The Fear. Teacher Anxiety.
It’s 22:11 on Sunday night, the last day of the Easter holidays (spring break). I have the usual feeling, it’s been building for a couple of days; it’s teacher anxiety or “The Fear” as I call it. In all the jobs I’ve done in my life (as with everyone) there’s a feeling of dread about going back to work after a holiday but for some reason, in teaching it’s worse and I have no idea why.
I’ve dealt with anxiety and panic for a long time and I have many tools to overcome it; before teaching I couldn’t even talk in front of a group of people, not a word. I’m still not great in social situations, I’m either the quiet observer or I wear the buffoon mask. The fear however seems different, maybe it is enhanced because of my proclivity to feel anxiety? One thing I have found is that many of my teacher friends and colleagues feel the same and I’m sure it affects teachers in different countries too. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a trainee teacher or a 30 year veteran, whether you teach young children or teenagers or whether you are male or female. It seems to affect all to some degree.
I am a scientist and I can sit here now with a bubbling stomach and tight shoulders and logic it out; I know that within 10 minutes of my first lesson tomorrow it will be fine, I know I am good at my job, I know I am respected and liked by my students and colleagues alike but does that make it go away? No. There are things that I have done in past holidays to make it easier like do extra work, do ALL of my marking/grading but it never really goes away.
It’s difficult to explain to others because on the surface it’s just the “back to work blues” and there’s no reason to feel this way, it just feels like a “max strength” version of what others feel. I’d be interested to know to what extent you all feel it, feel free to comment below with your experiences of the fear. I’m going to have a shower and go to bed and tomorrow I’ll stride once more unto the breach, just gotta put one foot in front of the other and trust that it goes away as soon as I start lesson 1. Like I tell my students; just do what Dory does “Just keep swimming”.
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