Nervous about a lesson you’re teaching? Juggling all of the things? Or just having a tough week?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, we’ve got just the thing: sage advice and encouraging words from three resilient teachers to get you through the day.
1. Feeling like you aren’t doing enough?
Let 3rd grade teacher Fletcher Nelson remind you just how much you are doing, you rock star.
A full transcript of this pep talk appears below.
Hey guys, my name is Fletcher Nelson. I’ve been teaching for eight years and currently I teach 3rd grade at Minnesota, and today, I’m here to tell you that you’re doing an amazing job and that you’re awesome.
Teaching’s a hard job. Our job’s never done. There’s always something more we could be doing. Lessons we could be planning. Data we could be looking at. Interventions we could be trying. Assignments we could be grading. And knowing that there’s always something we could be doing, that can mess with our perception of ourselves and our teaching abilities because we feel like we’re not doing enough.
And I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong when you think like that. It’s not true. What you’re doing is amazing. Your students are so lucky to have you. Your ideas deserve to be shared. You are doing enough. The growth your students have made — both academically, and social-emotionally — this year is tremendous. And they are so lucky to have you.
So make time for yourself. Our job is never done. There’s always more that we could be doing so you need to make time for yourselves. Plan a fun trip. Go out with friends. Buy those items in your cart. Because you deserve it
You’re worthy. You’re a rockstar. Go get it.
2. Feeling like the passion for teaching is gone?
During tough times, it can be hard to hold onto the reasons why you first joined the profession. Hear from Jen Beaupre on how to do more of what makes you feel happy and fulfilled.
A full transcript of this pep talk appears below.
Hi everyone, my name is Jen Beaupre, and I’m an Indigenous K-5 teacher here in BC, Canada. I’ve been classroom teaching for just over 10 years, and my career in education has been very up and down. I have loved it at times, have felt fulfilled, and happy in my classrooms, but I’ve also experienced some pretty tough times.
Like a lot of other educators, I’ve felt frustrated with all of the red tape we have to manage, I’ve felt unheard, felt the anxiety of teaching through COVID, and have felt very underappreciated. So I’ve had a long rollercoaster ride on the education train, just like so many others.
But having experienced all of the emotions, I would still do it over again. I’ve learned a lot about myself during my career, and I’m a better person for it.
And I think one of the more important things I learned is to do teaching my own way. I learned that we don’t need to do it all, or live up to all of my colleagues and admin’s expectations. And that’s a very difficult thing to let go of. You don’t need everyone to love you, especially on the terms of your productivity or your quantity of work. And you’ll lead yourself to burnout quickly if you overwork yourself or strive, consciously or unconsciously, for people to like you. I learned that the hard way.
And when I experienced my own burnout from doing all the things, for all the people, except for myself, I developed a really negative mindset towards education. And to move through this negativity, I discovered that we have to get clear with what we need and want to have a sustainable career. So for me, that looked like putting some blinders on and prioritizing my own thoughts and feelings, so that I could do more of what made me happy. And I made a big shift in understanding that I was important too.
So, in my day to day, this looked like giving myself permission to go slower, I was more mindful with what was important to me and I upheld those values. And I tried to do more of what I loved in my classroom. For example, I’m an artistic person, so I incorporated more art into my lessons so that I would enjoy teaching more.
Wherever you are on your journey, and whatever season you’re experiencing at the moment, I hope you come to realize that your feelings and wellbeing matter too, just like any other human. And give yourself the permission to uphold the values you need to support your happiness. So you can continue, or re-find, a sustainable career in education.
We care for others, but we also need to care for ourselves.
3. Feeling upset after a lesson didn’t go as planned?
Don’t fret, you’re only human. And 8th grade teacher La Tawnya Robinson is here to tell you that it’s okay to make mistakes.
A full transcript of this pep talk appears below. It has been edited for clarity.
Hello Everyone! My name is La Tawnya, some of you may know me as SmartieStyle on “teachergram” or YouTube. I’m an 8th grade teacher in Southern California. This is my 16th year teaching and I currently teach social studies, history and language arts.
Now, because I share so much of my teaching life on social media, some of you may look at my videos and my posts and think: “Man, I bet all her lessons are executed flawlessly and without a hitch and nothing ever wrong in her classroom.”
And I am here to let you know that that could not be further from the truth. No matter how hard we try or how much forethought we put into a lesson, it’s inevitable that a lesson from time to time just isn’t going to go the way we planned. And I’m here to say: “That is perfectly ok.”
Because, yes, as teachers, we are multi-taskers, we are planners, we are type A people, we are on top of things because we can’t afford not to be. But above all else, we are humans and humans make mistakes.
Recently, I was guiding my class through the final stages of our study of westward expansion in the United States. And things were going great! We were having these fantastic discussions, kids were working collaboratively in groups, and they had created these really fun and engaging videos to reflect all that they had learned. And I have to admit that, as a teacher, I was feeling pretty good about myself and what I was seeing in my classroom. And with that heightened sense of confidence and feeling good as a teacher, I thought, “You know what? It would be a really great idea if I had each student group create a Google quiz that they can then share with their classmates and they can take each others’ quizzes and that would be how I assess their learning. So, I sat down, I created a Google form template, I posted it on Google Classroom, I told the kids this is what you’re doing to do, and I said: “Go ahead, kids, create!”
Then the day came, when it was time for them to take the first quiz that had been created. I gave them directions, pumped them up, and said, “These quizzes should be really easy. You’ve created them yourselves for each other.” Posted it, sat down, and thought I was going to do a little bit of work while they took their quiz. And within a mere matter of seconds, I heard the following:
“Uh, Ms. Robinson!”
“Ms. Robinson, this is not working.”
“Ms, Robinson so-and-so’s able to open the quiz but I can’t open mine.”
I quickly jumped up. I went over to the kids that were having issues. I took a look, and I tried to figure out why certain kids were able to access the Google quiz, but other kids weren’t. After trying and trying and trying for several minutes, I realized I was defeated. This was not working out. And in an exasperated tone, I just said, “Everybody, close your Chromebooks.”
In that moment, I felt like I had failed as a teacher because, in my eyes, I clearly had not done my due diligence in making sure everything was in it’s place and now I’ve let my students down. We’re sitting here, they can’t even take their quiz, and I don’t even know how to solve the problem.
In retrospect, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. We all survived. The kids still learned. And everything was ok.
Luckily, with that wisdom, also comes the realization and the reminder that, again, we are humans as teachers. And humans are going to make mistakes. When students think about you and their experiences with you, they’re not going to be thinking about the flawless lessons that you delivered to them or how perfect the Google form was when you were in the 8th grade. What they’re going to remember is how you made them feel as a person, as a human being. And whether or not you allowed them to see you as a person and as a human being. A part of them seeing you as that is letting them see you make a mistake and how you recover from that mistake.
I know teaching has been beyond difficult these past couple of years, and we know that now because there are so many teachers who feel compelled to leave the classroom. But, if you are here and you are watching this, you are still in the classroom and still fighting the good fight on behalf of your students, remember: your students love you for you. And that love for you is going to take the lessons that are the worst in your eyes and make them the brightest in your students’ eyes.
For more teacher mental health tips, check out these blog posts: