A Contented Teacher - Is There Such a Thing?

Monday, 2 January 2017

I decided to give the one-word challenge a try for the new year. 

If you are not familiar with it, it’s a New Year’s tradition where you choose just one word to focus on every day for the next year. 

The fact that I had a hard time choosing just ONE word is exactly why “contentment” was the right word for me.

Contentment Stones

I’ve always been a “have your cake and eat it too” kind of girl.

Not always a bad thing, but it’s rarely a peaceful state of being and often leaves me chasing perfection rather than gratitude.

In Search of a Contented Teacher

So while applying this “one word” to my life, it led me to wonder, “What does a “contented”  teacher look like (and can she meet me at Starbuck’s tomorrow afternoon)?  

I imagined what she might tell me as I got to know her over a cup of chai tea.

She might say...

I am a teacher who: 

Sets Priorities: 
I'm real clear on what my kiddos need at any given time and plan accordingly. I know what I believe about children and teaching and am less likely to get lost in a Pinterest search. I know that what the children REALLY need from me isn’t found in any of my teacher guides. I'm not constantly tempted by the next big thing as I am confident in what I already know works well. I know my limits and say no without feeling the need to give an excuse. I've done the math and am pretty sure that my curricular expectations are greater than the number of hours I have in any given day. I choose to do less well and not give my children a drive-through education.

Avoids Comparisons: I'm confident in my abilities and don’t get sucked into the scarcity mentality (i.e. there can only be ONE good teacher).  I know that another teacher's awesome bulletin board doesn't make mine any less wonderful!  I appreciate the differences between colleagues and know that there isn’t just one right way of teaching.  I view these differences as learning opportunities that allow me to affirm and challenge my own beliefs about education.
Changes the Message: I'm cautious about social media and aware that the promise of “good ideas” comes with the "buy in" that I am not good enough as I am. I realize that perfection is not attainable even if it seems to keep showing up in my Pinterest feed! I'm constantly reminding myself that I am “good enough” and already have everything I need to teach my students well. 
Counts My Blessings:  I'm grateful I have a job and work that I love. I appreciate my classroom space and abundance of materials knowing that some teachers and students have very little.

Lives Passionately: I have other interests besides teaching and make time for them.  I see life as an adventure and know that every experience adds to who I am as a teacher.  I seek joy and inspiration and know that children are less likely to remember what I did, but rather how I made them feel. 

Finds Positive Friends: I avoid the naysayers who live in a constant state of discontentment and instead surround myself with positive people who accept me exactly as I am (flaws and all!).

Trusts Myself: I recognize that the nature of teaching is trial and error and that mistakes are part of the process.  I know that what works for one class/student may not work for the next and trust myself and the children to show me the way. 

Becoming That Teacher

While it would be really nice to meet up with this fictional sage teacher (I'm sure she carries just one really small teacher bag too!), it would be even better to move a little closer to being her!

I didn't plan on writing this in first person, but now that I have, "her" words read a little like affirmations.

There just so happens to be one for each day of the week and that just might be what is needed in finding a little more contentment in this "big bag carrying" teacher's life.

What's your "one word" for the new year?

Thanks for stopping by!

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