Friday, 26 June 2009

Nervous breakdown

A challenging UC week gone, and a challenging UC week to come.

This week has combined coursework deadline day with an interview with the Head to progress up the final rung of the classroom teachers pay ladder. Yep, after 11 years, I am never going to earn more than this (bar inflationary [haha, or below-inflationary as they are at the moment] or incremental pay rises), unless I move into middle management. Which would mean more stress. And, therefore I will not being doing that, but that does bring nicely back round to the theme of this post: stress.

I read somewhere recently, I think perhaps the NACC website, that current research has suggested that stress does not play a significant role in UC or its symptoms. Well, I'm no scientist, but I can categorically state that in my case that is a total load of poop. Stressful situations can definately precipitate or worsen UC symptoms.

The GCSE coursework is based on data collected during fieldwork conducted at the end of March. Therefore the kids have had approximately 3 months in which to complete the analysis and write-up. 3 months that are monitored carefully with numerous clinics and catch-ups and opportunities to seek help, guidance and advice. But, you can take a horse to water... And so this week always entails hectic tracking down, running around, after school desperation, phonecalls home, entreating kids, shouting at kids, cursing the numerous unsupportive parents, prising kids into IT rooms, patroling the gates to keep 'em in after school... all while teaching your usual number of lessons. In other words stress. I think, naturally, I am of the philosophy that they should be left to their own devices: don't put the effort in, get the mark you deserve. But, unfortunately the grades they get are used to measure our competence. In fact if they don't reach inflated target grades we have to justify ourselves. Because, of course, I can't be professional enough to work hard to get the best GCSE's I can for these kids without someone standing over me waiting to beat me with the results stick. So, that's a gradual build-up of stress across the week.

So, to the meeting with the Head. I'm a pretty self-confident chap. I know I'm a good teacher, and I would always say so, perhaps couched in slightly modest tones. However when it comes to interviews I'm as feebly wracked with nerves as the next man. Assuming the next man is a cowardy custard. Nervous stress for me never manifests itself in a way others can see it; from outside appearances I appear calm, composed and considered... But in my trembling, yellow bowel the real truth emerges. At regular intervals, into the toilet.

And, so it was that after several weeks of feeling pretty damn UC-free, Thursday fed doubt into my mind via several dribbly trips to the loo.

As for next week: week long residential fieldtrip in Spain with 25ish students. I know a week in Spain is really hard to moan about, but I don't want to go. A combination of being responsible for/managing 25 15 year-olds for 6 days and my usual UC-travel paranoia is making it a very unappealing prospect.

Stress? Fear? UC?

Right, I'm off to the toilet...


Martin said...

Crikey, field trips have come on since my day.

I'm not sure about the whole stress thing. I've always found it hard to find any relationship between my good and bad UC periods and any external factors. For me it's just random.

But if you can see a significant change in your symptoms when you're stressed, then at least you know by reducing your stress you'll lessen the UC.

Basically your body is telling you to give up teaching and go live on a beach in Goa.

Rich said...

Mmmmmm Goa... Where'd I put that lottery ticket?

I have devoted a large part of my energy to reducing stress in my life Martin, hence never moving beyond classroom teacher and ignoring my wifes pleas to complete DIY tasks. But, you make a good point: it could well be that my UC episodes are also random, and I end up subscribing external factors to them in an attempt to explain/come to terms with them... Having said that the correlation between anxiety/stress definately seems real.

As soon as I can afford to I'll sack the teaching lark.