Okay, I know it's March! But based on lots of experience with students and working with colleagues, it's never too early to focus on staying motivated. Wintertime is challenging! We are right in the middle of the cold and snowy season (depending on where you are). In PA, we have gotten socked! Plus, the Covid-19 crisis has had the most significant impact on teaching ever! Of course, it's easy to say, "I can't wait until the year is over!" I know I've felt this during the year. But I want to challenge each of you to think of the following scenario:
The Summer has ended, and school is about to begin. Hopefully, you're excited to meet your colleagues, students and get to the business of helping our kids/teens learn, grow, and gain confidence. Unfortunately, as the year progresses, initial enthusiasm, passion, and pride tend to waver for many of us. It's understandable. We work incredibly hard, and the daily grind can become challenging, but we do our best to stay motivated and excited. February, March, April, May, and especially June can challenge the best of us, but really they are just months on a calendar.
Because many students get “Summer Abs” and “Prom Weekend” spinning around in their brains, they begin to think that March is really June. (Trust me on this. My son is a current senior at my school)! But we can’t let the lack of student motivation change our desire to make a difference. So how do we keep that fire lit no matter the time of the year? Here are some techniques I've used and also passed on to others. Nothing is guaranteed, but giving them a try can't hurt.
Students will feed off of our energy. Frequently I'll listen to colleagues complain about how this student isn't interested, not motivated, or lacking engagement. While many factors go into that, just listening to them makes me think they might need to raise the enthusiasm level. Again, we all do this from time to time. Just remember, the words and body language we use carry incredible weight on students.
Discipline issues will lessen. Happy, cheerful, and passionate staff/faculty lead to happy, optimistic, and inspired students. That's guaranteed! Sure, there are exceptions. But think about how many discipline problems have occurred when you bring energy and excitement to the school or class.
Schoolwork will be much better. Common sense tells us that students will lack the desire to do well when they aren't interested or motivated in educating. Sure, some high-achieving students will grunt through to the end. Many, though, will suffer without the support of those adults around them. Our continued positive, persistent attitude will persuade students to push forward even if they initially don't feel inspired.
It feels great to come in excited! I mean that! Coming into our jobs when it's incredibly challenging feels good. That may seem strange, and you may say, "Craig, what the heck are you talking about? How can it feel good when I don't want to be here?" It's all about mindset. Turning on the "motivated" switch will change your mood. I've done it hundreds of times, and it works!
Please, please, please! Stay away from those folks who are always negative. Nothing will drain the energy and positivity like listening to something complain frequently. I understand; we all need to vent. We should share with our colleagues. Those relationships are enormous. But, if every conversation is a session of complaints about parents, kids, and administration, it will influence how you come to work. I suggest listening intently, providing support, and even giving some positive guidance. Heck, sometimes you may even agree! Be careful though, too much of those talks will zap your motivation.
I could easily ramble on about many other benefits to finishing how we start. Hopefully, I'll post part two about this topic as the year closes—one final thought to ponder. Think of the year as segments of feeling great, feeling good, feeling okay, then repeating that. By following that theme of thinking, you never get to the point where it's impossible to get out of the challenge of "I can't wait until this year is over!"
I've been a Health and Physical Education Teacher/Coach/Trainer for 30+ years. I enjoy all types of fitness, writing, speaking, and spending time with my family! Stay positive, stay happy, stay well!