Feeling so incompetent

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Hiyateacher, Feb 16, 2016.

  1. Hiyateacher

    Hiyateacher Rookie

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    Feb 16, 2016

    Hi everyone,
    Some of you may recall that I posted on here a few weeks ago asking if it was okay to feel burnt out during student teaching. Thank you for your thoughts and stories. Now I just find myself feeling inadequate and incompetent as a teacher. Finding the energy and motivation to go in every day has become a struggle. I literally cry just at the thought of going in the next day on Sundays and holidays. Thank goodness for an inclement weather day today!

    I have been put on an improvement plan because my university supervisor and mentor feel like I'm not planned ahead of time enough. My university supervisor told me that it is typical for student teachers to be placed on improvement plans, but yet when you look at the language of the document, it says that this is done when student teachers are marked as "developing" or "not meet initial standards" on their evaluation and that failure to show improvement could result in removal from the program. I'm not sure if my supervisor is telling the truth or saying that just to mollify me. I generally know what I'm doing and have a plan ready to go with two days to 24 hours before my class. I sometimes make last minute changes because I think of different ways of approaching a portion of the lesson or a topic. I mean, aren't teachers supposed to make changes as they go? I'm also told that I need to show more confidence when I teach because it shows to the students. Well, it's hard to have confidence when I feel like I'm being knocked down all the time and told I'm inadequate. I bust my butt every single day, I'm at the school usually from 6:30-5:30, sometimes as late as 7pm! Even on the weekends, I usually spend 1-2 hours doing something related to school. I have all but moved into my bed into the school, but yet I still can't do anything right.

    I'm a guy and I've been told to "man up" because I cry. I never cry in front of students. I save it for my planning period or home. The pressure just gets to be so much! I feel like I don't have much of a support system. I'm single, I live by myself, I've really bonded with the other student teachers at my school, but I'm afraid to bring it up with them out of fear that I'm the only one.

    There's just so much negativity and dread in my life right now and it's taking a toll on me.
     
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  3. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Feb 16, 2016

    You need some counseling. Perhaps your college has a place to go. Either way you need someone to talk to and a health professional is probably best.
    Living inside you head with all these negative thoughts is not a good thing for you. I WOULD talk to those other student teachers. They probably worry about student teaching, too. Good luck
     
  4. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Feb 16, 2016

    I like the idea of using your school's counseling center and wish I had done the same when I was student teaching. Try not to go off on the people telling you to "man up". That's ridiculous. You feel the way you feel, and this is how you release stress.
     
  5. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Feb 16, 2016

    As a second full-year teacher who goes through many of the similar feelings, and having gone through that in college myself (took a hardship withdrawal once so that I could do what others are saying), I will echo the thoughts of others. That beings said, if you're at all like me, it may be a bit helpful, but not completely...try to find some colleagues - both peers and teachers who are already in the profession - that you can talk to, plan with, discuss the students, etc... I've found it extremely helpful when I've had the opportunity to just go through my thoughts with a mentor, colleague, or teacher friend, as it's helped me sort out the unnecessary thoughts (those that you are mentioning...well, at least somewhat :)) and voice / reasonably think through my actual thoughts instead of stewing over whether it's right or wrong.
     
  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Feb 16, 2016

    I'm sorry you're going through this. I agree about getting the help you need. Try to be more open about sharing what you're going through with your colleagues. Many of them may be going through the same anxiety, and similarly feel like they don't have anyone to turn to.

    I would reflect on where your real issues are with your student teaching. From what you say, I would say it probably stems from multiple issues. I could be wrong, but it doesn't seem like you're getting much support from your mentor planning wise. My first year, I was planning my next days' lesson the night before. They should know it's difficult for new teachers to be ahead in their planning.

    Perhaps what they want to see is some kind of long-term plan, where you generally plan out the learning goals and activities for an entire unit, but leave detailed planning until later.

    Also it seems you are having issues separating work from your personal life. I know it seems like you NEED to work 24/7 to be a good teacher, but in fact, working too much will make you a worse teacher! You will be tired, and stressed, and feel like you never have a break which is probably worsening your anxiety. Pick a time to leave by. You say you get to work at 6:30 am. That should be plenty of time to get any planning or other things done if you use your time wisely. Try to get out by 4pm at the latest, and when you get home try not to do any work. Pick a hobby or activity that relaxes you (like reading, watching films, or whatever). Do that for the rest of the night.

    Keep work at work, and home at home. Trust me, this will be something you will need to develop as soon as possible. I get to school at 7 and leave at 4. I do some work over the weekends, but that's my choice because I can do better work in a more relaxed environment (usually at a coffee shop) rather than working at home.
     
  7. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Feb 16, 2016

    It's definitely a hard line to draw...I'm in my second year, and thanks to now buying a laptop to use to work on school stuff at home, I no longer go in on weekends. However, I have a hard time saying "I'm leaving at 6" or "I'm leaving at 7", since honestly, I feel as though I'm not as efficient as others, and so I wouldn't be doing well enough if I chose to just leave at a specific time.
     
  8. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Feb 17, 2016

    wow. Was it someone in your teacher training program who told you to "man up"? I am continually amazed at how much teacher training programs teach us what to NOT do. If it was somebody in your training program, document it. (write down for yourself who did/said what and when) If they dare to give you the boot, it might help you to argue your case. Although I wonder if perhaps it won't come to that.
    And I agree with those who have said that it sounds like you are overworking. Does your program, or the school district you are student teaching in have any lesson planning basic outline form? Is your mentor teacher able to help with this at all? or any other student teachers in your program? Or any of the teachers in your training program? Don't freak out if not every lesson is an award winning entertainment life-changing event. Be aware of what you want them to know at the end of the lesson, what they will be doing to show they learned it.

    I don't think I am even close to being a good teacher. Maybe I'm close to ok. I do know that as time (years) goes by and I remember some of the stuff I was told in my credential program, I STILL get angry. At the time I didn't. At the time, It hurt. I was lucky enough to have an amazing mentor teacher who got me through it. Listen to what rings true to you, document the truly abusive CRAP (excuse me, but telling someone to "man up" falls into that category) and learn what sort of teacher you don't want to be.
    And I agree with others - take advantage of the counseling your school offers. Treat yourself well! I have had the flu all week, so hope this makes sense. (I have to go make plans for tomorrow's sub!) Practice being kind to yourself.
     
  9. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

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    Feb 17, 2016

    I'm still a new teacher(3rd year) but I remember student teaching like it was yesterday. When I was in my program I had to turn my lesson plans(really long like 30+ pages per week) in a week in advance. Yes I would change them but my program required me to turn them in by Saturday morning for the following week. Are you required to do something such as this? If you were in my program and didnt complete the lesson plans you would probably be kicked out if you failed to turn them in on time twice. If you don't have to do this, I would start planning a week ahead.

    Also I'm not trying to be a jerk but if your teaching high school and your not confident in the classroom, you are going to get walked on by the kids. I don't think your professor is being out of line when he says you need to man up. Its not the most elegant way to say it but I couldn't imagine trying to teach if I was on the verge of tears everyday. Kids can sense when your having a bad day or when your vulnerable. Student teaching was significantly more stressful than teaching is for me now. Probably like that for everyone.

    You need to figure out what is making you nervous. Even when I was student teaching the only time I was nervous was when I didn't feel like I was prepared. If your fear is just generally dealing with students/being in front of the class being over prepared can help.
     
  10. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

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    Feb 18, 2016

    Sorry but my grammar is the least of this persons problem. (Although I'll be sure to be more careful about my grammar when I'm typing on a forum on my phone. :roll: )
    You can pretend it is ok/normal for him to get up and look like hes going to break down in tears but as someone in a high school classroom everyday I can tell you what would happen. The kids lose respect, the collaborating teacher loses respect, and the admin do not want anything to do with hiring this person. If he is already being put on an improvement plan than things aren't going well. He needs to plan ahead and take the advice of the people trying to help him(collaborating teacher, university supervisor) Plan ahead at least one week, over prepare so that you know exactly what your doing and the confidence will come. Some situations just suck and there is no saving them but if your in a decent school/have a decent collaborating teacher you can fix this.
     
  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Feb 18, 2016

    Please note that the OP did mention he "never cries in front of students". Plenty of teachers have issues which they cry about and that doesn't make them a poor teacher. I've heard that most teachers cry during their first few years, because that is the toughest time of the job. I personally am not a crier, but I definitely cannot fault anyone for doing so, as long as they are not doing it in front of students (because that will make you look weak).
     
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  12. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Feb 18, 2016

    I struggled during my student teaching. I had a cooperating teacher who wasn't very helpful or concerned with helping my improve. (I had the opposite problem. I was told I was overconfident, or at least came across that way.) As a result, my first year teaching was a nightmare. I cried during my planning at least twice a week. I often drove home in tears and almost made myself sick thinking about going to work. A few things helped me get better:

    1. Practice! I stuck with it!

    2. I changed schools and grade levels. That helped a lot. I am a much better fit in high school than I was in elementary. The atmosphere and administration at my current school are a much better fit.

    3. I saw a doctor about my stress. Turns out I had high blood pressure. Now, with medicine, I think I have normal levels of stress.

    My advice: talk to your doctor about your stress, start planning a week ahead, and do what you need to do to get through!
     
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  13. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 18, 2016

    I would also suggest to talk to someone, whether it's a student teacher or a teacher, whoever you feel comfortable with, but probably best if it's a healthcare professional.
    You will become more efficient in time, so you will not end up working 24/7. That comes in time, but in the meanwhile you have to set some boundaries for yourself.
    For example, I still work on some of the weekends to prepare for the upcoming week, but I try to get it done during the week before. I at least have Monday-Tuesday done by Friday. But if I do work on the weekend, I set a 3-4 hour limit. And I have fun in the weekends, either actively doing something, or just relaxing and not doing anything school related. That way I feel that no matter how hard I work during the week or if I get stressed out, it's ok, because I still have a life. There's a balance. If I work work work, it seems like it never ends.
    You burn out like that, and as a student teacher, you burn out quicker, so you have to find that balance.
     
  14. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Feb 20, 2016

    It is what it is... part of manning up now is to accept where you are at here, keep moving forward, and prove your critics wrong! "You think I'm a sorry teacher? OK, watch me!" (in your head, not out loud :p)

    I had a Master-Teacher who I asked if she'd write me a letter of reference--she didn't, apparently because she wouldn't have recommended me at the time. Today, I still work in the same district as her and I think she now thinks I'm a good teacher. I also had a principal in the same district who didn't hire me as a teacher. I see her now at district functions. The people she ended up hiring are gone now and there is a revolving door at that spot, while I'm teaching at another school. She sees me, and I'm sure she would hire me if she could go back.

    Point being: Use it as motivation to prove your doubters wrong. They think you suck at teaching--make them look stupid by being a good teacher. Ten years from now when you are accepting your Teacher of the Year plaque at your school, take this as a chance to be able to flip them the double bird for ever doubting you (again, figuratively :p).
     
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  15. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Feb 20, 2016

    Hiyateacher- I have been a teacher for more than six years, and spent a good portion of that time getting my as* kicked in the classroom because of class mgmt problems. It wasn't until this year that I really felt comfortable in class and feel mostly successful with class mgmt.
    What I have learned from that experience is:

    1. be very wary of people who seem to have all the answers. I had various well-meaning heads of dept and other higher ups who tried to help me, and generally could not.
    2. be especially waryof people who want you to go full Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse on the kids. You have obviously not scared them up to this point (which is not a problem), so don't think you'll be able to do it now.
    3. read as much as you can about teaching, from a wide variety of teaching philosophies. Read the more traditionalist types (Harry Wong, Fred Jones, Lee Canter) and the more progressive types (Adele Faber, Jim Fay, Alfie Kohn). Feel free to adapt or ignore whatever ideas sound good to you.

    What I wish those heads of dept had done for me was to encourage me to have a conversation with the kids, and really listen to them, rather than try to turn me into General Patton. But maybe that wouldn't have worked because I just didn't have the skills to have those kinds of conversations. I don't know what the answer is, but remember that no one else does, either.
     
  16. isabelitab

    isabelitab New Member

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    Aug 27, 2016

    I'm glad that I am reading this post. What is happening to you is not okay. Regardless of any mistakes you may make, you are not the only teacher who has ever felt burnt out. The problem has a lot more to do with the way the educational system is structured, and the fact that what is does is not in accordance with how human beings learn, most especially with how children learn and develop. What's happening to you is the result of a dysfunctional environment.

    You cannot force children and young people into learning things they do not want to learn or things they are not ready to learn, no matter how good you are or how hard you work. Yet, the educational system assumes that teachers can do this, and this is why compulsion or coercion either through fear or persuasion are the key elements of what schools do. As simple as it sounds, I think this is the mother of all ills in the educational system and the reason why it has always been dysfunctional and subject to much criticism and controversy. The educational system places too many unrealistic expectations on children and asks teachers to control too many factors that are outside of their reach. To add insult to injury, the pressures imposed by the current school reform trend only exacerbate the dysfunction of a system that has never delivered on its promises.

    Learning is easy, but schools make it unnecessarily and artificially difficult by placing too much focus on controlling the behavior of children; by highly overestimating the importance of teaching; by imposing a very fixed and inflexible curriculum; by making us believe that we always need to be evaluated in order to find out if we actually learned something; by depriving children from their need of unstructured and free play; by depriving children from the pleasure of learning for its own sake when we grade them, when we evaluate all their efforts, and when we make them compete; by demanding that all learning activities should be artificially “rigorous”; by making too many assumptions about the ways in which learning should happen; by thinking that all children need to learn the same knowledge and skills at the same age; and by imposing punitive measures when children do not fulfill our expectations. We must understand that the problems we see in schools are created by the schools themselves. These problems are found in the structural design of the traditional school model that imposes artificial obstacles to learning by acting against the nature of children.
     
  17. isabelitab

    isabelitab New Member

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    Aug 27, 2016

    I am going to suggest several resources that may help you understand what is happening to you and your students. Read the books and articles by Peter Gray, Alfie Kohn, John Taylor Gatto, Daniel Greenberg. And read about Sudbury Schools and Summerhill School.

    These resources will also show you alternatives. Learning and working with children and young people should be a joyful experience.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2016
  18. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Aug 27, 2016

     
  19. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yes, teachers are supposed to make changes as they go. I cannot tell you what I am teaching tomorrow until I see what they do today.

    I don't know how you are supposed to show confidence in a career where you have almost no experience. Where you are still learning what techniques are effective for you. I think confidence comes with time, practice, and experience.
     
  20. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Post Zombie! :fearscream:
     
  21. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    You are going through so much right now. I am also a male teacher (20+years now). When I was in student-teaching, I struggled at first. The teacher had a very different way of dealing with misbehavior than I had been taught, and I struggled the first few weeks. She said that she could understand a woman having difficulty controlling a classroom, but not a man. She didn't understand that classroom management is a challenge to nearly anyone who is inexperienced with teaching...male or female. Today, I teach classes on classroom management and some principals send their new teachers to observe my classroom management system. Times can change.

    If you look at your situation as a challenge and that you can eventually win this, I think you will do it. Remember it may be tough for a lot of this semester. What to do?

    1. You are still considered a college student--correct? This should allow you to have counseling at your university. If not, possibly there are other counseling options. Also, a quality positive self-help book to listen to in the car or read at home might be helpful in keeping you motivated and lifting your spirits.

    2. Try to see if you can get specific feedback on how best to improve from university supervisor and cooperating teacher. Also try to get some positive feedback on your strengths and what you are doing correct.

    3. Fake it to make it. Some days in teaching, I don't wake up excited or confident. It might because I might be teaching a concept for the first time. Towards the students I act that this is the most exciting thing that ever hit earth and I have been teaching this for years. I put all my energy into the lesson--even though inside I am not feeling it. Specific upbeat music in the car helps me to get excited. Find out what works for you.

    Good luck. You can do this!
     
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  22. brigidy

    brigidy Comrade

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    Aug 28, 2016

    I am sorry that you are struggling so much. The lesson plan is what you need improvement on, so write the week lesson plan in the necessary format. You can still change it if a lesson is longer than anticipated, or if something happens with scheduling. Building confidence is hard, teachers want to compare themselves to other teachers, or sometimes teachers will tell you "that is not what I do", which will diminish your confidence. However, there is not one right way to teach. (This was a hard lesson for me because I have a type B personality in a school full of type A teachers.) Use your personality to determine your teaching style. Think about who you are. What are your strengths? What do you enjoy? Instead of focusing on the negatives, focus on a positive, even if it is one student. Then, build a relationship with your students. Get to know who they are. They will respond, which will start to build confidence. For the record, student teaching is hard by default, always feeling watched and critiqued. Ugh...we've all been there. Open up to your fellow student teachers and find out what is happening with them. It may put some perspective on what you're going through.
     
  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 29, 2016

    The OP hasn't posted on the forums since the late spring. Maybe he will be back and read the encouraging current posts. Sometimes it's a good idea to look at the timeline of a thread before 'bringing it back to life'! peregrine, your zombie comment made me giggle!
     
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