So, what happened? I’m really not sure I can pinpoint the exact reason or situation that made me lose my passion for teaching. I feel like there’s a lot that plays into the reason why “I lost it.” For one, I just finished my 14th year teaching, and I’ve kind of fell into a slump. You know that feeling of doing the same thing – year after year, day after day? I started to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. I taught third grade for two years, moved to Kindergarten for one year (quickly realized that kindergarten was not for me), moved back to third for one year, and then up to fourth where I’ve been teaching for the past ten years. Somewhere along the way, I lost my passion and energy towards teaching. I think it all started about the time Common Core State Standards were introduced in North Carolina. We were forced to quickly dig into these new and somewhat confusing standards, develop a brand new pacing guide that the whole county of fourth grade teachers could agree upon, come up with engaging and innovative lessons that would bring the Common Core alive in our classrooms, and do all of this with no textbooks, very little sleep, and a smile on our faces. It was hard at times. I did it though, and believe it or not, I did it with passion.
This went on for three years, and during those three years I slowly lost that passion. Parents became a daily problem. Complaints started with the opposition to Common Core. Most parents were automatically against it and very critical of teachers, our school system, and of course, the new curriculum. Since I was in a “tested grade” I watched the stress levels of parents rise. They worried constantly about their child passing the new End-of-Grade North Carolina Ready Test. This went to the point of stressing their own child out, which in turn affected me and my classroom. With anxiety high, parents seemed to literally look for things wrong in education, in the school system, and in my classroom. Their critiques came in all forms and on a variety of social media platforms. I felt as if I was constantly defending myself and teaching in general.
This became exhausting.
Then, I started noticing that many parents no longer supported teachers. Not that they ever really did, but I always had a handful of compassionate and encouraging parents that went above and beyond to support me as their child’s teacher. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that number dwindle to maybe 1 or 2 parents each year. One thing I’ve learned in my career as a teacher is that your relationship with parents will make or break your year. It became harder and harder to keep parents “happy.” While I tried to teach responsibility; they were teaching their child how to make excuses. While I was teaching the latest Common Core method for solving math problems; they were teaching their child how to complain about why we don’t do math the “old way.” And so on and so forth. It became a vicious cycle. I was hurt one too many times this past year by parents who wanted to work against me instead of with me. I became very defensive when approached by parents about how or why I do what I do in my classroom – to the point where I just didn’t care anymore.
Here’s the bad part. My students noticed. My team noticed. My principal noticed. It was obvious – I had lost it.
I managed to finish the school year (longest.year.ever.in.history) with a smile on my face. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I left knowing that I had to do something to regain my passion for teaching.
Not long ago, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across Angela Watson’s tweet about her new book, Unshakeable: 20 ways to enjoy teaching every day…no matter what.
Well…HELLO!!! Guess what I did?
Yep, I ordered it right away. At the time I was busy ending the school year, and didn’t really have the time to dive into it until recently. One afternoon I grabbed her booked and started reading. Her first chapter hit home hard, and I found myself taking notes because I knew these were things I didn’t always do, but needed to remember to do. I jotted down the following while I read Chapter 1…
Be your authentic self. Your personality has a tremendous impact on your classroom, lessons, teaching, and even your students.
Be memorable. Watch students connect while giving them a glimpse of the real you.
Build rapport on a personal level. This will result in a tremendously strong bond between you and your students.
Look for daily life experiences outside of the classroom to enhance your lessons. This will make your instruction more relatable and meaningful for your students.
Be your authentic self and don’t fight it. You can’t fake passion. Passion = Energy = Efficiency
Figure out what passionate teaching looks like for you.
Be a passionate person. Surround yourself with people and influences that inspire you to be a passionate person.
Bring energy and enthusiasm into everything you do – inside and outside of the classroom.
Re-energize yourself daily! Spend time with loved ones, pursue personal interests, and find a way to take care of YOU each afternoon that’s re-energizing. It will make a tremendous difference in your creativity level, attitude, and productivity the following day.
Be aware of and plan to manage not only your time, but also your energy. Each day we wake up with more time, but not always more energy. Figure out how to manage your energy levels even if it means going to bed earlier.
You know how there’s some teachers that just seem to “do it all”? You know, that amazing teacher that seems to have life completely and perfectly balanced? You can probably think of one right now. Angela has the answer to how they do it all in her book. It’s actually a no-brainer, but I’ll let you read her book to find out!
Change can be good, right? I feel like at this point in my life, and in my teaching career, I need a change. So, next year I’m moving to the computer lab as the Instructional Technology Facilitator at my school. When my principal asked me if I’d like to try a new grade level, I didn’t hesitate to say to YES! I hope it’s a good move, and I pray it helps re-energize me and bring back my passion for teaching!