As a teacher, the daily hustle and bustle can sometimes wear a person down over time. You don’t really notice it happening. Others around you aren’t aware that anything is different but there are little things changing.
Over time, you don’t have the spark you once had, planning loses its dazzle, you just don’t seem to have any new ideas and you aren’t inspired.
It happened to me.
I lost that keen edge.
I wasn’t inspired but tired. I was doing things because they had to be done not because they were filling my buckets. I volunteered for more things hoping it would help me feel more connected.
But it didn’t.
I had slipped into a rut and didn’t know that the rut was getting deeper. And deeper.
Really, that’s such an important question.
All around you see people doing all sorts of things, pushing and pushing and seeming full of energy with such great ideas and doing all sorts of new things, trying different things in their classroom and seeming to be filled with inspiration. But no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to get any traction. What once used to motivate you has lost its luster.
You want to make changes but, like me, you can’t seem to figure out what to do.
6 Practices to Enhance Your Teaching
Teachers are creative people, drawing on their inspiration and creativity each day in the classroom. They inspire students, come up with different ways of helping students learn and explore new strategies in their search to ensure all students are learning.
However, over time, without taking care of that creativity and filling their buckets, what was once a source of passion and strength becomes something one just does.
Most teachers are drawn to teaching as a calling but, over time, that passion can be lost, not for lack of wanting but from lack of consistent care and refueling.
Over time, without taking care of that creativity and filling their buckets, what was once a source of passion and strength becomes something one just does. Most teachers are drawn to teaching as a calling but, over time, that passion can be lost, not for lack of wanting but from lack of consistent refueling.
Over the past 4 years, I’ve done a great deal of inquiring into what practices people use to support their continued growth and development. Not the conferences or the workshops they attend but their daily habits and routines that sustain their continued and continual development and creativity.
1. They develop morning and evening routines. “Reflect on what you do in a day. You may have never realized how some simple harmless activities rob you of precious time.” — Vivek Naik. Each of us is different. Although it appears that all successful people do certain specific things, underneath this lies the thread that they all figure out what habits work best for them and then develop these into daily routines. These routines feed their mind, body, and spirit, allowing them to do their best work each day. It may be an early morning or specific acts during the day or how they manage their evening. I know with 8 children of my own this can seem like a daunting task. But, it’s not about doing all sorts of things. It’s about doing the small things that support the work you do each day. What are the things that are essential? What are things I do that really aren’t essential? What are the small things I need to do to thrive?
2.They reflect daily. “To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult.” — Johann Wolfgang Von Goeth. Without some way to reflect and make connections the ideas just remind ideas. Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way outlines the process of Morning Pages, a habit of writing 3 long-hand pages once you get up. Using Stream-of-Conscious writing, you write whatever comes into your mind. Through the night your mind has been at work and this process provides an opportunity to put the ideas swirling around down on paper. Some of it is just random ideas but some will provide insights and ideas for things you are working on or ideas you have had. Besides Morning Pages having time to journal about what you are reading and the ideas you are exploring is essential to helping you generate insights and connections. Pushing yourself to make new connections and see things slightly differently helps to develop the creative process that is at the heart of what teachers do each day.
3. They read daily.“Your field is not going to be a source of your next great thought. If it is, you’re just following.” – Peter Brock The Answer to How is Yes. Daily reading is important but not just any reading. Read in areas that are outside your comfort zone or are outside your area of expertise. Read about cooking and architecture, gardening and building, business, marketing, finances or extreme rock climbing. But don’t just read to read. Read deeply. Capture thoughts and ideas and use them as jumping off points for journaling or ideas for lessons. How could you use the idea of cabinet building in grade 1 Art? The more you push your creativity, the more you’ll find inspiration all around you.
4. Daily Walk/Exercise. It’s important to get outside and away from the normal work surroundings, to walk and look at things in different ways. Outside supervision does get one outside but usually, you’re invested in what is happening all around. Walking to think is different, it’s allowing one’s thoughts to wander, to actively engage in the process of looking to see things all around and make connections. Exercise can have the same effect. I’ve found that I’ve had interesting insights on the treadmill or while running or while doing a set of weights. It allows the mind to be open to different things which can fuel creativity.
5. Regular Sleep – This is so important. I know, most of us are spent at the end of the day, falling into bed exhausted only to redo the routine the same way over and over. Or that’s what I thought. Then I did an extreme review of my own habits only to find that there were things I was doing that used my time in ways that weren’t helping me thrive. In fact, once I changed my mindset from seeking balance to finding ways to thrive, I began to view what I did in a new way. I thought I had some good routines and habits but, upon review, I wasn’t thriving in the ways I wanted to thrive. And one of the biggest issues was I was exhausted most of the time, dragging myself out of bed each morning and not really able to give mine all through the day. Once I decided that regular sleep was essential for me to thrive, I began to build my routines and habits around that and modify them through the year as needed. So when my boys are involved in all sorts of things? It means I need to make a few changes in what I do so I get the sleep that is the foundation for so much of what I do. I still run into those occasional times when I don’t listen to my body too well but I’ve learned that in order to thrive, I have to be more aware of the decisions I make and how I use my time each day.
6. They Develop Other Interests – “The strange and beautiful truth about the adjacent possible is that its boundaries grow as you explore them. Each new combination opens up the possibility of other new combinations.” George Couros.As creative people, teachers are drawing on their creativity all the time throughout the day. Without taking the time to replenish this through other avenues, pursuing experiences outside of teaching, the creativity becomes harder to manifest. Add to this a list of growing demands and increased stress and teachers need something that will replenish their bodies, minds, and spirits. Drawing strength and inspiration from other pursuits and interests, teachers can use this to fuel their own passions and creative processes within their classrooms to support the student creativity and learning.
What would you add?
What practices would you suggest besides these?
How do you manage your day?
I’d like to do a follow-up post with your ideas and suggestions.
How do you, as an educator, fuel your passion and take care of yourself? Where do you struggle? What have you learned about your own habits and routines?
I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment or get ahold of me on Twitter @kwhobbes.