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Old 03-19-2013, 11:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I lost it today.


Today is the 4th day since my relapse, and it has not been a mentally successful one. I would appreciate the chance to explain, and to 'let it out'.

I teach English and Science in a private school. The school has quite a long history, and a reputation as being one of the most prestigious in Southern Spain. It spans all ages from toddlers to college age. I teach in primary (ages 8-11).

The children in Spain have their own reputation (as do the adults) of being loud, expressive and strong minded. I can assure you that the reputation is warranted. Their personalities resemble the children in the UK little. The classrooms are small in size and classes consist of between 20-28 children.

I have been unable to control some of my classes from the very beginning, and I spend much of my time dealing with discipline issues, rather than actually teaching. Other UK teachers face similar problems. For some reason the children respond to the Spanish teachers with little fuss or bother. Their lessons are calm, as they should be. It is frustrating, rage inducing and at the end of the day draining. Today was no exception. My anger throughout the lessons rose and I think on 4 occasions I really let rip. I'm a pretty big guy, and very loud, and I really did bellow. I know that this is not the answer, as it has little effect on the children other than to make them fall silent for 2-3 minutes. It also makes me feel very embarrassed, because loosing it in such a way is neither professional nor particularly mature. I slammed a door in one lesson. And yet I have no other way to deal with them. They simply do not respond to my constant requests. I may as well be speaking in Klingon. My previous experience in teaching in the UK was with degree level students, in an entirely different subject.

I know that my last binge was partly due to the massive frustrations that I feel at work, the hopelessness of it all and the bruising of my pride. I feel overworked, massively stressed, frustrated, and, most of all, I think I feel small. Small as in insignificant and ignored in class. That's my pride again. The problem is I love to teach.

I spoke to the head teacher at the end of the day, because I knew that she was aware of my behavior. I had to. I really cannot go on in this situation. I dread the morning when I have got to go to work. It's a constant 'fight' that I loose. I asked if I could have a small reduction in hours. I don't care about the drop in income. My happiness and sanity are worth so much more to me.

Thank you for listening, and being there for me.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I student taught in a very difficult district. I can relate to what you are saying. I think your sanity is more important then any job or paycheck. Did the head teacher offer any support?
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Yes, she said that she would put the reduction in hours to the management, and see if they agree. Last year I was teaching 18 hours (to 3 different classes), and 7 hours extra support lessons to small groups. This year I am teaching 34 hours (to 8 different classes). I knew when I saw this years timetable that I would struggle.... in this school.

I wouldn't mind if I could go in to a class, settle the children down, and keep them calm enough to teach. 34 hours of that would be a pleasure.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:21 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Just remember, in early sobriety your emotions tend to go all over the place. You may be sending out signals you aren't aware of.

Could you maybe ask a colleague to observe your class and give you some feedback?

I know when I was a kid, we would pick on substitute teachers (kids have an uncanny way or smelling vulnerability), and the "bad kids" would act up in a way they never would with their regular teacher.

Easy does it. It's quite easy for small things to spiral into big ones in our minds, and until you have recovered enough to regain emotional control, it's quite easy to "freak out."
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:22 AM   #5 (permalink)
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maybe you can ask the teachers teachin spanish what they do to get the students to respond
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:29 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I only have one experience with this: Step-Parenting. My little step child put me through the ringer time and time again. I dont know how I would handle 30 little ones. I had to stay consistent in my way of parenting......If you dont sit and do this math, you will not get your gameboy. The fight in my little step-child was enormous. I stayed consistent and firm with him and he finally came around to respecting my wishes and I respected his. We had many many time outs.....many many things taken away. Children can make the most patient person lose their cool. I hear ya. I am sorry that you are struggling. May the force be with you!
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:32 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Oh, and 8 year old's are a handful. My little one was the moodiest person I had ever been around. Yikes! I remained consistent.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:33 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Early sobriety is a whirlwind of emotions.

Behavior management techniques work.

You will figure out how to handle all of this.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:52 AM   #9 (permalink)
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This kind of reminds me of how I am feeling. I drink sometimes to alleiviate stresses of daily life. I have to young kids, I work full time, and I have a ton of bills. These bills and the worry of money is a major stressor for me. So when I get home from work I would usually have a drink while fixing the kids dinner I would say to myself this was my unwinding time after a long day at work. Well one would turn into like 7 and you the know the rest. My point is I think we have to try and find other ways to handle our daily stress and not be so quick to fall back onto the bottle or whatever it is tha that you do....we know its not going to fix the situation that is bothering us. We might temporaily feel better in the moment but the next day when faced with the same thing that pissed us off we will just fell worse b/c we let ourself down with drinking. I'm not sure how to change the way we think...I'm working on that...and when I go home tonight and see the stack of bills on my dining room table that will be a good enough reason for me to have a drink. However I am going to try and fix the one thing that I know I can....and that is me. I"m sorry your job is so stressful...I can't imagine... but it seems like you are taking the right steps to try and minimize your exposure to your trigger. Good luck
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Old 03-19-2013, 12:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I know I'd be feeling the same way as you are, Shaun. I doubt I'd have been able to stick with it. I do hope you'll feel more serene as you get some sober time behind you. Glad you came here to talk about it.
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Old 03-19-2013, 02:44 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I spent some time teaching in a different country. It was very helpful to me to sit in on my colleague's classes, to see how they structured them. Education is very cultural and learning how to imitate the local style made it easier for me to reach the kids. Have you tried a day or two of shadowing to see if there are some approaches you might incorporate?
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
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That's a very good idea fantail. I might be able to arrange something like that.
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