find your teaching joy again

Find Your Teaching Joy Again

It’s January at the time of this writing, and we teachers are coming back from winter break and wondering how to find your teaching joy again. When was the last time you had it? For some of us, it may be a while since we last loved our jobs. I am the very first in line to be AGAINST toxic positivity. But no matter the time of year, here are some things that are true for me:

  1. Right now, I need this job to provide for my family.
  2. As long as I am in this job, I recognize the responsibility I am given to be working with children
  3. I can always find something that makes me happy or brings me joy.

So, what can we do to find our teaching joy again? This is what I try to do.

Find Your Teaching Joy Again With the “Haves”

We have heard the terms “haves and have nots”. I notice that in education, as a system we spend a LOT of time with the “have not” students as we try to help them move into the “have” category. That can be frustrating and draining. I have certainly been guilty of letting my mind think that everyone is a “have not”, no one is making progress, everyone is apathetic…. and that’s not true.

When you are feeling this way, take 5 minutes. Go through your grade book and look for something positive. That student who has turned in every homework assignment. The young man who has improved his attendance. A great score on the last listening assessment. Then, compliment that student! This can be verbally or by writing a note.

These students can be easily overlooked and underseen by their teachers, especially if other students in their class require more attention. It is so impactful to both the student and to the teacher!

Create a Fun New Activity

After the pandemic, I really, REALLY struggled to find my teaching joy again. One of the things that has helped keep me sane is learning new ways to make learning engaging. I took a few free mini courses from other teachers, or read their blog posts. I learned to create escape rooms, scavengers hunts and other games that make learning fun. And the lightbulb finally went on for me: I am creative (in some ways) and I need this creative outlet to find my teaching joy.

I try to hype up the activities a few days before we do them in class. And then I take a few pictures of students collaborating. I send a quick update email to parents/guardians, and sometimes I copy my department chair or principal or evens superintendent. The other stakeholders love to see our students having fun while they learn too!

Suggest a Fri-yay With Your Colleagues

At my school, we collaborate with our colleagues during one period several times a week. It has it’s plusses and minuses, like anything else! We spend a lot of time talking about who we are worried about in our classes and what isn’t working.

Recently, I suggested that we start our Friday sessions with a quick report of a “Win for the Week”. My colleague suggested calling it “Fri-yay”! We teachers are so investing in identifying problems so we can try to fix them that we often don’t stop to recognize what went well. But I think taking time to celebrate wins, no matter how small, is imperative to be able to find your teaching joy again. Without being Pollyanna with rose-colored glasses, here are some ideas:

-I have all my copies made for next week already

-I created a new activity to help my students with…

-All the students who were absent on Monday made up their quiz already!

-I had a great talk with X student during homeroom

It could be anything at all that was a bright spot in your week!

Find Your Teaching Joy Again

If you are like me, and leaving your school or your profession is not an option now, I hope some of these suggestions will be helpful.

The way I see it, right now, I need to bloom where I’m planted. And my options are either to live in misery and frustration, always focused on what’s not good. Or, I can find little ways to recognize that it’s not ALL bad. (Even when a lot of things are really tough.)

I would love to start a Fri-yay chain on Instagram! Will you join me? Let’s share our wins for the week each Friday!

Happy New Year!

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find your teaching joy again