BACK TO SCHOOL. For most educators those three words illicit a less than enthusiastic response because for them it simply means it’s time to return to the classrooms where they’ll spend another 180 days working to impart a bit of knowledge and perhaps a little wisdom to students. However, for the novice teacher those words can fill them with an overwhelming sense of trepidation. But it need not be that way because there are two simple things a teacher, regardless of whether they are seasoned or green, needs to remember to give themselves the mental boost they need to embrace the notion of ‘back to school’.
First and foremost remember TEACHING IS A PROFESSIONAL A CAREER. You’ve been trained, tested, and board certified as a teacher just like any doctor, lawyer or accountant has been certified. In fact, without teachers like you, none of those other professionals would have the strong foundations upon which they built their own careers. The next time you visit your physician or sit down with an attorney to draw up legal papers or seek the financial advice of a broker, make sure to look around their offices and notice the framed certificates, diplomas, and licenses they’ve so carefully placed upon their walls.
Where is your diploma? What about your teaching license? How about those continuing education certificates and other accolades? Are they stowed away in a filing cabinet somewhere? Are you ashamed of them? Of course not! You put a lot of time, effort, and hard earned money into getting those pieces of parchment so why don’t you show them off?
Doing so doesn’t mean you’re boastful or attention seeking. Rather it’s a way to show your students, their parents, and your peers that you have worked hard and passed all the requirements necessary to get where you are. Likewise you’ll be surprised at how they can offer you a psychological boost on those days when it seems like nothing is going right. Granted as a teacher there is always the fear that one of your students, in their youthful angst, may unwisely choose to mar or outright destroy your certificates of achievement which is why it’s best to keep your originals at home and put color copies of them (nicely framed or simply laminated) on your walls. That way you’ll be able to openly display them and keep your peace of mind.
Second, you must never forget that someone other than your parents and loved ones has confidence and sees value in your abilities otherwise you wouldn’t have been hired. Of course, there will be naysayers who will argue that school district personnel are weeding out ‘costly’ experienced teachers and intentionally hiring novice teachers because they’re cheaper, will do whatever is demanded of them for fear their contracts won’t be renewed, and will eventually leave the profession after a couple of years which means they won’t have to pay them more for the experience they accrue.
However, that sort of logic is illogical. After all one does not invest in an economically priced Ford and intentionally push it beyond its tolerance level as if it were a hundred thousand dollar Ferrari in the hopes that after two or perhaps three years it will stop working altogether just so they can junk the thing, forcing them to buy a new vehicle. True, people are not automobiles however teachers, like other professionals, and the skills/abilities they have are assets to whatever group hires them just as an automobile is an asset to the person who purchases it. And along that same vein, in a principal or district’s eyes, a veteran teacher is much like a cherished classic vehicle whose value accrues over time therefore it does not make economic sense to toss them aside simply because a newer, shinier and less expensive model comes along.
In the end, it’s important to remind yourself of the two mentally boosting notions presented in this article (‘teaching is a professional career’ and ‘someone sees value in you’) often and out loud because they are true. And the mental message they send to you can be a great intrinsic motivator to help psyche yourself up for the day or year ahead much the way a professional athlete prepares himself for ‘the big game’. Do not be afraid to look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I am a professional. I do have value. I can teach.”