New teacher, sick with stress?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by missrebecca, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    Feb 17, 2014

    I'm a new teacher in a low-income school, and I've been having a difficult time adjusting to the job. I started midyear, and my students for the most part received zero instruction from actual teachers last semester, didn't have basic materials like pencils and paper, and had some severe behavior problems. I also just had my first parent-teacher conferences last week, where I had to explain some extremely low test scores. Now, I'm an anxious person by nature, but... I think this job is literally making me sick with anxiety.

    I've been nauseated every day for over a week, having stomach issues, panic attacks, and just feeling terrible in general. I eat healthily, haven't been drinking, don't smoke, get moderate exercise... the only thing I can pinpoint the sickness to is stress.

    Is this common?? Will it go away?? I'm really starting to wonder if this job is right for me. I really enjoy teaching, but there is so much pressure, and I feel completely overwhelmed...
     
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  3. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Feb 17, 2014

    I'm sorry you've been having such a tough time Rebecca. The first year is really hard. :hugs:

    I have quite a bit of anxiety myself and when I first started teaching I felt ill-prepared because I was not an education major, rather I became a teacher through an alternative certification program. Like you, I also worked in a rather rough area.

    Honestly my first year was a disaster. I made so many mistakes, was stressed out daily. My worse moment came in October. I was standing at the overhead teaching math when I looked out at my class.

    Half the students were talking/playing/out of their seats. The quiet half were drawing, staring out the windows, reading books, or sleeping. I felt like an utter failure. I looked out the window at the school parking lot and seriously considered grabbing my keys, walking out the room, getting in my car, then calling my principal to apologize for abandoning the students, but that I couldn't take it and needed to resign.

    Everyone kept telling me it was going to get easier, but it didn't feel like it was. I had a lot of sleepless nights, tears, venting to my mom and then boyfriend.

    What helped me through was:
    1. Time. (It really does get easier as you become more experienced. As a new teacher I HATED when other seasoned teachers would tell me that but looking back at who I was as a teacher 7 years ago and who I am now is like night and day)

    2. Online Forums (I was embarrassed to talk with other teachers because I didn't want them to know how inexperienced I am and while most seasoned teachers aren't like this, there were a few who made fun of me and were unkind about my ignorance. A place like AtoZ is a safe platform to discuss your issues and know you won't be judged and you're anonymous)

    3. Having a life outside of school. (for awhile I was letting teaching consume me. I got to work at 6 a.m. with the custodians and left around 5 or 6 p.m. every night)

    4. Disciplining myself (I had poor classroom management skills because I used to feel I shouldn't bother with small misbehaviors because it's time consuming and a pain. What I didn't realize was those teeny, insignificant behaviors grow into out of control big behaviors. By disciplining myself and nipping little stuff in the bud, I started having less and less issues)

    5. Being nice to myself (I would beat myself up for any perceived personal failures)

    6. Talking to other teachers (whether it was venting or for advice about issues I was having)
     
  4. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Feb 17, 2014

    Stress can really do a number on your body. Em Catz gives dome good advice. Make yourself walk away sometimes. Find something that let's your brain rest, yoga, go for a walk, take a bubble bath...something. You're in a rough spot. The first year is hard, add to that starting mid year in a struggling class, it's completely understandable. Next year should be better. Come here and vent. We'll commiserate with you. :)
     
  5. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    Feb 17, 2014

    Thanks so much, you guys, I already feel better after reading your posts :)
     
  6. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Feb 17, 2014

    What you're feeling is perfectly normal, Rebecca.

    Just know that we've all been first-year teachers before! HUGS!
     
  7. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Feb 17, 2014

    Know that you aren't alone. I have been the same way, been sick twice (can't take sick days, as I don't get any) since I began, stomach issues, and severe anxiety and/or "depressed"-like feelings. I'd love to give you advice, but I struggle still with many things Em mentioned.

    Find a moment you felt successful though...even if 99.9% of the time outside of that is rough. What's kept me going is the fact that I absolutely love these kids, have had at least a couple kids more confident than they've ever been (by their general attitude and several parent e-mails/responses), and thus also producing much better results. There are other great things that have happened / that I do, and there are other areas I struggle, but I hold onto those few parts that keep me set that I know this is where I belong.
     
  8. asha

    asha Rookie

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    Feb 17, 2014

    Sending you hugs, hang in there.
    On hard day, I try to look for those hidden moments, child laughing, or understanding something, or even being proud of him/herself. As much as they can drive you crazy, they also make you feel so good. Remember you are not alone. Looking back at my first year, it was not so great. I feel like I am such a better teacher as the time goes by.
     
  9. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Feb 18, 2014

    My anxiety gives many similar symptoms to what you are stating.

    If your insurance covers it, maybe visit a therapist/LCSW/LPC, just so you have someone to talk to?

    I know my therapist has quite a few clients who are teachers.
     
  10. teach1

    teach1 Companion

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    Feb 18, 2014

    in addition to all of the wonderful advice given above...

    what helped me get through my first year was when I stopped comparing myself to other teachers, especially seasoned teachers. I spent so much time feeling inadequate and thinking things like "why didn't i think of that?", "why doesn't my library / math center / writing table look like that?", "how is Ms. ABC so good at classroom management?" etc.

    Finally, I realized that no one was expecting me to know as much as the seasoned teachers (and that that was OKAY). I was able to start focusing on the things that I was accomplishing, rather than everything I hadn't done.

    I'm SURE that you are accomplishing things, even if they seem small to you. I recommend thinking about that and feeling proud of yourself. hang in there! :)
     
  11. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Feb 18, 2014

    I agree with other posters here. the first year is the hardest. What made it easier for me during the first 5 years was having a supportive and understanding principal and great colleagues.:)

    My stress began when the administrator changed.

    Good luck, Rebecca
     
  12. Loveslabs

    Loveslabs Companion

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    Feb 18, 2014

    All of the above, plus give yourself a break because you are taking over mid year which is twice as hard.
     
  13. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Feb 18, 2014

    Yep, I've experienced a lot of those same symptoms (upset stomach, feeling shaky, headaches, etc). I am a first year teacher as well, but I had the advantage of not having to start mid-year. Thankfully (though it still happens) the stress symptoms are lessening. I don't really have any advice other than what has already been given, but just know you are not alone!
     
  14. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Feb 22, 2014

    I'm glad Rebecca. AtoZ was an invaluable resource to me in the earlier part of my career (still it actually). I've been teaching almost eight years now and I still like to run things by the community. Reach out to us via threads or pm! We're all here to support each other. :thumb:
     
  15. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Feb 22, 2014

    It is normal. People don´t realize how stressful the first year can really be. It´s difficult to juggle everything and you feel like you don´t really know what you are doing (at least that is how I felt). You need to make sure you make time for you. This also includes getting enough sleep. I also think it´s important to realize and accept that you will make mistakes as you go along. We all do. Just reflect and perfect what you do. Every year should get easier and better for you. Good luck to you!
     

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