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When You Feel Like a Bad Teacher.

Updated: May 5, 2020

Let's face it. We have ALL had those days when you feel like a terrible teacher. Maybe you were up too late putting together a last minute lesson plan, or heck, are showing up without having a plan at all. There have been the days where your good plan has turned into a not-so-good plan. Days that feel like everything that could possibly go wrong, does. Your class is super chatty, Tommy is not doing his work, and the cute little Ikea plant that you bought to make your classroom look just right is now smashed on the floor.

The only thing I can tell you is, I GET IT, I have been there, I have been at the point where I am anxious because I don't know which bomb to deactivate first. And then the lovely voice of self doubt booms in your ear, telling you that you're not cut out for this, or you have no idea what you're doing, or even I must be the only teacher in the world who let's their classroom get this out of hand. Now, having a pity party for one is great and all, but is it helping the situation?

I am not going to lie to you, I have most definitely fallen in this trap. I'd come home from a long day and just drown myself in self doubt. What made matters worse? I actually had my BTSA mentor ask me one day, "Are you sure you want to be a teacher?" What a better way to validate the ideas and thoughts that were already spinning inside my head, right? I could've easily let the words she spoke come to reality however, what it did was light a spark. I made it my mission to show her that I was cut out for this. Instead of letting the voices in my head (and apparently outside my head) affect me, I decided to take action and change them. I did research on the areas that I was lacking in, and kept trying strategies until I liked what I saw. While that was first year teacher Haylee, I still feel that doubt even teaching today. So days that I do feel kind lame, here is what I like to do.

Here is what to do when you feel like a bad teacher:

1. Remember that even though you feel like you didn't give it your all, you definitely still made a difference in your students' lives.

2. Give yourself positive affirmations (cheesy I know, but oh so helpful)

3. Vent it out to a fellow teacher. (I mean what doesn't make you feel better than knowing your teacher besties class was all psycho today?)

4. Clear your mind (yoga, go for a run, walk, paint, drive, listen to a podcast. Whatever you do to recharge and start fresh)

5. Do something that has nothing to do with teaching. (Sometimes it's nice to just have a normal convo with friends that doesn't remind you of work)

6. Remember all the amazing lessons and things you HAVE done right. (Focusing on the negative is never a good idea. It's okay to sulk a little, but change your focus into the good things)

7. Create. (Something that helps me, is to create an amazing and brand new lesson that I know will engage, excite and bring joy back to my job)

8. Cry it out. (I am not joking when I say, sometimes we are dealing with hard things, and letting it out is the best way to deal)

9. Research new strategies. (Not all classes are built the same, so therefore not all the same strategies that you've used year-to-year will work. When in doubt, try something new)

10. Remember that you are human. You will make mistakes and not everything is sunshines and rainbows. Also, even the most veteran teachers have bad days too. We're all in this together.

So stop beating yourself up. We have all been there and you are doing a great job. Keep it up you amazing teacher, you!

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Thank you very much for writing this. I’ve been teaching for 5 years as a special education teacher, and there are days that are bad, and on a day like I have today, I felt like I’m failing and that I always have to please my administrators, fellow teachers, and even students. Whether working in general education or special education, there’s bound to be a wide range of students who needs help and don’t know how to ask. All of the suggestions you have, I need something like that right now. Thank you!

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