Fear 1 – I won’t be able to cope!
Solution – Teaching is a demanding job. All sorts of pressures are placed upon you. But you can overcome the stresses and workload pressures of the job if you make a real effort to get organised. Have a look at these previous posts for help in this area. Getting organised.
Fear 2 – My students will misbehave and I’ll lose control of the class.
Solution – We all worry about this to an extent, normally at the beginning of a new year when we may not know the students. But who is the adult here?
Schools have behaviour management systems. Use them! Often problems surface because teachers don’t use the systems designed to allow them to teach. For more on managing behaviour, see here. Behaviour Management.
Fear 3 – The parents won’t like me.
Solution – A genuine fear but I’ll let you in on a secret: most parents do like their child’s teachers. They recognise that you do a tough job.
Teachers worry about this when they get a parent complaint. But one or two complaints from 20-30 parents isn’t so bad. In fact I would say that is pretty normal.
The question to ask yourself is: Why would they dislike me? If you prepare, act fair, work hard and care for your students, you have nothing to fear. There is much to take away in this post.
Fear 4 – I won’t be any good.
Solution – Why not? Did you attend University for 3-5 years (or more) to get the qualifications necessary to teach? Have you a licence to teach from your Teacher Registration Authority in your area?
So there are people out there that have confidence in your abilities. The fear normally comes from within in self doubt which leads to anxiety.
The only way you will be no good is when you stop caring. When you care for your students, you prepare and work hard. All you really need is some motivating.
Fear 5 – I will get left behind with new technologies.
Solution – You don’t have to know everything about new technology or understand how they work. If you are required to use a new technology, then ask to be trained.
Much technology is just a distraction in the classroom anyway. We have every gadget under the sun yet student outcomes are declining. What’s going on?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Teach the way you always have and if you have to use something new, train up.
Fear 6 – I might be asked to teach immoral material.
Solution – This is another great fear of teachers living in this day and age. Your conscience will tell you when you are be asking to teach something unethical. If it is contrary to God’s laws then you just can’t do it.
Ask administration if you can teach something else if possible. Move to another school if needs be. I wrote about this earlier this year. It’s a terrible situation to be in, but one that you have to extricate yourself from.
Fear 7 – I’m asked to teach a new area.
Solution – Then learn that new area! When you are a teacher, you are a teacher! We don’t often get the exact classes we hope for.
It’s fairly common for teachers to be teaching outside of their subject areas and year levels they are comfortable with. I’ve been in this situation many times and I’ve always had those fears but I used it to motivate me to learn the material.
And you don’t need to know all of the material by the first class either. As long as you know where the unit is going and you stay in front of the class, you will be okay. Two things will help you more than anything else: Collegial support and Professional Development.
Fear 8 – Educationally, I’m not making a difference.
Solution – Teaching is a little like farming, you have to be patient and continually nurture your students before you can see the results. The solution then is in continuing to do all the basics: Plan, Prepare, be Professional. In this way the harvest will come.
Fear 9 – I have terrible supervisors.
Solution – All teachers fear an incompetent leader in a school. Don’t ask me how they get to be in those roles, but occasionally it happens. They can have such a damaging impact on staff morale and school direction that the obvious solution is to replace them.
But as a teacher you can only do what’s in your power. Do your job and continue to be and act professionally is the one and only way you can protect yourself and your students.
Just as in Fear 6 above, you sometimes just have to move on, depending of course on the circumstances but this should be an act of last resort. As much as possible reflect and recall the reasons why you do what you do.
Fear 10 – Can I stay in this for the long haul?
Solution – Many teachers worry if they can maintain the strength to stay in teaching for the long run. The fact is, it’s a needless worry. Teaching is a rewarding job and I still have personal heartfelt thank-you notes from students that have made all I have done worthwhile.
The real answer lies in your conscience. Giving ten years to great teaching then moving on to something else, is infinitely better than giving fifty years of a selfish and contemptible substandard and having the gall to take a wage for it.
Furthermore education offers many possibilities, not all of them in the classroom. Before worrying too much if the class in front of you is the kind of class you are likely to be teaching when you are greying, have a think about the variety of directions you might want to take your career in later.
I have some great friends who have just retired and are thinking about it. The thing is, they faced the same fears concerning endurance that you might have. They got there in the end. 🙂
The Last Word
Every solution above is underpinned by prayer and we mustn’t lose sight of the spiritual fabric of our teaching role. Whatever happens to us, happens by God’s Will, which is our consolation.
Whenever you have fears, turn to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother and ask for their help to strengthen you in your apostolate.