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Old 02-24-2008, 04:23 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Anxiety and Teaching

Hi,

I am a college teacher and would like to know if there is anyone else out there who epxeriences anxiety/panic in the classroom. Sometimes I am comfortable speaking in front of a class, and other times very nervous. I have a very difficult time when my supervisor observes one of my lessons. I often worry I will lose my composure if I try to assert my authority in the class.

Should I be considering a career change?

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Old 02-24-2008, 01:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Anxiety and Teaching

Quote:
Originally Posted by BernieK
Should I be considering a career change?
No. Don't change your career just because of the anxiety. That would be letting the anxiety win. You can overcome the anxiety! Only change your career if you really don't enjoy the job.

How long have you been working? If the job is new to you, you may just need some time to settle in. A lot of people are nervous when they first start a job.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BernieK
Sometimes I am comfortable speaking in front of a class, and other times very nervous.
Look for differences between the times when you're nervous and when you're comfortable. Are certain students making you more nervous? Or are certain lessons making you more nervous?

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Originally Posted by BernieK
I have a very difficult time when my supervisor observes one of my lessons.
I student taught in a grade school setting, and I was always a ball of nerves on the days my coordinator came to observe and evaluate me. When I was all alone with the students I was comfortable in the classroom, but when someone was there evaluating me it made me very self-conscious of everything I did. I don't have much advice except to say try and concentrate fully on the lesson and not on how you think you appear to your supervisor. If you focus only on what you're doing everything else should fall into place.

Good luck!
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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I teach high school and it has been such a benefit to me and my SA. Before I started teaching my friend said it sounded like I was becoming agoraphobic because I wouldn't go out and would skip classes during my last year of school. I got the job because my in-laws knew the principal and they were desperate for someone. My first year was the toughest because I only had a math degree, not an education degree, so I didn't have a clue what I was doing. The kids were a rough group too (I still hear about them from others who teach them now). And everybody knew when I was depressed and wanted to share their scary first-year stories with me. The parents scared me, and I always felt like they had my inexperience hanging over me (thank God for my mentors and adminstrators!). It was the hardest year of my life.

Except for the first week of school, I don't experience much anxiety teaching now. In fact, it's one of the times in my day that I feel free. It's like the chains are released. Even the administrators when they observed me were surprised because I'm generally so shy and withdrawn, and when I'm teaching I'm funny and expressive. I only get nervous nowadays when I get really upset with the students or if a student catches me off-guard with a weird question while I'm being observed.

So yeah, if you started recently it may take some time for you to find your stride in the classroom. I found that the more time I spent doing the same lessons and procedures over and over, the easier it was to deal with surprises (like observations). All those routines have become a sort of safety blanket for me, and as I grow and practice my craft I'm able to branch out little by little. This is my 3rd year and it's been worth every nerve-wracking moment.
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Old 02-25-2008, 01:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Anxiety and Teaching

My sister has claimed that she get's really nervous in front of a classroom shaky and everything, but I don't think that this will prevent her from becoming a teacher. She loves teaching.
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Old 02-25-2008, 02:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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i get VERY nervous when i make presentations in school. talking in front of a class is one of my biggest fears. i want to get rid of that fear because i want to be an elematary school teacher. thats what my major is right now, but sometimes i feel like changing it (like auto auto mechanic or something).
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Hi,
I'm in school to become a teacher, but lately I've been having a lot of doubts because of my anxiety. I feel like my anxiety has gotten really bad over the last few months. I've also thought about choosing a different career path but I really want to be a teacher. The sad part is that I only have 3 classes left and student teaching before I'm done. The thought of student teaching terrifies me because of the thought of being constantly evaluated.
I just dont know what to do.
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Old 02-29-2008, 11:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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ultimately I want to be a college professor, hopefully lecturing on health sciences.
I worry all the time about how my anxiety will affect this. Sometimes I think it won't at all.. because as a professor you just have to worry about presenting facts and not necessarily connecting with people emotionally (i mean, that's more secondary I would think...)
anyways..I definitely don't think you should consider a career change.
Your SA will have an affect on any career you go into.. all jobs will have some social aspect to them that might make you uncomfortable.
How long have you been teaching? I can understand if you are new and having some apprehensions. I think its a good idea to just keep in mind that over time it will only get easier and easier.
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Old 02-29-2008, 02:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Don't think of a career change. You can do it!

I'm not a prof, but a teaching assistant. I've lectured to college class from 11 students to over 200 students.

I gave four lectures last week. What I noticed was that I did *so* much better when I "stepped out of the formality of the situation" so to speak - meaning, I let my personality come out. I don't have a very formal personality and lectures are a very formal situation, which always used to bother me. I noticed that I spoke better and got a better response when I deviated from my outline and made a sarcastic joke or tried to engage the class in the lecture. (Example: My lecture was on the Scientific Revolution and I did my best to get rid of any confusing math or physics concepts, since it's a history class. At one point, I stopped and asked the class if there were any science people in the class. A few nodded, and I apologized to them and said, "Sorry, this is what happens when social scientists get a hold of your ideas." And the whole class - about 80 people - laughed.)

Regarding authority, I was surprised, but because of the professor/student arrangement, it just comes naturally. They asked questions and seemed satisfied when I answered them. They asked me stuff about readings that my prof was supposed to post online, but had forgotten before he went out of town, etc. I think that if you have a problem in a class where you have to act as an authority, you'll be surprised, because oftentimes the student may protest at first, but will back down if you're just persistent.

Anyway, just my perspective. HTH.

Have a nice day,
Kelly
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Old 02-29-2008, 05:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Anxiety and Teaching

Having a wooden mallet and a desk would work to solve any authority issues.
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Old 02-29-2008, 06:34 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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OK, I’m not a teacher but I do occasionally help train new artist at my work (I’ve help train off and on about 17 artists now). The only time my SA gets in the way of training is when, like you, I don’t think I can assert my authority. Example 1: I once trained the bosses’ son (he hated what we do and the only reason he was there was because of his dad). Example 2: I once trained a guy who’s resume was better than mine ( He was a matte painter for the movie Valiant, worked for Fox Studios form the time it opened, and Don Bluth was one of his references ). In both cases I just let my mind set trigger my SA, when I could have just trained them both like I do with everyone and would have done fine. So my advice is don’t quit because of SA. Recognize what triggers you and address those triggers. I wish you the best of luck with the teaching, keep it up. I sure wish I had a teacher in school who could sympathize with my SA, so I’m always glad to hear that people with SA are teaching. Thank you for being a teacher, really!
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Old 02-21-2009, 06:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Being a teacher with social anxiety is not impossible but it is hard. I have been teaching for over 20 years. It has not been easy, especially in the beginning. I went into teaching in part because it was familiar to me. My mother was a teacher and everything else seemed so overwhelming and scary. It took me years before I could start the school day without gagging and feeling like I was going to vomit. I wanted to quit so many times but I didn't think I could do anything else. I worked in a very difficult school for 13 years because I was too afraid to try to get a job elsewhere. I went over ten years without ever speaking at a staff meeting. But even in the worst times, I really have enjoyed most of the kids. At this point I mainly feel nervous before the start of a new school year, the first couple of weeks of school or when another adult is observing me. I think the best thing about teaching for me has been that it has become the one place outside of my family where I can interact with other humans and feel almost normal.
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Old 02-21-2009, 06:50 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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I'm going to be a teacher. I know it's going to be really difficult, but this is what I want to do. I'd probably be nervous at any job anyway. I say show fear who's boss lol.
I will try hard not to show my nervousness because I know high school students will take advantage of any vulnerability.
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Old 02-21-2009, 06:53 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrscrump View Post
Being a teacher with social anxiety is not impossible but it is hard. I have been teaching for over 20 years. It has not been easy, especially in the beginning. I went into teaching in part because it was familiar to me. My mother was a teacher and everything else seemed so overwhelming and scary. It took me years before I could start the school day without gagging and feeling like I was going to vomit. I wanted to quit so many times but I didn't think I could do anything else. I worked in a very difficult school for 13 years because I was too afraid to try to get a job elsewhere. I went over ten years without ever speaking at a staff meeting. But even in the worst times, I really have enjoyed most of the kids. At this point I mainly feel nervous before the start of a new school year, the first couple of weeks of school or when another adult is observing me. I think the best thing about teaching for me has been that it has become the one place outside of my family where I can interact with other humans and feel almost normal.





This is the irony- I'm a teacher, and totally in my zone in front of students-I love teaching-But after work, on my own time..I'm hopeless.
If I'm taken out of the context of work and out on my own, i'm all left feet.
I find the same emotional security in the classroom that I find at home, and would prefer to be at either, rather than going out on a Friday night.
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:29 PM   #14 (permalink)
 
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I appreciate this thread greatly. I'm on my second day of student teaching right now and my brain is absolutely fried. All the concentration, fatigue, constant socializing with extroverts, getting up early, etc. is taking a serious toll on my mental reserves. So far, I've only had to observe and do simple tasks (check homework, stand in front of the class while being introduced, etc.) but those little things have still taken courage, especially when I feel the anxiety escalating.

I'm really concerned about next week when I will actually begin to teach lessons, so I called my old psychiatrist and he called in a prescription of Inderal (a beta blocker) to help with the shakes, heart pounding, etc. Also, I have some old leftover Klonopin from years past, so I'll probably take a little of that during my first few days leading the class. My hope is that, after a few days of real teaching, I'll get comfortable enough with the routine to stop taking the meds and that my confidence will build from there.

I know I will love teaching (and be good at it) if I can get past all these stupid anxiety symptoms. Your words of encouragement are inspiring me to keep at it!
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Old 09-15-2010, 12:40 AM   #15 (permalink)
 
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I've had a couple professors before who seemed a little nervous but both were good professors who did their jobs well. I don't think any other students noticed or cared. I did only because I'm an anxious person myself. It didn't seem like something that made students respect the teachers any less. If you really feel teaching is for you, I don't think the anxiety should let you change careers. I think you'll feel better about it once you get more adjusted to your students as time goes by. I've noticed even extroverted teachers appear a little tense and nervous in the beginning.
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:06 AM   #16 (permalink)
 
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I'm a teacher and love it and do it well, however its the staffroom that terrifies me. Its just 1 big table with everyone sitting around it (11 other teachers), so if you want to talk, you kind of have to say it to the whole group. It awful. I didnt say anything at lunch time yesterday and felt like they were all looking at me thinking why is he so quiet!!
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:37 PM   #17 (permalink)
 
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i feel that way during our teacher meetings. I never talk! i think that the admin thinks that I am useless...then I look around and I see that there are other teachers, like myself, who remain silent. That helps me a little.
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:21 AM   #18 (permalink)
 
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If you give up now you know you will only regret it in years to come. If it's the job you want to do then do it and do it to the best of your ability.
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Old 10-20-2011, 02:26 PM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
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I'm a teacher and love it and do it well, however its the staffroom that terrifies me. Its just 1 big table with everyone sitting around it (11 other teachers), so if you want to talk, you kind of have to say it to the whole group. It awful. I didnt say anything at lunch time yesterday and felt like they were all looking at me thinking why is he so quiet!!
This is exactly my problem too! Im a student teacher in England and am due to graduate next summer but the thought of getting my first teaching post scares the hell out of me. Staff meetings and lunchtimes in the staff room, planning meetings and parents evening are all things ive been able to run away from up till now.

Does anyone have any coping tips? And from experience has anyone ever been pulled up about not contributing to staff meetings?
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Old 10-20-2011, 04:27 PM   #20 (permalink)
 
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I'm a college teacher, too, and I have SA. I spent my first two semesters teaching behind a computer and/or podium: I just now can stand without hiding behind something. I still can't make eye contact--I kinda talk over their heads or to the floor or to the desks...
Some days I still get scared before I go to teach, but after the first year, it's gotten easier, I suppose because it's become routine. And I don't put as much pressure on myself as I used to: I'm not entirely responsible for their education, so I don't have to beat myself up if a lesson goes screwy.
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