“Am I Burnt Out or Demoralized” with Dr. Doris A Santoro

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Dear Teacher,


If you’re like me, the middle of the fall semester is the most difficult time of the year. And it was my plan to release this episode last month, but October. Just before we entered the month of November, I learned of a new acronym (Just what Education needs, right?). It’s DEVELSON. That’s D-E-V-E-L-S-O-N. It stands for Dark Evil Vortex of Late September, October, and November. I don’t know of a more fitting acronym for education for this time of year.

If there is a season that makes me question whether or not I am going to stay in the classroom, it is this time of year. It was October of my seventh year of teaching when I came very close to the decision to leave the profession for good. Everything we are expected to do as teachers (which includes those expectations we place on ourselves), seem to collide into one six-week window, and for many it becomes too much.

doris-santoroIn this episode of DEAR TEACHER, DON’T GIVE UP! I talk with Dr. Doris A. Santoro, a philosopher of education and chair of education department at Bowdoin College. As a professor of education she conducts empirical research to study, and theorize about, the moral and ethical sources of teacher dissatisfaction and resistance. She wrote the book Demoralized: Why Teachers Leave the Profession They Love and How They Can Staywhich is a wake up call! All educators need to read this book!

Connect with Dr. Doris A Santoro:

For the past year, as I have interacted with educators on social media, I have seen periodic calls for teachers to exercise self-care to avoid burnout. And depending on the situation, especially one where a teacher is heaping unrealistic expectations on themselves, this is needed advice. But is self-care enough for those situations where teachers are being asked to give all of their time and energy to parts of the job that do not involve teaching or working directly with the students? It’s not. Keep listening to find out why.

To hear more stories of hope, subscribe to the Dear Teacher, Don’t Give Up! podcast.

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As for me, the host of the show, if you are currently working in education and have EVER thought about leaving, or right now, you’re a classroom teacher looking for the nearest exit, I want to hear your story. Please, contact me

QUESTION: What are some other ways teachers can better connect with their principals and administrators? Comment below.

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“Does My Principal Even Want to Hear My Ideas?” with Dr. Christina Podraza

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If you’re a teacher with ideas and you are looking to connect with your principal about getting them in motion, this is the episode for you.

Back in February of 2019, I posed a question on Twitter that got a lot of attention. It sparked an ongoing conversation with on of the administrators initially tagged in that Tweet. that conversation has brought us to this episode of Dear Teacher, Don’t Give Up! Continue reading ““Does My Principal Even Want to Hear My Ideas?” with Dr. Christina Podraza”

“Where Are My Peeps?” with Michael J. Crawford of Edspace

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Dear Teacher,

When putting our best teacher foot forward, we will inevitably hit snags, set backs, or difficulties of some kind. At times, those set backs are small bumps in the road. And sometimes the problems we run into are deep, serious, and abiding. Whatever the case may be, all of us need support. But lots of teachers leave the profession because they did not get the support they needed, and they did not get the chance to develop the resilience needed to remain in the classroom.

When it comes to the support we all need, some teachers will wait for it to come to them. Others are more proactive, and they seek it out. Most of those go-getters start at their campuses, looking for a teacher-friend who will help them overcome their roadblocks. And if they can’t find those friendly colleagues at their place of work, they will extend their search for like-hearted educators through social media.

I am fortunate to work alongside great people who help me when I need perspective and challenge me when I may be stuck in a rut. In addition to my wonderful colleagues at my brick and mortar location, I also have made amazing connections through Twitter, Facebook, and Voxer. I truly believe I am living in a great set of circumstances as a teacher. And my situation is NOT the norm for many teachers out there, but I have faith that there is another teacher, or group of teachers, out there who are ready to connect and support teachers in need.

In this episode of DEAR TEACHER DON’T GIVE UP!, you may find a space that will help you answer this question: “Where are my peeps?” Continue reading ““Where Are My Peeps?” with Michael J. Crawford of Edspace”

Asset-Building Assessment: From Degrading Rubrics to Actionable Feedback Guides

When I was a junior in college, I did some part time work tutoring students in writing through my university’s literacy center. I was working with a ninth grade student, Allan, and he was concerned about how his writing ability was affecting his grade. As we we were getting to know one another, many of my questions focused on what his teacher expected from Allan and his classmates when it came to writing.

Me: So, your classmates are getting high marks, but you’re struggling. Does your teacher go over what he expects on your papers?

Allan: Well, he goes over the rubric and . . .

Me: Hang on. Rubric? What’s that?

Allan: It’s like, a thing… a paper my teacher gives us to tell us how we’re doing with our writing, what he expects, you know?

Me: . . .

That’s right, as a junior in college, this was the first time I was becoming aware of this measuring tool. Now, to be fair to my teachers up until that time, they were using clear assessment tools to evaluate my writing and give me feedback–I remember checklists full of writing features that my teachers would tick off as they each on in my papers, and at the end I would get a certain amount of points based on my performance. But this was the first time I had to pay attention because my student’s grade depended to what extent he could calibrate his writing to the rubric.

I helped Allan work his way to receiving top marks in his class according to the scoring guide his teacher gave the class. It was very satisfying to watch him succeed because of our collaboration, and one of the many formative experiences that lead me to pursuing a career in teaching ELA at the high school level. But, soon after I started teaching, assessing student writing according to rubrics nearly caused me to leave the profession.

Continue reading “Asset-Building Assessment: From Degrading Rubrics to Actionable Feedback Guides”

Overcoming Pedagogical Repetition Compulsion

Why do we so often repeat the past? For me, it comes down to comfort. The times I challenge myself to look into a new approach is usually when I hit crisis, meaning “the way I currently behave is no longer working.”

In a previous post, I chronicled the biggest crisis of my career:  I almost left the classroom. Essentially, leading up to this crisis, the way I was conducting myself appeared to be “working.” Then, seemingly instantaneously, what I thought was working didn’t work any more.

In that situation, I was confronted with reality, and I either had to change or quit. There was no going back. But there have been other moments in my career where I have stepped back and taken a closer look at what I was doing and asked myself, “Is there a better way to do this?” Continue reading “Overcoming Pedagogical Repetition Compulsion”