I’ve written before about Angela Maiers and her “You Matter” movement and the ways I committed to bringing it to my students this year. However, following Saturday’s #elemchat about passion, during which Angela was a featured guest, I found myself reflecting on something else that threaded through the discussion: the passion, or lack thereof, of teachers.
At one point, a side conversation I participated in centered on passionless teachers. I made the point that all teachers entered the profession for the same good, lofty, passionate reasons – but somewhere along the line, some have lost that passion. We all see this in our schools, for sure.
So, then, talk turned to how we can support our colleagues who have fallen off the passion wagon. I suggested three ideas.
First, we need to encourage them to ask themselves why they are in this field in the first place. My answer is that I truly believe I am making a positive difference. That is something that sustains me when the going gets tough (and it often does). But how many teachers don’t answer that, and instead say, “Because I need the money,” or “I don’t even know anymore”? Are these motivational mentalities?
Second, we need to stress the importance of reinventing ourselves. I switch things up year to year to keep myself fresh and out of a rut. For some, this may mean requesting a different position each year, switching up the room theme or routines, or even making a profound shift in philosophy. Maybe it is simple: I suggested to a veteran colleague one year that she do something to change the environment around her, and she was thrilled to do just that by changing her bulletin board paper. That’s something very minor, but you have to start somewhere.
Third, we have to help our colleagues believe Angela’s message: “You matter.” We all get fed up with the media and politicians who vilify us, but we need to remember the truth. We do matter. We are the sole determinants of how we treat our students. They are victims in a struggle that they don’t even know exists, so let’s do our best to put on a brave face and work for their benefit. We need to smile for them, care for them, believe in them, and support them. (Why? See the first reason: we make a difference).
How do you support colleagues who are trying to rediscover their passion? Did you ever have a time when you felt passionless for teaching (or whatever job you are in?) How did you bring yourself out of it? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.