Thursday, January 23, 2014

Educators: Staying Positive in Trying Times

"If I had twenty-nine years of teaching ahead of me, I think I would go ahead and shoot myself," exclaims a fellow colleague.

"Gee, that's inspiring, " I say only to myself, but then laugh along with her knowing that would just be easier.

 As a career switcher in my mid-thirties, I'm thankful I've lived long enough to know the importance of tuning out this type of negativity. But, sometimes, I think, "Was this the worst time to enter the teaching profession? Has it always been like this?"

Headlines swarm with news of teachers exclaiming how they can't take it anymore, the hypocrisy of education and government. They exclaim, "I, quit!" Other veteran teachers hear their cries and rapidly pass on their messages through the social media grapevine. As a new teacher, I hear and see this frustration. The heavy weight of it presses against me, and I feel suffocated. No, this is not why I entered teaching.

So, how can teachers stay positive despite all the negativity out there right now.

First, we must all remember to be grateful to have employment. The economy stinks, and no matter how burnt out or hurt you feel presently, please know having no employment hurts much worse. Reclaim your love for education, and write down all the things you are grateful for about your classroom, your students, and your school. Focus on the joys, not the hurts. Pray, and have faith that things will turn in your favor.

Secondly, learn to laugh. I'm a high achiever. I want success for each one of my students. However, we all need to learn to let go, sometimes, and just relax.

Also, do not make friends with toxic people and avoid gossip. It has been said that if you tell anyone something personal, there is an 80 percent chance it will be retold to someone else. Make sure that whatever comes out of your mouth is uplifting, and not hurtful. This can be hard to do, especially when a frustration occurs, but that is a great opportunity for self-reflection. Before running to another teacher with bad news or gossip, take a moment to close your classroom door and reflect. Remember that it is better to have one trustworthy friend then a hundred so-called friends.

Finally, realize that we really do have a choice. Do you want to be a glass half-full or a glass half-empty person? It is really up to us. Are you going to wake up tomorrow and exclaim, "Good morning, Lord!" or are you going to grumble and mutter, "Good Lord, it's morning." I hope we all choose to wake up feeling grateful, knowing that we have a special calling on our lives as teachers. We have been chosen to make a difference. Let's live out that promise with love and enthusiasm.

1 Corinthians 15:58         
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.


Joy Kirr said...

I'm trying, Laura! Normally I'm an optimistic person - but January sometimes grates on your nerves. I'm refilling my cup by going to EdCamp Madison tomorrow, and spending time with passionate educators such as yourself. I know, every day, there is a new beginning - a new adventure waiting for me. What will the funny 7th graders say today? What will I accidentally say to them? How can I choose my words so they help, instead of hinder? I focus on them, and my day goes better. I come home to my soul mate, and my day is complete. Thank you for helping spread the optimism - it's contagious, as you know! :)

middlegradesteacher said...

Joy- it was so nice of you to comment and share my post. I can tell that you are truly a wonderful teacher. Yes, this time of year can be daunting, but I agree with you that we have to focus on the positive and find joy and hope in the small victories. Thanks again and I wish you all the best!