Dare to Thrive – not Survive

You’ve seen the headline, ‘How to Survive as a Teacher.’ It’s key right? Wrong, let’s focus on thriving as a teacher instead.

It’s staggering really. The gap between the two is stark. 
I think I half expected it really – but then to see it right there – still shocked and then…inspired me.  

I was searching on the net…looking for ideas relating to THRIVING as a teacher. 

From the very first result page – it wasn’t looking good. Heck I’m a pretty positive guy generally but this was seriously problematic.
I had a hunch and replaced Thrive with Survive. 
BOOM!! That did it. Instantaneous.  
 6o ways to survive….8 ways to survive your first year…10 things every teacher needs to survive and thrive (note: survive comes first)…How to survive your first years of teaching….
When it comes to Search Results. Survive CRUSHES Thrive.
  • 30 million vs 11.2 million results (google search, 17-June-2014).

Survive: Why the Love?

Why is Survive the clear victor – in a Survive vs Thrive search contest? What are we to make of this emphatic difference in search results? 
  • Is surviving is more critical, more front-of-mind than thriving in teaching?
    • And if so, what does this say about our Education systems?
When I think about ‘surviving’ in teaching – a few phrases come to mind: 
  • Making it through the next hour…the day…the week… the term…the semester…the year (phew!! I did it!)
  • Toughing it out. Soldiering on. Battling through.
  • Making the best of a bad situation
  • Sucking it up. Getting on with it
  • Not going under. Not sinking. Not losing it. 
  • Overcoming
And as those phrases come to mind…the memories come flooding back. 
The rough times, the ‘I don’t know how to keep going‘ times, the ‘I’ve got nothing left to give‘ times, the ‘what the X#!!%% do I do now?‘ times…
I’m sure you’re with me here.  We can easily recall those moments when just surviving was an achievement.  
But the survival times are not fond memories. I don’t light up when think about them.
  • The tight chest, the ever-present tension, the sleepless nights. It’s like it was yesterday.

That’s not the sort of living I want nor aspire to. It’s pretty much Hell.  

My biggest lesson? 

  • When it’s more about surviving – when that’s my dominant thought day after day – it’s time to Re-Boot and Change Course.
  •  When it’s more about surviving – It’s time for a New Mix – where my Skills and Talents cut through. Where they’re the draw-cards that my students rave about, and want more of.

Aim to Thrive – Kick Surviving to the Kerb 

What really lifts me – what really ignites me – what really revs me up – regardless of the X##!!%% things happening around me – is making time for me to THRIVE. 
HOWEVER…I can hear some objections…
As teachers, we’re expected to focus on our students. That’s where our gaze should be, right? Isn’t focusing on our skills and interests a bit selfish?
  • Could it be construed as pushing an agenda?
  • Could we be at risk of someone spouting – “it’s not about you, it’s about the students.” 
  • I mean if we’re going to talk about thriving, shouldn’t we be focused on ensuring that our students thrive. 
And there is so so much to do and so much expected. The workload is never ending.
  • Isn’t it a bit indulgent to be thinking about thriving? I mean seriously, who has time to do that, right? 
I hear you there…I’ve been socialised to give, give, give as a ‘good’ teacher. 
BUT…when I see all the focus on Surviving…
I just want to stand on the roof and shout ……NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I’m for Thriving NOT surviving

Carve out SPACE to Thrive  

Making time to do the things that fire me up – making time to be bold and a little daringmaking time to switch it up and try something new – enables me to THRIVE –  that’s what works for me – regardless of the X##!!%% raining down around me. 
When I’m thriving – tapping into my strengths – drawing on those skills that bring most value to the classroom  – I am undoubtedly a happier and better teacher.
When I’m thriving – my students love it. They’re tuned in and switched on – and daring to take chances themselves.
Indeed sometimes my students worry…when I flip into survive or ‘get through’ mode:
 It was the beginning of a class. I was working my way through my ‘To Do’ list. I felt tight and constricted within but my inner taskmaster was strong…’Don’t forget A, B, and C.Then make sure you get D done‘… (You’ve been there, right?)
One of my students quietly inquired, “Are you okay, Greg?”
It was like a snapshot to my head. Instantly I awoke….and recalibrated.
I wasn’t being fun, passionate Greg. I wasn’t being provocative and challenging from the very word go.
That’s the Greg, she was used to. That’s the Greg, she wanted to see more of. 
My student wanted to be in a class – where I was thriving not surviving.  
That’s the Greg she connected to being ‘okay’.  
Thriving isn’t an optional extra. It’s a must do.   Carve out a patch, Carve out some turf for You to thrive today.