It is often said that without challenge, there is no reward. Never has this been truer than in the case of the teaching profession. The challenges include the huge amounts of time, energy, patience and determination required to meet the ever-changing demands of the role. The rewards are equally as capacious; enabling students to grow, develop, learn and progress as a direct result of your hard work and support. Teachers, take a bow.
Research has shown a strong link between teacher motivation and student success rate. But what happens when the challenges seem to outweigh the reward? How do you keep going when the marking’s piled high and motivation has left the building? There is no magic answer to this one, but these tips might help you help you to keep motivated when times get tough.
Who supports you? Your manager, your colleagues? Positive working relationships can make a huge difference, especially in a changing working environment. Maybe you look to family and friends, or perhaps you prefer professional support from a mentor. Think about who you share your concerns with. You might be a member of a union, professional organisation or learning community or even an online forum. Whatever the format, it’s essential that as a teacher you connect with a community and create a safe space. This will give you the opportunity to be heard, to feedback, to share experiences, to give and receive support.
It’s paramount that you find time to reflect and review, even if it feels like more a luxury than a necessity. Creating space to measure progress against goals, acknowledge improvement, celebrate success and consider improvements can often reignite passion, foster self-belief and put you back in touch with what made you become a teacher to begin with. Whilst reflection and review time needs to be done regularly and with some consistency to yield results, it doesn’t have to be a formal process. You may choose to keep a note of observations or a log of highlights and challenges to read over. You could arrange for a trusted colleague or mentor to spend time with you discussing your thoughts. There is a wealth of information on reflective practice online.
Nourish and nurture, principles we live by as teachers and educators. How often do we apply them to ourselves? Burnout is not unknown within this sector, which has led to increased focus on support mechanisms. Consider the things you have done over the past year to develop yourself, promote personal growth or enhance self-care. Could you do more?
Think about CPD activities. There is a wide range of motivational and inspirational development activities specifically designed for the teaching profession. You can find an introductory guide here.
Think too about your own schedule and how you spend any downtime you have. Do you get enough sleep? How do you switch off? Again it can help to get an input from a trusted colleague or mentor. They may be able to give you a different perspective on ways of managing time and making sure it’s not all ‘work and no play’.
You’ll need to have strong organisational skills in order to balance activities, keep on top of your workload and embed these practices into your professional life. So plan ahead, manage your resources and reap the benefits.