Will you still be teaching next year?
by Terry Hayek
Are you coming back next year?
Teaching, I mean. will you come back Not in the same classroom. I don’t mean the same grade level or content area or school or even the same district. I am asking if you will return next year as a teacher.
Teaching is difficult; Great learning is more challenging. Meet the needs of every student? impossible And that you can wear.
It’s telling how often teachers ask this question–or ask themselves It is unlikely that engineers or farmers or bartenders or artists should wonder if they are ‘coming back’.
The school year is set up as a kind of grind, which invites such thinking. Teachers can simply learn to survive from one break to the next, then finally the summer. It’s not like you get a ‘summer break’, as the world would have you believe. Teachers have clear and implicit expectations during the summer.
Collaborating with other teachers, attending mandatory professional development, ‘connecting’ with administrators and colleagues at your school and beyond. In fact, it’s unlikely that teachers get more time by the pool or on the beach than any other profession. I can’t count the number of “I hope you’re recharging your batteries” emails I received over the summer, which did little to charge them and only reminded me of the struggle to get started every August. Sisyphean uphill climb.
Of course, this is not the case for everyone. Some teachers love their job, warts and all, and can’t imagine doing anything else.
However, this is a gift that not every teacher receives.
Teaching with a sense of optimism
So much about ‘life’ – in the psychological and emotional and well-being sense – is about faith.
What do you believe about yourself?
What do you believe about your environment and your ability to meaningfully influence it? About your future and your ability to control it?
Do you believe that you have choices and opportunities, and to like to teach? In much the same way you can move into a marriage or family role or come to your craft anew every year important matter Do you want to do it because it needs to be done and you feel uniquely suited to do it?
Are you shackled to your job, or have you thrown off the shackles, set them aside, and gotten down to business with teaching?
In ‘Supreme Brainpower’, cognitive psychologist Shlomo Breznitz explains,
‘…the brain does not want the body to expend its resources unless we have a reasonable chance of success. If the brain does not believe in the results, our physical strength is not accessible to us because the worst thing for humans is to spend all our resources and fail. If we don’t believe we can make it, we won’t get the resources to make it. The moment we believe, the gates are opened, and a flood of energy comes out. Both hope and despair are self-evident prophecies.’
If you believe you can reach students next year, you will. If you believe you are a skilled teacher with the ability to adapt and grow and connect, you will. If you believe you are capable of meeting the expectations of administrators and parents and students and colleagues And Be yourself, even if you fail you will not be stopped. There is little beyond the reach of the driven teacher.
And in that space lies the titular question: If you believe you can ‘teach’, then teach. You may need to reconcile your own beliefs about pedagogy with the reality of the enormity of your daily teaching tasks. You may need to back off a bit. Try again this summer and next year to reorganize, this time with technology, with data, with differentiation or a little less ambitiously with making every learning experience life-changing for every student.
But maybe not. Maybe you need that ambition and the belief that teaching is awesome and that you’re awesome and that project-based learning and personalized learning and that teacher across the hall that you love so much is awesome.
You may be emotionally exhausted and creatively drained, and you may have moments of doubt and wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into during a meeting with parents or a critical evaluation by an administrator. That, of course, is different from giving up. These are just the rigors of a tough job.
So if you’re at that point where you’re not sure if teaching is for you, or that job at that school or that grade level you need to be in, take a few weeks to make up your mind. And then, at some point, ask yourself if you can keep that certain something – that spark of faith that you to be able to and skeep Test yourself for ambition and curiosity and passion for students and content and social change.
Ask yourself what you believe about yourself and your ability to meaningfully impact the world around you. Even actually scribble it down on a sheet of paper so you can see with your own eyes what you believe about yourself, your context, and ultimately your own future.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, ask yourself if education is good for you. Healthy. durable Do what you want to do and be. A lot has changed in the last two years and there is no shame in doing something different. It’s not ‘giving up’, it’s doing what you have to do.
Somewhere, embedded in these beliefs, you will likely find that you answered the question long before you asked it.