Remember the first time you did something adventurous in a class? Little eyes lit up and a buzz of wonderment filled the room. This is the feeling that makes teaching so rewarding. But how do you stay motivated as you journey through your career?
‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time’ is often asked at interview. The usual response is an enthusiastic statement about developing key skills and wanting to rise up the management chain – just what the interviewer wants to hear. How many of us achieve our goals? How many end up happy to just survive the endless round of teaching, marking, meetings, planning and ‘proving’ children are moving on?
When everything is focused on getting through the present we lose sight of where our professional development is going. At some point there’s a realisation we have been going nowhere, this can result in frustration, disillusionment and ultimately a career change. Teacher retention, as we all know, is a big issue. So how can we maintain motivation, job satisfaction and sustain a creative edge to keep our career on track?
1. Note down all the things you want to achieve in teaching, all those ambitions you had when you became a teacher. Teachers are often parochial in their own school so look at social media, or the educational press, see what others are doing and be ambitious. Include a few personal ambitions so there is a balance that reminds you of a life outside teaching.
2. Using your notes write a profile of yourself at a future point, say 5 years’ time; the more detailed and specific the better. A well written profile will provide a positive mental image of who you will become so be sure to include all the things that are important to you. The aim is to create an image of yourself in the future so you know what you want to become.
3. Keep your profile handy, read it frequently to reaffirm the positive image. It is particularly useful when you are perhaps tired after a busy or stressful period, the positive visualisation will become firmly embedded in your subconscious so you will always ‘see’ where you are going. In this way you avoid just focusing on the present as you know there is a greater prize to be had in the future.
4. Be selfish. All too often we give everything to teaching. It is not a crime to look after your wellbeing so don’t be afraid to say NO, especially if what you’re being asked to do works against you achieving your goal.
Knowing where you are heading helps maintain job satisfaction, boosts self-esteem and gives you the confidence to do more than deliver safe lessons – you will remain focused on where you want to be so you will continue to experience those inspiring moments in the classroom that makes teaching such a wonderful profession.
About the author
Robin is psychotherapeutic counsellor and hypnotherapist with his own private practice www.plainsailingtherapy.co.uk. He is a member of the Hypnotherapy Society and the Counselling Society. After a 26-year career in the Royal Navy he qualified as a primary teacher and maintains an interest in the wellbeing of fellow teachers. Having seen many fantastic practitioners become stressed and disillusioned his aim is to share his experiences and enable others to better cope and continue to teach, which benefits everyone involved in education.