If you’re anything like me your starting to feel the pressure of Term 4 sinking in. There’s so much happening and still to do is the few short weeks we have left in the year. I’ve heard a lot of teachers say, “Term 4 is the craziest term!” But let’s be honest, every term is full of its own craziness and busyness.
It’s so easy for us as teachers to get into the habit of just surviving each term and simply getting through, counting down the weeks one-by-one. I think back to a simpler time perhaps when school life wasn’t so busy, but honestly I don’t remember a simpler time. So what’s changed? Possibly not the craziness of teaching, but simply my mindset and perspective on how I see myself and my job.
It’s so important as teachers that we take control of our mindset and thinking because “what we obsess on is what we will possess” or to put it another way “what we perceive is what we receive.”
My heart as a leader in my school is to see our teachers and staff not just surviving each term or year but thriving. Going from strength to strength and win to win. The hardest part about seeing this happening is shifting the mindsets of staff to focus on the positives rather than the pressures of our role, which I know are numerous.
I found myself thinking not so long ago, maybe I’ve just peaked and now I’m on the downhill run. Maybe things have just finally got too much and I can’t do it all anymore. I can’t be a great teacher, leader, husband and father... but I believe the answer to this is “No!” I refuse to settle and believe that my best days are over and I’m certain yours are too. It’s all about mindset. We control when we hit our peak and maintaining that as a teacher is a conscious decision every single day!
Each day I wake up I will tel myself that today will be my best day. I can’t control what happens to me, but I can take control of my mindset and how I respond.
Here’s some simple mindsets that I believe help me to “thrive” in my job and keep my love for teaching aflame.
BE a learner
You’ve probably heard it said 1000 time before but teachers should be learners. I totally, 100% agree with this statement wholeheartedly. Teachers who thrive in their jobs are constantly changing, adapting and learning new things. They say change is as good as a holiday! This proves true if you think about it like this, bing a learner is like the airplane that takes you on a holiday. There’s no better feeling than stepping off a plane in a foreign destination knowing that the days you’ve been dreaming about are finally here. You can’t get to that sense of joy and satisfaction without the plane ride. So it is while being a learner, engaging in the process of learning a new skill or gaining new understanding is what brings about positive change to your students, classroom and skill. There’s a lot to be said for the value of learning something new, big or small.
A few years ago I learnt the ukulele and this small new skill brought endless joy in my classroom and the students and I learnt together and sang songs. I can’t recommend the importance of staying teachable in your job. Learning something new could be as simple as listening and observing those around you more closely and learning from heir example. All I can say is, never stop learning, it will fuel your passion!
There’s an old quote that says, “thankfulness unlocks the fullness of life.” I’m not sure about you but it’s so easy for us to take for granted the good things we have every single day and forget to be thankful. As teachers there’s a slight temptation for a sense of entitlement to sneak into our thinking. Don’t get me wrong I don’t believe that we don’t deserve to be recognised, thanked or appreciated but I do believe when we feel entitled to this we can be setting ourselves up for massive hurt if it doesn’t happen the way we think it should. As a teacher it’s so important that I remind myself of all the things I have to be thankful for; a permanent job (or maybe a contract), friends and family, supportive colleagues who are more like family, beautiful students, a good coffee shop within walking distance of school... the list goes on. Think about your life right now and be thankful for all the good things (big or little).
Recently I found myself talking a lot about “the good old days.” Telling stories about the great things I’d done over the years. One sign that you’re just surviving is your inability to focus on the present and what’s happening right now. It’s important that no matter the season of life, school, family that we are fully present. Being fully present allows us to be open to all that’s happening and look for the wins and the moments that can spur us on. Don’t fall into the trap of finding your joy only in the past, remember to look for it and cherish it right now.
This year is my 10th year of teaching and it’s scary how much has changed in the teaching world during this time. It’s seems like there’s a new education buzz word or catchphrase every single week and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. I found myself thinking not so long ago, “there’s nothing wrong with how I teach. I’m good at this, so I’ll just keeping doing it this way.” Before I knew it I found myself doing the same thing, the same way at the exact same time and my love for the job started to dwindle. One of the reasons I applied for the job I currently have was the chance to be innovative and do things that I’ve never done before in teaching.
So here I am, teaching in a new collaborative learning environment and doing things I’ve never done before because I took a chance to be innovative and try something new. For you it doesn’t have to mean a drastic change like moving to a new school or taking on a new role but it could something easy like a new seating plan or no seating plan, a new piece of furniture, a different format for group work. Whatever it is, don’t forget that variety is the spice of life and trying something new could bring back some fresh energy to what you do. Just remember to be culturally relevant t and age appropriate to your students.
BE a questioner
How often do you ask questions?
When was the last time you asked a colleague a question about something they were doing? Asking questions is a key ingredient in being a learner and being innovative as an educator. Questions are part of the learning process, it’s something we as teachers continually challenge our students to do, but how often do we do it ourselves. Are we asking questions of our colleagues and leaders. Not to catch them out but to simply broaden our understanding and perspectives on things. I know from personal experience that so many things as a teacher I have misunderstood and misinterpreted from others around me. It’s led me to feeling hurt, disillusioned and unmotivated, but it all could have been avoided if I just asked questions to clarify what was going on. Who know, you asking the right question could even lead to positive change and innovations in your school or classroom. There’s also power in questioning yourself and reflecting on what you do each day.
Getting to the end of the day and asking yourself some key questions could bring about the change you need to boost your enthusiasm and change your mindset. If something isn’t working or frustrating you about yourself or your school, ask why and look for a solution!
Staying passionate is critical to thriving as a teacher. Passion is the fuel that drives us every single day. It’s the reason we get out of bed each morning and do what we do day in and day out. Think back to why you first wanted to become a teacher? For me, it was the chance to have a positive impact on young people. I was impacted by several teachers in my own life who helped shape me and saw something in me that I never did. It was because of them and the way they made me feel significant, valued and included that I am a teacher today. That’s what I needed as a kid and it’s what kids still need today, so that’s why I do what I do. I won’t let a day go past without speaking positively to the potential that’s in my students. That keeps me passionate, even when the workload is huge or the hours are long. They’re the reason I do what I do and that keeps me going. Look for the wins you have in your day and keep them at the front of your mind. Let them fuel the passion inside you. Teaching is a job that runs on passion if you lose your passion you’ve lost your ability to teach.
Don’t get me wrong, teaching isn’t easy. I know when I became a teacher my friends and family thought that all I did was paint, read stories and play with blocks all day long. My oh my, has their perspective changed as I’ve shared what I really do with them. We work hard and it’s so very easy for the pressure and weight of the world weigh on us, but as teacher we need to fight to keep ourselves mentally and emotionally fit.
Taking control of our mindset and outlook is the key to seeing us thrive in what we do. We’ve got a few short weeks left to go on the year so let’s not simply count them down and wish them away so we can be on holidays again. Personally I’m challenging myself to change my mindset over the coming weeks and thrive. I want to get the most I can out of them and I’m choosing today for the next 6 weeks to be the BEST 6 weeks of the year because as the old proverb says, “as a man thinketh, so he is.” Join me in finishing the year strong!
Be happy & teach well!
We are so grateful for Aaron's weekly commitment to the Smile Teachers community, his Benefit Mindset can clearly be seen in the way he shares his knowledge.
Learn more about the Benefit Mindset in our Mindset Manoeuvre PD available now for your school, click here to request further information.