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NQT signed off for depression and anxiety - advice needed

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Miss_Frenchie, Jan 29, 2019.

  1. Miss_Frenchie

    Miss_Frenchie New commenter

    This is a hard message to type. I've been feeling really lost lately. I'm an NQT in a special measure school and I've been struggling since I've started in September. Everybody feels down and a lot of people are leaving. I tried to hold on as long as I could but recently I've been feeling really really down, not caring about my students and my lessons. I feel like I'm definitely not meeting the teacher's standards. The other day, I was getting up for work and I had a big meltdown and panic attack. I could not get to work, I had to call in sick and to ring my doctor. As a result, I've been signed off for 3 weeks (until half term). I don't feel like I can go back to school even after that time off. It's helping not to be there but going back will make everything resurface. Even looking at other teaching jobs makes me anxious and uneasy. I don't know what to do. I feel really stuck because of my financial situation. Partner is a student and he doesn't get a lot of money so my income is what keeps up going. I just feel like teaching has broken me completely. Doing 60-70 hours a week for £1600... not worth it. Working weekends and holidays, bad behaviour, not being respected... I really want to quit and do something else, but what ? and how can i go about it ? Can anybody help and give me some advice. I'm really desperate.
    mark_twist, Sanz1981 and pepper5 like this.
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Apply for a post in a school not in SM.
    You might even get something for an Easter start if you are quick.
    Just visiting other schools with a view to maybe applying could well help you feel more positive and optimistic.

    Best of luck.
    Pomza, hammie, jlishman2158 and 4 others like this.
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Not all schools are the same. It's just possible you might regain your vim and vigour elsewhere. But you'd need to complete NQT.

    It'd be a shame to essentially throw away your training at this point. NQT year is always pretty traumatic. You're full of enthusiasm but you realise the training wasn't the end of it. It hasn't made you the finished product. This is the beginning of the beginning. It's so very hard to swallow as you think you probably did the hard yards already only to find you're not nearly as good as you thought you'd be.

    So persevere somehow. It may improve. It may not but I don't think you should give it up quite yet.
  4. mothergoose2013

    mothergoose2013 Occasional commenter

    Put yourself first and don't worry about the final solutions just yet. Use your time off to take care of yourself and don't even think about evaluating your situation for at least a fortnight, (easier said than done I know). You need to listen to your body and mind for now and slow down. WRS is a horrible experience and the quickest, and least traumatic way through it is self-care. No matter what you decide in the end things will work out and you will be ok. You are obviously stressed as you are already thinking weeks down the line and sound like you feel trapped. The trap gets tighter the longer you stay in it but there are lots of ways to get out and you do not necessarily need to leave teaching, or your school, to find a solution.

    Schools in special measures can be very difficult to work in because often the stress that the management are under gets passed down the chain, it shouldn't, but it does. Often the special measures judgement is political so the hoops that are being jumped through are pointless, initiatives come and go, 'urgent' improvements arise continuously and rarely improve anything. Staff changes become frequent and often a lot of temporary staff are employed. This is not always the case, I worked in one school in special measures where things remained sensible; funnily enough this was the only school that got out quickly. There are also "schools on the journey to outstanding", (I hate that phrase so much), and outstanding schools that demand ridiculous things because "ofsted want to see it". My point is that the whole system is something of a game and there are good places and bad places, good people and not so good people. The only way to maintain a healthy perspective within the madness is to look after yourself, establish and maintain healthy boundaries, (which is much easier when you are well), and make time to enjoy life. Personally I didn't take the advice I am giving for years, and eventually fell into the trap of defining myself based on how well I was performing at work - that is a hamster wheel that nobody wants to get on!

    Have a rest, remember what is good in life, be your own best friend and don't do anything hasty. Life has a funny way of working out when we stop trying so hard.

    Take the very best of care x
  5. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    First step:
    Get better. Don't make any decisions immediately.

    Almost any NQT feels overwhelmed at some point during the year. It might be that some rest and recharge will help. If you were happy about the idea of teaching at the end of your training, I don't think you should give up on it as a career yet; a change of school might be what you need.

    When you're feeling rather better than you are now, you probably need to have a talk with your mentor about how you are doing. If you genuinely are going to struggle to meet the standards, then it will probably be best to look at moving school and continuing somewhere less difficult to work. Schools in special measures (used to?) have to get clearance to have NQTs, but even where it's agreed that they can support an NQT, they're never going to be the easiest places to work, and if others are leaving, they may be less able to support you than at the start of the year.

    Technically, if you are under normal pay and conditions, you'll need to resign by the end of February to leave at Easter rather than the end of the year. Heads do have the power to waive the notice period if they wish.
  6. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Though all the other advice above is very good it inevitably assumes you're going to decide on your future. You are not fit to make any such decisions and the only ones you should make are immediate answers to the question "What will make me better now and what makes me worse now?"

    So try long walks, watching box sets, reading very long books and generally unwind. Preferably with as many supportive friends and family as possible. Once the doctor is happy you can return to work then, and only then, think about your future.

    All the best. Remember there is a lot of support out there. I had a recent bout of depression and was surprised and touched to discover how many of my acquaintances were sympathetic and helpful. Use this on the vague promise (to yourself) to pay it back someday.
  7. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    Sorry to hear what has happened. I only just survived my NQT in a school which was suddenly downgraded and an extremely confusing place to work in. Definitely look after yourself and try to ban yourself from thinking about work. Exercise really really helps to relax me.

    But, long term, you have many options. Certainly don’t think that all schools are like this. Are you an MFL teacher? You’d be in high demand in the jobs market. I’m MFL, primarily. Word on the street in some areas is that “we simply cannot attract MFL teachers” and “we get no applications for Spanish teacher roles”. And these are good schools I’m talking about. Don’t leave teaching. Try to persevere and find a better school. Good luck!
  8. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    you might want to consider working for an agency for a while, I found they look after you and it means you always have someone to talk to who is not in the school.
    I've also worked with far too many NQTs who have "failed" in their first school, moved on and loved the new school.
    Actually my first advice to any new teacher nowadays is to choose a school where you have a chance to do well.
    You have many many years ahead of you, so if you have to step back to move forward, take the time you need.
  9. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    Leave the school in SM as you can't learn anything there.

    It is in chaos. Get your NQT if you can...

    It isn't you. School teaching is bad enough without the lack of support and a chaotic disrespectful environment.

    Enjoy your time off. Go and see friends. Do stuff you enjoy.
  10. Abitofeverything

    Abitofeverything Occasional commenter

    I was lucky enough to be an NQT in Lambeth - they were so supportive. One of the things I really remember them saying is never to quit when you've only worked in one school! Apply for another job, then see how you feel. Everyone finds their NQT year really hard but it genuinely does get better and there are some lovely schools out there x

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