Question Detail

How can I tap into my confidence again after a particularly difficult year, sapped of my well of energy.

May 18, 2014 3:58pm

A class of students grouped together based on last year's standardized testing included several challenging and confrontational students who took it upon themselves to provide as many disruptions as possible. I have taught almost 15 years and have taken pleasure in being able to 'read' students fairly well. This year, my father fell ill several times, and I struggled to find the energy to teach. Most of the year has been spent building up student confidence, on behavior management and putting out those constant little fires each day. We haven't accomplished nearly as much as I have with my students in the past. I am feeling burned out, and disappointed in myself. How do I get my own confidence back?

  • English Language Arts
  • 6


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    • May 18, 2014 7:31pm

      I've been there. I'd recommend trying to find something that reminds you of why you chose to teach in the first place. Personally, I changed schools--from a middle school to a high school. The dramatic change was invigorating. I also started working on my Master's Degree around the same time. I was lucky to have a very inspirational professor. Less expensive options, watch more of the videos on this site and buy a professional book or two to read over the summer.

      • May 20, 2014 11:08am


        Take this summer to relax, knock some things off your "bucket list," and rest. It sounds like you had a very hard year in general, but next year is a new year with new kids. You had 14 years of awesome experience teaching, but this year, you had other things on your plate as well. I agree with Teri that a change may be a good way to move on next year. Maybe switch classrooms, recruit a student teacher from a local university, and learn about a new curriculum design process. Kids are much easier to manage when they are engaged, so use this summer to design curriculum that will get all your students next year excited about learning. Alissa mentioned Teach Like a Pirate - which focuses on engagement. I also wrote a book UDL Now! that explains how to recruit students to manage their own learning environment. I'm sure there are many other books out there that will help you to reassess your learning environment. Another great one is Lost in School by Ross Greene that examines why students misbehave and how teachers can scaffold executive functioning skills to change that.

        Hope this helps...know that many have been there before and we're all better for it. Hope your father is well.


        Teach Like a Pirate:

        UDL Now:

        Lost in School:

        • May 21, 2014 6:08am

          I think that you need to start by finding a balance between punishing yourself because you didn't do as well as you could have and understanding that the combination of the class make up and a new stress with your father being ill was going to have a negative impact on your motivation. Remember YOU ARE HUMAN! Take this summer to change your mode of operation for next year. Add in some behavioral management techniques that you haven't tried before and change your room look up so that you feel like you are in a new place when you go back. I wish you the best.

          • May 27, 2014 8:12am

            I would recommend starting a daily reflection journal yourself in the next school year where you celebrate your successes with a lesson or a particular class each day. When we encounter challenging classes it's too easy to focus on what hasn't gone well then on the progress we have made. A daily reflection will help you focus on the positive each day.

            • May 21, 2014 8:27pm

              Thank you so much for the support you've given and your recommendations. This site is a part of my teaching career and having a place to go for advice is invaluable! You rock! I am looking forward to checking out all the reading and sites you shared...and a long summer break too.

              • May 25, 2014 4:31am

                I wouldn't beat myself up too much. YOU have had a difficult year outside of school. Things beyond our control often make us feel other events are our fault. You can only do what you can do at any given time. You can only give so much. You managed to put out those constant student fires and you had a difficult group. Probably you are the first person who has spent time building their self confidence. Each cohort is different. You might not have accomplished as much by some measures but for many of those students you will have made a huge difference. My recommendation would be for you to rest and rebuild your OWN self confidence with the aim to return refreshed and rested next year.

                • May 27, 2014 11:53am

                  I would tell you the students behaviors, their performance (or lack thereof) are NOT indications of your value as a person, or as a professional. Yes I said that. If we, as professionals look at tough experiences as an opportunity to learn and grow then we will become better, more skilled and graceful in the classroom in how we handle difficulties.

                  If we openly "surrender" to the challenges, we will allow the experience to carry us out of it to higher ground and become more centered, more well-rounded people and teachers.

                  Not easy but VERY VERY possible.

                  • May 21, 2014 8:44pm

                    wow? its actually good?!! "omg>>?"... ( :

                    • May 24, 2014 11:05am

                      After a difficult year due to a serious medical illness, I decide to t