Deciding to become a teacher is one of the most noble and gratifying decisions a person can make in their lifetime. With this decision comes great responsibility and opportunity. When you get your first classroom, you are entrusted with a group of young minds that look to you for guidance in their learning. There will be good days and bad days but the net result is always positive, it has to be. In order to have a successful teaching journey, you must continue to nourish yourself to grow. Successful plant growth requires water, nutrients, air, soil, light, temperature, space and time. Some things that may not be so obvious, but are a huge part of your teaching journey.
Water and Nutrients
Teaching is a physically and more so, a psychologically demanding career. In order to keep your mind and body right, you have to take care of it so you are at your finest, everyday, for your students. Exercise, proper diet and hydration is key to having successful days in the classroom. Drinking water circulates nutrients and keeps you balanced and provides a positive function with many of your organs, such as the kidneys and brain. If your water intake does not equal output, you will be unbalanced and begin dehydrating. Water supports circulation, maintains or lowers caloric intake and energizes muscles. Tips to increase your water intake:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Have a water bottle handy: in car, desk or bag
- Drink beverages that you like, however, alcohol tends to dehydrate
Air and Soil
Teaching requires a growth mindset. It is particularly hard to grow as a teacher if your environment and ecosystem is filled with toxins which limits your ability to develop talents in students, instead you only document their ability. Plants require clean air and rich soil to take in carbon dioxide and create food. Teachers should continuously challenge themselves, reflect and take risks in order to grow. Additionally, place effort before talent, emphasize growth, value the process and stop seeking approval.
Light and Temperature
Light is used as energy for plants to make food, without it, the plant suffers. If the plant is too hot or cold it burns or freezes which stunts or eliminates growth. Teachers should not let others cloud their judgement and follow along with practices that do not move students and teachers forward. Teachers must create their own nutrients by researching best practices in teaching and learning through professional learning communities and increasing their network of resources and support, so their reflection is clear and the path for positive student outcomes is consistent. Gathering ideas is one thing, but you must implement, try and experiment. Much like a plant being to cold or hot, a teacher must have equal portions of research and action in order to grow.
Space and Time
In order to let your roots grow you need space and time. Finding time to educate yourself, take advantage of professional learning opportunities or talk to other educational practitioners that have a growth mindset, can prove to be a win for teachers and students. Teaching is not a race, nor should years of service be rewarded with flat line lessons and activities that do not support students as inquirers, reflectors and doers. Teaching is a consistent, long term career that should be rich in improvement, sharing and caring. You can improve yearly by reflecting on all your lessons and interactions with students and colleagues, seek help and support, and remember that you do not have to do it all at once, you just have to intentionally begin.
Congratulations to all teachers and educators who have for one reason or another, joined the ranks of education. It is your duty to grow and nourish yourself as an educator to grow and have a successful teaching journey.
Learn more about Growth Mindset, Creativity and being a better teacher:
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education by Sir Ken Robinson
The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink