I don’t know how long you’ve been teaching. I’ve been teaching ESL abroad now for 13 years. While I’ve met a few teachers who’ve been teaching here for longer, most teachers I’ve met have only been teaching for a few years at most. These days, I feel like I’ve hit “the wall” – you know, burned out. Bilbo said it best.
Have you ever felt like “butter scraped over too much bread”?
If you’ve been teaching for a long time, there comes a point when you definitely feel like this. The struggles of teaching include hours of planning and prep, student progress reports, comments to write, parent phone calls to make, grading, and meetings with admins and other staff. It gets to be a bit much at times and when it does, what should you do? I’m tempted to throw in the towel and just leave at times. But then I think about my students and the duties I still have to them.
Here are a few tips for you veteran teachers out there.
- Take time to look back on all you’ve accomplished – This is something I do at times when I feel like I’ve hit the wall. I remember how much I’ve grown as a teacher over the years and also how I’ve impacted my students past and present.
- Write goals for your future – While it’s good to look back, it’s even better to look ahead. As much as I’ve grown and improved over these years, there are still more ways I can improve to become an even better teacher.
- Remember the little things – When things get too hectic, when I receive a complaint, or just having a bad day, I remember that’s not the end-all-be-all. It’s a bump in the road, and when that happens I remember my students. I teach K-6 and my kindergarteners love to give me stickers and hugs. Sometimes those little things like stickers or a hug gets me through those bad days. What little things get you through your bad days?
- Support new teachers – As veteran teachers, we are a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to teaching. When new teachers come, I like to meet them and offer advice and support so they can feel more at ease in the classroom. Even if they are afraid to ask questions, be someone they can turn to when things get a little difficult. Whether it’s classroom management strategies, instructional tips, prep and planning, or how to respond to complaints and/or feedback, as veterans in the profession we’ve experienced it all before.
- Don’t give up! – I definitely feel like this at times. There are times when I’ve wondered if I really made a difference, or if I’ve helped my students progress in their language learning abilities. Some [students] have improved from when I began teaching them to when I finished, and others have not. Still when I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing meaningful, I keep working harder to make a meaningful impact on those around me (students, coworkers, admins, parents, etc).
So when you feel a bit like old Bilbo Baggins, try to remember these things and strive to keep improving as things change.
Keep learning, growing, and teaching.