Our story today comes from Visalia, CA, where a teacher apparently had two mental breakdowns this week. The nature of the first was not entirely clear from reports, but the second saw her declaring that it was “hair cut day”, running around with scissors and cutting students’ hair while singing the Star Spangled Banner. The story is here. It’s obvious that this behavior cannot be permitted, but it does bring up another question: What do we do when teachers have a nervous breakdown?
Most people I know have a story from their primary education of a teacher who “lost it” and did something strange. One friend of mine tells of a teacher who ran out of the classroom crying and never returned, while there were rumors that a fourth grade teacher at my school threatened a student and left teaching shortly thereafter. Though there’s no way of knowing which of these stories actually happened, it’s clear from the anecdotal evidence that it’s not all that uncommon for people to have a teacher at their school suffer a nervous breakdown on the job.
So, what do we do when something like this happens? As with so many things, we’re stuck reacting to the situation and making the best of it. In the case of the haircutting woman, the students fled the room and sought help at the school office. Given that this teacher had a mental breakdown, but wasn’t dangerous, this seems fine.
More importantly, what can we do to stop this from happening in the first place? To me, the answer is “not much.” Though teaching is a stressful job, I don’t think that there’s any way that we can make it less so without making everybody’s workload much less. Until this happens, we can only hope that we’re not the next one to do this.