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Tag Archives: PTSD

Five jobs—includes teachers—that come with the threat of regret

Taylor Dupuy writing for Monster.com listed five jobs that are likely to leave people disappointed. Number three on the list was Secondary School Teachers—my job for twenty-seven of the thirty years I was in the classroom.

Regret also means: anguish; annoyance; bitterness; disappointment; discomfort, dissatisfaction; etc.  All emotions I felt one or more times during my thirty years in the classroom.

Dupuy says: “would-be teachers often don’t fully understand what the job involves until after they have started.”

Teachers starting out—often naïve idealists who think they’re going to make a big difference—have no idea of the paperwork required of an educator “as well as the unending parent interventions and the reluctance of students to do the work. [They don’t] realize the politics of working in a secondary school system.”

The challenges teachers face is daunting: “The education profession is often marred by a lack of resources, dwindling support, and modest salaries … teachers must simultaneously parent and counsel all while navigating the stressful terrain often found in the bureaucracy of school districts.”

This risky environment may also explain why teachers have a high risk of PTSD. “The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder estimates 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, with women twice as likely as men to have PTSD.”

Due to the reality of what happens in the public school classroom, teachers are at a higher risk of PTSD. Joel Hood (Chicago Tribune/MCT) reported: “teachers may be more susceptible than most, … particularly those in tough, urban schools where violence is commonplace … (and) many teachers who suffer from PTSD see their careers significantly altered.”

The American Society for Ethics in Education says, “post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) appears to impact a significant number of teachers in our schools.”

How many teachers might suffer from PTSD? Teresa McIntyre, a psychology research professor at the University of Houston says, “Teachers don’t have one or two traumatic events; it’s a chronic daily stress that accumulates over days and months and years. It’s pretty equivalent in other high-risk occupations.”

In a pilot study conducted of 50 teachers in four Houston-area middle schools, Ms. McIntyre found as many as one in three teachers in the Houston district were “significantly stressed,” with symptoms ranging from concentration problems, fatigue and sleep problems.

If one in three teachers have PTSD symptoms, that means 33% compared to the national average of 7.8%. How does this compare to combat veterans? The findings from the NVVR Study (National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study) commissioned by the government in the 1980s initially found that for “Vietnam theater veterans” 15% of men had PTSD at the time of the study and 30% of men had PTSD at some point in their life … [and] at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or Depression. (Veterans and PTSD)

A National Survey of Violence Against Teachers reported: “Teacher victimization was examined across all teachers surveyed (see Table 1). Results indicate that approximately half (50.9%; n = 2,410) of all teachers surveyed reported at least one form of victimization within the current or previous year. Nearly half of all teachers experienced at least one harassment offense, followed by over one-third experiencing property offenses, and over one-quarter reporting physical attacks. Moreover, 1 in 5 teachers reported being victimized at least once within all three offense domains.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.

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Wet Dreams and Adolescent Fantasies

This teacher had a bad case of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The first thing I saw were Playboy centerfolds hanging from the ceiling. The walls were covered with blotches of paint and clay. Any art supplies that weren’t on the ceiling, walls or blackboard were smeared on the floor. The regular teacher often left the room to smoke cigarettes leaving the kids unsupervised.

I was offered a long-term position to the end of the school year. I accepted, and the VP gave me the room key and replaced the art supplies the kids had destroyed. I spent the weekend cleaning the mess.

After the first few days on the job, the kids started calling me “Sergeant”.  That’s because I ran the class like a Marine Corps drill instructor but without the profanity and insults. The troublemakers hated me. No student liked the discipline, and one of the girls complained to her dad that I was mean and didn’t know anything about art. He demanded a parent conference.

After school the next day, the father walked in with his daughter right behind him.  I could tell from his body language that his had convinced him that I had to go. That’s when I saw the United States Marine Corps tattoo on his right forearm.

Continued in Part 4, Semper Fidelis—Always Faithful. The Few. The Proud
If you didn’t start reading this four part series with “It’s the Parents, Stupid“, click here

 

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It’s the Parents, Stupid

I read this post on Jupdi Blogs and thought, “Bull Shit!”  It’s too easy to blame American teachers when kids don’t learn. When our daughter was a senior in a public high school, she had maybe two bad teachers in the thirteen years she’s been in school.

I heard our daughter’s complaints, so I know.

She also had many good teachers. So, explain how she managed to earn nothing but As and a 4.66 GPA then be accepted to Stanford where she’s now a student.

She was also ranked in the top 4% for her graduating class and was guaranteed acceptance at the University of California, Davis. How did she do that?

It’s the parents, stupid, and the real problem is a culture that looks for scapegoats. It’s not a few bad teachers.

In every profession, there are workers that do a poor job and teaching is no different. When there is a poor teacher, instead of complaining, do what we did—teach your child at home or hire a tutor for that subject.

Three professions suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) — combat soldiers, public school teachers and airport flight controllers. The real problem is often the stress caused from parents with attitudes like the author of the post at Jupdi Blogs.

Discover Having Sex With Elephants

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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The Raptor and the Rats

One of the raptors ratted me out, and Grendel called me to his office to sizzle me in his hot seat. He yelled at me for going against Sauron’s orders. He moved closer until I could smell the dead flesh of vulchers and cigarettes on his breath.  He demanded that I admit guilt. I suspected the motive was grade inflation.

I stared at his jugular wondering how fast it would take to tear it out with my teeth. Like Beowulf, I wanted to destroy the monster. To my dismay, as my PTSD was getting ready to launch, the VP, who was there to witness this interrogation, stepped forward and stopped us. 

I think she saw the hunger in my eyes.

After school, she came into the teacher’s lounge, as I was getting ready to leave campus.  We were alone.  She looked around with a tense expression and made sure the hall leading to the staff lounge was empty.

Then she leaned closer and whispered. “You were right.”  And she quit a few weeks later to accept a position in another school district abandoning us to the beast.

Damn! Talk about the rats leaving the ship. Soon, teachers started clambering down the ropes to escape.

Part three of three
Back to part one

See more about Grendel here.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart.

 

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Teaching or Writing with Pain, Pollution and People – Part 1/4

It’s difficult to teach or write when I’m gasping for air and exploding my sinus.

When I was still teaching (1975 – 2005) there were years when walking into the empty classroom in the morning made me sick—and no, I wasn’t allergic to my students.

Then I retired from teaching (but not from life), and I have been free of wheezy lungs and sinus infections that always arrived with the start of each school year when I worked in those old buildings at the high school where I taught. Have you heard of sick building syndrome?

I lived it.

This new, peaceful world changed when workers came with power tools and mud-caked boots.

I should have fled, but I stayed at my computer as a stupid, stubborn, former United States Marine would.

My office has three doors. One that leads to to rest of the house and one that opens to the outside.

Then there is the door that opens to the space under the second story.

Once under the house, that crew drilled into the foundation, pounded, cut and tracked dirt from room to room—always in my office.

I had trouble concentrating. I suffered memory loss. Plastic tarps covered most of the furniture, and I couldn’t find things.

Continued in Teaching or Writing with Pain, Pollution and People – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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