January 10, 2014

Don’t Quit?

I am back to teaching in the university PTC program. After just over a year off I am once again guiding and encouraging baby teacher as they are about to begin their careers. They are such a great group to teach: excited, optimistic, apprehensive, inspired and encouraging. If you are a veteran teacher and you haven’t recently spent time with a newbie teacher, I strongly recommend it. They are hungry for all of your sage wisdom and advice. If the fire has gone out a little, then it will quickly reignite when you remember what originally brought you to teaching.

Unfortunately, it is reported that 40-50% of these teacher candidates will quit in their first five years. One of the students asked me the other night how to avoid quitting. While I can’t answer for everyone, I can share what has kept me going for the past 20 some years. I’m sure that there are more reasons to stay in the teaching profession, and other coping mechanisms that work for other teachers, but here are a few that work for me.

Consider your students. Somebody has to teach these kids, why not you? More than ever our young people need role models who want to be good examples of how to live successful lives. True, they may not act like it, but that is due largely to the culture we live in, and not the students themselves. Everybody wants to learn, even if they don’t behave that way. Trust that your efforts are worthwhile and that you are changing lives in positive ways. The proof may not be there at first, but it will emerge over time. Trust me.

Consider your self. Sleep, eat, exercise, work, relax, and repeat. Balance is so important to classroom success. The first year is always difficult. If you are staying a day ahead of your students, that is enough. But the more you prep, the more you plan, the more proactive and the less reactive you are in your approach to the classroom and your students, the better. Don’t be afraid to look for help wherever you can find it. Some veteran teachers will assume that the new teacher is prepared for the classroom and may not volunteer to help, so ask them. And spend time daily in reflection; learn from your success as well as your missteps.

Consider your source. A recent article claims that religious people are less anxious. You don’t necessarily need to believe that you have been called to teach; but it doesn’t hurt to believe that there is purpose to what you do in your classroom. Leaning on a higher power will make you feel more powerful, and that will make you more effective, and hopefully, less stressed out.

Gathering the courage to step into the classroom and face your students day after day, year after year, is a challenge that should be met with a positive attitude, daily. Know that you are making the world a better place.
  

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