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Finding Your Why

The education profession often has a negative connotation- the high levels of turnover, the schools that fail to meet benchmarks, controversies over standards and curriculum, and so on. I am not disagreeing with the challenges and demands associated with the profession- being an educator is hard work! However, there is a reason educators enter into and stay with the profession beyond the obvious paycheck and summer vacations.


In my research with novice teachers, one common theme arose: while nearly all of the novice teachers considered leaving the profession, they remained because someone helped to reminded them of their "why." It is easy to focus on the negatives and be sucked into the "break room" talk. Yet, we know from research that intentional optimism makes a difference on our mental health and satisfaction. Step one is to acknowledge the challenge and then, as Elsa would say, let it go. Step two is to identify the positives in the situation.


Yes, education is challenging. But, education also allows us the opportunity to witness the "light-bulb" moments. It allows us to form deep relationships with students, being a trusted mentor and guide. Education allows us to come along side parents and work together to support them. For some children, you are a safe haven, the person who believes in their potential. For others, you are the one who walks along side them when they have made a mistake and you use the opportunity to gracefully teach the student a life lesson.


I challenge you to think back to your "why." What drew you into the profession? What excited you during your college coursework? What made you continue to sign your contract each year? In the ups and downs of the school year, remembering why you are doing what you are doing transforms the daily grind into a life mission.



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