Reconnect with your ‘why’: reflective exercise

Taking time to reflect on our day, practice and reactions can help us reclaim the joy in teaching. Try this reflective exercise to reconnect with your 'why'. 

Articles / 2 mins read

Do you ever ask yourself “Why did I decide to work in education?”

Dr Shiri Lavy and Shira Bocker state in their research ‘Teachers and educators often report that their career choice stems from a sense of mission and from a desire to create a better future or society. Their motivations to become teachers include making a positive difference, being a role model, reaping the rewards of a fulfilling and challenging career, sharing their love of learning, and enjoying being and working with children.

Does this resonate for you? If so, consider this reflective exercise, to help you connect with that motivation.

Reflective exercise: remembering your ‘why’

Regardless of your role in education - teacher, school business manager, teaching assistant or lunchtime supervisor, you are who you are because you made a decision to work in a school setting. And, there will have been reasons behind this decision. In her book, Joy in Teaching, Dr Tiffany Carr suggests that taking time to reflect on our day, our practice, and our reactions is a key piece in reclaiming our joy in teaching.

Use this reflective exercise to think about what your career means to you:


What inspired you to enter education?


What makes a day in school joyful?


Who was your favourite teacher or member of education staff as a child?


Think about the last time you really connected with a pupil or colleague at work? What encouraged that connection?


Can you remember the first time you helped a child have that ‘lightbulb’ moment or overcome a particular challenge?


What makes you feel valued at work?


What do you enjoy most about your role?

As you ponder each question, remember you do not have to share your answers with anyone, be open and honest with yourself. You might be surprised how powerful writing your thoughts down can feel.

Once you have finished writing your answers down, walk away from your piece of paper and take a few moments to clear your head.

Then, sit back down and take a look at your answers again. Ask yourself:

  • Is there anything that has surprised you?
  • Has anything shined a light on any particularly joyful themes in your current working life?
  • Is there anything you want to hold onto, or make more time for?  

Take a moment to read your answers aloud to yourself.

Do they sound any different when you vocalise them?

Need support?

Remember, if you’re struggling or need to talk, you can call our free and confidential helpline. Staffed by qualified counsellors you can call 24/7 on 08000 562 561. Call us. We'll listen. 

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