Following up on last month’s blog topic on motivating students, what do you do to stay motivated and avoid burnout as a teacher?

What simple steps or strategies would you recommend to help teachers stay motivated?

RESET

Here are my five top tips for how to RESET your motivation!

Read

There are hundreds of ELT books out there, written by enthusiastic, engaged, motivated individuals and teams (see this list to help you get started). Read one and allow their motivation and enthusiasm to rub off on you!

Reading can be a great way to remind yourself that there is life outside of your immediate context. Of course, reading doesn’t have to be limited to books – there are journal articles, magazine articles, SIG newsletters, blog posts and so on: many wonderful resources full of fascinating ideas that will stimulate you to learn new things.

If you are getting stuck in a narrow rut, reading can offer you wonderful views of the fascinating world of ELT, and, consequently, that burst of energy you will need in order to pull yourself out of that rut and re-engage yourself with your job and your profession.

Experiment

Having done all that reading, take it into the classroom with you and try out new things. Experimenting with new ways of teaching familiar language points and skills can help to re-energise your teaching and keep things fresh for you. But don’t limit your experimentation to the classroom:

  • Why not take the step to giving a workshop for your colleagues, based on something you have learnt about and tried out?
  • Or you could start blogging and share your ideas with teachers world-wide
  • Have you been to a conference before? Try going to one! There’s nothing like a good conference to bring all your motivation flooding back. So, if you have been to one before, see if you can get to another one – perhaps one of the many you haven’t been to before.
  • Have you written an article for a newsletter, magazine or journal before? Why not make that one of your aims? SIG newsletters can be a great place to start – you join them due to your great interest in a particular area of ELT and they welcome contributions from their members as well as helping you develop as a writer through editorial feedback. Or why not canvas contributions from other teachers in your staffroom and create your own school newsletter once in a while?
  • Have you learnt a new language recently? There is nothing like learning a new language to remind you just how fascinating language learning and teaching is!

Step back

If you are beginning to feel jaded, take a step back and consider your current circumstances critically:
Do you have any short-, mid- or long-term goals that you are working towards? If so, when did you last do make steps in that direction? What steps could you take? If not, make some goals and think about the steps you need to take in order to reach them.

  • Could you do an in-service training course to help you?
  • Could you find some relevant literature and do some reading around your projected area of interest?
  • Could you find people who already work in that area and talk to them about it? Twitter is a great place to connect with people in a huge variety of contexts.

Feeling directionless can drain your motivation heavily, so look at where you are and where you think you want to be, then start building the road to take you there – who knows what you will discover along the way!

Evaluate

What are the plusses and minuses of your current job? Every position has some of each. Make a table of all the plusses and minuses of yours, and then decide:

a) Can you turn some of the minuses into plusses?
b) Are any of the minuses temporary/short-lived? (e.g. related to certain points in the school year)
c) Can you further exploit the plusses to benefit you and your institution?
d) Is there room for you to grow and develop as a teacher?
e) If your answers to a) – d) are all no, and the minuses outweigh the plusses, is it time to think about moving on?

Sometimes you need to be brave and step out into the unknown. It may not be easy but it may lead you on to something life-changing in a good way!

Take a break

Teachers are very hard workers – we all know that! Don’t forget to take time for yourself as well: it’s amazing what a full day off can do for your motivation.

  • Make sure you have a hobby outside of work, something you can do at the weekend that takes you right away from work and gives you a breath of fresh air. Ideally, do something that involves exercise, so that after all the brainwork of teaching, you can invigorate both mind and body by doing something healthy.
  • If you can, during the week, build in short but regular bursts of you-time – an early morning run and/or 20 minutes of yoga on a regular basis can make a world of difference.

Good luck and don’t forget to RESET your motivation regularly! ☺

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