Dear Sarah,

I keep wrestling with this one question about teaching: how do teachers stay motivated?


Looking for a Boost

Dear Looking for a Boost,

The ways teachers stay motivated vary as much as the teachers themselves. Some teachers stay motivated by change, others by routine. Some find motivation when they learn more about their content area and others find motivation in taking on new personal challenges. Some teachers are motivated by a belief that education is a pathway to self-actualization and others want to make a difference in a life the way someone made a difference in theirs. There always seems to be a strong connection between the reason a teacher entered the profession and the reason he or she stays. But, perhaps, there’s nothing more motivating than watching a student learn.

And that’s what I sense in your question: an underlying sense that motivation doesn’t come easy, that there’s a mountain we must continue to climb. Let me say this. If watching a student learn and grow is the top of that mountain and too many boulders or trees inhibit the path or hide the summit, motivation can be hard to come by. That’s when I make sure I’m not traversing this trail alone. It’s why I read Parker Palmer and Anne Lamott, it’s why I listen to On Being and watch Teaching Channel. It’s why I have rolling conversations with my PLN and clamor to collaborate.

If you’re struggling with motivation, you may be struggling with purpose and the best way to remember that is to talk to the humans in your classroom, to remember that long before and after they are your students, they are people who are unique stories, waiting for you to read.

Teach openly,

Together with Teacher2Teacher



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