How to Rediscover the Joy of Teaching After Your Worst Day

by | Dec 23, 2017

So you just had it—your worst day ever as a teacher. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and you’re at your wit’s end. It’s hard to believe you have to come back again tomorrow, and the joy of teaching seems like a distant memory. But don’t worry, because Johanna Rauhala has some words of encouragement in her Edutopia article 5 Strategies for Recovering After Your Worst Day Teaching.

Johanna empathizes with those times when, as a teacher, you’ve just had enough. It’s hard to find others beyond our colleagues who understand the common frustrations of the profession.

“Most teachers, at some point, feel like giving up. Most feel the weight of not having done enough, the frustrations of negative media attention, and the challenges of apathetic or disruptive students. Sometimes the limits and loneliness of the lighthouse keeper are overwhelming. That’s when the enormity of our task feels insurmountable and we despair.”

Unfortunately, there will be times for every educator when the stresses of the job become insurmountable. It’s worse for some than for others. After all, we all cope with stress in different ways and with varying degrees of success. However, finding the joy of teaching again is within your grasp. All you have to do is use the following 5 recovery tips Johanna offers in her article.

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5 Tips for Finding the Joy of Teaching

The following tips, as Johanna suggests, are for focusing the same empathy and compassion we use for students on ourselves. When we want to rekindle our joy of teaching, self-compassion is one of the healthiest things we can practice. It’s okay to make it about you in these moments. Hopefully, you will have a network of colleagues and an administration that will do everything in their power to help you.

  1. Talk to Someone: Find somebody you can lean on and let out your feelings. “No one escapes from teaching—or for that matter, any profession—without wondering if he or she made the right choice,” says Johanna.
  2. Breathe: It sounds obvious, but it’s incredibly effective. Furthermore, it’s often in a simple silence that one can reconnect with the joy of teaching. This is about sitting and honouring your discomfort, not feeling bad for experiencing it. “If possible, carry this habit into your workday,” Johanna advises. “It will create space for less reactivity and a more grounded emotional stance.”
  3. Build Community: Take some time out from regular lessons and try fun team-building activities with your learners. You could all use the break, and you’ll come back refreshed and feeling alive. In addition, you’ll realize there’s more to life than the routines.
  4. Prioritize: The joy of teaching can be smothered with piles of paperwork, unfinished schedules, and overdue tasks. This is where you can use time management tips to organize and prioritize everything before you. By the way, write stuff down—as Johanna correctly advises, “the physical act of writing provides a sense of control.”
  5. Get Some Perspective: As much as experiencing the joy of teaching is your goal, it’s not everything. You can avoid burnout by focusing on a balance between your work and other areas. Make time for family, hobbies, self-care, holidays, and personal interests. “We can be good, caring, rigorous teachers, but sacrificing our personal lives is a costly and unsustainable price,” cautions Johanna.

Read the full article Strategies for Recovering After Your Worst Day Teaching on Edutopia.

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