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leaving teaching to save health

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by tired_and_old, May 3, 2012.

  1. hi
    i work hard and am one of those who sees teaching as a vocation. i am in my 4th year of teaching and keep waiting for it to get easier in terms of work/life balance but it doesnt. becoming a hod may not have helped this. Ive had every cold/chest infection going, suffered from insomnia, depression and anxiety. I am stressed a fair amount of the time. I try to eat properly but honestly have v little time to exercise properly as i have no routine-its all dictated by my workload, im seriously worried that im stocking up health issues for later on and my close family have all expressed concern over how much i work. If i do get time to myself all i want to do is sleep and im not keen on socialising or seeing anyone.

    BUT my questions are:

    Should I leave teaching to put my health first? Is there ever a point in teaching where it is maneagable and you can look after yourself? or am i kidding myself? I keep saying: next term/year it will be different because of x,y,z but that time never comes...

    opinions/advice please...
     
  2. hi
    i work hard and am one of those who sees teaching as a vocation. i am in my 4th year of teaching and keep waiting for it to get easier in terms of work/life balance but it doesnt. becoming a hod may not have helped this. Ive had every cold/chest infection going, suffered from insomnia, depression and anxiety. I am stressed a fair amount of the time. I try to eat properly but honestly have v little time to exercise properly as i have no routine-its all dictated by my workload, im seriously worried that im stocking up health issues for later on and my close family have all expressed concern over how much i work. If i do get time to myself all i want to do is sleep and im not keen on socialising or seeing anyone.

    BUT my questions are:

    Should I leave teaching to put my health first? Is there ever a point in teaching where it is maneagable and you can look after yourself? or am i kidding myself? I keep saying: next term/year it will be different because of x,y,z but that time never comes...

    opinions/advice please...
     
  3. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Hi Tao, you've lasted 4 years and got to HoD - do you enjoy the "teaching" bit? If yes, then the job's for you, if no, it's not.
    that's the key. Only you can do this and as concerned family members are worried, it's time to act now. Get yourself to your GP first and if they advise time off please take it. I'm talking from experience here (sorry to bore you!) School wasn't my main anxiety and my GP said I had come for help in time as I was just about unfit for work. He offered to sign me off but I said not at that time - I wanted to see if the ADs he prescribed worked first. They did work after 3-4 weeks and while I'm not 100% stress-free, I'm a lot better and can cope. He also gave me some sleeping pills which I take occasionally, but warned me about addiction.
    Once you are a lot less stressed you will be able to take stock, pace yourself better and have a life again. I suspect you are trying to do too much but we have to set smaller goals for ourselves to be effective - a burnt-out teacher is such a wasted talent.
    Take care and keep talking on here!
    Joni x
     
  4. LEAVE! It doesn't get better; leave whilst you are young enough to enjoy a different career.
     
  5. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Agree with jonowen, so important to put your own health first.
    Teaching <u>is</u> hard work and absolutely takes over your life if you let it.
    if you still enjoy teaching, then I suggest you try looking at trying to work out a better work/life balance. Take at least one weekend day or eveing off to do something 'just for you'. It will make you a better teacher too.
     
  6. misseviltoyou

    misseviltoyou New commenter

    I'm in the same position, a little further down the line. HoD, 7th year of teaching, signed off with work-related stress after having a bit of a meltdown. I took on too much because I loved the job and wanted the best for the students doing my subject, even the ones not being taught directly by me. I got v frustrated by some people in dept and by SLT because it felt like I was the only one who could see what needed doing and since nobody else seemed prepared to do it or able to do it, I just tried to do it all myself. I realise now how arrogant and stupid that was- it's made me the least effective teacher and leader it's possible to be because I'm not even there. Add to that a relatively distant history of mental illness, unsupportive SLT, toxic department (colleagues from other subjects warned me when I took it on, I tried but failed), and rapidly declining pupil behaviour (across the whole school, not just pupils acting up as a response to my stressiness); perfect storm and long-term absence with GP saying Work-related Stress shading to depression.
    It's possibly a bitter and cynical point of view but the point in teaching where it seems to become manageable for some people I've observed is the point where keeping the well-paid steady job becomes more important than pursuing the vocation and helping the children in your care. Presumably there is a balance, but the evidence suggests I'm not mentally equipped to find it.
    Put your health first. Try to delegate more. If you don't feel you can trust anyone in your department to perform the tasks you could pass on, talk to your line manager about developing your team. If you don't feel that your line manager/SLT in general are offering adequate support, talk to your union rep. You should also request a referral to Occupational Heath. Most SLTs don't ignore the findings of OH reports. If you need to take time off, do it. They say if you can survive the first five years, you can do it for life. They also said that about the first term of PGCE, the NQT year, and the first time you get assaulted by a pupil. Personally, I don't think it should be about "surviving" or "emotional resilience" - there need to be avenues of support that help people do the job, who want to do the job well, as you clearly do.

    Good luck.
     
  7. Good post missevil - but there never will be these 'avenues of support' you'd like to see. Everyone is watching their own backs in education and they have to, for good reason.
    I watched so many people sink into deep, deep mires of ill health during the final few years of my career. I watched stong personalities crumble and take months off...and they came back shadows of their former selves. Most people are feeling the strain - from the top to the bottom...so support isn't there..but accountability always will be.
    Life becomes so much smaller - it closes in without your health and strength. Constant pressure and anxiety is a killer...it causes strokes and heart problems and all sorts of mental health issues which some never properly recover from.
    Poor health is a huge price to pay for a career, so I'd say to the OP (sorry can't scroll back for your name) assess everything.
    Only you know if you can continue to teach feeling as you do.

     
  8. that is exactly the situation i am in, with the toxic department, warnings from other colleagues, am doing work for other people who aren't performing as my prime concern is student achievement.

    going to need to have a real think about this...thanks everyone for your posts, esp 1st person who posted back, really thoughtful.
    last person who posted, i knw what you are saying too, education is SO cutthroat, im not sure i want to be in this anymore even though the idea of not teaching really upsets me as i love seeing students progress and arent sure if u can find that buzz anywhere else...
     

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