Teaching with generalized anxiety

Discussion in 'General Education' started by NewTeacher9, Aug 9, 2015.

  1. NewTeacher9

    NewTeacher9 Rookie

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    Aug 9, 2015

    Hi! I am a first year high school English teacher. I am extremely excited about starting the job, but I am also extremely anxious (keep in mind that I have never taught before, excluding one-on-one tutoring sessions). I know that most first year teachers are very nervous, but I have awful anxiety that amplifies everything.

    I LOVE English and I am very passionate about teaching, so I really don't want my anxiety ruining this for me. A lot of my anxieties are rooted in the fear of looking stupid, incompetent, etc... Are there any teachers on here that suffer from anxiety or have conquered their anxiety? Any advice?

    Also, I am fresh out of college and look like I could be a high school student myself... What are the odds of my students simply not taking me seriously just because I look young? I will be teaching 9th graders.

    Thank you!
     
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  3. Mr.Literature

    Mr.Literature Companion

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    Aug 9, 2015

    CONGRATS ON THE JOB!
    Now that this is out of the way, I felt EVERYTHING you are feeling.
    Aside from the fear of being inadequate, I also have big shoes to fill. My mother is a veteran of the job. She has done this for over 20 years and loves it. She knows everything about everything and that makes me feel like I will never catch up. Which is silly because all this means is that I have this amazing source of knowledge.

    I never had an internship because my school did not offer secondary education for English. So I did my major in English and got my minor in education.

    When I got my job last year I was so scared. I had no idea what I was doing to be honest. Because of how standards based everything is and I never got to even make lesson plans for my classes! I felt like I would just mess everything up. You need to keep a few things in mind.
    1. You should have a pre-service week where you get to see how your team wants to work with the curriculum.
    2. Being a first-year teacher, you should be given a mentor.
    3. You will learn from your mistakes and that is okay!

    I have been told by another teacher, "I feel so bad for my students the first year I taught!" Everyone goes through the same thing. Everyone feels scared. No, you won't be perfect. I took advantage of my observations. I listened to my administrator and took their advice and it was AWESOME advice. Lucky for me, she was also ELA so had the same passion for the class that I did.

    My advice to you, follow through with your rules and procedures. Classroom management will make or break you. I learned this the hard way. The kids need routine. That being said, you can always fix your mistakes! You can always pretend like it's day one and start over. It won't be super easy, but it can be done. Also, always be over-prepared. It is better to have too much work for the students, than not enough and then be scrambling to figure out what to do with them. And lastly, limit the amount of direct instruction! It is necessary but don't over-do it because then you'll lose your students. I love having them come up to the whiteboard, and keep them moving so that they are engaged.

    :)
     
  4. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Aug 9, 2015

    The teacher I had for English during my senior year of high school was also fresh out of college / 22 years old!
    We definitely took her just as seriously as any other teacher even though she was only 5 years older than us!
    Just be consistent & follow through whatever you say & you will be fine. 9th Graders are young / new to high school and will probably be just as anxious as you are
     
  5. Geauxtee

    Geauxtee Comrade

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    Aug 9, 2015

    I have horrible anxiety as well.

    Honestly, I had to go to therapy and get meds for it due to some difficult circumstances in my second year of teaching. This was two years ago and I'm a lot better.

    The best thing is to find a support system and a nonjudgmental mentor teacher. Some mentor teachers are just doing because there is a stipend involved or because their admin pressured them. So, it might not be your "assigned mentor."

    Work on your classroom management, procedures. You might have to follow through on classroom management the first day.
     
  6. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Aug 9, 2015

    Are you seeing a therapist and/or taking medication? I have generalized anxiety disorder as well, and its amplified by my cyclothymia (basically bipolar disorder that cycles quicker than usual). Therapy is important, but medication has been a godsend. Sometimes therapy just isn't enough.
     
  7. NewTeacher9

    NewTeacher9 Rookie

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    Aug 9, 2015

    Thank you all so much for your advice! Luckily for me, the district I am working at does not require first year teachers to make their own lesson plans... so that should be one less stressor for me (although I am sure I will find a way to stress over that anyway!).

    I am going to try my best to be as consistent as possible. I just want them to respect me, to take me seriously, and to learn!

    And no, I haven't seen a therapist for my anxiety in years since it's something that has always embarrassed me. I have been talking to my husband recently about seeing one though and maybe getting on meds if that's what's best for me.
     
  8. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Aug 9, 2015

    Before I started seeing my therapist, I had anxiety about seeking help for my anxiety. It's a vicious cycle and it's almost as if your anxiety tries to convince you not to do it. It's a scary step, but it's an important one. Feel free to "shop around" for a therapist too. You need to find someone you are comfortable with. Also, don't limit yourself to a psychiatrist. You can see a psychologist and have them recommend medication which your family doctor can then officially prescribe.
     
  9. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    Aug 10, 2015

    Being anxious is a normal response for our bodies for sure!


    From one anxious person to another, remember to breath in deeply and exhale softly.

    I keep a trigger piece/token in my pocket. It can either be a small rock or a paper clip; I've been known to have loose rubber bands around my wrists too. I rub the rock and clip when I'm feeling nervous during teaching. I have a rock that has "serenity" etched on it too. :)


     
  10. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Aug 11, 2015

    I also deal with anxiety and depression at times...I was never officially diagnosed until my first year teaching when it all came to a head, but I think I've dealt with it all my life. Please don't be embarrassed to get help -- if you're feeling overwhelmed now, I would recommend connecting with a good mental health provider now rather than waiting to see if it gets worse. A good therapist can give you skills and strategies to manage your symptoms before they get out of control!

    It is really nothing to be embarrassed about -- something like 10-20% of the population seek mental health support at some point in their lives. It's just not talked about openly. It's unfortunate that there is still so much stigma around it. But just like applecore said, and the first doctor to diagnose me also said, we see the dentist when we have a toothache, and anxiety is kind of like "brain-ache" that can be managed with therapy and medication.

    As for looking young -- I was in my early 20's when I started teaching and I still get told I look young! I recommend dressing professionally -- even more so than your older colleagues -- and always remember to keep that "line" drawn between being the adult and not a friend.

    It sounds like you're in a great district with a lot of support -- you're going to do great!
     
  11. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2015

    I've had very bad anxiety my entire life, and it has been manageable when teaching at the right place.

    When I worked in the inner city, taking over mid-year for students who mostly had subs the semester before, my anxiety shot through the roof. But now that I work at a charter school that is very supportive, consistent, and positive, my anxiety is virtually unnoticeable.

    I think you have to find what works for you, whether it's your environment, your position (if you want to work one-on-one with students, you could look into either SPED or support areas -- there are smaller class sizes, at least), or strategies you can implement throughout the day. For me, I'm an introvert and I know I need alone time to "recharge." I always spend part of my prep time and lunch by myself, so that when I'm around coworkers/students/parents again, I can be my alert and positive self, not just a grumpy tired version of me.

    Also, eating well and exercising are very important for your overall health, ESPECIALLY with anxiety. I do cardio a few times a week specifically because it makes me less anxious.

    I'm sure everything will turn out well for you. Congratulations on your new job!!
     
  12. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Aug 12, 2015

    I love the idea of keeping a token in your pocket! Thank you, applecore.
     
  13. NewTeacher9

    NewTeacher9 Rookie

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    Aug 16, 2015

    Again, thank you all so much! It is very comforting to read that there are others with anxiety who don't let that anxiety stop them from teaching.
     

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