Ask Jigsaw: Panicking that I’ve failed my course

Ask Jigsaw: Panicking that I’ve failed my course

Friday, 17 July 2020

I’m in final year of my teaching degree, and really afraid that I’ve failed my last placement. It really knocked my confidence because the inspectors were really harsh after lessons that actually went really well. I had the worst panic attacks I’ve ever experienced after those inspections.

On top of the fear of failing and having the repeat another placement next year and not graduating with my friends in September, I’m not even sure that I want to be a teacher anymore because of how terrible the inspectors made me feel about myself.

One of my assignments involves reflecting on that placement, and it brought back up all those feelings of fear and failure. How do I deal with this fear of the possibility that I’ve failed while waiting for results in June, and if I have failed, how do I get over this anxiety around teaching? 


Dear Rewind,

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge all of the hard work and dedication that went into getting to your final year in teaching and doing placements. Regardless of the outcome, your effort and impact on your students is something to recognise.

Jigsaw Clinician
Acknowledge that you did your best in the situation that you were in.

It can be really difficult to have the end of such a long journey feel uncertain or have your experience tainted by other people’s comments.  It sounds like your fear of failure has impacted how you view yourself and your options going forward. It can be helpful to acknowledge that you did your best in the situation that you were in, without judgement, just acceptance.

Panic attacks

Panic attacks can happen when we struggle to manage our anxiety. They often come from creating “what if” scenarios, and then telling ourselves that we won’t be able to cope when these imagined situations happen (like repeating a year, graduation or changed career paths). It’s important to recognize the story that you’re telling yourself. Is this story helpful? Is it making things worse? Is it something that I have control over right now? What can I do to change this narrative?


While waiting for the results in June, this brain drain exercise might be helpful if you find yourself overthinking. Another way to pause these anxious thoughts can be to think about what you would say to a friend or student who was having these thoughts. You’d probably be reassuring and remind them of all their strengths.

Next steps

Once you receive the outcome, you can ask questions about the marking to understand the decision. Although tough, it will help you to learn and be an even better teacher. If you do feel that the final grade was unfair, find out about the options available to you, for example repeating the year or placement, or appealing the decision. There may be supports available in the university to help students progress.

Although it’s understandable that we focus on the negatives of a situation, it can be helpful to try and find a different way of viewing it. For example, having this experience may help you relate better to your future students as you have experienced the stress of assessment and the power of words when giving feedback.

Wishing you the best of luck and we have our fingers crossed for you!

Take care,

Dan, Jigsaw Clinician

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