Last year, a major red flag was forgetting my formal observation by my principal. I received a phone call informing me that I had missed my pre-observation meeting the previous period, and that I could come the following period. In a panic, I threw a lesson together. It wasn't my best observation, needless to say, and I had a panic attack in the post observation meeting, melting down and crying. Such behavior embarrasses me, but I truly cannot control it.
These days, on the Strattera, I am tremendously calmer. True anxiety is infrequent, and panic very rare. I had my informal observation on Wednesday; it was somewhat of a surprise, because I was given (as per the rules) a two week window. I have three preps (12R, 12AP, 9R) and there was no way I could prepare two weeks' worth of amazing lessons for all three levels. I felt okay about it, though, and I felt that the lesson went well. I was really proud of the kids and how they obviously went out of their way to participate enthusiastically, though the material wasn't easy.
The problem? First, I forgot to consult the rubric. I was so centered on Common Core Standards and my general idea of that; checking the APPR rubric completely slipped my mind. This is the kind of important detail that I have a tendency to overlook. I felt increasingly frustrated as the evaluation progressed, because my lesson did not fit the boxes the way it was supposed to. I had a solid rationale behind it, I was happy with the learner outcomes, yet I felt like I was a disappointment. I didn't fit the boxes, and I felt my frustration mounting and panic begin to rise. A tear or two leaked out and I became desperate to not lose it. However, the harder I tried, the worse it became, until it ended and I was crying.
I had to go to the next class and my eyes continued to leak for a good part of the period. I thought about how to approach it, and I was honest, as I was when it happened last year. I told my students that I had had a panic attack and that the tears were the residuals. A number of students spoke about their own experiences with anxiety and panic. I would rather reveal my humanity than lie. Even if I appear vulnerable or look foolish, I am honest.
I realized as I thought about what happened on my way home that I melted down because I was so frustrated. I know that I'm a good teacher, and so does my principal. My lesson not fitting the boxes really is a metaphor for much of my life. I've never fit in the boxes the way I'm supposed to, and it can be so frustrating and painful. Though I regard my differences as the source of many of my greatest strengths, they are also the source of many of my greatest weaknesses - as a person, teacher, parent, partner, friend, etc.
Additionally, I've had added stress over the past two weeks with the holidays, ongoing health issues (the gastroparesis seems to be worsening, and I've had several bezoars), and child challenges. I'm trying not to focus on how upset I am over this and instead acknowledge why this happened as well as how well I have been coping with life over the past few months.
This was also a good reminder that medication for ADHD, while immensely helpful, is not a cure.
It's humbling. I can't express to my principal or most of my coworkers how I function differently, how even simple lesson planning is a challenge. I am usually positive and focus on celebrating differences, but tonight I just feel frustrated, angry, sad, and anxious. Next week is going to be a high stress week as well. But I'm going to go to bed early tonight, wake up in a better frame of mind tomorrow, and live in the moment.