Writing that assessment was the hardest thing I’ve done this summer.
I loved the challenge, love that the district specialist over my subject asked me to go, loved getting to see everyone.
But my anxiety is making me worry that I let my crazy shine through a little too much.
If you’re a professional who suffers from anxiety, please read this and give me some advice!
I have severe anxiety and mild OCD. I’ve had it all my life, and I’ve learned to use it to perform better at the task at hand. I LOVE to meticulously plan things and I’m very efficient at making lots of variables work together- it makes me physically feel calmer - and I enjoy it. This is why I KNOW I’ll be an amazing Curriculum Coordinator one day…I can just see all the different parts in my head like a picture, and figure out a way to make each part work together with the others in my most efficient way. I also feed off of stress - That feeling where you’re on the edge of the precipice, about to fall in? Or you’re ship has crashed and you’re treading water? I do my best work when I’m stressed like that.
This workshop I went to was not well planned. It was inefficiently run. It forced many of us who had to make our assessments from scratch to cut out important standards or testing options simply because there wasn’t enough time to write them in. We were ‘trained’ on day one and two while we were simultaneously trying to create the outline and guide for the assessments. What was needed from us was poorly communicated, so many of us thought we would only turn in 6 documents on the last day……. we had to turn in 11. Some of these documents were 10+ pages long. That’s a lot of work in (if you take out they time they trained us) 2.5 days. Like…an impossible amount of work. There were too many last minute ‘reminders’ (ie. we forgot to tell you this/told you the wrong thing).
My frustration was primarily centered around the fact that this didn’t have to be inefficient - making the training separate from the actual workshop would have solved that (so we wouldn’t be making a test to be used by the entire district while we were leaning how to make the test). [note: this probably wasn’t done due to financial tie-ups]. The other teachers at my group (other secondary Lit teachers) had an assessment to review and improve upon - I had to make mine from scratch. I also had a writing assessment, which takes a lot longer, as a truly valid assessment would have to match the level of difficultly/depth of knowledge of the writing standards (no multiple choice here!) and you can’t simply sit down and do that - it takes some critical thinking and planning. The women in my group were amazing, and just as stressed out as me. But I’m concerned I might have let my worry about not finishing the assessments due to the crazy time constraint/inefficiency show a little too much. Or voice it a little much.
Not with blatant rudeness, but, (and if you have anxiety you’ll know what I’m talking about) a constant vocalization of how little time there was, how the presenters should wrap things up (ie. STOP TALKING) so we could start working, how worried I was about having time to create a reliable and valid assessment that was rigorous to match our new standards and show if our students are college ready. Not quite a panic attack, but almost.
Succeeding in my district is important to me. I want to work in the district office in the next five years, so my ‘teacher image’ is very important. And I’m worried my anxiety and stress came off as crazy or as someone who can’t handle stress (when really I can’t handle inefficiency). I’ve sent thank you notes to all the teachers I worked with (and the two that reviewed my work, and were the reason I was even able to get this 80+ page assessment turned in on time) and my district subject specialist…..but I still worry (constantly) about looking too young, too naive, too unable to handle the situation, too unprofessional - rather than a passionate person who cannot accept unnecessary inefficiency in a professional/high stakes environment, because they want the work they create to be THE BEST.
If you have anxiety and are a professional, what do you do to stop the vocalization in high-anxiety or high-frustration situations? I’m not trying to stop the actual anxiety, but find a way to maintain a 100% professional demeanor. Do I need a wear a rubber band and snap it when I feel the crazy trying to bubble out? Take a note from Dr. Spock and practice kolinahr? Meditate? I don’t want these moments of my anxiety bubbling to the surface in work settings to impact my professional plan for the next 5 years. Does this happen to any of you guys? What do you do to cope?