Staying healthy and motivated – Naomi Epstein

Finding Motivation in Unexpected PlacesNaomi Epstein

As a veteran teacher, I can unequivocally say that finding a peer group of like-minded teachers, for both inspiration and support, is vital for retaining ones emotional health and desire to go into the classroom day after day. Whether this group of teachers is found in your school, in face to face regional conferences or online does not matter. The fact that you are able to discuss new strategies, argue over their benefits, share the successes and get support for the disappointments is really what counts.

That being said, motivation can also be found in the most unlikely places. As unlikely as taking up a hobby totally unrelated to teaching English.

Take bird-watching, for example.

Hardly seems relevant to teaching English, does it? Sounds like something most students wouldn’t be interested in.

Let’s take a closer look.

First, there is the emotional factor. Spending time outdoors, in nature, away from the classroom, the computer (and housework!) can be both relaxing and invigorating. Seeing a  flock of about 6000 Kites (birds of prey) circling overhead as they prepare for their nightly roost or discovering a long eared owl perched on a branch, so cleverly camouflaged that you would never have seen it on your own, can be awe inspiring. After such outings, a teacher may often find that her/his own “feathers” do not get easily ruffled in class when things don’t go exactly as planned. The enormity and complexity of nature can put things in perspective.

Secondly, nature and mankind are closely linked. There are geo-political issues (the fall of the Soviet Union and the Gulf War caused birds to change their migrating routes!) and there are cultural issues which can lead to very interesting discussions. Cranes are very significant birds to the Japanese. Owls are a blessing to farmers in some places (natural rodent killers) while looked upon in fear and dismay in other places. And those are just a few examples!

Basically, finding a hobby, any hobby, that “recharges your batteries” and expands your own horizons can help you remain a healthy and motivated teacher.

About Naomi Epstein

For the past twenty-five years I have specialized in teaching English as a foreign language to deaf and hard of hearing pupils in Israel. I began my career as an elementary school teacher but have taught high-school for the last 21 years. I have a B.A. in Deaf Education, a B.E.D. in EFL and an M.A. in Curriculum Development. I'm the author of two textbooks for these pupils. I am both a teacher and a teachers' counselor. As a firm believer in the quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world" (Gandhi) I have found that sharing with others, networking and reading have helped me keep my enthusiasm for teaching burning bright. I've recently discovered the joys of audiobooks - I now read books AND listen to them while doing housework! Naomi's blog: Visualizing Ideas