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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What keeps you going and motivated?

What keeps you going and motivated?

Related Tags: Teacher Burnout
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The education field is not always what is envisioned when we are in college. The utopia idea of coming to school and all students learn at the same level is far from the reality of the situation. As educators, how to do you stay motivated through the politics, push on state standards, paper work, behavior problems, lack of parental involvement, and more?

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Brittany Oxley's picture

I understand the frustration with all the issues you mentioned. I keep going because I know that there are children who need me to advocate for them. I don't want people in the job who just want to give minimal effort, and I know I will always do my best and go above and beyond what is requested of me. This is probably why I found it so hard last year to let go of my class when I went on maternity leave. I was really bad and went in almost every week. What can I say? I'm just very dedicated and love what I do.

Bob Lankford's picture

I had a very good student whose grades started to take a dive. I had a discussion with her and found her dad was arrested and put in prison. I didn't judge her or her father, in fact, I didn't even ask what he did. We had a discussion and she cried for a long time. I reminding her that her father was always there for her at school and he wanted her to do well. I told her the best way she could help her dad was to keep up her grades because he didn't need to worry about her right now. She needed to let him know that she heard him and would work through this problem. She later wrote a letter to her father telling him how I was her favorite teacher because I wouldn't let her quit. He in turn wrote me a letter thanking me. That was four years ago. She is playing sports, taking AP classes, and the editor of the school newspaper. She comes by to see me about two or three times a year and I am always so happy to see her. She always steps into my classroom and tells my students that I'm the best teacher ever! Experiences like that are priceless and keep my coming back.

JenniferBrayard's picture
4th grade teacher

Like many have mentioned, the students keep me going. I find myself frustrated about politics, test scores, situations at the school, etc, but when I close that door and begin teaching I seem to forget all that. Just knowing that I can change 28 students' lives with my lessons, words, and behavior keeps me motivated to strive to be professional. Yes, I am human and fail sometimes. Refocusing helps me get back on track.

Jenni's picture
5th grade teacher from Virginia

After reading several of the responses found in this blog, I sat and reflected on what actually keeps me going as a teacher. I feel that we all share the same exact answer to that question. My students keep me going. There is no better feeling as a teacher, than giving a lesson and seeing all the light bulbs going off in his/her students. It's such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. The possibility of molding the young minds of children into becoming wonderful responsible adults keeps me motivated and helps me become the best teacher I can.

Rene Ayers's picture

Witnessing my students make positive strides in any aspect of their learning keeps me going. Also, comunicating with the parents to ensure the student is making positive choices that will keep them out of trouble or harms way and school is the avenue that is keeping them on track.

Cara's picture

Many of you have stated that you feel the students are what keep you going and motivated to do the jobs that you do. I would have to agree that my students are the reason that I go to school each day. Each and every one of them make me smile and etch life-long memories in my brain. However, what truly keeps me going is knowing that I have made a lasting impression on my students and allowed them to grow not only in their learning but as a person. I have witnessed first hand how teachers can make or break a student with their ability or lack of ability to make that "connection".

I am a late-comer in the field of education. I have had a successful career prior to teaching and did not make the decision to become a teacher until I turned 35. I am a mother of two children who are learning disabled. I have watched them throughout their school careers become frustrated and even angry because of teachers who did not care about anything other than academic achievement. I have also seen other teachers who have connected and influenced them both in academics and personal growth. I entered this profession to make a difference in the lives of children as a whole.

This desire to assist a child in their growth is what keeps me going. Seeing the "light go on" when a child finally grasps the concept that you were trying to teach is what drives me each and every day. There is nothing better. I am sure that all of you feel the same way and touch the lives of your students in your own individual way. After all...isn't that why we continue to do what we are doing?

Chris F's picture

I am frustrated with many things in today's educational world, from IEP policies to fitting in the curriculum between prepping students for standardized tests. But the reason that I stay in this field is because of my students. Although students can sometimes be just as frustrating as everything else there are many more days when my students are uplifting. I enjoy having engaging discourse about literature, finding students books that they love and renewing their interest in reading, and the feeling of a lesson plan where everything fell into place and the students learned knowledge that the will be able to apply to their everyday lives.
Also, because I am the assistant theater director at my school I have rehearsals with students usually 4 days a week for at least 2 hours. Being able to work and interact with students outside of the classroom is extremely motivating. Seeing the abilities of students outside academics and having the opportunity to help foster and develop these skills for students is refreshing. Every time the students' put on a successful play or musical I know I at least taught them something. They can take away that experience of being onstage and draw on it for the rest of their lives. I believe that working with students outside of the classroom is a great form of motivation. Applying teaching techniques that work well during extracurricular activities in the regular education classroom can help improve the classroom setting and learning overall. For me motivation comes from the direct teacher student relationship. The more successes students have, big or small, the more I am motivated to continue to help facilitate these successes.

Kenyetta's picture

My four and five year-olds keep me motivated each day. When they are able to learn new skills and concepts, it truly makes me proud because I know I am doing something right. It is a joy to see the "light bulbs" come on in my preschoolers eyes.

Becky Cudini's picture

I could not agree more!! I just moved from teaching first grade to eighth grade. I am often at a loss with how I am feeling about my job. I absolutely loved teaching first grade and have had to adjust to so many differences between the two age groups and curriculum. One day I may think I cant take this one day longer but then the next day it may be so incredibly rewarding. Those rewarding days are what keep me coming back!

Becky Cudini's picture

This past year I was moving from teaching innocent first graders to teaching 8th grade students due to budget cuts. I am teaching very challenging curriculum that was brought down from the HS level and also facing the challenges of 8th grade behavior.

I have always felt like I have had a great handle on my classroom management but I am often feeling like I don't have complete control. I also have had a hard time dealing with the attitudes and rude behavior, it is so different than six year olds and hard not to take things personal. With being a younger looking teacher, I feel like they sometimes take advantage of me.

I would love to hear some wonderful things/ideas that work with this age group. I don't want to feel this overwhelmed and would like to be back to where I go to work loving my job!

Help! :)

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