Many educators feel an initial spark of inspiration and an undeniable pull toward the teaching profession as they’re starting out in their career.. They fall in love with the ideals of teaching and the ability to contribute to the world in a clear, meaningful way.
To have a passion for teaching early on is relatively easy. Early in an educator’s career, the beauty of helping to shape young minds, or any minds for that matter, remains at the forefront. However, after years of hard work, administrative requirements (and hurdles), and trying to teach students who seem uninterested, maining that passion becomes more difficult.
Especially now, when most schools are requiring students to learn remotely, keeping the spark of passion alive can feel nearly impossible. But there are ways educators can either grow or maintain their passion for teaching, simply by shifting their focus and finding a community of fellow educators on which to lean.
Here are five ways to reignite your passion for teaching or even grow it anew.
1. Connect to your why.
As an educator, when someone asks you why you started teaching, you can likely connect almost immediately to a specific memory or feeling. Perhaps you felt the urge to connect with your students and inspire the youth of today to become leaders and reach their full potential. Maybe teaching has been in your family for decades. Or maybe you even switched careers to go into teaching.
Whatever your why is, find a way to connect with what you love most about teaching. You can write it in a journal every day or meditate on this motivation each morning. You might even consider getting together on a call with other teachers and having a discussion about why you all began teaching in the first place.
Reconnecting with your why, or even connecting to your motivation for the first time ever, will anchor you in your love of teaching and help you focus on what matters most, rather than all the smaller difficult moments that come up during the day.
2. Recall your own favorite teachers and mentors.
Another great way to recall your passion for teaching is to think about your own past teachers and mentors. What did they do to inspire you that you want to embody as an educator yourself?
Make a list of their qualities, of the little things they did to make learning special, and of the ways they showed up as educators. Then you can go through the list and choose a few different qualities you would also like to embody as an educator in your own way.
Sometimes having gratitude for teachers that changed your life can remind you that teachers do have a magical power to help their students grow. You might even remember that you didn’t quite show your gratitude then, but you remember these mentors and educators to this day.
You could even take the time to send your previous teachers and mentors an email to thank them for how they impacted you. That gratitude will likely launch you into a more inspiring attitude as you continue to approach your own teaching career.
3. Celebrate small victories.
Educating others is no easy task, and teaching is not for the faint of heart. Some days you might feel like nothing you’re doing is working or that your students aren’t grasping the information. Some days feel like they get lost under the mountain of grading and paperwork you have to do. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed by the new structure of teaching right now.
Whatever might be bringing you down, remember that you can still celebrate the small victories. Take note of each time a student really grasps new information. Recall moments when students thanked you for your work or gave you a note to tell you how much they appreciate you.
Celebrate moments when you finally finish grading a tall stack of papers or discover a new teaching method. Give yourself these victories, because they do add up after a while. Focusing on the wins rather than all of the challenges will keep you inspired to keep pushing forward to the next day.
4. Maintain a support network.
If you’re an educator, you likely already know how important it is to maintain a strong community of fellow educators who help support each other through the ebbs and flows.
Even if you don’t already feel close to your colleagues at school or in your local community, you can find ways to connect with other educators through networks like the NSHSS educators community or another global network of educators.
These groups of fellow educators allow you to bounce ideas off of other teachers who care deeply about their work, commiserate with fellow teachers about tough moments, and relate with the people who understand what you go through each day.
You can even get together with this network of educators to talk about your motivation for teaching. That way, you can help each other ignite that passion again.
5. Take time for self-care.
As an educator, you likely spend a great deal of time worrying about others and have very little time to devote to yourself. However, taking the time for self-care is of the utmost importance. You cannot show up with full energy for your students if you don’t cultivate that energy in your downtime.
Indulge in your favorite hobbies. Go on walks, listen to music. Get more sleep. Eat a good meal. Take time to just relax and enjoy life outside of teaching.
By being an educator, you already show that you care about the future of your students and of the world. But you don’t need to worry about your job all day. Your students will thank you for taking this time to yourself, because you will inevitably have more energy to devote to teaching when you take care of your own needs, too.
You are an educator, and as such, you are vital to the future of society. The world is grateful for the work you do, so take time to thank yourself as well.