It is easy to fall into the trap of negativity – especially during FCAT, grades, etc. So – today and tomorrow’s tips deal how to keep from becoming an educational curmudgeon!
Teachers tend to accumulate long, detailed lists of professional concerns––most of which are valid. Constant venting, however, rarely accomplishes anything constructive. Here’s how to retain a more positive outlook and spend less time swimming in toxic soup.
• Surround yourself with tireless supporters––parents, former students, close friends, your spouse––people who buoy your spirits and reassure you of the enormous impact you’re making on your students. Conversely, whenever you stumble across a vitriolic editorial which puts down public education (or teachers), simply turn the page. A negative climate should always make you run, especially early in your career, when it can suck you up and spit you out like so much shrapnel.
• Read between the lines. Any student who approaches you for assistance or advice, or even stops to share some corny joke is paying you a huge compliment. He/she is including you in his/her life! Where children are concerned, with the peer group’s approval so paramount, it really doesn’t get any better than this.
• Listen to energizing audio books about teaching. Try Frank McCourt’s “Teacher Man,” Jim Fay’s “Four Steps to Responsibility,” and Caroline Myss’ “Your Sacred Contract.” Warning: Part of Myss’ message will be, “Stop bellyaching. You signed on for this assignment!”
• Clip and post cartoons and humorous news articles about teaching––like the one about the high school teacher who played Frank Sinatra CDs during detentions. The kids considered listening to “My Way” a harsher punishment than staying after school, so after a few weeks, this teacher’s enrollments went waaay down. Gather a whole collection of such clippings. A groan along with a smile is much better for the soul than just a groan.
• Embark on a constant crusade of professional improvement. So today’s lesson on the Plantagenet kings dive-bombed? How could you have made it better? What might you change for next year’s class? This single evaluative act, by the way, significantly increases the chances of there being a next year! Think of it as planting a positive mind- seed.