Of Teaching and Nervous Breakdowns

This is a guest post from Anonymous Teacher.

My first guest blogging opportunity – very exciting!

You may not think that teaching is a profession which lends itself to frequent nervous breakdowns. I didn’t think so before I started teaching.

I got my first teaching job in Oakland, in the middle of the school year. I knew what the district was like and I chose to be there. I knew that the kids came from difficult situations, an area with a lot of violence and drugs, many of their parents were in jail/prison, etc. I knew the (really bad) reputation of the district. I didn’t, however, know how bad the educational system was.

I got hired to teach first grade – an age that makes everyone who is not in the teaching profession say things like, “How cute! You must have loved that!” Hmmm. Obviously, these people have never had books thrown at their head by an extremely angry six year old. But I digress. I was hired to teach in a “roving” classroom. A roving classroom is an idea – thought up by one of Satan’s highest minions, I’m pretty sure – to save space. Instead of each class having their own classroom, the classes are put on “tracks” – with each track having a staggered vacation. Then an additional 25% can be squeezed in the building, with roving teachers using other people’s classrooms.

There’s a couple of problems with this. One is that the kids never have a home base, and in fact often forget which classroom they are in. Another is that teachers are notoriously territorial and HATE other teachers being in their area. So the roving teacher not only has to move every 3 weeks but also has to deal with the extreme resentment of other teachers.

But I digress. I was hired to replace somebody who left in December. I found out – after I took the job – that he left because he had a nervous breakdown. He had panic attacks every time he got near the school. Awesome.

Now I know another teacher in a similar situation. She is a friend of a friend – actually we have a lot of mutual friends – and is teaching at a high school very near the school I was working at for 8 years. She told me this in the summer and I told her not to take the job. I hate to think like that – I want to be as idealistic as the next person and make a difference, but I know this school and I know what the kids there do to their classrooms (set them on fire) and their teachers (bully them like you wouldn’t believe).

A mutual friend asked me to sub for this woman because she is having a nervous breakdown and going to the ER with panic attacks. She asked me to sub for two weeks to two months. I was good, stood my ground, and said hell, no. I got out of here for a reason. I will not sub at that school for a month, I will not sub for a day. I will not sub in a box… well, you get the idea.

Our mutual friend was a little annoyed with me, but I am holding fast. No nervous breakdowns for me. And she can’t say I didn’t warn her.

(I’ll write more soon about the reason behind all of these nervous breakdowns, or you can check out my blog, Being Light Skinded.)