Most schools have “grouchy old Mrs. Klunks,” teachers who never smile, are chronically impatient, and see themselves as victims forced into “this miserable job.” Their only hobbies are pity parties, their only friends other poor-me types.
You may be developing “Klunk syndrome” if any of the following symptoms sound familiar:
There’s no denying that teaching can be a thankless job low on financial and appreciative compensation. However, grouches in any field get less appreciation, and often fewer material rewards, than their peers. Assuming you believe in teaching enough to stay for the long haul, here are a few ways to pump up your attitude.
“Fake it till you make it” often does work: if you keep a consistent smile on your face, your attitude will follow. That said, a huge, obviously forced grin only makes you the butt of jokes. Try for a small, patient, sincere smile as your default facial expression. If you have trouble, practice calling humorous thoughts to mind. Or, decorate the classroom with things that bring out contented thoughts (e. g., flowers, personal photos, inspirational posters).
Even in the toughest and most underfunded schools, there are always coworkers skilled at expecting the best. Have your coffee with them, and let them lead the conversation so you catch their focus-on-the-good habit. Outside of school, too, spend your time with positive thinkers who appreciate life.
Even if your problems are inside the school building—the principal singles you out for scolding, the break-room coffee goes cold—stay understanding with your students. If nothing else, taking things out on them will earn you a “tough teacher” reputation that may haunt you in students’ negative expectations through a dozen future classes. Besides, watching to catch kids doing something right will dispel your bad mood faster.
Most teachers enter the field because they value education and want to positively influence future generations. And many teachers, failing to reap fast and obvious rewards, quickly fall into envy of professions that bring money and “respect.” Presumably you want your students to know there are more important things than instant gratification—set them an example by believing it for yourself. On those days when it seems nothing is going right and every one of your students is impossible, visualize the strongest-willed kids as future leaders and influencers for whom education made a difference. It works! Bad days are temporary, but the rewards of good attitude can last for generations.