When I think of teaching, I think of a roller coaster of emotions. There are so many ups and downs, so many great days followed by incredibly challenging ones.
But it really is up to us whether we – as a whole – enjoy our time teaching or allow ourselves to be miserable.
My first year teaching I really wanted to say that I was enjoying it. I mean, I had wanted to be a teacher for so long. It was my dream. Why was I dreading my first period class? Why did I find myself crying in a back hallway because I wasn’t ready to face the day ahead?
That first year was so challenging for me mainly because I made some serious classroom management mistakes, but that’s not the only thing that can rob us of our joy. Let’s take a look at a few others.
7 Things That Will Steal Your Joy
- Allowing your class to be out of control. When my class was out of control, I was miserable. It’s just tough to enjoy teaching when you feel like you’re fighting battles all day long. But the good news is that you can learn to control your class. We have a free minicourse that can help you get started. Or, join us in Classroom Management 101.
- Focusing on the negatives. There will always be challenges. There may even be big challenges or things that we just flat-out don’t agree with. But if we choose to focus on the negatives, we will lose our joy. Instead, choose to trust Christ and be thankful for all the great things that are happening all around you. You’ll be amazed how effective thankfulness is as an antidote for frustration.
- Hanging out with complainers. Now of course your students might complain, but I’m talking about your peers. Hanging out with teachers or staff members who are constantly complaining will quickly drain you of all your joy and energy and make you feel like nothing is going right. So find some teachers who will encourage you and hang out with them instead (even if it just has to be online. If you’re looking for a great group of teachers, join our Facebook group Christian Teachers’ Lounge.)
- Exhaustion. If you allow yourself to become absolutely exhausted, you’re going to have trouble enjoying teaching. So make rest and sleep a priority. Schedule a nap. Go to bed early. I’ve learned that it’s just not worth it to try to get more done if I’m exhausted. Get some rest, and you’ll feel much more energized and probably actually end up getting more done in the long run.
- Taking on too much. Obviously as teachers there’s already a ton to do – it’s just part of the job description. But there are a lot of other activities that are optional. Coaching, volunteering at church, tutoring – activities like these are great to be a part of, but it’s not worth it if it’s going to take up too much of our energy and leave us exhausted and miserable. So learn to prioritize which activities truly are important and say no to the rest.
- Stress. We all know that stress can zap our joy in a minute, but we don’t always realize that we can control how stressed we are. Learn what helps you destress. It’s different for every person, but things such as exercise, making a to-do list, taking deep breaths, and praying help me.
- Trying to do it all in your own strength. Teaching is a huge job. If we try to do it on our own, we may make it work for awhile, but we are missing the greatest Source of wisdom, peace, and joy that there is. When we rely on God and go to Him for help, He will guide us and give us His incredible joy. [If this sounds really strange to you, I encourage you to find out more about having a relationship with God. You can email me or check out this post I wrote about having a relationship with Him.]
It's time to reclaim your joy! If you'd like further help and encouragement, grab a copy of my newest book: Take Heart & Teach. It's all about how to teach with excellence, balance, and the joy of the Lord - even when things are crazy.
In it, you'll discover short, easy-to-read lessons that will help you better manage your classroom, find balance, overcome frustrations, and make a bigger difference than ever.
Get all the details here:
Find out more about Take Heart & Teach.