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Were you unhappy in your old school? Before you give up on teaching, check that it's not just the effect of a school that isnt right for you, at a time in your life with lots of upheaval anyway.

    Future applications: say what it is about the school you're applying to that makes it your dream school, then explain that you recently relocated so had limited time to obtain a post, so you took your current post pending finding one more like this one. Don't be negative about the current school, but highlight the things that attract you to the new one. If you end up on supply after Christmas, you can say that you realised it was better to spend some time on supply to get to know the schools in the area and find one that really suited you.
  5. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    If you resign at half-term then you're leaving nobody in the lurch. That's the point of the resignation dates. They get time enough to appoint someone else. And they can always use supply if they don't secure someone they really like!

    You're doing nothing wrong. Nothing untoward.

    The reference these days doesn't have to be a resounding paean of praise. It just has to say you're not a menace to children. It's not going to be a very long one. So what. You'll just have to write a good letter of application.

    If you can survive financially on supply it's a great way to suss places out!
  6. NoseyMatronType

    NoseyMatronType Star commenter

    Your initial post is incisively written and suggests to me that you are a very capable and conscientious person. So I wouldn't be too hard on yourself.

    Given that anxiety seems to be an underlying issue, whatever trajectory you decide to follow in the future, you might find this publication to be of some value. I can vouch for it personally and it has attracted lots of favourable online reviews.


    Bronwyn Fox's Power Over Panic is also very good.
  7. arl17

    arl17 New commenter

    Gosh, it’s almost as if I’ve written this. I’m in my 5th year of teaching now, and have battled with anxiety for many years, but it has worsened over the last 2 years (I’m currently on tablets) I feel the exact same as you, I am physically and emotionally drained already, I am so close to deciding to leave at Christmas. If there’s any advice I can offer from myself and what I’ve heard from others is to put yourself and your well-being first. At the end of the day, this is your life, you have to do what is best for you. You could always supply, or explore another option (I’m not sure what is out there!) but we have lots of desirable skills. I guess I should take my own advice, I’m still in my 20s but I am so unhappy in my role, and I know the school don’t really care. It was a huge deal for me to let slt know what was going on, but as the weeks are going, I’ve just had enough. We’ve had so many cuts, no 1:1s for statemented children, no ta’s, shortened lunches. I feel like I’m just rushing around like a headless chicken. Please look after yourself, only you can do this. A job is a job, your health is so important. I wish you all the best x
  8. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    I’m in secondary, but I have followed a slightly similar path. I used to teach full time but I found my health suffered too much. Every winter I’d get flu / viruses etc, and then I’d get behind. It was awful, I moved around a lot. I’ve now been doing supply for two years and in that time I’ve worked in some fantastic schools (private, outstanding, etc) and not been ill once. Yes, it’s less cash, but oh boy, have I got my life back. I work about three days a week and it’s lovely. I’m not ill, not tired, etc. If you want any advice on going to supply, ask in the forum.
    My mother (teacher) advised me not to completely chuck the teaching towel in. Maybe try supply for a bit and see how it goes? If you don’t enjoy it, leave teaching completely.
  9. curlcurlcurl

    curlcurlcurl Occasional commenter

    I had these feelings after beginning a new school following five years at my first. My old school offered me a position to come back which, in the end, I turned down as I put my feelings down to worrying about unfamiliar territory and decided I needed to give new school a chance.

    So I stayed and I was still there the following September and ended up the target of multiple leaders within the department to bear the brunt of some malicious and truly stressful and anxiety inducing workplace bullying.

    Did my CV look ‘better’ for staying for a year and a term? Of course. But at what expense? My mental health and well-being suffered enormously, I ended up having my first panic attack after being free of them for 9 years. I lost nearly 2 stone in weight and my self confidence in my skills as a teacher we’re crippled. If I had a time machine, I’d go back and leave after a term. My gut feeling was obviously spot on. One small instability on your CV is less of an issue than you might think, particularly when surrounded by stable periods. After all, we’re in a teacher crisis! And if teaching isn’t the right path anymore there are still loads of transferable skills you will have. Wishing you lots of strength to get through what seems like a tough time. Try not to worry about leaving anyone in the lurch. As someone said to me once, if you drop down dead tomorrow in your classroom, after years of loyalty, you’ll simply be replaced.
  10. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    There are a lot of jobs outside of teaching in game design, construction, surveying and more. Yes, more training is necessary but there are ways out. Dental hygienists make £40.00 per hour which isnt bad.
    blueturtle23 and curlcurlcurl like this.
  11. indemand

    indemand New commenter

    Hi Blueturtle

    I'm in a very situation to yourself - This year is my 10th year of teaching and I've moved school - I wasn't happy at my old school and needed to know whether it was the school I was at previously that was making me unhappy - I had been there for a number of years and the school had changed beyond all recognition. Turns out, it’s the pressures of teaching which is making me feel like this which has been a pretty devastating realization. Like you, I feel like I've failed after putting in so much time and effort.

    I feel totally conflicted because I love going in to the classroom - every day is different, I'm never bored and I love interacting with young people. I know that I am good at my job - I have achieved consistently good exam results over the years - not that this is necessarily the marker of a good teacher. More importantly, I know that I have had a positive impact on the lives of students that I have come into contact with. Despite that, I have to look at the impact that teaching is having on my life – in that, during the week I don’t really have one outside of work. To teach to the standard that I want to with all of the other pressures that are involved in the job is all consuming and it is really starting to take a toll on my mental health.

    I wouldn’t worry about the reference – as others have said, if you hand in your notice at one of the allotted slots you have done nothing wrong. As far as being asked why you left after such a short time, you could just point any prospective employers towards the TES community forums – I’m sure you are aware that you are not alone in how you feel and that finally the news media seem to be catching on to the pressures that teachers face on a daily basis.

    I am also considering doing supply for a but while I look for other things – having done a short period of it before it does give you a bit of a fresh perspective and a chance to see how other schools operate. Students will always play up for supply staff and it can be really telling how an institution manages to deal with that/manage it. I’ve decided to give myself the next couple of weeks to see if things settle down before making my final decision but I have my doubts that anything will change significantly. I too am worried about the effect it will have on my currently employer if I leave at Christmas as I know getting good teachers in my area is becoming increasingly difficult but I have to put my own health first – you really do only live once.

    Whatever you choose to do make sure you put your emotional and mental health first – something that in the past I have struggled to do and wish I had later. Best wishes with whatever you choose.
    blueturtle23 and Fluffest like this.
  12. blueturtle23

    blueturtle23 New commenter

    UPDATE: I recently met up with a former colleague of mine who is doing supply and talking to her and seeing how much better she is doing now has given me some perspective and clarity I feel. I know I will have doubts and fears in doing this, but I’ve decided to think of my mental well-being and I will be leaving at Christmas.

    I plan on talking with my phase leader tomorrow to outline my intentions and reasons. From there, I’ll go to my headteacher and do the same.
    arl17, pepper5 and (deleted member) like this.
  13. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    All the best blueturle23

    As long as you leave properly with notices in place, I am sure that no one would blame you and wish you all the best. Leaving a permanent role may not be forever as one day you may wish to return.

    There are plenty of jobs outside teaching if you retrain and you can do supply while you decide exactly what you want to do.

    It is a well known statistic that around 40% of new teachers leave within five years of qualifying and many leave because of the workload, behaviour, and poor pay and prospects.

    All the very best for your new venture(s) whatever they may be.

    Get yourself a bottle of champagne ( Lidl I hear do some good ones at a good price) and celebrate!
  14. blueturtle23

    blueturtle23 New commenter

    Thank you for your replies, advice and guidance. I truly appreciate it. Today is the day!
    pepper5 and Piranha like this.

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