Welcome to Burned-In Teacher! This site was built to help you to BURN: BEGIN. Begin to grow from where you are in your profession. UNDERSTAND. Understand where you are in your career and embrace it. REFLECT. Reflect on why you became a teacher and what you have done to help yourself to grow. NURTURE. Nurture your strengths AND your weaknesses. BURN ON!
I have been reading and reading and reading about teaching and students during these first few weeks of summer and am continually surprised at how little information there is out there for how we teachers can take care of ourselves and continue to grow in our profession instead of burning out.
As I was working out the other day, my "Hip Hop Workout" playlist was on full blast and Eminem was yelling about life in general (if you listen to his music at all, that's pretty typical). As I was listening, I thought to myself, "I love his story. Yes, he's angry, but he went through a lot to get where he is." Now, please don't get me wrong. I am not an Eminem expert, nor do I agree with a lot of his choices as a father and citizen at times, but the man has that GRIT that I am reading about so much on Twitter and other online sources lately.
Grit is important. However, as far as I have read, grit is being used to promote hard work and creativity within students. What I want to know is, what about me? Where is my inspiration to not give up, throw in the towel, and say, "I'm tired of this shit. Bureaucracy has ruined any potential for me to be a creative and powerful teacher and I'm done." Who is going to save ME?
That day I was working out, I started making a mental list of MY current heroes. Those people in my personal, professional, and digital life who are consistently pushing me to do more and be more than I thought I was 3 years ago. They are teaching me to have grit. In fact, just recently, one of my professional heroes (my principal) ordered these for me all because I am allowing myself to be inspired by some digital heroes! In Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess, he talks about passion as the number one thing that makes us great teachers. He listed 3 types of passion that we should have: content, professional, and personal passion. I will use these as my headings, but will replace content with digital for the purpose of this list, but anyway, thanks Dave Burgess, for the inspiration!
So, Here Goes... My Hero List:
Dave Burgess- Super-Charged Edupreneur
I got to see this guy present last year and only those of you who are crazy, insane risk-takers by nature could really understand where this guy is coming from. He is passionate beyond compare and committed to making learning relevant, fun, and inspiring to students. His book, Teach Like a Pirate is blowing my mind at this very moment. He makes me wish it was August already and if that isn't a hero, I don't know what is.
Matt Miller- Fellow Hoosier and Tech Inspiration
Author of Ditch that Textbook, Matt Miller is inspiring me to think even more out of the box than I have before. He posts on Twitter many ways that we can use tech to transform education and I can't wait to read this book! Bonus: He is from Indiana!
TWITTER- PD all day...every day...
If you aren't on Twitter, then you are not allowing yourself to be inspired. I became active on Twitter in April and my life as an educator has been forever transformed. I get a daily dose of professional development every day.
Eminem- Overall GRIT Master
I have to chuckle at myself for including him in this post as one of my heroes... however, I can't lie. I just love his story. We all have students who have had everyone in their lives give up on them. IF what I have learned about Marshall Mathers' life is true, this guy should have failed at life before it began and isn't that what society has done to some of our students? Given up on them before they had a real chance? We have Marshalls in our class every year. I want them to believe in themselves so strongly that they blow everyone's mind someday too.
My Husband, Jeff Harper- Overall, A-#1 Inspiration Ninja
This man has pushed me in ways that I never could have dreamed when I first met him. If you know my husband, you know he leads by example and is quiet and steadfast in his leadership. You know when he isn't speaking that he is thinking and choosing his words carefully. When he does say something, what he has to say is important and full of impact. Too often, I spout off without thinking... just ask him. He has taught me to just shut up and listen, carefully contemplate, and mindfully execute my thoughts.
My Principal, David Pine- My Velvet Brick
If you've read my story (I Was Burned Out...) You know that I couldn't have a single conversation with Mr. Pine without crying at the beginning of the school year. This was because, for the first time in my career, I had a leader that didn't blind-side me at every corner. This leader told me when I was wrong and needed to improve on the spot and I didn't know how to handle it at first. He gives praise when I deserve it too and connects with us teachers on a personal level too. He has humanized the teaching profession for me and I am so grateful!
Jaime Carroll- My Partner in Teaching Crime
This woman has just got it. She is up for anything new and challenging and goes the extra mile all the time. She also gets a gold star for doing all that she does with a HUGE smile on her face. She is passionate, energetic, and positive. All things that I want to be professionally.
The Knipper Duo (Jared and Amanda)- Student Engagement Advocates (Oh, and they are married too.)
Haha! These two are personal friends, but really inspire me and challenge me professionally. They are both active on Twitter and every time I see one of their posts, I think to myself, "HEY! I want to do that too!" Those are the best kinds of heroes!
Bottom line, Burnies, think of your heroes. If you can't think of any... GET SOME! Life is good when you have someone to look to when you need that extra kick in the pants or you need someone to save you from your own negative thoughts! BURN ON!
Yes. I know that it's Tuesday. Yes. It's 5:00 am. Yes. I'm two days late with this week's Burned-In Teacher blog post. I don't feel guilty. I was making myself extremely happy... or at least I'm working on it.
Image: Senorhorst Jahnsen via Flickr/Creative Commons
Starting back in February, my family and I began seeking out a new place to live. Not far away from where we live now, just new. Different. Better for us. Since school was out last week, we have been on real estate apps 24/7, setting up showings, making offers, and making time for some family summer fun on the side. It has been so exciting and is making us extremely happy!
This blog post is all about making choices that force you to be happy. For me, and many other humans like me, choices that I have made have either made me miserable or have brought me extreme joy. What I didn't learn until later in life was that, when I was at my worst, it was because of a choice that I had made. I choose my words that either draw people in or push them away. I chose my husband who challenges me to think about details and loves me no matter what. I chose my profession that causes me feel stress and pushes me to seek ways to be a better professional. I chose my first workplace that made me feel undervalued. I chose to have children who bring me constant joy and force me to think outside of myself daily. I choose to get up at 4:30 am when I can't sleep to write about my happiness and what I desire for you as a teacher.
The fact is, you either make choices that force you to be extremely happy or cause you extreme pain. Where my family and I were living wasn't causing us extreme pain, but the residual effects of us living where we did was not causing us the kind of happiness that we desired for ourselves, so we made a conscious choice to change our situation. Just like I wrote about in April, when I was in the school that I was in a few years ago, I felt stuck. I felt that there were no other options for me. I was miserable. Until I learned that there ARE choices that we can make to force that happiness that we seek upon ourselves. And, as it turns out, the action of seeking may be the secret to happiness. It's normal to get comfortable and, therefore, seek more. More for us, for our family, or for our students; whichever you choose to focus on.
I tweeted this article a second ago and I want to share it with you here too.
It is all about how we, as humans, have basic needs. If those needs are fulfilled, we begin to feel unhappy. If we have nothing to seek, it is against our human nature to settle. To be happy, we must seek out other opportunities. You choose what opportunities fit you, but the point is: JUST SEEK. If you are burned-out as a teacher, what is it about your situation that would make you happier? You may not know, if fact, in a recent survey that I put out, I asked the question: "What would be the most helpful thing to you as a teacher (besides canceling all standardized testing)?"
I actually had some teachers tell me, "I don't even know."
As I read some of the responses of these educators, who are feeling so burned-out that they "don't even know" what they need to be happier at work, it actually made me emotional. These are the people that are teaching our future. These are our co-workers. These are our fellow humans who interact with our children daily and they are so unhappy that they don't even know what could turn their feelings around! To make it worse, all I can find out there to help them are articles here and there with a quick list of things that they can do to get themselves out of burnout.
I am making it my mission to not turn my back on you and others, like us, who need more than an occasional article to help you snap out of it. You deserve more than that. I am here for you. Others are too. Please, I beg you, take some serious time to think about what you need to be happier. Is it a new home, in a new place (like me), a different grade level to teach, a different position within education, a different corporation altogether, maybe even a different profession? My point is, the more I read and research and ask, the more it seems to me that we all seek better for ourselves but feel guilty for it. WHY????? Why should we feel embarrassed for searching for ways to grow ourselves?
I encourage you to click this link to take my survey about your feelings as a teacher. It is only five questions long and takes UNDER five minutes to complete (depending on how detailed you are in your answers).
When you finish the survey, check out this video from my personal favorite life coach, Tony Robbins. I'm not embarrassed about my obsession with seeking self-help. It has changed my perspective. Check out this video and then google "Secret to Happiness." You will find other articles and videos to help you to understand that YOU have to to stop forcing yourself to be so unhappy!
Do the opposite of forcing yourself to be unhappy. Seek out your happiness. Demand it. Force it upon yourself. You, your family, and your students are worth it. Below, you will find some of my current favorite articles about happiness. Enjoy!
Today's question comes from Melanie, a fourth grade teacher from Idaho. She writes:
"I've been teaching for 11 years and I am so burned out by all of the changes that seem to happen in my corporation each year. One year, they change our curriculum maps all around, the next year maybe I get moved a grade level, one year we went 1-to-1 with technology. I know that during summer break I should be relaxing and recharging, but there seems to be something that comes up to rock my world each year. I spend each summer working in my classroom getting ready for the 'next big thing' that is coming. Am I wrong? Should I not go into school?"
Since, I am on summer break, I am going to make this short and sweet, Melanie. Yes, you are wrong and no, you should not be in that building. Don't even go near it.
Now, before some of you start chasing me with pitchforks and torches while telling me I am the worst teacher in the world, let me explain my answers a little bit.
1. What I mean by 'wrong' is 'misinformed'.
Listen, we will all naturally think about school over the summer. I mean, it's our JOB to plan ahead and for the most part, we know what we will be getting ourselves into in the fall. However, if you are like me at all, you know that sometimes there is a difference between 'this is happening in August' and what REALLY happens in August. Things don't always go as planned and I would be in a hole in the ground had I spent all summer preparing for things at my old corporation that I was told 'were happening' and NEVER DID.
If things are really coming down the pipe in August, your administration should be working on the details over the summer to help you succeed. Not you. Don't do their job for them. They are contracted more days than you for a reason.
Now, with that said, I'm not saying you couldn't be reading some really AWESOME books to help you be a better teacher over the summer. Here is a link of books that are really HOT right now in education (pun intended):
2. What I mean by 'you should not be in that building' is exactly what I said. Stay away. Far away.
I want you to think of school in the summer as a family member or friend that you rarely see. Isn't it so much sweeter when you get to see your favorite cousin or long, lost roomy from college after an extended period of time? Trust me on this, you will be so much more excited to go back and kick butt if you wait at least 5 weeks. Do it. Walk away and don't look back for a month. Your students won't notice the difference and you can focus on YOU. As my principal always tell me, "BREATH."