It’s not even halfway through the school year and you find yourself sighing thinking about entering the next class. You’re tired, demotivated, and just can’t wait for the next school holiday when you can sleep in and not have to think about your students for a while. It’s not just the teaching part; thinking about the lesson planning and paperwork makes you feel like crying. Does this sound about right?
Staying motivated throughout the school year can be tough when you’re a teacher. It’s completely normal to feel demotivated at some point, but it’s important for you to find ways to push through despite the difficulty.
Here, we’ll talk about some things you can do to keep up the optimistic, energetic teaching momentum so that your students can benefit.
Okay, so you’re wondering what having goals has to do with staying motivated. The answer is simple: When you have specific goals to work toward, it’s easier to stay on track and not give up, because even the small wins matter. The best type of goals to have are S.M.A.R.T goals, which stand for:
All these elements are important to ensure the goals are doable and not overwhelming. Setting S.M.A.R.T goals can be done for both your teaching practice as well as your personal goals.
To learn more about S.M.A.R.T goals in a teaching context, you can visit https://www.developgoodhabits.com/smart-goals-teachers/. The idea is to keep a close tab on your progress when it comes to the goals you set, so that there isn’t much time for self-pity or lazing around.
As a follow up to the previous tip, it’s important to also evaluate your progress toward your goals on a daily basis. This means setting aside 10-15 minutes a day to reflect on what went well and what didn’t in your classes. If you can do this every lesson, that’s even better.
By keeping track of the good and not-so-good things that happened in your lesson, it will keep your perspective straight about your student’s performance as well as yours. Nothing keeps motivation up as much as progress!
While doing the above is important to psychologically push yourself, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of yourself. Going into lesson after lesson and keeping energy up is exhausting, so make it a point to take frequent breaks throughout the day.
Just taking two to three minutes between classes to do some deep breathing, grabbing a coffee at the canteen during a free period, or watching a short funny video before you continue with lesson planning can really help the day seem more bearable. And yes, it’s also okay to take a break to rant to a trusted colleague.
It’s easy to use the weekend to “catch up on work” as a teacher, but continuously doing this is the highway to quick burnout. Make it a point to commit one day a week to do the things you love, be it your hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or simply doing nothing.
Think of this day as your investment into yourself so that your motivation levels stay consistent and your energy battery can get replenished. Sometimes a little rest can help tough times seem easier to bear.
Staying strong psychologically starts with staying strong physically; this is why you should never skimp on sleep and mealtimes. Sleep is necessary not only for your body to recover but also for your mind. As for mealtimes, it only takes a few weeks or months of not eating properly for your body to go out of whack metabolically, which can lead to illnesses and derail your momentum even further.
So whatever you do, get your 7-8 hours of sleep in every day, and be sure to set aside some time to eat your daily meals in peace!
As a teacher, it’s easy to drown in a sea of things to do, and it can be very disheartening to miss a deadline, teach a lesson that’s not of the best quality, or disappoint a friend when you cancel on them to rest. Don’t let these small “failures” get to you; it’s alright to be human and not be able to consistently complete your to-do list perfectly every time.
The key to keeping your head up and high is to prioritise what’s most important to keep you going for your students, even if it’s just for another day. Don’t hesitate to re-negotiate deadlines or push things around in the week if it means it’ll keep you going for the long term.
Staying motivated throughout the school year is one of the biggest challenges teachers have to face, but it’s a worthy challenge to take on for the good of your students. Try the tips above and hopefully, you’ll be a successful, energetic, and cheerful teacher year after year!
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