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Worried I'm useless

Discussion in 'Personal' started by knickersinatwist, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. I am overwhelmed to read so many posts from so many teachers - all of which could have been written by me!!! I am currently on sick leave suffering from depression/anxiety but perhaps a better term should be TEACHERITIS! The knowledge that it's not 'just me' has already helped - at least I've put some of my neuroses back in their box!
  2. You sound like a good and organised teacher to me. I'm new to school teaching but have been teaching privately for years. I think the school teaching system puts a lot of pressure on people in regards to what to teach and how to teach it. It all seems to revolve around how do the pupils learn and how do we cater for each and every one of them. We can end up running around like chickens with our heads cut off, trying to satisfy each and every one of them. Surely part of a child's education also includes them learning how to understand how another person views and understands the topic. I'm not saying that we should ram our way of thinking down their necks but just that the differences in teachers should also be valued. Having to understand other people's perspectives is good preparation for real life. Also, I think that school shouldn't be compulsory. If they don't want to learn academically then just let them go so that at least the other pupils who do want to learn can get a fair go. So much time is taken up by children who are disruptive and I get so tired of seeing the good pupils suffer for this. Some may say that is giving up too easily on the difficult pupils and perhaps this is just the beginning of a thought process for me but something has to be done to improve the atmosphere in our schools.

    Anyway back to your points. I don't think that your thoughts are irrational, I think that the system is. I don't know if I just had a particularly bad PGCE experience (for part of it), but it seem the system is rather too interested in turning out clones who can 'control' their classes. Surely some of that 'control' should come from the pupils own self discipline and self motivation. All we have as people to offer is 'ourselves' and if a school have any real caring then they will go some way to value each individual teacher, as well as each individual pupil. All too often I have experienced an attitude of 'It's my way or the highway' coming down from the top and a lack of respect by teachers for other teachers demonstrated by them placing unrealistic demands on other teachers, not giving them the required information to do the job and often in front of the pupils. The pupils pick up on this and that's not good.

    I think that from what you've said the pupils are lucky to have you as a teacher. If you enjoy teaching then I really take my hat off to you, you obviously are committed and teaching is a really valuable job. I think anybody who can do it full time is just incredible, quite frankly. I can't, or don't want to. Try to value yourself and your own unique way of dealing with your pupils.

  3. « Also, I think that school shouldn't be compulsory. »

    I could not agree more Phillipa. After almost 30 years in teaching in a variety of cultures I have to admit I have had this sentiment for more than half of the time. Many young people are not suited to school at all and should never be subjected to such an experience. Only some are. Forcing children to remain in the same place for so long each day and for 180 – 210 days a year in a restrictive mandatory environment can ultimately be very damaging. There have to be alternatives – home schooling ; vocational training apprenticeship style from younger ages and others.
    Further, the curriculum and what to include in it has become a political arena in which minority groups are forcing their programmes onto children with little regard for authentic educational content : often they are merely behavioural conditioning according to scarcely validated criteria. These are frequently fashionable inadequately considered hypotheses that bear no positive fruit other than to confuse and lower general behavioural standards. I am sure many teachers know what I mean here.
    Another point for consideration is that school really no longer meets the needs of anything other than government social control imperatives in an era of increasing centralism. The talk of fitting young people out for the world of work & being good citizens can be seen for what it really is these days : mere talk.
    No, we need more options for young people with less spatial confinement and intellectual straightjacketing.
    Compulsory schooling is an abject failure and is not producing the type of society its proponents would like to contend.
  4. I'm in my 5th year of teaching and have never felt much confidence in my abilities as a Teacher. I love some aspects of teaching, I'm hardworking, try my best to be 'firm but fair', I use lots of rewards and sanctions, attend behaviour management training, etc, etc. yet my lessons are incredibly noisy and it's an uphill struggle with a number of groups. I don't feel I get much SMT support but then I've always felt it's my job to control my students. I spend hours planning my lessons only to hear my students say, "Your lessons are boring. All we do is work/copy ... . Why can't we do something fun. I prefer Ms .... / Mr ... ." So I learned a few 'fun' games and tried to work it into my lessons -it was a dismal failure and no learning took place just a lot of noisy laughter and shouting over each other. I've all but given up now. I've actually served out my notice and found myself a job in a peaceful Residential Home. The staff and Residents are the sweetest anyone could hope for. Why do I feel so unhappy? Why am I actually sending out Applications and looking to get back onto the frontline?

  5. p.s.
    Please pardon the errors (...something fun? ...work them into... ). Call myself a teacher!!
  6. My hat off to you, lady. I love what you said and the way that you said it. Perfect. You go, girl! The profession needs many more like you.
  7. I am so glad I'm not the only one who feels like this, it's made me feel a lot better!
    I know that I'm not the best teacher in the world and that my lessons aren't outstanding. I also know that all the kids in my class are happy and progressing and over the course of the year make the progress they should and get to where they need to be. But is this enough?
    Unfortunately the pressure to be observed as outstanding in one hour long lesson is huge, especially in a school going for outstanding with Ofsted who are due any day. I know that other teachers in my school usually get outstanding in observations and am constantly panicked that it will be me and only me who will let the school down.
    Good luck to everyone who feels this way, hopefully it's all (or mostly) in our heads!
  8. misseviltoyou

    misseviltoyou New commenter

    This is something I've heard before and doubtless will again. I'm also in my fifth year of teaching, and over those five years the emphasis of the profession appears to have shifted; we are no longer meant to be responsible adults entrusted with the care, socialisation and education of children by the use of classroom discipline and subject content. The job is now an amalgam of Admin Monkey and Children's Entertainer.
    In a recent observation, I was told that despite many good features I would not receive above Satisfactory because I needed to "smile more", and that the best part of my lesson was where I asked students to wave their arms and legs in the air to show which bits of a Level 2 Coursework assignment they had completed to an appropriate standard. Suffice to say, I have now begun to tune out, because apparently the things I was working hard on such as subject knowledge/content and classroom management are not so important, even though results are still being hammered as paramount. I feel like I could and should be doing more, but that even if I did it wouldn't be enough or it would be the wrong thing, because in the whole "Enjoy and Achieve" thing, I believe that the Achieving should lead to the Enjoyment while DFES...CHELKBJIOFSG, or whatever they're called now, demands vice versa.
    The kids I teach come in apparently unaware of the concept of delayed gratification (ie getting on with stuff they might find less fun than Wii/X-Factor/chatting/makeup now in order to enjoy and celebrate success later) and according to ECM and the new Ofsted Criteria it's no longer important to teach them about it. How can we be expected to accommodate so many pathetically misguided initiatives and directives without it being at the expense of a)subject content, b)sanity, c)downtime in order to preserve b), d)an employable workforce for the future that understands the balance between rights and responsibilities?
    Gosh, sorry, this turned into a bit of a monster braindump. Apparently I feel more strongly on this than I reckoned.
  9. I strongly suspect that most people feel like this, the thing is that no-one shares this kind of thought as they don't want anyone to think they're inadequate. I have 11 years' experience and I still feel really junior next to more experienced staff and am convinced that they can all cope so much better than me. I am behind with practically everything and have to use my holiday time to catch up. There will never be enough hours in the day. This is your job, not your life. Teaching is an awful profession for making you feel inadequate in every aspect of your job. Don't let anyone tell you you are not good enough (if it is really obvious, you will know!)
  10. I am a PGCE mature student (mature in age, not always outlook!). I have been evaluating why I have such low esteem as a student teacher and realised that so much of teaching is self evaluation. As teachers we are constantly expected to look at our practice critically in order to improve it and what I've found is that I am therefore looking for all the things I'm doing wrong, it seems to be a fine line between self evaluation to find areas to improve and self criticism which just makes me feel useless. I am currently trying to work on the philosophy that I find one area I need to improve and one thing I did well, even if I had to stretch it a bit I find this helps me feel less negative.
    One other comment, we are always more critical of ourselves than we would be of a friend perhaps instead of telling ourselves that we are useless, we should be kind to ourselves now and again. This is coming from someone who until last week was considering dropping out so please don't think I'm trying to preach - this is my survival strategy!
  11. Hi knickersinatwist,
    You said that in the worst class they all stay in their seats and complete the work you ask them, you enjoy teaching and you are up to date with all the paperwork. You are also aware that you work really hard. It sounds like the evidence you have is that you are a dedicated teacher who cares very much about ensuring your classes receive the best education. I also think you have been found out as someone who is reflective and thoughtful about their work and wishes to improve on what already sounds like very good practice.
    I can only suggest that you stay in teaching. Suppose your manager was watching on a good day ...what would they notice in your classes...10 things.... and perhaps for a couple of weeks when you get in or at the end of the day write 3 things that went really well in school, and then look back at the end of the week.
    bw Martin
  12. Continue to remember you are a competent person.
    What kind of support do you get from the teaching team and the management? Bet the management aren't any better at creating order in the class with the same pupils. Is there a discipline team / WORKING DISIPLINE policy in the school or is it all left to the teachers own devises - struggle on in class and struggle on after class?
    I am not a teacher but have observed in many classrooms and schools. Good leadership, happy work force (majority), valued staff with support makes for good teaching and happy puplis.
    It is not always the teachers fault.
  13. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    ah, yet another thread for 'new' posters ....
  14. Hi I hope you are feeling better. I know exactly how you feel too. At the moment I am off sick due to stress - lots of behavioural probs as well as personal probs last year and I tend to deal with things as they happen then suffer later. My HT has been 'supportive' in her own way but this has also led to further probs (long story - I won't bore you with it). So my self-esteem is rock bottom too especially when it comes to doing any planning. I have had support and reassurance from others but until you accept you really can do the job it doesn't seem any better and you long for the good days. my quote is from a Pink Panther film:

  15. Hi I hope you are feeling better. I know exactly how you feel too. At the moment I am off sick due to stress - lots of behavioural probs as well as personal probs last year and I tend to deal with things as they happen then suffer later. My HT has been 'supportive' in her own way but this has also led to further probs (long story - I won't bore you with it). So my self-esteem is rock bottom too especially when it comes to doing any planning. I have had support and reassurance from others but until you accept you really can do the job it doesn't seem any better and you long for the good days. my quote is from a Pink Panther film:

  16. " Everyday in every way I'm getting better and better".
  17. Sorry, I think I must be missing something here? We're all new posters at some point on here aren't we? Apologies if I'm being dim and missing the obvious.
  18. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    you've not noticed the very high proportion of 'new' posters all making their first or second posts on this thread (and one or two selected others)? - very unusual particularly as some of them seem to have been members for several years
  19. I hadn't really because that was my first post too! I guess the emotive issues will pick up a lot of people who haven't commented before, and with it being in the newsletter email sent out it's an easy one to find. To be honest, I'm guessing that this sort of insecurity is that uncommon in other professions too, I guess that teachers tend to be better communicators and more likely to express concerns?
  20. I suffer from depression and this is exactly how I feel when I am ill...and yes my thoughts are irrational but VERY real to me. I had a congnitive behaviour therapist a few years back and that helped a lot. Ask yourself "Who is telling you that the children all have to be perfectly behaved?" I bet it is no-one other than YOU. Also "Would you judge another teacher by the same high standards you are explecting of yourself?" I'd be extremely surprised if the answer was yes...
    You have actually listed a huge amount of positives about the children in your care. Try tip the balance and celebrate their achievements eg instead of thinking three children wouldn't stop talking to listen to me today, say to yourself twenty seven children were listening attentively and were really well behaved. When this was pointed out to me I was like "Wow. That's actually a fantastic record" My example was saying at first "I just cant teach this class fractions" When we broke it down for the class of 33. 23 could do it with each, another 6 were getting there with a bit of help and there were only 4 who just didn't get it. That was when she asked me "Who's telling you that those 4 HAVE to be able to do this?" and the answer was ME! No-one else but me!

    The thing about being a teacher is that it is a very insular job. We are on our own with kids all day long. We actually have more visits now from management and it is becoming easier because we aren't "on our own" quite as much and get used to it.

    I would also seriously ask you to think about going to your doctor. Not to get off work but to think about some medication for your anxiety. Put it this way, if you were a diabetic would you refuse to take insulin because "I shouldn't be this way...I should be able to sort it out myself"

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