Let’s start this blog the right way: With a frank statement that is meant to be profound, but that makes anyone actually interested in this blog laugh at its obviousness. Teachers don’t have a lot of free time. Pretty much goes without saying, right? So, why in the world would a young teacher—only in the profession for 2 years—want to spend some of that virtually nonexistent free time to write about how to be happy? Because it’s important, damn it! Happy teachers make happy students. Wait…screw that! This blog doesn’t focus on students. It focuses on US. It is not selfish to want to be happy. (But, if it makes you feel any better, happy teachers actually DO make happy students, so it’s a win-win.)
So, I didn’t really answer the question, did I? WHY is it important to be happy? My answer is simple. Teaching has changed. Teachers are not what they used to be. There is this stagnant myth that teachers are meant to be martyrs, constantly struggling against unseen (and some seen) oppressors to do right by their students. The problem with this thought process is that students have changed without many people noticing. Think about it: Parents generally have a few kids and watch them grow up as part of one generation. Sure, they may have grandbabies later on, but they only truly experience one generation of youth from an outsider’s perspective. Most of society is in the same boat; they simply don’t see what students have become in the digital age.
Hold on a second. I don’t like that: The digital age. Sounds like something from a bad eighties movie. I prefer to call this current generation the On-demand generation. Everything is at their fingertips. And by everything, I mean Google.
So, that’s the key. Students no longer look at their teachers as robots designed to teach them. We can’t teach them anything that Google can’t. They are now seeing us as something different. They’re seeing us as people. And, no, you’re not going to be struck down if you let your students know that you’re human, despite what your Ed profs said in college.
I’m making a point, I promise.
Because our students know we’re human. Because they look to us as role models. And because no matter how many times I sarcastically say I don’t, I do love my students as much as the next overworked educator out there. That’s why it’s important to be happy. When our students see us happy, they are one step closer to being happy themselves.
And, because it’s not ok to be sick and tired all the time. Seriously. I could go on and on about the negative health effects of being unhappy, but what’s the point? We’ve all experienced it. You just feel crummy when you leave work unhappy because of the new state-mandated tests, or the force-fed curriculum, or the new student growth measurement tool, or the required and poorly structured cross-curricular engagement time.
It’s time to break the cycle. It’s time to be happy.
Don’t get me wrong! It’s important to play the game. Participate in all the required trainings and all the other time-sucks that the powers-that-be think up. You need your job, after all. I’m simply suggesting that you boost your happiness levels at the same time. How?