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Trainee teacher on placement - filled with constant dread and anxiety

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by trainee1994, Jan 31, 2019.

  1. trainee1994

    trainee1994 New commenter

    Advice needed please. I began my degree in primary education in 2015 after completing my Level 3 CACHE supporting teaching & learning TA qualification and working as a INA for a year. I mentioned my interest in training to teach and my colleagues encouraged me to pursue this. I have suffered from anxiety and depression for a few years now and I did enjoy my first year placement which was in a preschool but I don't think I got a real idea of or understood the stress and workload this career brings. I returned to my second year but I soon intermitted a year due to my anxiety taking control of my life, this was a positive move and the right thing for myself to do. Unfortunately soon before I was to return to university (2017) in my second year, my dad got suddenly very sick and I was missing a lot of seminars and I just felt so lost and out of depth and was encouraged to take another year out however I was embarrassed and decided to withdraw from university all together. After a year of working full-time in a dead end bar job where I wasn't appreciated and poorly paid and having looked for other possible career paths, I decided to believe in myself more and my anxiety was under control and I felt ready to give it another go and return for year 2. (2018) My 2nd attempt of second year - I was 24 and thought being a bit older may be good for me and it started off well, but I did feel out of depth after being out of uni for 2 years. I haven't been feeling particularly motivated during seminars at uni etc but I did hope this would change when I was able to get myself involved in the classroom when on placement. I was nervous for placement but mostly excited, I have nearly completed my first week and I have never cried so much in such a short space of time. I feel the older I have got, the less confidence I have. I seem to have this constant feeling of dread and anxiety and I over think everything to the point of talking myself out of volunteering to read the story. I have to fight back the tears all day long, I don't even understand why I am so upset and scared. My mentor at the school is lovely but after only a week of seeing how much stress she is under and how excited and inspired these teachers are when hearing them in PPA just makes me feel like I haven't got the motivation or the passion to teach. I used to be so enthusiastic in the classroom but I feel I undermined having 2 years out of the classroom and how my confidence has just gone, I am stumbling over my words, I get so nervous and I haven't even been observed yet. I find myself wondering aimlessly around the classroom and I just feel feel numb, I feel so low I'm finding it so hard to keep a smile on my face. My family have reminded me my health and well being is more important than finishing a degree in something that causes me so much stress and anxiety and have told me to not even consider the money I would have wasted because although I know a degree would hold me in good stead, I just can't put myself through another 8 weeks of placement this year and 4 months of it in 3rd year, never mind my NQT year.

    I feel so ashamed and embarrassed because my course leaders gave me a second chance to finish my degree and asked me am I honestly sure I wanted to return and I said yes. However a week into my placement and I have not felt this low in many years and I have throwing up and barely eaten since I started the placement due to my anxiety of being in the classroom and feel like I'm being very cruel to myself to force myself to finish and make myself ill if I have no desire to teach. I don't know where to even begin with letting my uni know I want to leave during my placement, but I just know I can't carry on feeling like this everyday, its making my family worry about me as well which rings alarm bells as I have been very depressed in the past. I don't want to have to face the uni to discuss my decision because I'm so anxiety ridden right now and nearly had a panic attack when I decided I needed to leave my placement this afternoon.

    I suppose Im just looking for some advice and to try and get the idea of 'being a failure' and 'always being a quitter' out of my mind because it is eating me alive. Sorry for the long post.

    thank you in advance.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    You’re not a failure. You tried something, it didn’t work out.

    All successful people do that. They give an idea a go and learn from it. Then they take that knowledge and try something else. Failures stayput and beat their head on a wall.

    Imagine you had put your hand into a meat grinder. Would you feel like a failure for pulling it out again? I think not.

    You don’t need anyone’s permission to make a sensible move.
  3. Presleygirl

    Presleygirl Occasional commenter

    Ok edusupport are brilliant non judgemental and can help. Have you tried cbt that may work for you?
    You need to look after you, if it isn’t what you want you know what you want. Small steps x
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I dropped out of university after a year.
    Then worked in a bank for 3.
    Then went to uni again.
    Then fell into teaching as my husband had started teaching.
    Hated it.
    Did it for a few years until I got pregnant.
    Packed it in. Gleefully.
    Marriage failed. My fault. Having kids didn't seem to suit me either!
    Had to go back to work.

    Not exactly an inspiring story. But I'm OK. OK. Not great.

    Oh, then there was the anorexia for several years. Forgot that. I failed at loads of things. Still do. Not saying I don't care that I could have done a lot of things better but, at the time, I did what I thought was right. Hey, I'm human. I'd give myself 6 out of 10. Mostly because I never did anything really bad. Not actively wicked.

    Can you be happy with 6 out of 10? I (sort of) am. It's better than 5 or 4 or 3 etc etc.
  5. mothergoose2013

    mothergoose2013 Occasional commenter

    Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. Not my words, and can't remember who's they are, I do know there is truth in them though.

    Based on your post I would take stock, make the decisions that feel right for you, and move on. It is polite to thank those who have supported you but it is not necessary to feel responsible for any feelings they may, or may not, have regarding your choices. It doesn't sound like you are trapped on the hamster wheel just yet, if I were you I would avoid the trap that you can so clearly see and then think no more of it. Any credits you have achieved from your degree should be transferable.

    It sounds like you have a loving family who care very much about you. That is worth its weight in gold. Let them help.

    Every time I have closed a door in my life another one has opened. You will look back and be grateful for the lucky escape.
  6. varcolac

    varcolac Occasional commenter

    Student asked me about curing regret the other day. As is my wont, I told the student a long and rambling anecdote which I shall I attempt to give the gist of here.

    "When I was your age I had my life all planned out. I was seventeen, in love, going to university to study something which would get me access to a powerful and wealthy career that would let me travel the world, speak with authority, and hob-nob with the big wigs.

    The love lasted until the spring term. The studies lasted until the summer term. I dropped out. I worked in a bookshop. I spent time on the dole. I went back to university for the second time and poured my heart and soul into a different subject. I got through it the second time around and had my life all planned out. I was twenty-three, with big cerebral plans about how I'd write the definitive history of..."

    "It didn't work, did it Sir?"

    "Nah, it didn't, but I'm here. I persevered. Third time's the charm. Or fourth. I hadn't even got on to how I thought I'd work for Scotland Yard but was cruelly scuppered by the intervention of a rare but curable autoimmune condition..."

    Your failures make you, even if they feel at the time like they're breaking you.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Heeeyyyy...my life has been a resounding success in that case! ;)

    Teaching is tough at the beginning. Teaching in the winter is doubly tough. Starting at a new school is tough. Starting a new role in January is doubly tough. Starting again after things went wrong the first time is tough.
    You have turned up every day.
    You have stayed in the classroom (wandering aimlessly isn't a crime, we all have days/weeks like that.)
    You haven't cried your eyes out on the shoulder of some poor unsuspecting 7 year old.

    It takes time to get past tricky times, especially when you are prone to anxiety.
    I had been a teacher for almost twenty years when I went through a horrible time which zapped my confidence completely. In my next post the poor headteacher popped in to speak to me at the end of the first week and I burst in to tears the moment I saw her because I was so scared. She only came to say well done and check I was settling in. A few weeks later the SIP and head came to do an observation. In the feedback the SIP asked if I was aware I'd been sucking my thumb throughout the entire observation. Errrm no.
    It's ok to be overwhelmed and find things scary...give yourself time.

    My point is that starting again is really hard. You can either give in or keep on through it. Either is perfectly fine, but don't give up too soon. You aren't a failure for finding things hard. Talk to your mentor and discuss your worries and make a plan.
  8. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Your family is right. Do not follow the sunk cost fallacy.

    Many successful people you know will have been in the same situation over one thing or another but managed to move on by organising their lives and planning their future in a series of realistic steps.

    Get some exercise, too, and more sleep. Anxiety is a waste of your time & energy.
  9. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Pass the buck (or at least one of the bucks) to a doctor. As your family says your health is much more important. I suspect the doctor will advise rest and therapy of some sort. Try these and only when this medical professional okays think about the long term (pun intended).

    All the above advice is very good but why make a decision now? Even if the 'stay or go' decision is made default it is then down to the doctor's advice which is paramount for your mental health.
    mothergoose2013 and agathamorse like this.
  10. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    I wouldn’t give up, just yet. Identify the root cause (if there is one). I think You’ve taken a hit to your confidence levels and you need something to regain them. I’d try to at least pass the qualification, even if you don’t go into a TA post. Persevering, if you can, and passing the qualification will give you a boost. You’ve come this far, and you may well be through the worst; things will most likely get better. But, it can be impossible to see that sometimes.
    But, I don’t know you. Whether or not you choose to stay is up to you.

    I certainly took a hit to my confidence when I took several bad teaching jobs, one after another, and nearly left teaching. You need confidence for completing the course at least.
    Confidence is very personal. I find that exercising, getting a nice haircut etc help me. But that might not work for you. Find out what would help, if possible.
    spinning_wheel and JohnJCazorla like this.
  11. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    I would normally say also finish the qualification. However, if your mental health is being affected this badly (and frankly teaching can be BRUTAL for mental health or lack of it) you are probably right to leave. Stay and worst case you suffer a breakdown/heart attack etc in your 30s.

    My own career trajectory (and Life) is similar to GDWs, on paper it looks poor but sometimes we do what feels right at the time. Like many people I would do many things differently if I had the chance but we are all effectively in a play where we get no rehearsal and are all improvising - inevitably there will be some characters in such a play just doing their best as opposed to lucking on the optimum trajectory 1st and only time. Thats OK, its Life.
  12. koopatroopa

    koopatroopa Senior commenter

    I wonder if it's the teaching that's making you feel low or if you feel low and that's having an impact on the teaching. Is it possible to take some more time off and get well before deciding one way or another?

    Also, be aware of people in teaching who talk a good game but whose day to day practice is more mundane. I make a point of letting student teachers see all my normal lessons. There's a tendency to think only exciting lessons should be observed or spoken about but there are times when classes just need to get on with it and people should see that reality too.
  13. Marshall

    Marshall Star commenter

    I might not be popular here BUT - if this is causing you stress at this point then you need to find another career.
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I think you have a very fair point @Marshall.

    One tries to be positive and encouraging but I wouldn't blame the OP for packing it in.
    Marshall and agathamorse like this.

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