It’s a gorgeous day outside with a clear blue sky and not too cold a temperature . . . and I really don’t feel like teaching.
I decided that it’d be interesting to write about “What do you do when you don’t feel like teaching but have to?” and see what other teachers in and out of Korea do.
Here are some of the things I’ve done in the past.
1. Put on a tie. I normally wear a collared shirt and cotton pants or dress pants when I teach. During my five years of teaching I have gone through periods where I dressed much more casually but I found that my behavior and motivation tended to be a little more relaxed than I like, and I also have seen that Korean teachers and students treat you differently based on your appearance (holy understatement batman!) so dressing things up a notch helps with a lot of different aspects of teaching in Korea. Wearing a tie makes me feel more professional and therefore I act more professional. I’m not saying a lack of a tie equals less professional, but business dress does help with my teaching motivation levels.
2. Video my class (or lecture when I was teaching university). Videoing my class is a really amazing way to up the ante on my motivation and general awareness of myself as a teacher in the classroom and I know for a fact that my performance levels jump up with the video camera on. On top of raising my motivation and performance levels I also usually watch the video afterwards to see what went well and what needs improvement so the long term benefits to helping myself become a better teacher are a great bonus.
3. Caffeine. There are some days where nothing I do inside my head will give me more energy so drinking some green tea or Coke gives me an energy boost that translates into teaching motivation once I’m actually in the classroom and the teaching has begun. I don’t like to rely on stimulants as the fuel for my teaching but there are days where I’m tired for whatever reason and simply need some kind of aid. (I just asked one the Korean teachers in my office what he does and he said, “Smoke a cigarette”–lol.)
4. Think about students in Korea and their future. Korean students futures depend on doing well on tests and attaining high academic rankings. In the big scheme of things a bad day of teaching can cause ripple effects that diminish to a small degree their future performance on the Seunung (Korean SAT exam). When I think about how many hours (whether or not it’s serious studying) Korean students put into each day leading towards the exam that defines their entire lives (I’m not exaggerating) it helps snap me out of whatever demotivated state I might be in.
5. Re-signing at the same school/university and reference letters for future teaching positions. When it comes time for renewing and signing another contract with my employer my overall teaching performance will be under scrutiny. If I’ve had too many days during the course of the year where it appears to co-teachers and students that I didn’t care, had no energy or enthusiasm, etc, then I may not be offered another contract. Or, if I want to move on to another position and need a reference letter the chances of getting a really good letter may be lower.
6. Professionalism. My 0wn sense of professionalism and how I try to enact that each time I walk into my classroom to teach. In spite of cultural differences in how “professionalism” is defined according to Korean education culture (it is NOT the same) versus western cultural norms and values . . . I try to find some way of being true to my personal ideas of teaching professionalism.
7. Talk to other positive and professional teachers and/or friends. I think most teachers find that if they talk to another teacher about whatever is on their mind that the mutual understanding really helps you feel better. Often a small comment or idea that the friend makes also works wonders. The one thing to watch out for when you do this is to make sure the person you talk to is not also having a bad motivation day unless you know both of you will help build each other up as opposed to making things worse, lol.
8. Remind myself that once I get in the classroom and begin teaching that energy comes from the act of teaching itself, and the students usually energize me too with their smiles, laughter, and of course the random comments using English in very unusual ways, lol.
Well, those are the ways I try to re-motivate myself on days when I’m just not in the mood to teach.
What do you do?
And on that note–it’s time to go outside and enjoy the blue skies and life outside of teaching! Ha!