For me, the fall of 2017 held some of the most difficult times of my teaching career. I had more complaints than there are people in an entire city—and a big city, like New York. But I’m done with that. No more complaining. And I mean it. I believe that the key to staying positive as a teacher is to look at the bright side of some of the more common problems we face every day. Let me explain.
1. Annoying, Frustrating Parents
Let’s just get this out of the way: There are some intense parents out there who do outlandish things. There are also parents who never show up to parent-teacher conferences. You know that, at times, complaining about these parents in the teacher break room can be as good as a free therapy session. But you don’t always have to gripe. You can focus on these battles, or you can save yourself some stress.
Silver Lining: Remember all the exceptional parents in your community. The ones who push their children to do better. The parents who support teachers in and out of the classroom. The ones who give great gifts or little notes of appreciation! These are the parents we tend to forget about, and they usually outnumber the annoying ones, who are three times louder.
2. Annoying, Frustrating Students
They don’t turn in their homework, they show up without a pencil, and they always have something to say that doesn’t really add to class discussion. Sometimes, it is all too easy to complain about students and their behaviors. I have even found myself using the dreaded phrase “back in my day,” but no more for me! It’s time to focus on the good ones.
Silver Lining: We can’t forget the good moments. Like hearing a student read on their own for the first time. The struggling student who finally makes an A. The student who is the first in their family to get accepted into college. Our students do amazing things all the time. Don’t let the frustrating ones distract you from those wonderful moments.
3. Endless Faculty Meetings
I need help on this one! I really want to give up complaining about faculty meetings. But let it be known: I’d rather be anywhere else on Earth than a faculty meeting.
Silver Lining: Your administrators care about developing you as a teacher. You can share ideas, successes, and failures with your coworkers. You can make inside jokes with your teacher BFF. Sometimes there’s food. Yes to faculty meetings with food! The bottom line is, when teachers don’t grow, neither do students. Let’s be more positive about faculty meetings.
4. The Paycheck
When I entered teaching, I knew that I could have made more money doing something else. But I made my mind up to never complain about my salary. While I didn’t full-on whine last year, I did engage in sarcastic banter about teacher pay.
Silver Lining: We can all agree that teachers should earn more. But here’s what I try to focus on: we get paid to do what we love. More importantly, we get paid to help change the future of the world!
5. Other Teachers
Great teacher friends are wonderful, but we all know those “others” who are always complaining, self-centered, and rude. It seems like this is the teacher who always comes to your room during your planning period to discuss something you don’t care about. I know I’m not alone there!
Silver Lining: Teammates and family members do not always get along. But at the end of the day, we all have the same goal. Plus, those few that really “get you” can be lifelong friends. When we tear down other teachers, we just contribute to the overall negativity surrounding teaching in our society. We are doing the same work and fighting the same fight! Let’s be in this for each other and our students.
What are your tips for staying positive as a teacher? We’d love to hear you ideas and comments on this article in our WeAreTeachers Chat group on Facebook. WeAreTeachers Chat is a place to post questions, share a laugh, and connect with some of the amazing members of our WeAreTeachers community.