Working freelance or as self employed I can pick and choose what to do and when to do it, which helps to keep my work interesting and motivated to continue. I am motivated by the fact that the work I am doing has purpose, rather than merely being a ‘cog’ in a large company where day-to-day life can be extremely dull. However, there are occasions when my motivation just goes out of the window, and I am left in a slump despairing at the day ahead of me.
I am sure that we all have the occasional ‘off-day’, but to keep them at bay I have come up with a range of activities that I do regularly which help. Firstly I have become a student, I love languages and ever since I was at school in French class I have wanted to learn and speak different languages. Sometimes my attempts have faltered early on (Hungarian), sometimes after many years of inactivity I have lost some language abilities (French) and some I have become semi-fluent in (Italian). I am still a student of the Italian language, regularly taking lessons from a native speaker and I feel that the whole experience of being a student actually helps me become a better teacher, and more importantly keeps me interested and motivated to teach. Most recently I have begun to learn Russian, but you could take a class either in person or on-line, in almost anything that interests you and it is a great way to give yourself an insight into the learning process that your students are going through.
Secondly, I have created a social group of likeminded teachers, some are locally based, but others are half-way around the world. Locally, we can meet up for coffee and chats about anything work or non-work related. On-line is the same, but without the coffee! Having a support group of some kind to talk to, people who understand the work you do and the pressures you feel is a great way to get things off your chest and saves you from blowing-up in front of a student or at home.
Last, but not least, I have taken to writing about being a teacher in blog posts on sites such as this one. Writing is a creative process that requires you to look at life and work situations from different perspectives. The topics I have written about have varied dramatically, but each one has required me to re-examine myself in some way and I have found the process of doing so to be extremely helpful to both my professional and personal life.
Staying motivated and avoiding burnout as a teacher, which is so common in everyday life nowadays can be tricky, but with some thought you can easily come up with one or two activities that will help to keep you on the right track.