4 Ways To Improve Your Job Satisfaction, Work Through The Bad Days, And Stay Focused On The Big Picture.
Regardless of our role or position, a common theme among most educators is the idea that we love being around kids. We love seeing that light bulb go off when our students learn something new or click that puzzle piece into place. We love watching them discover.
But it isn’t all rainbows and puppy dogs. Teaching and caring for children is a grind. Parents complain and struggle with their own kids, which on average is 1.9 kids per household, according to Statista. Imagine 12-15 or even 20 at a time. Try wrangling all of them into jackets to go outside or opening 20 juice boxes at one time. There are plenty of glamorous, proud moments as a child care provider. There are equally plenty of moments where you stop and think: why did I think this was a great career choice for me again?!
If you find yourself feeling like there may be more bad days than good, you are not alone. The ebb and flow of loving (or leaving) your job is normal, regardless of your career choice. When you find yourself eyeing the leaving side of the fence, don’t jump it just yet. The grass typically isn’t greener. Take a step back and get some perspective so as to improve your job satisfaction and perhaps even your work/life balance.
#1 – Take Time To Reflect.
Whether on the drive to work, during a workout, or on your commute home, take time to reflect on what brought you to the child care profession.
- What are your favorite memories to date as a child care provider?
- What are the best parts of the job that really align with your skill set?
- List the reasons why you initially accepted this role.
Consider what has changed, if anything. Maybe the job hasn’t changed. Maybe you have changed. Change is inevitable in life. Take your own personal growth and some of the moments on which you have reflected and use that as positive fuel to get you back in the groove.
#2 – Shift Your Perspective
Highlight and expand what works for you. This is the fastest way to find job satisfaction. Child care providers have many roles. Some you may enjoy more than others. List those. Brainstorm ways to build those aspects into more of your day-to-day schedule and routine in the classroom. The kids will pick up on your enthusiasm, and things that maybe have been getting mundane and becoming drudgery can build on the momentum of your contagious excitement.
For example, if you love creating hands-on learning centers and watching the kids totally immerse themselves in creative learning play but carpet time leads you to deep sighs and eye rolls, then figure out how to make carpet time more interactive, like the centers. Find your strengths and roll that direction. If calendar time is your jam, find ways to incorporate math into calendar time. No one said that math time could only be a static pencil to paper activity.
Figure out what excites you. The kids and your fellow teachers will pick up on that and get excited, too. Finding these hidden gems is how you shift your perspective from drudgery to joy.
#3 – Simplify The Hardest Parts Of Your Work
If you have a set of tasks that are challenging either from a skill perspective or from an enjoyment perspective, find ways to simplify those tasks. A great way to do this is through tools such as software.
- You can find online games to re-enforce skills kids struggle with that you may have taught time and time again.
- Encourage your administrators to use software to simplify the mundane paperwork educators find themselves faced with. Prime Child Care Software is a great tool for this. You can manage attendance, lunch counts, teacher/parent communications, and so much more with an enterprise tool such as this. It takes the tedium out of the paperwork cycle and puts these tasks at your fingertips with the click of a button.
- Manipulative resources make learning fun and hands-on. Work with administration to secure funds to build a manipulative resource closet so that you can teach abstract concepts in a concrete, tangible way.
Simplifying those responsibilities that drag you down will lighten your load and put fun back in the FUNdamentals of teaching.
#4 – Reward & Recognize Great Work By Coworkers
When you see a teacher or team struggling to enjoy and find satisfaction in their work life, catch them doing something awesome when they are least expecting it.
- Post these people and their contributions on a public bulletin board.
- Give everyone a free casual dress day pass.
- Secure a duty free week for them where they don’t have to do the extras that make the center run smoothly. Instead you step in and take their place for the week.
- Have lunch with someone else in their classroom.
Whatever it takes, make them feel like what they do matters and recognize when they are knocking it out of the park, even if they don’t feel like they are.
At the end of the day, we all experience good days and bad days within our chosen profession, and there will be seasons where we are in a slump. However, if we can take control of those intermittent times, step back to see the big picture, and remember why we chose this career to begin with, we can usually pull ourselves out of it and find that loving feeling all over again.
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