One of the biggest things I hear is that there is no joy left in teaching for many. School shootings and violence against teachers seem to dominate the headlines. Social media is flooded with posts about a record number of teachers leaving their jobs. It would seem that there is no happiness in teaching if you look at the media. Without succumbing to toxic positivity, I believe that there are many ways that elementary teachers can reclaim the zest and joy in teaching, and no surprise–it starts with relationship building!
To begin with, find ways to connect with your students: Building positive relationships with your students can help you with finding joy in teaching. Make an effort to get to know your students on a personal level, and create a supportive and welcoming classroom environment. I have lots of tips for this on my Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook page as well as in our private group if you need help getting started or are just looking for fresh ideas.
Look for opportunities to learn and grow
Continuously learning and growing as a teacher can be a source of joy and fulfillment. Seek out professional development opportunities, collaborate with colleagues, and try new teaching strategies to keep your teaching fresh and engaging.
I remember that I was at a high burnout point in teaching when my daughter was little. I had several difficult classes in a row, and honestly, my heart was at home–I just wanted to be a stay at home mom. Short of winning the lottery, that was not going to be financially feasible, so I knew I needed to make some changes in how I was approaching teaching. I mean, if I was staying in the classroom, I had a responsibility to make it enjoyable for all of us, right? A friend of mine suggested signing up for Pinterest and sent me an invite (remember those days when it was invitation only?) and it literally changed my whole perspective!
I remember the first thing I found was a really cool idea that my students were super excited about for the book Pie, which was our read aloud at the time. Thousands of pins later, I see it as a huge turning point for helping me find joy in education again. This is also when I found my first must follow Pinterest account by Angela Watson. I bought her books, signed up for her courses and devoured her podcast. You can find her here: https://truthforteachers.com/
It’s important to celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem.
Take pride in the progress your students make. I definitely am not a huge proponent of over assessing children, but it does have to be done sometimes. Often, we just look at areas of growth needed, but I would encourage you to also look at what is going well. This information is just as important and can often lead to just the boost we need to feel like what we are doing matters (spoiler alert: it does!) and is working with children.
Teaching can be stressful at times, but it’s important to focus on the present moment and find joy in the classroom with the everyday moments of your job.
Take a moment to appreciate the beauty in your surroundings, the laughter of your students, or the satisfaction of a job well done. I find great joy in seeing beautiful classroom spaces, and could look at photos and videos of them for hours! One of my favorites is Schoolgirl Style. Her classroom transformations are amazing! I love seeing that lightbulb moment in students for sure, but even just sharing a good laugh can brighten my day. I have so many stories of truly joyful moments that bring a smile to my face every day when I remember them.
Finally, mindset makes all the difference. If you think you are going to have a crappy day and your students’ behavior will be awful, it probably will. If, on the other hand, you go into the day believing things will go well—not perfect, because that is unattainable–and you have put in the work to be prepared, then I truly believe it will go well. Again, this is not toxic positivity at all. You will still have days that challenge you, but overall I think that what you bring will determine what you take from the day. By finding the joy of teaching again, you can create a more positive and fulfilling experience for yourself and your students.
If you are a new teacher, and looking for more ideas on any of these topics (plus a whole lot more), then I recommend that you sign up for The Thriving Teacher Summit, hosted by my friend, Helena Hains that will take place March 23-25, 2023. You can sign up here:
Tickets to attend live are free, but you can purchase the VIP option to get lifetime access and so many amazing bonuses. For example, VIP’s will get the best discount anywhere on their first month of The Teacher Success Club subscription box, which will launch next month. If you are reading this after that date, feel free to reach out to me to find out when the next summit is or how you can get access to the next Teacher Success Club subscription box.