Here are the best ways to reignite your motivation so you can finish the second half of the fall semester with a bang.Oct 24, 2022
Fall is an exciting time for teachers. The new school year hums with the possibilities of a fresh start and a new group of students. But it also brings new challenges and a whole lot of work. By the time you reach the halfway point of the fall semester, you may be unmotivated and dreading the rest of the semester until winter break.
In a post-pandemic world, the mid-semester strains are heightened, making it that much more difficult to stay inspired as the semester winds down.
“When we came back last year, we were anticipating a sense of normalcy that didn't exist, and it didn’t resurface,” says Dawn Baumgartner, LCSW, Coordinator of Social Work, Phoenix Elementary School District.
While teachers are reporting more “normalcy” in 2022, Baumgartner says, they’re also dealing with an increase in students’ social-emotional needs and a developmental lag, most notably in younger groups.
“These students just aren’t at that typically developing stage for their age, which, in turn, causes stress for teachers who are used to meeting students at a certain age and stage,” she explains.
Add to that the usual stress of juggling many responsibilities mixed with the anticipation of winter break, and it’s understandable that, as a teacher, you might find yourself counting down the days until winter break. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Here are four ways you can regain the motivation to finish the semester strong.
1. Celebrate Small Successes
Teachers are passionate about their work, which means they can find themselves striving for perfection or seeking growth in themselves or their students, which might lead to losing sight of the small successes as a result.
“A small win that you had with a student might not be that big gain that you were looking for, but [it’s important to] really acknowledge the work that was put in by the teacher and the student to have that small bit of success,” Baumgartner says.
2. Focus on Connection
Teachers wear many hats and juggle many responsibilities, which means they’re prone to getting weighed down by details and to-do lists. Baumgartner suggests keeping your focus on connecting with your students and building authentic relationships with them — “especially the ones who give us the most challenges” — to keep your motivation revved up.
3. Reassess Your Work-Life Balance
If you’re notorious for burning the candle at both ends, it’s likely that the lagging motivation you feel will continue to grow. Work-life balance can help you more fully enjoy the time you’re away from work so you can have the energy and enthusiasm you need when you’re in the classroom.
Balance looks different for everyone, Baumgartner says, which is why it’s important to figure out what balance looks like for you.
4. Stay Grounded in Your ‘Why’
Every teacher knows why they wanted to become a teacher. But it’s not enough to remember your why — you have to stay grounded in it. “Consistently step back and tap into your values and tap into your why — what brought you to the profession, and what can keep you coming back and reinspired every day,” Baumgartner says.