7 things you should let go of to become a happier teacher

7 things you should let go of to become a happier teacher
Posted on July 3, 2012 by Brad


It’s that time of year when we reflect on our classes and wonder how we can become a better teacher and yet at the same time, maybe we should also ask ourselves how we can become a happier teacher. So, without further ado: 7 things you can do to become a happier teacher and please add YOURS in the comments below.

(Credit where credit is due—“The 15 things you should give up in order to be happy” on Purpose Fairy by Dana was shared over 1,125,000 times, so I’d say it’s worth checking out)

1) Let go of the need to always be right (#1 on Dana’s list too)

There’s an amazing power when you let go of this (and it has happened to us all… not feeling good enough because we don’t immediately know the answer to a student’s question). Plus there’s a great power in having students seek out the answers when you don’t know. Either way, giving yourself this space is so important (imho).

2) Let go of control every now and again ( ❤ this etymology and #2 on Dana’s list)

Give your students full responsibility over a certain period of class every day, week or month. Let go and observe. You probably already do it, and I often think I can do it even more. And if you tend to bump heads often with admin, maybe choose your battles a bit more and just ‘let it be’ when you feel you can.

3) Let go of hurrying in and out of class

Courtesy of Lee R Berger via Wikipedia Commons

Take a minute (whenever possible), before and after class to write down what you’re excited about, what felt good about class, or leave that minute of 5 or 10 to talk to students in a more relaxed manner. Likewise, I’ll never forget the calm I felt while living in China where for 3 years I made it a habit to take just a few minutes and sit in class and smile before ‘rushing’ off to wherever it was next.

4. Let go of your teacher island existence.

Courtesy of Fanny Schertzer via Wikipedia Commons

Connect with other professionals in your local context, online, at conferences. Share your challenges and successes. I think this should almost be number one because I know how much it’s brought me in the past year since I’ve really engaged in my professional development mostly through exchange with professionals.

5) Let go of the expectation that each lesson is going to be excellent.

How are we really excited for a new class we’ve planned, and then we watch it come back and explode in our faces because of a detail we could’ve explained better or because that group of students just wasn’t into it that day, or… We learn so much through experimentation and if our students are lucky enough to have teachers that care and want to innovate, then we can take it a bit easier on ourselves when it things don’t ‘go right’. Easier said than done, but so true.

6) Let go of your need to be approved.

Connect with students, but keep a professional distance. Allowing a healthy emotional connection is fine, but you are their teacher first, not their friend. (i’ve learned this the hard way)

7) Lastly, REMEMBER that etymologies speak so much truth

Did you know that happy meant lucky in English until the 14th century? And so it was for many European languages from Greek to Irish (more here).

I think from a historical perspective this means sense considering that things “happened” to the average citizen 500 years ago (from a fatalistic point-of-view), more so than today when we are lucky enough to have a bit more choice and freedom. Indeed, we are lucky to be in the profession we’re in, and also we should remember that most of our happiness is our reaction to what happens to us (yes, that’s kind of an etymological pun).

So… what would you add to the list? I’d love to get to 15 with your help


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