Feeling good about the work one does is not an option.
It’s mandatory. I do not believe a person can ever be authentically excellent if they are not greatly enjoying the effort they spend on tasks.
This transposes itself to the world of students quite readily. Does a kid who couldn’t give a poop about an assessment ever step up and really rock the house in terms of their performance? Sure, if the material presents little to no academic challenge for them. But if the assessment asks a kid to reach deep and the kid isn’t internally driven to reach deep because they just do not care about what is being asked of them (and they don’t feel threatened enough by the consequences of not giving their all) then you’re never going to see stellar performance.
To wit, I cite project-based learning (with a self-directed inquiry based approach to the work) as compared to bubble test assessment. At which task is a student most likely to “give more”? At which task is a student more likely to really care about their performance? In which do you think a teacher better sees the true abilities and competencies of a kid?
It’s a no brainer. Meaningfulness matters.
This is true of teachers as well. Is a teacher who feels oppressed by administration, demonized by the media, and much like a rabbit in a den full of coyotes in the lunch room best positioned to prosper at their job?
Doesn’t a teacher who shows up to school with a bounce in their step and a ton of eagerness in their hearts to get the day rollin’ because of all the exciting, awesome, challenging, interesting things on tap perform better at the job of being a teacher than one who shows up merely trying to get through the day and bide their time until the next three-day weekend?
Before competency comes feelings and attitude.
And (yep, here I go with my Mr. Happy Talk spiel) positive attitudes matter. Much more than many people often think. For without them, the ceiling of achievement is limited. That’s a condition of humanity, almost a truism.
Kids who are eager and excited to learn learn more than kids who are not. Teachers who are thrilled and energized by teaching make better teachers than those who view it as a “mere job”.
Yet, we already know this. The touchy-feely aspects of learning matter a ton. Even widgets, I am sure, like to be massaged.
Gut check time: How’s your own sense of positivity about your work measuring up these days? Me, simply by giving it voice, I already feel better.
You only live once. Don’t trudge.