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Calentin Calentin is offline
Joined: Jul 2017
Posts: 2
New Member

Joined: Jul 2017
Posts: 2
New Member
How should a new teacher with Tourette Syndrome break the ice
Old 07-24-2017, 06:59 PM
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I have had motor and vocal tics (due to Tourette Syndrome) since I was a child, and began actively suppressing them when I was in middle school, which was the same time they worsened and became more aggressive. I am very self-conscious of my condition; Brad Cohen is a man with Tourette's who started teaching 2nd grade in the 1990s, and is now a motivational speaker and principal in Georgia. His story (and the movie based on his life, "Front of the Class") was very inspirational to me and I have watched it several times and listened to many of his speeches. Nevertheless, now that I have actually been offered a position, and am stressed about starting next month and having to plan out the next year, my anxiety and tics are becoming out-of-control. I was off of medication for a few months, but I saw my physician last week to get back on solely for the purpose of this job because of how much stress it is causing.

In addition to the physical toll that tics have taken on my body, I am very concerned about the mental burden of feeling the need to suppress my tics in front of my students and co-workers. I know that the proper, healthy thing to do would be to be open and honest about my condition as Brad Cohen is, but that is very difficult for me to do. It is easy to say "I am going to be open and honest with my students and co-workers," but when time actually comes, I know I will have a VERY hard time actually disclosing my condition. I don't think I can suppress my tics for an entire year, seeing students day in and day out, I think they will begin to pick up on my condition sooner rather than later. I've been working as a substitute teacher for the past year, but it is easy to suppress my tics when I am always seeing different students for no more than an hour, and therefore never really get to know them well.

My principal and assistant principal do not know about my condition, but they have noticed the tics, because in the interview and my planning meeting with them today, my anxiety led to an outburst of tics and the Principal told me to calm down and take a deep breath (i.e. he thinks I am just fidgety and anxious because I am nervous about my first year).

How does the age and grade level of the students impact how they will view Tourette's? It might be easy to disclose this condition to curious 2nd graders (as Brad Cohen did, for example), but at the middle school level? Stereotypes suggest middle school is a difficult time for both students and even "normal" (without disability) teachers.

Last edited by Calentin; 07-25-2017 at 03:13 AM..
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