This weekend, temperatures reached seventy degrees for the first time since the fall. Saturday, I ventured into our backyard, and discovered several items that been hiding for months beneath the snow.
I found one of my sons' footballs.
The football, which previously smelled of expensive, new, soft leather, was covered in mud and pine needles. It had been rained on, snowed on, frozen and thawed. It was faded and deflated. The previously strong and powerful toy, was now a shadow of what it was in the fall.
Reminds me of teachers in April.
One of the things I love best about teaching, is that we work towards a finish line each year, and start new every fall.
We are running a marathon. All of us are tired. Some are barely limping towards the end. The finish line is on the horizon, but some days it still feels too far away.
How can we maintain our motivation? How can we survive till the end of the school year? Here are three tips.
1. Remember why you began teaching in the first place.
I became a teacher because of Demetri Jackson. Years ago, I tutored Demetri through the Cabrini Green Tutoring program in Chicago. Demetri could not read. He could not sit still. He tried every tactic his eight-year-old brain could think of to get away from me every tutoring session. Little did he know, he was motivating me.
I spent a year with Demetri and discovered I loved trying to find creative ways to capture his attention and hold it for a few minutes. Demetri continued to struggle with reading, but what did improve was his attitude. As the year went on, he began to run to me when he arrived for tutoring. He sat so close to me he was almost on my lap. Demetri knew I would show up every week and he knew I cared. The hour tutoring Demetri became precious time for us both.
Do you have a Demetri story? Why did you decide to teach? Now is the time to remember.
2. Engage in self care
Self-care is a strange phenomenon. I often find a million reasons why I do not have time for self-care, yet when I take the time to do it, I feel like I have more time, and my day is more productive.
Meditation, journaling, exercising and reading are some ways I engage in self-care. But if daily spa treatments or massages were an option, I would gladly choose those.
By this point in the school year, teachers are depleted. We consistently give everything we have and often continue giving even when we have nothing left to give. Self-care is critical to refilling what the daily grind drains. Figure out what works best for you. Try to do something every day. Taking even a few minutes for yourself can make a big difference.
3. Keep a jar of successes and memories
A teacher once shared with me that she uses a jar of memories to keep her motivated. During the school year, anytime something funny or memorable happens in her classroom, she writes it down on a slip of paper and puts it in a jar.
On tough days, she opens the jar and pulls out a few memories to read. This shifts her focus to better times and better days. Many of us are currently bogged down with State testing, spring fever, student behaviors, parent emails and others who may not understand what we are complaining about. It is hard not to feel overwhelmed. Revisiting uplifting moments from earlier in the school year, might be just the boost you need to get through the day.
Teachers, summer is in sight. Even if right now you are feeling like a dirty, deflated football, the good news it is possible to be cleaned up, refilled and inspired again.
Hang in there teachers. It's spring.
We got this.