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Want to quit but so much to lose

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by abuzzybee0, Jan 26, 2017.

  1. abuzzybee0

    abuzzybee0 New commenter

    I am going to be blunt here and say that I don't know if I have the strength to finish the training year. I am always tired, constantly anxious, have frequent panic attacks, and spend far too often in a state of crying. My mental condition has deteriorated so severely during the past few months, and with the increasing workload and being told I will soon be a "cause for concern" means it's not going to get any better. I've struggled with depression previously, and recognise all the symptoms of its return.

    I do not feel I have the emotional support available to talk about these things to my mentor (at either school) and now dread going into school for fear of being constantly told how terrible I am (that's what it feels like, anyhow).

    However, I am halfway through the training and have put so much of my life into this. I literally have no life outside of work. I still enjoy the actual teaching and interacting with the students element, but it's actually a very small part of being a science teacher in a secondary school. There is also the financial implications, and not having anything to show for all of this work so far.

    I guess my main question is what support was available to other people in this situation? I don't want to have to leave the course as everyone always says that one day I'll make an excellent teacher, but a job shouldn't cost my life and mental health. I've contacted my ITT provider lead but no reply yet.

    Apologies for the long post and thank you for your time.
  2. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    Hi Abbey. I know this is not what you want to hear but i quit and haven't looked back. As far as im concerned the university support was far off the mark. My mentor was horrible and couldn't please the woman until i finally snapped and though to myself: Forget it. I'm killing myself for what? So she can keep running me into the ground. Get a new victim.

    So i quit. Simple.

    Its up to you how you feel but i'm telling you now. You have to fight to survive. I had NO life because every evening and weekend i was up to my neck in planning using those horrendous uni planning templates. God almighty it was hell.

    Financially i just pay a very small amount of money back each month to student loans company and there is no time scale. If you are going to leave do it quickly otherwise you will obviously have more to pay back.

    OR- you defer your studies for a year but teaching is what it is. Unsupportive, condescending and rude people really make my blood boil over.
    abbey_wilson and pepper5 like this.
  3. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    Also to add here: pinpoint exactly the factors which are making you miserable.

    Is it because its in a secondary school?
    Do you enjoy the subject your specialising in?
    Is it the behaviour of the kids that is getting you down?
    Unsupportive mentor?
    Unsupportive uni lecturers?
    Poor work/life balance.

    Or the whole lot?

    You don't have to be a teacher to work in Education. There are other roles.
  4. welshwizard

    welshwizard Established commenter Forum guide

    Contact the student counselling services at the university to discuss your options. You also need to talk about your health issues with your GP and seek a referral for help and support.
  5. mandala1

    mandala1 Occasional commenter

    Access as much support as you can and try not to take such a huge decision when you are in a bad place mentally. But if it is the right thing to do then deciding to quit can be a brave decision.
  6. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    Every year I worked in education I became more idealistic about what children can achieve given the right environment. I became more cynical about what is loaded on teachers from above.
    As advised, seek support but with the current situation in Higher Education not too optimistic.
    If someone is highly motivated and successful I would encourage them to train as teachers, if not, don't risk it.. However, from what you have written, you appear to be vulnerable. In your position I would leave and have some re creation. Be kind to yourself, be yourself, trust yourself. Children deserve teachers who are happy and healthy.
    I don't know you or the full situation. Whatever you decide don't look back. Very best wishes for the future.
    mo999333 and abuzzybee0 like this.
  7. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    There is another option - you could suspend your course in order to stop the pressure mounting up, reassess your options, and ensure that support can be put in place for you. You would then resume the course when ready.

    Are you through a uni, or SD? If through a uni, phone the education office (or whatever it is called) and ask for immediate help. They can get your mentor to see you in person ASAP, whether you go to them or they to you.
  8. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Make an appointment with your uni mentor. Maybe a change of placement could be arranged - who knows?
    You are a few weeks earlier than most but most people melt down towards the end of Feb beginning of March. It's normal. I would say only 10% or less sail through their PGCE. We have someone at our establishment who is on year 2 of a one year course. I didn't like to ask why. Obviously the first year wasn't brilliant.
    It is true that once you have qualified there is so much that you can do in education. I was amazed at all the different directions I could go off into if I wanted. Maybe spend some time as a LSA before following teaching further. FE colleges, Private sector, prisons! older or younger age groups, mentoring roles, training roles in business and industry.
    Give it one last chance- you are maybe over half way through the course.
    abbey_wilson, spursfan50 and pepper5 like this.
  9. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    I think the posts before and after mine give much valuable advice. If you have got the qualities to make a successful teacher and enjoy it, it would be a mistake to decide to give up too quickly.
    It is a shame but it seems support is being reduced by all institutions which is no fault of yours. Have you contact with fellow trainees who might help you deal with concerns ? Can experienced teachers advise on how to minimise paperwork ?
    As to retaking a year I supervised a student doing her final practice again. I was concerned, but she was genuinely Outstanding (agreed by the school and I). Later I found out from other sources the problems of the school where she failed.
    Easy to say but do try to switch off so you can regenerate yourself. Value yourself to be able to value others. When stressed we often fail to do the things that help us cope with stress.
    There may be signals that you are very caring and conscientious. In which case schools need you. TAKE TIME.
    abbey_wilson and spursfan50 like this.
  10. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Similar thing happened to one of the girls on my PGCE (we were all through different SD providers, but all linked to one uni) - the placement school constantly told her she was RI; everyone who was anyone on the uni course team went to the school and observed her (not all at once, of course), and graded her outstanding; her SD provider then admitted they'd had problems with that school the previous year, and dropped them from the SD programme.

    And for me personally, last year judged 'not making progress' as an NQT, now completing PGCE at a lovely supportive school.

    So, @abbey_wilson - honestly, go and see your Dr, talk to uni/the SD lead school. If you need signing off immediately then do it. If you need to suspend studies then do it.

    Hope you feel a little bit better reading these comments!
    abbey_wilson likes this.
  11. spursfan50

    spursfan50 New commenter

    Hey, @abbey_wilson I was in a similar situation not too long back (just after Christmas break). I found I was struggling to find time to spend with my family (wife and 3 kids) and just didn't know why I was doing it any more.

    However, I spoke to my wife and some of my SD colleagues, who have become good friends, to tell them how I was feeling, and they reassured me that they felt like that at one point and that, even though it's like that now, you will come through it. I feel lots better after, especially knowing that I have been on this path for 6 years now and to give it up would have been foolish.

    That being said, that was my story, it will likely be different to yours. Speak to those who love you, who know you best and will advise you well. If nothing else, they will listen to your worries. I personally know how depression can affect your state and those around you and doing something you love shouldn't be the cause of that.

    Ultimately, it is your decision, people may offer advice but you will know what to do. There are lots of comments here that may help you see what is going on with uni/school/mentors that may make you see things differently.

    Hope you make the best decision for yourself, whatever that may be.
    abbey_wilson likes this.
  12. abuzzybee0

    abuzzybee0 New commenter

    Thank you everyone for your helpful words. I went to see my GP and have been signed off work for two weeks (and then there's half term after). My ITT provider is looking into moving my placement to a special school, where they think I'll thrive in a more caring role. At the moment, I'm going to apply for other jobs in case I decide not to continue, as I'm aware the pressures will remain no matter what environment. However, I know that mainstream secondary is not for me, and much preferred working as an LSA in a year 6 class, so this may be what I end up doing. Ultimately, if I can't be the best teacher possible then it's not fair on the children, but I'm going to take the time off to reflect and go to therapy. I imagine I will end up leaving the course and taking up a non-teaching role in education for my mental wellbeing.

    Thank you all again x
  13. abuzzybee0

    abuzzybee0 New commenter

    Oh, forgot to say that the GP has put it down as 'acute stress reaction'
  14. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Best of luck.

    Spend these next two weeks relaxing though, rather than panicking about finding a new job.
    abuzzybee0 likes this.
  15. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    Very best wishes. Care for yourself so you can care for others.
    abuzzybee0 likes this.
  16. NedTB31

    NedTB31 New commenter

    Hi Abbey,

    I was in a fairly similar situation, so I'm sorry to hear that you've had such a hard time. I also suffer from severe depression and anxiety and only disclosed it as a just in case kind of thing should anything happen which I never imagined it would. Unfortunately my first placement was just awful and I failed it which meant I was immediately put on a cause for concern. I had a lot of time to think about it over Christmas and even though I told myself that it would help me, I did still feel like a failure. But now, having my targets set and having access to extra support really isn't such a bad thing, so if it did come to that for you, try not to feel too disheartened (easier said than done, I know).

    A change in placement might be just what you need if you do really enjoy teaching. I've just started in my second placement and because I have extra meetings with my uni tutor and a cause for concern with specific targets to help me progress, I am feeling much more supported and that has really made a massive difference. It also helps that the staff in my new school are genuinely nice people so hopefully a more nurturing environment would help you to feel better about this year too and to make it through the rest of year without as much stress. And if at the end you decide you don't want to be a teacher, at least you'll have the qualification and you'll know what you're capable of and what's right for you.

    Good luck! I hope it all works out well for you! x
    abuzzybee0 likes this.
  17. c616williams

    c616williams New commenter

    Ugh, the words 'cause for concern' stI'll make me shudder, they threw that at me during one of my pgce placements as well.
    It's cruel the pgce is, sorry to say, but it just is. I'm currently in my NQT Year and whilst it brings with it a whole host of challenges (never been so tired) there is no way in a million years that I'd redo my pgce year. Like others have said, it's rare to sail through, surely you have a uni tutor you can speak to? At least hold out till your next placement, in a new atmosphere you should get a better idea about what it is that you do enjoy about teaching and will be able to make a more informed choice.
    abuzzybee0 likes this.
  18. amalcolm2

    amalcolm2 New commenter

    Hi Abbey

    My name is Abbey too! Anyway's someone else has mentioned on here that are other roles that you could do in education; how about working with the Learning and Support Centre, where you would work with SEN pupils as well EAL students (less pressure) or in a pastoral role; that being working as a family liaison officer or dealing with Pupils' squabbles plus more. Don't quit just divert your route and make yourself happy again :)

    Give it a try
    abuzzybee0 likes this.
  19. welshwizard

    welshwizard Established commenter Forum guide

    As previously said..Teaching is not the only job where you work with children!
    abuzzybee0 likes this.

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