Anxiety - am I cut out for this?

Discussion in 'Student & Preservice Teachers' started by JackTrader, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Sep 25, 2010

    I am a current ST - who back in the spring, had faltered in my first placement - with a CT who told me I wasn't cut out for teaching (high school history). This gave me a pretty hard blow to my self-confidence and I did a lot of questioning about my abilities. My program people put me on a candidate assistance plan (CAP) assigned me to a new supervisor (who is a lot more sympathetic, knows me better) who placed me at a new school this fall, with two different CTs, with two varying styles.

    Now ever since I've started the semester, I have been very anxious - can't sleep at night - I think all the time about my lessons...how to change them, tweak them. Fast forward to this past Friday, I began teaching a lesson that pretty much bombed in terms of classroom management - the kids were way too noisy, acting up, etc. And to top it off, it was one with my CT and supervisor observing. I got their feedback and I KNOW that I messed up and where I can improve. However, since then, my anxiety has gone up - where I still can't sleep, have little energy, and have gotten even more anxious. It has gotten to the point where I wonder whether I’m cut out for teaching…is anxiety that normal? Or is the anxiety telling me that maybe this isn’t right for me?

    I’m really under the gun in terms of the career path and my home life. I’m married with one child ( 5 yrs old), 47 years old, and switching from jobs in international business, technology. My wife dislikes being the breadwinner for the last few years and it has been taking a toll on our marriage – she is wondering when I can again contribute significantly to the family finances. If I blow my ST chance here, it will have some really tough consequences on my life, I don’t know what to do career wise and I don’t think I can go back to industry as my industry has changed a lot and my contacts are no longer current.

    So then, another question – are there career paths in education that don’t necessarily require being in the classroom, and will not completing a credential program be held against me? I do have 2 masters’ degrees, including an MBA from a top tier program, extensive overseas experience.
     
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  3. SpringGirl14

    SpringGirl14 Rookie

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    Sep 30, 2010

    Maybe guidance counseling? Though, you need a degree for that.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 30, 2010

    OK, deep breaths.

    You want this desperately, That in and of itself tells me you probably ARE cut out for it. But your confidence is shot. Kids can smell fear, and I imagine that's your problem.

    OK, since you're in high school-- I imagine your CT has 5 classes a day? How about if you start working with one of the classes that didn't witness last week's problem lesson? Is there one that's a little more low key than the others? Maybe you can teach your next lesson to them?

    Is it possible to co-teach for a while with your CT? Maybe ask if he/she will start a lesson, then give you time to play guest lecturer or something? Maybe ask your expertise on a particular topic instead of having you run the whole class? Break the class into 2 small groups and have you each take one to work on different aspects of the same project?

    Another little thing. I was mentoring one of our new teachers a few years ago. She was 22 and teaching Seniors (she was a last minute hire when we were down 3 math teachers-- one of them being me-- for a few weeks.) I gave her an assignment: to stand at the doorway between classes and practice her teacher persona. "Ask" (as in "order politely") kids not to shove, to get rid of the gum, all that stuff we do all day long without thinking about it. It served 2 purposes: it got her into the habit of acting with authority, and, it got a LOT of kids into the habit of obeying her the same way they would obey the same request from me. Try it.

    Also, find time to attend a game or two. You'll be amazed at how even the tough kids react when you can compliment them on a play or success they KNOW you witnessed. Bring your wife to the school play (we do one in the spring and one in the fall, so you may have one coming up) or to homecoming. Get to know the kids outside of class-- and, more important here, let them get to know you. Stop in on Debate practice (and offer to judge a practice round) or see if there's a club or activity that you can offer to help informally with.

    This is NOT about your ability to teach. One lesson, no matter how bad it is, doesn't determine that. And it's not about your wife's feelings either; no matter how ST was going, you wouldn't be earning a teaching salary right now. This is about YOUR confidence level. So start small, and work on your confidence.
     
  5. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Oct 1, 2010

    Alice,

    Thanks for the feedback. It is a confidence issue. It doesn't help that my wife is a total nervous Nellie that panics at any sign of trouble.

    I did go through some of the other threads w/r/t student teaching and the most important takeaway was 1) you are allowed to make mistakes and 2) be patient with yourself. My program supervisor said that it takes time to get everything down and rookie teachers don't get everything right. The important thing is that I adjust and recognize how things work.

    I actually do work with a similar class that meets earlier in the day to try out my lessons/tricks - that gives me the chance to adjust for the later class that is a real handful. So the opportunity is there. Also, this week I tried giving directions to the class in small steps - 1) turn around your chair 180 degrees ---NOT 90, NOT 45 - and modeled it. I also told them DO NOT do this until I give the signal. It worked, amazingly. I think I have to be an Army drill sargent on when to start and when to stop. So I think I'm making progress with these kids who are pretty unruly and will goof off if you have a little crack.

    I still have to work on my authority. I caught a girl texting in class (which calls for confiscation of phone) - and she wouldn't give it up...after a bit of standoff, I backed off but told the CT in the room, who called her out on it...and told her the consequences....give it up (the lesser of two consequences) or if she still didn't do it, get a suspension (for defiance). The girl hesitated for what seemed a long moment...and actually didn't relent until the CT started dialling up the phone to call to the administration. So I learned a bit from that - tell them the consequences and throw back the ball in their court.

    My other class I'm ST'ing is going better - they're Jrs., smaller class, mellower and a bit more forgiving.
     
  6. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Oct 1, 2010

    Everybody has to work on their authority. It's a work in progress. It comes with experience. Every small success you have will build up that experience.

    Write down every successful moment you have, even if it's small. You will find that those moments add up substantially, and you'll have more and more of them.

    Good luck.
     
  7. MrMarblesTI

    MrMarblesTI Rookie

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    Oct 5, 2010

    I've found that this has worked well for me. Increase the consequence if the student ignores you, but offer him/her to go back to the original consequence ("why don't you just hand over your phone? I don't want to have to suspend you..." or something along those lines). It allows the student to save face in front of peers by being able to back down on his/her "own terms". In the end, you're getting what you wanted in the first place, but the student thinks he/she is winning.
     
  8. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Oct 8, 2010

    That is great advice. Thank you so much. While I am a loooong way from being polished, I think I am getting better by the day.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oct 8, 2010

    And that, JackTrader, is success.
     
  10. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Oct 8, 2010

    That's exactly what the CT told the student. And she told me that she wasn't sure if the student was going to think clearly and choose the lesser of two evils - surrender the handset vs. getting a suspension for defiance.

    I've actually experienced the latter before when I confronted a student about taking out a magazine to read - I told her to let me look at that and she told me "none of your business". I told her flat out the alternatives - comply and nothings going to happen OR defy me and suffer a greater penalty - removal from the room and a referral, and added that it wasn't worth it to suffer disciplinary action for such a small thing. Well, somehow the kid's stubbornness kicked in, and she wouldn't budge - so I had no choice but to follow through and send her to the office. Students sometimes just don't make the right choices.
     
  11. jakissko

    jakissko Rookie

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    Oct 13, 2010

    Hey Jack, hang in there. Easier said than done, I know... but like Alice said, you've got the desire to do well, which means you'll be willing to adapt yourself in whatever way needed to be successful.

    I know the feeling of confidence blows, as I bet most educators do... the feeling of working your tail off and not seeing the work manifested in results... However, when you do see it manifested, it's an irreplaceable feeling. Keep us posted on your progress.

    Johnny Kissko
    K-12 Mobile Learning
     
  12. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Oct 14, 2010

    Lack of confidence is a killer for sure. Last year I struggled with this s a first year teacher. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I even went to he doctor a few times for the anxiety. I was doubting that this was the career for me. This was after 4 years of working in a school as an aide! Towards the end of the year I began to relax a little and it went better. This year is night and day. I have stress and a heavy workload but I'm so much calmer. There are other factors that went into my year of shaken confidence but I learned an important lesson.
     
  13. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Oct 15, 2010

    One step forward, one step back

    thank you for all of your words of advice. So far my progress I think is a bit mixed. One day I had a great, imaginative lesson "hook" when I used a kid's fairy tale to describe/explain a political or historical chain of events. The kids loved it and were engaged. However, a couple of days later the situation started to unravel again in terms of classroom management.

    My CT had to discipline and warn the kids while I was giving the lesson, and I felt that I had neglected to keep my eyes open on checking the kids' behavior --- all too engrossed in getting through the lesson. Dang, I gotta have eyes in the back and sides of my head.

    I somehow get the feeling that I've let the kids get out of hand with their chattiness, they don't respect me, and now it's gonna be hard to put them back into the bag, so to speak, in terms of proper behavior. My CT has commented that this particular class, their dynamics are such that any activity or transition from an activity cannot allow any downtime (or ambiguity) because they will exploit it by talking and goofing off.

    How am I gonna fix the situation?
     
  14. Momma C

    Momma C Comrade

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    Oct 15, 2010

    Sounds almost like your CT got you off to a bad start. Rather than telling you that you aren't cut out for something, he/she should have been giving you constructive criticism - shame on them :naughty:

    Don't give up -- go in fresh! It is never to late to "get them back into the bag." Try activities involving role-play. My chatty 8th graders love it. You can pretty much adapt any lesson to incorporate role play. You will be surprised how this "calms" them down.

    You might also ask the kids what type of activities they like. It helps when they feel "ownership." You just have to set the guidelines -- because, you will get some wacky responses. :dizzy:

    As to classroom management - you have to set the tone. Kids will try to get away with whatever they can, especially with an ST. We have all gone through that sort of thing. Hopefully, your current CT is giving you some good pointers. Afterall, this is what STing is for --to learn how to handle all the situations. Hang in there, and don't give up. :hugs:

    --And don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for advice!--:up:
     
  15. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Oct 18, 2010

    Fell flat on my face again

    Well, I had another observation....and blew it big time.

    Kids are out of control. Even worse, I could tell my lesson wasn't getting to them/boring.

    My program supervisor was stunned and didn't know what to say - basically said that I just didn't connect with the students. Didn't have control of the classroom...let the inmates run the asylum. He felt that maybe this is the wrong age group for me --- suggested either community college or younger kids. Asked me to meet him tomorrow afternoon with the program people. It looks like I just can't continue in the program.

    I think I'm just spent and maybe all my efforts are like beating my head against a wall. Like Unbeknowst, another poster on the forums, I too have had constant anxiety, insomnia,and total stress. I am often very irritable and get angry at my daughter too quickly. Maybe the health/physical reactions is telling me that this just isn't it.

    One of the problems is that I'm persistent (or stubborn) - and want to finish what I start. However, it's getting to the point where maybe it's just not working out for me. OTOH, I feel bad that I've let down my program supervisors and professors who've had faith in me to give me another chance, not to mention my wife.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 18, 2010

    I'm so sorry it's not working out for you.

    Would you consider taking his suggestion, and moving either up or down in terms of the age group?
     
  17. passionateacher

    passionateacher Comrade

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    Oct 18, 2010

    I haven't read all the other comments, so sorry if I'm repeating what's been said a million times. I just want to share that I had a lot less confidence as a student teacher, just like I do any time I'm being observed. It is hard for me to focus on teaching because I'm worried about how I sound and if the observer is thinking they could have taught it better than me. Also I worry about kids who are going to embarrass me by putting their heads down or playing with something in their desks. It is very nerve-racking. But when I'm alone it's a whole different story. I KNOW I'm a good teacher and my assessment data and student progress shows that. But when I know that I'm being judged (because that's what a CT and admin observes for---to judge your effectiveness) I am not nearly as great as I usually am. So stuttering, lacking confidence, etc while being observed has NOTHING to do with being cut out for this. Try avoiding eye contact with whoever is watching and eventually you will (kind of) forget they are there. I just look at my students and I really do begin to focus more on what my lesson is and I do my normal management strategies. Hope this helps!
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 18, 2010

    Jack, how do you think it goes when no one is observing you?? When it's just you and the kids, is it closer to how it should be?

    If so, then would you consider asking that the next observation, even an informal one, be done from the hallway, with them listening to what's going on?? They might not see, but I bet they would get a much more accurate idea of what was happening in your class.

    In 1989 I went on an observation for Middle States. Here I was, a 5'4" blonde female, observing in in all boys school. Worse yet, I ended up observing a health class in the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

    The teacher was teaching the ways AIDS is spread. All the hands in the room went up. Yep, through IV needles. Yep, from mother to baby.

    Then every hand in the room went down. There was nothing on earth that young teacher could do to get those teenage boys to say "sexual contact" with me in the room.

    I left after a minute or two, and stood in the hall. A ripple of laughter went through the room, and the real lesson commenced.

    The teacher came up to me later to apologize. And, while it was probably against the rules, I told him what I had done, and that I was counting what I heard from the hallway as my real observation.

    Could something like that give the observers a better idea of how your class really functions?
     
  19. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Oct 18, 2010

    I don't think it has much to do with being observed in terms of nervousness, I wasn't even thinking about my supervisor at all, I was just trying to get through the lesson and get the kids to behave. It was that bad....
     
  20. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Oct 18, 2010

    I will have to seriously consider that since someone else (my original CT who didn't pass) me suggested that I should go to CC. I don't know about teaching the younger kids because I don't have a lot of exposure to them except through subbing. I did think of getting a MS but only after I finish up the SS because I only need to take about 3 more courses plus take a standardized exam in CA, called the CSET if I get the SS first. Plus I don't know which grade level yet, I've subbed for K/1/2 and 5th graders, but not 3/4.

    Of course I will now have to figure out how to make that work - how do I explain that I didn't finish a credential program to potential future employers...and I gotta explain this to my wife, who will NOT be happy and is very impatient with my lack of income for the last 2-3 years.
     
  21. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 18, 2010

    You explain that it wasn't the right fit.

    As far as the income goes, I guess you work part time while you go to school. Lots of people do.

    Do I remember correctly that you have a background in finance? Is there any sort of part time or freelance work you could do for some cash?
     
  22. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Oct 18, 2010

    I don't know...I had my CT do observations in the room and they were a bit better behaved, but not where they need to be. I think they know that she's there and they won't get too much out of hand. However, she did step in a few times to correct some behavior. Today the problem was that the CT was not in town and I was subbing for her class. Yes, they took advantage of that, fully.

    I've subbed for my previous ST stint and I had a great time, had the kids much more under control, last spring.

    Although I don't think it would make that much of a difference...here.
     

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