It’s February and much has changed. Many of those who started out with mesmerizing New Year’s resolutions are now back to the old routine. Teachers are giving each other blank stares in the hallway–that spark that most teachers had in August is down to a flicker. Students are getting older and testing limits. Spring is quickly approaching and with that comes state tests, progress monitoring, and close of the school year programs. Teaching can be emotionally, physically, and even spiritually challenging. How do you spark your intrinsic motivation? A day at a time.
What is intrinsic motivation?
Intrinsic motivation is the motivation that you have to accomplish, pursue, or complete a task without getting a reward. It is the drive in you–you do it because you simply have the passion for it. Remember when you first became a teacher (it might have been this August)? The intrinsic motivation inside of you was almost piercing. You were determined to reach the next generation. Then the reality of education hit. By October of your first year , you were ready to reconsider this whole teaching gig. I am here to tell you that eventually, your good days will outweigh your bad days the more experience you have.
This is not a magical cure, BUT, here are 4 ideas that can help you spark that intrinsic motivation again–even in February.
1. Surround Yourself with Positive, Motivating People in Your Personal Life.
The worst thing you can do is surround yourself with negative people at school or in your life in general. There is nothing wrong with occasionally venting to a trusted person–you need to. I’m also not saying you can’t be real. However, if all you do is complain and surround yourself with others who do the same, an issue develops and the lenses from which you view situations becomes cloudy and skewed. See the situation for what it is and move on. Positive, motivating people truly want to see you well and support you through the classroom and life. Also, make sure you are a positive, motivating person in return. Before you know it, that parent conference you were not looking forward to comes into perspective once you and the parents sit down and get on the same page.
2. Fill Up on Encouraging Messages
On the way to school, at home, during lunch, or while you are working away during your planning, fill up on encouraging messages that uplift you and encourage you. Some of which if appropriate, you can even share with your students! Someone who I have admired for years is Nick Vujicic. Born without arms or legs, he went from suicidal and having no hope as a child to an international motivational speaker and encourager. It didn’t happen overnight, but he has spoken into the hearts of so many school-aged students and adults alike. Kids are glued to his story of not having arms or legs due to a birth defect and how he overcame major bullying during school.
Check out great music, enriching podcasts/broadcasts, or listen to a great book on tape in the car headed to school regularly. Or, the silence may bring you all the peace you need. You’ll be surprised how it focuses your day!
3. Be One to Encourage Others.
“Hey! Somebody encourage ME!” Here’s some truth– you reap what you sow and you get back what you put in. I cannot get more real than this. Few people are amped up 24/7 but, it’s not hard to tell somebody a quick “great job” or “I appreciate you or I value you.” Do the same for your students.
Today, one of my students pronounced a very difficult phrase on his own in Hindi I believe (it was in a reading selection) after I helped him pronounce it. It shocked me, it shocked the class, and it even shocked him. What was my response when he was reading aloud to the class…”oh my goodness!!!! Look at you!!!!!!” Later I called him up (he had been struggling in all of his classes not to mention being a little void of stellar behavior lately) by my desk. I looked him directly in the eye and said quietly but intently (not to embarrass him), “THIS is why I stay on you. Do you see what you can do?! What you did was awesome! Cut out this silly playing! Look what you can do!” He looked at me so respectfully and proud. His little chest stuck out the rest of class and can you believe that little dude put in better effort this class period than he has in a minute.
4. Fill Up Your Cup and Take Care of Yourself
When I was in my mid-twenties teaching, I would stay at school until very late. One day, the instructional testing leader on my campus leaned his head in my classroom door and said boldly and firmly, “You need to stop staying so late or you will burn out.” This 6’3 man was not playing with me and he was right. A number of people I started teaching with no longer teach. I always believed that teaching is a calling–whether for a season or until retirement. We’ve lost some good ones too early due to burn out.
Take care of yourself. You.have.a.life. Yes, you care about those kids but those kids need you well and energized. Not rundown and distraught. Stay organized (as possible), REST, eat healthy (key–find a plan that works for YOU), try to get exercise as regularly as possible, enjoy family and friends, laugh much, stay spiritually grounded, and don’t sweat the small stuff as they say.
Regularly implementing these four ideas to spark your intrinsic motivation will help you so very much. That spark may just turn into the fire you need to help you for years to come.
Copyright 2020 The Educator’sLight
What are things you do to spark your intrinsic motivation?! Share in the comments.