Contentment in Mission
by Brooke Schulte Olivieri
Life is too short to spend your work life doing something you don’t enjoy. If you don’t enjoy teaching who you are teaching: 1) Find a way to enjoy it more, or 2) Find something else to do. Our children are our most important assets and only deserve teachers who want to teach them. At some point we have all complained about our jobs. But truth lies in the fact that there are many other jobs much less enjoyable and rewarding than teaching. For many teaching is a dream job: for the vacation time, for the flexibility, creativity, opportunity to be with young people, opportunities to laugh and feel young, the health benefits, weekends off, days pass quickly, dependable hours, always learning something new, and (if you lead a empowered classroom) you are revered and respected.
The truth is that MANY professionals would gladly switch places with us in a moment’s notice. Is there someone at your school who is grumpy in the morning? Do you sometimes avoid them, just so your morning isn’t poisoned by their nasty attitude? You better believe that students feel the same ways about us. Each morning as you greet your students at the door, do you make a point to acknowledge them with a smile? It is very important to them that you are happy to have them in your class. They need this reassurance. The same thing holds true if they were absent. It’s very important that you let them know that they were missed. This will not only make them feel valued, but will help them to value school and their attendance even more. If you don’t care, they won’t either. But if they sense that you care, they will begin to care too. At times, in Title I schools there are parents who did not have a positive school experience or have substance abuse issues and they do not help to develop the intrinsic motivation to go to school and get a good education. As a result, it is up to the teacher to develop this motivation, or the child will not have it.
Every child in your class deserves to have their needs met, no matter what their needs are or what their personality is like.
Our advice for members of the network is…
- Speak with integrity about your teaching position. Start focusing more on what you DO like about your job rather than what you don’t like. Start focusing on what is going right, rather than what is going wrong. Start focusing on what you have control over, with your main focus always on student engagement and learning.
- Tell your students that you enjoy teaching them. This will renew their fulfillment in being part of your class. It will also improve the classroom environment and make them want to return and learn in your class. When you show that you care about and love what you do, they will do the same.
- Make every student in your class feel valued. If they feel that you care, they will start to care.
- Anytime you are having a tough day… start reminding yourself of why you are grateful for your job, making statements about your favorite parts of your job.
- Start focusing on what you DO like about each student, rather than what you don’t like. You can also do this for colleagues, administration and the parents of your students.
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