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Angela Watson's Truth for Teachers

The podcast designed to speak life, encouragement, and truth into the minds and hearts of educators and get you energized for the week ahead.
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Angela Watson's Truth for Teachers
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Now displaying: 2020
Oct 18, 2020

This is a deeply personal podcast episode, so if you’re new here, I encourage you to revisit previous eps that are probably going to be more helpful and along the lines of what you’re hoping to get.

This one is all over the map: part inspirational, part confessional, part political, part visionary.

I've decided to end the podcast early, for reasons that will be apparent as I share what’s on my heart here. I will not be back with another episode until at least January 2021.

In the meanwhile:

Find the small good things. Take the next right steps. Focus on who you want to become through the remainder of this pandemic. What kind of person will you be on the other side of these challenging times? What kind of educators do we want to be? What kind of nation do we want to be? Vote accordingly.

Sending you all love, support, and solidarity until next time.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Oct 11, 2020

What happens when you’re asked to follow bad pedagogy or teach topics that seem irrelevant for kids? You can do exactly as you’re told...or you can quietly subvert the system, and find ways to do what’s best for kids.

Listen in as Dr. Robyn Jackson and I talk about ways that we’ve done this in our teaching practice, and how we’ve supported other teachers in doing the same.

We speak the quiet part out loud in this episode: the best teachers don’t just follow directives without question — they’re NOT doing everything they’re told, because a lot of what they’re told to do isn’t good for kids.

You don’t have to settle for just “getting through” boring curriculum and test prep. You can be actively looking for ways to get yourself excited about what/how you need to teach and make the learning meaningful for kids so they’re more engaged, too.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Oct 4, 2020

I decided to scrap the topic I had planned for this week and speak to the teachers who feel like they’re drowning. I know what's expected right now of many kids, families, and teachers is not humanly possible on a long-term basis. And in this episode, I want to counter the system-wide gaslighting that is occurring.

What many (most?) of you are being asked to do right now is NOT, in fact, reasonable ... and the solution is not for you to simply work harder.

We are still in a pandemic. This is still crisis distance learning. This is emergency hybrid teaching. Regardless of how much districts want to pretend we can replicate normal, we cannot.

Resist the pressure to perform at optimal levels when we are not working in optimal conditions. Pushing yourself to work harder when your body's calling for rest will not help you get ahead. That approach is part of the old paradigm which has to fall away and be replaced with a way of working, teaching, and learning that is humanized and centered on well-being rather than accomplishment.

You deserve grace and compassion. Give those things to yourself when no one is giving it to you. Rest tonight. Rest this weekend. Rest is necessary for your survival and you don't need to apologize for it.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Sep 27, 2020

“We didn't forget how to be teachers. It’s the same passion, engagement, and relationships — you already know how to do that. What we have to learn is a few tech tools, so that we can accomplish the teaching moves that we want, but we did not forget how to teach ... Human beings know how to develop relationships, and sometimes they develop from a distance.”

Listen as I talk with Doug Fisher (of Fisher & Frey) about the most important ideas from their new book with John Hattie called “The Distance Learning Playbook: K-12 Teaching For Engagement and Impact in Any Setting.”

The book is based on the classroom experiences of a diverse group of more than 70 teachers this past spring. I ask Doug to sum up their most important takeaways, the things that surprised him, and the best practical ideas that came out of these teachers’ experiences.

We talk extensively about the best ways to get kids to show up to distance learning and complete their work, as well. Doug shares specific examples, and says, “When you move to higher levels of engagement — where kids drive the learning, where they set their goals, they monitor their progress, they reflect on what they've been learning — that’s when we see them show up and participate.”

If you need to hear a positive outlook and some inspiration about distance/hybrid learning right now, I think you’ll really enjoy this conversation:

“I did not sign up to be this distance teacher. But right now our kids need us. We're still a school. We still have a job to do. Together, we will get through this pandemic and we will be better, as a result, when we come back.”

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Sep 20, 2020

If you're frustrated with kids who don't seem to be putting forth any effort, this episode can help you shift your mindset and think about the problem in new ways.

We’ll examine 3 limiting beliefs that are a very common part of many people’s worldview, and look for ways to choose perspectives that are more constructive and helpful.

When you feel like you’ve tried EVERYTHING, sometimes the missing piece is to change the way we think about the problem...and this episode can help you choose thoughts that serve you (and your students) better.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Sep 13, 2020

When teaching from a distance — either 6 feet away or remotely — it can feel challenging to get to know your students well.

"The top thing we can do with overwhelm is return to our strength, return to our knowledge, return to our experience. Every teacher in the world knows ways of connecting with students and humanizing a classroom. These things don't perfectly translate to a classroom with social distance or an online learning space...but they do transfer." -Dave Stuart, Jr.

Relationships aren’t EVERYTHING, but they ARE “one of the most valuable currencies” in the classroom, according to Dave Stuart Jr. Listen in as we talk about practical ways you can make sure your students feel known, valued, respected, and safe.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Sep 6, 2020

Sometimes what you’re able to give is not sufficient.

It’s frustrating when you know what you’re capable of under optimal circumstances, but also know you’re not working with optimal circumstances or anything close to it. So the only options are to try to single-handedly compensate for all the adverse circumstances and perform at a superhuman level every day, or adjust our expectations.

In this episode, I’ll share about choosing kinder, gentler self-talk, and showing ourselves grace so we can extend that grace to others.

I’ll also share a guiding question that I’ve been thinking about since March: Who do I want to be on the other side of this pandemic? What kind of person do I want this experience to be shaping me into?

This episode will help you let go of the “shoulds” and regrets about 2020, and celebrate the small wins instead of focusing on all the things we haven’t been able to do. There is a great peace that comes with focusing on who you are becoming instead of what you are able to do.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Aug 30, 2020

Breakout rooms are transforming how we do one-on-one conferencing and small group work.

There are so many things we CAN’T do right with kids, so in this episode, I’m exploring the new opportunities for differentiation which may not have been possible in pre-pandemic teaching.

You’ll hear from a diverse group of 5 teachers from around the world who each share a quick summary of how they differentiated this past spring, and how they’ll build on that experience this school year.

If you’re looking for manageable, sustainable ways to meet kids’ individual needs in remote or hybrid learning, you’ll find lots of creative structures here.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Aug 23, 2020

When the learning curve is overwhelming (especially with technology), these 5 guiding principles can help:

  1. Start with the outcome you want to achieve, and choose the best tool accordingly (rather than vice versa).
  2. Approach technology as a tool to support learning, not the focus of the learning itself.
  3. Use tech to enhance, not dominate, what you’re already doing.
  4. Use what you love and don’t abandon what works for the next shiny new thing.
  5. Be willing to learn through experimentation rather than a formal training.

Listen in on this encouraging, motivating episode that reminds you how to shift focus away from the overwhelming array of options and things you DON’T know how to do, and recenter on what you DO know.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Aug 16, 2020

Adapting a flexible, resilient pedagogy will allow us to roll with any changes that might come, and will carry us through to post-pandemic teaching, as well. The goal? To emerge from this school year with more equitable, sustainable, and relevant ways of teaching and learning.

So what exactly does flexible resilience pedagogy look like in practice?

I’ll share some tips to help you plan ONE set of activities for every lesson, and use them for face-to-face, online, and hybrid instruction.

I’ll also share 11 practical strategies to help you find a manageable, sustainable approach to planning instruction this year, no matter what changes might come in your teaching context.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Aug 9, 2020

In our rush to figure out logistics, we can’t forget that who we ARE impacts how we teach more than anything else. Unpacking our own identity and the “why” we bring to the classroom can be a grounding force that holds us steady through change.

Listen in as I have a laid-back yet energizing conversation with Tanesha Forman, a middle school teacher entering her 15th year in the classroom. She shares how her daily classroom work is a reflection of her own learning, identity, and growth, and how she uses that self-reflection to support students in being fully seen and known in her classroom.

Tanesha also shares how she’s planning for both curriculum and socio-emotional learning in the coming school year through a reflective, anti-bias/anti-racist lens. We talk about disrupting power structures, and Tanesha shares her “freedom dream” in which kids and teachers can fully be themselves in school. If you want to surround yourself right now with the inspiration of folks who are reimagining schools through their daily work, this episode is a must-listen.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Aug 2, 2020

Whether you’re with kids face-to-face daily or a few days a week or totally online, I think it’s fair to say that your lessons for back-to-school this year are not going to be what you wish they could be.

You probably won't be able to do what you did in previous school years. The sooner you can accept that, the easier it will be to plan because you won’t be spending so much energy shoehorning in activities that just aren’t going to work. The sooner you can accept that the start of this school year is not going to be optimal for you or your students, the easier it will be to see things in a really clear-headed way and find the best possible solutions.

In this epsiode, I'll share the WHY and HOW for keeping your lesson plans simple for the first couple of weeks. As you get more answers from your district about what's expected, you'll be able to do build in more activities and experiences for kids. But, you don't have to have it all figured out before the first day of school.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Jun 24, 2020

I’ve been thinking a lot about where I personally can add the most value, and how I can offer support and resources in the way I do best.

I’m going to share part of my manifesto here with you. These are my beliefs and goals that will shape the work I do around the changes coming this fall to our schools. You will see these perspectives interwoven into every resource from me this coming school year — emails, blog posts, podcast eps, social media posts, 40 Hour Workweek resources, and so on.

Specifically, I'll share:

  • The importance of time to rest and regroup before preparing lessons for the coming year
  • Why you shouldn't wait for your district to finalize plans before you speak up about your needs
  • How to seek out the overlap between what's best for teachers and what's best for kids
  • How radical acceptance can prepare you to create much-needed change in our schools
  • Ways a flexible, resilient pedagogy can simplify your workload and help you support students more effectively
  • Why I believe the work we're doing this school year will be some of the most important of our careers
  • 5 core beliefs that will guide the work I do this coming school year, and the ways I'll offer support

Click here for links to the transcript and all resources mentioned.

Join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

I'll be back with the first episode of season 12 of the podcast on August 2nd. 

Jun 4, 2020

 

If you've been feeling like you can't make a difference right now, listen in for how you can stand up for racial justice and create positive change.

I'll share why I am hopeful that uprising we're experiencing as a nation is leading us toward racial healing and equality, and what YOU can do to help.

You have the power to uncover and root out discriminatory practices in your classroom, school, and district.

There are actionable steps you can take starting today to do an informal "equity audit."

The goal is to name and interrupt patterns of bias + racism in the way we do school, and it's one of the most impactful choices you can make as an educator who wants to create a better world for our kids.

Click here for links to the transcript and all resources mentioned:

https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/truth-for-teachers-podcast/a-message-of-hope-call-to-action-for-justice/

 

May 10, 2020

We’re wrapping up Season 11 of the podcast in this episode, and talking about how to wrap up the school year, as well.

The usual end-of-year activities won’t quite fit the bill right now, so I’m sharing how other teachers are creating closure for the year, even when they can’t be face-to-face with their students.

I’ll also share a crisis classroom closeout process if you only have a few hours to shut down your room:

Season 12 of the podcast will begin in August, and I’ll check in periodically over the summer with bonus episodes and announcements to keep you in the loop.

Thank you for listening, sharing, subscribing, and reviewing the podcast!

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

May 3, 2020

Perfectionism is not always about needing things to be perfect. It can look like an “all-or-nothing” mentality that keeps us from creating the change we want.

My working theory is that everyone struggles with perfectionism, it simply manifests differently for different people. We all have our things that we are extremely particular about. Even folks who are super laid-back or happily disorganized or go-with-the-flow still have very defined preferences for certain aspects of their life.

I think it’s the root word “perfect” that throws people off. Very few people actually try to make everything to be absolutely perfect with no flaws at all times.

But, we do all sometimes have the belief that things have to be a certain way in order for us to be content or satisfied. Things have to match out personal standard in order to be acceptable — and that’s a sneaky form of perfectionism.

In this episode, I’m going to share 3 thought patterns that you may recognize, explain how they’re actually tied to perfectionism, and give you some strategies to shift your thinking.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Apr 26, 2020

How do we reimagine schools and use this interruption to our lives to create a better normal post-pandemic?

My guest in this episode is Dan Heath, a New York Times bestselling author of 5 books, the most recent being “Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen.” This book is a MUST read for anyone who’s curious about how to create systemic change or how to improve our daily lives through pro-active problem-solving.

Dan explains why we spend more time and resources fixing problems than preventing them. He gives concrete examples of people and organizations that have gone “upstream” to identify what’s creating havoc and fix things there, BEFORE the problems come to them downstream.

We have an unprecedented opportunity right now for change in many areas: healthcare, the economy, the environment, and so on. Every part of our lives and society have been touched, and will be changed ... and it’s up to us to envision a better “new normal.”

If you loved EP192 on reimagining schools and want more inspiration for how to move forward, I think you’ll find this episode fascinating.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Apr 19, 2020

Crisis distance learning has improved teaching and learning in some surprising (and not-so-surprising ways) over the last couple of weeks.

There’s no doubt that it’s been stressful trying to make the transition so abruptly, but I thought it might be helpful to do an episode on the positives some folks are seeing, too.

Whether you secretly prefer remote teaching or if you just wish you were back in your classroom again, this episode will help you focus on the potential benefits of teaching from home.

You’ll learn some emerging best practices and positive reports from teachers about their experiences with distance learning to help you make the best of this time.

You’ll also hear a call-to-action: observe and document which practices are getting good results (or perhaps better results than face-to-face instruction) for your students.

You don't have to figure out now how to carry this over to next school year, but having a record of what you're seeing to prove the benefits of now vs the traditional ways of doing school may be helpful to you later in creating permanent change.

If that feels overwhelming, then just pick one thing. What’s one thing you’re doing differently right now that’s working better for you and your students, which you might be able to use in future school years? Keep evidence of that. Experiment with it, a lot, to learn what works and what doesn’t. See where your observations take you in your practice.

Listen in now for some inspiration and ideas to get you started!

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Apr 12, 2020

Spending a LOT of time in a confined space with the same people day in and day out can exacerbate tension.

If you’re finding yourself increasingly agitated, impatient, and annoyed by the folks around you, this episode can help!

I’m talking with Kara Loewentheil, who has a B.A. from Yale and J.D. from Harvard Law, and works now as a Master Certified Coach. She's the host of the iTunes top-rated self-help podcast "Un-F Your Brain," which has been downloaded over 5 million times, and she has been featured in outlets like Marie Claire, Mind Body Green, MSN.com, and The Huffington Post.

I love to occasionally have folks with a perspective outside of our education bubble come on the show to give us a broader perspective.

We recorded this prior to the pandemic, so you won’t hear us address that, however, I decided to run the episode this week because I think our conversation is going to be more relevant now than ever.

As we’re stuck inside for weeks on end with other humans, the concept of not being annoyed by personality differences takes on a whole new meaning, right? I hope this episode will be helpful to you not only in your work but in your personal life, as well.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Apr 5, 2020

Work/life balance doesn't mean creating a total separation between teaching and everything else. It’s about integrating work with the rest of your priorities in a way that allows you to give appropriate time and energy to each.

Balance IS possible and worth striving for, even when teaching remotely from home for the first time.

If you feel like you're tied to the computer 24/7 and working more now than ever before, these 11 reminders and practical tips can help.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Mar 29, 2020

During distance learning, look for small, simple ways you can center kids’ physical and mental well-being, which will, in turn, be energizing and uplifting for you, as well.

I’ve collected 12 types of ideas from members of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club to give you some insight into how other K-12 teachers from around the world are facing the challenges of teaching remotely. Read the whole list here.

Regardless of how much (or how little) contact with your students you’re able to have, and how much (or how little) academic instruction is happening, these ideas can help you prioritize relationships with your students and stay connected.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Mar 22, 2020

A sudden switch to teaching remotely is so difficult to manage. But what if it allows us to let go of all our previous assumptions about what we “have” to do with kids?

If schools can simplify the curriculum, cancel standardized testing, and put kids’ socio-emotional wellness first right now ... why can’t we do that all the time?

In this episode, I’m offering encouragement to help you let go of the pressure to do remote learning the “right” way. There is no right way because what we’re trying right now has never been done before on such a large scale.

If you’ve been feeling anxious about how to make everything work, listen in for some reassurance and clarity. This might just be the beginning of a profound and deeply-needed transformation of the expectations placed on teachers and students.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Mar 18, 2020

With all the COVID-19 upheaval in our world right now, I wanted to do a special check-in with you. We are all struggling with the uncertainty, but this episode shares 5 things I know for sure. I've added calming background music, so this is ideal to listen to when you're anxious and having trouble focusing on getting anything done. I hope it's reassuring. Be safe and well! 

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Mar 15, 2020

“You can break motivation barriers for disengaged students by recognizing that motivation is an investment decision. Students have time, attention, and effort, and they are making a decision every single day about whether they want to invest those things in our classrooms or in something else. Making your classroom worth investing in is about creating a space where students’ time, energy, and effort will be rewarded.” --Dr. Robyn Jackson

Join us as Robyn and I do a deep dive into her quote above. We’re tackling whether there is such thing as a kid who doesn’t want to learn, and then working through the 4 causes of student disengagement (instructional, institutional, interpersonal, and internal.) Robyn explains in-depth how teachers can identify and address each cause in practical, relatable ways.

We camp out for quite a while on the topic of interpersonal barriers, because there’s a powerful approach there which can be used to re-engage a reluctant learner. Robyn explains how to uncover students' primary will driver: purpose, mastery, autonomy, and belonging/connection. We discuss what each one means, and how you can incorporate these needs into your daily lessons in a way that reaches all your kids.

Feeding kids’ dominant will drivers is surprisingly simple once you understand the basic principle: in fact, just changing the wording you use when giving directions to kids can address the variety of will drivers in your classroom and increase the likelihood of engagement, and Robyn shares specific examples.

Motivation is a complex issue, and Robyn provides lots of concrete tools to solve the root problems permanently. This is not about quick tips and hacks: I promise if you can invest an hour of your time into learning the principles from this episode, it will forever change your teaching — Robyn’s work is just that powerful.

Don’t muddle through the rest of the year trying to use band-aid solutions with disengaged kids: it’s not too late for a breakthrough, and these simple, powerful principles can make a huge difference quickly.

Resources referenced in this episode:
Robyn’s previous Truth for Teachers interview on rude, disrespectful student attitudes
Robyn’s book, How to Motivate Reluctant Learners
Episode 5 of Robyn’s article and episode of School Leadership Reimagined (her podcast) called The most powerful way to motivate anybody.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our new podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Mar 8, 2020

Lunch can be a surprisingly big stressor for teachers: figuring out what to pack, being scheduled for a 10:30 am lunch slot when you’re never quite hungry, having to scarf down a whole meal in 15 minutes or less, or not getting a break for lunch at all.

So, by popular request, this episode is all about ways to simplify and streamline. Some of the main strategies we’ll explore include:

  • Make convenient containers easily accessible
  • Keep a variety of snack choices to mix and match for lunch
  • Make green smoothies or protein shakes
  • Prep veggies as soon as you bring them home
  • Batch your lunch prep
  • Make (almost) every dinner give you two days’ worth of lunches
  • Create a set of go-to meals for dinner to be used as leftovers
  • Eat the same lunch daily or eliminate it altogether
  • Try to reduce the additional lunch prep you handle for family members 

Learn how to invest a bit of time in creating a simple plan, so that figuring out a healthy lunch is one less decision you have to make each day.

WARNING: This episode could be triggering for those with a history of eating disorders or other unhealthy relationships with food. I don’t discuss weight loss or restricting your nutritional intake, and this is a body-neutral episode, but the topic could bring up some issues around your relationship with food, particularly near the end when I’m talking about intermittent fasting and simplifying how many food choices you have for the purpose of making meal prep easier and faster. Please be kind to yourself as you’re listening, and focus on just the ideas that resonate with you and your body.

Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our new podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

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