There’s that wonderful moment upon stepping into your first classroom ready for all its delights, discoveries, and even disputes when you think to yourself that you’re the luckiest person in the world to be given the opportunity to expand minds and enrich lives. But you’re quickly taken down a notch by more seasoned faculty who tell you that this enchanted realm will disappear in a matter of time. While we all get depleted at times, we shouldn’t feel like the excitement and anticipation for teaching is something reserved only for the first few weeks or something that only happens haphazardly, but that the preciousness of the experience can be reproducible throughout our career. To be able to fall in love with teaching again begins with remembering that it once fulfilled our goal, at least one of our goals, of being happy. It has been researched and claimed that much of our happiness stems from what is in our control and that there are a host of external factors that contribute to our waning happiness (Brown and Rohrer, 2019; Lyubomirskey and Schkade, 2005). Issues with the bureaucracy of education, funding, changes in class size, class structure, and mode of instruction, as well as student issues, all contribute to our falling out of love with the teaching profession. Additionally, oftentimes personal obligations and responsibilities add stressors that create burdens and affect our happiness in our personal and work lives, however, to rekindle our love is to pursue activities that will promote and remind us of the happiness that lies within the teaching profession and our personal lives. From the perspective of both faculty members and administrators, here are some simple activities that can change our outcomes and reignite our passion for teaching.
1. The “why”
When teaching stops bringing you joy, it’s important to acknowledge where you are and check in with yourself. Years and decades of teaching will make you forget the “why” question. We often tell our students to think of why they embarked on the journey of higher education to help them excel and find higher levels of satisfaction, but we don’t often give this question serious consideration ourselves. The answer can bring us closer to loving what we do in the classroom, or it may make us realize that teaching no longer aligns with who we are. Either way, it’s a question that we should revisit often.
2. Attend teaching conferences and start learning again