Teaching When Your Personal Life Is Just Too Much ...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by BRS, Aug 5, 2007.

  1. BRS

    BRS Rookie

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    Aug 5, 2007

    Hi,

    I have been wondering how other teachers manage to deal with this situation.

    I feel as a teacher, I always have to be "on." You don't get to go to work depressed or upset and have an "off" day. How do you keep your personal life from interfering with your job?

    I have had a horrible summer - lots of bad surprises and other mishaps. To top it off, I found out this past weekend that my 10 year relationship may be coming to an end, and that my parents (whom I live with) are getting divorced. I start back to work at the end of this week. I just don't feel like going to school and being Miss Cheerful. It is also extremely unfortunate that it is the beginning of the school year because there is so much to do, and I feel like doing nothing.

    Just would like to hear in general how y'all manage when the unexpected happens in your life ...
     
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  3. Superteacher81

    Superteacher81 Comrade

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    Aug 6, 2007

    I know what you mean. I'm an emotional person and I remember specifically one day last year when I was really upset about something and literally cried during my break and lunch when the kids weren't in the room, but pulled myself together when they were because I told myself I had to. Teaching actually helped me focus on something other than what I was upset about. I too have not had the best summer, I ended a relationship among other things. But I am excited about this school year because I'm looking at it as a fresh start but also because I feel that if I jump into my work, it'll give me something else to focus on like I was saying before. Sometimes it is hard to focus and make it through the day and we've probably all had that one day where the students did more independent work than planned or worked in groups on a spur of the moment project or something. I'm sorry these things happened to you. I wish you all the best and hope things start looking up for you soon.
     
  4. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    Aug 6, 2007

    I've had some things like that happen to me. There wasn't much I could do-I just HAD to pretend everything was ok when I was teaching. (I was in college, and then student teaching.) When the kids would go to a special, then I could talk about it to my mentor teacher or just not keep up the happy, smiling image. To be honest, I felt better at school. The kids were so sweet that it made it easier to forget everything that was happening at home. Sometimes I didn't want to leave school because of that reason. I think being busy will help you. It's hard, but I hope you feel better!
     
  5. 6ertchr

    6ertchr Rookie

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    Aug 6, 2007

    Hi BRS!
    I'm sorry to hear that things are so difficult right now. I had a similar year last school year. Basically, if anything could go wrong in my personal life it did, including my health. I'll tell you what...the thing that got me through it all was teaching. Teaching became an escape from my problems. The students didn't know what was going on in my life, so I was free to not think about my issues for a few hours everyday. Taking time away from my problems gave me a clearer head and enabled me to work on possible solutions when I got home. And, acting cheery led me to actually feeling happier. I know you feel like you'd like to have some time to work on your personal life, but embrace the escape that work gives you. It will keep you positive and sane. Best of luck!
     
  6. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Aug 6, 2007

    BRS.....welcome to this site and the great support network that it is.

    In my life, I have found that I am really good at deferring until "later" the things I'm upset about. I have always looked at work (even before teaching) as my therapy! It is amazing to me how helping others is the best therapy in the world--it's good for whatever ails you! I've had a few major personal disasters just in the past ten years, and aside from my committed spiritual life, I'd say that my work has been my second-best way to get through to the other side of the problem or crisis. Work serves as a great diversion!

    Pour yourself into your work to keep your mind occupied...you may find you won't have to "fake" anything. I've read many times that when you DO the action, the feelings WILL FOLLOW. Sometimes you just have to get through the hour...the day...the week. But you can! And think about how "this time next month..." will be so much better!
     
  7. patti2

    patti2 Cohort

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    Aug 6, 2007

    Wow! I am sorry about this, but it is good that you are reaching out to us and hopefully to others. Teaching is something that you really like to share with others in your life and I know you are probably at the "what's the point?" place right now because the three people you depend on for support aren't there for you. But-hang in there. Try to find support here and at school with other teachers. Things can only get better, not worse. The above posts were right in saying that the kids may be your best medicine! hang in there-I'll be praying for you!
     
  8. mommy3boys

    mommy3boys Companion

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    Aug 6, 2007

    I know for me personally I would have gone crazy if not for my job. Four years ago while I was pregnant with my 3rd son I discovered my ex-husband was having an affair. I filed for divorce and have been raising my boys by myself ever since. I just took it one day at a time, prayed alot and when things got overwhelming went to visit my parents who were very supportive about everything. I also read alot of spiritual books and self-help books, if nothing else it kept my mind off my troubles. As time passed you cry less and live more.

    Focus on your job, which is wonderful and so full of energy and before you know it time passes and it gets easier. But make sure to talk/vent with someone. Talking about things helps very much.

    Good luck.
     
  9. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    Aug 6, 2007

    When I was student teaching, the principal at that school used to talk about putting on her "school face". She is a great person, who I completely respected as an administrator. Basically, she was saying that no matter what else is going on, she had to wear a smile and make those kids believe there was no place she'd rather be. I really liked that, and when I'm just having one of those days, when I'd really rather not be there, I still remind myself to put on my school face. It does help.

    Other than that, I'd suggest trying to find a buddy teacher, who you can vent to. Someone who you know will listen to you during lunch or after school, when you just need someone there to complain to for a little while.
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 6, 2007

    BRS--What difficult circumstances to be in as you start the school year. I understand much of what you are feeling; I had a very difficult year professionally and personally last year. It was my first year in a new position, there were lots of stresses at home, and my dad passed away very unexpectedly. Like the other posters have said, I found things easier when I was with the students. They demanded so much of my attention that I couldn't think about anything else. I also found it really helpful to have a couple of trusted colleagues at work who I could talk to (or cry to) when I needed to. Hang in there.
     
  11. nancyb

    nancyb Companion

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    Aug 6, 2007

    BRS, I can't say it any better than than the other posters have said, but I just want to say more of the same. I too have had a horrible summer. I'm ending a relationship which has caused a lot of heartache, but it's taking so long and is terribly difficult. I'm also having health and family problems. But when I get in the car & head for my classroom, it fades into the background. I know that when the school year starts in a couple weeks, and I get my new crop of kids, I can pour my time & energy into my work, and there won't be as much thought & emotional energy left for feeling sad & worried. Work, and especially the kind of work that we do, is great for the soul. You're in my prayers, BRS!
     
  12. Mrs.Gould

    Mrs.Gould Comrade

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    Aug 6, 2007

    I think it seems that the most difficult situations happen when you have to be teaching! During my first year teaching I found out mid-morning that our house fell through the day before closing! It was so horrible to get through the rest of the day. Then, that same year in MARCH I found out that my position was being cut for the next year because of a decline in enrollment. I can't tell you how hard it was to teach the rest of the year when I knew I had lost my dream job. It got better after the first few days of hearing the news, but with the sympathetic looks and the are-you-okays - I was about to lose it.

    Hang in there and talk about things when you need to - especially on here. It really helps!
     
  13. La Profesora

    La Profesora Cohort

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    Aug 6, 2007

    Everyone here has given great advice! Put on your school face, and let school be your escape from real life. If you reach out to kids in a positive way, they will bring a smile to your face.

    At school, and wherever you are in general, get rid of the stuff that reminds you of pain, and put up distractors. I am a big fan of puppies and kitties (sounds a little elementary for a high school Biology teacher, but hey, I love it and the kids love it) I have funny kitty posters on my door, happy stickers pasted on everything, and no matter what life throws at me - the kids never know I'm upset. They sure know when I'm tired, but I paste a big dumb grin on my face. Other teachers ask how I can be so happy all the time, and its cuz I don't bring my personal pains to school, and I don't dump my school pains on my loved one when I get home.

    Be an actress, and remember that even if you aren't happy, sometimes ACTING happy makes the pain go away. Its a lot more fun in life to be happy than to be miserable.

    Good Luck!!!
     
  14. kinderteach3

    kinderteach3 Rookie

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    Aug 6, 2007

    Hi BRS,
    I feel I could have written your post this time last year. Last summer my world came crashing down when my step-mom was going through treatment for Breast Cancer, my family was all drama filled, and I had just found out my Mom left my step-dad and 2 baby sisters. Talk about emotions!!!
    I put myself into therapy so that I could have an outlet, and I used my friends and family as much as I could. I found that teaching became another outlet. I teach K so those kids were really counting on me!!! I quickly realized I needed them too... when I was at school it was all about them. I was able to "forget" about the drama and focus on my kids.
    My advice would be to talk to friends/family you have and maybe talk to a professional. If you'd like to talk more privately PM me!
    :)
     
  15. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    Aug 6, 2007

    I am so sorry things are hard for you right now. The one thing that I liked when I was having trouble was the routine. It might even be better to start school because you have a routine and a time when you can't think about what is going on in your personal life.

    Also, sometimes if things were too bad I told my students that I was having a bad day. They can tell anyway and I found that they were understanding and better behaved if I told them. Otherwise they just thought I was tired.

    I never told them what was wrong(but with my health they could tell) but just knowing I was having a bad day was enough.

    And like others have said, there have been many times where I have just gone into the teacher's lounge and cried until my students came back. It is natural I think when you have a job that doesn't allow time to just space out.
     
  16. Briana008

    Briana008 Companion

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    Aug 6, 2007

    I just wanted to add my own experience to those that have been posted already. I absolutely find teaching to be an "escape" from problems I may be facing in my personal life. My mother became ill rather suddenly near the end of a spring semester and I made the decision to leave the hospital to go to the university and fulfill my TA duties. Of course my colleagues knew the situation and would have covered for me, but getting back into "teaching mode" really lifted my spirits. Unfortunately my mom passed away 4 short months later and again I found solace in going about my daily teaching routine.

    BRS, I'm glad you found this message board because there are so many wonderful people on here with valuable advice and it's here any time you need to vent. Hang in there, and I'm sure things will start looking better for you soon!

    ~Briana~
     
  17. collteach

    collteach Comrade

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    Aug 6, 2007

    My situation was pretty different from yours, but I still feel that I can relate. I taught throughout my husband's 2 tours in Iraq. His first deployment was at the very start of the war, and we were only able to talk 3 times over the course of 3 months. I knew he was in a very dangerous part of the country. There were times when I was extremely scared, sad, lonely...and when I woke up in the morning, the last thing I wanted to do was put on a smile for my 7th graders. BUT...I dragged my butt into school and I was always so thankful. My students would keep me on my toes all day, and I had some characters that would always make me laugh! Not to mention, I had a great support system in my coworkers. The next time my husband deployed, our daughter was 18 months old. I had a whole new set of issues to face now that it wasn't just me dealing with the deployment. Again, my work is what kept things "normal" and it helped the time pass quickly. By then, I was teaching 4th grade, and 25 of my 28 students were also dealing with a mom or dad deployed to Iraq at some point in the year. I had to stay strong for them! I also had to become a very efficient worker, because I wanted to be out the door by 4:30 P.M everyday to pick up my daughter and spend lots of quality time with her. However, from 8:00-4:30...I was lost in my work, which was a good thing!

    I agree with the other posters about talking to someone, a friend or a family member. You don't have to be super cheerful all the time. If you feel like you have to...I don't think that there is anything wrong with you letting your students know that you are having a rough day (of course, you don't want to get into details), and challenge them to do something...like write a silly story to make you smile. I have known teachers that crossed the line when it came to talking about their personal lives...but I never had a problem telling my students that my daughter kept me up all night, so they were going to need to keep me moving and busy so I didn't fall asleep...etc. I would put a silly spin on my woes :)
     
  18. patti2

    patti2 Cohort

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    Aug 6, 2007

    BRS, we'll be watching for your posts....we will all help you get through this!:hugs:
     
  19. helpinghand

    helpinghand Rookie

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    Aug 9, 2007

    I often think of what the students are coming to school carrying in their hearts and minds. That helps me shed my personal woes for the moment. I have experienced deaths in the family, breaking with a spouse, and financial worries, but my students have experienced parents in Iraq, abandoning parents, terminally ill parents, homelessness, etc. We would be surprised what the students are experiencing, most of which we will never know about.

    So sometimes I cry all night, but I go in the morning to school, a little puffy around the eyes but with a spirit to help the students through an emotionally safe zone for learning. When I do this, it helps me to know that all is well because I help them see, nevertheless, we can not only keep going - but succeed.
     
  20. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Aug 9, 2007

    BRS, woah, what a coincidence. I've been dating my SO for about 10 yrs & I live w/ my parents as well! I really, really feel for you. I would not feel like starting up work again either. All I can suggest is to do the best you can, but definitely don't volunteer for any extra duties at work if you can help it. At this rather crappy time in your life, you definitely don't want to have to quit or lose your job on top of everything else. Each of us have different ways of dealing w/ things. Some of us want to have work to distract us from our personal problems, others don't even want to deal with work. I personally could do either, but I'd rather not have to deal w/ work when my personal life is down the tubes.

    This is something I'd suggest to any teacher, but especially for you. When your day is over, just clear your mind & think about other things. Don't bring work concerns/problems home to worry about every night. The morning comes early enough!

    Maybe look into doing activities that relax & pamper you on your free time. Go to the spa, get a massage, get a manicure/pedicure, take up yoga, go workout at the gym, or just make it a point to lay in a quiet room when you get home each day & listen to relaxing music for an hour.

    In the meantime, try your best to start saving up money if you haven't already to maybe find your own apartment or home. I'm trying to do that myself, but it's not easy in my area w/ the ridiculously high cost of living! Hope everything works out!
     
  21. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Aug 9, 2007

    I went back to work two weeks after my son died. I could have taken the semester for my own personal medical reasons, but I chose to go back. It was hard to go to work, but at work, I wouldn't have time to dwell on my grief so in the end working helped quite a bit. When you have a room full of kids, your own problems don't have time to enter your thoughts...as often as when you aren't working anyway.

    I listened to books on cd on the way to work so my mind wouldn't wander. I didn't want to arrive at school crying so listening to a book helped. The evenings were time enough to grieve.

    Perhaps focusing on school may help you get through the difficulties you are facing right now.
     
  22. heartofateacher

    heartofateacher Companion

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    Aug 9, 2007

    Well, I can definitely relate! At the end of the past school year, my husband and I separated and I was a wreck. I'm the type of person who wears all of my emotions on my sleeves, so yes it was very obvious to everyone...staff and my kids...that something was going on. Fortunately for me, it was the last week of school and I only had to be there that week and had the entire summer to deal with my problems. But you are in a totally different situation. You are human and it's understandable. You can't be "on" all of the time. There are going to be times that you have to be a "real" person at work. And those are the times that you just let people know where to get off at...not be mean, but let them know not to pressure or pry. If you have a co-worker that you are close to that you can share and vent, that may help. It did for me. But I also found that while I was working I didn't think about it much because the kids kept me busy. It was only when someone came and asked me about how I was doing that it all came back. I hope you can find a way to get through all of this. Try to laugh with your kids. And be honest with them. Tell them you are dealing with something. It shows them you are human. Last year I actually broke down and started to cry in front of my class and I thought "aw man, it's over now...I've lost all respect." But to my surprise, they all made me cards telling me that they hope that I start to feel better and that they hated to see me sad." I was so overwhelmed that I started to cry more, but they knew it was a good cry. I think that helped them to see that I was human...kwim?? Hope things get better for you...(And sorry so long winded... :))
     
  23. Pigger

    Pigger Companion

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    Aug 9, 2007

    i just wanted to add a little something......

    my advice would be to try and put things in perspective...what i mean is this.....
    my mom died right before school started three years ago....it was awful! thats all there is to it, i'm young, she was young, she was ill but no matter what, i wasnt prepared.....
    i try to remember this when faced with an uphill....
    1.) your kids need you, remember that...you are important in their life and their favorite teacher....as much as that might make you cry and some of them will make you want to pull out your hair...when all is said and done, they think you are alright! :blush:
    2.) take care of yourself....do what you can....can't make bulletin boards from scratch because the effort makes you want to quit? buy them or put up posters....do what you need to do, to make it through the day.....also look for small accomplishments, an hour, a morning, a day, a week.
    3.) as for the relationship, i can't imagine....my friend asked her live in boyfriend of four years on the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL as she walked out the door....what do you want for dinner? and he replied, NOTHING, I"M MOVING OUT! ....what?:unsure: again, take care of yourself......a lot of people are going through probably a similar thing, you aren't in it alone, and no matter how you look at it, it sucks! but try to find something good, as hard as it may be.....no children are involved? no house involved? better to happen now than _______________? was he/she honest rather than dishonest?
    no matter what, work on realizing you are a good person and have good things to offer and people who need you (even if they are under the age of 10) flowers and ice cream might make an hour seem better.
    4.) as for your parents.....have no experience in this area.....like a relationship no matter how you look at it, it stinks.....with time from someone who's mother past away, cherish all the moments you have with your parents.....life is short~

    good luck!:up:
     
  24. AMK

    AMK Aficionado

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    Aug 9, 2007

    I have had days where I had to pull myself out of bed and go. I always found school as a place to forget about my problems. Yes I would be upsetbut once the kids walked in the door I usually forgot about it b/c I had 20 little ones to teach.
    Mostly my problems dealt with my ex but thankfully I am single now.
     
  25. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Aug 9, 2007

    I went through a divorce and the death of my father in a real short time. Working was the one solid thing I had.
    Out of honor to my father I missed only two days when he passed if I had taken more days he would have risen from the dead and "smited" me!
     
  26. hbdb

    hbdb Rookie

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    Aug 9, 2007

    As you can tell by all of the responses, we all have these times. I have had a 9 year relationship end, but found my husband a couple years later. My brother diagnosed with cancer and so on. For me, the days are so busy I hardly have time to remember what is going on in my personal life. It is when I get in the car to go home I remember and have had one time I broke into tears on the way home. I must have looked so crazy. However, fellow teachers can be a great support and just know, this too shall pass and better times are on the horizon.
     
  27. teachingdiva24

    teachingdiva24 Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2007

    I remember feeling similiar lots of times... like after a bad argument or just when things aren't going right. I thought it would be difficult to go in to the classroom and teach, but it really helped me because I loved my kids so much, they helped me get through things without even knowing it. So i must say that teaching, in some ways, is truly an escape from the "grown-up" world.
     

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