How do you survive?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by BurnedOut, Sep 8, 2007.

  1. BurnedOut

    BurnedOut Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2007

    I am a second year teacher, and I am exhausted. I hate what teaching does to me physically and emotionally. As I've posted in another thread, I know I need to make this year my last year as a high school teacher. But I still have the rest of the year to finish, and it's so draining. I find myself crying after the school day is over, for no reason other than another long and stressful day. How do you survive? How do you avoid being exhausted and depressed?
     
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  3. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Sep 8, 2007

    BurnedOut, I'm so sorry to hear how tired and stressed out you are.

    You say that you are sticking through this year, but what if you didn't? People have to leave in the middle of years all the time. You have to take care of yourself before any other obligation.

    OK, what do I do to avoid being exhausted?

    I exercise most days. Last year I did it in the morning before school because I had a more afternoon-heavy schedule. This year I am done teaching after lunch each day, so I can leave school at the same time each day and exercise right when I get home. I didn't start exercising until last year because it just seemed like I didn't have the energy and I couldn't fit it in. But I really feel happier and more energetic. My husband says I'm a much more cheerful and less grumpy person now too.

    I'm also eating better. I'm eating a lot less red meat and a lot more fruits and vegetables. I'm avoiding fried food, the worst processed foods, and soda. I drink Honest Tea with lunch for a little caffeine without the calories and unnecessary sugar.

    I'm not sure if these were the kind of answers you were looking for, but they really worked for me and are important no matter what your job is. A perk is that I look better and weigh less, but really the energy and improved mood and health are the best rewards.

    It's also important not to be a slave to your job. It took me a little while to be willing to take off from work if I had something big planned that day. Well, they might not accomplish much while I'm out, but they probably won't burn the school down either. Sometimes you just need to put off grading or decide that this was one assignment you just couldn't get to. Sometimes you need to grade something for credit that you planned to grade more carefully.

    My first year (I transferred after it because it was so unpleasant), I would walk into the building depressed each day. I would be happy when I left for work, but as I approached the building and realized I had to go in, my heart would sink. I used almost all of my sick days that year -- many of them as mental health days (if you're leaving after this year, no reason to bank them anyway, right?). Plan vacations or relaxing weekends at regular intervals as something to look forward to.

    Find people you can laugh about work with (usually other teachers). Does anyone go out after work on Friday? That way you can tell all your stories, go home, and not fixate on school for the rest of the weekend. Also, when you commiserate with other teachers, you burden your non-teacher friends and family less who might be thinking, oh no, not another bad kid story.

    BurnedOut, please take care of yourself. No reasonable principal or department chair would want you to keep doing something that makes you cry on a regular basis. There might be a person waiting in the wings who will enjoy your position more than you do. If you need to quit now or as soon as you line up another job, then don't be afraid to do that. As teachers, we put up with enough -- low pay, conflicts with students, red tape, unsupportive administrations. Putting up with unhappiness is just too much to ask. You're a person, not a martyr, and you deserve to have a career that pays the bills, that interests you, and that doesn't affect you aversely.

    Best wishes and please post here anytime you need to vent!
     
  4. Anyalee

    Anyalee Companion

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    Sep 9, 2007

    I hear you Burned out. My first year was horrible & so this year I started counting down the days on the first day of school. I expected the worst, but it didn't happen for me. I can't believe how much better this year is. The kids are so much nicer and more receptive. Do you feel that this year is any better? If not, I think you definitely need to find something else at semester. If you never want to teach again, then you don't need to worry about finishing out the year. What other profession are you looking at?
     
  5. jaruby

    jaruby Companion

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    Sep 9, 2007

    I dont have the emotional stuff wearing me out like you do but physically it is draining, 170 hormone crazed 8th graders. The absolute best advice I can give you for is exercise. It does wonders for the body and mind. Last year I was stressed and exausted everyday until I started working out. I started sleeping better because of it and that led to feeling better.
     
  6. inlovewithwords

    inlovewithwords Companion

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    Sep 9, 2007

    Where do you teach? I have the same issue.
     
  7. Iowa_Teacher

    Iowa_Teacher Rookie

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    Sep 11, 2007

    BurnedOut---this is my first year teaching so my advice might not hold up for you, but I think the secret to handling the hectic life style and stress is to take time out to relax. You don't have to get all the papers checked in one night or be everything to everyone. I don't know what grade or subject you teach, but for me in HS English--I try to get their work back in a timely manner, but I don't postpone my life to check it. Try your best to decide what is really important for you to do and either put the other things on the back burner or forget them. Also, delegate as much as possible! You don't have to burn yourself out! Good luck! I hope it all works out because far too many wonderful teachers leave because of the work load :)
     
  8. Googs

    Googs Rookie

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    Sep 11, 2007

    The longer you stay in it, the more unexpected rewards come your way. Try to look for even the smallest ones daily. I know that doesn't help you know though. Think about why you decided to do this in the first place. Is it what you thought? If not, why isn't it? Were your expectations reasonable or is it just flat-out worse than you thought? As long as you're lucky enough in life to be doing something that you cannot imagine other people NOT doing then you'll be happy in your career. If teaching doesn't do it then don't feel bad, you're not the first and you wouldn't be the last. Best of luck to you.
     
  9. TexasBuckeye

    TexasBuckeye Rookie

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    Sep 16, 2007

    I am in the same boat. I took my first teaching job (a career change from the corporate world for me) and don't know what to do. I also come home from work crying on a regular basis, I have been job searching in other industries (my masters degree is one that covers more than just education), and can't imagine myself even making it through the year.

    I took a job teaching one business computer applications class and coaching a winter sport (my main sport, the one they hired me for), and they are now making me coach a sport that I know nothing about in the fall AND spring. They also dropped another class on me; one that I know nothing about. Also, I don't have a classroom. I am temporarily (or maybe permanently) in another teacher's classroom. I don't even have desk drawers to put my stuff in, hers is all still there. She is in and out all day. Other people are in and out all day looking for her (she is the tech person for the school and in demand all day long).

    So basically from day 1 I have been working 15 hour days minimum. I get to the school 1 1/2 hours before the day starts to prepare for the day, teach all day, go to practice for my fall sport, and then 2 nights a week have a fall league for my winter sport. Then on the weekends I have long tournaments for the fall sport. I literally do nothing but work, sleep, and run (I'm training for my second marathon and work out 6 days a week so the exercise advice doesn't really apply to me haha).

    I am doing the bare minimum for this job in my opinion and still feel that I cannot get my head above water. I also leave school feeling like I'm not good at what I do and I don't think I have the passion for working with kids that I should. I'm just not sure that the career change is turning out to be a good one.

    Looking forward to hearing more about this topic since it seems to be one that many of us are going through or have gone through.

    Lindsey
     
  10. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Sep 16, 2007

    I felt the same way through my first 4 years of teaching - and now I love it. Some things I have done...

    I started walking in the morning before work. Sometimes I only have time for a quick walk around the cul de sac, but it really makes me feel good. I also try to walk in the evenings as well, and sometimes during my planning period, too.

    I dropped all caffeine from my diet. Amazing but true. Lots of water to replace it and I feel really good.

    Figure out the best thing for you for lunch. I like to get out of my room and be around adults. I NEVER skip lunch or spend lunch with students. But for you, you might prefer eating alone in your room and gathering your thoughts. Figure out what works for you and stick to it EVERY DAY.

    Go to the bathroom when you need to. Seriously.

    Keep slippers or crocs or something dress code appropriate but comfy in your classroom, and slip out of shoes that are bugging your feet.

    Set a time when you will leave work each day, and do it. don't take work home with you. The world will not end if you don't have everything graded.

    USE your sick days. Mental health days are important in this profession.

    Ok, I think that is all I have for now.
     
  11. Iowa_Teacher

    Iowa_Teacher Rookie

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    Sep 17, 2007

    It's good to hear someone that has been teaching for a while say that! I try to separate my school and personal life. It doesn't always work since I live in a small town and can't go out of my house without running into 3 students or so, but just taking time to relax is working well for me. I'm only about a month in, but I feel very comfortable so far.....ask me in March :) Thanks!
     
  12. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Sep 17, 2007


    many posters have given good advice...

    mainly...mental health days
    and walking..especially on lunch breaks
    and going to the bathroom!

    seriously...if you have decided to pull out..your focus is then to think of the future...and plan ahead...just like you look forward to a vacation or a well-deserved trip.

    if you have travel brochures laying around, they perk you up!

    when I am working and frustrated..I would just take a day off. especially in the middle of the week or monday.

    people treat you a lot differently when you come back! they start to get nervous, wondering if you will quit! they realize how much you have to do. they complain about taking over for you. they feel lousy...but you don't!

    if you start researching your new field, or grade level now..you can channel your energy and come back to work with a renewed spirit.

    and .....most of us have a mental calendar in our head..

    182 days of school
    2 months before Thanksgiving
    3 months before Christmas break
    and once we return...
    5 days before Martin Luther King Jr. birthday
    President's day..in Feb.
    and Spring break
    the dreaded testing...pick your poision here!

    and it is downhill coasting from there!

    after the first tulips and crocus pop out of the snow...we all feel better. or the rain stops in L.A. or whatever signs of spring pop up around the rest of the country...

    that is what keeps me going...

    hey 9 months is not that long...when you think of it that way

    if you want to re-invent yourself...start looking now..
    that will give you a new source of energy..and the courage and patience to continue...

    you need money to finance your new experience!
     
  13. Bobunny

    Bobunny New Member

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    Sep 20, 2007

    I went from a wide-open, time on my hands schedule last year to being slammed this year. I was so NOT busy, that I took on two positions: TAG coordinator and Trainer on top of my regular class load. The first few weeks of school I was a wreck. It's not how I'm willing to live my life so I have had to set boundaries. We're no good to the students if we're burned out. I vowed never to do a job if it made me miserable. I came to teaching late in life because I was being called. So...I echo many of the suggestions above.

    1. Set your quitting time and GET OUT! What is left to be done will get done.

    2. Learn to say NO!

    3. Learn to ask for assistance. My colleagues and I will help jump in and grade papers for each other. It helps in heavy times.

    4. Making lunchtime your break is critical. If you need solitude...get it. If you need adult time...get that.

    5. Get a dog! OK so maybe this is unrealistic, but it would require you getting home at a reasonable time and get you more exercise...and it's proven petting your animals lowers blood pressure.

    Good luck to you.
     
  14. BurnedOut

    BurnedOut Rookie

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    Sep 26, 2007

    Thanks for all your responses. I don't feel so alone. I'm trying to not stress as much. Part of my problem is I take things very seriously and want to do well. And my expectations for teaching don't match with the real deal. I hate having a job where I can't help but cry every night after school.
     
  15. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Sep 26, 2007

    well...

    weeping may only endure for a night
    but joy comes in the morning..

    face each day as what it is...
    something new!

    and when you can't handle it..
    stay home!

    take care...
     

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