Teaching is never without its challenges. Anytime more than 20 personalities share a space, adversity is sure to arise eventually.
Many discuss the inherent struggle of the new teacher or the burnout or wayward path of the veteran teacher, but few tackle the reality of middle career teachers.
Being a middle career teacher is not without its own struggles.
Between 10-25 years, teachers "know" what they're doing (one would hope) but struggle to keep things fresh. If a teacher makes it out of the beginning years than hopefully there is something other than the steadiness of the job that exists, but life can easily get in the way of further development.
Those of us who weren't married when we started may have gotten married or divorced, had kids, bought a house, own a car, etc and suddenly school is no longer our top priority; it can't be. This has the ability to really impact our careers and the lives of the children we teach.
Here are some strategies to help motivate and reinvigorate through the middle years:
Never get too comfortable with anything you do in the classroom. Once you think you know something really well, take the time to try something new. If we continue to recycle old lesson plans, never updating what worked a decade ago, we become complacent and that's dangerous
Don't be afraid to take risks that can pay off big, even if they don't at first. Let's face it, you know your content, so why not play around with the pedagogy?
Go to conferences and network. Take the time to get to know other people in your field and stretch your wings. Get connected.
If you don't know about Twitter, check it out. It really has the ability to reinvigorate a career. Lots of ideas, great pace, and great people.
Challenge yourself, try a new certification or a new degree. Perhaps it's time to learn something new or reflect on what you already know by reaching out for National Board Certification or another Masters. Maybe consider an administrative license.
Middle career educators have a lot to offer, but it is easy to rest on our laurels. Take the time to reconnect with why you went into teaching to begin with and shake off the rut. Visit your younger colleagues, offer to mentor someone, or start writing a blog. Share your experiences, everyone appreciates that.
What are you doing to keep your career fresh? How did you avoid burnout? Please share
*This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in April 2015