By Marci Brodock
In today’s education system, it is easy to describe deficiencies in schools.
Teachers are working in less than desirable conditions with minimal resources and high expectations.
Due to the famine of support public education gets from lawmakers and society in general, education is in a critical position in the US.
This lack of support leads to many problems, including overloading and demoralizing teachers, leading to burnout, and the result is our education system losing good teachers. This article is not about taking action to make the appropriate changes that need to be made to shift society’s mindset about public education.
This is the story about how the mindset of one teacher helps her keep her passion for teaching and influences her to stay in the classroom until the education system can be fixed. This is my story.
Education is my passion. For me, it’s about making a difference in the lives of children every single day.
As I entered my classroom for the first time seven years ago, I would soon learn that not everyone shares that same passion. The bad news is those people can impact my classroom by refusing to fund our public schools and attack teachers and administration for the lack of skills our students graduate with.
Let’s focus on scarcity for a moment. The lack of funding and support from lawmakers and other stakeholders leads to larger class sizes, minimal resources, added responsibilities, and heightened expectations among many others. This can lead to disengagement and a weakening of the empowerment of teachers.
When I walk into my classroom in the morning, there are many days I walk in feeling overwhelmed with all the meetings, expectations, grading, lesson planning, and anything else that unexpectedly arises during the day. However, even with all of these responsibilities, I found a way to feel refreshed and excited for the day. Here’s how.
Starting With Abundance
I can remember back to when I was a student working toward my education degree. As I would work on an assignment or fill in my practicum hours, I would daydream about the day I had my classroom. Well, guess what?! That dream has come true. I worked hard and made that dream a reality.
Every time I walk into my own classroom, I choose to just focus on everything I do have, from my teacher desk and chair to the classroom library I worked hard to build. Curriculum resources and materials are in my classroom, and whatever is lacking in that area, I have the power to fill in. I have the creativity and skill to open up a browser, get on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teacher, and find supplemental materials and activities for whatever my curriculum might be missing. No one can take that away from me.
At the end of the day, I have everything I need to be the best teacher I can be because my most valuable resource is my brain that I have heavily invested in.
I know I can overcome any challenges that come my way because I have done it before. I have finished my degree and navigated through seven years of serving in public education. The more I focus on the things I have done, teaching becomes less overwhelming and more exciting again.
Gratitude is Key
I simply start by writing down at least three to five things I am grateful for before I even start my day.
Some days this is done before I leave home and other days I wait until I get to my classroom, but this practice has been a game-changer for me both personally and professionally. For the sake of this article, though, I will focus on the things I am grateful for professionally.
Teaching Partners and Co-Workers
Seriously, I could not make it through the day without them! I start my day writing at least one thing I am grateful for about my teaching partner or another co-worker who makes up my support system.
The team that surrounds me keeps me motivated and inspired on a daily basis because they share the same passion for education as I do.
Yep! You heard me right. The administrators I know also have an unrelenting passion for education and I never doubt that they want me to succeed.
I have a fantastic principal in my school, but I know not every teacher feels the same about the principal in their building.
However tough or awesome administration in my district might be, there is always something I can be grateful for. I write it down every morning to remind myself that I am not in this alone.
It is easy to get caught up in focusing on the tough students. They are the ones who require more of my attention and energy during the day.
So before the day begins, I write down a student I am grateful for and why. This can be any student, but I make sure to write down a different student each day.
I keep this close by in a journal so I can reference it when I get frustrated with my class. Sometimes I share what I am grateful for with the student to help strengthen that relationship. My students deserve to know how much I appreciate, respect and love them no matter what.
The Supporting Public
Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for the people who support public education from outside the perimeter.
These people are champions in my mind because they also share my passion for public education and they take action to help support the schools in their communities.
I am so blessed to have an amazing PTA and community of supporters whose commitment and determination to making the lives of teachers and students better is inspiring.
These people I know have my back when it matters most – during elections, fundraising, improving the school climate among many other contributions. I make sure I write at least one thing down that the community around me has done to make my job a little easier.
I don’t forget to include myself in my daily gratitude.
I know I am an amazing teacher because every day I give my students my best.
So I write down something I did to help make my day easier today. For example, I write about how I am thankful I corrected the spelling the day before so today I can focus on organizing the science materials. Remembering my accomplishments (even the littlest ones) helps to relieve the overwhelming feeling of pressure to get everything done. I know it will get done!
Being a teacher in today’s public education system is tough and I do not want the diminish the need for change.
In fact, I expect and continue to work for change.
In the meantime, though, I want to take the time to focus on the abundance I have around me. Starting my day from a place of abundance and gratitude consistently reignites my passion for teaching.
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