Articles Education Through My Eyes

14th January – Teacher Guilt

Teacher Guilt

“Guilt is a useless feeling. It’s never enough to make you change direction–only enough to make you useless.” Daniel Nayeri, Another Faust

The struggle is real. I’ve taken today and yesterday off work because I’ve been fighting a virus. Knowing that I’m looking after myself doesn’t make the teacher guilt any less real.

Of course, everyone now knows all about my anxiety, but perhaps what not everyone knows about is that I was told not to isolate myself and not to stay at home when I was signed off ill for months with it. My doctor encouraged me to get out and about, to see my friends and to exercise. Despite his encouragement, I felt guilty. What if people see me and think I’m faking this anxiety? What if people tell others and they think that too?

So, most of the time I did keep myself to myself. On the rare occasions I left the house, I tried to plaster a huge smile on my face and pretend to be ok. I wasn’t. One social event would leave me utterly exhausted. Even just engaging with one familiar person could tip me over the edge, leaving me curled up in bed for ages. But the teacher guilt was there the whole time.

This period of illness I’ve had is physical not mental. That doesn’t make the guilt any less. In fact, despite being told at my appointment today to rest, I have tried to do some school work. When I’m feeling unwell, I struggle to focus. What would ordinarily take me an hour to complete has taken me several today. But I gave in to teacher guilt because it’s so full on, all-consuming really.

After visiting the surgery this morning, I told myself I would do what I was told. I lay down on the sofa, snuggled under a blanket, painful ear resting on a soft cushion and set about watching Catch 22 that has been on the planner for months. Ironic really. Catch 22 situation is what I’m in. I do work at school and it takes me ages, stops me resting like I’m supposed to. If I don’t work, I feel guilty, can’t settle into watching anything on TV and so end up thinking about work anyway. Where is the off button when you need one?

I’d love this to be the sort of blog post where I end it with “suggestions on how to alleviate teacher guilt”, but I cannot. I have zero answers when it comes to this topic. I’d love some advice though. If anyone has a magic cure for this infliction, please share!

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