A culture of pressure and stress has infected the teaching profession.
It’s palpable in school after school and district after district.
From Boston to Lisbon. Flat River to Bath. Spokane to Montreal.
It’s fueled by a do-more and give-more mentality that has made the job increasingly more difficult.
And a lot less fun.
It’s not unusual to feel as if you’re being dragged down into negativity, to find yourself venting and complaining and hoping against hope that it improves.
Sadly, conditions are unlikely to change anytime soon.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t fight back. It doesn’t mean that you can’t adapt and outwit and find a little slice of heaven within the four walls of your classroom.
It doesn’t mean you can’t reignite your love of teaching. Or discover it for the very first time.
1. Concern yourself with what you can control.
Much of the stress teachers experience is due to things beyond their control. If it’s something you must do, like a mandate from administration, then it’s self-sabotage to get worked up about it—or even give it a second thought.
Refuse to let the new math program, class-size limit, or lunch procedure get under your skin, and resist the urge to moan and complain about it.
It will only heighten its importance in your life.
It’s best to accept what is out of your control quickly and then move on. This is resilience. It’s an internal toughness that allows you to enjoy your job despite the changes you may disagree with.
2. Know that there is a lot you can control.
Teachers who struggle the most with stress and dissatisfaction assume that very little is within their control. They complain about long hours, unruly students, shoddy work habits, low motivation, and on and on.
But the truth is, you’re in control of these and every other facet of teaching that has the greatest impact on your happiness and job satisfaction.
It may take learning a new set of skills. It may take making radical changes in the way you do things. But it’s doable for anyone, no matter how bad things have gotten.
3. Embrace the one thing that will always make teaching great.
When you focus on enjoying your students, when you savor the relationships, the connections, and the act of teaching them, all that other stuff you’re preoccupied with will fade away.
Its importance shrinks down to a pea and becomes not such a big deal after all.
You’re able to sit in staff meetings and listen to yet another new policy or requirement without becoming emotionally invested.
You’ll accept it and then shove it aside—so you can get back to what really matters, back to why you became a teacher in the first place.
Love It Anyway
I hear from frustrated teachers every day who believe that they’re boxed in and have no options.
But in every case, they’re upset over things that are either completely under their control or needn’t have any affect on enjoying their job.
The power is within you.
It may not be as easy being a teacher as it once was, even five years ago. But with the right attitude and classroom management approach, and a healthy dose of shrewdness, it can be every bit as fun and rewarding.
So while your colleagues are up in arms over the latest heaping of frustration slopped onto their plate, you can take it in stride.
Because you’ll be able to adapt, adjust, and accept in a way that isn’t a greater burden on you.
You’ll be able to focus on what matters.
And love your job anyway.
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