6 Ways You Can Find Contentment in Teaching

James Alan Sturtevant writes, "When I reflect on my time as both a teacher and a student, the memories that erupt are the moments of raucous laughter, the surprises, the incredible relationships, and the deep feelings of accomplishment. These were moments of pure contentment."

Being able to make these memories is what teaching is all about. Everyday you want to inspire your students to actively learn and also have fun while they are doing it. Contentment is right under our noses even if we can't see it. There will be obstacles along the way, but if you can find contentment in teaching, you will never work a day in your life. 

1. Raise Your Voice

When a teacher raises there voice at a student it is almost always due to some sort of anger or frustration. We get stuck in this mindset that raising our voices is a bad thing and you should reserve it for when students are misbehaving. You don’t have to be mad to raise your voice. Be ecstatic when a student succeeds. Demonstrate unbridled joy. Erupt in pride at a kid’s achievement. 

2. Channel Your Inner Five-Year-Old

When you were a little kid, your mother would give you paper and crayons, and you’d be set for the next thirty minutes. You nodded with pride as you slammed down your crayon, and then delivered your masterpiece to your mother, who lavished praise as she posted it on the fridge. Unfortunately, the next year you went to kindergarten and started comparing your drawing to those of your peers. Your art no longer seemed so special. As you matriculated through elementary and middle school, you lost your artistic enthusiasm and confidence.

Today, bring that childlike artistic bravery back. Tell students this story and challenge them to draw something pertaining to your lesson. You draw, too. You may transport the entire room back to the creative confidence of age five.

3. Say Hello

Teaching can be a rough job, particularly if the kids aren’t nice to you. One action you can take today is to simply smile and say “Hello” to every kid you pass in the hallway. If you teach at a large school, many of the students may be unfamiliar. Turn this activity into a game. See how many kids respond. It may be under half. Don’t sweat this at all. Just smile and greet the next young face. The mere action of smiling and saying “hi” will put you in a better mood and demonstrate to the entire student body that friendly teachers are in their midst. If you do this often, some kids, even those you don’t know, may beat you to the punch and offer a greeting before you can unleash yours. 

4. Tell A Story

People have told stories for as long as there’ve been words. In the classroom, stories bring dull lessons to life. Today, tell a story that will inspire students about the day’s lesson. It could be how you, or perhaps a famous person, interacted with the lesson topic. Or it could be an abstract allegory. This is a challenging prompt, but the potential payoff is highly engaged students. Seeing students interested in your story and how that motivates them to learn will bring contentment. 

5. Remember What They'll Remember

Sure, your kids may do well on their ACT and come back and thank you for preparing them. You may have one lesson that engaged them, which they’ll bring up when you run into them at the grocery in a decade. But most of your students won't remember their SAT score or a lesson they really enjoyed; they will remember the way you treated them. Yes, they’ll be grateful you helped them master an academic skill or subject, but how you supported them, the kindness and patience you demonstrated, and the humor you utilized to cheer them up and give them confidence have the real shelf life. Keep that in mind today before you cut short a conversation with a student.

6. Show Your Palms

A great way to put others at ease is to display the empty palms of your hands. It’s like saying to those you’re attempting to greet, “Look, I’m not carrying any weapons. You’ve nothing to fear.” Greet every student at school the next day with this open palm gesture. Most kids will be curious, which gives you the opportunity to explain and perhaps initiate a relationship or forge a deeper one. Today, think of other curious ways to greet students. You could greet them in another language or mimic a welcoming gesture from another culture. Hopefully, they’ll inquire about it and present you with an opportunity to explain.

Never working a day in your life sounds like a dream come true. When you find contentment in teaching, you are enjoying yourself, engaging students in active learning, and making a difference in students' lives. Follow the 100 paths of Teaching In Magenta and take the steps to find fulfillment in education. 

Main post image by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

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