Helping teachers have a greater impact on the lives of their students every day

Defining your WHY – Keep Yourself Inspired as a Teacher

I’ve been reading Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.

After reading his second book, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, I was so inspired that I had to read his first book, Start With Why.

Although most of the book has to do with business, and how companies can get more customers by focusing on the WHY instead of the WHAT they sell, I found many connections to education, and how we as educators, can have more success in our classrooms.

It’s all about the WHY.

WHY did you become a teacher?

I would guess that some teachers really don’t have an answer other than it was the only job available after they graduated college.

Some teachers wanted to make a difference in the lives of students. Others just liked working with kids.

The amazing teachers I interviewed on my Amazing Teacher Podcast, however, knew their WHY. They realized early on that their calling in life was to be a teacher, and because they were able to identify that WHY, they were successful in their classrooms.

In my case, I became a teacher over 25 years ago, because I enjoyed helping kids learn.

At first, I really didn’t see teaching as my career, but while I was subbing just to pay the bills, I was given a long-term position that changed my life’s plan.

I realized that I was good at this teaching thing. I could take complex concepts and transform them into lessons that students could understand. I loved the idea of helping kids learn.

So, I became a teacher.

Over the years, however, that initial enthusiasm began to fade, and although I enjoyed my job and the people who I worked with, the love for teaching was not as strong as when I began my career.

Can anybody relate?

After reading Simon’s book, I realized that the reason I had allowed the enthusiasm to fade was because I hadn’t defined the WHY of my teaching decision.

On those days when teaching just wasn’t fun, I would focus more on the problem, and I would get discouraged.

I hadn’t defined my WHY.

Why is defining the WHY is so important?

I’m glad you asked.defining-why

Knowing your WHY can keep your motivation level high on those mornings when you just want to stay in bed.

If you know your WHY, you won’t get so frustrated when Johnny wants to be Johnny.

Reminding yourself of your WHY keeps you from burning out.


So what is your WHY, Sam?

Again, I’m glad you asked.

I thought about this for a while, and although I will probably modify it a few times before it’s finalized, here’s what I have so far:

I am an educator because I love to use my skills and talents to help students be successful in every area of their life. Every student in my school is my kid. They have value. They have the potential for greatness, and I am dedicated to provide them the best education possible.

With this as my WHY, I have more focus. The decisions I make are easier, because they are driven by my WHY and not on just data or pressure from interested parties.

Reminding myself every day of my WHY will allow me to focus less on the negative issues that always arise, and more on the true beneficiaries of my WHY – the students.

How can I not be successful?


So, what is your WHY?

WHY do you teach?

WHY do you come to work every morning?

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or even a little burned out, I would encourage you to take some time and write out your WHY.

Remind yourself of WHY you got into teaching in the first place.

Go ahead. Pull out a sheet of paper, and start writing out your WHY.

As it has done with me, defining your WHY will keep you moving forward.

You’ll enjoy your job more.

It will keep you inspired.

Your kids need you to be inspired.


I would love to know your WHY. Please share.

I hope this post was helpful. If it was, please click here to share it with others on Facebook.


Until next time, here’s to your Success In The Classroom!







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Free Resources

Teach Happier – 21 stress-reducing, joy-inspiring, burnout-avoiding strategies to help teachers love their jobs and have more success in the classroom

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