Sep 21, 2018

In this episode, I go solo to go deeper into what BURNED-IN means. Did you know that it’s an acronym? Well, it is and here’s what it stands for:

B: Begin Where You Are

U: Understand Your Teacher Brand (Updated)

R: Reflect On Your Challenges

N: Nurture Your Strengths

E: Extend Your Reach and Possibilities (Updated)

D: Determine Your Goals

I: Initiate Change


B: Begin Where You Are

Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny. - Lau Tzu


Beginning where you are when you are burned out is a very important first step in finding out where you want to go. When you plan a vacation, you don't blink your eyes and land at that destination. It takes careful planning and support. That planning starts with where you are and, therefore, planning a path for where you want to end up. Here’s how you can begin your journey out of burnout:


How long have I done this thing that I am doing?

How long have I physically been working in this place? Where did I start teaching and where am I now? 

What have I done to bring me to this 'place' emotionally, mentally, and physically?

Journal about it, have a conversation about it. You may be having a small rough patch or you could be full-blown burned-out and ready to move on, but feeling teacher-stressed and teacher-tired is something that can be fixed. Of course, if you hate teaching vs. you’re feeling like you need to change something with your classroom management, those two feelings need to be addressed differently.

It all starts with “Beginning Where You Are.”


Talk to someone about your feelings with burn-out. But please try to remember that being vulnerable and being a victim are two different things. Too often in my experiences, teachers (myself included sometimes) think that 'venting' = problem solving. I wish it was, because it would be WAY easier to complain and *SNAP* the problem be solved. Unfortunately though, that's not how it works, my friends. Being vulnerable starts with creating a habit of:

- Identifying the problem.

- Trying to Understand it.

- Seeking out answers.

- Offering possible solutions. 

- Repeat. 

U: Understand Your Teacher Brand

“Your teacher brand is created by reflecting on who you are now, deciding who you want to be in the future, and paying attention to who people perceive you to be.”

— Burned-In Teacher


How you present yourself and your classroom + how you speak to students  + how you act towards your people = your teacher brand.


Realizing and reflecting on what people say about you when you’re not around or what people think about you when you’re walking down the hall toward them is one of the most important steps you can take on your journey out of burnout. How you make your people feel is a huge reflection on your teacher brand. Who are ‘your people’? Your people are those people who you work with, for, and around. So, for educators, your people are students, their families, your administrator, and fellow teachers.


“Your teacher brand is your promise to your people that although certain things are hard for you right now, you are going to do your best to seek support and find solutions to your struggles.”

  • If you haven’t taken The Teacher Burnout Quiz yet, to see what type of burnout you’re struggling with, do that first.  Your results will give you insight into what your teacher brand is right now.
  • Jump into The Burned-In Facebook Group and tell us about your burnout, journey, and ask for support as you recreate your teacher brand.
  • Do some reflecting, journaling, or ask these questions to someone you know will be honest with you:
  • How am I presenting myself and my classroom?
  • What are things that I’m known for?
  • What are common themes when I’m talking to administrators or other teachers?
  • Who am I now and who do I want to be five years from now?
  • If you realize or learn that you are the school grump and no one wants to be around you because you ooze negativity, you have the power to change it NOW. Think of celebrities who’ve changed their brand from out of control rocker to down to Earth human.

     R: Reflect on Your Challenges

     It’s no secret. Education is full of challenges. Add the challenges that students come to school with and you may feel that being a teacher in today’s schools is impossible. But it isn’t. With the right focus and the right steps, you can push past those challenges and make the impact you’ve always dreamed you would as a teacher. Where the real change happens is when you realize the CORE of those challenges that we have control over and take steps to take control over our own feelings, mindset, and daily actions and reactions.


    Facing our challenges or *ahem* weaknesses is something we are forced to do every day. We are wired as human-beings to look for challenges and hardships. It's in our DNA. Unfortunately, our ancestors didn't know how easy we would have it one day. You know, not having to forage for food in the middle of winter while being worried about wild animals eating us while we search for our next meal.

    All in all, we have it pretty darn easy nowadays, so when we think about challenges, they can range from extremely difficult  to very minor. Everyone is different and challenges are relative. Our challenges are OURS. They can be mental, emotional, physical, or theoretical. They can be rooted in our past or predicted for our future. Either way, it's what you do with those challenges that counts. There are no journeys without some bumps in that road we are taking. 

    It all starts with WHY.

    Why is this challenge here?  Why is this challenge here in the first place? Why haven’t you searched for a solution? Why am I reacting this way?


    Why am I struggling with __________? “Why?” Because ________________. “Why is that a struggle?” Because ______________. “Why?”


    • Have you taken The Teacher Burnout Quiz to identify the type of teacher burnout you’re experiencing? Do that first and then share your results in The Burned-In Teacher Facebook Group.
    • Make a Brain-Dump List. Set a timer and open up that new journal of yours and list the things that are standing in the way of you and your happiness and fulfillment. Write for 2, 3, or 60 minutes or whatever amount of time it takes to get it all out there. Then...
    • Make a list of possible solutions. They can be as realistic or far-fetched as you'd like. Just try overcoming those challenges on paper. It may make them easier to consider doing in real life. 

    I interviewed Jaqueline Whiting about this topic on The Burned-In Teacher Podcast. Check out that interview here:

    Ep #002 - Jacquelyn Whiting Helps Us Find What We Love Most About Teaching


    - Start to think about talking to someone on a regular basis. And no, it doesn't have to be a Shrink. However, if that is what you're considering, then go for it. I cannot be the judge of your situation. Only you can. Ask for help from someone you trust: a friend, relative, your dog, or if that person is me, I'm here for you too.

    - The book that started me on my journey out of burnout way back in 2014 was the oldie, but goodie: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephan Covey. This, along side of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin is a match made in Heaven, I tell you. I'm not suggesting you read them at the same time, but if that's your thing, I'm not going to judge you.

    N: Nurture Your Strengths


    Now we can get to the good stuff! Those strengths that we so often either looked over or have been flipped on their head as weaknesses. Let me tell you a little story about a girl who always, even into adulthood, got way too comfortable with people, way too quickly. She walked away from meeting a new person or colleague thinking, "We're best friends!" and then her feelings were hurt when that new bestie didn't seem to want to be best friends. Over and over this girl would beat herself up for being too forward, too comfortable, and too loud and excited about meeting new people. And then, one day, she learned that that curse was actually a strength called "Woo". From that day on, I, yes I, have learned that it is natural for me to want to get to know people to their very core the moment that I meet them. You see, we are not often taught NOT to focus on developing our strengths. Most times we are told to focus on our weaknesses and to get better at those things. Take this post as permission to DEVELOP THOSE STRENGTHS! You deserve to be your best self. Nurture that car that will speed you to your destination. Your strengths are your fuel. FILL. THAT. TANK. FULL!


    What am I naturally good at?

    What do others compliment me on and ask me for help with?

    What is my personality type and/or my top five strengths? How can I build on these?

    What weaknesses do I have? How can I choose to acknowledge them and move past them?


    - Take the 16 Personalities Assessment to find what your true personality type is.  Dive deep into these results. They were transformative for me and I know they’ll confirm some things about you to yourself as well.

    - Have a conversation with someone new. YOU. Look in the mirror and tell yourself all of the things that you are good at. Then, write them down in that journal. Keep those things close to your heart. Are there any things that you forgot about?

    Jump onto our Burned-In Facebook Group and tell us about your journey so far, ask questions, or support another teacher. We're in this together!


    - Take the FREE 10-minutes 16 Personalities Assessment . It is super-short and will change your life. It changed mine.

    - Learn more about your personality type from the assessment by investing in a Starter Kit from This kit is taylor-made for your new-found personality type and can be an eye-opener for you as you start this journey.

    - Ever heard of a book called Strengthsfinder 2.0 from Gallup? Hold onto your hats. This book unlocks doors to understanding strengths like you wouldn't believe. AND... it comes with a code you can enter on .

    E: Extend Your Reach and Possibilities


    Extending your reach is doing exactly what it says: reach out. Talk to people, without complaining. Talk about you and your feelings and what you want for yourself. Find someone who can offer SUPPORT, not a SHOULDER. Reaching out to the wrong people could mean a bitch session that ends with, "I hear you. I hate my job too. We're in this together. Can I pour you another one?"

    Although it may seem therapeutic to vent to your colleagues or significant other, trust me, you're spinning your wheels. "Venting" without seeking help is right there next to the worst thing you could do when suffering from burnout: keep it inside... unless at home... crying to your (insert significant someone here)... for years. I did that. Every day. For years. I wish that I could tell you that I was either kidding or making this up for dramatic effect. I really do, but that would be a lie. The truth is, I didn't tell a whole lot of people, until it was too late and I was bitter and angry and searching for other jobs during my prep period. 

    Ladies and gentlemen, once you get rid of the shame, I can tell you from experience, you will open up the door to let others in to help you find a solution. It is worth the effort that it takes to pull yourself out from under this heavy weight that is teacher burnout. 


    How do you spend your time outside of school?

    How are you currently extending your reach?

    How are you currently extending your possibilities?

    Who are you going to allow to influence your possibilities?

    Are you busy for the sake of being busy? - Also, not badge-worthy.


    - Choose ways to extend your reach by paying attention to how little you’ve been paying attention to your life outside of being a teacher.

    - Forgive yourself. Seriously. Stop feeling guilty about where you are in your journey and how you are feeling about it. Being who you are, where you are is part of the amazing journey that can and will go wherever you choose. It really is up to you to decide where the path will go. Own it. Be proud of it and, damn it, be EXCITED about it. This is your LIFE we are talking about here. Don't take it lightly.

    D: Determine Your Long Term Goals


    Determining your goals is a BIG step in the process of beating burnout. Without clear goals, you cannot see where you want to go, and (therefore) you wonder to yourself, "What's the point of all of this?" Your goals can, will, and should be very different than others' around you. You are YOU and they are THEM. Also, don't get trapped in the comparison game with this. These goals should be about your professional growth, not about competing to be better than the teacher down the hall. 

    Setting yourself up for success, no matter where you are now and where you want to go in the future all starts with you setting aside time to assess what you want for yourself. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where all of the previous posts about BURNED-IN come together.

    Check out this Burned-In Teacher Podcast episode about determining your goals for 2019!


    A few years ago, I sat down at McDonald's with a friend and we had a mission: change our lives. We had several things about our lives that we were unhappy with, all of them different from one another, but all important, just the same. Here is how we organized our goals:

    They were:

    S: Specific (What, Why, and How) - "My goal is to decide what Master's Degree program I want pursue, because I know that I do not want to continue to be in the classroom, but I want to keep working with teachers and students by doing research."

    M: Measurable (Long Term/Short Term) - "I will do research on x types of Degrees  by x date to determine what it is that I want to get my Master's Degree in by  x date. If I don't find the thing that feels right, I may need to change my goal." (Side Note: You may have an end date for the entire goal to be met, but dates that lead up to that main date to keep you on track.)

    A: Achievable (agreed, attainable) - "I am going to look for a Master's Program that I can visualize myself doing and enjoying. My family knows about my goals and are supportive of them."

    R: Relevant (measure outcomes, not activities) -  "After all of the research, I will decide which Degree program would best fit my personality and how much time I want to spend on the degree, so that I don't quit."

    T: Time Bound (time-limited, time-sensitive) - "I will choose what Degree I want to pursue by x date, so that I have time to fill out my application and make plans for my family and myself as I work toward reaching this goal."

    Resources used: 


    What do you want for you, your family, your profession? The time is now!

    What went well last year? What didn’t?

    What are you choosing to say NO and YES to?

    What are your professional and personal goals?

    What’s your word of the year?


    - Planning for the future, no matter what it means for you, personally or professionally is sure to send you on a trajectory of hope and anticipation.

    Forgive yourself. Seriously. Stop feeling guilty about where you are in your journey and how you are feeling about it. Being who you are, where you are is part of the amazing journey that can and will go wherever you choose. It really is up to you to decide where the path will go. Own it. Be proud of it and, damn it, be EXCITED about it. This is your LIFE we are talking about here. Don't take it lightly.

    I: Initiate Lasting Change


    I read a quote many years ago, when I was just dabbling in the idea of starting something new for myself: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." You see, for several years while going in and out of burnout, I did a lot of talking, stewing, and complaining, but didn't take a whole lot of action. At least not action that would help me to solve the real problem: my own unhappiness. What I have come to learn in the last few years is that the only REAL thing that I have control over and can change is me. So, Initiating change is all about taking positive, powerful steps in the direction that will lead you to a destination that is determined by YOU, not anyone else. 


    Over the years, I have worked with some pretty inspiring, loving, and positive people. These are people that I have decided to surround myself with, connect with, and (most importantly) dream with. Because of that, they have shared amazing things with me. One thing that was shared with me last year, as I was expressing my dreams for Burned-In Teacher, was this video. It's all about creating change, taking the jump, and really living. I watch it almost every day. Something you should know about me is that I am not religious, but I do believe that something out there wants us to not just exist, but to live our fullest life and to serve others. Mr. Harvey's message shares his personal religious views, but more than that, he shares a strong message of taking a leap of faith, so we can initiate REAL change and, therefore, live our fullest and happiest lives. Check it out here: 


    My favorite part of the video is when he says that we are born with gifts, those strengths that I wrote about early last month. Those strengths are what can help us to know what our true path should be. Don't be afraid of them. Embrace them and the change they can help you to initiate TODAY. 


    What actions can I take TODAY to make myself happier?

    How might I start taking small steps to reach goals that I have set over and over, but haven't reached?

    Who can I talk to that can help me to begin initiating the changes that I need to make?


    - Chances are, if you've landed on this site, you've already come to the conclusion that you need help or that you need someone to understand you, your situation, and your feelings about it. If you've already tried talking to someone (or someones) and their advice to you is to, "Just make it to summer, and then you'll feel better," and you know you need more than that, it's time to start searching somewhere else. Try other circles that you've never tried before or try the PRIVATE Burned-In Teacher Facebook Community , where we're here for you, 24/7.  Join us and read about other's journeys or tell us about your journey so far, ask questions, or support another teacher. We're in this together!

    Forgive yourself. Seriously. Stop feeling guilty about where you are in your journey and how you are feeling about it. Being who you are, where you are is part of the amazing journey that can and will go wherever you choose. It really is up to you to decide where the path will go. Own it. Be proud of it and, damn it, be EXCITED about it. This is your LIFE we are talking about here. Don't take it lightly.

    N: Never Settle


    This is such a tough concept to write about and discuss, because the idea of settling is so relative to your personality, strengths, and goals. I, coincidentally, had a deep conversation about settling with my dad last night. In my humble opinion, settling can be defined simply: when you are in a situation solely focused on someone else's growth over your own. Now, teaching is a service, I get it, but if you either don't have time, or make the choice not to grow yourself, you are in a place of settling in that position. That pretty much sums up how I have felt in certain situations in my career. How about you? 


    Close your eyes or get a pencil. Either make a mental or written list of the three things that you do each work day that take a majority of your time. Now, think about your teacher brand, personality type, strengths, and goals. Do they match up? If not, whose fault is that? What we can't do is immediately blame someone else for the way that we spend our time. (I mean, maybe we can, but let's not go to that place right away.) 

    During my deepest and darkest moments of my career in education, I reflect and am ashamed at the amount of times that I complained and built walls in front of my own escape routes by not taking action on the things that were holding me back from reaching my full potential. I was in a position of settling for where I was and what I was doing. It wasn't good for anyone, especially my students. 

    In order for me to feel that I was getting out of Settletown, I needed to get uncomfortable. Seriously uncomfortable. I started watching and learning how to become a Google Certified Educator and, let me be honest here, I felt so dumb. I still do, but to me, that is growth. I surround myself with people who know more than me as much as I can. For me, discomfort=growth, so I am uncomfortable A LOT. 


    Reflect on all previous questions. Now decide what you’re going to do to NEVER go back to that place again.

    What do I spend most of my time at work? Who do I spend the most time with?

    Do those things match my teacher brand, strengths, goals, talents, or personality?

    What actions do I take to start growing and changing NOW?



And now you know! BURNED-IN is an acronym for BIG changes in your life. BURN ON!



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