Do you need an extra burst of encouragement and motivation this time of year? Each day from April 1-20, you can visit a different blogger who will be sharing actionable tips and strategies to help you enjoy teaching more. They’ll be writing about ideas from my new book Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day…No Matter What, plus additional ideas and reflections from their own teaching practice.
I’m kicking off the 20 ways today with chapter 1 from Unshakeable, “Share your authentic self to bring passion and energy to your teaching.”
It’s been said that the best teachers are also actors, and I believe that is true to a large extent. We have to act excited about teaching a lesson when we feel completely drained. We have to act enthusiastic about small measures of kids’ progress when we feel frustrated that they haven’t made larger gains. We have to act like we’re calm and in control when we feel like screaming. Sometimes we even have to act like we believe in what we’re doing when we feel like it’s a waste of time.
All of that acting is done for the benefit of our students. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, it can leave you feeling very disconnected from your true self. You may feel relieved to “get off the stage” at the end of the day and be yourself again. One way you can combat this feeling is to bring as many elements of your true self into the classroom as possible. Let your personality shine through in the way you decorate and organize your classroom, the way you teach, and the way you interact with students.
Here are 4 tips for sharing your authentic self with students:
1. Bring your unique personality into the classroom.
Who you are inside—your real and authentic self—is one of the most powerful tools you have to make your lessons stick with students and help them learn. You can be the determining factor in whether the content you teach is memorable simply by giving kids a glimpse of the person you are inside. Let them see the real you, and watch as they are drawn in and make connections in new ways.
2. Be a storyteller: draw inspiration for teaching curriculum from real-life events.
One of the easiest ways to tap into students’ natural curiosity about you and incorporate a more personable, relatable side of yourself is by sharing connections between your life and your curriculum. And since our brains are wired for storytelling, you’ll discover that information sticks much better in kids’ minds when it’s in the form of a narrative.
Experiment with tying your curriculum to interesting anecdotes about things you experience outside the classroom: When modeling how to respond to a writing prompt, use the movie you saw last weekend as your topic. Ask the kids during science if they saw the latest museum exhibit and show the photos you took. Talk about the incredible novel youʹre reading and how the author uses the best imagery or figurative language, or how you had to use context clues to figure out a word.
Can you see all the possibilities here? Don’t try to turn off your “teacher brain” when you leave the school building. Be on the perpetual lookout for new stories to tell your students and consider how you can use your daily life experiences to make instruction more relatable and meaningful. Allow yourself to draw inspiration from your outside interests, and take those experiences back to the classroom to enhance your lessons.
3. Try to do something that is inspiring and energizing for you as a person on a daily basis.
It’s so important to let students into your life so they can relate to and bond with you, but thatʹs only possible if you actually have a life to talk about. Someone who works all the time and has no outside interests is boring. And who wants a boring teacher?
Even though I’m busy, I consciously make the choice to take time to do things that re-energize me because I know that the way I choose to spend my evenings makes a tremendous difference in my creativity level, attitude, and productivity the following day. I might go for a walk, listen to an inspiring podcast while cooking, or relax and watch a movie with my husband. I know I can’t afford not to take care of myself, because everyone around me suffers if I don’t.
4. Forget being a passionate teacher–be a passionate person!
People who are passionate about teaching aren’t just passionate about teaching. They’re passionate people, period. They bring energy and enthusiasm to everything they do. They make the most of every moment in life. They’re resilient and don’t allow setbacks to steal their joy or dissuade them from accomplishing what they set out to do.
If you want to be a passionate teacher with unshakeable enthusiasm, you have to develop that trait in your whole self , not just the one compartment of your life that is devoted to work. You have to consciously make the choice to surround yourself with people and influences that inspire you to be a passionate person.
I’ll be sharing all future “20 ways in 20 days” posts from other bloggers on social media. Here are some ways you can find out about each post as it’s published:
- Follow the “Enjoy Teaching Every Day” board on Pinterest
- Follow me on Twitter or follow #unshakeablebook
- Follow #unshakeablebook on Instagram
- Follow me on Facebook
- Bookmark this post/save it to your favorites and visit daily
You can view the complete schedule of posts here. Tomorrow’s strategy is called Allocate your time and energy wisely through productive routines. Join 3rd grade teacher Tessa McGuire as she shares productivity tips from the book and thoughts from her own practice!
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