In the fast-paced world of education, change is inevitable. Whether it’s the introduction of new teaching methods, evolving curriculum standards, or shifts in technology integration, educators face a myriad of changes that can evoke a range of emotions. How can teachers stay grounded and true to their core values amid this ever-changing landscape? In the hustle and bustle, it’s all too easy to lose sight of what truly matters.
Facing and Overcoming Challenges
Two significant challenges often obstruct educators from living their core values: burnout and external pressures. Burnout, frequently stemming from overwhelming workloads and high emotional demands, can lead educators to sideline their personal values in the quest to meet academic and district requirements. Moreover, external pressures like standardized testing and administrative directives can make educators feel like they’re following a predetermined path, leaving little room to infuse their core values into their teaching.
To address these challenges, we can empower ourselves by forging a deeper connection with our core values. The following practices offer guideposts for navigating change gracefully and living in alignment with our core values.
1. Written Practice
Dedicate a daily moment to jot down your thoughts and experiences in relation to your values. This could be in the morning to set the day’s tone or in the evening to reflect on your experiences. Consistency is key; even dedicating just five minutes daily can build a strong habit. Be honest, curious, and open-minded with yourself. Consider the following:
- How did my core values manifest in my life this week?
- What specific examples demonstrate these values in action?
- What moments of joy or connection reaffirmed my values today?
- Where did I deviate from my values today, and how can I realign myself tomorrow?
- How did my values influence my decisions in today’s challenges?
- What successes today resonated with my core beliefs, and how did they make me feel?
- Pick two values you’d like to prioritize, and explore why they matter to you.
Reflecting on your values through writing fosters introspection. It’s a reminder to slow down, create space for yourself, and process your experiences. Periodically revisit your writings; let them be your compass, guiding you toward a life that resonates with your deepest beliefs.
2. Affirmation Practice
Each day, take a moment to write down affirmations connected to your core values. For an extra boost, recite these affirmations aloud, preferably while looking in a mirror. Integrate this into your daily routine to strengthen your connection with your core values. Here are some examples:
- “Today, I am guided by the values ____, ____, and ____.”
- “I commit to living out ____ (insert core value) today and let my values shape my actions.”
- “____ (insert core value) will steer my thoughts, words, and actions today.”
- “I commend myself for aligning with my core values.”
- “I embrace my uniqueness and remain true to myself in every situation.”
- “I acknowledge my worthiness of love, respect, and fulfillment as I honor my values.”
Our minds often gravitate toward negativity, fueling our inner critic. Confront this tendency by wholeheartedly embracing positive affirmations. Speaking lovingly to yourself, both aloud and internally, reinforces your core beliefs and gradually quiets the inner critic.
3. Action Practice
Begin by reflecting on your core values and their personal significance. List actions that resonate with these values and hold meaning for you. Incorporate these actions into your daily routine, making them a natural part of your interactions with the world. Schedule these activities, events, volunteering activities, or gatherings on your calendar.
The actions you choose will vary depending on your core values. Consider these possible options:
- Volunteering for causes aligned with your values
- Participating in events with like-minded individuals
- Advocating for issues you’re passionate about
- Making mindful choices aligned with your environmental or ethical values
- Prioritizing self-care and personal growth
By identifying actions that resonate with your core beliefs and weaving them into your daily routine, you bridge the gap between values and reality. This active approach ensures that your values aren’t just ideals but principles that manifest tangibly in your life.
4. Accountability Practice
The last—and, honestly, underrated—practice is intentional accountability. Yay! Let’s normalize asking the people around us for feedback on how we’re showing up and asking ourselves if that is congruent with the values to which we’ve aligned ourselves. Warning: If you do this, you must be ready to hear feedback. Active listening, love, and open-mindedness help here.
These are examples of accountability actions:
- Finding mentors or role models who embody your values
- Sharing your experiences with others to contribute to a supportive community
- Scheduling regular check-ins with your accountability group
- Engaging in open and honest conversations, offering and receiving encouragement
Having an accountability practice helps you stay aligned with your values, gaining support from individuals or a community. Surrounding yourself with people who challenge, uplift, and inspire you serves as a loving reminder of your chosen path.
Be flexible in how you implement these practices, and ask yourself, “What works best for me?” Staying connected to your values requires daily, intentional, loving, and consistent practice. Change can be an opportunity to reconnect with your values. Empower yourself by holding them close and letting your best self guide you. Along the way, be kind and compassionate to yourself while also challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone.
Let’s embrace growth through change, united in love and compassionate understanding.