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.

Metamorphosis in Progress…

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I just want to thank you for reading my blog while it undergoes a metamorphosis… I recently changed the title of my blog, from Mrs B (4th Grade Teacher) to Learning Wholeheartedly. Now I’m in the process of updating my blog with my new colors, logo, header, etc. More on that in a little bit, first, I’d like to provide some background on the name change.

I have loved learning for as long as I can remember. Now, don’t get me wrong, I did not always love learning in the traditional sense. Up until 7th grade I was an average student – maybe slightly above average. I was always in the top class, but never really put much effort into my academics until high school. That being said, I was always interested in “self-help” books (now more preferably labeled personal development books). From a very young age I would browse this section of our public library. I have always been hungry to learn new things – especially things that would help me grow as a person. 

I have also always hungered for human connections. I look back on my days at school and although I did not get along with everyone all the time, I did develop friendships with many different groups of people. I believe I’ve always tried to be authentically me, and live wholeheartedly.  As I get older, and read more books and meet more like-minded people, I feel like I’m developing a better understanding what that means. This is also why I’m 100% content with turning 30 years old this year… because I feel more ME than I’ve ever felt!! I can’t wait to share more about this journey of wholehearted living (and teaching – because it definitely comes out in my teaching too) with you. 

This is another reason why I am so grateful to have made the friends that I have made through periscope, blab, instragram, and teachers pay teachers. One of those friends is Ashley (Ms. Idealistic) from Canada.

Ash is one of the most down to earth persicopers that I have had the privilege of getting to know. She also happens to be a tech and design guru!! She hosts a weekly blab with the iteachtvnetwork called Teaching Tech, every Tuesday at 8pm (EST). Ashley is also one of the most generous and helpful people I’ve met! She designed my logo, my header/banner, and my new signature – and has been SO helpful with my whole “rebranding” – giving me great advice and collaborating with me (which is not easy, since I really struggle with making decisions). If you are on the market for a new logo or just want some design or coding advice – please please check out Ms. Idealistic’s shop here!! She is amazing to work with and very reasonably priced!!

I am so excited for the future of this blog and cannot wait to connect with you more and hopefully collaborate with you! If you’re interested in joining my monthly tech link up – you can sign up for the newsletter here, or read more about it here.

I’d also love to get some feedback on my blog as it continues it’s metamorphosis… What do you think of the name change, the new header, logo, etc?

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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?

Five for Friday

Five for Friday doodle bugs teachingI’m linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday…. my first one!

Five for friday 1Something that has occupied most of my week has been Teachers Pay Teachers. I got 3 sales this week – my first sales ever!! Which made me feel pressure to improve the product, as I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to make the Homework Binder Inserts editable so that teachers could personalize it to match their homework policies. I’ve finished it and am just waiting to hear back from a seller whose product I would love to include in the pack. As soon as I hear back, I will post the revision!

**revision is up**

Here is a sneak peak in the meantime! Homework Binder preview watermarkedI also added a math homework menu, for those days/weeks when things get crazy and you can’t run worksheets or find a valuable activity that students can complete independently. As well as an extra spelling menu – I plan to switch out the menu half way through the year to change things up.

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I love to draw and doodle, and hubby even bought me these awesome pens and black notebook for Valentines Day this year. I haven’t done much in the book, partly because of time, and partly because of hesitation and fear I guess. BUT….not anymore!!! I watched one of my favorite periscopers yesterday and she did a quick lettering tutorial – which totally inspired me!! She recommended this youtube channel and I’ve already watched a couple of the lettering tutorials. I’m totally hooked, and cannot wait to “fancy up” my anchor charts and other classroom posters, etc!!

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I was lucky enough to attend the ASCD Conference on Teaching Excellence this summer, for the second year in a row. Once again – I’ve come away with so many great ideas!! Last year I focused on two things, explicitly teaching grit and trying to incorporate teaching strategies that would help boys succeed in the classroom. They were my 2 biggest takeaways from that year.

This year, I have a three BiG takeaways:

#1 Providing consistent and meaningful feedback

#2 Keep students engaged in their learning through reflecting on objectives, learning, and effort.

#3 Pacing (which goes hand-in-hand with student engagement)

Providing timely feedback can be the most challenging thing for a teacher – especially when you have more than 20 students (which is not often the case in our Title 1 school). The presenter of the session on feedback said that it has been scientifically proven that in order for feedback to be meaningful – you have a 2 day window. Otherwise, the student will actually have to relearn the material as opposed to simply making corrections or clarifying their understanding.

With this, and takeaway #2, in mind, I created goal accounting templates (I like to call them student objective tracking/reflection recording sheets, because that is what they are.) This will help provide 1 of 3 types of feedback – reflective feedback. Expert feedback is provided by the teacher, and clarifying/indirect feedback is peer feedback (which you could have students engage in during turn and talk).

I plan to make the goal sheets part of my every day routine to either have the students jot down the objective, or provide them with it on a label to stick in (if I know I’ll be short on time). Students then rate their level of understanding, between 1 and 4. After the lesson, they go back and rate their effort (1-4) and their level of understanding now. Eventually they will record their assessment results for that objective/goal.

Below is an example of different ways students could write the objective – they do not need to write the whole thing out if you’re pressed for time or have students who struggle writing neatly.

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This picture was taken a week ago – at my bestie’s wedding! It was such a fun-filled day and night!!

My number 4 is my fourth grade team. I work with ladies that I can truly call some of my best friends!! I love each of them as people and professionals. We are all so different, and have different styles of teaching, but we work so well together. I dread the day that we get separated, which is probably inevitable…. but, until that time comes – I pledge to enjoy every day working with them and learning from and with them!!

five for friday 5  My number 5 is simple: Periscope!

Periscope has changed my life. And I don’t say that to sound dramatic, I’m serious!! I’ve followed teacher blogs before and follow teachers on instagram, etc…. periscope is different. It makes the people behind the blogs and instagram accounts real…

Through watching teachers on periscope, I have realized my own personal gifts and talents as a teacher. It has given me confidence to step out of my comfort zone and try things that I didn’t think were “for me” – such as teachers pay teachers, a teacher blog, hand lettering….

It has also given me the freedom to really push myself and be the best I can be. When you’re in your own teaching bubble, it can be difficult to push yourself. I know that for me, at my school (and I’m sure it’s the same at many of your schools) the job is so challenging and emotionally draining because of the wonderful little people we teach. Teaching is only the tip of the iceberg with these kiddos. That being said, there is a culture of “you have to take care of yourself” or “I can’t put extra time into this job, i have a family/life/stress that needs attention” at schools. Sometimes this makes me feel like I shouldn’t be putting in extra effort – because it’s not the norm…. and I’m not saying that we should put our jobs before our families, or our own mental, physical, or emotional health…

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I truly LOVE teaching, I LOVE planning, I LOVE going to professional developments, I LOVE trying new things/intiatives in the classroom, I LOVE it all….. so why should I feel guilty for putting in extra time and effort?

Periscope has connected me with many like-minded teachers (not that there aren’t any at my school — there are plenty!!) who are wonder women! They give me hope that I too can find a balance between being the best teacher I can be, and having a separate life!

If you’re still reading – thank you!!

Please let me know what you think in the comments – I’m interested to know if I’m the only who feels/felt this way!

Have a great weekend!!

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My Best Back to School Tip Linky Party

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I’m linking up with Christina at Hanging Around in Primary and Katie at Pop Into Primary for this linky party!

Teachers report back to work on August 17th – so we have 15 days of summer break left! *Cue sad soppy music…*

No…not really. I’m excited to go back and try some new things in my classroom. I’m also really excited to get a new class of students and to build new relationships. Anyway – on to my tips.

I haven’t had much time for planning this summer, after attending the ASCD Teaching Excellence Conference, working summer school, and then being a bridesmaid in my best friend (and teammate’s) wedding, I am only now getting started on school prep. There are 3 things that I have done that have made me feel so much more prepared than I was a week ago.

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I planned my first day with the following considerations:

  • Supply Collection
  • Student Interest Surveys (something for the students to work on while you collect supplies)
  • Team Building Activities
  • Class Expectation Activity (include the students in the rule making)
  • Embed Routines Throughout the First Day/Week (which requires that you plan your routines ahead of time and purposefully plan your activities and transitions around these routines, so that the students can learn them in context and can practice them. For intermediate grades, consider creating a document that outlines your classroom routines. This will be especially useful for new students who join your class during the school year).

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I created a list of each subject that I teach and considered my teaching style and the procedures I plan to use for each subject. Using this, I decided what supplies the students will need for each subject area. I also planned out where we would store each of these notebooks/folders/etc.

I really like to stay organized and want to teach my students to be organized too. Messy student desks are one of my biggest pet peeves, and one of the most inevitable situations in elementary school. I want to be proactive when it comes to helping my students keep organized. “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place” is a mantra I hope to teach my kids this year! 😛 I might be setting us up for failure, but you never know until you try. So I’m going to try.

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Homework can be so frustrating – students lose things they forget things…. it can be so painful. So this year, I wanted to be ready and prepared to help eliminate all excuses!

I am going to set up homework binders/folders (enough for each student, at least 5 new students, and a few extra for those students who are going to misplace theirs). Last year students had a take home folder and a spelling notebook, they would do spelling homework in their notebook and they would take math homework home in their take home folder. I wanted to have students do reading homework, but I didn’t have a good system and wanted to make sure it was meaningful.

So, I create some binder inserts to organize these homework binders with. The inserts are as follows:

  • A cover
  • Slide2A page outlining homework expectations
  • Spelling homework menu (students will choose an appetizer on Monday, entree on Tuesday, and dessert on Wednesday. On Thursday they will take a practice test). There will be some lined paper after this insert for students to complete their spelling homework on.
  • Reading homework questions, 12 for fiction and 12 for non-fiction. Students will choose 1 question a week. These questions are based on the third grade common core standards. Although I teach fourth grade, I want to make sure students can complete their homework independently, so it is more of a review and practice. Again, there will be lined paper after this insert for students to answer questions on.
  • Reading Log. Students will be expected to read for 20 minutes every night and record their reading on a log. I will include 2-3 copies of this log in each binder.
  • The last insert is just a Math Homework cover. My intention is to have this insert in a sheet protector – so that students can place their math homework in the sleeve for safe transportation to and from home.
  • I am considering adding (updating/revising) the inserts to include a “keep at home” and “please return” inserts, also to go in sheet protectors. I may also include exemplar examples of each activity – to really eliminate any question of expectations and to help parents be clear on my expectations for homework. Let me know what you think?

Slide1Don’t forget – the Teachers Pay Teacher’s Back to School Sale is August 3-4. Up to 28% off select products!

Use the code BTS15

What do you do to get ready for a new school year?

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