Tuesday, 10 August 2010


So much for my triumphant return to the classroom.

I think I have made a monumental mistake, and now I am rooted, not to put too fine a point on it.

What on earth made me think I was ready for a return to teaching? Teaching is not a job for anyone with fragilities. I've always known that – but I thought, after four and a half years since the attack, that I was over my fragilities. Evidently not.

I used to be a good teacher. Now I know that I'm not the teacher I used to be. Today clinched it. Today, a few of my Year 10 boys thought it would be funny if one of them jumped out behind me, shrieking, as I made my way to class.

Yep, hilarious stuff. The consequence? A panic attack (damn, and I thought I was better). To my credit, I held it off and held it off and held it bloody off for about 15 minutes (I'm clearly getting much better at this), and then I just had to leave the classroom because my heart was pounding fit to burst, I couldn't breathe and I couldn't stop the tears from coming. I spent the rest of the day battling episodes of breathlessness and panic.

Can you imagine how embarrassing it is for a 51 year old woman to be in that situation in front of a room full of 15-16 year olds?

Even worse – NOW WHAT??? I'm supposed to go back there tomorrow and fight the good fight, and all I want to do is crawl into a hole somewhere and hide. I'm mortified and I'm so fucking miserable I could die, and I've burned my bridges. I feel as if my back's to the wall, and I really am at a complete loss – what to do next? Clearly I am not fit to be in a classroom - yet? (if ever?)



Anonymous said...

It's not over. I have panic attacks too, and I always feel shaky for at least a day or two afterwards. But then things get back to "normal" and are slightly less horrible. I remember teaching, too. It is embarassingly common for students - particularly high school boys - to make a teacher cry. They'll have forgotten by this time next week (except to proudly report, "I made three teachers cry this year.")

Louise Curtis

Sue said...

Thanks Louise. Still pretty fragile today. The good thing is that there was absolutely no malice in what the boys did - they were pretty shaken by my reaction, and very apologetic. I suppose it even means that they probably quite like me, to feel that they could play a 'joke' like that on me - and they were shocked when it backfired so badly. Today I'm spoiling myself by making chicken & veg soup and refusing to think about The Future until I can breathe properly again! ;-)

Julie said...

Poor Sue!! That sucks, hun.

On the bright side, the kids may have learned a lesson.

You could possibly even incorporate it into a lesson (without giving them too much detail, of course!).

take care!
j xx

Anonymous said...

You're almost certainly right - they do like you, and it was an affectionate prank. And you know you'll recover because you always have in the past. In your shoes I'd be tempted to explain panic attacks to them. I'm sure they won't do it again anyway, but it won't hurt them to understand why you reacted as you did.

lemmiwinks said...

Sorry to hear that Sue (been on holidays so late getting to this). Hope you're feeling better. Come visit and we'll split a bottle of the magic SM55 ;-)

The Machinist's Wife said...

Dratted panic attacks. I used to have them, back in SA, but coming to Australia, and the reality and hardship of life as a migrant put a stop to all that... hee hee..


Having said that, I'm convinced I'm prone to nervousness and panic-ness in general.

Sorry to hear of your trevail. I think you're brave for teaching year 10 in the first place...