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anxiety attack
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elainenatal



Joined: 29 Mar 2003
Posts: 34
Location: South Africa

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2003 4:48 am    Post subject: anxiety attack Reply with quote

It can be disconcerting for an inexperienced teacher going into a new situation. However, I was wondering if any of the experienced teachers out there ever have similar feelings. Has anyone had any bad classsroom experiences that has caused anxiety.If so, what do you do to overcome these feelings?
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12057
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2003 5:00 am    Post subject: Anxious moments Reply with quote

Dear elainenatal,
Anxiety? You want to talk anxiety? Way back in the Dark Ages, when I was doing my internship, I was so anxious before my first " real class " that I had to visit the mens room beforhand and - yes - upchuck. I'm afraid, though, that perhaps the only " cure " is time and experience ( well, drugs might work - just kidding ). Even these days, when I first enter a new class, I have a " mild frisson ", a tingle, of anticipation. But I thnk that's probably not such a bad thing; it keeps you on your toes. As for bad experiences that happen DURING a class, well, all you can do is try to learn from them, I'd say.
Regards
John
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Kent F. Kruhoeffer



Joined: 22 Jan 2003
Posts: 2118
Location: 中国

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2003 6:41 am    Post subject: True Confessions - Part II Reply with quote

Hello Elainenatal:

It can be disconcerting for an experienced teacher as well. Cool Feelings of anxiety before class are normal. It's a sign that you're taking your job seriously, and that's a good thing.

My most angst-filled experiences have always been with kids; in particular at the Korean 'hagwon' I worked for a few years back. At this school, 14 kids were cramped together into a rather small room, and there was no co-teacher present in the room ... so you can imagine what that was like.

With adults, it's not quite so bad. They rarely fight, kick, spit or throw silverware at each other. Razz

One tip: It's a good idea to have your lesson-plans prepared well in advance of class. Being prepared helps to 'take the edge off'. It's also a good idea to always have a "Plan-B" in mind, in case your well-laid lesson plans go down the drain.

Regards,
keNT
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Celeste



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 814
Location: Fukuoka City, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2003 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like to always have a few quiet worksheets available for students to do if things go totally wrong. That way they have something to do for 5 minutes while I re-group and decide how to fix the lesson that has de-railed. (I have these ready for all ages of students, right from elementary school to adults).

I also think that it is very important to have your classroom procedures established and written down for yourself. That way, you have something to adhere to if you start to freak out.

I would recommend that you read some of the articles by a columnist on the teachers.net gazette. Actually, it is a couple by the name of Harry and Rosemary Wong. They have a lot of really good advice for starting teachers that I think applies to all teachers.

http://teachers.net/gazette/AUG02/wong.html
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 11728
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2003 7:13 am    Post subject: stage fright Reply with quote

The educational equivalent of stagefright stays with us. 35 years on I still get it, but maybe not so acutely.

I am a great believer in always having a white rabbit to pull out of the black hat. Always have something extra, something surprising, something striking to do or say, that will grab their attention and make me feel better. What your own personal white rabbit is you will have to work on for yourself.


Last edited by scot47 on Sat Apr 19, 2003 5:04 am; edited 1 time in total
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Roger



Joined: 19 Jan 2003
Posts: 9138

PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I was a student myself, I could never pluck the courage to recite a poem in front of the class. The flaws of the person standing in front of everybody seem to get magnifiked beyond their actual significance.
Strangely enough, being the lone man in the classroom, usually standing on a raised platform - making you even more isolated from your audience - rarely gives me what approximates stage fright.
I experienced some angst several years ago when I taught English Literature to Chinese college students. This was not in my first two or three lessons, but rather after I discovered that I had planned my lessons down to the smallest details -all in vain!
Here I was in a room filled with 60 youngsters dissecting an excerpt from I forgot whether it was Elizabeth Gaskell or Emily Bronte (I was, perhaps, temporarily focusing on female authors), and it dawned on me rather painfully that two thirds of my audience were reading in comic strip magazines or conducting their private conversations. A participative dialogue involving students as equal partners in a discussion was obviously too fanciful a flight of fancy. Did they realise how far women liberation has travelled in Western countries in 150 years? They did not even realise that the stories we were discussing were set in a period Chinese refer to as Qing dynasty. My students' own grand-grand-mothers
had their feet bound as young girls, never being permitted to learn to run or walk without pain, and these young girls being my students - my classes were 90% female! - who were strictly forbidden from dating any males on the campus would launch into a lecture on how Chairman Mao himself had liberated Chinese women from the feudal yoke, yet most of them would, no doubt, want to be married by a man who could afford to have a wife that does not work and earn towards the common household.
Later, I was told that my students found my lessons "too difficult. COuld I make them easier? They only needed to know who was the 'best author of the 17th century' (obviously it had to be Shakespeare!), who was the 'best' author of the 18th century, and so on down to the twentieth century!
I have learnt one thing from this epiosode: I don't need to plan my lessons down to the smallest detail any more. It is counterproductive.
I give them more spontaneously, always having something to fall back on if my first option falls flat (which it seldom does).
Scripted lessons are out. I just follow a general lesson plan that defines an objective but leaves a lot of freedom to how I tackle it. There isn't much to be feared anymore!
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lagger



Joined: 08 Apr 2003
Posts: 40
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm amazed when people think teaching is a really easy job. It's not.
I too felt sick when I had to teach my first class alone. I remember sitting there alone in the classroom thinking "Oh my God, I can't do this, I can't do this" but I did it. I have to admit, I never get anxious about standing in front of a group anymore except maybe the first day I meet a class. I guess the lack of anxiety is because I've done it so often now, it's routine.

However, sometimes situations can make me a little anxious, especially when I feel I won't be able to handle something. I had a very belligerent student once and I used to dread going to class to face him. I also had a sexual harrassment situation once that made me anxious. I get a bit nervous when I am observed by too many people (once I had two practicum students and my boss watching). Also, sometimes if something goes wrong with the lesson, I have a brief moment of panic. Luckily, I have a 'bag of tricks' (i.e games & activities) and I just explain what happened (i.e the photocopier is out of order) and move on.
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itslatedoors



Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 6:34 am    Post subject: anxiety attacks and nervous breakdowns. Reply with quote

Anxiety is a feeling that all teachers have from time to time and to different degrees and it's a fact that people don't all adapt to changing situations in the same wayDon't worry about anxiety it's a positive response from your body. Coming from a nation of island warriors and being a descendant of those whom Dowding referred to as 'the few' has thankfully instilled in me a very British stiff upper lip which doesn't quiver even when faced with a class full of desk drumming,christian hating,not very energetic,belligerent,hooker shagging,bin Laden loving bedu.............even when hungover.Talk about looking fear in the face.
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bulgogiboy



Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 787

PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some tips to reduce anxiety prior to entering the classroom with a new class:


1. Prepare thoroughly.

2. If possible, go for a long swim/jog/workout before your class starts, to relax you.

3. Go into the classroom a bit earlier than you usually would, write your stuff up on the board, get your CD player/handouts all sorted out, make sure the classroom is exactly how you'll need it.

4. If you have any games that have proven popular with students in the past, keep one of them in reserve just in case.

5. Depending on which country you are in, you might want to use something like 'bach rescue remedy' to give you a little more confidence(its alcohol-based so probably a no-no for places like Saudi).
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9135
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A bit off-topic, but it amazes me how many teachers are still in situations where teacher- standing -in- front- of- the- room occurs. I haven't been in such a situation for years....except when I choose to do so for dramatic purposes Cool

Of course standing isolated before others puts whoever in a vulnerable situation, whether it's a teacher or a student. I just normally prefer for it to be a student, if anyone must do this in the course of a class Very Happy

Not that I don't get jitters! Today I had a high-level group of business executives with serious expectations for their course. It being the first day, I knew that I needed to make a strong impression and give them something substantial - all without knowing very much about them. They specifically don't want a book-based course, so pre-prepared worksheets and other such aids were definitely off-limits.

I pulled it off (luckily, I almost always do) but it took a couple of my fleet of white rabbits (thans for the metaphor, scot47).

Now, the challenge is to prepare something tailored and interactive and challenging for them for the next 10 weeks. Fortunately, I like course/curriculum design and have worked in such situations for a long time...
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tomstone



Joined: 09 Dec 2009
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MIT did a study many years ago about peoples biggest fears. The big three:
1. Death
2. Death of a spouse
3. Speaking in front of groups

True story.
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Justin Trullinger



Joined: 28 Jan 2005
Posts: 3110
Location: Seoul, South Korea and Myanmar for a bit

PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anxiety is funny. One of my TESOL training colleagues, when asked by a trainee "How long did it take you to stop being nervous about class?" responded "About 15 minutes most days, but more if the material is new."

It's always there. It never fully goes away.

And it can be your friend. It encourages you to focus on your planning, and then on what you're doing.

Go in fully planned. Then use pairs, groups, communicative activities, information gaps...to put the focus on the students.

The observer role, where you'll spend most of your time as a teacher, is a lot less nervy.

Best,
Justin
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AjarnIam



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 95
Location: Thailand

PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's amazing what a 2 minutes song or a utube music video will do to relax everyone (including the teacher) before the lesson begins. The only time I get nervous now is if I don't do any prep work before the class. I used to get freaked out by walking into the large groups 60+, now it's more a feeling of frustration because the difficulty of doing activities.
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Mike_2007



Joined: 24 Apr 2007
Posts: 344
Location: Bucharest, Romania

PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of people have mentioned planning as a way to reduce stress. Oddly, I'm the opposite - the more minutely I plan, the more stressed about the group lessons I get. As a result I never plan 'CELTA-style' anymore; with lesson segments detailed down to the second. I found that I would fret about over-running on a section, or the students taking too long to complete an exercise, and so on.

I still plan and go into my lessons with well-prepared handouts and exercises, and my course still has a structure which I follow, but I no longer worry about the timings. Fortunately I rarely have any fixed deadlines so I'm perfectly free to move along at a pace which is comfortable for both me and the students.
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jpvanderwerf2001



Joined: 02 Oct 2003
Posts: 1073
Location: New York

PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="lagger"]I'm amazed when people think teaching is a really easy job. It's not.
I too felt sick when I had to teach my first class alone. I remember sitting there alone in the classroom thinking "Oh my God, I can't do this, I can't do this" but I did it. I have to admit, I never get anxious about standing in front of a group anymore except maybe the first day I meet a class. I guess the lack of anxiety is because I've done it so often now, it's routine.
quote]

I agree. Teaching is not an easy job...to do WELL. It's easy if one doesn't care and basically kills time til the end of class.
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