Are you tired? Are you in a rut? Are you tired of being in a rut? I want to let you know that I hear you. I get it. Teaching is hard, consuming, and exhausting. BUT it’s also a calling. It’s an investment. It’s worth it.
I have a plaque in my office that a student gave me many years ago. It says “A teacher who loves teaching teaches children to love learning.” Our enthusiasm is contagious. We need to be enthusiastic about learning new things, taking risks, growing in our relationship with the Lord, etc. Pray that you will re-capture your love for teaching your students and for your subject matter. It will breathe life into your classroom and, trust me, your students will noticeColossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
Are you approaching your work with enthusiasm? Pray for a renewed joy. Pray that you would remember you are ultimately working for the Lord. He has placed you in your classroom with your students on purpose, for a purpose. You only have one year with this specific group of students – make it count!
Having trouble finding that enthusiasm? Here are three practical steps:
1. Find rest in the Lord
You need to build margin in your life to enjoy your family, develop new hobbies, and most importantly, spend quality time with the Lord. My brother always says, “When you feel like you’re too busy to spend time with God, that’s when you need it the most.” We wear busyness like a badge of honor. We spend hours planning and stressing over our lesson plans, wondering if we’re meeting our students’ needs. We join numerous committees. Life’s demands are relentless, aren’t they? It’s not always the bad things – it’s the endless good opportunities too! I just had to say a difficult “no” to a good opportunity of something I’m deeply passionate about because I know I can’t do it without sacrificing the BETTER thing – enough margin in my life to sit at Jesus’ feet. Serve, Christians! Teach with all your heart; sacrifice for and to the glory of God in the strength He provides. But let’s not make the pivotal mistake of forsaking our necessary fuel: time in the Word. Let’s seek to choose the best in a sea of good opportunities. Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Put down the to-do list, come to Jesus, and find rest, tired teacher.
2. Leave school at a reasonable time.
You cannot be all things to all people. Your students definitely need you, but so does your family. Nothing is going to suck the joy out of you faster than burning the candle at both ends. Trust me, I’ve tried it. I know what it’s like to leave school in the dark every single night. When I got home I was tired, burnt out, and pretty much useless to my family. Something had to give. Are you surrounded by things to do? Prioritize what absolutely needs to be done. Make the most of your planning periods. I chose one day a week (Thursdays) to stay late and make copies, gather supplies, finalize my lesson plans for the following week. The other days? I left on time. The work will still be there waiting for you in the morning. And if something doesn’t get done? Maybe it wasn’t as vital as we initially thought it was.
3. Enlist help.
“But the work is never-ending. It’s too much for one teacher to handle!” you tell me. Yes, it can be. But not if you don’t let it. Enlist help from coworkers, parent volunteers, etc. I had a high schooler come in my classroom for one hour three times a week (as part of an elective) and she helped me tremendously. She would sort my papers to grade, return papers to the correct cubbies, work with individuals or groups to do remedial games/practice, prep supplies for an art project, take down and put up bulletin boards, etc. See if this could be a possibility for you at your school. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of a healthy understanding that you aren’t a Marvel superhero.
In the end, we all want to make our lessons fun and engaging for our students. We want them to buy in to our classroom and develop a love of lifelong learning. I’m here to hold out grace to you. Every unit doesn’t need to end in a ten-step Escape Room simulation. Your classroom floor doesn’t need to be covered in pom poms and glitter every day. Teach your students with joy and they will find it contagious. Spend time with the One who created you, who called you, and who loves you unconditionally. We can cast our cares on the Lord and find rest.
Finding joy in the journey,
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