Sunday, May 29, 2016

The First Step in Becoming Burned-In is Admitting That You Are Burned-Out: Turning Shame into Sharp Focus


Preface: You probably noticed that I didn't write a post on Friday. In this journey of blogging to help my fellow teachers beat the burn-out, I will be trying some things with the blog that I feel best help you. Blogging three times a week did not seem to be what you needed. So, I am ditching Freedom Friday for now. If you really liked that Friday blog, please comment below and let me know!

Step 1: Admit That  You Are Burned Out


When I was feeling burned-out and hating life, I felt 100% alone and isolated. I didn't feel that it was acceptable to feel the feelings that I was feeling. I didn't talk to anyone about them, even my husband, because he was sick of hearing it. I knew that I was an awesome teacher. Students, other teachers, and parents told me all the time. They showered me with gifts and compliments, and although it used to fuel my fire, I then found myself numb to it. 

It wasn't until I started doing some Google searches that I realized that, not only were other teachers feeling the same way, there was actual research being done about it. Now, until the last few weeks, I had skimmed some of the articles and then closed out thinking, "Okay, I'm not alone, but these people are full of sh@#!"

Recently, I have been doing some deep research about being burned-out online and it is helping me so much! I am becoming sharply focused on my attitude and behaviors as a burned-in teacher. After reading eight articles (you will find the links below), here are the biggest take-aways that I have for you to reflect on about YOURSELF as an educator:

Potential Causes of Teacher Burn-Out:
1. Your students don't seem to care.
2. You feel you are disciplining more than teaching.
3. The pressure to perform is high and your workload is even higher.
4. You are experiencing constant changes in expectations and standards.
5. You feel you are being over-evaluated.
6. You are constantly dealing with colleagues who are less then fun to work with.
7. You have low self-esteem.
8. You are working for administrators who are terrible managers.
9. You are confused about your role as a teacher.
10. Your working conditions are bad.

Signs You are Burned-Out:
1. You take a lot of days off of work
2. You don't share or seek great ideas.
3. When you do converse, you are complaining.
4. You have lost that "spark".
5. You are exhausted.
6. You rarely smile or laugh (especially at school).
7. You are anxious.
8. You feel overwhelmed.
9. You seek collaboration and can't find anyone willing to work with you.
10. You isolate yourself.
11. You feel that everything is an emergency.
12. You feel numb to feeling any emotions for students or other teachers.
13. You take forever to get out of bed to go to work.
14. You despise staying after school to do work in the classroom.
15. You feel severe annoyance about every little thing.
16. You use planning time to search for jobs outside of education.

Step 2: Take Action

"Creative Commons Focus" by image toolstop Flickr CC
Possible Solutions:
1. Be more playful.
2. Be present in your teaching.
3. Decide what you want to be and who you want to be.
4. Be an actor. (Fake it!)
5. Embrace the uncertainty.
6. Find balance.
7. Search yourself. What do YOU love to do?
8. Grow relationships in and out of school.
9. Show gratitude.
10. Heal. Know these feelings will pass if you want them to and you will come out stronger.

Find Inspiration:
1. Google 'Teacher Burn-Out'. Read about burnout and solutions.
2. Find TED-ed Talks.
3. Find a hashtag on twitter that inspires you or find great people to follow. (follow me on Twitter @burnedinteacher)
4. Find funny teacher memes.
5. Find a group of teachers online to share triumphs with.
6. Decide what is important to you and what is not.
7.Plan activities in your off time that have nothing to do with teaching.


Resources:

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teacher-burnout-four-warning-signs-nicholas-provenzano 

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/reboot-resources-for-teacher-inspiration-monica-burns

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/rediscovering-your-fulfillment-as-teacher-allen-mendler

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/05/20/ctq-pillars-signs-of-solutions-for-burnout.html 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/12/12/teacher-the-day-i-knew-for-sure-i-was-burned-out/

http://www.schoolmentalhealth.org/Resources/Educ/CAMHPS/Coping%20with%20teacher%20burnout.pdf

http://www.nafme.org/teacher-burnout-is-real-signs-and-how-to-avoid-it/ 

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-tips-avoiding-teacher-burnout-mary-beth-hertz 

I hope that recognizing the signs is helpful to you and your journey to become burned-in again. Now, take the next step and TAKE ACTION! For me, taking action is simply enjoying my summer vacation with no thoughts about school for weeks on end. I love my school and my kids, but I am done for now.

FYI: There are MANY more articles out there on the topic of 'Teacher Burn-Out'. I strongly encourage you to read all you can about it. I am finding new articles every day. They are extremely confirming and refreshing to read. Plus, you may find out (after reading about someone else's teaching life) that you don't have it nearly as bad as you think you do. 

Email me signs that you know you are burned-out. Tell me about your situation. Share your shame so you can become sharply focused on fixing this. You can become burned-in again!

Follow me on Twitter: @burnedinteacher

Find me on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/burnedinteacher/ 

Like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/burnedinteacher/ 

email me: support@burnedinteacher.com

Burn on!
Amber





Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Skill Every Burned-Out Teacher Should Have- And Why


I'm No Pinterest Board.

You will not walk into my room and be in awe of how beautiful it is. You will not marvel at my hand-drawn pictures and trendy purchased signs or charts and think to yourself, "Wow. I wish I was as creative as her." I'm no Pinterest Board full of crafty, DIY  beauty, and I don't strive to be. I am organized and practical. I don't believe in fluff, and I don't believe in spending hours of unpaid time and hundreds of dollars of my own money on buying fabric and paint to make a room look perfect. But I do believe in a healthy, safe, and creative environment for my kids. 

This post is in response to a question from Brian. He is a 4th year teacher in a middle school. Here is his question:

"So, you said that you have been teaching for one year at this new school, and you are getting rid of stuff? How much 'stuff' do you have? Is your room a total disaster?"

Aside from feeling a little self-conscious about your very poignant question delivery, you ask some very good questions. To answer your questions quickly, yes. I have acquired stuff this year. And, no, my room is anything BUT a disaster, however, it has been 'lived in' this year and needs some reorganization and rethinking. Here are some pictures from yesterday:






If you have been reading my posts from the very beginning, you know that this is my first year in my new corporation. Before this, I taught for 8 1/2 years at another corporation, quit to take a position in a non-profit that failed 6 months later. That is the VERY short of it, however, you should know that one reason I have so many things is because I did bring some stuff with me from my other school that I didn't know for sure I would use. After one full year of teaching 1st graders again, I now know what I don't need anymore.

When I was burned-out a few years ago (the first time), I found an outlet. I learned what I could do at school to give me a spring in my step again, if only for a short time... pitching and organizing. It is my natural love. I found this skill to be extremely fulfilling and I now look forward to it all the time.

The skill I am talking about in my title for WONDERful Wednesday this week is: FIND WHAT YOU ARE NATURALLY GOOD AT. FIND YOUR NATURAL PASSION. LATCH ONTO IT AND MAKE THAT YOUR FALL BACK WHEN YOU FEEL YOU ARE LOSING CONTROL.

If my students and I are having a particularly rough day, I stop everything and we clean our desks. They clean theirs and I clean mine. We go through EVERYTHING. I'm talking folders, supply boxes, and even our book boxes. When we are done, we have a fresh start and it is worth the time taken. I am instantly in a better mood.

Your passion may not be to put on a circus performance for your kids to teach them about fractions. (For some of you, it is. That's okay too.) If your passion is reading books to your kids, then make that they way that you teach. If you are naturally good at telling stories, then THAT, my friend, is where you have it.

No, my classroom does not turn heads for it's perfectly straight bulletin boards and apple theme, but my kids know where everything is and they are taught that being organized is one of the keys to success. Everything that is in my room serves a specific purpose. THAT is MY passion. It may not be yours, but that is what pulls me out of a rut. That is my skill that people notice.

Find YOUR skill. Can't find it? You had it at one time. You can find it again. Finding your skill will give you more purpose than just 'showing up' and 'getting through the day.' Finding your skill and sharing it with the world is what makes you then best teacher that YOU can be. Take action and take control by putting your skill into action in your classroom in some way.

Thanks so much for your question, Brian! I hope this helps you to understand that the need to declutter doesn't just apply to hoarders. It applies to all of us. My question back to you is: What is YOUR skill? What are you passionate about BESIDES teaching?

As always, check me out on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest @burnedinteacher! Send me your questions or comments by emailing me at support@burnedinteacher.com.

Comment below and tell me what skill you have that you are energized by and excited to do when school life is hanging you out to dry!

BURN ON!
Amber


Sunday, May 22, 2016

And Burned-In Teacher Logo Winner Is...



Logo #2!!!

Thank you so much to all who took the time to cast a vote and show your interest in being an inspired, burned-in teacher! We are going to do great things together! 



Burn on!


My Favorite Part of 'The End of the School Year'

Start Planning for Next Year by Purging!

As I was researching End of the Year for Teachers, I came across this great article of questions, from mindsinbloom.com. It has really great questions to ask yourself as you close out the school year.

http://minds-in-bloom.com/2012/05/20-teacher-end-of-year-reflection.html

Here are my favorite questions from this article that I challenge you to ask yourself this week (My absolute faves are in red.):

  1. What is something you tried in your classroom this year for the first time? How did it go?
  2. What is something you found particularly frustrating this year?
  3. What is something you would change about this year if you could?
  4. What has caused you the most stress this year?
  5. What were your biggest organizational challenges this year?
  6. What was the biggest mistake you made this year? How can you avoid making the same mistake in the future?
I chose the two in red because these are the questions that I will continue to ponder and try my hardest to fix, first in my mind, and then take action on over the summer so I can set myself up for success in July and August. 

If you are doing your best to take last week's challenge and plan the next week this week, you could potentially be planning for the first week of school already by asking yourself these questions. I know I am! This week, I will be taking before and after pictures of my classroom as I do my FAVORITE organizational activity... PURGING!

Decluttering is a great way to find yourself. It will also help you to reevaluate your teaching. You may find some things that you used to use 10 years ago and see how far you have actually come in your teaching strategies. You may also find some old friends that you want to bring back out into your classroom setting! Don't be afraid to pitch things if you haven't used them this year. Just get rid of them. Clutter is not good for anyone. It bogs you down and makes you feel overwhelmed, and that just ads to your feelings of burning out.

Check out this video. Although it is about "Home Clutter", it is easily applied to your classroom!



I plan on getting rid of my desk, as it is just a center for clutter. I NEVER sit there and it's just wasting space. I also have a lot of things that I just jammed in my closets after moving into my classroom last year and haven't used this year. Those things will be meeting their maker this week as well.

What are you doing this week to set yourself up for success next year, already? I challenge you not to just "get through" the last couple of weeks of school. Start thinking of how you can TAKE ACTION to have a better school year next year. Who knows? You may actually look forward to starting a new year; refreshed, clutter-free, and ready to take action on the many other ideas that I have to share with you this summer to BURN YOU IN!

As always, you can email me to tell me or show me before and after pictures from YOUR classroom! Follow me on Twitter @burnedinteacher or LIKE Burned-In Teacher on Facebook by searching Burned in Teacher.

BURN ON!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Help Choose Burned-In Teacher's Logo!


Take the lead. Choose OUR logo!

I am so excited about the last few weeks! I dove head-first into the blogging world, started following some AMAZING teachers, education leaders and coaches on Twitter, started a Pinterest account for you and today I created the Burned-In Teacher Facebook page! 


To take Burned-In Teacher to the next level, I had several logos designed. Your job, as a new "Burnie" is to tell me which one you like best! Voting ends on SUNDAY, May 22nd at 6:00. I will include the winning logo in The Sunday Burn-In post.

Email me at support@burnedinteacher.com to cast your vote! Simply tell me which logo you like best, and if you want to, tell me a little more about yourself and what you need to BURN-IN! 

Burn on, My Friends! 


Logo #1:



Logo #2:




Logo #3:




Go Ahead... Make My Day...



Hey all you Burnies out there! It's FRIDAY! Your weekend is almost here and you are going to make it a great, I just know it!

To kick off the 2nd week of Freedom Friday, I have taken the day off! I have personal days, so I figured "WHY NOT!?" My husband is accompanying our youngest on a field trip and it is going to be 70 degrees, so I put myself first and took the day for me!

You are allowed to do that, you know. That's what personal days are for! Y.O.U! I plan on spending my day taking our dog, Ollie, on a walk, drinking coffee on the back porch, getting a much needed workout in, and working on this blog for the sake of you.

You know what the best part is? I am not going in on Saturday OR Sunday to plan for next week. That's right! My A-mazing teaching partner and I planned all week for next week and we are READY! I mean, we have some tweeks, and printing to do, but that can wait until Monday!

YOU are worth your weekend. YOU are worth your hobbies. And, hey, if you want to, go ahead, take the day off. Make your day. You will go back the next day refreshed, energized, and ready for what is coming next... the end of the school year!

Next week, we have planned a Beach Day, we have Field Day, and are planning on having the kids spend their week making a Memory Book!

When is your last day of work this school year? Mine is May 27th. comment below to share when your last day is and what you are doing to make it F.U.N. for you and your students!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @burnedinteacher or email me your questions for me to answer next week on WONDERful Wednesday. Email me at support@burnedinteacher.com

Burn on!
Amber

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Welcome to WONDERful Wednesday: Your Questions About Turning Burned-Out Into Burned-In ANSWERED

Don't Get Stuck on the BURNED-OUT Escalator:
3 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To START Burning IN!
I am so EXCITED about all of the email responses that I received this week regarding becoming a teacher that LOVES going to work again. Some teachers have been teaching for 20+ years and others JUST GRADUATED and are already terrified about what lies ahead next fall.
Most questions and comments centered around a single topic: WHERE TO START.
My friends, my answer to you is JUST. START. 
TAKING ACTION and taking control over your future as an educator is 100% up to YOU. You can have a terrible principal, an even worse assistant principal, colleagues that want to drag you down with them, and students that believe their calling in life is to make you miserable and all you have to do is make a simple decision: become the teacher you never wanted to be or beat the status quo.
IT'S AS SIMPLE AS GETTING OFF THAT ESCALATOR. Watch the video below to see what I am talking about.




I LOVE this video. I have shown it for years; to my colleagues as a team leader when we were trying something new within our grade level and even to my 3rd graders at the beginning of the year as they were learning how to be proactive and solve their own problems.

This video encompasses everything about becoming BURNED-IN. My friends, it is all up to you to love your life as a teacher again. No one can change your attitude but you.

However, if you just can't fathom where to start in your quest to get out of the hole you have sunk yourself into, here are 3 tips to launch you out of that hole and into orbit:

1. Make a list. Check it twice.
First, I challenge you to make two lists. One of things you HATE, I mean down right DETEST, about your life at school right now. Go ahead. Do it now.

Then, highlight all of the things within your control. I've said it before, you can control most if not all of the problems that you have in your teaching life, so I really want you to focus on the big hates to even the smallest of annoyances.

Finally, make another list of these things you hate in number order of what you can control at this very minute or tomorrow morning to what may take a few weeks, months, or years to change.

For example, you may hate standardized testing most of all. You know you can't stop it, and it makes you cry thinking about it. You can't stand watching these future leaders and innovators being subjected to such patronization as a bubble exam for hours on end. So maybe you should think about transferring to Kindergarten or 1st grade, where the kiddos aren't tested so heavily. Email your principal or other principals within your district tomorrow and let them know that you are interested in making a grade-level change, should one come about. This change could take a year or two, so it should go on the bottom. On the other hand, maybe things in your room just don't flow, layout wise, the way that you wish they would. So, put that on the top of the list of things you can do this week!

2. Visualize.
Now, get another piece of paper or create a timeline on your computer. TO THE MINUTE, I want to look at how you are spending time in your school on a typical day. I'm talking from the moment you walk in the door in the morning, to when you leave at night.

Where do you spend your lunch hour?
When do you take your kids to the bathroom?
What do you spend your time doing before school starts, during your prep, and after the kids leave every day?

Again, I'm going to go back to that list that you made. What subjects or time blocks do you dread each day? What can you do to TAKE ACTION and change how you are spending your time so that you are excited about your day, instead of uninspired? Are you wasting your time in the teacher's lounge during lunch, complaining about your principal or students?

Visualize what your IDEAL day would look like with your kids. What do you WISH you could get done at school? What are things that you would love to work into your day, but just haven't done? What can you take out of your day that is monotonous to you? Chances are, if you are bored by it, so are your students.

3. Try, Fail and Try Again.
Tomorrow, go to school. Close your door. Shhhhhhh....this is where the real fun begins...Try some of those things you've been longing to do. Try. You will probably fail. But TRY AGAIN. I beg you! Try your DAMDEST to make changes in your space: Your classroom. You don't have to tell anyone. Try everything. The only limit is YOU.

And, my friend, if you are working in a building that finds out that you are trying some things and they treat you like you just committed a capital murder in the cafeteria, it may be time for you to TRY looking for a different place to become more burned-in.

Bottom line. Get. Off. That. Escalator. Now.
YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR TEACHING DESTINY.

I can't wait to hear more questions this week as the school year winds down and as more and more future educators are entering the field.

Leave a comment below about what you are going to try TOMORROW. Email me your lists! I want to see your starting-off points! Tell me your triumphs and failures at support@burnedinteacher.com. I am here for YOU! Also, follow me on Twitter @burnedinteacher, to see what I am using to keep myself burned-in!

Burn on!
Amber

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Welcome to Burn-In Sunday: Tip #1

Happy Burn-In Sunday, a post dedicated to helping you set yourself up for SUCCESS this week and for weeks and months to come!

Burn-In Sunday will offer a tip a week that you can implement tomorrow to start burning back in, therefore, making school more enjoyable for you and your students. Ever heard of the term, "Slow and steady wins the race?" I'm not typically one to follow that advice, but what I have noticed in my 9 years of teaching is that there are some things that really do take time to do right. These tips will take some tweeking on your part to fit your schedule at school, but like I said in Freedom Friday's post, you have to make being burned-in a priority and become more creative with your time at school. So, without further ado, here is the FIRST EVER "BURN-IN SUNDAY TIP OF THE WEEK":

TIP #1: 

START PLANNING FOR NEXT WEEK. 
THAT'S RIGHT. NEXT WEEK

You are probably thinking, "Uhhhh, what about THIS week?" Yes, of course you should prepare for this week, however, if you are ever going to stop spending your weekends and evenings at school, you have to start planning ahead TOMORROW.  Instead of feeling like you are just getting though the day, you can gain control over your time and begin getting through your week, then your year, then your career with a better attitude about your job as a teacher.  Here are some steps you can take tomorrow to start planning your NEXT week THIS WEEK:

1. Quickly outline the rest of this week so that you can think ahead and make time for planning next week. Spend tomorrow planning out the rest of this week. Your plans don' t have to be solid, and taking this week a little more lightly so that you can plan a more solid NEXT week will pay off, I promise.

2. Check your school calendar. I know that, especially this time of year, there are interruptions all over the place. Don't let yourself be surprised by field trips, visitors, end-of-year convocations, etc. that will be interrupting your days for the last few weeks of school. This is a better time than EVER to take advantage of the weirdness of the weeks ahead and start planning for next week.


3. USE YOUR CURRICULUM MAP! Curriculum maps are sometimes thought of as a creativity vacuum and some teachers feel that they shouldn't be told what to teach and when. I used to feel that way. However, when I started working at my new corporation and began to reluctantly use the curriculum map to plan ahead, I realized that it is only that: A MAP. It's a guide for me, well laid out, so that I can spend more time being creative with my lessons and classroom set-up. I no longer have to look at the state website and guess what standards I should cover this week and think back to whether or not I already taught that standard. Stop making things harder on yourself and dust off the 'ole map. It is there to HELP you, not hold you down.


I am so excited to hear from you this week, as you try setting yourself up for SUCCESS as a BURNED-IN TEACHER! I am here for you at support@burnedinteacher.com or on Twitter @burnedinteacher! Comment below or email me with any questions and I will answer them on WONDERful Wednesday, the post where I answer your questions about how to become more burned-in! 

BURN ON! 

Amber


Friday, May 13, 2016

Happy Freedom Friday!





I double dare, NO, I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU, to not do a single thing for school this weekend. No email, no grading, no planning. Do it. You know you want to. When you get to school on Monday, you will notice two things about what you spend your time doing on the weekends:

1. What things you can and should be doing at school. Planning your week (yes, I said week) the week before CAN be done, but you have to make it a priority and be creative.

2. What things you should stop doing all together. Do the kids really notice or care about those  3 hours you put in on Saturday morning gluing those cute little puffballs onto the tips of dry-erase markers so they could use them as erasers when all you really needed to do was cut up some socks? 

Come on, take the challenge. Put your school bag in your basement, coat closet, or take it to your mom's house if you have to. 

Enjoy a full weekend of freedom and see where it leads you. Trust me, you will learn a lot on Monday.

For a list of tips and tricks that I complete the week before the week I am planning, email me at support@burnedinteacher.com.

Comment below and tell me what YOU are going to do with YOUR WEEKEND instead of working at/on school!

HAPPY FREEDOM FRIDAY and BURN ON!


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Data, Schmata… 3 Ways I Collect, Record, and USE Data The Easy Way

My desk at school today, and yesterday, and probably tomorrow. 
IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR, AGAIN! Data time! For you NEW BURNIES, you are probably freaking out because you didn’t even know you were supposed to be keeping track of how your students progressed this year. To all of my BURN-OUTS, you are downing bottle after bottle of wine and wondering if drinking yourself into a stooper will magically get all of the tests graded and the data entered by morning.... My friends, there is hope. If you make some choices, think smarter, not harder, and do a little planning ahead for next year, you won’t have to explain wine splotches on spreadsheets to your principal at your end-of-year meeting next year. (I can’t help you this year.Sorry)


Before I go any further, let me tell you. I L-O-V-E data...when it is the right kind. When it is ACTUALLY informing me of my own teaching and my kids’ learning  I crave data and generally, speaking, I hate numbers, so that’s saying a lot. I also hate clutter and disorganization, but when I am entering data and am seeing either progress or a flat-line in a student’s achievement, I am ENERGIZED. I am immediately plotting the next steps for my students and the mess that has been made in the process of this discovery is well worth it. (See picture above from today.)


However, when I am handed data that is outdated, inaccurate, or irrelevant in any way, you might as well punch me in the face. End of story. You know what I’m talking about, ahem, (standardized testing)...


The fact is, before I had data, I had no idea where I was going, whether it be for the year or the next day. I knew that my kids needed to learn, and it was my job to teach them, but I had no idea how to measure whether or not my teaching was helping them to do the learning!


Bottom line, data is important. Love it or hate it, you should be using it to inform your instruction and to give instant feedback to students on what they need to improve. With that being said, data collection doesn’t have to be a huge time/life sucker! You don’t have to spend hours putting together tests like I used to. You don’t have to make it something fancy and beautiful. All you have to do is make a plan, try things, and tweek them until you get them right. So, here we go, 3 ways that I collect, record, and actually USE the data that I receive while I'm at school:


  1. I use a standards-based writing rubric that I created myself from our state standards. It isn’t fancy, or cute, or even perfect. But it provides me and my students with excellent data on what they need to improve in their writing. Here’s the kicker… the rubric doesn't change from writing genre to writing genre. Why on Earth would I want to create a moving target for my kids as they are developing their writing skills? Nope. I go so burned-out on grading students’ writing that I actually dreaded students’ published pieces. When I switched to my standards-based rubric and their expectations were the same each time, my data improved, their writing improved, and BOOM! I love grading writing again!
    1. My rubric has five standards on it. FIVE. It is out of 10. This is not a college writing course.
    2. Students see this rubric all the time. I use it in lessons and they are fully aware of what their expectations are.
    3. They use it to give each other feedback.
    4. Students get a copy of the rubric after I have graded it and they keep it to review later. They can then compare how they have improved their skills and they set goals for their next writing piece.
    5. Shoot me an email at support@burnedinteacher.com asking for the rubric and I will get it to you ASAP!


  1. I am clear at the beginning of the year of what my formal benchmark assessments will be and when I will give them. I usually give them beginning of the year, middle of the year, and the end of the year, but sometimes more frequently.
    1. For example, my first graders have a list of sight words they should know by the end of the year. At the beginning of the year, I test them on ALL of the words. I learn a lot about what they know about reading from that initial assessment. From there, I usually test them monthly, because I offer the students plenty of opportunity for practice between these assessments.
    2. Other things you may want to consider for formal benchmark assessments are: reading level benchmarks, spelling inventories, math fact knowledge, and writing prompts. These are very easy to implement, once you just decide what you are going to use. Just pick something. Really.
    3. BE CONSISTENT. Don’t use different materials each time you assess or again, you are creating a moving target for your kiddos and more work for yourself. Your job is to set kids up for success, not catch them off guard.


  1. Use short content quizzes instead of huge unit tests. Assessing a skill that you have either just taught or have been working on for the a few days is WAY more accurate than if you wait until the end of an entire unit to test a skill that they saw three weeks prior. Use it or lose it. It’s a fact. Plus, I don’t want to sit down to grade a 32 question test on a Friday night, I don’t know about you.
    1. Short quizzes are way quicker to grade and you can offer a quick response to student needs.
    2. They don’t have to be quizzes. You can use exit slips, Kahoot!, or other activities to check for understanding.
    3. Your students will thank you.


Listen guys, teaching really is a science nowadays. So embrace that fact that you get to diagnose and treat students as patients. You get to decide how to set them up for success. Instead of looking at data as “another thing to do” make is something that you can look forward to. If your school doesn’t have formal assessment benchmarks already planned out for you, email me at support@burnedinteacher.com and we can chat about some options that you have and some resources you may have access to.


BURN ON!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Sharpening MY Saw: Looking Out for #1, So I Can Help #2 BURN IN: Part 7 of I Was Burned-Out

Image result for goals

When I finally started to pull myself out of my second “funk” back in January, I started to do a lot of soul searching. As I started questioning my wants and needs as a person, I started thinking more selfishly. When I say that, I don’t mean that I became an egotistical jerk. I didn’t go around saying, “I’m doin' ME!” That’s not at all what I mean at all. Or do I???


Stephen Covey says in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that,


“To be effective, we must devote the time to renewing ourselves physically, spiritually, mentally, and socially. Continuous renewal allows us to synergistically increase our ability to practice each habit.”


For me, this meant spending time creating goals and making plans for MY future in many DIFFERENT areas of MY life. My personality is not one that lends itself to being happy in one spot for long. Whether it be sitting in the same place or staying within the same job or home for an extended amount of time. It was time for me to ACCEPT who I really am and realize that, although I am in a school that is allowing me to grow as a professional now, I am ready to expand my personal and professional growth in other ways. As soon as I decided that I was in control of my own destiny, my attitude improved even MORE! I am in search of what Tony Robbins calls, “CANI” the need for Constant And Never-ending Improvement.” (I began reading Awaken the Giant Within, by Anthony (Tony) Robbins in January. This is another MIND BLOWING book about how our daily decisions change our destiny!)


“Sharpening the Saw” may seem to be all about improving your skills as a teacher, a cook, a mom, etc. but actually, sharpening the saw has more to do with growing YOU, as a whole. Constantly focusing on one area of your life will only lead to burn-out, in my opinion. That’s what I believe started to lead me down the path that ultimately sunk me. (Insert all of the waves of panic and stress that consistently came from my previous workplace before, I took action.) I was thinking only about my life as a teacher. I wasn’t in a place where I imagined that I COULD do anything but teach.


When I was in a PLACE where I had SPACE to grow, that is when my mind was open to all of MY abilities. When YOU are in a place where you are allowed to ask questions, make mistakes, and truly collaborate, YOUR mind can be opened too. Again, this goes back to my VERY FIRST POST last week when I said that, although it is important that our State and administration focus on student growth, they are leaving out the most important part of that growth. If they are not allowing educators to have SPACE and OPPORTUNITY to grow, they won’t. Period. Teachers will either A. Do what I did originally and QUIT or B. Be the most miserable individuals in the building and they are the MOST IMPORTANT BRIDGE between CONTENT and KIDS!


I challenge YOU. Make a list of all of the things that are making YOU UNHAPPY. Think of all of the things that you HATE and that are BURNING YOU OUT. Do it! How many of those things do you feel are out of your control? Count them. Here’s the punchline…


THEY ARE IN YOUR CONTROL. YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR SITUATION IN ANY ONE OF THOSE AREAS.


You may have to get creative. You may have to put a lot of time and effort into some things and for others, it may be a simple phone call that you need to make. The MOMENT that I decided not to be the VICTIM of my own previous decisions, is when I started making changes. Some BIG, some small. Here are a list of a couple of my current goals that are SHARPENING MY SAW DAILY:


  1. I am CRAVING to connect with other professionals who are feeling BURNED-OUT or are afraid that their fire is slowly dying. I want you to be as excited to go to work as I am lately. I went from crying in my car on the way to work to thinking about my job as a catalyst for GREAT THINGS to come in my life, therefore affecting my ability to be a great teacher, employee, and co-worker.


  1. I have begun my Google Education Training! Google is one of the tools that I have used this year to seriously simplify and improve my collaboration, planning, and teaching. I was so inspired by a conference that I went to in April that I started training on my OWN! Now that is BURNED-IN!!


  1. I started THIS BLOG! I haven’t written in YEARS. This is one of the ways that I am trying to grow myself. Through sharing my journey, my triumphs and my failures I am hoping to help YOU. MY burn-outs have made me a better person, not just a better teacher. I have SO MUCH to IMPROVE and am so excited!. I have the DESIRE to improve. I can’t wait to share my wins and losses with you!
If you don’t know where to start with “Sharpening Your Saw” as a teacher, please let me know what I can do to HELP YOU. I am CRAVING to help others, like me, who have struggled or are currently struggling with HOW TO IMPROVE THEIR BEHAVIORS AND ATTITUDE in their classrooms and schools. Please email me at support@burnedinteacher.com and tell me YOUR story and what YOU need that you are not currently getting in your life to improve your outlook. You can follow me on Twitter @burnedinteacher to see what’s up in my classroom and online as I reach my goal of becoming a GOOGLE INNOVATOR!


That’s it! That’s the LAST post of my plunge into blogging series of “I Was  Burned Out…” Although I won’t be blogging every day anymore, I am so excited about continuing to share my journey of “CANI” (Thanks, Tony!) with you weekly!


BURN ON, MY FRIENDS!!!

If you are interested in purchasing Stephen Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or Tony Robbins' book, Awaken the Giant Within, you can click on the links to buy them from Amazon.com. If you purchase them through the links, you will help to support my efforts to support YOU!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Fake It Till You Make It: A Checklist of Burned-In Behaviors: Part 6 of I Was Burned Out


Fake It Till You Make It:  A Checklist of Burned-In Behaviors


“By putting forth a spirit of trust and safety, we will prompt others to become extremely open, and feed on each other’s insights and ideas, creating synergy.”
Stephen Covey


In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey defines synergy as what happens when all previous habits are rolled into one. Synergy is the sum of all of its parts.


Listen, I’m going to make this post extremely simple and to the point. You either decide that you want to continue teaching, or you don’t. There is no other way around it. I decided a year and a half ago that I didn’t want to teach anymore and I quit. I went back 6 months later and some mornings, pulled into the parking lot with tears in my eyes. Then, I got sick of living that way. I had to make a decision. I was going to continue to make myself miserable (because it was ultimately me that was the problem) or I was going to burn myself in.


The “fake it till you make it” quote couldn’t be more perfect when thinking of synergy in this situation. My attitude stunk at the beginning of the year. It wasn’t going to change without me FAKING that I was loving my life as a teacher again. So I did. I faked my happiness. Faked that I loved getting up so stinking early to leave by 6:50 am to get to work on time (I know you feel me there). Faked that I cared about meetings that were supposed to be helping me. Faked that I wanted to become involved in my new work community. I FAKED MYSELF SICK. Literally. I really did get sick. I had to call a sub. It was bad.


Then, I made a change and there were a lot of really great things that happened when I started behaving the way that I wanted to feel. My attitude couldn’t help but want to join in once I made teaching uncomplicated and more efficient (ahem, synergized?). What made all of this easier is that when I took the risk that I did a year ago, I ultimately put myself in a place that wasn’t consistently dragging me back down every time things were going well. That was where this all began. Action.


Below, you will see the last five posts put into list form. These are, in a nutshell, what I did to get myself on track to enjoy my the teaching career again. Check the things off that you already do, and work on the things that you can’t honestly say that you do consistently:


  • I researched unhappiness and found a book that I thought could help me.
  • I was proactive. I didn’t like something, so I changed it.
  • I dragged myself out of the black hole that was negativity.
  • I failed and learned lessons I never would have learned otherwise.
  • I failed, but met some great people along the way.
  • I began to really care about how my coworkers and students perceived me.
  • I set some serious career goals for myself. I know where I want to go.
  • I faked my happiness until I actually started to be happy.
  • I started working smarter, not harder.
  • I learned some new things. I practiced them until I got good at them.
  • I valued my personal and family time over work.
  • I began to question the way that I did things in/out of the classroom. (What am I doing/not doing to sabotage my efficiency, effectiveness, and happiness?)
  • I built meaningful relationships with my coworkers and my principal.
  • I truly collaborated and tried new things outside of my comfort zone.
  • I realized what a great place I was in and how lucky I was to be there.
  • I was not afraid to talk about my personal struggle.
  • I created synergy.


Wow. Seeing it in list form brings tears to my eyes. When I started teaching again this year, I thought I was incapable of so much. I became completely stagnant. My misery was happy staying right where it was. The last 9 years have come with a lot of highs. But the heights wouldn’t be so magnificent, had I not experienced the lows. Just because I became a teacher 9 years ago does not mean that I can’t set more goals for myself. Educating lends itself to so much more that “just teaching.” I am so excited about the path that lies ahead. The things I did  were the catalyst for what is pushing me to WANT more personally and professionally. I know you want more too, or you wouldn’t be reading this post.


Tomorrow is the last post in this series of my story about how I was burned out and my steps to getting burned back in. I can’t wait to talk to you about how I am “Sharpening My Teaching Saw!”


Until then…


BURN ON!

P.S. I would love to build an email list so that I can really start diving into what YOU need in order to become more BURNED-IN. Please consider emailing me at support@burnedinteacher.com or leaving a comment with an email address so that I can include you in my survey! Also, click the link to buy The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People! At no extra cost to you, it will support this blog. If you don’t want to buy it, check it out from your library. It really is a game-changer!