Info

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.
RSS Feed
Angela Watson's Truth for Teachers
2021
June
May
April
March
February
January


2020
October
September
August
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
November
October
September
August
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
May
April
March
February


2016
December
November
October
September
August
May
April
March
February
January


2015
November
October
September
August
June
May
April
March
February
January


2014
December


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: March, 2021
Mar 31, 2021

Has your workload created a huge strain on your family, friendships, and/or marriage/partnership?
 
Being a teacher often means making an impossible choice: when you’re focused on your loved ones, you feel like you’re neglecting your students. When you’re focused on your students, you feel like you’re neglecting your loved ones. Trying to add on your own wellbeing and self-care just compounds the guilt.
 
My encouragement to you today is to think about the relationships you have that enhance your confidence, wellbeing, and energy levels. Who are the people whose presence is caring and life-giving to you? How can you choose to prioritize interactions with those folks?
 
You might strengthen those relationships through a quick daily text message, or a deeper conversation on the phone while you’re cleaning or exercising. You might be having a cup of coffee together every other week, or carve out some time each Friday night to be together.
 
This isn’t just about how good it feels to be connected with folks you love. That’s super important for lots of mental health reasons, especially right now when so many of our relationships are strained by the pandemic.
 
This is about investing your time and energy into something meaningful and lasting that is NOT tied to your profession.
 
It’s so easy to get caught up in the urgency of our work in schools: the kids need so much, and we’re running out of time this year to do All The Things. 
 
We can often spend the whole weekend worrying about this student’s reading level and that one’s standard mastery and what’s happening at home for another one. 
 
All of these things matter. Your students matter. Your work matters.
 
But sometimes it helps to remember that teaching is a career, and your career is just one part of your life. 
 
Being a teacher is not your entire identity, and it’s crucial that you never let it become that.
 
In a few more week’s time, these children who fill your every waking thought will no longer be your responsibility. In most cases, you will no longer have any influence over their lives. You will be releasing them to the work of other educators down the line. 
 
There’s a tremendous sense of peace that can come with this perspective. It can help you remember that your job is to support students, not save them. You are one adult figure out of many they have had and will have in their lives. 
 
In other words, you will be replaced by another teacher for your students next year, and your students will be replaced by other kids. 
 
But you have deep connections with other people in your life (family, partner, friends) that you hope to grow even closer to next year. 
 
Those relationships deserve nurturing, and they require it if you’re going to sustain your work as a teacher. 
 
Students will pass in your doors and back out again, over and over for years to come. Who are the people you want by your side during that process?
 
I was talking about this with a 40 Hour Teacher Workweek member named Christie, whose marriage was really suffering due to the amount of herself she gave to students. She wrote,
 
“What changed for me was the day after Spring Break. I went back to school and realized that as much as I love them, those students would be out of my class in 10 weeks, and in reality, most won’t give me more than a passing thought for their entire lives. 
 
My husband will be with me every night for the foreseeable future. Do I want a happy marriage for the rest of my days, or do I want to continue putting all my time, effort and energy into teaching?
 
As much as I love teaching, I realized that having a happy spouse allowed me to teach. I couldn’t afford to teach financially or emotionally without his support. So I realized that I needed to put more time, energy, effort, and thought into our relationship. Like you say in your materials, Angela, you don’t always get your priorities right, but you can keep starting over and recommit to doing fewer things, better.”
 
Prioritizing relationships apart from school will look different for each person, of course — this is simply Christie’s story.
 
The question is, who matters to YOU?
 
Whose love and support sustains you in your work?
 
Who do you want to prioritize in your life?
 
Reach out to that person. Tell them you miss talking with them, and suggest a time when you can spend time together (even if it’s a really short block of time or done virtually).
 
Don’t make relationships “one more thing” you have to squeeze into your schedule. Don’t tell yourself you’ll have more time in the summer. Just figure out the easiest step you can take that to nurture your connection, and do that. A small step in the right direction will get you on the path.
 
Simply notice when you’re tempted to put school work before your relationships, and experiment with a different choice. Pay attention to those moments when you’re tempted to check school email for the 300th time in the evening, or spending way more time than necessary on a lesson plan. 
 
Ask yourself, “Who could I be spending time with if I weren’t doing THIS?” Weigh the trade-off carefully rather than always defaulting to school work first.
 
See how this goes over the next few weeks, and watch out for self-inflicted guilt trips. There’s no bad or wrong choices here. Choosing now to reprioritize a relationship that’s been on the backburner is not somehow an admission that your priorities were wrong before. This is much more nuanced than a good/bad binary will permit.
 
You’re simply experimenting with your time, and looking for easy ways to enjoy being with the PEOPLE you love, so those relationships can sustain the WORK you love.

Sign up for the Power Through series emails on this page here.

Mar 28, 2021

How can we make SEL more than a buzzword? School psychologist Dr. Byron McClure is here to go beyond what’s trendy, and give an honest overview of the mental health and socio-emotional support students really need from us right now.

Byron shares 3 specific practices you can do with kids to address their social-emotional needs on a daily basis in your classroom. You’re probably familiar with restorative conversations, daily check-ins, and morning meetings ... but Byron frames them in a larger context that taps into the real power behind the practices.

Listen as Byron shares some of the history of SEL and what elements have been intentionally obscured and overlooked. We’ll examine how to keep SEL from being “touchy-feely fluff that doesn’t prepare kids for the real world.”

The key is to be action-oriented, and ground the work in culturally affirming practices, justice, and equity. We can help students understand ways that privilege is showing up, and ways they might be able to dismantle systems for themselves or others.

You’ll learn how to use a strength-based approach to building relationships within a sense of community. As Byron says, we can “shift from what's wrong to what's strong with students."

We’ll also talk at the end about how schools can address teachers’ socio-emotional needs, as well.

Byron’s energy is contagious, so if you’re ready to get fired up, listen in!

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 24, 2021

I know what many (most?) of you are being asked to do right now is NOT reasonable or sustainable.
 
And because you could never have enough time and energy to do everything that kids need right now, the solution could never be for you to just work harder.

We are still in a pandemic. This is not a “normal” school year. Regardless of how much districts want to pretend we can hold to the exact same expectations as last year, we cannot.

Of course you’re distracted and panicky and overwhelmed and unfocused at times. Of course your students are the same way. 

We can’t be expected to accomplish what we normally accomplish because our world is not functioning as it normally does.

Rather than trying to keep our frantic pace and be productive like nothing has changed…

What if we allow ourselves space to explore different approaches, and give ourselves permission to have adjustment periods for continually changing routines?

What if we choose time for disconnecting from the outside world, and prioritize reconnecting with ourselves?

What if we stop pushing ourselves and our kids 24/7 to keep trying to accomplish more, and instead have some time to just be together for a while? 

What if we stop worrying about getting ahead for a moment, and read and play games and cook and take naps and go for walks and have conversations and just … be?

We need physical rest. We need mental rest. We need emotional rest. 

None of this is easy in a culture that determines our worth by how hard we work, how much we produce, and how much money we earn. We’ve been conditioned to feel guilty for taking a break or “doing nothing” or “wasting time.” 

But 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 wellbeing rather than accomplishment.

Your worth is inherent to your being; it is not tied to how much you get done. 

You have the right to simply exist and not perform, create, produce, or serve others every single moment in order to feel of value.

Pushing yourself to work more when your body's calling for rest will not help you get ahead.

So, resist the pressure to perform at optimal levels when we are not working in optimal conditions. 

You deserve grace and compassion. Give those things to yourself when no one is giving it to you

Remember that rest is necessary for your survival. It’s not something you “earn” after you’ve checked off everything on your (never ending) to-do list. You do not need to apologize for needing to rest.

Will you close the laptop after 7 pm every night? 

Refuse to think or worry about school on Saturdays?

Schedule a block of time into your calendar this week in which you do something that is rejuvenating and reenergizing? 

Don’t overthink it: just pick an approach that sounds easy and manageable right now, and DO IT. Any time for rest is better than none.

A huge block of free time is not going to magically appear, and the weight of unfinished work is not going to lift on it’s own. No one is going to create boundaries for you. 
 
So, don’t wait for someone else to offer you the opportunity to take a break. 
 
Claim your right to rest.

Sign up for the Power Through series emails on this page here.

Mar 21, 2021

“Better listeners are better learners,” says my guest Monica Brady-Myerov. She’s the Founder and CEO of Listenwise, an award-winning listening skills platform and the sponsor for this episode. Monica explains that audio is a powerful tool for equity and differentiation, because most kids have a much higher listening comprehension level than reading comprehension.

You can bring authentic stories and primary sources to your students via audio, helping to build empathy and personalize information that might be difficult to connect with through just words on a page.

Not only are podcasts a great way to build students’ content-area knowledge, but audio instruction also helps strengthen their listening comprehension skills.

Monica shares examples of how teachers are incorporating podcasts into their instruction. She also explains the features of Listenwise which make it faster and easier for teachers to find high-quality audio content to use with students. There’s a free version of Listenwise available, and you can sign up for a free 30 day trial of the premium version here.

We also delve a bit into some of the brain research that tells us how we process audio information and the benefits of it. By the end of the convo, my mind was racing with possibilities and ideas of how the things Monica taught me could be used with students, and I hope you’ll feel the same. If you love podcasts yourself and are curious about how to use them more with students, you’ll find some great practical strategies and tools 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.

Mar 17, 2021

Need something to look forward to in the final weeks of school? This new Wednesday morning podcast series will provide 5 minutes of audio encouragement and sound therapy instruments. It's designed for you to listen mid-week to get re-energized.

If you'd also like a written version/transcript, sign up for the 6-week email series of free bonus teaching support + encouragement here.

In my experience as a teacher, this time of the school year always felt uniquely challenging. It’s like the finish line is in sight, but not close enough to feel motivating yet. Student engagement drops off drastically, and it’s right at the point where you’re panicking that there’s still a ton of content you didn’t teach yet and you need your students to ramp UP, not DOWN.

I can only imagine how that feeling is magnified for the 2020-2021 school year. 

My intuition is telling me that for educators, the next few weeks are going to be about powering through and making the very best of a difficult situation until the school year is complete.

And to do that, I thought it might help to have a realistic + regular pep talk from someone who’s rooting for you.

That’s where this series comes into play. 

For each of the next 6 Wednesday mornings, I'm going to release a mini episode of encouragement to help you power through the end of the school year. They’re going to be super short: around 5 minutes each, and will be perfect to listen to just before class starts for a bit of encouragement and practical mindset shifts.

I’ll also be incorporating some sound therapy instruments periodically in the episodes: you’ll hear short segments of the words accompanied by me playing the koshi chimes, a few different kalimbas, and a hang drum. 

As I started producing this series, I realized that each week’s focus was centering on a word that starts with “r”, so I decided to go with that: Rest. Reconnecting in relationships. Resilience. Reframing. Reflecting. Release of regrets.

I’m calling this series “Power Through”, because I think that’s probably the most realistic approach for most folks. Powering through means “to continue in a strong and determined way until the end of something, even when it’s difficult.” 

That’s the task ahead of us in the next few weeks, and I hope this mid-week encouragement will give you a boost of energy and help equip you for whatever challenges come your way.

Now I know that your time alone for listening to podcasts can be limited right now, and I know you probably have teacher friends who would benefit from this, but they’re just not into podcasts, or maybe they are hearing impaired.

I’m also offering this Power Through series in written form, and it can show in your inbox each Wednesday morning if you’d like. Just click the link in the show notes to enter your email address, and you’ll automatically receive a message of support each Wednesday morning for the next 6 weeks. 

Your first “Power Through” message will come right to your inbox immediately so you’ll know you’re signed up and can get some helpful advice and resources right away. That email includes links to ways you can cultivate engagement in remote/hybrid learning, reduce grading and simplify assessment for digital assignments, teach students time management skills for online learning, and more. 

Sometimes just a small shift in the way you approach your workload can help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed. See if you can choose just one idea to try out — whatever seems easiest at the moment.

And of course, you can unsubscribe from anything, anytime, using the link provided at the bottom of every email.

So that’s what you get if you also sign up for the email version of the Power Through series. But know that the weekly 5 minute audio encouragement is not about giving you more things to do or learn. I’m just offering a few short, kind words each week to help clear away overwhelm and shift your perspective so you feel more energized.

This series will carry you through the spring here in the northern hemisphere, ending at the beginning of May. At that point, you can work back through the series a second time if you’d like, or revisit messages that particularly spoke to you that can help with the final weeks of school. I just didn’t want to wait to release these messages too close to the end of the year, when I know folks need them now. 

So, the first Power Through episode will release next Wednesday--click the link in the show notes to get it + the bonus tips/resources sent to you via email. 

I hope these resources help you feel like we can continue together in a strong and determined way until the end. Remember that everything happening right now is temporary. Teaching will not be exactly like this forever. And, you’re not alone … we’re going to power through this together. 

Sign up for the 6-week email series of free bonus teaching support + encouragement here

Mar 14, 2021

“I've never worked so hard in my life to try to reach students, and yet never felt like such a big failure. That carries a lot of emotional weight. But when we are dismissed to ‘just figure it out’, we're not actually given credit for all of the incredible work that has happened.”

Those are the words of my guest Pernille Ripp, a 7th grade ELA teacher, author, blogger, keynote speaker, and passionate advocate for education.

We are here to hold space for you to process the heaviness of the past year. Pernille illuminates some of the common emotions that come from teaching in a pandemic under the weight of so many expectations, and talks about the impact on her own mental health.

We’re offering this conversation to you not as advice and how-to tips, but as a release valve for the pressure that so many educators are feeling. We’re dismantling the narrative that kids have “lost a year of schooling” and are “falling behind,” and examining how teachers have been the easy scapegoats for the systemic problems COVID has exacerbated.

Pernille talks about the challenges of teaching while also supporting her own 4 children in their learning. And, she shares how she creates moments of joy and things to look forward to for herself, her family, and her students.

“I don't know what the future is going to hold, so I'm not going to prepare for it,” Pernille says. “But I'm going to focus on the things that will continue to sustain me as an educator and as a human being. I'm going to try to be in the best mental state that I can to welcome all of the kids in and to say, ‘Whatever happens, we're going to meet it together, and I'm going to be by your side, no matter what that looks like’.”

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 7, 2021

Want to develop your students into digital detectives? Join me as I talk with Jennifer LaGarde and Darren Hudgins, who are co-authors of the book Fact vs. Fiction: Teaching Critical Thinking In the Age of Fake News, and also a new book coming out in July 2021 called Developing Digital Detectives.

This is the second episode in our 2 part series about media literacy. Episode 216 with Peter Adams of the News Literacy Project shares how educators can be informed media consumers and advocates for truth. This is an important first step, because we can’t teach skills to students if we don’t have those skills ourselves.

In this episode, we’re doing a deeper exploration into how to support students in information literacy. Jennifer, Darren, and I will talk a bit about big picture issues, like making time for instruction on digital literacy, and how to teach kids to think critically about conspiracy theories when those conspiracy theories are widely believed among the community you teach in.

But we’ll spend the vast majority of our time talking about specific, practical things you can do with your students right now to help them be smart media consumers:

  1. Teach thematically and help kids make connections between topics/subjects
  2. Use mobile devices — not just computers — when having kids analyze information
  3. Create learning environments that value questioning, not just finding the right answer
  4. Guide students to understand their brains and examine bias/assumptions
  5. Move from a checklist approach to an investigative approach for fact-checking
  6. Teach kids to be specific about the falsehood rather than claiming "fake news"
  7. Illuminate the people behind the information that's shared
  8. Help kids analyze information not only in long-form articles, but also in the mediums they frequently consume, such as video, memes, and social media images
  9. Teach kids HOW to think, not WHAT to think
  10. Remember that information literacy is a human problem, and even small steps to tackle it are worthwhile

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.

1