Let’s talk about teacher mantras.
As teachers, we all have bad days. Sometimes we have bad weeks or months or even whole school years. By bad, I mean difficult. I think we just use the term “bad” to describe periods of time when things don’t go as we planned or hoped. And let’s face it – even the best teachers have bad days.
Obviously, when we do have periods that are difficult, we still care for our students and their well-being. We still want them to learn and be successful. Our motivation for this work doesn’t change. So, we power through because happy teachers, happy students – right?
I’ve found that having a mantra helps me get through difficult parts of the day. Mantras help me get through tough weeks. I’ve carried specific mantras with me throughout entire school years that were difficult.
A mantra is a statement that is repeated frequently. I have always found it very helpful to take my presence of mind to a place where I could repeat something meaningful and positive when I needed to. Here are seven of my favorite teacher mantras:
When I get stuck in a rut, it helps me to think about what drives me as a human being. Celebrating my own creativity and helping others be creative are two things that really matter to me. Sometimes, as teachers, we get stuck in a rut with our teaching. When this happens, this mantra can help you mindfully pull yourself out. It is a good one to help us stay focused on what motivates our students as well.
Onward. No Fear.
This came from what Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association, uses to sign her emails. Sometimes we have to accept change as teachers when we don’t feel ready or when decisions have been made without our input. Change can be scary, but we have to carry on. This one is helpful for those situations.
Joyful, Unhurried, Healthy, Organized
I sat down one day and decided that everything I wanted out of life could be summed up in these four words. When I am having a tough time saying no or making decisions about how to use my time, I repeat these words.
They use this in yoga class for a reason. The slow, solid sound this makes combined with the physical sensation really does work to calm you down. I like this one when my anxiety levels get high, but I do not have time for a meltdown!
I am happy, healthy, safe, and loved
Speaking of yoga class, one of my yoga instructors uses this with us at the end of every session. It does wonders to improve self-doubt. I have used this one before speaking engagements and presentations to faculties.
Upward and together
Part of the inspiration for this one comes from the Core Values we hold at Education Closet. Upward spirals only! Sometimes I just need to remind myself of this. The together part reminds me that I’m never alone in this work. There are supportive and passionate educators out there willing and ready to help me. All I have to do is remember they exist and reach out.
All you need is love.
I know it sounds a little corny, but this one has been a favorite since I was in high school. As human beings, we can sometimes get so mad and angry at each other for things that won’t matter tomorrow. As teachers, we have a fiery passion for our students and do everything in our power to protect and serve them. Then, when a student treats us poorly one day, we can get really down. We get hurt. The passion is what makes us great at what we do. Students are learning to deal with their feelings and emotions. This mantra helps me remember to love them through it, that there is no room for anger in my world, and how important it is to model that for students.
Amanda Koonlaba, Ed. S. is an educator and educational consultant with over 12 years of experience teaching both visual art and regular education. Her career has been driven by the power of the arts to reach all learners. She is a published author and frequent speaker/presenter at education conferences. Amanda was named the Elementary Art Teacher of the Year for the state of Mississippi in 2016 and received the Arts Integration Service Award from the Mississippi Whole Schools Initiative (Mississippi Arts Commission) in 2015. She holds an Elementary and Middle Childhood Art certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Amanda is on a mission to ensure every student in America has access to a high-quality arts-based education. She blogs at SimpleArtClass.com