There’s one complaint about technology that I hear from almost every single person I talk to: it’s just plain overwhelming. There’s too much to learn. There are too many options. It’s always changing and I’m always behind.
Between ed tech for your classroom and the technology you use in your personal life, there’s always going to be a massive amount of tools you wish you could explore and master. Here’s what to do when it all starts to feel overwhelming.
Dan Tricarico is a high school English teacher in California, and the author of two books, the most recent being “The Zen Teacher: Creating Focus, Simplicity, and Tranquility in the Classroom.” Listen in as Dan and I discuss how teachers can change the classroom energy even when kids bring chaos, and more importantly, how we can cultivate serenity within ourselves.
The first roadblock of discouragement tends to hit a little sooner than most teachers are expecting. You might be surprised when it only takes a week or two of school before that great plan you had for the year seems to fall apart: all your prior confidence feels like naivety, and your preparations feel totally pointless, as if you’d been planning lessons and procedures for a fantasy world. Here’s what I want you to know when you hit that point.
This season, I thought it might be fun to structure the Ask Angela Anything episodes a little differently, and answer a couple questions briefly in one episode. In fact, I’ve challenged myself to answer 5 questions in 15 minutes--quick and to the point. Listen in as I discuss transition tips, classes that have a hard time quieting down, reward systems, and more.
Though it’s a common problem that happens in pretty much every classroom in America, there isn’t any clear cut solution. Obviously you want to make the work as meaningful, authentic, and relevant as you can, and build rapport with students. But there are some kids who just aren’t going to focus and get their work done no matter how much of a personal connection you’ve tried to make with them, or how much choice you’ve given in the assignment. In this episode, I'll share how I respond to these students, and what you can do to keep disengaged learners from stealing your enthusiasm for teaching.
Every now and then I get a comment saying, “It's a shame that teachers charge money for everything now. I remember the days when teachers would give everything away for free.” Sometimes they even add insult to injury by saying, “If you really wanted to help teachers, if you really cared about kids, you wouldn't charge for this,” as if anyone who wants to make a difference is supposed to do it for free and the only people who deserve to get paid are the people who AREN’T helping others. Listen in as I explain in a deeply personal way why teacher-authors like myself charge for our work, and why it's so important to respect copyright.
Zaretta is the author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, and has so much helpful info to share about supporting students in poverty. Listen in as we discuss the pedagogy of poverty, and how an individual teacher can make meaningful connections with students despite the drill-and-kill focus so prevalent in many Title I schools. Zaretta gives practical suggestions for any teacher who wants to understand his or her students better.
Today’s episode is inspired by a lot of different emails I’ve gotten from teachers about a wide range of problems with administrators. Some of these teachers feel like their principals place too much emphasis on testing and try to standardize teaching so there’s no freedom for teachers or kids. Others simply don’t feel supported by their admins; they feel like workhorses who continually have more demands stacked on their plates without any acknowledgment or appreciation of what they do. Listen as I share what an individual teacher can do to create change, shift school culture, and advocate for him- or herself as well as for students.
We have a paralyzing number of choices in our culture today. In teaching you may get hung up on decisions like: What planner or grade book should I buy? Should I use interactive notebooks with my class? Would I be better off with this whole class quiz app or should I find another one? Which desk arrangement would be best for the types of activities I’m doing with kids this week? Today’s episode will help you make better decisions, make them more quickly, and feel comfortable sticking with them after they’ve been made (instead of second-guessing yourself.)
As a new teacher, I was totally a hoarder. I didn’t believe I had the resources I needed to teach, and therefore had to hold onto everything that crossed my path in order to be able to make do. I learned to have the mindset of abundance which makes it possible to clear away the clutter and get rid of things, and you can do it, too! This episode will help you mentally prepare to take a new approach to what you keep and what you don't, starting with 10 things you should toss out right away.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by all that needs to be done and exhausted by not only the long hours but also the physical labor of rearranging and setting up a classroom, please know that this is very normal, and it will get better!
I tended to work 70-80 hour weeks or more during those first two weeks of school--I wanted to do things right the first time and from the start, rather than having to go back and finish or redo things later. I considered my long hours at BTS as an investment of time--doing things today that would create more time for me later.
However, there are things you might get sucked into doing this time of year that waste time, or actually create more work for you in the long run. These are 5 back-to-school time traps that you want to avoid, and how to escape them.
What do you want your life to look like when summer is over? In this special bonus ONE HOUR episode of Truth for Teachers, I'm going to help you create your end-of-summer vision and select goals that will move you toward that vision.
You'll learn simple time-saving tips that will help you work smarter, not harder, and explore 5 productivity strategies for home and school that will help you feel more accomplished AND allow you to truly relax. Learn how to use your summer to get ahead for fall, choosing key tasks to complete now in order to free up more time once school begins.
If you'd like more productivity strategies and support through the year, visit www.40htw.com to sign up for my free getting started guide or to join the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club.
As season 3 draws to a close, I'm challenging you to decide what you want your life to look like a few weeks from now when school begins again. Use the 6 steps shared in this episode to create that vision and determine actionable steps to make it a reality. Have a great summer--season 4 will begin in August!
In last week's episode, I shared how I got started as a teacher, educational consultant, instructional coach, and author. This week, I'll share the rest of my story: how I got into (and out of) professional speaking, the new opportunity that changed everything for me, and what direction I'm going in next.
You'll hear mistakes I made along the way and challenges that forced me out of my comfort zone. I'll also share practical advice and inspiration if YOU'RE thinking about making a change in your career or just want to look for ways to impact education beyond the four walls of the classroom.
Wrong episode playing this week? Please refresh the podcast feed. :)
If this episode were a movie on the Lifetime channel, it would be called Behind the Scenes: The Angela Watson Story. I'm going to be very transparent and vulnerable in this episode, and share details that I haven’t shared publicly before to take you behind the scenes in my career from new teacher to where I'm at today.
I’ll start by sharing how I got started as a teacher, educational consultant, instructional coach, and author. You'll hear mistakes I made along the way and challenges that forced me out of my comfort zone. I'll also share practical advice and inspiration if YOU'RE thinking about making a change in your career or just want to look for ways to impact education beyond the four walls of the classroom.
Almost every teacher I talk with feels like it’s impossible to turn off his or her brain at night and rest. Teachers feel like there’s always too much to do, too many things to remember, and not enough time for any of it. Being more intentional about your connectivity habits is the easiest, fastest, most powerful way I can think of to change that.
I finally broke my connectivity addiction after running myself into the ground last summer...and it honestly shocked how simple it was to rewire my brain so that I no longer craved those constant interactions online.
3 basic habits enabled me to make (and maintain) the change. I created these habits by paying attention to when I was tempted to check my phone or go online, and noticing how I felt when I did or didn’t indulge.
And now during the month of May, I want to invite you to join in and do this intentional connectivity challenge together. Let’s stop using our devices to waste time on unintentional breaks and procrastination, and stop allowing them to keep us from fully enjoying and experiencing our lives. We don’t have to settle for a lifetime of feeling controlled by our devices. We can make connectivity into something better, something more intentional, and we can do it together.
Sign up here--it's free!
This episode picks up where we left off last week in examining eight keys to help you regain your confidence and avoid burn-out. These are principles that helped me stay in the teaching profession at times when I didn't think I could take another day. They are based on what I've seen happen in my own life and in the lives of other teachers who overcame feelings of hopelessness and frustration and regained their enthusiasm for teaching.
My inbox is typically bursting with messages from overwhelmed teachers. Help! I can't do this! I feel so inadequate—it's just too much for one person and I don't think I can teach anymore. The situation is so bad—I'm thinking of just quitting.
Each person who has contacted me was searching for the same thing: reassurance that their feelings are normal (they are), encouragement that they can handle the responsibilities (they can), and a reason to believe that the rewards of teaching outweigh the costs (they do).
This week and next, we’re going to look at eight keys to help you regain your confidence and avoid burn-out. These are principles that helped me stay in the teaching profession at times when I didn't think I could take another day. They are based on what I've seen happen in my own life and in the lives of other teachers who overcame feelings of hopelessness and frustration and regained their enthusiasm for teaching.
It’s the conversation we all dread: telling a parent their child a) is failing a subject, b) needs to be tested for a disability, c) doesn’t have any friends, or d) all of the above. Your stomach is twisting and turning just thinking about having to confront the parent.
So, what do you do? Here are a 10 tips to help you share bad, difficult, or sensitive news with a student’s parent and get the best possible outcome.
There are few things that annoyed me more as a teacher than picking up my students from P.E. or lunch, or having a small group return from a resource room pull-out class only to discover that some students had been completely out of control while they were gone. With some classes I taught, it seemed like the moment I was out of sight, there was almost guaranteed to be an incident of disrespect to another teacher, a physical altercation between students, or something even worse.
The good news is that while you can’t control what happens when you’re not around, there’s quite a bit you can do pro-actively to prevent the problem from reoccurring and to open the lines of communication between you and other teachers. Listen in as I share 6 strategies to help you do just that.
One of the big principles that we’re always coming back to in The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club is that implementing small changes right away is more effective than hoping you’ll feel like implementing big changes later on. We often make the mistake of assuming that our future selves will somehow be less stressed and busy and more disciplined and productive, and therefore we’ll able to handle making positive changes LATER.
The problem with that logic is that those qualities of being less busy and more productive later don’t just happen on their own. This summer or next year only seem like they will be slightly less crazy than right now because all the unexpected interruptions, emergencies, and new obligations haven’t cropped up yet. Unless we’re actively taking steps now to set our future selves up for success, things really aren’t going to change very much.
In this episode, I'll share how to break that cycle, and embrace the fact that your willingness to adapt what you’re doing NOW has the ability to save you countless hours and immeasurable stress in the new school year.
There’s no question that being a new teacher is tremendously stressful. But when I reflect on my teaching practice and how it evolved over the years, I realize that I created a lot of my own stress simply through the way I chose to perceive my work.
The mindset that I held toward my students and their parents, as well as how I viewed my role in the classroom, often made an annoying incident feel maddening, and a challenging situation feel impossible to overcome.
Today, I’ll share four specific ways I sabotaged my own success as a teacher, as well as how and why my thinking changed over time.
Every teacher needs more class time. And every year, it seems like there’s more and more content that needs to be covered and less time to teach it in. Fortunately, there are some easy ways you can create more time for teaching. There are lots of things happening in our classrooms that either waste time or just make lessons take longer than they need to. If you struggle with lesson planning because you just don’t have time to teach everything you’re supposed to, these easy tips and productivity hacks will help you maximize every moment with students.
In last week’s episode, I explained why ‘reward’ isn’t a bad word and argued my case for why rewards can be an integral part of your classroom. If you have a problem with rewards or just want to know why I think rewarding students is appropriate, check out EP9 for the the WHY. In this episode, I’m going to share the HOW. I’ve found that the most effective way to use rewards with students is by creating a culture of appreciation in the classroom and using unexpected now-that rewards. Listen in to learn more.
I wanted to do an episode about how to reward students responsibly--in a way that considers the long term results and the type of character and work ethic we’re building in kids, not just how to get compliance here in the moment. And I realized that before I could do something like that, I needed to first address the question of whether teachers should be rewarding kids at all. “Reward” has become a bad word in many education circles. In this episode, I'll tell the story of when I was called out by a district administrator for giving what she felt was an inappropriate reward, and explain why I’m advocating for the return of the reward, anyway.