I am an elementary teacher in Maine who has struggled all her life with this condition.
There are days I wish I had not gone into this field due to the high profile nature of having to interact with so many people. But it is too late to change my career choice. Are there any other teachers out there who have found ways to cope? I am starting the CBT in earnest, but meanwhile I am so stressed out I fear losing my job.
I am an elementary teacher in Maine who has struggled all her life with this condition.
I am a speech therapist working in the public schools for over 20 years. I have moderate social anxiety. About a year ago I went through a phase where I wondered why I chose a career that involves constantly interacting with people. If I had been more self-aware, I would have chosen a career more suited to me, such as anything where I ccould create something and preferably work by myself. However, if I had been in a room by myself creating something for the last 20 years, I would not have developed the social interaction skills that I have. Although I work mostly with extroverts, I am learning to value the strengths and sensitivities that come with being more introverted. This includes my ability to read other people, their motives, and respond appropriately to various situations. These skills can save us in an organization. We have all been feeling squeezed with the increased pressure of the changing education system. Is it possible that you are stressed out because of the changes in education?
Thanks so much for your post! At least your field involves working more on a one-on-one situation, but still I know about IEP meetings with all of the team members contributing. I also work in the special ed field, but as far as the changes go, this was my first year as a sped teacher with my own classroom, so I have not been around enough to weather the changes. I was a stay-at-home mom for who home-schooled my five children and went back later to get my teaching certificate. So actually the whole professional world is still rather foreign to me, and I feel like a clumsy misfit. I am fine with the students, but it is all the interaction with adults (ed techs, etc)…that stresses me. Seems like everyone in this field is an extrovert. Do you find yourself often the last one to contribute at the IEP meetings?
Home schooling 5 kids is no easy job. I agree with you that it is always the adults, not the students, that are more difficult for those of us with S A. When I first started working as a speech therapist, I was in therapy for SA. IEP meetings were so difficult that I would start to present my test results and then abruptly cut it short when the anxiety got overwhelming. I felt that I only had a limited time to talk before I had to stop. My therapist asked me how many IEPs I would have to go to before I would feel comfortable. I said that I could not imagine ever feeling comfortable. Now I have been to over 1,500 IEP meetings, so I usually don’t have problems contributing. The most difficult part for me has always been the presenting of my results because it is more a performance than a conversation. Even with that, I have learned strategies over the years to make my presentations more of a conversation where I have a chance to compose myself when others are speaking. Sometimes it is hard to get others to be quiet so I can continue with my test results I have much respect for Dr. Richards and the CB series. It has helped me so much. There was a time when I was in so much pain with SA that I would have crawled to Phonex on my hands and knees to get help from the SA Institute. Ironically, the institute has moved to my city, but I no longer feel the need to go there. There is everything that I need in the audio series. With your busy life, if you can even put a little of the techniques into practice you will see how powerful they are. Good Luck with the series.
I also am a teacher who has been to a lot of ARDs and while they still cause me anxiety, I find that being super prepared helps. In general, actually, a lot of my anxiety at school is from being unprepared for things–coming in with a shoddy lesson and getting frustrated when it doesn’t go well, the students don’t engage, and so forth. I try to go to ARDs, 504 meetings, and other meetings having gone over the kid’s information to the point where I can quote specific pieces of data without looking; it has actually helped me gain a reputation of being someone who is at least above-average in their handling of IEPs, which helps reduce the over-analyzing-for-days-afterward beating up on myself for some slight misstatement or not bringing a particular document to the meeting.
Strangely enough I have almost no social anxiety with most of my job, despite the fact that it involves working with people constantly. Children don’t trigger my anxiety usually, and I think it’s because I’m not irrationally afraid of their judgement, though I still do care what they think obviously. The only things that do strongly stress me are things involving performances in front of them, like singing a song or acting overly silly, or whispering/giggling or frequent staring (I assume they’re saying something negative about me). I am very self-conscious, so anything that leads me to looking laughable or being judged negatively I want to avoid. I realize (especially considering that I teach younger kids) this is not rational by any means, and I think it causes me to be much more uptight at work and have the reputation of being uptight and overly strict/no personality and not someone who can build meaningful relationships. I tend to try to control the class to where I minimize any chance of misbehavior, which recently I have realized is in large part just me trying to protect myself by asserting total control over a social situation. I really would like to change this as it’s against my vision of what a classroom environment should be, and probably is causing some students to be anxious as well, possibly perpetuating a cycle.
Still don’t like calling parents though, haha. Email is much more comfortable. I only call at the beginning of the year to provide a more personal touch to help build a good rapport, or when I absolutely need to get some info now/ask an urgent question and they aren’t one to respond quickly to email.
I’m a SPED teacher in California, I’ve had social anxiety for 40 years. 'm 54 yrs old. I’m on week 13 in the online series. It’s helping somewhat. Its hard to gauge though. I have felt very good recently. For a few days anyway. Better than I can ever remember feeling. But then I’m hit with a setback so severe that it seems to undo everything. When it hits my mind goes completely blank. I cant drudge up one of the strategies Ive learned. Or I’ll bea ble to think about say the ANTS stoppage. And Ill try it but the anxiety is so overwhelming that I cant implement it effectively. Very frustrating.
SAD has rued every aspect of my life for 40 years. It makes me a lot less of an effective teacher. It’ hard to stay on top of things, curriculum planning, IEP’s, etc, when you are simultaneously deeply suffering with the emotional devastation that SAD brings. But I’m not going to give up.
Hi there…I also tend to over-prepare for school. but then I resent all the time it takes because there are so many other things I would rather do during my spare time. Also, it can backfire when the unexpected comes up and my best-laid plans go awry. If I could just relax a bit more and "go with the flow"more of the time, I would be able to weather the interruptions to my plans better. Also, I want to be a more responsive teacher and that often means deviating from a strict plan. What has helped you in the SAI series the most so far? Slow talk has been very helpful for me, as well as trying to remember that nobody else is perfect so why should I be? It is better to be imperfect and more approachable a person than to strive to impress others with my performance. Don’t you agree?
Hi J, It sounds like we have some things in common. I am 58 and have had SA for about the same amount of time as you have…started in my late teens. I am so glad to hear that you have been having some good days lately. Remember that the setbacks are just to keep applying the strategies and that they are a sign of improvement in general. This is actually my second time around in this course…the first time I did it was 8 years ago with the audio series. It really did start to make a difference, but I certainly was not totally “out of the woods” and had set-backs, but less and less frequently. Finally I really thought I was free and clear of SA for good when I had a job change and BOOM…it was back with a vengeance…mostly due to a difficult relationship with two ed techs who were not very supportive of me as a new teacher. So lately I decided to do the series again online with the forum community since there are no SA therapy groups in Maine, where I live. It helps tremendously to connect with others who struggle with this, as sometimes I feel like the only person I know with this problem. How do you manage the social aspects of our jobs as Sped teachers? That is, all of the IEP meetings, interaction with and managing ed techs, the teacher’s lunch-room, retirement parties, etc…? I still try to avoid as much of it as I can and I try to compensate for my quiet-ness during meetings I can’t avoid by being over-prepared. But being super prepared doesn’t take away the feeling of being less valuable a member of the IEP team. I just have no confidence in my input and my abilities, even though I have had good evaluations. What is helping you the most at this time. Please do not give up…I know that this is a very effective tool and probably the only thing that is going to help diminish our problem. For now, know that you are not alone…I know so well what you are going through and am more determined than ever, even at this late age, to change my brain circuitry once and for all. I may have to refresh my strategies more often than a younger person but I will keep calm and carry on. I hope you do, as well. Keep in touch!!! K
I’m also a speech therapist working in a school. I know exactly what mean when you talk about not speaking up in an IEP meeting. Sometimes I push off speaking till the end, and by then the meeting wraps up without me saying a word. It is a catch 22, since if I don’t speak, I feel stupid, and if I do, I feel stupid that I might have said the wrong thing.
I have taught for over 40 years in a primary school. The teaching was fine, except when being observed, especially by inspectors. I dreaded and usually avoided events like the staff Christmas party, PTA dances and all those events of a social nature. That has really held me back from becoming a Headteacher, though I was for some time, but dreaded speeches and social events. However I coped!
I’m a teacher too. Until last year I was in nurseries and it was ok (well, copying). Last year I started in a school, and my SA got worse. Regarding kids, I feel bad with older ones, and I can’t seem to be assertive enough to manage bad behaviour. Regarding teachers, I’m as quiet as can be. People look at me with a mixture of pity and surprise, or so I imagine. Sometimes I find it hard even to say hello in a natural way, sometimes I say it too often, and people look at me like “ok, you’ve already greeted me today”. I feel out of place all the time, and only feel comfortable when I’m alone with kids. I hope I can slowly find a way to cope.
I think Dr. Richards was a teacher. He speaks about in therapy program.
Dr. Richards was a teacher for many years, in many different capacities.
I was also a teacher, many different ages and different types of schools. Anxiety was during some of those years an issue for me in the classroom. After the therapy, the job itself was good for me to continue working on rational parts of the therapy. Any job/situation can provide an opportunity to continue working on overcoming social anxiety, except of course teaching has that obvious part of a lot of public speaking/presentations. Though it used to stress me out, it ended up being a great environment for me to both work on myself and help students. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.