stress and anxiety

Discussion in 'General Education' started by larryjoma, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. larryjoma

    larryjoma New Member

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    Jul 23, 2012

    All teachers experience it, and you hear that first year teachers encounter the most stress. My question is: What is "normal" levels of anxiety and/or stress for a first year teacher?

    Some examples: lack of sleep (or no sleeping at all), fits of uncontrollable crying, anger, feeling overwhelmed, etc.

    What would you classify as being normal and/or abnormal. I just posted examples to address, but feel free to discuss any others!
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Of the ones on your list, the "feeling ovewhelmed" is pretty much a given.

    The rest?? Well, I don't recall experiencing any of them, but it was a long time ago.

    But I do question the timing of your post-- school hasn't started yet. What makes you ask?
     
  4. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    I still have not what you would call nightmares, but bad dreams about my first year. The long hours contributed to my losing my first marriage. It was all-consuming and my wife thought I was out playing around when instead I was coaching, teaching, and everything else they milk new teachers for. Knowing family members and others in administration, I hear it's worse for them. Needless stress.
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Yes, the first year or two can be stressful and everyone deals with stress differently. A certain amount of stress is motivating, but not if your health is affected. Do you have a mentor?
     
  6. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    I was told by a veteran teacher - "Relax, it all pays the same...." Easier said than done.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm not sure what that means....
     
  8. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    It means it's hard for veteran teachers to remember what rookies go through, I guess. Maybe he was a Type B person? If so, I sure wish I was.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I've served as a mentors new teachers, a CT to student teachers and will be available as a coach this year. It's not hard to remember what 'rookies' go through.
    As reflective practitioners and professional educators, we face change all the time. One can make the choice to take a chance and change...those who don't change become ineffective. Stress and change made the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, the Hawaiian Islands, and diamonds. Keep the 'why' of what you do as your focus and press on.
     
  10. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Hopefully that's what he means. I know some people with that attitude, and I would take it to mean, it's okay...just pop in a movie and call it a day. I think those sort of quotes are what paints teachers in a bad light.
     
  11. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    No, what is strange is that he was a well-respected teacher who didn't live by the video tape and was a highly successful basketball coach (retired) at the time. I heard he died after I left, DRIVING home from school from a heart attack. Maybe he wasn't as Type B as I thought. Now THAT'S highly ironic because he was also a driver's ed teacher who placed high importance on driving safety - his favorite quote (in the teacher's lounge of course) was "I don't want to die in a f**king car!" hahahahahahhaa What a character he was.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Even type B individuals driving safely can have a heart attack in a car. Sad.
     
  13. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    On second thought then, maybe he was just trying to calm you. I used to manage about 30-40 employees in a small business. Whenever they got flustered or panicked, I would tell them "relax, it's only fast food"...
     
  14. bburley22

    bburley22 Rookie

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    No mentor :( No one has even mentioned this to me so I am guessing I am on my own when I start!
     
  15. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    If you're crying uncontrollably and having fits of anger, I think you might be experiencing some signs of a legitimate panic attack and/or borderline clinical depression. If that's you or a friend, please go to a doctor and ask for some help. There's nothing shameful about getting overwhelmed with life every now and then and needing some help to get through it. There are lots of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds you can take for just a few months to help you through this.
     
  16. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Call and ask if there's a mentor program.

    Talk to your doctor about stress management.
     
  17. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    One thing that stands out to me from my first year teaching was the number of hours I spent planning my lessons. I would be at school most days until 5:00, go home to eat dinner, and sometimes return to school around 7:30-8:00 to do more planning/copying! In my 2nd year, I had all different classes, but I had the time management under control by that point. I help coordinate the mentoring program for new teachers in my building, and I always tell 1st year teachers that the planning aspect will get much easier when they fall into a routine that works for them.
     
  18. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Feeling overwhelmed...check. Losing sleep...check. I had the typical feelings that a new teacher has, and there were times that I did cry the first year, but it wasn't uncontrollable nor did I ever get angry.
     
  19. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    I'm going into my 9th year teaching and I still feel stressed about some situations (fire drills, "crazy parents," students with very complicated medical needs) but most of what stresses me out is the ridiculous amount of paperwork and getting it all done and getting it done perfect.
    A lot of things have been put into perspective for me this year.

    I did have one situation where I got physically ill from stress this year (got nervous, shaky and almost threw up). The situation was a big deal- but nothing close to what I made it out to be in my head.

    As for the other things, I am trying to learn to be less hard on myself, trying to figure out an organizational strategy that works and make sure every weekend I spend at least one day with friends and doing something I love. I also sign myself up for running races so that I try to keep physically active and I try to also let myself realize I don't have to go it alone. I have a team.

    This is the first year I will not be doing an extra project or taking a class after school.

    I am trying hard "not to sweat the small stuff." I have also been more active in the union and keep myself well informed, so I feel
    I am in more control of certain situations that feel out of my control.

    It is about balance.

    I am still struggling to find that balance 9 years in. What I have learned is that I will never stop learning and I will never want to stop learning new ideas and trying new ideas, but I can't overwhelm myself with trying to do to many things at once.
    I also have learned to reach out to others for advice and I know that my students make incredible gains each year even if it doesn't show up in "test scores." (I teach preschool).

    I am learning that also sometimes I can buildup a
    situation in my head to be so much bigger of a deal than it ever needs to be. Once the situation is over, I find myself thinking is that what I was worried about?
     
  20. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    I'm in a nice spot finally after 25 years and am learning to "delegate" more instead of being so anal. Of course it helps when you have great tutors and I couldn't imagine having a better crew. Smart guys and one was actually a teacher for 15 years. As a reminder, I teach in a max security prison, where you can cut the stress with a knife but you really are in charge of either creating needless stress or eliminating it. Finally learned to deal with that too. I'll never go back to a public school classroom, not even for double the money.
     
  21. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    If you're a public school teacher in CA, you'll have to complete the BTSA program, which will provide you with a two-year-long mentor.
     
  22. christine89

    christine89 Companion

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    Jul 23, 2012

    I recently finished my first year, heading into my second now, and it certainly was stressful. I found myself losing sleep some, but that's just because I haven't figured out how to mentally leave things at school. I had plenty of times where I couldn't get home soon enough to collapse on my couch and hysterically cry. Thankfully these weren't things that happened daily.
    I would say I was overwhelmed too but for reasons that are fairly normal - planning, adjusting to the curriculum, classroom management, behavior issues. I also have a habit of taking things personally if I have a bad day.
    Overall my 2nd year goal is probably to try and leave school issues at school so I can sleep easily!!
    But yes, there's definitely been stress. Quite honestly I have epilepsy and stress can be a seizure trigger. If not for my seizure meds, the stress and occasional lack of sleep probably would have caused seizures!
     
  23. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I felt overwhelmed, but I'm pretty sure that I've felt that way at some point EVERY year since I started teaching in 1993. It's not frequent or even overly bothersome . . . but it's there sometimes.

    I always have at least one "back to school" nightmare every year. It's always about my room not being ready or the kids all being yahoos who wouldn't listen to me. Earlier in the summer I had a dream in which the principal told everyone to leave PD early since nobody was paying attention to what I was saying. That was the day after I found out I was giving a PD next week. I've given them many, many times. It's not a big deal, yet the dreams come. I didn't lose any sleep over it.

    I threw up every morning for the first week or so when I did my student teaching, but I had NO experience in a classroom in front of kids. I didn't know what to expect at all. I always get nervous stomach butterflies every year on the first day, but those aren't so much anxiety as much as excitement.
     
  24. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    It's been a really long time since I was a first year teacher but I do remember having to put in lots of hours outside of school. I remember being nervous about doing everything right.

    The biggest strength that helped me is that I'm anal about organization. I have found over the years that keeping my classroom organized (using tons of organizational props...baskets, totes, drawers, etc) makes my life that much easier.

    I still put in tons of hours outside school (30+ years later), but now I spend most of my time researching things to make my teaching better.

    I try to tell my student teachers that there stress level will decrease if they work less on reinventing the wheel and work more on observing other teachers and borrowing ideas from other teachers. Maybe someone else has a good lesson plan format, or good resources for something you are teaching, or books you can borrow.

    And, if you still feel completely overwhelmed, don't feel bad about asking for help. Many teachers take medication to relieve depression and anxiety. It's not a bad thing.
     
  25. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    Jul 23, 2012

     
  26. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Nightmares, especially the week or so before school started (still happens - going into 7th year of teaching). Crying - a couple of times during the year from frustration, feeling overwhelmed, probably due to not sleeping well. As far as sleeping - had trouble from time to time - became a catch 22, so spoke to Dr.

    I still feel anxious before school starts. Last year was rough - new schedules, RtI started, core group of kids who messed everything up for the team as a whole... It has left me a bit more stressed than usual this summer.

    I think a certain amount of anxiety will always be there at the beginning of the new year because we are facing all new kids.

    Relax, it all pays the same: I take it to mean why stress? You get paid whether or not you stress. Could also mean: why bother trying to do it all well, you get paid whether you do your best or not.

    I try to keep perspective by reminding myself that if I got hit by a bus and died, they'd have a sub the next day and a replacement shortly after that. Scary, but it is true.
     
  27. christine89

    christine89 Companion

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    OMG it's funny you mention a back to school nightmare! I just had one like last week! It was pretty much all about out of control kids on the first day of school! Freaky! At least I know things can't possibly go as bad as they did in the nightmare.
     
  28. Luke8Ball

    Luke8Ball Rookie

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    This is going to sound silly, but how is it that a lot of new teachers end up going without sleep? Are the hours really that long? Would being single help?

    I'm an upcoming student teacher.
     
  29. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    My sleep schedule was all screwed up during student teaching...I would get home at like 3:30 and if I didn't have class (two days a week I had class 4-7), I would fall asleep right when I got home from like 3:30-5:30..then I wouldn't be able to fall asleep at night until like 2:00 am because, and then I had to wake up at 6 am to get to school.
     
  30. Luke8Ball

    Luke8Ball Rookie

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    That sounds rough! My schedule was awful last semester because I had night classes until 10pm, an hour drive home, homework to do, and then 8ams the following day.
     
  31. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    For me, it was the stress that affected my sleep. I am an "A" personality and I was so worried I'd make a mistake, forget something, give a wrong answer... I couldn't "turn it off". I still struggle with that to some degree.
     
  32. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    I remember those summers off and was depressed as hell in August as the school year loomed. Can't say I miss it, the summers off that is. At the risk of being redundant, I teach in a max-security prison and we get two weeks off after every quarter, which means two weeks off ever season of the year, and I love it. When added all together it works out a couple weeks less than what public school teachers get but it's worth it - teaching adults, no parents, no school boards, no politics. It's got its problems but I've never lost a night's sleep coming here over 7 years ago. It's exhausting and challenging as hell, but nothing I've ever done in education comes close in terms of reward, taking a guy who can't add 2 + 2 and seeing them get their high school diploma. I love my teaching and these are the best kept secrets in education.
     
  33. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think that finding your niche is the most important part of job satisfaction.

    I would NOT be happy in your job. there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that it's NOT the job for me.

    But I am happy in my own-- I teach in a college prep Catholic high school in the 'burbs. It's absolutely the right fit for me.
     
  34. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    That's really true. I didn't grow up on the "right" side of the tracks, but I was never on the left side of the law very much at all. I was really lucky, because I had a lot of friends who were. In addition, I wasn't cut out for high school as a student and only went because I had to. Wasn't until college, grad school, etc that I found my "niche" academically so to speak.

    So yea, you are right. Prison teaching is perfect for me because I didn't hang out with the National Honor Society kids growing up, not that my friends were necessairly thugs, but we were simply in that forgotten strata, so I can relate to these guys on a certain level. Many of them think I grew up "rich," you know, that sterotypical white suburb lucky life way, just because I went to college and all that. Few believe otherwise since most came off the streets of big cities living hand to mouth.
     
  35. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    But how great for your students to know that-- that it IS possible to find that niche after age 18. That not everyone who find success knows exactly where it is as a teenager. That there IS hope for them, even with the choices they've already made.

    I sense that they're very lucky to have you.
     
  36. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    The short story is that few of them have had much positive in their lives. I've met a LOT of ex-cons (know some personally) who went on to not only live good, normal lives, but some became HIGHLY successful and very wealthy. They're the rare ones, but it's so easy in prison to be negative and say "yea, right!" and a lot of them just continue to make excuses so they can be lazy. You can't get past that.

    I tell them you NEVER know what's around the corner I tell them. I tell them if just 8 years ago someone told me I'd be teaching math (I'm social studies/history trained) in an adult prison, I'd say they were shooting up smack! And here I am, doing exactly that.

    So get this diploma out of the way and get on with life. Some do, and those are the ones I really go balls to the wall for. Some of them go on and get two years of college right here in the joint. But our state's prison system has many wonderful vocational tech programs and that's what I push on them, simply because that's where our job market has went and if you get trained and certified,you'll always have a fallback job if you want to do something else.
     
  37. mrsenglish

    mrsenglish Rookie

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    I'm going into my second year of teaching. The first year was filled with lots of stress, tears, and long hours. Honestly, what might help is learning to say no. As much as I would LOVE To coach, etc.-- I couldn't successfully juggle that and maintain my sanity. Learn to say no. Prioritize what you need to get done. I spent a few hours on Sunday morning lesson planning for the week-- which helped free up my preps for grading, and then I left most of the rest at work for the next day, if I could. Once you have your basic curriculum mapped out for the semester/trimester/month whatever, it's a little easier to plan and get organized.
     
  38. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I started having some of the symptoms the OP described and I was barely functioning. I ended up going to see my dr who put me on antidepressants. They helped. Unfortunately, I ended up taking them almost 2 years, and just stopped this summer. I feel kinda like that guy from Garden State, lol.
     
  39. CFClassroom

    CFClassroom Connoisseur

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    I would suggest being proactive in finding ways to manage the stress. Best of luck. :)
     
  40. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    They told my brother who used to be a principal when he took his first classes toward that certification that 75% of them would die prematurely of stress related illnesses, end up an alcoholic and the odds for divorce increase sky rocket. Ending up on Zippidy-Boom pills is practically a given. I thought about going into administration, for about 5 minutes, after he told me that. And it got him eventually, which is why he got out.
     
  41. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    I know you are just giving examples , but uncontrollable crying and anger sound like an alarming amount of negative emotional expression - way beyond being stressed out. A person experiencing these things might be having an emotional breakdown, or is extremely immature emotionally, and should take a leave of absence.
    I've heard of teachers crying after school or in the bathroom, but they are able to maintain emotional control around their students.

    I've cried on occasion in front of my students, but it's been from pride in their work, a sad story we are reading, or if we are discussing an emotionally impact full personal experience. When this happens I always explain to them why I am tearing up so it doesn't alarm or confuse them.
     

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