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NQT working with anxiety

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by ateacher2018, Jan 29, 2019.

  1. ateacher2018

    ateacher2018 New commenter

    I'm really unsure of what to say other than I'm really struggling at the moment...

    I graduated from university July 2018 and secured a years contract in a school to complete my NQT year. Since I started in September there have been a number of issues which have left my confidence really low.
    I am off on the sick at the moment but I have told the school I will be returning after my current sick note expires but I really don't feel confident with my decision.
    I'm really upset as I feel like I can't teach due to situations that went on. My anxiety leaves me with a daily battle with what to do and I can't stop thinking about negatives of going back.
    I need to be more positive about it all but I'm struggling. Does anyone have any ways to deal with anxiety and teaching? Or can any one offer me any advice. Feel very alone at the moment.
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. Marshall

    Marshall Star commenter

    Your school may refer you to occupational health.
    Did you discuss this all with your mentor?
  3. ateacher2018

    ateacher2018 New commenter

    In the autumn term I was left to it and now lots of support is being given as a result of me saying my confidence is low due to anxiety and I need help. Im thankful for the support but feel like I'm bothering them and that I'm failing because I've asked for the help. I've been told to consider is teaching for me and been compared to other NQTs by the head. My mentor is aware of the situation and the school are trying to help but it's by having my planning in and and random lesson observation drop ins. Its made my anxiety worse. I feel like I've made everything worse by being honest about my situation.
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. kheironsister

    kheironsister New commenter

    Hi ateacher2018,

    I am in a very similar position to you...my situation is totally different as I am not a NQT, but I am also fairly new to my role and I'm dealing with this horrible anxiety, due to situations that have slowly brought me to experience a huge lack of confidence. I spend my days at college smiling to people like it's no big deal, whilst inside I am absolutely terrified and wanting to go home. I end up crashing badly once I get home and find it difficult to unwind.
    I also know the feeling of not wanting to raise the topic again, out of fear of bothering your managers or being seen as "weak"!

    In my opinion, being compared to other NQTs is certainly not the right approach to this...! However, maybe the head just wanted to point out something like "if others can do it, so can you!", in order to give you a boost of confidence, but without realising they were doing more harm than good there...!
    Also, maybe these observations are meant to give you confidence by providing you with feedback in order to improve...? I know when we have anxiety, everything we experience is seen under a negative light (in all honesty I would also panic if I was in your situation), but here I am trying to consider the positive side of this from an outside point of view -as I know it's a difficult thing to do when dealing with anxiety-.
    On the other hand, I guess you fear you will upset them if you point out that the kind of help you're getting is not what you need at the moment...but it depends on how you approach it: maybe you can ask them why and how they think this will help you, then try to explain what would help you better instead...? I guess they're only offering you what they think is best, whilst only you know why you have come to this point and what could actually work.

    By the way!: if you ever need to talk to someone who is going through the same, please feel free to drop me a message!
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  5. ateacher2018

    ateacher2018 New commenter

    Thank you kheironsister, I didn't think of those points in a positive way like you did. Thank you for offering me support and I hope you're situation improves too!
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  6. ateacher2018

    ateacher2018 New commenter

    Since returning from time off I feel the situation has worsened. I feel much clearer and don't feel anxiety controls my teaching. However I've been told on 3 separate occasions since returning to consider if teaching is for me. I don't find the comments helpful when I've asked for support. When I question my mentor about things she says she doesn't know and sends me to the head.

    In a recent meeting with the head that should of been about planning there were no positive comments until I asked what about..... that I did? The comments are to improve my planning but they're extras to what other people are doing. I was told to use the previous teachers planning to. So I did and then I've been told it's got flaws and needs improving. In this meeting she also told me that my health was a concern and that I'm being hard on myself when all I want is support! My classes behaviour in assembly was mentioned, going to lunch early one day and I'm being made to feel I'm being watched.

    On top of this I stuck up for myself in an email and got told she's disappointed in me for not taking ownership on a subject I have repeatedly asked for help in. This has now resulted in me being up at this time expecting a horrible meeting tomorrow.

    I don't feel supported I feel picked apart. I don't see how I can carry on this way....
  7. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    You should contact your union for support. Unfortunately they see so many issues everyday that you will be at the bottom of their list of priorities, but they may still be able to give advice. Some unions have phone numbers so you can talk to someone, just to get it all out and ask for advice. Or you could speak to your rep at school.

    If you feel that the school is not giving you adequate support, then you can contact the named person at the local authority - the person responsible for NQT induction. They can offer support and advice.

    If you feel that this is not the school for you then you can resign and complete your NQT year elsewhere (I did this). Your union could help with this if you want to leave early (i.e. outside normal resignation dates).

    Sorry you're going through this.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. ateacher2018

    ateacher2018 New commenter

    Thank you replying blueskydreaming. I haven't spoken to the union yet due to staff meetings after school and by the time I rang their phone lines were closed.
    I don't feel like I want to stay I was told today I'm not actively looking for help enough when I feel this isn't true. How did you get through your situation when leaving? I'm terrified of what till happen
  9. igoumen

    igoumen New commenter

    From what you have described, it really does sound like leaving this school would be the best step. You don't want to risk failing your NQT year. Sometimes, it is just not the right time/place to succeed at something. You have anxiety and you feel unsupported. This isn't a recipe for success. I know NQTs who have had a terrible first year, then moved school and never looked back. Do seek advice from your union and perhaps even your tutor from your teacher training. Take care of yourself.
    pepper5 likes this.
  10. ateacher2018

    ateacher2018 New commenter

    Thank you for your advice igoumen. I've decided to leave and feel happy about my decision. I've not handed in my notice yet but I've got it printed ready to hand in. I don't think it will go down well but I'm not happy and can't change how they're treating me or how I feel.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Well, the school told me that if I stayed they'd fail my NQT year, so I was forced to resign on the spot. They then asked me to stay until the end of the school year - the named person at the LA was very annoyed about that, he said they can't say you're failing but want you to stay an entire year, so with his help I refused that and negotiated an earlier date.

    Just resign, without stating anything negative in your letter or verbally. Try to negotiate an early leaving date if you want to, or stick to the standard one. (See here: https://www.tes.com/jobs/careers-advice/pay-and-conditions/teacher-resignation-letter)

    The school may be annoyed, but tough. They cannot legally give you an untrue reference, but they can give you a flimsy one. However, decent schools do recognise that there are many **** schools out there, and will see through flimsy references - I applied for jobs stating I wanted a supportive environment in which to complete my NQT year, one school gave me a chance by inviting me to interview, and I was honest at interview about the situation and was offered the job (I happily completed my NQT there, then left the UK and will never teach there again).

    Once I resigned the NQT monitoring stopped, and the second term was made only an 'interim' one, which did not count towards my final NQT assessment. The school then left me alone, allowing me to teach unobserved and unharassed, and actually that period of time was massively helpful, so when I had my interview for the job mentioned above I prepared a very good interview lesson and felt confident that I knew what I was doing. I also received some lovely feedback from a TA on my last day at the horrid school - she was in the lessons with me, she knew me and saw me with the students, so her feedback meant a lot to me, and helped my confidence.

    Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
    pepper5 likes this.
  12. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    You have made the right decision. There are people/ schools out there who will support you. It is obvious that the people who are responsible for you do not even know the basic principles of mentoring or teaching.

    You know what the REAL truth is? There are thousands of teachers struggling silently in classrooms too afraid to be seen as "weak" if they ask for "help" to manage their workloads, out of control classes ( out of control since there are so many needy students in them and large numbers), and other demands of the job. Some of these teachers have been teaching YEARS!

    Once you are qualified, you may want to consider doing what BSD did and decided to work abroad. if you cannot find a decent school to work at in the UK.
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  13. ateacher2018

    ateacher2018 New commenter

    Thank you all for you help and advice. It makes me feel happy knowing there are supportive people out there that care! I'll share with you how it goes and what happens next in my story x
    blueskydreaming and pepper5 like this.
  14. ateacher2018

    ateacher2018 New commenter

    I handed in my notice today and it has been negotiated that this Friday is my last day working there.
    I will be out of work but plan on doing supply. I feel like a weight has been lifted and need to get back to my old self. Any recommendations on how to get back to being happy and enjoy teaching?
    blueskydreaming and pepper5 like this.
  15. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi ateacher2018

    Glad to hear you are feeling more positive. You will need to find out how to finish your NQT and time limits etc. I don't know what the rules are, but you will need to think about that.

    If you have time, over on the supply forum, there is a thread "new to supply" where you will find information and advice about working as a supply teacher in general. You will need to find out if you can use any long term assignments towards your NQT induction.

    Some teachers are able to work part-time and this may take some of the pressure off. Do you have any other skills you could use to earn money and teach part-time?

    The pace and workload of teaching full time in UK schools is not sustainable for long periods of time - many suffer with burn out and disillusionment therefore leaving within five years of qualifying. I wish I could say otherwise, but that is the reality of working in the state system in 2019 and it has been like this for the last 10 years.

    Being in a supportive and decent school will go a lot towards being able to enjoy teaching. Also, as you gain more experience and confidence you may start to enjoy it more. Learning to teach takes a lot of practice and you need 10,000 hours practice in a craft to become good at it. Don't expect so much of yourself too soon as you are still learning. It is a shame, the school you were at were not supportive, but many schools are like that and many have gone through the same thing but went on to qualify and have successful careers - even becoming HODs and Heads of schools.
    ateacher2018 likes this.
  16. ateacher2018

    ateacher2018 New commenter

    Thank you for your comment! I've been in contact with my external mentor who informed me I can have as long of as I like to feel better about things (as there is no time limit anymore) and when I'm ready just do supply. It can be short term or long term but as long as it's employment as a teacher it can go towards the sessions logged on my NQT year. You've all been very helpful in my time of need x
  17. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Perhaps the OP should consider teaching in an international school. Teaching overseas is often much less stressful than teaching in the UK.
  18. ateacher2018

    ateacher2018 New commenter

    Hello it's me again,

    I've been enjoying my time off and feel a lot better mentally and physically since I left the school mentioned in the OP.
    I start supply work next week and I'm looking forward to it as it's a fresh start and I enjoyed supply last time I did it in summer term 2018. I do feel slightly anxious though as the negative experience is now flaring back up as I come closer to starting work again.

    I feel abit concerned that the head of the school I left refered me to occupational health and the support plan issue. Will this affect me going forward in anyway?

    My mentor in school was non existent and didn't mention anything to me about any concerns. My external mentor decided to put my on a support plan because she felt the school weren't supporting me and it will guide them with what they should be doing with me. When she went to the head with this the head jumped in stating they wanted to put me on one because she's concerned.

    I know I shouldn't keep reliving it but it's hard not to.. I just want the rest of my NQT year to go well but I'm worried sick about being observed by my external mentor. She told me if I'd stayed in the named school she would of pressed the cause of concern button over my NQT year. I honestly don't think I've been given a fair shot and I honestly feel very upset. Will I even pass my NQT year?

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