I'm a teacher with ADD and and an anxiety disorder. It's wreaking havoc on my life and career.

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by penguinpc, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Mar 18, 2018

    I am 48 years old and I am in my first year teaching 1st grade. I have taught two other times, kinder, and third grade. In between I have subbed and worked outside education. ADD and anxiety cost me my first two teaching positions, and has now cost me a third. I will finish the year out, but I have already turned in my resignation to avoid a non-renewal.

    I am so discouraged and frustrated. I thought this is what I was meant to do with my life and I am being thwarted every time I try.

    Here are some of the main points:

    • I cannot stay organized, I am constantly losing things like papers I am required to have for various things.
    • I miss doing required things because I missed an email or did not look at the calendar. (Today I tried to put everything from the school calendar on my calendar.)
    • When I make a list of things I need to do, it is generally much too long for me to work on in one night because of other things I must work on that (I think) are more pressing.
    • I have trouble prioritizing. I have put in hours and hours on this job, but it hasn't helped.
    • The results or consequence of not being organized are often the trigger for my anxiety.
    • When I am working with my students, and I need to work with some individually because they are on different levels, I can't keep things straight in my head as I am walking around trying to help. I described it to my doctor as feeling like that I was in a mental fog. I think I am being overstimulated by all that is going on. Because of this it is very hard for me to see the number of students I need to see each day during writing workshop.
    • I am horrible at giving kids grades and also horrible at having them do retakes on things that they didn't pass.
    • I can only work so late at night on school stuff. If I stay up late to catch up, the lack of sleep increases my anxiety. On the other hand, sometimes if I get enough sleep, I have anxiety over not having some things done.
    • I do take ADD meds, but they only go so far. Same for anxiety meds.
    I am at my wit's end. I worked so hard to get this job, and now this. I really don't know what I am going to do after this.

    Thanks for reading this. I am open to any suggestions. My heart is broken, and I am already feeling anxious about return to work tomorrow because we have been on spring break.

    This is supposed to be the best job in the world. I'm supposed to feel great going into work most days. :(
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 19, 2018

    I'm so sorry about your frustration and heartache. It seems with three jobs that you've lost and your list of challenges, this might not be the profession for you. Could you afford to be an aide? You'd still work in education but wouldn't have all the responsibility.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
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  4. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Mar 19, 2018

    A lot of the skills you are struggling with are skills an effective teacher requires. If you can afford it perhaps try if a professional organiser can offer some help and insight and put in some systems for you? If you’ve given it your best and that’s all you can do then perhaps another position in education (not teaching), still working with children, might be the way to go.
     
  5. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Mar 19, 2018

    I've not been officially diagnosed (there was no such diagnosis when I was a kid), but I more than likely have ADD. I also experience anxiety and have remnants of my bout with Sydenham's chorea from when I was 12. Mine isn't severe enough for medications.

    Your frustrations in teaching sound familiar to when I first began teaching. First, though, let me write about the advantages of ADD and anxiety. I know first hand what my students are going through who have the same or similar problems. Professionally, I also do not consider ADD or ADHD to be a disease, although I realize I'm in a small camp in this, but within groups of animals, without such brain differences, those groups would not be able to survive. Beginning in the 20th century, however, modern human society has made if important for ADD/ADHD people to adapt, which is why for many, medication is essential. But our brain difference is also essential for modern society; we see things in a different light from a different angle. For me, I'm also a musician, and I feel my brain difference has embellished my piano arrangements and song writing. But back to my original point, my ADD has been an asset in understanding and guiding my elementary students.

    Concerning adapting to the workload of teaching, I've learned (the hard way) over the years that the less I do the more the students learn. Beginning teachers (even without ADD) tend to feel like they need to do all this and the other thing so that the students will learn. Research however indicates otherwise. The more the students explore, think about, try, and do themselves, the more they learn. In other words, we cannot learn the students, we can only teach the students. I like the adage, "We're a guide on the side, not a sage on a stage."

    Forgetting about special events, well, I'm afraid that's my specialty. I recall early in my career, I totally got the time mixed up for an outdoor all-school fun activity. Just as I was bringing my class out to the field, the rest of the school was lining up to come back inside. Oops! (And the look of the principal staring at me--yikes)! But hey, it happens, even without ADD. OK, here's what I've developed over the years. I must admit, I did get some support from all the rest of the staff who remembered that I'm forgetful. I'd often get notes in my mailbox from a friendly fellow teacher to remind me of something (and still forget, at times). An electronic gadget with a beeper was quite helpful; now-a-days smart phones have replaced them. (I recall the joke of the day was when a popular TV show had an episode about a guy with a beeper, I think it might have been Seinfeld, I don't know, I didn't see it, but I laughed about that; my accommodation was on TV). When computers finally reached the classroom and my desk, (I'm old), I'd write 2 lesson plans, one to turn in, and because it was on computer, I could add special notes for myself. Back to checking a school calendar, oh! I do not like this new way of doing things to save paper--give me the old fashioned dittos. Anyway, I copy stuff off the calendar as soon as I see it--procrastination is devastation to me--if it needs copied down, I copy it down now. (Same with other tasks, procrastinated stuff gets put at the bottom of the list and stays at the bottom of the list--forever sometimes).

    Papers staying organized--they don't. If a paper comes to a desk, it sits at the desk partying with all the other papers on the desk. I spent a bit of money on this, but I got good plastic sorting shelves, the kind that snap on top of each other, and placed them on my desk. I had one for each student, and one for each possible paper that needed to be placed. My desk was set up for hanging file folders, so stuff I needed to keep, I organized. I learned (again the hard way) to generalize my file tabs, not being tooooo specific, but still specific enough to find stuff as needed. And again, no procrastination. When a paper was in my hand, it went where it was to go ASAP. Another desk drawer had all my little stuff like pencils, pens, staplers, in neat little boxes scotch taped to the bottom of the drawer. I also had a couple upright paper holders on my desk, and one main tub for loose papers to be filed. The flat working area of my desk was sacred--nothing but my desk calendar (available at dollar stores or Staples). Anything I needed to make a quick note of, I'd jot down on my desk calendar. I even had a secret code (Braille dots) so I could write notes students couldn't read.

    Concerning watching out for time, I see I'm stretching into overtime prior to getting ready for my day, so I need to sign off from this post, but I hope what I've learned from experience was helpful.
     
  6. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Mar 19, 2018

    Unfortunately, I'm starting to come to that conclusion. I'm just hoping to make it through the year. Apparently, I look so bad at the times that the principal has offered to let me resign before the year ends and not suspend my certificate for a year. I'd really like to make it through the rest of the year....but not at the expense of my health.
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Mar 19, 2018

    If you've had three different teaching jobs and haven't been successful, it seems that you're likely in the wrong profession. I had an ST last year who had ADHD and had the exact same issues you were describing. Although she was a person that was definitely "good with kids," good teaching takes a lot more than that. Unfortunately, like a pp mentioned many of your lagging skills are essential for teaching. I recommended that my ST consider other career options last fall, but her program encouraged her to "stick with it" and told her she'd get better, even though many of the issues were caused by the ADHD and not really something she could "fix." The poor girl made herself absolutely miserable until she finally decided in May that teaching wasn't for her. There is no shame in saying you gave it your all and found it wasn't for you. There are many careers that I could give 110% and still wouldn't do well. You can find something that's a better fit with your strengths.
     
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  8. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Mar 20, 2018

    Thanks for all the feedback. I am thinking about resigning before the end of my contract. My principal told me she won't put a one year suspension on my certificate if I do so.

    If any of you are praying people, please pray that I make the right decision and that my wife doesn't stress out over it.

    I'm thinking about being an Uber or Lyft driver until I can find something else.
     
  9. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Mar 20, 2018

    I am a person of prayer. I will pray for you.
     
  10. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Mar 21, 2018

    Yes, I think you are right. It just took reading, "three different teaching jobs," to help realize what you're saying is correct.

    So...what do I do from here?
     
  11. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Mar 21, 2018

    What do you like to do? Would you be able to afford to be a teacher's aide?
    Would you be certified to deal with ESE students and maybe get involved in the push in/pull out kind of situation where you are dealing with a smaller group? You'd still have paper work, but most jobs have paperwork? Are you interested in something else altogether? What gives you joy? Once you answer those questions for yourself, then you can start to devise a game plan.
     
  12. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Mar 22, 2018

    ATTENTION: All Administrators

    This is the type of teacher many students need to have, but in today's quest for the perfect teacher, rather than supporting these teachers they are replaced by Mr. or Ms. Faultless. Just as the students Annie Adroit and Marvelous Mikey get most of the attention, struggling students are labeled as lazy, or "s/he could do it if s/he only tried." I know I needed such a teacher to understand me, many times in my school life, rather than a third grade teacher recommending that the class call me Pokey Joe, or a 4th grade teacher giving me nightmares, or a 7th grade teacher giving me F's rather than discussing my attempts at attentiveness with me or scolding me for talking with my friend (when the entire class was talking). Without my understanding and supportive parents, where would I be?

    I began listening last night to a Ted Talks on how frustration breeds creativity. (I just now tried to find the title, but it's not on the current listing today and I couldn't locate it). But that's what kids with ADD, ADHD, and other differences need, encouragement to foster that creativity that will advance them ahead, and who better to do so than a teacher who's been there. And frankly, I've observed the Mr. and Ms. Faultlesses. They have just as many faults--they're just better at covering them up.

    I'm supportive of you, (and also praying for you), and I'm supportive of your decision to leave teaching. I'm certain you will find the best direction for you to take, even if it's outside of teaching. Teaching isn't for everyone. But if you still decide to be a teacher, please stick with it. Many students need an understanding supportive teacher such as yourself. One quick idea that has been on my mind, perhaps a career in counseling students might be an option.
     
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  13. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Mar 23, 2018

    In my above post, I thought I'd better clarify my hyperbole. I certainly wasn't referring to all teachers in this.
     

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