How do teachers maintain HIGH professionalism and energy during the winter?

Well, this question I was not expecting in the #mschat from last week. To be honest I can’t seem to find any difference between coming to work and being professional as a banker or a teacher. As @mrgranito said perfectly:

“Uh…suck it up!  We’re the professionals here!”

I’m speaking from a perspective of someone who has worked in both professions. I started working for a big investment bank in 1999 and worked there until 2003 when I went into teaching. I’ve always considered it part of my job to show up every day, on time, and work diligently towards achieving the goals set out in my contract. That’s what being a responsible adult is all about.

One thing to note though is that there is a BIG difference between professionalism and energy. It’s my job to be professional. The level of energy between being a teacher and being a banker is COMPLETELY different. At the bank, many co-workers would have gone out for drinks at happy hour the night before and possibly stayed out late to party a little more. Many would drag themselves in, on time of course because they were professionals, and sit at a desk for the next eight hours working a few extra cups of coffee. People would know not to talk to them or they would have to deal with Captain Grumpy Pants. Being a teacher requires a whole different planet of energy.

There is nowhere to hide in teaching. You can’t go out to happy hour or stay out late the night before. There is no such thing as sitting by yourself at your desk and working during a tough hangover. Kids can smell blood in the water. They feed off your energy and consume more power than a nuclear power plant. It is a constant struggle to continue to bring a level of energy greater than that of the students each and every day. It’s one of the reason why teachers really do need to recharge and the end of each school year. It is a completely different kind of profession.

For me, the way I keep up my energy level is to:

Get a good night’s sleep. I do not go out for happy hour (or if I do, it’s only one and done). I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen “closing time” at a bar or club…

I start my day with my inner child front and center in my mind. I get myself into ‘character’ to get ready to perform for the day. My inner 12yr old is quite a lot for anyone to handle so I make sure he is up a raring to go. @blocht574 captured this well with this tweet:

“I remind myself every morning: I am the model the students will follow!!” Great quote! I’m going to steal this one 🙂

Being in the right frame of mind also helps me stay connected to my students because I draw so much of my energy from them. @Meffscience was thinking in a similar vein when he said:

“Gave a survey on how students liked first semester.  Their positive results helped move me forward to keep working.” I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment. Getting positive feedback from the kids is an excellent way to instantly recharge the batteries.

One of the reasons why I suggest teachers get to work early is to give them enough time to ramp up all the pistons in the engine…

I have a morning ritual. Since I don’t like coffee (I know, I’m a freak of nature…) but @mrgranito suggests:

Drink coffee. Keep energy up with healthy snacks. Drink coffee”.

Coffee seems to be a popular way to stay energized. I do wish that I liked it… it would be a heck of a lot cheaper for me. Personally, I usually drink at least one Red Bull per day. Not a habit I suggest to anyone but it is my morning ritual so I’m sticking to it.

I exercise regularly. It boosts my energy and helps me stay bouncy and jovial during the school day.

I visit other teachers when they are teaching. Watching other teachers whom I admire gives me a shot in the arm and helps me bring more to the classroom when I head back to my own class. @mrgranito agreed with my idea on this with a great tweet:

“Talking with colleagues helps a lot. Visit other classrooms to see what they’re doing. My supervisor calls this “making rounds””

This ties into being a connected teacher. We don’t always have the time to connect with other teachers in our building but it is important to try and carve out some time to do so. When that is not possible I always make sure to be connected online with my PLN just like @blocht574 suggests:

“Re-energize by talking with my peers (Twitter has help tremendously!!)”

and @MrBernia responded immediately with

@blocht574 Chats like these are a big help too.

Save the stuff you are super passionate about for the time of year you need them. I love teaching about Beowulf. It’s one of my favorite things to talk about with 6th graders. I love watching their mouths drop when we talk about the migrations of people after the fall of the roman Empire and how English didn’t always sound like it does today. I choose to put off using Beowulf in other parts of my instruction until Dec/Jan because I need that little extra push to get excited sometimes. @BillStaugaard was thinking something along the same lines when he said:

“By creating fun, engaging lessons where the students are extending their thinking with American History! Drives my passion”.

If your students see how much excitement you get from the content you teach, that becomes infectious and will rub off on them (hopefully)

Other ways that I had not thought of in the moment included the idea of keeping short terms goals instead of long ones. @MrBernia breaks it down this way:

“Break it down. I work a week at a time with a goal of building one successful week on another.”

and @richbacolor reminded me that I shouyld let down my guard a bit and show a more vulnerable side for my kids with:

“Try something new and let kids know you aren’t sure how it’ll turn out. Discovery and wonder are key.”

In the end it really is all about the choice we make before we start the day. @nyrangerfan42 said it best:

“energy breeds energy. lethargy breeds lethargy. make your choice!”

Ok! I choose to make my classroom a place where my kids want to come. I choose to be happy to see them. I choose to give them energy and I will in turn feed off of theirs. Let’s get this thing started!

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