Congratulations, summer is here! If you’re a newly credentialed teacher you’re poised to relish in these last few months before your new career begins. If you’ve been in the classroom awhile you’re looking forward to the replenishing days ahead. No matter who you are you know that teaching is fulfilling, but hard, work. At times it can be down-right difficult to be “an instrument of inspiration” for your students. Maintaining positivity throughout the school year takes practice and dedication.
1. Savor your accomplishments
As a teacher it can be easy to feel under-appreciated. In the busy world of public schools sometimes expressing gratitude takes a back seat, and teachers feel that. However, this feeling offers the opportunity for building a practice of self-acknowledgement. Begin by recording your accomplishments in a journal. Starting now has three benefits: 1) You have time to ingrain your self-appreciation so that it still exists during the school year, 2) You’ll relish those pages when challenges are at a high, and 3) You can use your successes to stay inspired. Accomplishment #1 – You did the hard work to make it through last year!
If you’ve ever had a negative interaction at school then you know the sting it leaves can become distracting, even make you lose a bit of your confident edge. To turn it around use the mantra “QTIP” (quit taking it personally). Doing so helps you depersonalize and maintain positivity. Practice this summer when someone steals your parking spot or cuts you off. Instead of getting caught up, say “QTIP” and move on to your vacation-time fun. Making this a habit will make it easier to stay inspired instead of being brought down by other people.
3. Remember your influence – to the north, south, east, and west
It can be common to feel powerless as a teacher, which often results in the unproductive blaming of others. Instead, as Tim Kanold eloquently suggests, consider how your “words and actions…impact those in your north, south, east and west spheres of influence”. In other words, look at the effort you put in to positively affect your bosses, colleagues, and mentees. Try it out this summer in your interactions with those you admire, those you take for granted, and those you believe are your equals. Take this time to build a practice of intentional impact. During the year you’ll feel more in control and inspired.
4. Fake it until you make it
It’s impossible to be an expert at everything a teacher does. However, that shouldn’t stop you from trying new ways of instructing. To move through the fear of not knowing exactly how to do something act as if you know what you’re doing, and do the best you can. Then keep practicing and searching for support. This summer, get in the groove of faking it until you make it by taking on something new, big or small. These experiences will help in the coming year as you inspire your own students to stretch their comfort zones.
5. Be proud of your career choice
Over the past few years there’s been a storm of political backlash against, and scapegoating of, teachers and public education. This can affect how you feel about your job. In the face of negativity it’s important to remember why you wanted to be a teacher in the first place. This summer, think about your story. What led you to this career? What would your elevator pitch be? Focus now on why you’re proud. Doing so will help you build an inspiring sense of self to share with your students and colleagues throughout the year.