A common concept has circulated on the internet in the past couple of years. Society is well versed in discussions about experiencing depression or burnout at work, especially as the mental health dialogue has grown louder over the past decade. But what happens when the feelings you’re experiencing can’t quite be described as depression or burnout?
If you’re far from the point of burnout but still can’t seem to stay focused and motivated anyway, then you might be languishing. If the opposite of depression is thriving, then languishing is somewhere between these two states: you aren’t exactly hopeless, but you aren’t exactly hopeful either. Every day is the same, and while you might feel perfectly capable of executing your tasks, you don’t seem particularly motivated to keep your inner flame alive.
The feeling of languishing is unwelcome for everybody, but it’s especially troublesome if you’re a languishing teacher in 2022. An important responsibility for educators of all kinds is to keep that same inner flame raging within your students, inspiring and exciting them to keep growing and learning outside of the classroom. But how do you keep your students from languishing if you’re already languishing yourself?
1. Focus on one lesson plan at a time.
A primary motivator for our collective feeling of languishing is the specter of global uncertainty hanging over us wherever we go. Nobody knows where the pandemic is headed in the new year, and in turn, the educational landscape remains a foggy one.
If you feel like you’re languishing, a good way to motivate yourself is to stop dwelling on the uncertain bigger picture. Instead, focus on what you can accomplish with your students today. Take it one lesson plan at a time, and you’ll watch yourself reignite your motivation in real time.
2. Reach out to another educator.
Nobody understands the challenges of a classroom environment better than your fellow educators, and no classroom should be thought of as an island. If these uncertain times are bringing about your inner languish, the teacher next door just might be languishing too — perhaps they’ve experienced it before as long-time veterans of the education system.
Either way, reach out and ask for a little bit of a time to talk. If two years of sporadic remote learning has taught us anything, it’s that we’re all struggling more than we think we are. You’re not alone.
3. Shake up your lesson plan! Try something new.
It goes without saying that developing a lesson plan and sticking to it is vital in the preparation of any classroom environment. But it should always be appreciated that a lesson plan is not a script, it’s a guide. If you treat a lesson plan like a script that must be rigidly followed, you’re going to find your lesson in a precarious position when a student surprises you with a curveball question, or something out of the ordinary disrupts your flow.
Moreover, if you treat your lessons like a script, you’ll quickly start sleepwalking through your lessons as you grow more comfortable with the material. This, in turn, will increase your feelings of languishing later on. Avoid this by throwing a curveball into your own lesson plan from time to time! While you should never derail the lesson outright, you shouldn’t be afraid to mix up your approach to a lesson, especially if you notice signs of languishing early on. Whether it’s moving around the order of your lessons or throwing it open to a spontaneous classroom discussion (with purpose, of course), shaking up your plans at the first signs of languishing is a surefire way to breathe new life into your lessons.
Before you know it, you’ll no longer be languishing in your classroom… you’ll be flourishing.