"Teaching is a lifestyle" is insanity.May 25, 2022
Lately, I've been hearing more and more teachers talk about how their leaders or fellow coworkers are living into the narrative that "teaching isn't just a job". Just this week a teacher told me that her administration told teachers that they don't need better pay because teaching is a "higher calling". Another teacher told me that she was told to treat teaching like a "lifestyle".
This narrative has been around for a long time, it's not new. But do we realize exactly how ineffective (and harmful) it really is? I think that we do. I think we know this mentality leads to teacher burnout yet we still have plenty of teachers and leaders who will not let this mentality go.
The “teaching is a lifestyle” approach does not work. It doesn't serve kids. We know this by now, yet we keep hearing this and keep trying to live up to this. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results, then the “teaching is a lifestyle” mentality is insanity.
What happens when teachers and leaders believe that teaching is a higher calling? They work themselves into the ground. Nothing is ever good enough and the work brain never turns off.
This is not effective teaching or effective leadership. It's self-destructive.
Part of what helps me mentor teachers so powerfully is not just my background as a teacher who healed from burnout, it's also my background as a certified health coach. Fully understanding exactly how certain educator mindsets manifest as burnout behaviors which lead to chronic stress which leads to disease gives me so much more confidence in guiding teachers away from the martyrship mindset and away from the "teaching is a lifestyle" belief. It's not only your happiness and life fulfillment we're focused on here, it's your health, too. What do you have if you don't have your health?
So here's my thing always - focus on what's in YOUR power. You can't control if your coworkers or district leaders push and press for you to see teaching as a way of life instead of as a job. What you can control is how you respond to this.
This is tricky. You will feel alone sometimes. You will be tempted to say yes when you want to say no and feel unbearable pressure to ignore your needs and forget your priorities outside of work if you work in an environment that praises burnout. It's not an easy road. But it can become easier
If you work in a culture that dismisses teaching as a job and sees it as a higher calling or way of life, please know that there are so many teachers and leaders out there who don't see it this way. There are others like you who are cheering you on to take care of yourself and encouraging each other to set boundaries and prioritize their health.
You know that what's best for kids is a healthy & happy teacher. Not a burnt out one with no life outside of them. So when in doubt, remember that.
If you're committed to making change in 2022, the doors for Next Level Teacher, my 3 month mentorship program, open TOMORROW! This is for teachers who are serious about doing things differently and believe in the power of prioritizing themselves.
Every teacher can create a higher level of happiness, health, and self-love. If it's your time for this, I'm ready for ya! Click here for more info! Enrollment closes January 5.