Teaching can be an extremely difficult job. Teachers deal with high-stakes standardized testing, low parental involvement, bad behavior, lack of support from administration, unrealistic expectations, threats of violence, and many more challenges. When these difficulties seem overwhelming, teachers need to focus on the positive. Staying positive while teaching not only helps maintain your own sanity, but it also allows you to be a more effective teacher for your students (which is the whole point!). In my opinion, teaching is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT jobs. As a teacher, you are in charge of educating and shaping the next generation. No matter what the challenges are, teachers play a vital role in society. So, I have put together a list of ways you can stay positive while teaching to help you stay sane and keep teaching!
1. Make a Positive Phone Call or Send a Positive Note
Regardless of what else is going on, I always feel better after making a positive phone call or sending home a positive note. It also helps me with staying positive while teaching because it forces me to pick out something good that one of my students did during the day (instead of dwelling on my students’ misbehavior). In addition, a positive phone call or note makes the parents feel good (and helps build the relationship with them), makes me feel good, AND encourages the students’ good behavior. It’s a guaranteed pick-me-up when you’re feeling down about teaching! Need a positive note to send home? Click on the image to the left to download a FREE printable one!
2. Start a “How I Made a Difference” Journal
At times, it can feel like your teaching is pointless. With all of the daily challenges of teaching, its easy to lose sight of the positive impact we have on our students. That’s where a “How I Made a Difference” journal can help! You can do this by writing down one way you made a difference in a students’ life each day (or week or month, if that’s more manageable). I guarantee that if you sit down and think about it, you do something EVERY DAY that makes a difference in a child’s life. Sometimes it will be as simple as giving a child a compliment when they make a good choice; sometimes it will be as monumental as buying a winter coat for a student who did not have one. Either way, writing down how you make a difference each day will force you to focus on the positive impact you have as a teacher. Want to try it? Click on the image to the right to download a FREE printable journal page to get you started! Or buy yourself a pretty new journal (which also helps boost positivity!) like this one or this one!
3. Reflect on Student Progress (and Ignore Test Scores)
As teachers, we often focus so intensely on test scores and where our kids rank on standardized exams that we overlook the real progress our students are making. Sometimes, if you just pause and reflect on how far your students have come, it helps you see your job in a whole new light. Even when our kids do not perform how we would like on the big tests, chances are they have made progress in other (possibly more important?) areas. For example, I had one student who was extremely low in math and reading at the beginning of the year (she scored in the 1st percentile on all our tests) and had almost no confidence. I spent A LOT of time working with her. By mid year, she was still scoring in the 1st percentile, but SHE COULD DO MATH WITH CONFIDENCE! Maybe she couldn’t do the math she was “supposed” to be doing, but she had grown soooo much. And although none of that was reflected in her standardized test scores, it’s still something I celebrated as her teacher. So, when you’re feeling bad, stop to think about all the progress your students have made. I bet you’ll feel better in no time!
4. Do Something Fun with Your Students
When you are feeling down about teaching, a great remedy is to take some time to do something fun with your students. It does not have to take long (I know teachers are always pressed for time), but doing something fun with your kids is a great way to lift your spirits (and your students’). You could do something funny (after all, they say laughter is the best medicine) or something relaxing. Either way, simply spending some time enjoying your students will help you refocus on why you are teaching – for the kids! Some ideas are:
- 5 minute dance party
- coloring sheet
- go outside for a lesson or for some reading time
- read aloud of a funny book
- play a game (educational or not)
- do a bucket filler activity
- write letters
- do some arts and crafts
5. Read Inspirational Quotes about Teaching
Another trick for staying positive while teaching is reading inspirational quotes about teaching. Many people realize how important teachers are and so there are some AWESOME quotes about teaching out there. Sometimes, hearing how great others think you are as a teacher is just the motivation you need for staying positive while teaching. Check out this page to get started reading some inspirational quotes about teaching right now!
6. Decorate Your Classroom
Now, this may sound silly to some of you, but it actually can make a big difference. The space in which you work can have a real impact on your mood. So, if you teach every day in a boring classroom with nothing interesting, you probably won’t feel very good (and neither will your students). That said, decorating your room does not have to be a huge production! It could be as simple as having your kids make a craft and hanging them on the walls. Or it could be as elaborate as choosing a theme and decorating your whole room accordingly. Whatever your style, adding some oomph to your room will help with staying positive while teaching…and will probably make your students happier as well!
Staying positive while teaching is possible, and I hope these tricks will help you! Do you have any other suggestions for how to stay positive as a teacher? If so, please leave a comment below or click here to send me an email!