PTSD and Teaching

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Furthuron, Jul 30, 2019.

  1. Furthuron

    Furthuron Companion

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    2

    Jul 30, 2019

    I was diagnosed with PTSD back in January after a trauma, and being in a classroom with 35 loud students is especially difficult for me.

    Does anyone have any tips I can use going into this new school year? The only info I can find is on secondary traumatic stress (from listening to students' trauma) and teaching giving you PTSD. Mine was from outside of work.

    I am doing a lot of work on myself through therapy and trauma education, and I feel perfectly capable of teaching. I'm just looking for anyone who has experienced this and developed skills to get through triggering situations (loud noises, etc.)

    Thanks!
     
  2.  
  3. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    Messages:
    816
    Likes Received:
    40

    Aug 1, 2019

    How the hell are you going to handle a fire drill, a lockdown? I would recommend taking a hiatus for your own well being and for the good of your students.
     
  4. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,885
    Likes Received:
    1,081

    Aug 2, 2019

    To echo Milsey’s slightly abrasive comments, I am concerned for your students. Now, that is not to say that you are not a capable teacher — and I am by no means saying that you aren’t — but I worry how you will react when there is some event such as a fire drill, a fight that breaks out, an announcement made over the speaker system, students shouting in the hallways, etc. What if a student has an allergic reaction and starts loudly gasping for air like mine did a year ago (I had to administer their epinephrine pen to their thigh and the class went haywire while this happened), or knocks something over, or there is some other medical issue that pops up? There are so many things that can cause loud noises and they usually happen without any prior warning.

    Your students need someone who is the authority figure in the classroom and takes charge when things go south, despite the noise. Can you ensure that you are capable of doing that?
     
  5. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2019
    Messages:
    398
    Likes Received:
    197

    Aug 2, 2019

    I think it all depends on the severity of your symptoms. It seems like you are working on getting through it and feel confident teaching. Ask the P to give you a head's up before a fire drill or lockdown if your P is decent. Startling noises will happen and you may just need to experience the noises for awhile. Afterwards, give yourself a minute to realize all is well. You might want to make your classroom noise level a bit calmer too. If you are in a school with a lot of violence, I'd advise anyone PTSD or not, to find a better job. Just because you have PTSD does not mean that you can't handle emergencies.
     
    Amanda and skyline like this.
  6. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Messages:
    432
    Likes Received:
    107

    Aug 7, 2019

    Hi Furthuron, Do you have calming strategies that you use in other areas of your life? The reason I ask is because I have found that when I apply things like breathing techniques I have learned in yoga to my sometimes stress filled classroom, it not only helps me, it also helps my students. Be open to the idea that what you are bringing to the class community is your knowledge of how to handle a very difficult situation that some of your students might learn from. I do not have ptsd, (to my knowledge!) but I do stress out super quickly and I am always shocked when my students tell me that I seem so calm, and they like the breathing I have taught them. Sometimes our strengths come from very uncomfortable places. Just a thought. And as I tell myself often throughout my day - keep breathing!
     
    Amanda, Tired Teacher and skyline like this.
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,641
    Likes Received:
    1,099

    Aug 7, 2019

    Props to Furthuron for the sense to recognize a problem, the wisdom to confront it, and the courage to ask for more help. The shame is not in asking for help but in deeming such a request an excuse to posture and point fingers.

    I quite like creativemonster's suggestion to include the students as community. Coping strategies that the teacher shares can help the students, even young ones - in part by modeling that there's nothing abnormal or shameful about feeling the need for coping strategies. And students themselves may have useful strategies to share.
     
    Tired Teacher and skyline like this.
  8. skyline

    skyline Companion

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2014
    Messages:
    130
    Likes Received:
    27

    Aug 7, 2019

    Hi Furthuron,
    I like Tired Teacher, TeacherGroupie, and creativemonster's suggestions. What are your symptoms to loud noise? I startle very easily, and certain noises bring back a traumatic experience I had. I have a family member who works in mental health who suggested maybe I have PTSD, which isn't out of the question, but I was never formally diagnosed. I'm usually the first to notice and react to an emergency even though certain loud noises put me in a panic. My body just reacts and does what's needed. I may need to take a minute afterwards to breath and calm myself down, but I've learned to do that with success and it doesn't happen as often as it used to now.

    I'm not sure if you're familiar with GoNoodle or what grade-level you teach, but they have mindfulness videos made to be used in classrooms that lead the class through breathing and other exercises. It may be good to have those on hand and use them with the class when needed. Teaching students coping strategies is very beneficial; it's something they can use all through life.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  9. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    8,312
    Likes Received:
    1,433

    Aug 7, 2019

    The strategy of bringing in the students is an excellent one. My mother (retired ELA teacher) has epilepsy, and all of her students knew her biggest trigger is flashing lights. The one time a student decided to get cute and play with the switches in her room, the other kids jumped in to stop him while she covered her eyes, and THEY took him to the principal for discipline while she recovered.

    On a side note, I was recently diagnosed with trauma issues as well. My students know that I have been struggling in the past year, and they take amazing care of me even when they joke at my occasional expense and push their own boundaries. They know I love them, so they love me back.
     
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  10. Amanda

    Amanda Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2001
    Messages:
    3,231
    Likes Received:
    79

    Aug 7, 2019

    Have you heard of EMDR therapy? If you aren't already doing that, it might be helpful. I have heard good things about it. https://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/
    I noticed there is a book available as well... Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy

    Aside from that, I was thinking of ideas to plan ahead in case you get triggered and need a chance to recenter yourself. Train the kids with certain calm procedures, such as when you give a signal or announce that it's "____ Time", they know what to do: put heads down, read a book, take out paper and quietly write, etc. Or one of your classroom jobs could be a "Kid Teacher" or helper who will step in for you as needed. Put the Kid Teacher briefly in charge by having them read a book or lead a game. These would be things that you have practiced in advance so they know exactly what is expected. Perhaps the whole class could participate in calming activities along with you - stretching, breathing exercises, etc.
     
    Violetta and Tired Teacher like this.
  11. Furthuron

    Furthuron Companion

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    2

    Sep 6, 2019

    Thank you, everyone, for your responses. Surprisingly, noises like fire alarms and bells don’t bother me at all. It’s more the noise of the kids, which this year I’m managing with the TooNoisy app on my iPhone. I took a semester off last year to address this and heal, but it’s a much longer process than I want it to be. I do not in any way feel like me teaching is a danger to the kids. I wouldn’t be here if that was the case. It’s more that I’m awesome in the classroom, but after class gets out and I’m alone in my room, I mentally and emotionally deteriorate. I do meditate every day, and I use my lunch to relax and do things just for me.

    I hope this response addressed everyone. Thank you again.
     
  12. Furthuron

    Furthuron Companion

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    2

    Oct 10, 2019

    I’m back. It got to be too much, and I went out on leave again. However, my psychiatrist is forcing me back to work. I don’t feel that this is a safe choice, but my family needs my income to survive, and disability won’t cover anything without a doctor’s note. I don’t know whether to just grit my teeth and go back to work or file for permanent disability. I miss my school and students so much, but I can’t do this right now. Everything is still so fresh, and I need to heal. I feel so alone.

    Can CA teachers apply for state disability when we don’t pay into social security? I’m waiting to meet with HR today and also to talk to my union rep.
     
  13. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    6,467
    Likes Received:
    1,349

    Oct 10, 2019

    Has your doctor explained why you have to go back to work?
    Maybe time to find another doctor?
     
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  14. Furthuron

    Furthuron Companion

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    2

    Oct 10, 2019

    It’s the insurance I have. Their mental health coverage is abysmal.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Melrachelm,
  2. futuremathsprof
Total: 451 (members: 3, guests: 421, robots: 27)
test