ReIgnition: Can You Revive a Teacher Who Has Checked Out?

“I just don’t love it anymore, I still love the kids, but not all the other stuff.”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a teacher talk along those lines, I would be able to start my own school. I keep coming back to this topic, probably because the negativity, stress, and frustration levels are so high among educators.

I have been uncertain about this for a while. Do they just slowly fade out of existence? Do they quit and give up teaching? I cannot see either of these being great options for anyone who truly cares about kids. If you really care about kids, there has to be a way to reignite the passion that once fueled you to become a teacher. Sure, there are some that started in the profession for all the wrong reasons, but I am not talking about them.

I two years ago I saw a teacher like this find some new life. She had been doing the same thing for ten years and it was becoming stale. She was definitely frustrated by increased and ever changing demands, and decided she was not going to do much different each year. When a new leader approached her about changing her classroom, she made some significant changes. Why? How? Simple… He approached her as a human being. He talked to her about what she was doing, what he expected, and the two talked about what she needed to get there. Is she a radical agent for change? No, but her kids are getting more of what they need than ever before, all while she continues to demonstrate the care and patience that made her great in the first place.

The second story is one I just heard at EdCampNJ I heard it from a 39 year veteran. Paula Naugle a teacher from New Orleans was visiting New Jersey just for our EdCamp. She talked about going to ISTE nine years ago. She shared that she was ready to retire when she found the power of connecting and sharing learning with other teachers. She has continued to teach since with a passion and joy that any teacher would hope to capture.

Can you revive those teachers that are checked out? Yes! It is not easy, but it starts with a difficult and honest conversation: Do you still want to teach? Where do you find joy in teaching? This is where our school is heading and this is what we need you to do. What do you need to be able to get there? How can I help you get there?

From that point on, the difficult work of making those answers a reality. It isn’t impossible, but it isn’t easy either. Our kids deserve it. Our teachers deserve it. Our communities do too.

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