July 13, 2015 / Simpson's Summer Blog Series
Life is tough. Any vocation or profession which requires interacting with people for hours each day often brings folks to the point of throwing up their hands and screaming, “I quit!” Individuals in most professions at some point find a need to express a recommitment to the goals of their profession. The citizens of a nation at some point in their history realize they need to experience a rebirth in the founding principles of their nation. Athletes, during a long season, may have to schedule a team meeting to restore the importance of the team rather than placing the emphasis on a few individuals. Religious folks find the need of revival on a regular basis.
Being a teacher in K-12 education is a daily emotional, intellectual, and physical drain. A few years ago, one of our graduates and a first-year teacher emailed me right after school one day with the following message: “Dr. Simpson, remind me why I wanted to be a teacher.” The following spring when one of her classes filled with low level students made the most academic growth in several years, I received a very different email. She remembered why she became a teacher. However, be it the first semester of the first year, the third year, the fifth year, or the twentieth year, most teachers hit a point in which they are in desperate need of renewal.
If you are at a low point in your professional career as a teacher, the first step you must first take is to realize you are in need of renewal and you are not alone. Take a critical look at your diet, regular exercise routine, and rest. Eating an entire family bag of Hersey Chocolate Nuggets may not be the best approach, but I have tried it once or twice. I addressed “rest” several weeks back, and you may want to find that blog.
However, in my 42+ years as a teacher, one significant factor stands out in my observations of other teachers and my self-analysis of the ups and downs of my own professional career. Teachers who attend conferences, especially conferences in their academic disciplines, tend to experience less burn-out than other teachers. From 2008 through 2012, I had the privilege of being the Director of the Maryville College East Tennessee Math/Science Partnership. The impact of this experience on many middle school and high school teachers was profound.
I emphasize your academic discipline, because outside a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children, your love of the content in your academic discipline played a significant role in your decision to be a teacher. Gaining new information and a deeper understanding of your academic discipline is a powerful motivational factor. You may want to start by joining the Tennessee association of your academic discipline and attending their yearly conference.
The list below may help you get started:
- Tennessee Council for the Teachers of English
- Tennessee Mathematics Teachers Association
- Tennessee Council for the Social Studies
- Tennessee Science Teachers Association
- Tennessee Reading Association
Bless you my children, Terry L. Simpson
(Image by B. Lucas)
(Image by B. Lucas)