(Photo Credit © DGLimages via iStock)
It is rewarding. It is demanding. It is both, often at the same time.
The seesaw of reality for teachers is that the challenges in the job can sometimes start to outweigh the joys. Salaries tend to be low, and raises rare or nonexistent (illustrated by recent statewide teacher strikes in West Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, which made 2018 the biggest year for worker strikes in a generation). Meanwhile, teachers must deal with the following on a constant basis:
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So, how do you keep your passion for teaching alive when challenges continue to increase?
Just as you need lesson plans for the classroom, you need a strategy that helps you keep your level of inspiration strong. Without consciously making your strategy a priority, it can fall by the wayside, due to the constant influx of other demands.
“Isn’t teaching hard enough already, you ask?” writes longtime Ohio teacher Pete Barnes for Edutopia. “Why take on something new? Yes, teaching is exhausting, especially the parts we can’t avoid—grading papers, attending staff meetings, preparing students for another standardized test. But if we focus on things that drive our passions for teaching, we can stretch ourselves and energize our careers.”
Barnes encourages teachers to find ways to work their passions into their curriculum. Over his 23 years of teaching, he has found ways to work his love for astronomy into his fifth-grade lesson plans, worked with students as school greenhouse manager, and applied for grants and partnerships to make projects happen.
“I urge you to challenge yourself—but don’t kill yourself,” Barnes recommends. “Taking on new experiences and opportunities should be energizing, not exhausting. Attempt just one new initiative at a time.”
In an article on reigniting passion, Greater Good Magazine notes that “even the best work can wear us down.” When it asked teachers what gave them a sense of purpose – from a kindergarten teacher to a college professor – their answers focused on how engaged their students were, how satisfying it was to build relationships, and their sense of being part of something important. They offered five ways to reconnect with your passion when you’re feeling a little worn out:
Finally, remember that even as a teacher, you need to be devoted to learning.
“A career in the education field means that there are always things to learn,” writes TeachHub. “Standards, technology, teaching strategies, and methods are always changing. Instead of feeling stressed out about the constant changes, try and embrace them. Take a look at it from a different perspective. Set yourself up with a learning plan and create it so that it suits your needs. No one ever said that you had to learn everything in one day — take the time that you need and you will find that your passion will never falter.”
DominicanCAOnline (Dominican University of California’s Professional Development Program for Teachers) realizes that passion is critical in education; it has created a “Passion-Driven Education Series” of three complementary online courses that range from 1 to 2 credits each: