One of my hobbies is baking. The secret of success in baking is finding the perfect recipe. In our family, we have a recipe for Almond Roca that my grandma passed down to us. It’s one of the only recipes we don’t give out because it is that good! When people ask for the recipe, I politely decline, offering to make them some without divulging the secret recipe.
In teaching, the recipe for success may be different for each teacher. It’s my opinion that there are a lot of great strategies that, when implemented in the classroom, will make a teacher’s work successful. Like a good recipe, though, I think there is one ingredient that gives every teacher an advantage—the “secret sauce,” so to speak. The “secret sauce” for success in the classroom is enthusiasm. Merriam-Webster defines enthusiasm as “strong excitement about something: a strong feeling of active interest in something that you like or enjoy.”
Have you met the teacher who struggles each day to be in the classroom? Have you heard that teacher say, “I’m just too old and tired!” or “Been there, done that!”? These sentiments may be a sign that a teacher lacks or has lost enthusiasm. We’ve all had those days when we haven’t wanted to be at school, and those days are usually harder than normal. Unfortunately, when we bring a low level of positive energy into the classroom, we are more likely to struggle to get our students excited and engaged. Our attitudes can easily spill over and affect the attitudes of our students. When we forget the secret sauce of enthusiasm, our ability to be most effective is lessened.
Imagine, if you will, a much different scenario. You wake up and are excited to greet your students. You’ve spent time creating a fun science lesson and are anxious to share what you have prepared with your class. You greet your students with a smile and let them know you’re excited to share something new with them. You talk up your lesson all morning, saying “I can’t wait until after lunch—we’re going to learn the most amazing thing about plants!” The tone in your voice and the positive energy can be felt by everyone. Everything about you exudes excitement, and your students can’t help but get excited, too. You brought the secret sauce with you.
Maintaining this level of enthusiasm isn’t easy. Here is a three-step recipe for keeping this secret sauce from running out.
- Focus on the positive. Negativity is one of the first things that will drain your secret sauce.
- Focus on your purpose. Remember why you chose the profession of teaching.
- Focus on your passion. Enthusiasm is built on your passions—so, share your passions with your class. For example, if you love to garden, then share it with your students! If you love science, let them know! Whatever you are passionate about, bring that passion into your classroom.
If you don’t genuinely feel that enthusiasm, then focus on the 3 Ps: positivity, purpose, and passion. If that doesn’t work on those difficult days, you can always pretend until you believe it yourself. Your enthusiasm will be infectious and may even have a positive effect on other teachers. Who knows—maybe you’ll be the change for good in your whole school. Unlike the secret family recipe, this secret sauce is meant to be shared!