What gets you out of bed in the morning?
What motivates you to go to work every day – despite the challenges, despite the stress, despite all the other factors that come with being a teacher?
There might be lots of reasons why you Wouldn’t want to be a teacher…
- Long hours
- Low pay
- Screaming kids
- Difficult parents
Just to name a few… but you do get out of bed and you do go to work every day to be of service to those children.
So what is it that motivates you to do this difficult work?
What’s your Compelling WHY?
In the 9 years that I’ve been a part of the California GEAR UP program working with teachers at Title 1 schools from all over the state of California, I’ve been able to ask this question of many people.
And while each person has their own variation on a theme based on their life experiences, it boils down to simply wanting to help kids be their best and become thriving adults.
I’ve also come across quite a few teachers who have checked out and who are going through the motions on a day-to-day basis. Doing the minimum that they need to do to collect paycheck and get to their retirement pension. When I see this, it breaks my heart because I know the impact that teacher is having on the students they’re working with.
You see – we have these things called “Mirror Neurons” in our brains that help us sense what’s going on around us and pick up on the emotions and stress of others. And so when a teacher is interested and excited and engaged, the students can FEEL their interest in their work and their care for the students (consciously or unconsciously), and it positively impacts how they (the students) show up and engage with that teacher.
Conversely, when a teacher is disengaged and only going through the motions, the students can sense that as well, creating lack-luster energy and engagement amongst the majority in the classroom.
So how can we get all of our teachers and administrators bringing their best to their work in each day?
Throughout my 14 years of professionally coaching adults, I’ve learned that it’s vitally important to reconnect with your Core Values – those principles and beliefs that drive your daily decisions on how to operate and move through the world. When you consciously strive to bring more of your core values into your work each day, your levels of satisfaction and happiness will go up and your stress levels will go down.
It’s simple biology actually – When you align your daily life, your work, your contributions with your core values, it creates a chemical reaction in your brain – releasing your “Happy Chemicals,” Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphins into your system:
- Dopamine helps us set goals, get things done and incentivizes us to make progress
- Serotonin boosts your feeling of confidence, making you feel good
- Oxytocin lowers your cortisol levels, increases your interest in your work and raises your cognitive abilities for problem solving and creative thinking
- Endorphins help mask the pain as your muscles work through hard labor
When this happens, your experience becomes happier & more balanced which creates an upward spiral of feel good – increasing your positive energy, which leads to increased satisfaction and success.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have your fair share of challenges and headaches on any given day, BUT, your values will give you a stronger foundation on which to stand which can help temper your reaction to those daily stressors.
You can always use your values as guideposts along the way as well. If you feel yourself getting to far off course from your core values, you can refer back to those values to help get you back on track by reminding you of the things that really matter to you, like those 32 students in your class. When you refocus your daily work and life around the things that deeply matter to you – your Compelling WHY – you’ll be more satisfied.
Those around you will feel it as well – creating positive ripple effects for your students, as you model for them the importance of doing work you love that allows you to live and operate from your values and your compelling Why.by