Come a few days before the new school year begins, most teachers I know are excited about the new school year that lies ahead of us. We are eager to meet the new students that will walk through our classroom door (and maybe a bit anxious about the ones we may already know a little (or a lot) about). We are enthusiastic about trying new activities and ideas that we have stayed up all night pinning on Pinterest. And regardless of how last year began or ended, we have hope that this year will be different, and for many of us, that means better.
As we progress throughout the year however, some of these joyous feelings die and die hard, and are masked with feelings of burnt out-ness (Is that even a word? If it’s not, I’m sure we can all create a definition for it). We are overwhelmed with paper work, meetings, standards, tests, behaviors from students we cannot always manage or change, our own personal lives, and a plethora of other grievances and grumbles that can be heard from the teachers’ lounge.
One thing you never hear is teachers saying they want to quit teaching. I bet a lot of us think it though.
Have you ever considered quitting your teaching job? Are you dreading going back to work in a few weeks? Do you struggle with a work/life balance? Did you end your year physically and mentally drained? Are you tired of drowning in an ocean of paper work? Are parents over-bearing or perhaps unavailable? Are you anxious about test scores? Do your administrators support you as you need them to? Are your kids out of control? Sometimes it’s not just the students so I must ask, are your co-workers out of control? Do you simply feel burnt out?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. I too have struggled with continuing to stay in this profession.
As there are many reasons teachers are pushed to the limit and consider quitting, many actually do. 40- 50% of teachers quit after 5 years of teaching according to a 2003 study done by Richard Ingersoll. While these numbers may be skewed, I’m sure they hold true to some schools and districts in our nation. However, a more recent study that finished in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics suggests that 17% of teachers quit after 5 years. Nevertheless, I am willing to bet that a much larger percentage of teachers have considered quitting the profession than either of these studies show.
Whether you are considering quitting teaching or not, but planning to be in a classroom come the first day of school, I ask, do you still have that teacher passion and excitement you had when you first started teaching? If you do not, spending too much time here can become dangerous. It can damage your mindset, and hinder you from growing and being the best teacher you can be. If you desire to continue growing to be or become the best you can be, it behooves you to continue doing the things you’ve always done.
I am a self-proclaimed Renewed Teacher. I’ve pushed myself to the limits of my potential, and I had to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, and try different things to rekindle my passion for teaching.
Here are my top 5 tips:
- Continueto learn.
- Watch the super teacher movies.
- Take time for yourself and family and friends.
- Commit to being positive and changing your mindset.
- Start a blog.
Continue to Learn
This is paramount for me. I simply cannot expect my students to want to learn, if I do not show them that I myself practice what I preach (or should I say teach???). If you are not already Nationally Board Certified, look into it. I am a current candidate and have learned much about my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. Let me just say, you learn a lot about yourself when you see a videotape of yourself. This is one of the best motivators I have experienced so far, and whether I become certified the first time around or not, I know that I have learned and gained some invaluable knowledge and experiences that will continue to contribute to my teaching ability.
Attend conferences (locally or nationally). Try to at least once a year. Maybe your school or district will even cover the expenses or at least a portion of the cost! Each time I attend one, I have another trick in my bag to use with my students, and I feel a surge of energy. Sometimes its short lived, but the experience is worth a lifetime.
Lastly, pick up a book or an audio book (if you do not have time in your schedule to sit and read) or watch a podcast. I am currently reading Angela Watson’s book Awakened, and the first chapter felt like she was talking about me. I plan to read “Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day…No Matter What,” by Angela Watson next. She is a former teacher that simply “Gets it.”
Take Time for Yourself and Family and Friends
Invest in life experiences outside of teaching. Do so by yourself, with family, and with friends. These non-work related happenings make you a more interesting person. They aid in developing that work/life balance we all want to achieve.
As mentioned above, read a book (not related to work), go to the gym and take a class, travel, go get a massage, or pick up a new hobby. I have a really good friend who is now a principal that I have learned this from. She is always trying something new for herself, and later including her family and friends. She always seems happy because she always has something to look forward to. I like that idea.
Commit to Being Positive and Changing Your Mindset
According to Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist and author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success…” there are two types of mindsets. A growth mindset is where people believe their innermost basic qualities such as intelligent or talent can be improved upon by hard work and dedication. The basics are just the baseline. On the other hand, a fixed mindset is where people believe their basic qualities are fixed and there no room for change. They feel that talent, in and of itself, with little to no effort, create success.
What is your current mindset? Is it contributing positively or negatively to your personal and/or professional life? Does your mindset effect what you feel, think, and believe to be true about your teaching experience or your students? Depending on your own current mindset, being positive may be extremely easy or particularly problematic for you to achieve. I recommend http://mindsetonline.com/, as well as Angela Watson’s book “Awakened” to help you discover ways to aid in changing your mindset if that is a goal for you. To determine your mindset, click on the attached link: http://mindsetonline.com/testyourmindset/step1.php.
Watch the Super Hero Teacher Movies
To Sir with Love, The Ron Clark Story, The Marva Collins Story, Freedom Writers, Lean on Me, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, The George McKenna Story, Matilda, Bad Teacher (LOL!)…My list could go on and on. I am a teacher movie fan! If you name it, chances are, I have seen it, and if I haven’t, I will watch it (any recommendations?).
What do I love so much about teacher movies? They echo the belief that we as teachers can and do make a differences in the lives of our students. To me, that is inspiring and a reminder of why I chose this profession in the first place. These movies emphasize the idea that if we show our kids that we care about and respect them, they will begin to understand and value what we are trying to teach them. Super Hero Teacher Movies support our strongly held conviction that we can make a positive change in the lives of our pupils. Don’t get me wrong, teacher movies have their faults, but that’s a different blog post for a different day.
So pick a teacher movie and get inspired. I will be watching School of Life with Ryan Reynolds later this week. What will you be watching?
Start a Blog
Okay, so I know I just started this blog a minute ago, but I have been thinking about it for two years. I have procrastinated for two whole years! (I’ll talk more on that in a different post.) By starting a blog, you are taking control of your own professional development. You are taking time to document your reflections not only on what you teach, how you teach it, and why you teach it that way, but also the thoughts that go through your head before, during, and after you teach it. Many teachers hate school and/or district led PD sessions because they seem irrelevant. By starting a blog, you are in control of the time, the audience you attract, and the content you share. Speaking of content, you open up doors to share successful ideas, projects, lessons, and other resources 24/7/365. This allows you to serve others, and I don’t know many, if any teachers, that do not want to help current and future teachers. With this in mind, blogs are a great way to meet teacher-friends and interact with teachers that may or may not be like you. If you enjoy writing, and can’t find a reason or the time to do so, a blog is a great excuse…I mean the perfect place to start. It’s an opportunity for growth.
As we grow and continue to renew our passion for teaching, please share your thoughts and experiences. Have you ever considered quitting teaching? What pushed you to consider it? What made you reconsider?
Have a great day, and until next time, Happy Teaching! 🙂