Loveliness aside...when we have these moments as teachers, when we fantasize about having any job but our own, what do we do? I asked this question of some of my favorite former teachers and got some powerful advice that I've still held onto and now will share with you in a few installments. I hope you enjoy part one:
So here's the question to you...I've been teaching 8 weeks so far. You all have much more experience and wisdom. So how do you keep yourself going EVERYDAY? What is your motivation? How do you look out at those faces, smile back and begin your lesson? How do you start each new year with a new group and just jump right in?
From Mr. S, 7th grade Social Studies & one of my early field mentors:
Somedays it is coffeeSomedays the fact that it is a Friday. Or better yet the day before Christmas Break. Or even better the last day of school!!!
Somedays I am just happy and nothing can change that.
Sometimes I might be having a bad day so you give make-up work and watch a movie or just give them a worksheet that you copied and muddle through.
Somedays you bribe them with candy (seems to work for all of the US to some extent) or some other treat.
Sometimes it all works out on its own.
Often you are thankful for a decent job that puts money in your pocket and allows for advancement.
More often you feel like you are really helping the world (especially since all your friends make twice as much as you selling widgets or something else worthless to the good of the world.)
Somedays you pray for strength (OK, MOST days).
That is how I do it Amy, one day at a time.
From Mrs. R., my 10th grade English teacher:
When I was going through grades K-12 myself, I looked forward to school every day. My home life was depressing. My parents caused turmoil daily and school is where I found love, support, and encouragement. Teachers and coaches became the role models that I wanted to emulate in my own future. I was quiet and lacked confidence in my own abilities. Secretly, I admired every teacher's patience, knowledge, and dedication. Today, I'm on the other side of the desk. I know that some of my students are sad, some are hungry, some are in pain. I try especially hard to make every one of them feel important, especially the wounded ones. Trust me on this. Even on the days that you really want to call in sick, you will say something or do something that will leave a positive impression on some kid. And that should be all the motivation that you need. I can't begin to explain how extremely rewarding my career choice has been for me. I am so rich for having had thousands of students walk through my door over the last 18 years. I have to fake a smile here and there, but my kids are counting on me as much as I'm counting on them. That's what keeps me going.
From Claire S., early ed. Art teacher & one of my mom’s teaching mentors:
When things get crazy and you don't think you've reached a soul, find one person that DID pay attention (or got the lesson, or whatever) and remember that. So, when you go home at the end of the day, keep that person in mind, instead of being dragged down by the others. It really helps keep things positive.
From Mr. S., Superintendent of Maumee City Schools (and our great neighbor growing up):
Take it one day at a time, enjoy the students each day, spend the proper time in preparation, identify the teachers in the building who demonstrate the characteristics you aspire to as an educator, and spend time talking to them and learning from them.