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The Secret to Being Happier in the Teaching Profession

Janelle Cox

The teaching profession can be a tough. The workload is bottomless, you have to deal with unruly behavior from children (and sometimes parents), the pay isn’t that great, and a lot of the time you have to pay out of your own pocket for school supplies. While being in the teaching profession does have its perks (impacting the future children, helping the underdog, experiencing professional development and growth) sometimes there are just days that you don’t enjoy your job. According to a recent survey, about 45 percent of Americans report that they’re satisfied with their job, while the other percent is not so happy. If you’re looking for the secret to being a happier teacher, then research has revealed there’re a few steps that you can take. According to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, here is what you need to know about being happier in the teaching profession.

Working Toward Happiness in the Teaching Profession

Experts have found that being happy at work is tied to better health and well-being. People who are happy at work are also more productive, creative, driven, less stressed, and more trustworthy and likeable. While there’s no one single secret to being happier at your job, studies have found four key pillars that you can use as a framework to help guide your way to being a happier teacher. Here is what they found.

The Four Pillars of Happiness at Work

Researchers at UC Berkeley have discovered four key pillars of happiness at work. They are Purpose, Engagement, Resilience, and Kindness—or PERK. Here we’ll take a closer look at the four pillar framework and how you can instill these ideas into being a happier teacher.

Purpose

The first pillar is purpose. You need to have a sense of purpose at work. Bringing more passion into your job and connecting to what you really care about will help to bring you more happiness in your career. For example, if you are passionate about mindfulness and a person’s overall well-being, then you can take these passions and bring them into the classroom. If you’re a leader or in a position of influence in the school system, then you can promote healthy living and meditation by implementing policies or practices that align with your core values in the school. By connecting to what you love and believe in, you’re bringing in a sense of purpose to your day-to-day life.  

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Engagement

According to a survey, about 87 percent of people (worldwide) do not feel engaged when they’re at work. If you’re part of this percentage and don’t feel immersed in your work, then you need to increase your engagement. Researchers suggest that there are a few ways that you can do this. First, you need to carve in some “Play” time where you can be creative. For example, if you love art, then you can implement the arts into your lessons. Second, build in opportunities to grow within professional development. For example, administrators can create social events for teachers that focus on team-building. Lastly, create a state of “Flow.” In order to be fully engaged at work (the kind of engagement where you lose track of time), you need to achieve “Flow” in your work. This is when you’re creative, happy, so busy you lose track of time, and are pretty much just zoned into what you’re doing. In order to achieve this, you need to find a task that’s important to you, make sure what you’re doing is challenging but not too challenging, and stay away from anything that will be distracting to you.

Resilience

The ability to learn from your failures is critical when it comes to your happiness as a teacher. There will be many times when your lessons will fail, and it is how you handle and adapt to these times that is important. When you’re able to manage any challenges that come your way with grace, then you will know that you’re in a good place within your career.  To help strengthen your resilience at work, you can learn to be more “In the moment.” Practicing mindfulness techniques can help you do that. Experts say that resilience at work is also tied to participating in non-work activities. Taking a vacation or time away from your job will make actually make you happier when you’re at your job.

Kindness

The last pillar to happiness at work is simply being kind. We’re happier when we are thinking kind thoughts and caring for others. Experts suggest that compassion and gratitude increase kindness. Being kind at work as well as treating your colleagues with respect will make you happy. Build trust with your peers, share resources, and be a good listener. If you make a mistake or do something wrong, apologize. Remember, we’re happier when we are kind.

Happiness at work is essential for happiness in life. Take the time to implement the four pillars of happiness at work, it will help you achieve happiness.

What do you do when it comes to increasing your happiness in the teaching profession? Please feel free to give your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.