Last reply 1 year ago
MS and being a Teacher!

Hello, I am new to this website, having recently been introduced to it by my MS Nurse (legend!) and being recently diagnosed (I am 33). I am interested to see how teachers cope with the work/life balance of having MS and physically and mentally being a successful full-time teacher (English secondary teacher to be more specific). I am getting pretty fed up of people suggesting ‘try not to get stressed’ when the word ‘teaching’ right now should mean ‘stress’. Any ideas or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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1 year ago

Hi there @jurassicpark. We teachers are a special breed at the best of times. It’s really, really tough to convey to others in the school workspace what it feels like to be in our positions. Especially when our world is so compartmentalised into regular, structured boxes of time which MS doesnt fit neatly into. There is another in your position called @niccis who I believe was supported to change position to make working life easier. Have your school offered you an Occupational Health assessment? This would be invaluable. Also, have you consulted your union about your diagnosis? They will, I’m sure be a most valuable source of support for you, what with you having a protected characteristic!

The other option could be do look for an alternative school which you might not previously have envisaged. As you know, here is a shortage of teachers so you will be highly marketable. Good luck with yourself and tackling your possibilities. It might not seem like it, but there are lots of avenues out there for you to pursue x

1 year ago

Hi @jurassicpark! @vixen is right, I did end up changing roles and I’m about to change again. I was an Assistant Head when I was diagnosed a couple of years ago and just found I didn’t have the head space to do it anymore. A combination of fatigue, recovering from a big relapse, the usual constant stream of colds and other bugs, brain fog, the stress of the job and the uncertainty of a new diagnosis were enough to convince me to take my foot off the gas a bit. I had to change schools, but I dropped down to a Head of English post at a different school. It was more in my comfort zone, I knew the job and managed much more easily for a while. Over the last year I’ve been in the job though I’ve gradually realised it’s probably still a bit too much of a drain on my resources so I’m going part time in September. The school have been great and said I can keep my head of English role on 4 days a week so I’m going to give that a try first. If I still need more rest then they’ll let me share the job with someone else and dtop to 3 days or even 2.5. I think it’s important to re-assess and make small changes until you find a situation that works for you, rather than anything drastic- and accept that things might change again in the future. Roll with the punches! Teaching is exhausting enough without MS so make sure you look after yourself. Send me a friend request if you want to chat privately.x

1 year ago

I put something elsewhere about how I do things but the main one was to take Wednesday off and work 4 days. It seems to make everything flow better. It is a crazy job for MS especially the actual in front of the class teaching part.

I do lots of energy conserving e,g, I have got a strategy where I have the kids in a u shape desk arrangement (I teach ESOL) and the roll about on a wheelie desk chair to stay sitting down. I also get the kids to be my legs but then they are a lovely willing lot.

It’s hard when there is a crisis but I find if I make myself stop rather than carry on in adrenaline mode when the emergency is calmer I do much better and don’t get to the point of no return with fatigue.

Good advice about not doing anything drastic – small small leads to big

1 year ago

Thank you all so much for these comments and support! It’s an unfortunate relief to know I am not going this alone. I’ve read everything you’ve each said and do appreciate it. I would absolutely love to go to a day less but financially that would not work for me (newly married, new home, hoping for children, husband recently out of the forces) it’s just pure bad timing. I have not told my new school about my diagnosis which was in August 2017, as I started new there in Septmeber after dropping from being Head of English for 3 years at another school. I honestly had a horrific time with staff, paperwork, the SLT etc, as well as battling with, unknown at the time, MS symptoms. I am now back to being a class teacher but the full time days are taking their toll. I’m between a rock and a very hard place as I do love my job and I am aspirational, as I wanted to be an Assisstant Head by now, 7 years in, but I feel the odds are stacked against me now. @strictlysoca your advice at getting the kids to be my legs is great and what I’d do for a wheelie chair! I won’t even go into the extra stress of my school being a split site and teaching in 4 different classrooms, but after what you have all suggested, I think I need to make some small changes here. I appreciate your comments as all of my friends and family don’t quite understand the demands of the job. @vixen and @niccis thank you for the advice!

1 year ago

After daignose I studied kindergarten teaching fir five years at uni.
But gave up on teaching before trying because iknow my ability wouldnt focus right or give my best and it would be unfair for the children.

1 year ago

Hi! I have had “benign” MS for 20 years. I am intending to apply for a School Centred Initial Teacher Training course (KS1 and 2) very soon when I have the necessary experience under my belt. I don’t know what the future has in store for me but I am focussed on doing what I enjoy knowing the kids will benefit and rewarding me at the same time. Like someone else said you can go part time if it gets too much and maybe you could think about primary teaching (less homework!)
I wish you all the best and hope you can find a way over what could be a very minor obstacle.

1 year ago

@jurassicpark it is a dilemma whether to tell people but even though we all know that management often try to drive a coach and horses through the Equality Act – it is there for a reason. Things like teaching In 4 different class rooms and a poorly structured time tablecan be avoided if it’s a reasonable adjustment (and it is reasonable to conserve you). We teachers (even us English teachers lol) are in demand and you are obvs committed to teaching so they need to keep you and keep you well.

Are you in a union?And is the shop steward any good? My instinct is to talk it through with them about disclosure if the steward can be trusted-they willknow about management attitude and give you a steer.

We are a valuable resource and we are doing important work – don’t doubt you can make it to the top however although self management can go a long way but we all need a bit of support.

Ps my wheelie chair is just an ordinary office chair nothing fancy -doesn’t the school have one kicking about? What I really want is one of those saddle chairs to really scoot about 🤪

1 year ago

I am new to this website too and need support of the nice people here. I am not a teacher, so I know I am out of place. It would depend on what type of ms you have as to how much you struggle, mostly. I had to stop working because I have an aggressive PPMS and could not stand(my legs would give out at work) and my legs are so weak, and have other huge problems. I am only 48 yrs old and I was on my feet working for 26 yeears and hiking for hours, birdwatching, etc. If you wver need a friend please message me. I will wish you a lot of luck – my Mom was a teacher and I taught English as a second language in Seoul, S Korea.

1 year ago

I’m a primary school teacher, teaching for over 20 years! I was diagnosed nearly two years ago and am fortunate that the SLT are very supportive and understanding…well as much as they can be! I was only working 3 days when I was diagnosed but now work 3 1/2 days and am a Key Stage leader as well as a subject coordinator! Not sure why I took on the extra work load but did stress that I would just have to see how it goes!
I suffer with fatigue so some days are really tough; memory isn’t great so I do also sometimes struggle with word retrieval but luckily have a fab TA!
You have to be honest with yourself because the job is never ending at the best of times and I find that having people know at work means I can just say…’is it okay if I have a bit longer to do…?’ Also it means that when I need medical appointments it’s not an issue as we are entitled to go!
Take care. X

1 year ago

Thank you @heids that is very helpful. I know the SLT will be supportive. Thanks for all the helpful advice from everyone. It makes me feel a lot less alone!

1 year ago

@jurassicpark – wow you do have a lot on! When was you diagnosed ?
I am 35 and childless and have to think of this. Are you on treatment? Or will you try for children first!? I was diagnosed in July.

It sounds a lot to me new house, marriage, children , job wow all of that makes me shudder !
It’s hard enough for myself just figuring out how I can live with ms and what to do and what to avoid to help myself.
I know they say stress is a biggy , easier said that done but I think it is a important factor in dealing with ms.
At the moment I keep burning out so I think oh haven’t managed that very well – the fatigue side of things . It’s a learning curve I think. Don’t know answers yet and sometimes I think is this symptom a flare up or a relapse or part of ms.

I’m interested to know how others manages their days too!
Do you have regular rest breaks ?

Rachael x

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