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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: 2021
Nov 21, 2021

What might be possible if you use some of your days off this December to take a true rest from not only DOING school work, but THINKING about school?

This episode is an invitation to join me in taking a sabbatical from everything school-related during some portion of your winter holiday break.

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.

Leave a review for the Truth for Teachers podcast here:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers/id954139712?mt=2
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.podcasts
Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/show/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1KICZW01ohDN9jlkclrQew

Nov 14, 2021

Although each day holds the same 24 hours, there is something that we have come to accept as being innately different between "5:00pm on a Friday" compared to "5:00pm on a Wednesday.”

Not only is it untrue that the weekend is the only time to exhale after the impact of the workweek, but this also skirts around an important truth: The way that we choose to spend a weeknight has a more immediate impact on our ability to renew ourselves the next day than a weekend sprint of self-care.

In this episode, my guest (middle school teacher Marissa Minnick) shares how thinking about your tasks as belonging to a sort of task triangle can help. The task triangle includes space for activities that attend to your immediate self, your future self, and your sense of self. Marissa’s found that her productivity and energy soar the next workday when she’s taken time to invest in that third portion of the task triangle.

Listen in as Marissa shares 4 tips for balancing the task triangle and using your weeknights to dedicate time for things that help you feel re-energized.

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.

Leave a review for the Truth for Teachers podcast here:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers/id954139712?mt=2
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.podcasts
Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/show/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1KICZW01ohDN9jlkclrQew

Nov 7, 2021

If you’re among the educators who find 2021-2022 is shaping up to be even more challenging than last school year, this episode is for you.

I want to validate your experiences and challenges, and point you to a path forward even when it feels like you’re powerless to make things better. There ARE positive developments happening, and it’s due in large part to educators speaking up and speaking out about what they need, and setting limits on what they will and won't do. When enough educators resist, the momentum shifts, and we create systemic change.

I have no easy answers or magic bullet solutions. But I know that you’re not alone in what you’re facing, and that means you don’t have to work through it alone.

Be encouraged. Be courageous.

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.

Leave a review for the Truth for Teachers podcast here:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers/id954139712?mt=2
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.podcasts
Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/show/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1KICZW01ohDN9jlkclrQew

Oct 31, 2021

ELs don’t earn differently from native-English speakers, but they do have specific needs that are often misunderstood.

Today I’m sharing 6 myths about English Language Learners I wish I’d debunked sooner. These are beliefs and assumptions I held at the beginning of my teaching career, and unlearned them slowly over time.

I think you’ll find that they’re super common myths, and in fact my guest today has also worked through many of them, and encounters them frequently among her fellow educators. Houa Yang-Xiong is currently an elementary ESOL (English Speaker of Other Languages) teacher working with students in grades 3-5 of various backgrounds, native languages, and English-proficiency levels.

Houa is a writer for the Truth for Teachers collective, and will be sharing articles regularly to help both ESL teachers and gen ed teacher who have ELLs in their classroom. I’m so grateful to have her expertise, particularly as she is an Asian-American, specifically, Hmong-American, and a bilingual speaker herself, so she has a unique window into what her students experience which she’ll share 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.

Leave a review for the Truth for Teachers podcast here:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers/id954139712?mt=2
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.podcasts
Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/show/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1KICZW01ohDN9jlkclrQew

Oct 24, 2021

There are 5 overarching principles that can help you streamline and simplify your workload so that you feel less overwhelmed.

I call these principles “The Big 5 Tips for Teacher Productivity”, and I’ve woven them all throughout the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program (both the Full Year version that kicks off each summer as well as the self-paced Fast Track version, which you can begin any time).

I’ve invited Amy Stohs, a member of the 40 Hour team, to share what the “Big 5” looks like in her daily teaching practice, and I love her unique spin on these time-tested ideas:

  1. Eliminate unintentional breaks
  2. Figure out the main thing and do it first
  3. Work ahead by batching and avoid multi-tasking unless the work is mindless.
  4. Relax any of your standards that create unnecessary work to a level that no one else will notice but you.
  5. Use scheduling to create boundaries around your time.

Amy shares specific, actionable steps she’s taken for each of these principles to help her regain control of her time and get more done with less effort.

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.

Leave a review for the Truth for Teachers podcast here:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers/id954139712?mt=2
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.podcasts
Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/show/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1KICZW01ohDN9jlkclrQew

Oct 17, 2021

If your cultural, racial, or socio-economic background is different from that of your students, there can be a learning curve as you build rapport.

In today’s episode, I’m talking with Sara Singer, a high school special education teacher on Chicago’s South Side. Sara loves to co-teach and support students with disabilities in the general education classroom. She is also passionate about equity and creating rigorous, student-centered curricula.

Sara is a writer for the Truth for Teachers collective, and her first article is tackling a pretty tricky subject: what happens when you are of a different race, ethnicity, or cultural background than your students. Sara is white — specifically, Jewish in her heritage —and her student population is almost 100% Black.

She shares 5 core understandings she’s developed in building her cultural competency over the years. I think you’ll find that this conversation is empowering and helpful to anyone working in a diverse community or with families whose identities and lived experiences are different from your own.

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.

Leave a review for the Truth for Teachers podcast here:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers/id954139712?mt=2
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.podcasts
Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/show/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1KICZW01ohDN9jlkclrQew

Oct 10, 2021

This episode is going to be a game changer! I'm talking with Megan Faherty, a long-time user of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program who's currently in her 17th year of teaching. Megan shares tons of practical strategies and a whole new approach to thinking about how you grade that has helped her reclaim her nights and weekends:

  • Shift 1: If you don’t have time to grade it, students don’t have time to learn from it.
  • Shift 2: Put grading on your to-do list when you assign it.
  • Shift 3: Grade the way that works.
  • Shift 4: Reduce guilt by being honest about your grading timeline.
  • Shift 5: Plan backwards from a goal.
  • Shift 6: Do the worst thing first.
  • Shift 7: Reduce dithering about points and decision fatigue

Check out Megan’s guest post as part of our Truth for Teachers collective here, then listen to the episode as I do a deeper dive with Megan and share my own tips and tricks, 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.

Leave a review for the Truth for Teachers podcast here:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers/id954139712?mt=2
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.podcasts
Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/show/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1KICZW01ohDN9jlkclrQew

Oct 3, 2021

If you’re feeling jaded or frustrated with how little systemic change you believe you can make as a teacher, this episode is for you!

I’m talking with educator Jay Benedith, who noticed unhelpful patterns in her own thinking and is here to share how she’s unpacked them. Together, we’ll explore how to examine your beliefs and assumptions that prevent you from cultivating and exercising full equity leadership.

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.

Leave a review for the Truth for Teachers podcast here:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers/id954139712?mt=2
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.podcasts
Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/show/angela-watsons-truth-for-teachers
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1KICZW01ohDN9jlkclrQew

Sep 26, 2021

Differentiating learning for every student in your classroom can be incredibly exhausting and time-consuming. So, I've invited Dr. Laura Fitzpatrick on the show to talk about some streamlining tips.

Laura has been a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher for the past 8 years. She earned an M.A. in Special Education and Ed.D. in Inquiry-Based Learning, where her research primarily centered on teacher burnout.

Laura is also a writer for the Truth for Teachers collective, and she wrote an article about 6 high-impact, low-burnout strategies to differentiate for neurodivergent kids.

To put it more simply: Laura’s sharing 6 ways to differentiate without drowning. 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.

Sep 19, 2021

We’re losing some of our best educators (particularly educators of color) due to pushback from community members who say teachers are brainwashing and indoctrinating kids.

So what should you do if a parent or caregiver of a student believes you are teaching kids to hate themselves, hate each other, or hate America?

I’m offering 7 practical tips to open the door for honest, transparent conversations with families about what is and isn’t happening in your classroom.

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 12, 2021

Inefficient, unproductive meetings can drain so much energy. If you find that meetings to discuss student progress always turn into complaining and defeatist rants...here's help.

You can make necessary meetings less painful and perhaps even valuable.

Fellow teacher Mellissa Forbes has some really practical tips and mindset shifts to help you. We’ll talk about what to do before data meetings, during, and after to ensure they’re a better use of your 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.

Sep 5, 2021

If you and your students are already losing motivation this year, here’s how to inject focused energy, student agency, and joy back into your classroom.

Learn how to bring the benefits of play into your classroom and why students need playfulness now more than ever, including at the middle and high school level.

Using this brain-based, research-backed approach explained by teacher Laura Gellin, you’ll be able to leverage aspects of play to design learning experiences that will engage, empower, and enliven your students.

You can read or share Laura's guest post on Truth for Teachers about this topic here: https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/truth-for-teachers-podcast/5-ways-to-prevent-burnout-by-bringing-more-playfulness-to-your-classroom-even-if-you-teach-middle-or-high-school

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

Aug 29, 2021

Have you ever wanted to coach yourself, use peer coaching, or better utilize an instructional coach assigned to your school?

In this episode, I’m talking with Nicole Turner, an instructional coach, author, and the Creative Director at Simply Coaching + Teaching, LLC. We’re talking about the mindset shifts needed to set your own goals, and choosing areas you care about improving in your teaching (rather than simply working on whatever you’re told to improve on).

And, if you're an instructional coach yourself, go to https://join.40htw.com/coaches to learn more abou the new 40 Hour Instructional Coaching program that Nicole and I just released together this summer. It's designed to help you streamline your tasks so you'e not working endlessly on nights and weekends.

Nicole shares how you can identify your own professional goals related to topics that matter to you, then use self-coaching, peer coaching with a trusted colleague, or an instructional coach to help you meet those goals. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try in your classroom, or something that’s not working well and you want support, this episode will offer some strategies to help you to be more “coachable: and get the input you need.

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 22, 2021

Some families want detailed updates on EVERYTHING...and others only want to be contacted for the most important stuff. How can you meet individual family needs WITHOUT burning yourself out?

Listen in on my conversation with Erika Walther, a teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools. She shares how she’s learned to differentiate communication for students’ families and find ways to build relationships with them while still maintaining healthy boundaries for yourself.

We reflect a lot on the specific challenges ahead for families and we enter what is now the third school year that’s been impacted by COVID, beginning with a conversation about supporting parents in managing the abundance of new information, policies, and communication they receive from the school.

You can read or share Erika’s guest post on Truth for Teachers about this topic here. Or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.

Aug 15, 2021

If you’ve assumed class meetings wouldn’t work for your grade level or you don’t have time, this conversation with teacher Jennifer Brinkmeyer will be absolutely transformative!

How we start the school year communicates who we believe students are and how we expect students will act. You can co-construct community and rules with students through a weekly ritual dedicated to connecting with one another, anticipating the group’s ongoing needs, and solving problems.

This pro-active approach was foundational to creating a sense of community in my own PreK, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade classrooms, and in Jennifer’s 7th-12th grade classrooms. Listen in as we share our experiences and best practices which are rooted in equity, inclusion, and mutual respect.

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 8, 2021

I'm back, and kicking off Season 14 of the podcast! Listen in for a quick personal update about my summer, what new changes are coming to the website and podcast, and get a sneak peek at some upcoming podcast episode topics.

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 26, 2021

This special bonus episode explores how we can find a more sustainable way to teach in coming school year.

Because while it’s natural to hope for “getting back to normal” after so many constantly-shifting expectations ... we know that “normal” wasn't really working for all teachers or kids.

What would it mean to truly reimagine education--not just talk about it--and create a way of teaching and learning that is BETTER than normal?

Let's counter the "lost year of learning" narrative and find a more strengths-based, empowering perspective on the challenges ahead.

In this episode, we're talking about how to focus on what's most impactful with students and streamline the rest. You'll walk away with new clarity about priorities, which will give you confidence in your teaching practice and empower you to set boundaries for better work/life balance.

Want to attend the live event on July 11th where you can chat with other educators on YouTube Live about this topic? Sign up here!

If you want to learn more about the programs I mentioned at the end, click the links below:

Jun 15, 2021

Systemic problems need systemic solutions. Here's what's new to support your school in creating better work/life balance.

Click here to skim the transcript instead of listening

Click to learn more about:

 

May 16, 2021

LAST EPISODE OF SEASON 13!

Education is in a time of transition. We’re not quite to the point of post-pandemic teaching, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Moving forward, there’s going to be a lot of talk about what expectations to keep and what to let go of, and it’s critical to reflect:

  • What parts of pre-pandemic teaching do we want to return to?
  • What parts of remote and hybrid learning are here to stay?
  • What do we want the future of education to look like?

The summer plan I’m suggesting in this episode to help you regroup includes 3 elements:

  1. A mental vacation (taking a break from thinking about work)
  2. Reflecting on what you learned about yourself and your teaching
  3. Daydreaming and reimagining the future 

We all need a time of recovery and preparation between school years. And this summer, it's going to be more essential and than ever before to process how the past year has shaped our identities…not only as educators, but as humans.

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.

Learn more about the 40 Hour Workweek, 40 Hour Leadership for administrators, and 40 Hour Instructional Coaches.

May 9, 2021

There’s a big focus now on the teacher attrition and shortage crisis. So what does that mean for the teachers that stay? How can schools keep their best teachers and attract more folks to the profession?

I believe there are leadership principles that any administrator can internalize and apply to immediately help their faculty feel better supported and create more manageable expectations.

I’m going to share some of these solutions in today’s episode, through the lens of what teachers have told me they wish their administrators understood:

  1. Teachers are craving autonomy and respect for their professional judgment.
  2. Teachers need uninterrupted planning time in order to be at their best for students.
  3. Teachers need administrators to have their backs, and support them when their professionalism is undermined.
  4. Teachers need school leaders to provide the necessary support and resources for students to be successful, OR adjust expectations to align with reality.
  5. An organized, efficient school leadership team with clear priorities has a tremendous positive impact on the entire school.

When you believe that it’s possible — and desirable — for educators to do a great job for kids AND center their own work/life balance, that belief will color how you perceive your school’s operations. You will naturally filter all information and decision-making through that perception, and make decisions based on sustainable practices rather than urgent stop-gap measures. 

If you’d like to see systemic changes in the way your school operates, I’ll be releasing the new 40 Hour Leadership program for principals, APs, and other school leaders this summer. Click here to learn more: https://join.40htw.com/leadership

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 2, 2021

What made teaching easier and more sustainable this school year, and how can we carry those principles over into next year?

Those are the questions I'm exploring in this podcast episode with my guest, Amy Stohs. She is currently a 2nd grade teacher in Northern Virginia, and was named Teacher of the Year in 2019 while she was teaching 6th grade.

Amy’s experience is unique in that she has now taught both elementary AND middle school in a pandemic, so she’s experienced the challenges of working with both younger and older students in face-to-face and hybrid learning.

Her experience is also unique in that she’s been an active participant in my 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program for the last few years, and I’ve been really impressed by the ideas and resources she shares in that community.

So at the start of this school year, I reached out to Amy and asked her to join the 40 Hour team, and help create the adaptations for the program for remote and hybrid learning. If you’re part of 40 Hour or the 40 Hour Grad Program and you’ve loved the remote/hybrid bonuses, you’re about to hear directly from the teacher who brainstormed them with me.

Amy’s going to share 7 principles that helped simplify her teaching and make her work more sustainable:

  • Do what HAS to get done, not what you WANT to get done.
  • Backward design your classroom management: figure out the goal, then decide what action steps will get you there.
  • Go slow to go fast.
  • Instead of always doing your best, ask “What do I have to give today?”
  • When you’ve tried it all, try one thing.
  • Shift focus from finding something new and different to doubling down on what we know kids need.
  • Look for moments of joy and find the fun.

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 28, 2021

This was the most challenging school year of almost every educator’s career.  We’re used to certain aspects of the work getting easier over time, but there were so many new challenges in 2020-2021 that even the most experienced teachers often felt like it was their first year all over again. 
 
You had lots of personal and professional growth, of course … but somehow you’re feeling less confident in your abilities now than ever before. It’s a very weird dichotomy, to feel like you worked so hard and learned so many new things, yet there’s no sense of a commensurate payoff.
 
So what does it look like to wrap up a year feeling like this? How do you get a sense of real closure?
 
I think it’s important to acknowledge that we’re all experiencing various levels of collective grief right now. There’s a sense of loss for what we’ve missed out on: “regular” school, being close to family and friends, traveling, vacations, and our normal way of life. Some are also grieving deeper losses for any number of reasons, and not being able to process those losses in our normal ways is also painful.
 
The thing about grief is that we each experience it differently. And, there are many different phases and types of grief which people might cycle through. 
 
Some days, I’m content. I’ve made peace with the limitations I have in my life right now and the things I love that are unavailable to me currently. I feel content and able to embrace my new routines for as long as I need to.
 
Other days, I’m simply resigned to these new routines. I’m restless and frustrated. Sometimes I’m deeply sad. I have moments when I feel hopelessness and helplessness that won’t ever seem to end.
 
But that’s the other thing about grief, right? It doesn’t feel the same forever.
 
The ups and downs are all a natural, expected part of the process.
 
So if that’s how you’re feeling as the school year draws to a close, know that you are not alone in experiencing those mixed emotions.
 
There’s a surreal quality to the end of this school year, because many of the activities and face-to-face goodbyes that create closure have changed or been eliminated. Traditions have been altered. Not shutting down classrooms with our colleagues and celebrating together in the usual way makes it harder to emotionally and mentally transition into summer.
 
On top of that, the excitement for summer may also feel a bit muted, with fewer plans to look forward to.
 
And throughout all of this, there’s this sense that maybe you didn’t do a good enough job, because you could have done MORE.
 
The what-ifs start to swirl: Would that student have passed if I’d done A,B, and C? Would that parent have been on my side if I’d offered X, Y, and Z? Would that kid I yelled at have participated in our Zoom meetings if I’d done a better job connecting with them?
 
All of our lowest moments of the year circle around in our heads: the mistakes made, the opportunities missed.
 
And this year that feeling is intensified because of all the limitations in how we were able to reach our students. The number of kids who were disengaged and not making learning gains is probably much higher for you this year than any other in your teaching career.
 
My encouragement to you is to avoid dwelling on the losses. Don’t focus on the things you could have done, or wish you had been done differently. Don’t torture yourself by imagining how much better everything would have been if only certain conditions had been different.
 
Your kids’ learning gains this school year are NOT an accurate measure of your abilities or theirs.
 
Their learning (or lack thereof) is NOT reflective of your worth, or theirs.
 
You’ve been teaching through a crisis. And if you’re reading this, that means you’ve made it this far. 
 
That’s worth something. It’s worth a lot, in fact.
 
I hope you will look back on this school year as a test of resilience and fortitude that you have passed.
 
You did it.
 
You got through the sudden and expected transition from the style of teaching you’re used to, and fully immersed yourself in something completely different and nowhere near ideal for you or your students.
 
You’ve faced limitations and setbacks and confusion with the best you were able to give at the time. 
 
And now you will face the end of the school year with that same determined attitude. 
 
This is a time for patience and flexibility. It’s a chance to learn to be soft-hearted toward ourselves and others when our basic instincts want to flare into anger and indignation at having to deal with problems we never signed up for.
 
This is a time for going inward — to stop looking for validation from outside sources, to stop seeking out others’ approval — and make peace within ourselves. 
 
It’s a time to let go of regrets and “could-have-should-have” anxiety. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you made. Open yourself up to repairing the harm done via honest conversations and apologies where needed. Make peace in every way with what’s already done, so you can have a fresh start moving forward.
 
Give grace toward yourself and everyone around you. This is a time for more humility and patience and understanding than ever before.
 
With time, we can let go of regrets and what we hoped would be, and practice radical acceptance of the experience we are currently having. 
 
That is the BEST possible way to position ourselves to move forward and face whatever comes next.

I hope the previous 6 weeks of Wednesday emails in my “Power Through” series helped encourage and energize you through the spring months.

You did it, my friends. You’re powered through, and you’re almost at the finish line for the school year.

And I’m not going to leave you now! Here’s how we can stay connected:

#1  I’ll continue sending my Sunday night emails with free encouragement and practical tips (sign up here.)

#2  My Truth for Teachers podcast will continue to release new free episodes through the end of May. The regular episodes are longer than the “Power Through” ones (about 20-40 minutes usually) and there’s a blog post transcript for each one. We take a break each summer and then resume with new episodes in August.

#3  You can connect with me regularly on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. (My most personal reflections are on IG.)

#4  I’ll have a free webinar over the summer to help you counter the “lost year of learning” narrative and craft an inspiring, achievable vision for next school year (more on that soon!)

#5  The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program is open to new members from June 15th-July 15th. If you want a full year’s worth of ongoing support, encouragement, and practical resources for streamlining your workload, 40 Hour is the place to get it. Our community focuses on professional development AND personal development, so you don’t have to navigate any aspect of the new school year on your own.

Thank you for supporting me, and supporting my work.

Each time you listen to one of my podcasts, visit my website, open my emails, engage with me on social media, purchase one of my books/courses/printables, or tell a fellow educator about my resources … know that it is so appreciated!

I’ve chosen this work because I want my ideas to make a difference for teachers and kids, and it’s an honor to have your time and attention. More great stuff for you is on the way!

Want to start this series from the beginning? Sign up for the Power Through series emails on this page here.

Apr 25, 2021

When a problem seems insurmountable, try creating change one name at a time.

Because if you can solve a problem for one person, that means it IS a solvable problem ... and you can solve it for the next, and the next.  

In this episode, I’ll share how often the solution to big problems is solving smaller ones. You’ll hear NYT bestselling author Dan Heath share a short case study from Chicago Public Schools that illustrates how this name-by-name approach worked for reducing dropout rates.

And, I’ll share an intuitive 8 step approach you can use to tackle big problems like student engagement or work completion. You can practice solving for individuals first, and notice patterns in what your students need in order to scale those solutions.

There’s something powerful about knowing that even if you can’t solve every problem for every student, you CAN help solve THIS thing for THAT kid. 

This is how we make progress. And, this is how we create better systems: by designing those systems for individuals rather than trying to force individuals to fit into the systems.  

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 21, 2021

There are few things more frustrating than working hard and not seeing a ton of results. 
 
It’s even worse when your hard work is unappreciated, and you’re criticized for not doing enough or for doing things wrong.
 
When you’re trying your absolute best to teach well in a pandemic, the reality is that your best might not always be good enough
 
Sometimes what you’re able to give really isn’t sufficient. 
 
Of course you feel inadequate, when you know what you’re capable of under optimal circumstances, and also know you’re not working with anything even close to optimal circumstances.
 
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.
 
You know which choice I’m going to advocate for.
 
I want you to let go of the “shoulds” and regrets about this school year. I want you to celebrate the small wins, instead of focusing on all the things that aren’t happening.
 
I’m going to talk more on that next week.
 
For now, I want you to focus more on who you are becoming, instead of what you are able to do (or not do) for your students.
 
Ask yourself, Who do I want to be on the other side of pandemic teaching? What kind of teacher — and what kind of human — do I want this experience to shape me into? 
 
Because in our rush to figure out logistics and lessons and activities … we can’t forget that who we ARE is more impactful than what we DO.
 
Our beliefs, values, and worldview shape the way we interact with kids and impact every decision we make, from classroom management to curriculum.
 
Unpacking our identities and the “who” we bring to the classroom can be a grounding force that holds us steady through change.
 
Of course, you don’t have the time or mental bandwidth right now for a deep meditation on who you are as a person and a teacher. And as always, I’m encouraging you not to make this more complicated than it is. 
 
Self-reflection is a continual process, and it’s often more about letting go instead of trying harder.
 
Focus on showing up as your true, whole, healed, essential self … letting go of any thoughts, beliefs, and actions that don’t serve the highest good. At your core, you are loving, patient, kind, and compassionate. You are full of life and energy and purpose.
 
All the traits that are counter to that are simply baggage and coping mechanisms you’ve picked up along the way in your journey through life in a very challenging world. They’re reactions you’ve developed as a result of fear, emotional wounds, defensiveness, prejudice, biases, outside expectations, and so on.
 
Growing as a person can be an act of returning to yourself and embracing who you really are, instead of trying to constantly change or improve yourself.
 
Your very existence, your presence in the classroom, has value. And the more that you show up with an open heart and mind, free from limiting beliefs about yourself, your students, and your school, the more your essential self will shine through.
 
So as you plan what you need to DO for kids … don’t forget to think about who you need to BE. Your essential self — who you are at your core — is exactly the person your students need this year. 
 
Sending you much love and support.

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

Apr 18, 2021

How do you develop confidence in your teaching when you’re constantly hearing about everything you’re doing wrong?

How do you know what you should and shouldn’t be focusing on, and discern what’s a good use of your time and what’s not?

And most importantly, how can you be sure you’re showing up as the person your students need you to be?

Answering these questions is a personal, lifelong journey, and I think the answers from my guest today will really get you thinking about how to answer those questions for yourself. I’m talking with Gerardo Muñoz, a teacher of middle and high school social studies who was named Colorado’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.

Gerardo is here to share how his teaching identity has been shaped over the years, and how he’s learned to prioritize what matters most. He discusses how he’s developed the confidence to live and teach authentically, and ways he supports his students in also truly being themselves:

“I'm like every kid's hype man. I think that most of what we bring into our classrooms as teachers is the work that we've done on ourselves. That happens before we can work on our students. And so, I have to create a mindset in myself that says, ‘Every single young person in this room is exactly who they are supposed to be’. My job is not to change their personalities; my job is not to make them different humans. My job is to help them identify their strengths, and help them gain skills and behaviors that are going to amplify who they are.”

Gerardo then shares how he was on the verge of quitting the profession back in 2017, and what practices from the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program enabled him to not only stay, but to thrive. We talk about setting boundaries, and not being flattered into saying yes to everything.

When you know what you’re truly, uniquely good at — what matters deeply to you and what really lights you up — it becomes much easier to say no to obligations that pull you away from those priorities.

Confidence and authentic teaching are inherently intertwined, and the work we do on ourselves is what helps us uncover what to focus on. As Gerardo says, “Our lens becomes our practice, so we need to interrogate that lens.”

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.

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