Saturday, November 2, 2013

Seriously, what's my motivation?!

You may not have known this, but I spent my four years of college life studying for a degree in business. Out of college, I worked in customer service, sales, and management before realizing my calling as an educator. With the loving support of my wife, I made the career shift and here I am now. The hardest part of it all? Wasn't working with the kids, lesson planning, or having to go back to school to get a masters. No.. in the end all of that was fine. The hardest part for me has been transitioning into a very different way of approaching work.

I spent my childhood watching my dad bust his butt in corporate America, and work his way up to executive positions. He was professional, trustworthy, and driven. Those qualities led to his success. I saw that, and lived by that out of college becoming an assistant manager of an Enterprise Rent-A-Car office just after a 1 year with the company. I work hard, I have a great attitude, and I strive to be the best. Promotions and raises followed in each of the positions I held before going back to become a teacher. So the challenge has been finding the driving, motivating force each year to become an even better teacher.

I get the idealistic concept of getting better for "the children." Sure. But isn't that why I got into the profession in the first place? Of course I work for the students each year. I give everything I have to motivate and inspire my students to be dedicated learners. I exhaust myself to the point that I'm not my best in my own home sometimes. And with each year I give my all, I have to find/create ways to motivate myself into the next year. And for a driven person a new motivation will be found, but for those teachers that aren't... well don't we see so many grumpy teachers doing the same thing EACH and EVERY year?

Now, please understand that I'm not tying this all to $$. I don't necessarily think that providing incentives in the form of money always leads to the most positive things. I mean just take a look at how corrupt corporate America can be when incentives are solely $$ based. We don't need that kind of drama in our schools.. we have plenty already! But I do think that there are creative ways to encourage/motivate teachers to continue to bring new ideas and energy year to year. For example, give those teachers that are leading the way opportunities to lead professional development. Give them a voice, and an opportunity to feel their value in front of teaching peers. Or what if positive performance evaluations could lead to supplemented teacher education. I know that I'd love to be working toward having an ED Leadership Degree paid for, instead of having to fork over $5K to $8k for a promotion into an Admin position. Yeah, us teachers have to pay more $ for the opportunity to move into an Assistant Principal or Principal position.

At this point, I'm thankful to have a drive to success that was handed down to me by my parents. I strive to be the best, and when I thought I had reached that I started to get negative about the profession.  It was hard to work to be even better when I felt I was already at a level beyond a lot of teachers around me. Then I found out, I wasn't even close. I reached out with technology and found a base of teachers and administrators that have further inspired me. This inspiration has led to new changes in my classroom that I know continue to set me apart from my peers. And, these connections continue to help motivate me to step further down the path to Education Leadership. I see so many changes/challenges coming to education, and I want to meet those head on!

So, for me, I'll always find a way to become better because that is simply my nature. I want to be the best, because I want my students to be the best. And when I felt exhausted, I reached out to find others like me to help build me up to keep going. But how do we inspire those teachers that don't have that drive? The ones that are not changing and growing as professionals? The ones that aren't looking for their motivation?

I'd love to hear some suggestions, so please comment below. Tell me what you'd like to see school districts/communities do to further encourage/motivate teachers to strive to be better. Or tell me, how you find inspiration to be better year to year.