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Hard/stressful decision

Background: at the end of 2018 I had a third year teaching prac which was awful. I'm pretty sure you could call the way the mentor teacher treated me bullying. I won't go into all the details but it was really bad. I hadn't been going well before the prac either. I ended up intensely suicidal and withdrew from the unit which was an automatic fail. Then there was a big thing where a committee decided I could have one more chance to attempt the unit and had to do it in the next teaching period. So much pressure aah. When it came round to enrolling for it again I wasn't ready so I tried contacting the appropriate people to put off doing the unit again. They never responded. So I decided to quit the course (I'd always had a difficult time at uni and was no longer convinced I even wanted to be a teacher and definitely wasn't up to the prac). Then they started trying to bargain to get me to stay and said I could defer. So they sent me an email saying I'd deferred until semester 2 2020 and had to do the prac unit that semester to continue with the course.


Still unpleasant pressure, but I'm in a better place now and felt I could handle a prac, plus covid means I'm not working at all at the moment so it's probably a good use of my time chipping away at a degree that will be of some value and give me more options, and I could theoretically finish it by the end of next year. Plus this time I've been able to speak with the disability supports place and have accommodations which means hopefully I'd have a much better experience of uni.


Something else that's been going on is I applied for a program that would help me connect with other autistic people who are wanting to create positive change, develop leadership skills and learn to/ begin leading community projects. It sounds like an amazing opportunity in an area I'm passionate about. There were limited places and I got in.


But because of covid they've changed the dates. Now it clashes with the prac I was told I have to do at this time to continue my degree. It can't change to fit around my prac, because the in person part of it (which involves me going interstate) is right in the middle of it.


I'm so stressed and unsure what to do. The program is a wonderful chance to grow in areas I care about, and I don't know if I'll get this particular chance again. I want to do it. But cutting off my chances of finishing a degree I've put a lot of time into and already have a debt from doesn't seem wise. But I was all ready to quit it a year ago. And honestly it's just covid that really helped me make the decision to go back this semester, I don't know if I would've otherwise. But I am in a position where I feel like I could go back, and it could theoretically be a much better experience now I've got some support from the disability support services.


I can and will contact someone from uni to see if they can be flexible, but I don't think they will. And I don't really even know who to contact. I mean I've got a guess I'll go with and they'll probably tell me who I should contact if it's not them. My hopes really aren't high though.


I've gotta tell the leadership program if I'm accepting my place by June 1. Aargh this is hard.


Interested in hearing what other people would do if they were in my situation?

Re: Hard/stressful decision

Hey @Anonymous , 


That sounds like such a tricky decision to have to make! The leadership program sounds like an amazing opportunity for you, congratulations on being selected! It sounds like an incredible initiative. 


My first suggestion would probably be to contact the uni to see if they're able to be flexible ith when you do your teaching prac - is it offered every semester, or just once a year? I would definitely pursue that first, with only a year or so to go in your course I'm sure they would be sorry to lose you. 


How often is the leadership program offered? Do you think there's a chance that you'd be able to defer your position in the program and do it later in the year, or next year, instead? 


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Re: Hard/stressful decision

Thank you @Janine-RO 


I've now contacted uni. I spoke to a student services person who looked through my records and suggested emailing the unit coordinator outlining the situation and why the training would be valuable for me as an education student, and asking if I could do the unit next year (it's only offered once a year). I've done that now. One issue is that I had this same problem a year ago when I just couldn't do the prac, and was told to contact that same person. She didn't respond, despite multiple emails and also calling and leaving messages over weeks. So I applied to discontinue (then someone called me and got me to defer instead). I told the person on the phone that and she gave me another email for someone else in case she doesn't respond that I cc'd in. I don't know how useful that would be.


I'm not really expecting them to be cooperative, but I hope they are.


I also emailed back the program (totally agree btw, it does sound amazing), letting them know what's happening and asking for possible flexibility with the RSVP date if uni is unreliable getting back to me. And also asking if I could join the next program (which is I believe a yearly thing but it might not be able to run every year. Also this one's running from June- March) or at least reapply.


So I guess now I'm just waiting for more information...


Re: Hard/stressful decision

Got a reply back from the program which wasn't very reassuring and didn't really give me more information... It thanked me for keeping them in the loop, said about the date (for when to let them know by) that their difficulty is having a very tight timeline with modules starting a week after that date but to let them know where I'm up to on Monday and we could go from there, and didn't acknowledge the question about doing or applying for the program next year.


Aah, so frustrating. Like I get that covid complicates things but I feel like if you drastically change the dates you should make sure people have time to discuss it with other people and make arrangements before needing an answer.


Now I'm thinking I'm probably not going to give up uni for this if that's what it comes to. I think receiving a not-super-helpful email from them made me a little less starry-eyed about the program. I hope uni replies promptly that I can do the prac another time, or just replies promptly at all so I can make an informed decision. I doubt they will though, and it would be really annoying to say no to the program and then in a couple of weeks have uni tell me it's fine to do the prac another time.

Re: Hard/stressful decision

Hello @Anonymous, I am sorry to hear that you have been waiting for a long to hear back about the program. It sounds like their reply has not been too helpful, and that it has maybe caused you to be a bit more uncertain than before. That must be a really difficult situation to be in! I hope that you are able to hear back from your uni soon about rescheduling the prac, hopefully they can arrange that so you are able to participate in the program and the prac!

I think it was a good idea to CC in another person in your email just you don't receive a reply in time! I completely understand how hard it can be waiting for results/decisions about uni. For some reason, all unis tend to take a while to respond Smiley Sad I hope that you hear some good news soon though, fingers crossed!

Re: Hard/stressful decision

An update on things...


It's a bureaucratic nightmare trying to get an answer from uni. But they are being somewhat responsive. Student services sent me to plead my case to the unit coordinator who said it was student services decision, who I went back to and they said actually it was some committee's decision and so I forwarded my case plead-y email on to student services who have now passed it on to that committee and marked it urgent.


And I'm also stressed about this bringing up to lots of people at uni that I failed that unit once and have already not taken it when I was supposed to and am asking to put it off again. And it's bringing up to them that I'm autistic which I worry about stigma/judgement for. And it's bringing back memories of a very painful time in my life (that prac the first time).


Meanwhile I'm keeping the leadership program up to date with it and we're not sure if they can wait for uni to make a decision, so I might be going through all this for nothing.


And my parents were visiting the last few days which was stressful and at times distressing. And made it hard to keep in touch with the autism leadership program because I'm not out to them as autistic.


Also I'm pretty overwhelmed by trying to complete a cert 3 over the next few weeks and it's not straightforward.


I hope I can put the prac off till next year. So I can do this program (which it'd probably be much harder to do in final year of uni and I don't know if circumstances will allow for it in subsequent years). But also because doing 1 and a half years of uni over 2 and a half years sounds much more manageable (especially while working and potentially doing other study/training). And also going back to a daunting prac sounds better when I've eased back into uni (refamiliarised with lesson plans and pedagogy and having done all the other 3rd year units) sounds a lot easier than being graded on a full time teaching prac after a year and a half with no involvement with that degree.

Re: Hard/stressful decision

I am really glad to hear that your case is moving forward @Anonymous, even if it is moving forward slowly. You've done a super fantastic job at advocating for yourself, and I think it's important to reflect on everything you've done to support yourself Heart


How are you feeling now that your parents are gone? Have you had a bit more room to breathe since then/have you been able to get back in contact with the Autism Leadership program?


I also think it's a brilliant idea to split up your student workload if you are feeling overwhelmed with study at the moment. Often we can feel obliged to get through study as quickly as possible, even if it isn't the most productive way for us to learn. I know a lot of people who have dropped their course load to 3 units/part time, or even some who have deferred, and I don't know anyone who regrets their decision. It also makes a lot of sense that you want to work your way back into the swing of things after having some time away. 

Re: Hard/stressful decision

Hi @Anonymous that sounds like an absolute pain being so tied up in date changes and clashes and uni red tape. I hear you - I kind of think uni's just don't really train anyone to answer enough questions and it gets handballed around until you get the right person! I do really hope you've reached the right people now though and they're able to give you some traction for change.

It's disappointing the leadership program haven't been as responsive as you'd like, especially as you have mentioned (and they seem to be!) a great opportunity for you to grow and develop!

Are you feeling a little less stressed by your parents' visit and how busy you are right now? It sounds like a busy and stressful time for you! Are you able to do any small acts of self care?


Re: Hard/stressful decision

Thanks @JazzInMay @Andrea-RO  🙂


Things have been a bit calmer since my parents left. Still waiting to hear from uni but the program is more seeming to get it and hoping I can sort it out and waiting until next week.


I've now got another guest staying (a friend) which I'm also finding quite stressful.


I'm getting pretty close to finished with my Cert 3 which is nice. And I received an adorable little crocheted unicorn in the mail which is brightening up my study area and makes me happy.

Re: Hard/stressful decision

@Anonymous Hello! This sounds so stressful and like a perfect storm of bureaucratic BS and human incompetency and unkindness. I really feel for you. Have you considered asking the disability service at uni to help advocate for you? Perhaps it could be helpful to forward them any ongoing email chains about negotiating prac and see if they can assist you.


I'm sorry to hear you were treated so badly on your third year teaching prac. I can only imagine how awful that must have been. Even without being bullied, prac is a hard experience that demands so much grit. It was by far the most challenging time of my time as a nursing student at uni. Well done on getting through such tough times and making the difficult decision to try to return to your studies. 


If I were in your situation, I think I would prioritise uni given not only your considerable investment in it already, but also given that a teaching degree would ultimately open many more doors for you. It sounds like you are an assertive and intelligent individual with a great drive to grow in areas you care about... Intuition suggests that even if the autism program falls through this time, you will find more opportunities elsewhere or at another time in the future.