How to Stay Motivated to Teach English

Tell me if you've heard this or experienced this scenario before:

A person starts a new job. At first they are so excited and motivated to do the best they can at their new job. This person works hard, puts in the extra effort, doesn't mind working overtime, and is successful at what they do. This goes on for an undetermined amount of time (depending on the person)....And then something happens....routines begin to form, things that were a novelty before aren't so interesting or have even become annoying, motivation decreases and this same person who once loved their job, isn't looking forward to going to work everyday, Monday to Friday from 9 - 5.

Now put your hand up if this has ever happened to you. I'm sure almost everyone who is reading this is now putting their hand up (well at least in their heads their putting their hands up). Work, especially teaching, can be tough sometimes. I've wrote before about teacher burnout, but today I wanted to write about some of the ways that English teachers can stay motivated when they are experiencing this down period.

1. Change Something
I've always believed that routines are a good way to waste a life (well maybe not all routines...but most). If you're feeling like you don't want to teach, change something to disrupt the monotonous routines that are sucking the fun out of teaching. Try a new approach to teaching, take your class outside, introduce topics that interest you, change your schedule, etc. There are so many ways to change what you do everyday. Identify a few things you do on a daily basis, and try something new.

2. Take charge of your motivation level
If you're feeling unmotivated to teach, don't just expect motivation to fall from the sky and land on your lap. Sometimes you gotta fight for yourself. Some great ideas to add a little motivation to your life are: attending pro-d workshops (for people teaching abroad you can do this online as well:, read a motivational book or watch a motivational movie (Dead Poets Society always works for me), talk to colleagues and ask for suggestions, etc.

While I'm on the subject of taking charge, this can also mean taking care of problems or issues that you've been avoiding for far too long. One of the reasons teachers can become unmotivated is due to the problems that their jobs throw at them. And instead of addressing these problems, we sometimes ignore them and hope that they'll go away someday....big mistake. They often don't go away, but instead become bigger problems that wear teachers down. If you want to increase your motivation, you've got to tackle these problems head on. So deal that student behavior problem you've been ignoring, work on that concern your administrator has brought up, or complete that task you've been throwing aside for too long. Trust me it will help.

3.Set Goals
A great way to stay motivated, no matter what you're doing, is to set goals for yourself. These goals can be professional goals related to teaching like improving students' test scores, or they can be personal goals like obtaining new skills or qualifications that will help you with your profession. Either way, goals give you something to work for, which can be directly translated into increased motivation.

4. Enjoy your life outside the class
One of the best ways to increase the motivation to teach, is to make the most of your time away from school. First and foremost, this means unplugging from your job. Teachers have to make a conscious effort to not think (or maybe a better word would be 'worry') about teaching during their free time. Instead time should be spent on doing what you love. Hobbies, spending time with friends and family, and travel are all great examples of things you should be doing on weekends and holidays. Also, somewhat related, making a commitment to your health will really pay off with your teaching. Being healthy, means having more energy, which means you are able to teach to your full capacity leading to greater student success, which is really the ultimate motivator for teachers....think about it.

5. Remind yourself why you are teacher
If all of the previous suggestions fail, you can always fall back on the true reason you became a teacher: To Help Students Succeed. Take time to remind yourself of the impact you have made in past students' lives and the impact you can make in your current students' lives. You have a great responsibility to help shape and mold the next generations. Don't waste this opportunity to make a big difference.

6. One more thing....don't forget to laugh
No matter what you do for a living, don't forget to laugh as much as possible. Although your concerns may seem huge, there's a good chance a lot of them aren't that big of a deal and you need to learn to laugh at some of life's twists and turns. Have fun with your students and encourage them to laugh more as well. I don't know a single person who doesn't feel better after a good laugh..

Hope you found these suggestions helpful. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section at the bottom


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