This summer I took a much-needed hiatus from writing and creating and thinking about writing and creating. The past year was an emotionally- and physically taxing year for me, and as much as my workaholic personality didn’t like the idea, a break from working was EXACTLY what I needed to start this school year refreshed and truly able to invest myself in my students.
Over the summer, after spending countless nights with friends enjoying hikes and night swimming after a day on the boat, I realized how truly happy I was – I couldn’t stop from smiling most days. Who wouldn’t be happy with sunshine in their hair and a furry puppy happily running around your feet every day? Yet, this realization that I was happy – truly happy – made me realize how unhappy I had become during the school year. So, I made a conscious decision to start this school year by doing a total clean-out – of my home, my classroom, and my poor attitude.
The new school year is the perfect time for a fresh start for our students, but it is also the perfect time for us to ditch the negative stories we’ve been telling ourselves about teaching and create new, fascinating and inspiring ones! We, as educators, have this really cool opportunity to affect the lives of upwards of 100 children a day. We are the first face they see in the morning, the ones that help them recognize that they are valued, they are loved, and they are going to go out into the world and do things we couldn’t even dream of doing! So, this year, let’s start off by tossing out the negative messages we see online.
Make a new story this year – a story that doesn’t include bashing your principal, complaining about your co-worker’s shortcomings or groaning about that student. It is so easy to fall into the grumbling, complaining, negative-nancy mindset (I know, I fell into it last year). Take a moment to write out a list of the things that you absolutely love about your district, administration, colleagues, and students. This is the best way to begin changing the story you are telling yourself about teaching. My first list is below:
- I love the big personalities of my middle school students.
- I am so grateful for how close-knit my middle school colleagues have become.
- I love that my district listens to its teachers and adjusts whenever possible to accommodate emergencies, family issues, class issues, etc.
- I am so grateful that my district is willing to take risks with new material, technology, and ideas – they are willing to grow and offer opportunities for the students!
- I am so grateful for my colleagues that check up on me and offer a friendly ear. The ones who listen to help, and can be trusted with personal information.
Write yourself a list, and really dig in deep to the things that you love about your kick-ass school, colleagues and students – maybe even your significant other and family as well!
After writing my little list, I put it down and did what I automatically do – checked social media (anyone else a habitual social media checker? Such a bad habit, I know!). Nearly immediately, one of the teacher pages I follow popped up with a funny meme that was joking about how difficult parents can be in teaching. I chuckled. Then, I realized that even though it was meant in good humor, I was really only feeding into the same negative mindset I had developed the previous year.
In an effort to get myself on course, I decided to unfollow that page for the time being. You don’t need to go unfollow all the funny teacher pages you have on your social media – just make sure that you recognize the potential those funny memes have to drag you back into a mindset that may make you slightly, well… miserable.
Go out there and root out the story you’ve been telling yourself about teaching, your district, your students or the community. Toss those grumblings to the side, and sketch out a new story. One filled with optimism and hope, inspiration and possibility. One of happiness.
Because Teach… kids learn from educators who are happy. Make yourself one of them.