Sunday, November 23, 2014

How to Beat the "I'm a Failure" Blues

Let's face it friends, teaching can sometimes be the most frustrating profession, not because we don't love what we do, but sometimes because we feel ineffective.  Maybe it is administration that causes us to feel this way, or the particular combination of children that are in our classes, or the crazy amount of work that has no bearing on our effectiveness in the classroom, but takes almost all of our time leaving us with little energy to plan those highly engaging, memorable lessons. (English teachers please look away from that sentence).  Sometimes, it's difficult to put one foot in front of the other because you just don't feel like you are making a difference.

You've been there, I've been there, we've ALL been there and will be there time and time again.

So, I've thought of ways that I brush the funk off of myself and remember that I really am good at what I do and my students really do love me.

1.  Find your focus - There are days where all you can do is focus on the behavior problems or the lesson that didn't go the way you hoped it would, or the math concept that fell on deaf ears when you were being observed.  That may have all happened in one day, BUT there was something good that happened that day.  Find the positive and focus on it.  It may be the one liner that one of your students mumbled when you passed by.  It could be the child who walks up to you at the beginning of a Monday morning and says, "Mrs. Looper, I just wanted you to know that I pray for you every day because I know that teaching is the hardest job on the planet and you are really good.  I love being in your class."  Use that focal point as your center.  If it is one student in your room - begin to look at them periodically in the day and make eye contact.  I promise, that one glance will make the funk fade quickly.

2.  Surround yourself with people who make you feel good, but that you can also make feel good about themselves.  It may be a group of teachers in your building, but it may be your family.  The days where I just want to pull the covers over my head find me driving home just to sit with my husband and my little pup.  They make all things better.

3. Put school away for a day, or even - GASP - the entire weekend.  I know, I know, it is almost impossible.  I mean, I just spent 6 hours on a Sunday morning grading a pile of work that I put off because I set a boundary last week.  But, that break is needed, even if you aren't aware of it.  Remind yourself that you are human, not Wonder Woman or Superman.  Teachers need to take care of themselves too.

4.  Rejoin the world.  It kind of goes along with #3, but sometimes we need to step away, get out of the house and do something that is not remotely related to our profession.

5.  Take a walk down memory lane!  Remember the faces and the hugs of those students you've taught in the past.  Pull out the letters, the emails, the cards that you've tucked away and reread them.  They will immediately remind you of why you do what you do.  Mine are taped to the inside of my back cabinet in my classroom.

So, if you are in a funk, know that this too shall pass.  You are good at what you do and your students love you for it!

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