Top Five Ways to Get Out of the Teaching Rut

By Misty Brannan, Criminal Justice Professor, Kaplan University

Scholar woman. © 2014

© 2014

As in any job, teachers can find themselves going through the motions of their career without a real love or energy for it. And without motivation for your subject matter, you cannot give 110%, which is what your students deserve. If you can relate to this, try breathing some life back into your career path with these top five ways to get out of the teaching rut:

  1. Attend a seminar or conference on your subject matter. Often people find themselves excited about their work after attending a conference or seminar because those putting the seminars on are usually motivational speakers. Even without a motivational speaker, a refresher on your subject matter with the ever changing best practices will increase your desire to try new things in your own classroom.
  2. Research your subject matter or teach a new course. Seminars or conferences are not always an option, but research is! Whether you work on new ideas for your current courses or for a new course, doing a little research can refresh your mind and motivate your interest. Spend some time reading a book or scholarly journal or browsing blogs for new ideas. Talk to your chair and teach something new!
  3. Hang out with colleagues. The human mind needs to express itself. Without someone to talk to, the rut may get deep enough you lose all interest. Talk to others who share your career path.   Sometimes just comparing notes will lighten the rut in your heart and perhaps even lead to a new collaborative project.
  4. Make time for you. Easier said than done, but it is a must. Many like to work out which is a fabulous way to increase energy and reset the mind. However, working out isn’t the only way; each person needs to find his or her own peace. Scrapbooking, reading, fishing, or playing cards with friends can work just as well as 30 minutes with Tony Horton.
  5. Take a break. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I need some time off.” Talk to your chair and skip a session of courses. This will give you time to relax and get done the “honey-do list” eating at the back of your mind. Coming back the next session will make you feel like a new professor again with excitement and nervousness to motivate and enliven your heart.

If you ever find yourself in a teaching rut, give one or all of these practices a try. You’ll be glad you did, and so will your students. And if you’ve experienced a teaching rut before or are in one now, please share in the comments. Remember tip number three: talk about it!


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