Teachers often ask me how I manage to stay so motivated as an educator. I used to find that question odd, until I realized all the pressures, frustrations, and disappointments we face every week as teachers. Now, I often joke with new and beginning teachers that there are only two reasons why anyone would become a teacher: youre either called to teach or youre just plain crazy to teach, because who would choose to do this job (teach) if he or she wasnt called to do it? Only a crazy person. The teachers laugh, but I think theres some real truth to what I say.
So, what do I tell those teachers who ask me for my secret to staying motivated in the classroom? I tell them to get medicated. Now before you panic, Im not condoning drug usage. I know we live in a country thats already over-medicated. What Im referring to isnt a prescription; its more of a philosophy. Its the secret weapon I like to call the medicine cabinet. Its one of the greatest teaching resources you can create for constant and never-ending motivation.
Ever since I started teaching, Ive saved every note, e-mail, card, gift, and letter Ive ever received from a student or parent. I keep all those letters and notes in a file cabinet near my desk. I call it my medicine cabinet because every time I feel like Im having a rough (i.e., emotionally sick) day -- you know, one of those days when you feel like maybe teaching was a mistake -- I simply reach over to my file drawer, close my eyes, and blindly pick out a letter. After reading the letter, I feel better almost instantly. Each note or letter reminds me of my purpose for teaching, and of the difference Im making in the lives of students -- even though Im not always aware of it.
My medicine cabinet helps me hang in when I feel like letting go. So I challenge you to either create your own medicine cabinet or go back and read a few of those notes and letters youve received. Theyre guaranteed to put you on an emotional high for at least one full day (if not longer).
So, if youre feeling a little under the emotional weather, just read a couple of student letters and call me in the morning. I must warn you, though, this form of medication can become very addictive.
As always, teach with passion!
Article by Joe Martin
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