"I’ve been teaching English to adult learners for over ten years, and it’s becoming increasingly harder to stay motivated. Most of the time I’m just bored, but I do want to continue teaching. I just want to enjoy it like I used to. What can I do?"
It can happen to any of us. After all, how many times can you teach the same ol’ verb tenses? The tedium is compounded if you always teach the same level, the same types of students, or work at the same school for years. If you feel depleted, bored or tired, you may have lost your teaching mojo. But here’s the good news! There are ways to get it back!
6 Ways to Get Your Teaching Mojo Back
Re-connect with the fun side of teaching
Having fun is an essential part of loving your work. And maybe lessons are not as fun as they used to be. Try to remember some of your most memorable lessons. Grab a pen and make a list. What made each one particularly fun? What did your class enjoy the most? What did you enjoy the most? Try to re-live these lessons and pinpoint something you could use or try again in a future lesson. Did you use a really fun game to practice a verb tense? Use the same game for another tense! Did you bring some special props or realia? See if you can add some to an upcoming lesson. You won’t be able to recreate that fun lesson, but you might get some clues as to great things to try.
Mit it up!
One of the reasons you may have lost your teaching mojo is that you’ve been doing the same kind of teaching for far too long. In the above example, the teacher seems to have taught mostly adult learners. Maybe it’s time you considered a change, perhaps teaching a different age group or level, teaching some classes at a different school, or even taking some private students online. The change of scene can do wonders for your energy and mood. Also, quite often, a small change in the way you teach something helps. Maybe it’s time to stop re-using old lesson plans and come up with some new ones!
Are you feeling overwhelmed by your schedule? Biting off more than you can chew? Whether your stress stems from long hours of teaching nonstop, or staying up late to grade tests and prepare worksheets, it is very important that you identify the source of the problem. Once you’ve done that, you can address whatever it is that is stressing you out and do something about it. Maybe it’s time to teach fewer classes and sign up for that art course you’ve been putting off. You may have to slow down to de-stress, but it might be necessary to get your teaching mojo back.
Get some exercise
It might sound cliché, after all, exercise seems to be the solution to everything, but it really is important to balance out the hours of work with some physical activity. Exercise releases endorphins, the hormones that make us feel happy. You don’t have to suddenly go from couch potato to gym junkie. Start with a short daily walk or some yoga, then work your way up to more challenging activities. I can guarantee you will feel the difference, and just the exercise alone may be enough to chase those clouds of boredom away.
Share with colleagues
You see other teachers walking down the hall, smiling and happy, and you think you’re the only one who’s tired and bored. But you’re not. Go ahead and try this today. Ask other ESL teachers if they ever get bored of teaching. Their answers may surprise you. Whatever feelings and doubts you may be having, there is another ESL teacher out there (or several) who have gone through the same thing. Find out what they did to get their teaching mojo back. You may find something that works for you, too.
Discipline your brain
What do you do when a student becomes discouraged or unmotivated? You get him/her to acknowledge the positives and work past the negatives. You get your student back on track. Of course, doing this for yourself is easier said than done. But it’s all in the training. If you train yourself to listen to your body’s signals, you can identify a slump as soon as it rears its ugly head. Wake up one day not wanting to go to work? There’s your signal! Now, what are you going to do about it? (apply any of the above).
If you’re bored of teaching, nobody can give you your teaching mojo back. Only you can get it back, and it’s fundamental that you understand this. It is also important that just because you feel bored, this does not mean you should quit. More often than not, just one little change in your routine/habits can do big things for your mood.
Have you ever felt so bored with teaching you wanted to quit?
I certainly have! What did I do? I changed my schedule. I decided to teach in the morning and started writing in the afternoon. Even though this meant I was teaching less, I felt a lot more motivated during the lessons I did give. What did you do?
* This question was sent in from a real ESL teacher, just like you! Have a question of your own? Feel free to share it in the comments below. Or tweet your question to @busyteacher_org with the hashtag #ESLTeachersAsk. Your question might get picked and featured in an article!