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How to Get "Unstuck:" Tips to Stay Motivated and Engaged at School
Connor Gleason

The excitement of the start of the year has passed, and the festive, holiday feel-good cheer is behind you. Now you’re back at school — the mornings are dark and it’s a long, cold walk from your car every day. When you leave at the end of the school day, the sun is setting and tomorrow you get to do it all over again. How is it only Wednesday?

Working at a school requires a seemingly endless amount of energy, enthusiasm, and a “can-do” attitude — you need to show that spirit to students and families, but let’s face it — at certain times of the year, you might just feel … stuck. Unmotivated, tired, no energy … it makes you wonder, “wait, why am I doing this again?”

It’s no surprise that the most common months to quit or leave a job are late January, February, and March (there are claims the most popular day of the year to quit is January 31st.) Staying motivated, passionate, and eager to come to work every day is a skill in itself, but don’t worry — there are some strategies to help reignite your passion and remember why you started this position in the first place. Before you hit the job boards, now might be a good time to review them!

Set new goals for yourself

A great way to feel motivated is to set new or additional goals for yourself, and that begins with identifying a new objective, skill, or project you want to achieve. Setting a goal not only keeps you motivated but also benefits your school. When you set goals, you start pushing yourself and your team to get the best results possible — win/win! 

You’ll want to create a SMART goal, often defined as specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. For example, if you want to increase your school’s inquiries by three percent this quarter, you could aim to reduce the bounce rate on your tuition page by 10 percent during the next two months.

You'll have a better chance of achieving your new goal if you follow these steps:

  • Think about the results you want to see
  • Set your SMART goal
  • Write your goals down
  • Create an action plan
  • Create a timeline
  • Take action
  • Evaluate your progress and adjust your goal if needed

Find or become a mentor

Mentoring is an all-encompassing way to experience personal and professional growth. Everyone benefits from the guidance of a wiser mentor; someone who’s been through it before and just gets it. Luke had Obi-Wan, Frodo had Gandalf, and Harry had Spock (I think?) Offering career advice, helping someone network or meet the right people, and sharing tips and tools of the trade benefits both mentor and mentee. Seek advice from mentors and thought leaders, or find a way to offer your professional knowledge to an intern, new graduate, or newcomer in your field.

Some research suggests that a person is 130% more likely to hold a leadership position having had the guidance of a mentor in their life. This can be an informal relationship where a sage advisor takes you under their wing or a more formal arrangement like a mentor match organized through NSPRA or the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management.

screenshot of west hartford mentor program

West Hartford Public Schools offers a mentor program, as well as a peer mentor program for students. It’s a great example of how schools and districts can provide guidance, encouragement, and additional support through meaningful partnerships.

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Take an online class

Invest in your own education. With a growth mindset, you'll be able to get the creative juices flowing and ignite some passion. Check out some of the free professional development opportunities Finalsite offers through its Learning Center. Whether you want to add some creative flare to your district’s newsletters, start or revamp your parent retention program, or even improve your school’s SEO strategy, these learn-at-your-own-pace courses are a great option.

Also, don’t forget about our free virtual event options, like School Marketing Day and School PR Day, which offer the latest strategies in the dozens of areas of interest within marketing and school PR fields — all free of charge.

Learn something new — every day

This piece of advice might sound like it’s straight from a motivational desk calendar, but it’s true! Learning a new “hack,” a time-saving tidbit, or discovering a new strategy can keep your brain engaged and in the game.

screenshot of the finalsite blog page

If you’re ever in need of a little inspiration, head over to the Finalsite Blog for hundreds and hundreds of tips, strategies, and helpful advice to make your life as a school marketing and communications professional easier. Don’t forget to subscribe and get the latest content sent straight to your inbox every week!

Stay patient and trust the process

Winston Churchill wisely said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” One of the biggest benefits of being in education is the rhythm of the school year, those glorious long breaks throughout the year, and, of course, summer vacation.

Reprieve will come. There will be an end to the cycle. Stay focused, stay patient, and practice what it takes to avoid burnout, like focusing on your mental health, learning when to say “no,” and staying proactive when planning, scheduling, and creating content.

Remember your “why"

Do you remember your interview? Can you remember your first day? At one point in time, you applied, interviewed, and actually accepted this position. You wanted this job. Every day, you’ve shown up and tried to make your school a better place — and in doing so, you’ve helped students. Think how far you’ve come since then and all that you’ve accomplished. Spock would be so proud of Harry…

Spock gif

It’s hard not to look back at the past through rose-colored glasses and compare that moment to today, but pausing to look at the big picture and reflect on all that’s happened since you started working at your school can help reignite that passion (and butterflies) you felt on the first day. Remember your reason for accepting this position and the difference you’ve made since then — chances are you’ve come a long way and that's something to be proud of.

Key takeaway

Whether you’re at the front of a classroom as an educator, leading staff as an administrator, or somewhere in between, you play an important role at your school. Every day you bring a spirit that creates a supportive and engaging environment for students, and it’s only human to feel a dip in that energy from time to time. Remember your “why,” set a new learning goal, and collaborate with mentors to reignite that passion. Get unstuck, stay motivated, and spread that energy to others.

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Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.

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