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I failed a student today.

As a future teacher, it’s very hard for me to admit that I


wasn’t able to give a student the help and care they needed when that’s all I want
to do. There was nothing more embarrassing than leaving a class in tears
because I was so anxious and overwhelmed, and taking the walk of shame to tell
the office I needed to leave. As I left the school and headed home, I had a lot of
feelings. I was sad for the student I left who apparently had eight different
paraprofessionals working with them in the past two weeks, I was humiliated for
crying in the classroom and in front of one of my bosses, and I was disappointed
in myself for giving up less than thirty minutes into the school day.

When I finally got to sit down and analyze what happened, I realized that it wasn’t
necessarily a bad decision for me to go home. What kind of role model to these
kids and advocate for mental health would I be if I didn’t listen to my body and
take care of myself? I wasn’t in a good headspace, and I couldn’t bring myself to
put on a happy face and fake it until the end of the school day. My anxiety had
taken ahold of me, and I could tell it wasn’t going to let go if I stayed there any
longer. I’m still disappointed that the day didn’t go as planned, but I know that if I
had stayed at school, I would’ve been no help to the student or to myself.

Something I haven’t thought too heavily about is how my anxiety and depression
will affect my teaching. I’m thankful that I’m starting my career in a time where
there is much more acknowledgment of the significance of mental health than
there has been in the past. However, it’s frustrating to still see people, myself
included, dismiss the thought of taking mental health days.​ ​People take days off
when they feel too physically ill to do their job, so why does it feel different to take
days off when you feel too mentally ill?

There are a lot of assumptions that can be made about one's mental health,
including my personal favorites: “this is just a phase” and “you could control this if
you tried harder”. These assumptions are obviously hurtful to people that struggle
with mental health issues and, in most cases, aren’t true. Speaking from
experience, a mental illness can be just as debilitating as a physical illness. The
fear of opening up about mental illness and being judged is a reason that I (and
I’m sure many others) have tried to stay away from taking mental health days in
the past. I don’t like to be perceived as a weak person. Something that I’m
learning through therapy is that sometimes strength is knowing you can’t always
be strong. Some people without mental health problems won’t be able to realize
the effect mental illness can have unless we’re open about our struggles. A big
way to fight the stigma around mental health and help people further understand
is to talk about mental illness. Ask questions, educate others, ask for help, be
compassionate towards those who are struggling, etc. A lot of good can come
from treating mental illness like what it is: an illness. Know that it is 100% valid to
take a mental health day if it’s needed.

I’m very thankful for the supportive and understanding faculty, staff, students,
and volunteers that I work with. There isn't a better place than Goffstown to have
grown up and to be able to further my teaching experiences. I can’t wait to go to
my next subbing placement on Friday in a better headspace and absolutely rock
it!

I failed a student today. This was not the first time, and it won’t be the last time.
Teaching isn’t about being perfect. Life isn’t about being perfect. You have to
take risks, learn from experiences, and know when you’ve reached your limit.
Rest up, take a deep breath, and try again.