by Gabriel Twedt, First Grade Teacher and Collaborative Teacher
Like many people, I have struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life. Growing up, I thought that slapping a smile on my face and hiding my struggles was the right thing to do. I told myself that once I was older my depression and anxiety would go away. I even thought that getting my dream job of teaching at the K-2 level would cure me of all of my insecurities and worries.
Unfortunately, being in my dream job only exacerbated my issues. I could not shake the feeling that I did not measure up to my colleagues. So not only did I feel inadequate in my personal life, but I now felt inadequate in my professional life.
How do they have it all so together? Where do they find the time to put binders together for every unit? What is a ‘craftivity’? Why can’t I seem to get my stuff together?
It wasn’t until I reached rock bottom one day in February a couple years back that I figured out that I needed to make a change. Thus the reason for my new mantra: “Good for them, not for me.”
As teachers, we seem to find new ways to be hard on ourselves. We strive to be our best for ourselves, but more importantly, for our students. We compare ourselves, knowingly or unknowingly, to our peers and colleagues.
We need to give ourselves a break.
You are doing a great job. You are meeting the needs of your students. You are working hard. You are contributing to the greater good of the building. You matter. You make a difference in more ways than you will ever know.
Of course, there is always room for self-improvement, but I would challenge you to take five minutes each day to reflect on all of the amazing things you do for your students and for your building. Celebrate those small victories. Reach out to a colleague to ask for help with a problem you’re having in the classroom. Keep a notebook on your table to jot down a quick sentence anytime you see a light bulb go off in a student’s head or when something happens that brings a smile to your face.
Let’s celebrate the victories of those around us, but not let those same victories diminish our own self-worth.
“Good for them, not for me.”
In other words, lift up those around you and remember that what works for them might not work for you. Find what makes you feel successful and happy. Chase that feeling and never look back.
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