Mental Health Purpose of Teaching


As fall turns to winter, it is hard not the think about languishing. For many students, and for many teachers, it has been tremendously hard to get out of neutral. Neither crushed nor flourishing, it can feel like we are moving more slowly and less intentionally than we would like to. Worse, it is unclear how to get unstuck or to help our students feel a sense of agency, purpose, and hope.

Some days are better than others, but this feeling of languishing has been a quiet constant in my experience this semester. It is as if we are not ready to commit to hope again because all our plans could be destroyed in an instant as they were during the pandemic.

If you are experiencing languishing or if you feel your students are languishing and would like help, I encourage you to read “Feeling Blah During the Pandemic?” and “The Other Side of Languishing Is Flourishing. Here’s How to Get There.” If you only have a second, read “Languishing During the Pandemic? Here’s Help.”

Of course, our mindset coming into these articles matters. Tell me to feel grateful when I am at a low point, you’ll be met with the cynic. Even implying that I am somehow wholly responsible for my languishing, you’ll be met with worse than that!

But so many of us love teaching and want the best for our students, and it is heartbreaking when we don’t feel fully present in our classrooms. Some of these tips, especially when we are in a place where we can fully receive them, can be very valuable.

At the same time, we don’t have to go it alone. Please reach out if you’d like to talk about languishing; what we can do to help each other, and what we can do to help our students.