A few conversations I have had lately coupled with some new connections I have made with other bloggers has led to this post...we are living in difficult times in our field--there is no doubt about it.
These days, new teachers are leaving the field at a rate of 50% – decreasing the teacher population while the student population increases. Brian and Eric of Wise Guys have used their combined experience of 40 years in the classroom to help tackle that problem, by writing an e-book to motivate new teachers along with creating a large resource guide to equip new teachers with the tools they need for success. They also created a free ebook for more established teachers to start this new school year off strong.
So as I thought about what thoughts run through my head when I see new people leaving the profession...when I see seasoned teachers becoming disillusioned with our field...when I see the stress that fills our schools--I think it comes down to one key fact:
We can put ourselves in situations that help us grow and stay positive.
I can remember hearing all the "old teachers" in the lounge when I first started 20-some years ago...they would smile knowingly at me and say, "Just wait until you've done this for a while--you'll see what we mean." I can remember thinking how I never, EVER wanted to get old and crabby and negative.
But guess what. It happened.
As the years went on, my confidence grew and I began to notice all the little things that I didn't like...the decisions I thought were wrong...the frustrations with school/district/state mandates...frustrations with students or staff members. I got my master's degree and my expertise grew even more. And with that expertise, I found myself becoming cynical. I found myself not just listening to the complaints of others but actually engaging with them. It was a nasty cycle, and I felt my satisfaction levels falling.
I don't remember when it happened or how it happened, but I somehow was able to recognize that I wasn't liking the emotional drain this negativity was having on me and I made the decision TO MAKE THE DECISION to avoid the pitfalls of negativity. We can choose what we listen to...what we tell ourselves..what we let bother us. We can train ourselves to look at the bright side of every situation and to focus on our students and bettering ourselves rather than wasting energy focusing on the negative. If we always seek to improve ourselves and improve our craft, we will continue to find fulfillment.
So, what advice do I have for teacher--experienced and new? Surround yourself with people who make you better and lift you higher. Put yourself in situations where you can learn, grow, and celebrate all that is GOOD about our profession. In recent years we have seen so many social movements...."pay it forward" or random acts of kindness. These are conscious choices we make--and we can do the same thing in our teaching world. I love the way Oprah put it...
If each of us creates a network of people who care about what they do and go to school each day with a growth mindset, there is no limit to the impact we can have. The Wise Guys are hoping to help new teachers with some of the nitty gritty details about the first years of teaching--and if we can all help lift each other up, together we can impact the lives of thousands and thousands of children and adults and the bumps in the road will be navigated with ease.
To celebrate the launch of The First Year Teacher Ebook and Resource Guide, Wise Guys are giving away $100 in gift cards to Teachers Pay Teachers plus copies of the book and guide in exchange for signing up for their newsletter. For more inspirational stories, head on over to the Guys’ blog to get linked to others’ First Year Teacher reflections at http://www.