The Year Of Enough

Feb 22, 2022

If you attended our first ever Sustainable Teacher Conference back in January, then you know that my word for 2022 is Enough.

Not enough, in that I’ve had enough, and am at my wit’s end - although maybe I am with certain things - but, no, it’s more about my mindset and accepting that I am doing enough, I have enough, and it is a glorious and beautiful thing.

Although we spend most of the air time on this podcast on sustainability in the classroom, we also want to speak to your lifestyle and personal lives in the name of talking to the whole you. And in that light, this episode will be dedicated to the personal side of things, and less about teaching.

In today’s episode, I am going to talk about the idea of seeing the world and our teaching lives through the lens that what we have is enough, it is just what we need, and that what we are doing is enough.

After listening to this episode, my hope is that you will feel restful and content in knowing that what you are doing is enough and that you don’t have to exhaust yourself physically and mentally in order to feel as though you are valuable or making an impact with your students.

So if you’re ready for a pick me up that is simultaneously a calm the heck down kind of episode, then you are in the right place.

Now, if you find yourself nodding your head right now, ready for this message, you might know another teacher who would feel the same way.  So if you haven’t yet, or even if you have, please share this podcast.  Share it with your colleagues and other teacher-friends as we attempt to spread our message of sustainability to teachers, helping them know they are enough as well.

Ok, let’s get to it.

Alright, teacher-friend.  Let’s get real honest with ourselves.  Imagine yourself looking in the mirror and having this conversation, which is the entirety of this episode, with yourself about your mindset and understanding of your value.

Your frustration about teaching, all that you have to accomplish, the pressure you feel, frustration with expectation, student behavior, or lackluster scores… if we’re being honest with ourselves, controlling for all outside frustrations which are real things, of course, all of our frustration with our career field stems from the internal belief that what we are doing is not enough, and that it will never be enough.

We get to work early and leave late, and yet there are still ten more items on today’s to-do list alone.

We scaffold and reteach and remediate, and everything else in our power to reach a struggling student and they just aren’t getting it.

We redirect, reinforce, call home, and conference with parents about student behavior and there always seems to be a different issue as soon as one is addressed.

At the end of the year, we see our scores which are great, given our group of students this year, and yet there is endless pressure to do more, succeed more, be more in order to get those scores ever higher.

These are the direct frustrations with what we do, am I right?

Then there are the indirect frustrations like having to go to the bathroom, but you can only go at two points during the day or risk leaving children unattended.

Or that you have next to zero options for lunch or accomplishing anything on your personal to-do list while teaching because there is zero flexibility once you’re in that building.

All of it, every single frustration is rooted in the belief, that is perpetuated by each of these frustrations, that all that we are doing is not enough.

And here’s the hard truth.

With the way we’re measuring it, it will never be enough.

And that’s just it.  With the very macro level way in which we’re measuring our value as teachers, we as individual human beings will NEVER be enough to make huge strides and continuous impact.  


Phew, thank goodness for that but, and I apologize for that long pause where I let you wait in excruciating silence and expectation, but it was necessary for the dramatic effect.

Ok, back to the point…

But, if we shift our perspective and the way we measure our value, then we will be enough.

Because living in the mindset that what we’re doing isn’t enough will burn us out faster than anything else, forcing us to continually do more, work more, and put in more hours, and leave us feeling defeated on a daily basis… no one can live like that.

So how do we declare that 2022 will be the year of enough?

I’ve got three ways that I’ll be doing this and that I’ll encourage you to do as well.

Shift Teacher Mindset

If we shift from measuring our value at the macro level to the micro level, then we will see how impactful we can be.

What does it look like though to measure our value at the micro level?

We have to balance looking at the data, especially the bigger percentages and statistics of our classroom-wide data, and see individual student data, and even value qualitative data.

Woah - that’s a term for you.  We focus so much on the quantitative data of our classrooms, meaning the numbers, numbers, numbers, and we don’t stop to consider the qualitative.  Our students’ stories, their personal or overall (not just in the content) growth.  Sure there’s not a test that measures that directly, but it’s definitely stuff that impacts their quantitative data, so it’s still important.

Here’s my suggestion for you, if you’re like me and want to see a visual representation of your impact outside of your classroom data.

It’s about taking the time to actually see the impact you’ve had - training yourself to notice it - and then visually representing it somehow.

Here’s how I’ve seen it done, and it can be a cool little decor item for your classroom.  Grab a mason jar and some marbles or pebbles, anything that’s small and can be decorative - or not, totally your choice.  And each time you have a moment in your classroom where you notice a students’ growth, even the small or seemingly insignificant or ridiculous ones, put a marble in the jar.

Simple as that.  It’s about taking the time to notice the small moments of impact, which you probably won’t be good at doing at first.  But with time and practice, and maybe forcing yourself to qualify little things as impact, you’ll get better and better at it.

And on the hard days, you can look at that jar and know that each marble is a micro-level, but still huge moment for the lives you’re impacting inside your classroom.

We teachers don’t get recognition for most of what we do, because it’s hard to measure and, well, recognize it for what it is. But hopefully this little strategy within your little classroom will help you value those little moments that make big impact.

Let it be easy

Another strategy to make 2022 your year of enough comes from the fact that we’ve got to get practical, we have to have a way to walk the walk, not just talk the talk of enough.

So each time we go to do more, and think that the only way to improve is to do more, we need to ask ourselves the purpose.  Ask questions like:

Will doing more just make more work?

What is the issue here, and can we keep the solution simple?

The learning process really is simple, so how can my classroom reflect that?

How can we let it be easy?

This last question is a favorite of mine and is inspired by my favorite book I read in 2021 which is Susie Moore’s Let It Be Easy.

Since reading it, I’ve frequently caught myself taking a deep breath and saying, even out loud, “let it be easy” or asking “how can this be easy?”  And what this forces me to do is think about the end goal, what is the heart of what we’re trying to do, and focus only on that, then find the easiest way to get there.

This checks my inner-over thinker and critic to focus on what I’ve got and how I can make it happen in a way that’s easy for all involved.  That’s a win for all, am I right?

You can still want more

Now, just because it’s the year of enough, it doesn’t mean you have to continuously settle for less.  Sure, less is more in many aspects of life if we let it be the case, but if there is area of your professional or personal life where you’re wanting to make change, even if that means adding something, you can still use the motto of enough.

Some aspects of what you’re already doing are enough, and the strategies you want to add can be enough too, they can be simple, easy, and enough.  There’s no need to recreate the wheel, go overboard with fancy and fun… the plan we have in mind if it’s simple and effective can be just what’s needed… enough.

So, here’s the thing teacher-friend, you can take your year of enough in one of two ways…

  1. I’ve had enough and so I’m taking my life by the balls/horns and focusing on what I can control and saying screw it to everything else - don’t give it the time of day when it comes to time you being frustrated and worried about it.
  2. Or, take the mindset of enough, in that all that you have in your life, all that you are doing, is enough.  You can then be grateful for all that you have and appreciate your hard work, which we almost never do as teachers, which is a much better head space to be in than where we currently are.

Now that you’ve listened to this episode I hope you feel at rest and content in knowing that what you are doing is enough and that you don’t have to exhaust yourself physically and mentally in order to feel as though you are valuable or making an impact with your students.

You are showing up.  You are a smiling face and consistent presence.  You know how to best teach and learn your content.  You are acting from a place of patience and principle as an educator, believing that every student deserves a chance and equal opportunity, and what you do on a daily basis is bringing that belief to life.

And if this message is one that you know a teacher-friend of yours needs to hear, would you please share this episode with them.  You can send it to them in a text or email by clicking on the share button in your podcast app.  You can also take a screenshot and post it on social media, tagging me @teachonamission so we can reach more teachers with the encouraging message that what they are doing is enough.

Alright, teacher-friend, I’ll see you same time, same place, next week.  Bye for now.


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