MAY 28, 2015 / Simpson's Summer Blog Series
Keeping a Positive Attitude as a Teacher in the Midst of the Negative Attitude toward Schools and Teachers
Usually at the midpoint in the student teaching semester, one or more of our student teachers will ask, “How do I keep from becoming a burned-out teacher like so many of the teachers in my school?” Furthermore, over the past few years I have received numerous emails or phone calls from graduates who were exhausted as teachers. After a few minutes of encouragement, they have often responded, “Dr. Simpson, thank you for reminding me why I wanted to be a teacher.”
This summer I want to address this topic. Some of my suggestions come from others and my observations of teachers in general. Other suggestions come from those periods of darkness during my 43 years of teaching at various levels, and the actions that helped pull me out of those times.
My first suggestion is to maintain a positive attitude. In order to remain effective as a teacher, one must keep a positive attitude toward students, parents, and the political realities of education. You must separate your students from the politics surrounding teaching. The County Commission may have voted down a budget increase, which means another year without a pay increase for teachers. Please don’t resort to what I have heard many times, “Since the County Commission refuses to pay me what I am worth, I will work less as a teacher.” I understand this reaction. Just remember that when a new governor and/or new Commissioner of Education take office, they will make changes that will revolutionize education.
I also understand the necessity of working another job in the summer to supplement your salary as a teacher. Over different summers, I worked at Elm Hill, waited tables in a family owned drive-in restaurant, and baled hay on a farm. For a number of years, I officiated high school basketball mainly for extra income.
Please don’t misinterpret what I am saying. Stay involved in the demand for higher salaries and better benefits for teachers, but do not bring those battles into the classroom with your students. When you step into the classroom with those 32 students (I had 42 eighth-graders in my class one year), give those students your best effort each day. I want to encourage you to take an hour or two this summer and make a list of the positive accomplishments that took place in your classroom this year. I think you will be very surprised.
Bless you my children,
Terry L. Simpson