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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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Estella's picture
Estella
4th grade teacher from California

On most days I feel the way Michelle does. There is nothing much we can do about the politics of education, state standards, and the paperwork that is all consuming. What keeps me going is the students themselves. Without fail, there will be one that "gets it", makes a joke, or gives me a hug just when I need it. That is what motivates me and keeps me going. As for the lack of parental involvement, well there is less that can be done about that. We just recently became a No Excuse University school and one thing that the founder Damen Lopez made sure he mentioned on several occasions is that we cannot let the lack of parental involvement hold us back. At first it was hard for me to accept this. Coming from parents who had no formal education but made sure to always be involved in my education, I couln't fatham the idea of parents not being involved. I have learned to accept this, especially this year. I have learned that I cannot hold students responsible for their parents acts. The best advice I can give you is to accept that you are there for your students, not their parents.

Laura Cone's picture

I agree that the field of education is not what I thought it would be. I often get frustrated with school politics. I was displace almost two years ago. I am unhappy with where I am currently teaching and do not care for the subject(s) I am teaching. What keeps me going is hope!! I hope to transfer after this year and get back to middle school and to teaching a content area. I find that hearing other teachers and their struggles also is a large part of keeping me motivated.

Laura Cone's picture

What keeps me going is the students and also my relationships with other colleagues. We meet on a weekly basis and offer suggestions to each other regarding anything from school politics, lesson plans and classroom management. The group members vary from novice to expert but we all are special ed. teachers and for the most part don't have a team that we teach with so often we feel like an island out there all by ourselves. I find it so important to have this group for support and collaboration.

Katie's picture

I too find myself frustrated as a teacher. It is hard to walk into school each day and have so many children with behavior problems, unwillingness to learn and being lazy. It is hard to feel motivated when it seems next to impossible to get the kids motivated! however, there is always that one student a day with an insightful question or just a hug that makes it all worthwhile

Katie's picture

I too find teaching frustrating on a daily basis. Whether it be endless behavior problems, an unwillingness to participate, or simply a lazy attitude...it is a struggle to keep up motivation. However, have come to understand that if you are not motivated...your students will never be. All it takes is an insightful question from a student or simply a hug to turn a day around. I wouldn't change my career for anything.

Kristina's picture

Like most comments presented here, I also feel as though my students keep me motivated. My school recently presented our faculty with a $3.5 million deficit. Non - tenured teachers (me) were told that we may be laid off in June - this made me feel completely unmotivated; I even stayed home from work the day after I was told because I was so upset. What keeps me motivated during this financial crisis is my kindergarten students. Each day, I go into work to see their smiling faces, to hear their stories, and to watch their intrigue, and I forget about the chaos that's going on in my district. It's almost as though my classroom saves me from an emotional downfall - it's like my classroom is me best worst enemy.

Jameka's picture

What keeps you going and motivated? When you are forced to ask yourself this question, it helps to reflect back on why you became a teacher. I can guarantee your response will bring a smile to your face, and it will give you the motivation that you need.

Jami Pope's picture

I teach in a very small town. One day as I was in our local Dollar Store after a long day of work, I noticed a former student's mom standing behind me. Usually when I go into a store, I try to "hide" if you know what I mean. I am usually in a hurry and I am usually exhausted and the parent usually wants to talk for quite some time. This day, I could not avoid her, because she was right behind me. She proceeded to tell me how her daughter was having a horrible year. She cried everyday because she didn't want to go to school. She said she always said she wished she was still in my class. This made me feel better, not that she hated school now, but that I did make a difference. Then 2 people behind her was another parent with her son. When her son saw me, he ran to grab my legs and he gave me a big hug. Just as he let go another parent walked through the door and overheard the conversation that these two parent's were having about me as a teacher. She quickly joined in. By the end of the conversation I was in tears. I am going through this whole story to tell you that this is the motivator I have. When I feel like I have given all I have to give and I can't take any more that administrators or the state or federal requirements can dish out. I think of this day, and of my students and their parents. They are the reason I teach.

Margo's picture

Seeing the students' progression from the beginning of the year until the end of the year is what keeps me going. I love to look back at their old writing papers and work and comparing it with the work they leave at the end of the year and I think....Wow I had something to do with that progess! I feel responsible for the content area knowledge that they are supposed to learn in my classroom and take that very seriously. I do work hard differientiating instrution so that I can do my best to reach all learners in the classroom. There are some students who will make further progress than others but the fact does remain that all of the students will make some kind of progress.

Hope's picture

I'm motivated because I love teaching my "big" kids, as my young daughters would say. I teach 11th and 12th grade social studies and after 13 years I still enjoy them. They are trying so hard to become adults that I have to laugh to myself. Too CUTE! They have attitudes and problems and because their brains haven't finished developing, they go haywire every now and then. They make me laugh and cry (some of their stories are sooo sad) but in general I find that by the time they get to me, they think they know what they can and can't do, how far they'll go, or what they'll achieve. My goal is to inspire them to reach for more and do something they have a passion for... they often are encouraged to be something practical. I try to motivate them like they motivate me.

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