GET IT BACK! (Rediscovering the joy of teaching..)

Posted: September 10, 2010 in Features...

Let’s face it. No matter how much you love the profession, there comes a time – perhaps towards the end of each school year – when you begin questioning your career choice, curse the heavens above, and wonder if it’s not too late to try to another line of work, preferably by June.

It doesn’t help, of course, if you are one of many teachers who enlisted into the teaching profession for very practical consideration, and not, as is ideal, in fulfillment of childhood fantasy to serve as a mentor of little men and women. The days seem longer and you can’t wait to retire, or at least, take a long break from the agony of your current profession.

Whether or not you’re in it as a practical consideration or pursuing it for the more romantic notion of serving the greater good, you owe it to your students to be in best form – throughout the school year.

Consequently, the time is now for you to get back on your saddle and make effort to rediscover the joys of teaching. For despite the hardships and the frustrations built into this profession, as molders of men and women, it remains to be the most fulfilling vocation on the planet.

Here now are a few simple tips to help you in your quest to breathe new life into your tired body and soul to become the best teacher you can possibly be.

SHAKE UP YOUR ROUTINE. The repetitive task associated with the teaching profession can drive the most dedicated among us mad as a March hare. The monotony of your weekly tasks can be surpassed only by the tedium of your daily activities. By the time you’re on your eighth of ninth month into the school year, you feel like each day is a déjà vu experience, recurring day after day, for the last 10 or so years. If only to keep your sanity, try changing routines – from the teaching style you use for a particular subject area to the road you take going to school. Embark in new school activities that involve new experiences, preferably with new people.

THINK PASSION, NOT CHORE. If you insist on thinking what you do as work, it’ll be just that – hard work. The teaching profession requires you to be passionate about what you do. Surely, a lot of us never saw this from the start.  Whether or not you did, now’s the time to rewire the way you think about your chosen career. When they say it’s a noble profession, they weren’t kidding. Learn to love it—again, perhaps – and you’d wake up each morning all excited and happy about being a teacher.

TRY SOMETHING NEW. If you are bored and dead tired of what you do, you can just imagine how your students feel. A new teaching style, as opposed to the traditional approaches you’ve been accustomed to, may you just be the secret weapon in your arsenal. Creativity, when applied to teaching leads to a more enjoyable classroom experience for your students. Guess what? They’d learn more and a lot faster too. This means your work becomes a lot easier. And guess what? You might enjoy this new experience, too.

TAKE A BREAK. No matter how worthy you are to be part of this noble profession, you’re only human. Your spirit may be willing but your weary body may be too weak to keep up with the requirements of such a demanding occupation. At the very least, you may need a little time off to recuperate—and relax. Find time to get away from it all. Do something that doesn’t remind you of work. Avoid thinking too much about the drudgery of your labor. A weekend away will be good, but if you feel that you need more time off, then consider on a long sabbatical.

TRY OTHER THINGS. If you’ve identified teaching as one of your life’s unbearable, and if you find it too unbearable to find ways of making teaching fun and personally enriching activity, then maybe you need to talk to your superiors and ask that you be given non-teaching assignments, even temporarily. Assuming your boss knows a thing or two about human resource management, you’d be given the opportunity to do more productive endeavors as you get back into the groove of teaching.

BE RESOURCEFUL. Oftentimes, the solutions to our problems are within our reach. We just assume that they do not exist or that they’d be more difficult to do. Keep an open mind. Explore new possibilities and make an effort to come up with new and better ways of solving your problems. More often than not, only you can come up with the solutions to your own problems. To overcome this rut, recognize your ability to innovate to come up with new solutions, then use these.

GET HELP. You need not be an alcoholic or drug dependent to require professional help. Even the best among us can benefit from the services of qualified professionals. If that’s not your cup of tea, a support group may do wonders to your tired and weary soul. If there isn’t one available, create one. Surely there are so many teachers like you who need a way to release all that pent-up frustration. If not them, try a loved one who’d be more than willing to help you ease your pain. Vent all that negativity out of your system before it turn itself into a more serious physical, mental or emotional ailment.

EXERCISE. Yup, exercise. For although you might think that – based on how tired you feel at the end of each day – a teacher’s job is enough physical activity, you’re dead wrong. Getting more physically active makes you healthier. And a healthy teacher is a happy teacher. At a minimum, it helps prevent you from having an unscheduled coronary thrombosis right in the middle of your Monday afternoon lecture. Consider team sports – there’s that added advantage of having fun with other people.

EXERCISE THE MIND. Yup, the mind. For you might say that – based on how tired you feel at the end of each day – a teacher’s job is enough mental activity, you’re dead wrong again. Getting more mentally active makes you healthier. The human mind is capable of doing much more than we actually ask it to do. If we don’t, it degenerates. We degenerate. Try your hand at learning new things – take advantage of the free materials on the internet or, if you can’t afford it, enroll in a short course on anything that strikes your fancy. Try any activity that can help improve your mind’s ability to function. Try solving puzzles. Try to write.

ISOLATE THE PROBLEM. It’s so easy to assume that your job is the problem, especially if it’s tiring job like teaching and especially if you’ve been at it for many, many years. However, there might be other issues that are the true source of your current slump – financial concerns, a two-timing husband or boyfriend, a sick relative, and so on and so forth.  Of course it’s so easy to blame the job since it never makes one’s life easy. Identify the root cause of your misery and try to find the right remedies (e.g., dump that cheating spouse!) You’ll feel much better in the morning.

TAKE ON NEW CHALLENGES. In our desire to live a peaceful and uncomplicated life, we oftentimes stay away from stress too much – to the point that we get so bored with life (ironically, this can be stressful, too). You can therefore benefit from the excitement new challenges can bring to your dull existence. Try to set new goals – challenging ones – that you can accomplish in the short term. If you care enough  to see your goals achieved – and  they’re challenging enough – you’d be given an adrenalin rush similar to what you’d get as you freefall with a bungee cord attached to your leg (well, perhaps not… but you get the picture.

QUIT. What? And you thought this was about rediscovering the joys of teaching. It is. But perhaps teaching was never yours to enjoy in the first place or that it might have been there but you’ve been too jaded that It’ll take more than a weekend retreat to get your teaching mojo back. The teaching profession is not for the faint of heart – at least, not if you want it to do well.

For some, quitting may be a way to find out if it’s something they’d want to get back to doing. For others, quitting may be the realization that teaching is not for them. So be it – your students may be better off without you.π

(Source: Educator’s magazine, May-June 2010)


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