How to Overcome the “I Hate Teaching” Mentality

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Have you found yourself in an extremely negative mindset lately regarding your career as a teacher? Maybe you’ve thought or even said these words out loud, “I hate teaching!”

When you went into the field of education you had great aspirations for how you would change the lives of children and how you would make a positive impact on the world. Yet here you are in this moment wondering how you became part of a system that isn’t what you thought.

This is a common thread in many discussions I’ve had with teachers over the last several months and years. Most of us genuinely wanted to have a positive impact on the lives of the children who walked through our classroom doors, but somehow along the way, we found ourselves facing constant pushback from those needing specific numbers and test scores.

And since the pandemic of 2020, the very best teachers are leaving the profession daily to pursue other things. So what should you do if you know that you can’t leave the classroom right now, but you’ve gotten to the point where your daily mantra is “I hate teaching?”

Well, that is exactly what we are going to discuss! We are going to look at 5 things you can do to overcome the “I hate teaching” mentality.

Overcoming the “I hate teaching” mentality

1| Make the decision

In episode # 11, we talk about the impact decision fatigue has on us and our ability to make wise decisions. When you make hundreds or thousands of small decisions every day, you have no more space to consider another decision and you feel powerless.

But you need to determine whether you are ACTUALLY going to leave the classroom or not. Because this one question is taking up valuable mental real estate. In his book, Getting Things Done, author David Allen talks about why things are on our minds.

“Most often, the reason something is on your mind is that you want it to be different than it currently is, and yet:

  • You haven’t clarified exactly what the intended outcome is;
  • You haven’t decided what the very next physical action step is; and/or
  • You haven’t put reminders of the outcome and the action required in a system you trust.

That’s why it’s on your mind. Until those thoughts have been clarified and those decisions made, and the resulting data has been stored in a system that you absolutely know you will access and think about when you need to, your brain can’t give up the job.”

So the fact that you haven’t made a decision is keeping you stuck in an endless loop of questioning that is doing nothing but causing you more mental stress.

Let’s say you determine you definitely want to leave. Then you need to decide when you want to leave and what you will do for a job once you do quit teaching.

On the other hand, you may determine you have to stay. The reason could range from not wanting to find another job to not being willing to lose your entire pension; the reason is truly irrelevant, but the decision is critical.

Once you’ve determined that you are going to stay in the classroom for at least another few weeks, months or years, your first action step needs to be developing a more positive attitude about your job.

You will not be able to continue saying, “I hate teaching” and stay in your teaching position indefinitely because it will be obvious to everyone around you. Your students will know, your performance will suffer, and your mental health will deteriorate rapidly.

So make the decision and then move on.

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2| Find something to be grateful for

When you are genuinely unhappy in your job, it can be very difficult to find anything good about it….especially if you have been silently repeating “I hate teaching” for the last several weeks, months or year.

But the truth is whether you’re planning to stay in the classroom one more year or until you retire, you have to find things for which you can be grateful.

Maybe as you’re listening or reading this, you realize just how much you have allowed bitterness, anger, and hatred to build within you. Whether you are a natural-born optimist or pessimist, you can find something to be grateful for.

The fact that you have a job that allows you to provide for your family is one thing ANYONE can be grateful for. And if you find yourself muttering under your breath, “Yeah…I have a thankless job and I don’t get paid nearly what I’m worth,” take that thought captive.

Even if you never receive a thank you and you aren’t being paid what you could be paid elsewhere, you have a job. And remember, you always have the option to pursue other things outside of the classroom.

But at the end of the day, if you have a job earning a paycheck that puts food on the table and a roof over your head, you have something for which you can be grateful.

To make this practice into a habit that genuinely shifts your mindset from negative to positive, take time to write down three good things that happened while at work. It doesn’t matter whether it was seemingly insignificant or life-changing…it goes on the list.

Maybe it was something as small as “I laughed at a student’s joke” or as big as “I was nominated for Teacher of the Year.”  Whatever you can recall that happened positively should be added to your list.

3| Choose joy

At first, this may seem exactly like number 2. You are probably thinking, “What is the difference between finding things to be grateful for and choosing joy?”  Well, I’m so glad you asked!

True joy isn’t dictated by your circumstances…it is dictated by your choices. In other words, you have the power to choose to be filled with joy regardless of what is happening around you. And to take this one step further, your circumstances don’t have to dictate your attitude.

When my mom was in the hospital for 40 days during which time she was on a ventilator for 5 days battling a botched surgery after her third cancer diagnosis, I had every reason to feel anger and hatred. I could have been angry about…

  • the doctor making a mistake during surgery, ignoring our pleas that something wasn’t right, and ultimately almost costing my mom her life
  • the fact that I was using all of my sick and vacation days to run back and forth to a hospital over an hour away to relieve my dad
  • my husband having to take off work (again) to treat my youngest son for lice (3 times over the course of a few months) because the same student was showing up week after week infested

Based on my circumstances at that point in time, I might have been justified in feeling angry, hurt, and hateful. And if I’m being 100% honest, I had my moments. But after having the occasional pity party, the Lord gently reminded me that I had so much to be grateful for and no matter how alone I felt during these times, He was with me.

He gave a me peace that didn’t make sense in the midst of the chaos. He gave me the ability to reframe my thinking and choose joy. I found myself…

  • grateful my cousin was a nurse manager at the hospital my mom was in because she made sure my mom was well cared for
  • so appreciative of the supportive principal who told me not to worry about taking time off because I needed to be with my mom
  • thankful that my husband had a job that allowed him to be there for my son during the lice incidences

Was it easy for me to switch my mindset? Not at all! But I came to realize that I was allowing my situation to dictate my attitude and I wanted the freedom to make my own decision. So I chose to be proactive instead of reactive.

I decided that whatever happened…I was going to choose joy.

If you’re interested in learning more about your emotions and how to control them, you should read Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst. I recently read this book and completed the accompanying Bible study and it has forever changed how I view my own emotions as well as how I act in emotionally charged situations.

If you have something you would like for me to pray about with you or you just have questions about my faith, please send me a message on Instagram @Classroom_Exit_Strategies )and I would love to pray with you (and for you) as well as share how I got to this point.

So choose joy regardless of the circumstances surrounding you.

4| Stop following people on social media who are not breathing life into you

If we are being honest, I would dare say many of us spend time every day on social media. Whether it’s scrolling Instagram or Facebook or watching TikTok videos, we tend to spend a lot of time on various social platforms.

But how much of that time is actually breathing life into you or encouraging you?

The truth is, it is very easy to be pulled into lots of drama on social media. And even if you don’t follow that many people, you definitely need to do a social media audit and unfollow people who are pushing ideas like…

  • “Teachers who leave the classroom are quitters”
  • “I hate teaching and so should you”
  • “Keep pushing until you burn out”

These narratives are doing nothing but bringing negativity into your life.

If you follow any accounts that post things that cause you to feel less than, stressed, or aggressive, do yourself a favor and unfollow them. Life is way too short to waste time on people that make you feel unworthy or stressed out on social media! 

And whether we like to admit it or not, we tend to imitate those we are around a lot. Therefore, if you spend a lot of time following social media accounts that are negative, you will find yourself emulating that.

So be mindful and super-selective about the new accounts you choose to follow and then take the necessary time to audit and unfollow accounts that are causing you stress.

If you’re serious about leaving the classroom & you want a roadmap to guide you from start to finish, you need to grab the Classroom Exit Strategies Planner

With more than 45 pages of worksheets, instructional activities, & tips, you’ll find everything you need to plan your classroom exit!

5| Start a countdown

If you know without a doubt that you plan to leave the classroom, but it just seems sooooo far away, create a countdown so you can always see how many days you have left.

While this may seem like a frustrating activity that will only remind you of the seemingly endless number of days you have left, use it as a reminder of how little time you have to get everything in order for your departure.

Reframing the way you think about your time will make all of the difference.

You will no longer have to be focused on how many days you have left; you can focus your attention on the number of days you have to start or grow your side hustle, update your resume, or apply for positions outside of the classroom.

Changing the way you think about when you are leaving will automatically put you in a more positive frame of mind. You will discover that you need to be diligent about the time you are spending on your next steps in order to maximize the time you have left before you quit teaching for the last time.

This is exactly why I created the Classroom Exit Strategies Planner! I wanted you to have a place to…

  • countdown the days you have left
  • research the best job options for you outside the classroom
  • plan your exit strategy wisely
  • complete specific action steps in order to get you closer to your goals
  • And so much more

My ultimate goal was to equip you with the information and tools needed to make a successful classroom exit as well as a wise decision on your next best career steps.

The key to overcoming the “I hate teaching” mentality starts with acknowledging that this is not a healthy view of your profession. Then you need to get to the root of the problem by making a decision to either leave or stay, finding things to be grateful for in the messy middle, choosing joy regardless of your circumstances, and reframing your thinking by starting a countdown.

I know that every single one of the steps is a whole lot easier for me to share with you than to actually put into practice. But you and I both know that continuing on with the attitude you are currently embracing isn’t going to help your situation and it truly isn’t healthy for you.

You can do this my friend and I would genuinely love to help you in any way possible. If you want to… 

  • leave the classroom and you need guidance on your next best steps, click here.
  • grab a copy of the Classroom Exit Strategies Planner, click here.
  • have someone pray about your specific situation, shoot me a DM –> click here.

Just let me know how I can serve you best.