Do I Need Therapy?

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by hopefulnovice, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. hopefulnovice

    hopefulnovice Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 30, 2008

    Hello,

    This is my first year of teaching and I have been crying almost every day for the last month...
    My year started pretty good, but has gotten progressively worse. My problem is I lost the joy of teaching. All the things that kept me going before, like that look when a student gets it or is interested, I see none of that. The negative outweighs the positive. I keep thinking of going back to school for a totally new career. Perhaps teaching is just not for me...
    Every little sarcastic comment made by a student kills my mood, every smirk and bored look makes me feel that I'm failing as a teacher. I feel like I should be doing a better job, but don't know how. I'm exausted, for I've been generally putting 12-13 hours of work a day into this...sometimes more, and yet I'm not happy with myself.
    I understand I need to care less and calm down a bit, I'm being too hard on myself. But how do I do it? I can't help beating myself up and then wallowing in pity.
    I constantly think of this being like a year in jail, I keep checking off the days in the calendar. I don't like my job at all. Is this normal for the first year of teaching? I mean there is no joy in it for me. What should I do? Please advise.
     
  2.  
  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Dec 30, 2008

    Nope. YOu need help.

    For starters, and this is important: make plans for New Years Eve. I don't care what you do, or with whom. But you need a life outside the classroom, and I'm guessing you've let that slide int he past few months. Go ahead, call some friends. I'll wait....





    Well......


    Go ahead!!! NOW!!!!!








    OK. Now, tell us specificallly what the problems are. Let us know how the kids are behaving, how you're getting along with your peers, how your observatons have gone, the works. And let us know what you're teaching Monday.

    Now, go call those friends and get back to us on the rest.
     
  4. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    240
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 30, 2008

    This is my first year teaching, and I felt like that the two weeks or so before vacation. I think it's pretty normal to burn out right before winter break, but it's a problem if you still feel hopeless after you go back to school. It couldn't hurt to talk to a professional. It's probably covered by your insurance.
     
  5. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Messages:
    942
    Likes Received:
    1

    Dec 30, 2008

    I understand exactly how you feel. It is my first year too and I felt the same way the first 6 weeks. You really can't take it so personally when they say things or don't do their work. You can only do so much. You aren't super human. And you HAVE to make time for yourself away from the class room. GO CALL THOSE FRIENDS!!!
    What grade are you teaching?
    Are you self contained or switch classes?
    Give us some more info and let us help!
     
  6. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    Messages:
    1,751
    Likes Received:
    2

    Dec 30, 2008

    Use this forum!!! We have all felt what you are feeling at some time or another. But so far the advice is spot on. Teaching --although a calling--is your job, not your life.

    Are you alone in your school as a new teacher? Find others in your situation and get a support group going.
    Do you have a mentor program at your district? Find an experienced teacher that you can get along with and pick her/his brain.

    This is just my elementary perspective, but have you thought about changing to primary??? Children love their teachers and they try to please them--they still care about learning.
     
  7. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2003
    Messages:
    6,699
    Likes Received:
    66

    Dec 30, 2008

    My first teaching experience was at the Jr High level and I won't post the whole story, but basically it got very ugly and I quit. I really debated whether or not teaching was really for me, but lucked out and was hired the next semester at a rural elementary school and was so happy there. For me Jr High was the wrong grade level. Still, my first full year teaching was HELL, at least parts of it was. I'll never forget the first time I turned around and had 24 pairs of eyes trained on me. I had an instant feeling of panic and was ready to run. First, see if there is another teacher at the school that you can talk to, really talk to. Find out if you got stuck with a bum class or if that's the norm for kids there. Talk about specific problems and get their input. Try and take time off on the weekends, even if it is just a couple of hours. Try and forget the classroom for a while. Also, at school, bring some personal things to surround yourself with. They can be pictures of friends and family, souvenirs of special trips that make you happy, or anything. Make a space that is yours. If you are religious, pray every day before the kids get there, pray for strength, patience, and wisdom. That's still my prayer every day (and this is my 12th year). If you think the grade level might not be the one for you, take a personal day and go visit the grade you might like. Get a feel for how those work. Or, ask to have your class covered while you observe others at your grade level. We all know where you are coming from and want to help. Use us, too. Best of luck to you!! :hugs:
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  8. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Messages:
    870
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 30, 2008

    I think most teachers feel the way you do when they first begin teaching. Later on I think you start to realize that this is always going to be part of teaching and we are not miracle workers. I try very hard to concentrate on all the good things that happen in my classroom,the many great children and parents I meet.
    It is very important that you find other teachers to talk to,share ideas with and use to support each other. Make sure you leave some time for activities you enjoy doing.Don't get bogged down totally in your work.
    It took me three years before I really felt good about myself and the job I was doing. I finally realized that I was not the only teacher who had some children who did poorly in their work or had behavior problems in their class.
    It is too soon to give up.There are many great people at this forum. Let us help you anyway we can.
    GOOD LUCK!
     
  9. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Messages:
    4,376
    Likes Received:
    809

    Dec 30, 2008

    Dear Hopeful,
    I don't think you've really lost the joy of teaching. To be perfectly honest, I think, as a first year teacher, you are only begining to develop the joy of teaching. It is a joy that grows deeper each year ... so with only part of one year under your belt, there isn't much there yet to support you through the difficult times.

    And as a first year teacher, the difficult times are there! (at some schools more than others....) It is a tough time for almost all teachers. I promise you, it does get easier! I know that is little help now, but it does.

    First, I think you expecting teaching to "make you happy and fufilled." The truth is, the best teachers are happy and fufilled in their outside life, and they bring that to teaching.

    By cutting back on your work hours, persuing your interests (or developing new ones) you will be a better teacher. I've also found that the busier a person is, the more "umph" they pack into things. For example, if I have all weekend to do lesson plans, they pretty much consume my entire weekend. However, if I schedule from 8am-12noon on Saturday as my "lesson plan" time, and plan stuff to fill the rest of the weekend, then I get very serious from 8am-12noon...no nonsense...and I get it done!

    Please tell us a bit more about yourself (what grade you teach, part of the country you are from, married or single, living at home or on your own, by yourself or with roommates -- that type of thing) and I think you will find we can be more helpful.

    Hang in there!!!!!
     
  10. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,489
    Likes Received:
    2

    Dec 31, 2008

    The first year is the worst. Being a new teacher is like being the looking in - all of the other teachers KNOW what's going on, what all those darn acronyms stand for, where paper work is, what ALL of the school policies are, they have lesson plans that work, the best people to go to for help... and they know how to not freak out on a daily basis.

    Do you have a mentor? Mine didn't do doodly-squat for me, so I found two other teacher willing to listen and share with me. I spent two hours in the car every day, plus another 5 hours grading, planning, and trying to figure out state standards. I hated teaching. I cried. I freaked. I felt like a bunch of kids were ruining my life with their ability to circumvent any directive given. I had personal issues, so I was on edge with that.

    Then summer came, I went to the beach, I read, I relaxed... and I came up with a plan. I learned how to plan better, how to give more meaningful and engaging assignments... and I read Harry Wong. I wish I had found this forum, because everyone here is so nice and so willing to share.

    So like RainStorm said - tell us more. We can brainstorm and see if there is anything we can help you with!
     
  11. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,513
    Likes Received:
    15

    Dec 31, 2008

    One issue you brought up is losing your momentum when a kid gives you the "booooring" signal.

    If I recall, you are in a high school setting, right? If you are in a HS or MS setting and you've got kids that are bored then you've got a normal classroom of teenagers.

    There are a couple of ways to get over this bothering you.
    1. Ignore it. Trust yourself that you've created a solid lesson.

    2. Make lessons meaningful. Can you do this for everything? No. But, look for that thread in all of your planning. I teach _The Crucible_ every year. Most HS kids don't give a rip about a Puritan witch scare. But, when I bring up what a bully-mean-girl Abigail is (something they understand) I get a lot more of them connecting to the story.

    3. Challenge the attitude. Recent situation for me:
    Student: This book is so stupid.
    Me: What makes you say that?
    Student: It is, it is just stupid.
    Me: Let's talk about what you're picking up on in the book that makes you think it is stupid.
    Student: I dunno. It's just stupid.
    Me: You keep saying that but I'm still not grasping what you find to be stupid ... is it the book's theme, the characters, the writing style ... what is it?
    Student: (Getting frustrated with me), Gaw, I dunno, it's just dumb.
    Student NUMBER TWO: You keep saying that but you're not really saying anything. Why do you think it is stupid?
    I stopped it here and went on with our lesson because I didn't want to get something started between students. But, this student doesn't complain in my classroom anymore. Does she complain about me and my class outside of class ... probably. Oh well. The situation could have gone really wrong if I wouldn't have kept the discussion about the book, I could have made it about me pretty easily (or the student), but I didn't. This isn't something I would've done on the first day of school. I have a great classroom climate and I know this student well enough that I could kinda predict how the conversation would go.

    4. Teach them that part of being an adult is "enduring" things that seem meaningless. Since I have all of the seniors, the counselor schedules some guest speakers in my classroom to talk about careers, etc. The guest speaker comes to my classroom to give the presenation. My students are already comfortable in my classroom, they are in their element. This could be disasterous for a guest speaker ... seniors are the best at zoning out. So, the day before, I have a talk with them about how as an adult if you are bored, you don't show it. You sit politely, nod, show interest. It is not appropriate to roll the eyes, talk to your neighbor, rest your head on your desk. I then steer the discussion to hoops we all have to jump through in life, and you do them just because. They get this, they come up with examples. I bring it back to the guest speaker ... so, why would our counselor think it important to bring in someone to talk careers with you? Does our counselor know what she's doing (yes), does she have your best interest in mind (yes), etc. I find this creates a great situation for the guest speaker. AND, it is something that I can come back to if I start getting 'tude from students about things I am teaching.

    As a first year teacher, I wouldn't have had all of this figured out. But, you can start thinking about how these things work with you and your teaching style.

    For next year, spend time at the beginning establishing classroom climate. I used a lot of ideas from _Wong's First Days of School_ and tailored them for my style. I use a LOT of humor with my students. Humor allows me to diffuse some of the teenage attitude without it becoming a big deal.

    You're going to be okay. Everything I've read by you is typical first year "stuff." Teaching is hard, but you'll get it. The fact that you are reflecting and looking for solutions is a GREAT sign.
     
  12. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2007
    Messages:
    3,644
    Likes Received:
    108

    Jan 1, 2009

    I was horrible depressed my first few months of this school year~ and yes I'm still counting the days I have left to teaching my first year, even though I usually love my job. With everything being new, we're overwhelmed and feeling like this is usually felt by every new teacher. I've gotten to the point of where I'm taking natural herbs to help with my depression and anxiety, not allowing myself to do any school-related work if I'm really bad, and taking a hot bubble bath once a week to relax.

    Another thing I quickly learned is that I *MUST* separate me-- the teacher with me-- the non-teacher. Any comments that might be slightly negative from other co-workers I take in as me-- the teacher. But only help me to become a better teacher. Comments that I get from students or *some* parents (those who are known to NEVER be happy) I honestly ignore~ they probably couldn't find a compliment for me if they tried, that's just how they are. When I get home, I remember that I'm not only just a teacher, but a sister, girlfriend, daughter, godmother, and friend~ I have so many redeeming qualities that my students and their parents will never get to see. I'm sure you have alot of wonderful qualities as well that your students will never get to see or understand.

    So please take care of yourself and guard your heart~ not every bad compliment given is true. There are some things you will need to improve on as a new teacher, but that's totally normal! Most of them, I would figure, are coming from people who just have issues in their lives and they feel they have to take it out on you and how you teach.
     
  13. hopefulnovice

    hopefulnovice Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 1, 2009

    Thank you all for such wonderful support...I am crying as I am writing this...again... It's a break, and I can't stop thinking of school! This anxiety and unhappiness just never leaves me! We just came back from a vacation abroad, and a change in atmosphere really helped. I even thought and told my boyfriend that I think I can do this after all! Back home and I'm back to my old depressed state again...
    I think I will try the Saint John's Wart and see if that helps a bit. I tried Meditation and talking to our school's Social Worker to no avail...
    I've read seceral posts of new teachers here talking about being on anti-depressants their first year...I may consider that if the herbal stuff doesn't work.
    I'll tell you more about myself and my misery, it's time to take a break - we're going to see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"...I hope I can sit through the movie without going back to my dark thoughts...
     
  14. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2007
    Messages:
    3,644
    Likes Received:
    108

    Jan 2, 2009

    I started taking St John's Wort a few months ago~ I've been suffering from depression since I was about 14 and its been very helpful I think. I would suggest you read up about it first~ it can have some bad interactions with certain medicines and if you're out in the sun alot. I also take half the necessary dosage a day, but I'm noticing some good effects.

    Try meditation~ I do prayer stuff since I'm Catholic and that's soothing and also a hot shower or bubble bath is always nice, light some candles while you're working, and having some sleepy time tea before bed has also helped me.

    You can do this~ this anxiety and stress is felt by most new teachers. I'm not saying its okay that you're feeling this way, but I don't want you to give up on teaching just yet :)
     
  15. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Messages:
    870
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 2, 2009

    It might be helpful to find someone you can discuss your feelings with.You need to realize this is what teaching is about. It would be great if we could just teach.It is the other things such as the paperwork and disrespectful children,that our teacher training never prepares us for,that makes our job so difficult.
    Only you know if it is worth continuing if you feel so awful.The main thing to realize is you can only do the best you can.Teaching is not easy,but concentrate on all the good you do in your classroom. Good Luck.
     
  16. hopefulnovice

    hopefulnovice Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 3, 2009

    Ok, so I went to a pharmacy today and got St. John's Wort. I also got a huge wall calendar, which I filled out with all the upcoming breaks...it helps looking at it and look forward to them.

    When I was at my lowest I observed several teachers in my school and talked to them about their planning and classroom management strategies. The mistake that I made, I later learned, is breaking down and crying in front of several teachers. My dept. head talked to me and told me that I need to get myself together, because my struggles do not look professional, and the administration is worried...So on top of being depressed about my teaching and discipline, I became worried about how I'm percieved by the admin. and other teachers in the school. My biggest anxiety is the fact that people may think of me as incompetent, which I think they may now...

    So I really don't have any teacher that I would feel comfortable having an honest conversation (with a bit of crying) with. I avoid talking about my troubles in school, because I do inevitably cry. So I try to stay strong and look strong. That's why this site is such a great help. I can tell you all and cry at the same time. Thank you! :)
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Jan 3, 2009

    Oh, please!!! I am a born crier. I cry at denture commercials. The week before school ended I had a full blown cry in the AP's office (I was telling him about my medical issues.) I had another teacher walk me to my homeroom with the instructions to talk and not come up for air so kids couldn't interrupt us in the hall.

    Crying is just one way of dealing with stress. Some people drink, some punch walls, some cry. It's cheaper than therapy.

    Try, if possible, to avoid having the kids see you cry. Or be prepared to explain that it's a coping mechanism. But if the kids perceive it as a sign of weakness, it's not going to help you.
     
  18. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,489
    Likes Received:
    2

    Jan 3, 2009

    hopefulnovice, that is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard! I can't believe other teachers/admin were WORRIED because you cried! Who DIDN'T cry their first year - alone, during planning break, in the car, at home, on the phone with friends/family, and TO OTHER TEACHERS WHO SHOULD UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH! Goodness, if you gathered up all of my tears from my first year, you could have an Olympic swimming pool!

    Of course your struggles don't "look" professional - 1st of all, I don't even know what that means unless your dept. head thinks you shouldn't be struggling. 2nd, (and don't take this the wrong way), but you aren't a professional yet. Being a "professional" teacher - in the sense of accomplishments, etc rather than the sense of "my profession" - takes YEARS. Heck, I taught for three years and I still don't think of myself as "professional." I still have a lot to learn and a lot of trial and error to go through. And so do you.

    If your coworkers and your administration view you as "weak," "unprofessional," or "incompetent" because you got too stressed out and cried... maybe you ought to look for another school for next year. Because that does not sound like a healthy environment to me.

    Can you tell how indignant I am on your behalf? :)
     
  19. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Messages:
    870
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 3, 2009

    Instead of worrying about your crying,which most first year teachers feel like doing at one time or another,why don't your fellow teachers and God forbid administrators, offer to help you to improve your teaching and your mental outlook!
     
  20. hopefulnovice

    hopefulnovice Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 3, 2009

    Thank you, your understanding makes me feel much better. Boy, have I made mistakes. I never cried in front of my kids, but did tell one of my classes that they made me cry. I also told them that I've had most experience with 6th grade (referring to my student teaching) and I would appreciate any feedback and communal input into our activities...I was seeking an understanding and empathy, and was hoping for discipline improvement. That conversation made them thoughtfull and respectful, and that particular lesson was awesome. But afterward all went down the drain.

    I understand that this is just the beginning and I'm alowed to make mistakes. How do I get myself together emotionally? I just hate going to school in the morning, I keep waiting for something negative to happen. I pray St. John's Wort helps. I fail to reassure myself, and keep going back to anxiety attacks and crying spells.
     
  21. Greensleeve

    Greensleeve Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 3, 2009

    Instead of appealing to students' empathy, you should strive to establish your authority. I know that it sounds harsh, but seeking sympathy from students might be seen as week and hence invites more rebellion from them.

    I am likewise a new teacher who is having a tough time discipline-wise. I started the year trying too hard to entertain the students, being the goofy teacher, the "dope" teacher that no-one respects. I have since then been super mean and it backfired with more student rebellion.

    What new teachers like us need to understand is that, while reasoning with students has its value, students need to have reasonable boundaries to their actions. Otherwise they will step over you, whether they feel sorry for you or not.

    Having a recourse to your problem is the only way out of your anxiety. It seems that like many new teachers, you need help with classroom management. There's a really good book, "Setting Limits in the Classroom" by Robert J. Mackenzie. A hard advice to wit: students do not need someone who they should pity; they need an authority figure whom they know can maintain order and rules.
     
  22. Beverly

    Beverly Comrade

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    284
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 3, 2009

    Crying is a biological stress-reducer. Why do people have to be so harsh about it? Anyway, I think you've gotten some good advice here already. Hang in there!
     
  23. katerina03

    katerina03 Devotee

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Messages:
    1,120
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 4, 2009

    This is my first year teaching at a new school (8th grade) and I cried at least 3 days a week the first 2 months. I would probably still be crying if I hadn't gotten use to the misery. Hopefully, I will find a better grade level next year.
     
  24. hopefulnovice

    hopefulnovice Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 5, 2009

    Katerina - what subject/s do you teach? I've heard 8th grade is a tough one...it seems like 7th and 8th grades are the worst behavior-wise. If you ever have a chance get a 6th grade class. I did my student-teaching with that level and loved it.

    Hang in there! And try St. John's Wort - great anxiety reducer. :)
     
  25. katerina03

    katerina03 Devotee

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Messages:
    1,120
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 7, 2009

    I teach English.This is only my 3rd year teaching. I taught 7th grade for 2 years at another school, but I moved to a "better" district.

    I did my student teaching in a 6th grade classroom and loved it. I subbed 2 years before getting my own classroom and I have subbed every single grade level. I liked all grades more than 8th.


    I must admit that since I got to know the kids I feel way more comfortable with them. But the dealing with the attitudes is frustrating. I have a great behavior plan and things aren't really that bad...but this age group along with the pressures of the job are exhausting:( Right now I am on buspirone. Also, most of my coworkers and I support one another and we go out often.
     
  26. BB0211

    BB0211 Companion

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2007
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 8, 2009

    Yes, get into therapy. It only helps.
     
  27. Educator777

    Educator777 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 13, 2009

    HopefulNovice,
    I ahve a question, in your mind, what would need to happen in order to feel the "joy" of teaching again?
     
  28. hopefulnovice

    hopefulnovice Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 14, 2009

    Feeling a part of the school. Validation of the fact that I am doing well for a first-year teacher. Support from my coworkers and the administration. Positive feedback from the kids. I don't feel like I have any of that. Everyone is on their own in our school, and I don't feel "welcomed" at all. I've been here since August, tried to get teachers go out, went out once and realized it was not helpful at all...I don't know, I just don't feel right here. It's difficult to explain. I felt wonderful and a part of the community during my student-teaching experience, so I know there is a place for me out there...I just need to find it, and until then do the best I can here, learn as much as I can, and be content with what I have. It's just so hard sometimes...but I'll make it. I know I will. One month until Winter Break :)
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

Total: 160 (members: 0, guests: 145, robots: 15)
test