I feel like the joy of teaching is regularly sucked out of me, especially during the second semester. What can I do to help myself stay positive and focused?
I am not here to encourage toxic positivity – the idea that any kind of negative emotions are bad. And like Buddha said, “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” From my experience, here are things that I have found to move my mental state from one of hopelessness to optimism and action:
- Name the emotion: Don’t let that emotion dwell inside of you. By putting a name to it, you take power over the emotion rather than it having power over you. Write it down or verbalize it – however you do it, give an honest and clear acknowledgement about how you are feeling.
- Take back 5 minutes of control: Five minutes may not seem like a lot, but find a way to take control over the next five minutes in a way that brings you to the opposite of how you are feeling. Maybe it is listening to music or doing an activity with students that you really love, like Energizers. Sometimes you may find a constraint against what would bring you the most control, like a room full of kids, so pivot and find something that will work for the moment.
- Intentionally bring the joy: Again, we are going to go small. The idea here is that you intentionally plan or incorporate the things that bring you joy into your teaching. This could be using memes or gifs throughout your presentations or using your favorite teaching strategies, like Jigsaw or Choice Boards. If you are the biggest Swiftie on the planet, blast Taylor Swift as students enter the room. These moments are for YOU!
- Create a warm fuzzies board: You know why anchor charts are so impactful? Because of the power of a visual cue. It’s time you make one for yourself centered around the “warm fuzzies” – these are the reminders of why you became a teacher. Maybe they are examples of student work, inspirational quotes, thank you notes, or pictures. This is your personal visual cue that you are doing incredible work.
Teachers are such givers that we sometimes forget to do the small things to keep ourselves centered. Take these moments for yourself – you deserve it.
Happy Teaching and Stay Empowered,