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

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Dear Teacher,

Ugh.

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.


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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”

“Am I Putting Too Much Pressure on My Colleagues?” with Deanna Lough & Marisa Thompson

 

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Dear Teacher,

When was the last time you were genuinely excited about your own professional growth? For me, I am the type of person who listens to educational podcasts on my commute, downloads audio books for all of those times I walk the family dog, and gets overly excited about the next conference I am going to attend. I accost my colleagues with all of the ideas I have and initiatives I want to spearhead. I send book-chapter-sized emails to six people I think might be interested in the topic (spoiler: they’re not).

To put it mildly, when it comes to teaching, I’m intense (Just like Aimee Skidmore describes herself in episode 006 of the podcast). Pedagogically, I am turnt up and taking it to the next level, but my colleagues are dashing into their classrooms when they see me coming. They get into their cars just a little faster when they see me heading to the parking lot. And, I’m sure, they have even faked a phone call or two so that they could avoid just one more conversation about best instructional practices.

It makes me wonder, “Am I putting too much pressure on my colleagues?” Continue reading ““Am I Putting Too Much Pressure on My Colleagues?” with Deanna Lough & Marisa Thompson”

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”

“Am I Present at Home?” with Aimee and Rob Skidmore & Lindsey Frieden

Dear Teacher,

If you’re like me, you struggle with knowing how much time, effort, and energy you should give to the job. My lessons are never good enough. I worry that I have not given enough to assessing my students’ progress. And I am constantly tinkering with my craft to make it just a little bit better. When I give so much of myself to the job, I don’t leave time for the other parts of my life that matter. I have missed moments loved ones. There have been plenty of occasions where I am in the same location with my family, but I am NOT present with them.

As my wife and started having children, this started to eat at me more and more. And a few years after my first child was born, I started to ask myself, “Am I Present at Home?”

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Shortly after launching Dear Teacher, Don’t Give Up! Aimee Skidmore (@skidmoreaimee) sent me an email sharing about the time that she almost walked away from teaching. She included details about how it affected life at home, so I reached out to her and Rob inviting them on the podcast to talk about how that difficult time for Aimee was also a difficult time for her loved ones at home.

Aimee has been teaching Language Arts for over 20 years, and Rob does work in international development, which caused a few moves over the years. At present (and I get the impression that they plan to stay), they are in Geneva, Switzerland. A few years ago, Aimee stepped into the role as Head of English in her middle school, and as she invested herself in this new position, things started to grow dim rather quickly. Continue reading ““Am I Present at Home?” with Aimee and Rob Skidmore & Lindsey Frieden”