For the days you want to throw in the towel.
For the days where you can’t seem to find your counseling/teaching rhythm and nothing seems to be going right.
For the days where the lessons seem off, your behavior management is not quite hitting the mark, and you begin to doubt yourself as a counselor (teacher, coach, coordinator, administrator …):
- Remember, this is about YOU not “these kids.” Who is the only person you are in control of? That’s right … YOU. Therefore, instead of pointing the finger and blaming a group of 8 (11,13,16) year olds, look inwards. The students might have been a factor but they are not the whole equation. Instead, look at your actions and choices and change the parts of your day that you have the power to change. Reflect. Don’t blame.
- Step back and ask yourself, “Is this the norm?” Chances are the answer will be “no.” Chances are that you are a strong educator and 99% of the time you have great days where you feel productive, proud, and like you connected with students and helped them make sense of their learning. Chances are, days like this are the exception. Today might have been that 1% kind of day. Acknowledge that it sucked but remind yourself that this is not your normal.
- Reflect on the times you feel like you are an educational-rockstar. What did this look like? What was happening? What conversations were you having? What were you doing to support learning? How were you growing as a professional? How were you pushing yourself and your students at the same time? Ask yourself my magic counseling question, “What was different.” Most likely when you reflect on the great times you will recognize what made today a little tougher, more challenging, or frustrating — like mentioned above — are not typical.
- Practice self-forgiveness. Let’s be honest — maybe it was you. Maybe your lesson was not engaging. Maybe students were bored. Maybe you were off your game. Beating yourself up over whatever you might have done to contribute to your off day can never change the day you had. Instead, you can forgive yourself for whatever it is you felt you might have done “wrong” this day and then move forward. Give yourself grace — like you would for students who might have been off their game.
- Find your marigold and share your honest feelings. Tell them why your day sucked and how you are feeling at this point in time. Share your thoughts of feeling unworthy as an educator. Vent in a safe space without judgement. Then, let it go. Start focusing on what you can do to make the next day better instead of ruminating on how bad you may feel now.
- Push your “reset” button. You give one to students, don’t you? Imagine a student is “off” for the class, period, or day and you are feeling frustrated with their choices. The next day when they walk into class you give them a fresh start. They are not their behaviors or choices from the day before, right!?! So, do the same for you. Walk in knowing that you a have a fresh start for the day ahead. Maybe you need to change some lessons, strategies, techniques, or conversations to fully reset but once again, wouldn’t you do the same for students to help them reach academic or behavioral success?
- Plan a lesson that you can guarantee will feel successful. For at least one lesson, facilitate a lesson where you will teach from your heart and reaffirm your belief that you belong as an educator. When a student is on a new academic or behavior success plan, educators set that student up to experience success right away so that they see how it feels to be successful and so that their self-efficacy increases. By teaching a lesson you know will be engaging and meaningful for both you and students, you are like that student on the plan. You will experience immediate success, feel confident and hopefully believe that you are a strong educator.
- If needed, ask for help and support. As educators, we teach (and expect) students to advocate for themselves. If a student needs additional support we encourage them to ask an adult they trust. We teach this skill because we recognize that every learner (and every human) needs different things to feel successful. This same sentiment is true for educators, as well. You might need some support or help in figuring out what areas you need to tweak, develop, or grow in. You might be feeling like you are having more off days than good. Ask for help. Go to someone you trust and who you could be vulnerable with. Ask for assistance, mentoring, coaching, or support just like you would want a student to do.
Remember, we all have days when we question our value, skill-set, and expertise. Those days when it feels like all signs are pointing to “career change” are sometimes the best points of reflection and opportunities for self-awareness. Instead of quitting think about how you can turn the next day around. Treat yourself with kindness and be well.