In a world where life seems to keep us spinning in a never-ending vortex of fast-paced, pressured teaching and overwhelming expectations, teachers, it seems, have lost their ability to see themselves as also worthy of happiness, peace, and fulfillment.
Teachers seem hard-wired in continuing old patterns of teacher-martyrdom (yes, there is such a thing) and teaching is tougher than ever. Teachers tend to be their own biggest critics with feelings of not being good enough, not having enough time, not being organised enough, not having as much energy as another- the list, unfortunately, does go on and on! Teachers have all but forgotten that they are deserving of all the things that they want for their students- love, purpose, acknowledgment, happiness, fulfillment, and peace!
Here are some tips that will help you find your inner joy as a teacher:
- Know that you are enough. You are doing the best that you can, given the circumstances and knowledge that you have at this stage in your practice. Stop the self-judgment- it serves no positive purpose.
- You are not, nor ever will be, perfect! And neither is anyone else that has ever taught OR walked the face of this earth. You will make mistakes. Recognise and acknowledge these and choose to make better choices in moving forward. Mistakes are wonderful learning opportunities if you allow them to be.
- Stop comparing yourself to other teachers. Teaching is not a competition. Fulfilling teaching cannot be achieved through enviable and resentful thoughts about others.
- Set boundaries that add value to your life. Saying no to too many extra mural activities (so that YOU are not left exhausted) or arranging and managing school-wide activities and events, where everyone is actually required to muck-in, will leave you with more time to enjoy the things that you find fulfilling. The key to boundaries is consistency in expectations.
- Your students are growing up and will move on. Your time with them is limited and precious- make yourself available to enjoy activities together. Find reasons to laugh and play (jump on that trampoline, slide in the mud) – in fact, you will find great joy in just being ‘silly’ together from time to time. Play board games, tell, and listen to each other’s stories. Connect with meaning.
- Cultivate a learning environment where you listen to understand, and where self-respect and the respect of each other is modelled and embraced. Challenges are inevitable—encourage, motivate and support your students and your colleagues wherever possible. Working with children is a team effort.
You cannot be happy ALL of the time, but you CAN foster pockets of joy that add value and meaning to your life. As a teacher, believe that you are worthy of these moments and seek to actively ensure that you live a life of fulfillment and happiness, despite the challenges that swirl around you. You are enough. Believe it!