Are you at risk of becoming a teacher burn out statistic?

This article says that about half a million teachers move or leave the profession every year. If you work at a high poverty school you’re 50% more likely to decide to leave the school, or teaching.

Teaching is an extremely stressful job. There are many factors that can make it even more stressful. 

  • Financial instability (we all know teachers don’t go into the profession expecting to make a lot of money, however, the reality can sometimes be a hard pill to swallow).
  • School district expectations (there are always new initiatives coming down the pipeline, putting pressure on schools – especially low performing or high poverty schools).
  • Unsupportive administration (when a teacher does not feel supported by his/her principal – they will be miserable, and sometimes they are even bullied by administration, which can make their job almost unbearable).
  • Negative coworkers (put a group of overly stressed out, tired, sometimes bitter teachers together – and you’re asking for a negative atomic bomb – negativity is like a cloud of toxic gas…it spreads and makes more and more people negative).
  • Difficult parents (parents who second guess your decisions constantly can cause a lot of stress for a teacher)

But – for each of these factors, there are easy solutions to help keep your spirits up, stoke your passion, and keep your love of teaching at the forefront of your mind! Especially right now, when you’ve already been stressed out for almost 3 marking periods… this last stretch is always the hardest. 

8 Things You Can Do To Avoid Being A Statistic

1.Find a mantra that reminds you to go into each day with a positive attitude – determined to make it special, no matter what! Here is my personal mantra…

Birthday Quote for instagram

You know how you refuse to let anything small ruin your birthday – you’re determined it’s going to be a good day. (At least, that’s what I do on my birthday, I’m really hoping I’m not the only one!) Why not approach everyday with that same determination to be happy?

If you subscribe to my newsletter – you should have received a mobile background image of this mantra. I hope it brings you the same focus & joy it’s started to bring me. If you haven’t signed up yet – to make sure you don’t miss any other exclusive freebies – sign up here.

2. Any chance you get – put on music that you LOVE and sing and dance! It can be in the car on your way to work, or when you get into your classroom in the morning, or even during transitions with your kids! You can’t be in a bad mood when you’re dancing, singing, and laughing! You may need to step out of your comfort zone a little for this one – but you won’t regret it. I know this is a favorite among some of my teacher friends… 🙂

3.You can’t control everything – so why stress about the things you have no control over? Your administrator wants you to complete one hundred papers, and report back on the math data, and don’t forget to find time to change your bulletin boards! Do your best to do what is required – you have to prioritize… you know your admin well enough to know what the nonnegotiable things are. Don’t let the things you cannot change or control stress you out.

4. Testing? Sure it’s important (kinda) but it’s not the be all and end all. You’re a great teacher- so you know that those standardized tests are not an accurate measure of how far your students have come this year. So, make them as fun as you can for your students – but take the pressure off of them, and yourself.

5.Stay away from negative teachers – avoid the teachers lounge. Make a commitment to yourself to not participate in any griping or venting. Delegate one close friend to be the person you can reach out to when you really just need to get some frustrations off your chest – but there is no need to share every bad moment with 10 other teachers – it’s only going to bring them down too.

6. Bring fun into your classroom – plan FUN lessons… it may take some extra effort on your part, but it’s not just for your kids (and we all know that students are more successful when they’re having fun and actively engaged in the lessons) but it’s also for you! Think about your favorite teaching moment…were you having fun? Were your kids having fun? It’s TOTALLY worth it! If you can’t control the lessons being taught (maybe your school uses a scripted program, or you’re a resource teacher) – bring holidays into the classroom. The Whimsical Teacher shared this idea on periscope, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time – it can be as simple as a note on the board and one aspect of a lesson themed to the holiday, or the music you play during writing could relate to the holiday… anything to make each day unique and fun.

7. Find positive teachers who inspire you and help keep you focused on your passion for teaching! There is a whole community of amazingly talented and passionate teachers out there!! They can help give you ideas for fun lessons, and bringing the fun into your classroom. They can also help remind you each day of what’s important and why we do what we do. You can connect with teachers like this in Teach Happy Membership – it’s an awesome community of teachers dedicated to supporting one another. Sheila Jane is the founder of this community and her life mission is to help prevent teacher burnout — so it’s definitely a treasure trove of resources and happiness for teachers! If you don’t want to join membership – do yourself a favor and at least sign up for her newsletter!

8. The most important thing you can do to help prevent burn out, is to remember why you started teaching. Focus on the students – no matter what is happening in your building or district, you get to spend the whole day with kids who want nothing more than to feel loved and respected. Have fun with them – get to know them… close your door and focus on having a great day in your classroom.

All of that being said… if you have tried some of these things and you’re still truly unhappy… you may need to find a school that is a better fit for you, or if you’ve tried that and you still can’t beat the burnout … it might be time to soul search and determine if being a teacher is your true passion. It’s definitely not for everyone, and it takes a lot of courage to truly reflect on your career choice and decide it’s not for you. However, if that is a painful thought — before you give up on teaching altogether – try some related positions that may be less stressful for you… don’t give up entirely without exploring all of your options.

At the end of the day you have to do what is best for you. Don’t worry about what other people will think, or how your decisions reflect on you. Your happiness should be your primary concern – it affects you, your family, your students… #beyou and own it!

I’d love to hear from you. Have you found your zen in teaching yet? Did you use any of these strategies? Are you struggling and at risk of burning out? If you try any of these, I’d love your feedback!

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Fonts by KG Fonts and Background for quote by Canva.

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How to Change Your Students’ Lives

Isn’t this the big questions all teachers want to know? I know this is why I got into the profession – because we have such an amazing opportunity to shape the future leaders of our world. To help mould young children to become happy, kind, educated, passionate, and driven adults who can make a difference.

As a teacher, I know the feeling of despair when you have one or two (or five, or six) students in your class that you just can’t seem to reach. They’re the ones that keep you up at night, or have you in tears at the end of the day. We comfort ourselves in the knowledge that we can at least make a difference in the lives of 85% or 90% of the students in our class that year.

But, what if I told you that the GREAT teachers make a difference in 100% of the students lives in their class. I’m not talking about the standard “difference” teachers make by simply doing their jobs – I’m talking about substantial, life changing difference. What they do is not rocket science, and it’s not a secret…

Kim Bearden is one of those GREAT teachers.

If you don’t know who Kim is, I’ll give you a very brief overview – she is the cofounder of, and an ELA teacher at, the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.  She is also one of the most self-reflective, self-aware, passionate, whole-hearted people that you will ever get to know. 

You can get to know Kim through periscope (or watch her past broadcasts on katch.me) and through her book Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me

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It is through this book that I have found the “recipe” for changing students’ lives. I think we can mostly agree (I wish I could say all, but I know that there are some nay-sayers) that the Ron Clark Academy is making a difference, and there are many many teachers who dream of recreating that magic in their classrooms and schools around the world. Well, in Crash Course, Kim gives us a very intimate glimpse into what the Ron Clark Academy is all about, and how any teacher willing to put in the work, can recreate that magic.

I’m going to start by giving you a brief review of the book itself, then I’ll share some of the key takeaways that I had while reading. Last, I’ll outline the things that I’m going to do differently to help bring some RCA magic into my classroom and school.

About Crash Course:

The book is organized into 17 short chapters. With topics ranging from creativity and improvisation to faith and generosity. Each of these chapters includes vulnerable stories from Kim’s life. She is very transparent and honest in her writing, and never claims to have all the answers. These stories help the reader not only connect with Kim and her students, they are the backbone of the book – the life lessons her students taught her. They also helped me as a teacher, formulate a more detailed dream for my students. Every chapter ends with a bullet list of the chapter’s important points and homework. The homework lists 2-4 steps you can take to help with that area of your life and work as an educator. They are practical ways for you to reflect on the chapter’s lessons and synthesize what you learned and how you can apply it.

My Biggest Takeaways:

  • The recipe for recreating the magic at RCA: passion, creativity, rigor, and the importance of giving back to the community
  • The teachers at RCA are human… they’ve all been exactly where we are, they’ve made mistakes, they’ve struggled, and they still do
  • The students at RCA are just like my students and your students – Kim shares how new teachers at RCA always seem surprised to learn that the students’ transformation into what we all think of as “Ron Clark Academy students” begins with the teachers
  • The teachers have very very high expectations for their students (and themselves)- and accept nothing but their best efforts. They are also willing to do anything and everything it takes to make sure that every student reaches those expectations. The chapter on expectations was my favorite, and you can hear Kim talk about it here.
  • The school also fosters a culture of creativity, magic, play, and family. Kim writes about how schools today often destroy students’ sense of wonder… isn’t that heartbreaking?
  • We need to teach students in a way that prepares them for the world – they need to learn how to communicate not only their academic understandings, but their insights, their feelings, and their beliefs as people. They also need to learn how to handle the challenges that the real world will bring them – we need to teach students about race and culture and how it “will affect their reality”.
  • To reach all students, we need to take the time to get to know each and every single student. We need to find their gifts, nurture their creativity, and identify their fears. We need to ask them what they love, and then design lessons around those things. We need to sit at their desks and see life from their perspective. We need to start fresh every day – do whatever it takes to get every student excited about learning.
  • The smallest gestures can become the tiny seeds that will one day grow into amazing trees. What you say to students (through words or body language) matters. Taking time to get to know students and their families matters. Taking time to create special moments and memories with (and for) students matters.

Each and every one of these points (and many many more) are elaborated on in the book – with stories to help you understand how important they are and how they can change students’ lives. These points don’t even begin to do the book justice – if any of them resonate with you… do yourself (and your students/teachers) a favor and read the book.

My Personal Action Plan:

  • Develop deeper more meaningful relationships with my students by
    • taking the time to think about how each of them feels in my classroom, at school, at home
    • taking the time to ask them what they love
    • making it clear that I believe in them by holding them to high expectations
    • making each and every one of them feel like they are my favorite student
    • finding their unique gifts and talents
    • being intentional with my comments and compliments
    • finding out what their fears are, and helping them overcome those fears
    • letting students know that every day is a clean slate – when I “fuss” at them, once it’s done, it’s done
  • Create more magic in my classroom by
    • brainstorming ways to make lessons more magical (think classroom transformations, even on a smaller scale – simulations)
    • playing more
  • Teach my students how to support one another by
    • modeling how to encourage others
    • teaching them about other cultures
    • helping them help the community
  • Seek out relationships with people who fill my soul by
    • evaluating current relationships
    • spend more time with people who inspire me
  • Be more grateful by
    • keeping a gratitude journal & writing in it daily
    • letting others know I’m grateful for them
    • praying more

 

Now for some real talk…

I know that this is going to take a great deal of time and effort. Time out of my personal life… time that I will not be paid for. The effort required will be tough to give, because the results are going to take time. I know that if I dedicate myself to this – there will be times that I will want to give up.

I also know that there will be more tears, and many many sleepless nights. Because let’s face it, when you open your heart and make the effort to develop these deep and meaningful relationships with students – you are opening up yourself to hurt and failure. You’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Some of our students face very difficult lives, and I know that I will learn things that will break my heart, some of them will treat me badly. Also, I’m not always going to be enough. What I can do in my classroom (and out of it) will not always be enough.

But… this is why I became a teacher. I didn’t become a teacher to help students pass a test. I didn’t become a teacher to have fun with students from 8 – 3pm. I became a teacher to change lives – it’s my passion, it’s my calling, and I believe the difficult times and the failures I’m bound to experience are worth it. Because at least I can say I truly tried, I gave it my all.

If you aren’t willing to do whatever it takes, what’s the point?

How I plan to make 2016 top 2015

January 2gether we are betterOnce upon a time there were two passionate teachers. They shared both a passion for teaching and a passion for creating TPT products. One day, they went on an exciting adventure all the way to Vegas to explore the TPT conference. While they were there they stumbled upon a magical app called Periscope. Periscope made these teachers a little nervous, but it kept calling their names… so, they kept scoping and sharing the excitement from the conference with other teachers in lands far away. Soon… they had started what I like to call #theperiscopeteachertakeoverof2015. When the teachers had returned from their adventure, they decided that teachers need to be more connected – to learn from one another. And so… the #2getherwearebetter blog link up began.

This month we are discussing our plans and goals for 2016.

Incorporate MORE technology (1)

Something that I’m really passionate about, is implementing and using technology in the classroom. I have recently started having my students use the SMARTboard during Math rotations. I have purchased some awesome digital interactive notebooks from the amazing Danielle Knight. I did 1 hour of code with my students, which was awesome! I use Edmodo for guided reading extension lessons/questions/quizzes.

But, I know that I could still do so much more – so my goal is to (first – use the digital interactive notebooks I bought, then) try one new app or website or technology tool a month. Here is one example of an app/website that I think would be awesome for collaboration in the classroom. Padlet is a bulletin board type website, where users can add posts, photographs, voice notes, videos, or files. Whoever creates the padlet can make it private and just share the url with people he/she wants to collaborate with.

Hey — let’s make it official…. I always work better when I have people counting on me. So, I’ll start doing a monthly blog post reviewing the new app/website that I tried out, and how it went in my classroom!

periscope more

I love periscope and always enjoy it when I get on and start scoping…however, I always psyche myself out. My self doubt creeps in “you don’t have anything worthwhile to share” “no one is going to watch”…etc etc.

But, my word of the year is ZONE (more on that later) – so I am going to burst out of my comfort zone this year and just do it. I’m going to be 100% me, and trust that I am worth knowing and that I do have something to offer. It might not be the same type of thing other people have to offer – but that’s even better! I’m one of a kind – as are you! So don’t hold back this year! Put yourself out there with me, be vulnerable and let’s push the boundaries of our comfort zones together!

blog more

As you can see – I am off to a running start, but we all know the beginning of the year is “easy” in terms of keeping up with new goals – but I have a plan for this… which I’ll share in a minute. Blogging has always been something I enjoy – I’ve had 3 blogs in my life. I keep my family in South Africa updated with my adventures in the USA with a weekly blog. I did that for 2 years and then my blogging slowed down quite a bit, finally when I started teaching, it passed away peacefully in its sleep. About 6 years ago I started a very personal blog about my struggles with infertility – but gave it up after about a year because I chose to step away from that community because it was holding me back from finding happiness in the present. Now… I’m trying to get into a groove with blogging about teaching – which I can honestly say is my life’s passion and calling.

**I just watched an awesome periscope by Bri Miller about the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Bri mentioned how our fear of not fitting in can hold us back from truly being ourselves or putting ourselves out there and being vulnerable. She also spoke about how we are all vulnerable in different ways – some people may be able to connect with others via video, or in person, or through blogging. I totally had an “ah ha” moment. Being truly vulnerable on periscope is hard for me, but here… on my blog – it is so easy. I am so grateful for that scope tonight – because it made me realize that we truly are all different, and even the way we connect with people could be different, and it’s okay – it’s actually more than okay, it’s something to celebrate! Our differences! **

small goal

This is a small goal because I’m not 100% sure yet if TPT is going to be something I commit a lot of time to. I haven’t spent enough time on making products to really know. So, really my goal is to make more products to see if this is something I am good at, and enjoy. I’m going to start by making products that I need for my students, and see how it goes from there. I’ve already made 2 simple products today to use with my students next week – I just need to make covers, etc and I can post them. I’ll be happy with 2 quality products a month to start with. Once I get into a groove, I hope to be able to exceed that goal.

Plan

  • Single tasking (focusing on one simple task at a time for an allocated number of time – this is a great app for this!)
  • Using a notebook to record ideas and inspriations
  • goal sheet to set weekly goals
  • Using my phone’s calendar to schedule all social media chats, weekly or monthly periscopes and blabs as well as gym classes, lesson planning and time for ME!! I am going to use this to also plan out some periscopes – to ensure that I have no excuse not to scope more often!

My new monthly blog about technology will help keep me accountable for trying something new every month. Maybe I’ll make it a link up… except I’ve never done that before, and not sure how to, or if it’s even possible with WordPress…if you know – I’d love you forever if you let me know in the comments. Also, if you’d be interested in joining a link up like this – let me know.

I also started a Facebook group with some other teachers to help share blog ideas and to keep one another accountable for blogging at least twice a month. If you are interested in joining the group – just let me know and we can connect.

New Year Blog Challenge

The last thing I want to share is my #otw (one little word) for 2016. Ali Edwards started this project, on her website she says “[in] 2006 I began a tradition of choosing one word for myself each January – a word to focus on, mediate on, and reflect upon as I go about my daily life.” Here is my word for 2016 – it reflects how I want to not be afraid to be vulnerable and how I want to be more productive and goal focused.

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Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you are interested in joining our #teacherblogchallenge2016 facebook group. Also, if you would be interested in joining a monthly link up to share your experiences trying some new technology in your classroom, let me know. I’d also love to hear what your goals are for 2016! 

>>If you’d like to join the link up – click the banner at the top of this post.

 

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