“Nowadays true job satisfaction and happiness is about fulfilling your full potential, tapping into your own creativity and feeling that you can make a difference.”~Chris Humphries
At several junctures during my 20+ years as an educator job satisfaction was almost not existent. College doesn’t teach you about politics, bureaucracy, harmful policies, and if you’re an educator of color no one teaches you how to navigate racist colleagues/parents. The list could really go on and on.
I’ve chosen to take a closer look at how I was able to thrive and share these lessons. My audacious goal is to rebrand the teaching profession, one healthy teacher, at a time. This often means exposing what is unhealthy and bringing healthy solutions to the table. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge.
Take your power back
I was rebranding myself before “branding” was a thing. This was a power move that gave me the strength to draw upon. As Crystal Marsh shares in the HuffPost, you have to recognize that nothing external will make you feel more fulfilled.
I took my passion for teaching and advocacy to the larger community. I began hosting workshops for parents (Parent University), connecting with the community, and building my own political capital and influence. There is power in numbers. Intrinsic motivation empowers you to navigate environments regardless of who the leader is. I’ve served alongside some amazing leaders and not so great leaders. The culture and climate set by a leader are paramount. As teacher leaders, we are also accountable for adding value. Satisfaction is uncompromised when you determine the rules of engagement. Adding value no matter who or what.
Focus on your why
One year in particular I remember being extremely unhappy. My resignation letter was written in my head. The school year begins and I get a student experiencing delayed grief. His father passed away unexpectedly and mom signed him up for grief camp. So, he was flooded with memories followed by grief and intense anger.
I had completed my degree as a therapist. This gave me the opportunity to implement therapeutic strategies to support his grieving. I went to his games, birthday parties, and if homework wasn’t turned in I’d ride to his complex to get on him. Slowly but surely he began to morph. He was no longer weighed down by grief but restored by hope. I took my eyes off the why. My student reminded me I was assigned to him. If I had allowed dissatisfaction to push me out I would have robbed him (myself). Every calling comes with challenges. Satisfaction is uncompromised when you determine to focus on your why.
Expand your reach
Collaborating with other teams is a wonderful way of expanding your reach and adding fulfillment to your work. I know this is often met with resistance because who has time to take on additional projects. Time management and aligning tasks to be strategic can be an article series. But, if you are thoughtful and strategic it doesn’t need to be yet another task. For years I had observed some gaps in our upcoming 4th graders.
As grade-level chair, I shared my concerns with the team and they agreed gaps were present. We decided to implement vertical planning with the 4th-grade team and the 6th-grade team at the middle school to explore 5th-grade gaps. This experience was so enriching because I was able to expand my reach, meet new colleagues, and problem solve as a collective body. Satisfaction is uncompromised when you determine to grow and include others.
Dare 2 Be Well!