Welcome to episode 194 of The Burned-In Teacher Podcast. This is our LAST meeting of the Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series, and in this Hack, we are going to dive into what it means to never settle for a burned-out career (and life) ever again. No matter what your past has looked like, we are going to continue to move forward, focusing on what’s to come and preparing for future hardships by keeping our goals and action steps front of mind. In addition, we will explore how to love teaching, ensuring that our passion and dedication shine through in every aspect of our profession. Let's discover the joy and fulfillment that comes with making a positive impact on our student's lives while fostering our own growth and happiness in the process.
Over the past 8 weeks, we’ve been going Hack-by-Hack through my book, Hacking Teacher Burnout, and growing and learning along the way. If you are just joining us for the Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series, don’t feel like you missed out! You can still get yourself a copy of Hacking Teacher Burnout (you can order a copy on Amazon or through Barns and Noble) and the Hacking Teacher Burnout Book Study Guide is still available on my TpT store. And you can always join the free Burned-In Teacher Podcast Facebook Community and participate in the challenges and conversations that have been happening. There has been incredible engagement in the Facebook Community from the teachers that joined me this summer and have been taking action against their burnout.
Seeing and interacting with the teachers who have been have been showing up for themselves every week has been so exciting and I’ve been so moved by their determination and growth. And with the next school year right around the corner, I don’t want these feelings and this momentum to come to an end. So before we dive into this chapter, I have a couple of things I want to share with you to keep this momentum going:
Okay, so now let’s dive into Hack 8, which is all about preparing for future hardships by keeping your goals and action steps in mind.
When I think back, I was not prepared for the challenges that come with being a teacher. As a new teacher, you have this vision of what being a teacher will be like, and then the realities set in on what it’s really like. Quite frankly, our teacher prep programs don’t do a good enough job of helping pre-service and new teachers to be mentally prepared for being in the classroom. In fact, I think we do an awful job of it. As a student teacher, you are working for free, working long hours, and being told that that is what teaching is like. But you don’t have to settle for this as your forever reality.
Never settling means that anytime you are faced with hardship, you go back to the beginning of the Burned-In Process and begin where you are by asking yourself what brought you to this moment of frustration or breakdown and determining what your next best step should be. Then, you move into thinking about how someone with the teacher brand that you want to have would handle the challenge that you are facing. When I’m faced with challenges, I ask myself, “How would Burned-In Amber handle this situation?” In the past, I’ve definitely handled situations inappropriately because I was leading with my emotions rather than stopping, reflecting, and thinking about what is truly the best next step for me.
In the book, on pages 174 through 176 I’ve given you several things you can do to ground yourself in a Burned-In mindset. Which mindset from those pages would you choose? (Go to the Podcast Facebook Community and share!)
Looking at the mindsets that are presented on those pages, important to note that kindness and being nice are two totally different things. Sometimes showing kindness is building a boundary that you used to tell yourself that you could set in fear of upsetting someone. Setting boundaries is part of showing kindness because you are showing others how to treat you as well as what they can expect from you.
Now for the “Blueprint for Full Implementation”.
When you’re faced with hardship, whether it be a student behavior, a negative co-worker, a misunderstanding with an administrator, or a new curriculum, here are the steps that you can continue to come back to so you don’t have to settle for a burned-out life and career.
#1. Reflect on how long you’ve been struggling with your challenges and what possible triggers could be causing your burned-out feelings to come back.
#2: Consider how someone with the teacher brand you want to portray would handle the challenge.
#3: Stop and ask yourself what’s in your control and then decide to focus on the solutions rather than the challenge itself.
#4. Think about how you can use your strengths and habits to move through the challenges. We are all so different and beautiful, and we all have different things that make us, US, and that make us great. Focusing on these things rather than focusing on our weaknesses all the time is the best way to continue to move through the challenge. And, of course, continue to reflect on your habits and whether or not your habits are helping you to become a stronger person mentally, emotionally, and physically or if you’ve fallen back into old habits. If you’re starting to feel exhausted and overwhelmed all the time, maybe it’s because you’ve fallen back into the habit of scrolling Instagram during the time when you typically grade and plan ahead. Or maybe you’ve started staying up late and only getting a few hours of sleep and therefore you’re not able to process the challenges in a healthy way.
#5. Work on extending your reach and possibilities. Have you done your research on what you can do to grow from your challenges? I’ve done a TON of research on student behavior since returning to the classroom in 2021 because I’ve seen behaviors in my kindergarten classroom that I’ve never seen before as a teacher. Instead of complaining and blaming, I’ve chosen to do my research on what I can do to help both my students and myself be more successful. And, of course, are you continuing to foster the possibilities in your life outside of the classroom? Do you continue to make time for relationships and hobbies that bring you so much joy outside of school, or have you let them go by the wayside? It’s about consistently raising your self-awareness and looking at what you’re doing or not doing that could help you move through your current challenge.
#6. Determine (or come back to) your long-term goals! If you set goals this summer and then let them go and not revisited them just because school started will cause you to feel more frustrated, overwhelmed, and exhausted because you’re so focused on just surviving the day-to-day instead of focusing on the future. This is about realizing that yes today may suck, but it’s just one small blip in your life. Your current challenge is not your whole life. Having those long-term goals gives you something to focus on rather than the challenge. It gives you the excuse to move on because what I’ve noticed is that having goals and aspirations outside of your classroom helps you realize how small those challenges you’re facing in the classroom really are.
#7. Initiating lasting change is not focusing on everybody else’s stuff but instead focusing on what you’re working towards and continuing to check in with yourself on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You’re always checking in with yourself and not comparing yourself to anyone else or even to who you were two weeks ago. This is an exciting journey that you are on.
#8. Never settle and no matter what challenge you’re faced with knowing that you can always begin where you are again, no matter where you are in your journey. You are further ahead than where you were when you started the Burned-In Process, and you get stronger every time you go through it. And now, you have this book and this reflection journal that you can come back to any time you need to do those brain dumps, recognize your priorities, or gain a perspective on how amazing and strong you are now.
To close out all the hard work we did this summer in the Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series, I’m actually going to read the conclusion of the book to you. I was looking for small nuggets that I could share to close out this episode, but it’s so packed full of strong words of affirmation and encouragement.
“The first step to any change is believing you're capable and worthy of it. Your belief in yourself, your values, and your purpose will carry you through multitudes of future challenges and crises that are sure to come your way both in your personal and professional lives.
You may not have chosen to teach with “that teacher” or have “that student” in your class. You didn't choose to have your disability which makes it even harder to teach kids today. You also didn't choose the policies that keep education in a constant state of push and pull.
You can choose to take control of the one thing that only changes when you decide to change it. Your beliefs about your capability and worthiness to live a life that brings you happiness and joy - no matter what. Making this choice doesn't mean you slap on a smile when you're hurting. It doesn't mean that you ignore your suffering. It means that you are vulnerable and brave enough to acknowledge your hurt and suffering and move through the steps again, use these eight steps repeatedly go through them again, and again whenever you need to center yourself and focus on dealing with any challenge or crisis. Whether someone intentionally hurt you, or you find yourself in a situation where you can't feel or do your best, come back to these steps and begin where you are. Think about how long this challenge has been triggering feelings of frustration and anxiety. Then remember your core values and who your people are. Centering yourself and coming back there first and foremost will allow you to focus on your best next imperfect step.
And that's what being a Burned-In Teacher is all about moving forward, focusing on solutions, and believing that you're capable and worthy of a life where you feel powerful and in control of the one thing that can change your reality during any challenge: you.
As you continually move through this process each time you feel challenged, you will watch others struggle in isolation - just like you did. You will see teachers fighting the same battles and beliefs that you once did. Now you can become an advocate for them and share your story of transformation. They may choose to listen and ask questions, or they may choose not to. Their journey is theirs, and yours is yours. But continue to show up check in and offer support.
When you choose to show up with a plan of action for yourself and others when life gets hard, you are on fire for teaching and for life. You've empowered yourself with the tools to believe you're capable and worthy of solutions within your control and to empower others to believe the same. That's how this process continues from isolation to empowerment and fire grows for a happy and fulfilling career and life. Burn on.” (p.183 - 185)
I’m so grateful that you've been here this summer to read this book with me to do this work on your journey out of burnout. I hope to see you at the “Meet the Author Event” on August 7 at 8:30 pm Eastern Standard Time. I really would love to see you there!
Thank you so much for going on this journey with me. This is certainly not the end, this is just the beginning.