I start every year with a clean, fresh slate. My students are new, my attitude is renewed, and I have this overwhelming feeling of excitement about what the year will bring. The ideas on what and how I will teach bubble over and I keep a list of teaching ideas as a Google Document, ready to begin implementing them as soon as possible. I understand that I will not get to every single idea and will not get to do every single project or activity that I set out to do at the beginning of the year. But I’m content with the possibilities that September brings each year.
There comes a point in my year, usually around January/February, where I find myself losing the excitement, the motivation that energized me at the beginning of the year. I make a conscious effort to find my motivation again. I reevaluate my own professional goals. I try out a new lesson, activity or game with my reading or math group. I try and spend extra time with my more challenging students so that I can feel inspired again by their individual accomplishments in the face of such challenge and adversity. After a few weeks, I find myself feeling inspired again — the mojo is back.
This year, instead of focusing solely on my own motivations, I am starting to think about what motivates my students. Is it enough for them to earn stickers towards a prize in the prize box? Are they really following directions because they want to earn marbles so that they can earn another state on our US state puzzle? For some of my students, the answer might be yes. But for many of them, I know the answer is no. My thought is that if I can more specifically address what motivates my students, I can create a more positive classroom with more engaged and invested students. And perhaps if my students are more invested in their learning, I can become reinvested in my teaching.
What motivates you as a teacher? What motivates your students? How have you found your teaching mojo again?