Episode #46: Burned and Unbalanced to Burned-In Teacher: 1 on 1 with Lisa

Podcast Transcription

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Amber: Appreciating change can help you realize how precious this life is and as you’ll hear Lisa talk about today, she had some really important things to pay attention to that needed to change in order for her  to appreciate her career and education, and to appreciate her talent, and her passion. Now when we do get to the interview, I want you to pay attention to some of the things that Lisa says about what she used to say to herself when she was burned and unbalanced. I want you to ask yourself , “Have I been saying the same things? Have I been living this way?” I place this interview here in the month of October for understand you teacher brand period because the changes that Lisa made to her day-to-day organization and planning have truly transformed her branch. She’ll mention in the interview that students used to asked her is she’s upset or if she’s mad and she would always say, “Why are you always asking me that?” She loved her job, what they were seeing was her anxiety and her overwhelm and I thought that this was the perfect place to share this episode with you because I know it’s so relatable. Her story is so common and the reason I know this is for two reasons:


  1. I was a teacher for 12 years.
  2. The most common outcome of the teacher burnout quiz that I created is burned and unbalanced. Over 70% of the teachers that take this quiz come out on the other end, burned and unbalanced. So I know what a big impact Lisa’s interview going to have on you, burned and unbalanced teachers.

Amber: Lisa I’m so grateful that you took my offer and that you came on to the BUrned-In Teacher Podcast with me tonight to talk about your experience with 1:1 coaching so thank you so much for being here.


Lisa: Well, thank you for having me here.


Amber: So let’s get right into it. We started working together back in May of 2018-2019 school year. So tell me where you were in your, what your reality was at that time, and how you found Burned-In Teacher.


Lisa: I found Burned-In Teacher because on a typical night you could find me completely overwhelmed with everything that I had to get done when it got to a belonging I just kind of distracted myself so I subscribed to “Ditch That Textbook” with Matt Miller and I guess you did a podcast and it said Teacher BurnOut and I thought, that’s me and I clicked on and I did the quiz and I was burned and unbalanced which I already knew and I went on to your website. At that time, I was a little embarrassed to say that I was in my 11th year teaching, you would think that by hearing my story I always felt so embarrassed when I shared my struggles because I felt, Gosh! I’ve been teaching for so long and you would think that I would've been half of it. I was always reacting, I have a lot of great successes but I can never enjoy the fruits of my labor because  I was always worried I’d forget this thing. I’d forget that thing. My lessons were not, I knew what I had to teach but I was always behind like there would be periods where I’m so embarrassed to say that. I knew the bell was ringing and I gave them a worksheet because I didn’t know what I was doing next period and on those days, was like the ultimate up blow because I’m embarrassed because I’m not a first year teacher. I blame a lot of my organization on being a travelling teacher for about 8 years. Well you know, I’m going between buildings and rooms so I just can’t get organized and there is like a lie that I believed and when I did finally get my own classroom,it was more of the same and I though,”Ugh”. 


So I reached out to you because I had just come back or like my parents or I just found my parents are really sick the same time I was working always extra jobs and try to get my summoned while being incredibly what I felt unprepared for my job. I was running clubs where we would get things done, have events, but it was always like I would be there, get overwhelmed and forget what I was gonna do or like 1 or 2 o’ clock in the morning trying to get everything done by following up, begging people for last minute things like the thing on the lack of planning and kind or emergency on my part. I was like, “Could you please give me a last minute, last minute. I called you and I did what usually do, I talked myself out of the coach, You know what I have too many bills right now, I can’t really section up the money to do this. Maybe it’s not for me, maybe this is just an engine. I at the same time working on this really big fundraising in the school and the class was 8 in the morning and we organized this great fundraiser to help stray dogs, fabulous fundraiser, my students were so excited. I was able to inject Spanish then I realized I scheduled it on the same day of presentation. 


So all this work, all this preparation, I wasn’t able to go and I felt like it was just one of the things where you work so hard on some things and you don't get it to the end and it was totally my fault. So then I was like I gotta get serious. We make excuses, if we don't take care of ourselves that we take care of everybody else. I don’t give myself what I need then I’m actually robbing the people around me because if I don’t feel my job, there’s no overflow.   It got to the point were kids would come to my class and ask, “ Are you okay?” and I’ll say, “Why are you always asking that?” and they’ll say “Cause you look upset” When really what they were looking at was my anxiety and I know what I gotta do.


Now that I have a plan, I start my day totally different. It’s more like, let me touch face with so and so, you know things that I wasn’t able to do . My first few years of teaching, I didn't have a lot of relationships because I thought that my curriculum was more important. Then I realized that it’s relationships first and that was really great in developing relationships with kids that weren’t in my class.  I was like, what about the kids in my class? So now, I can say I see myself being able to give more of myself because I had to come to the realization that I wasn’t living my truth in teaching and that was hard because I want my students to know that I believe that each of them can learn a language and speak it I wasn’t giving up myself to my students.I would go to conferences, get so excited, so energized never really give myself the time I needed to plan, I wasn’t giving it back to my kids. Then I said, you know what even though it’s the end of the year, maybe I can’t fix everything this year but I can own up to what I’ve let happen and that’s really hard to do too, to really accept. You know what, I could’ve avoided it but this doesn’t mean next year it has to be the same. 


It was kinda hard initially because I was still unorganized of trying to finish the year while trying to plan for next this coming year but I had to stop because I have thoughts of, “maybe this is just not for you”  and I’ve worked so hard, I have two jobs and my kids are in daycare while I was getting my masters. I could see how the burn out happened and then you’re just left with no hope and that’s when I felt so hopeless like I can not take another year of this. Even though it wasn’t horrible, like I was building better relationships but I don’t want to be that teacher where my kids have to walk  on eggshells. My biological or my students like... It’s not you, it’s just the fact that I’m unprepared and I need to be prepared so don't feel anxious and project that off. 


Amber: So, I’m sitting here on the other end and parts of things that you have said now made me get emotional because I’m sure it’s not just me. I’m sure that people who are listening to this are saying, “Me too” Right? You get to a point where you love what you do but your body and your mind are not following because you don’t even know where to start. So you’ve already alluded to some of the things you are saying to yourself but what were some of the things that when you woke up in the morning, what were saying to yourself in May? Or even, let’s go back, let’s do April? March? Burnout is not a cause, it’s an effect. All of these things build up so you didn’t wake up one morning and think, “You know what? I’m burned out. I don’t really know why. Right? What consistently went to your head?


Lisa: Now it’s a joke but it was kind of like, my mantra back in the days that old Dunkin’ Donuts commercial, “ Time to make the donut!” I have to wake up and tell my husband, “Ugh, time to make the donut” Then Then I found him saying things, “This happens to you every year, maybe it’s the time of the year” and when you think that you’re like, Yeah, this has been me. All these years, just like, you just make excuses along the way. I’m a 1st year teacher, I’m a 2nd year teacher, I’m a traveller, I have too many after school activities, problems in my marriage, whatever is in that, you really deal with it until there were dread going in because I was so anxious like your failure. You can’t do you’re supposed to do, how could you deal act at 5 year teacher marketing  so happened that were together. Not like this is your first time teaching this course back together but then when I do have the time there would be no separation so I had years of my teaching where my craft was like, I’m doing my bills during craft. 


Amber: Oh my goodness!, 


Lisa: What a crazy things was that? I don’t like, I just then like I had no separation. So everything, Oh my gosh! I just forgot! Let me call a bakery right now, I have to order cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday party. Ohhhh! 


Lisa: This is a grind, it’s okay then we’ll beat in. No it’s not and then last year I was just. The thing with my parents, I didn’t know if I had to take time off to school, to take care of them. There were so many emotional things happening at once that I thought. I am here taking a flight to Puerto Rico to visit my parents and I am definitely afraid of coming back this is  during spring break because I have no idea what I might be doing. And then, like we had a definite family at the same time. I did not leave myself in a good clothes. We just cried because we were so embarrassed. How am I gonna tell this woman that I’ve been teaching like all these years, I can’t go back to that. You always want those to stay secret because your so embarrassed. 

Amber: That's a shame! That nasty shame like I should be able to handle all of this by myself. You mentioned basically all of the agents of same. We talked about the excuses, I’m too. I’ve been doing this too long to feel this way, right? Or you had that overwhelmed there’s so much to do. I don’t know where to start so I will just do my bills. 

Lisa: My bills! I still can’t believe that. 


Amber: The really ironic part about this interview listeners is that we just got off our coaching call. And she is saying all of the agents of change without prompting. You just sound like a totally different person. So we're gonna get that but I want to ask you than, You mentioned that you wanted to live your truth. And that was on our goals sheet, that was something at the very top but what is that mean to you? I know what it means but tell the listeners what it means to you to live your truth? 


Lisa: I want my students feel that I have cored in to them the excitement regarding a language. Cored in to them the confidence that they can learn another language. I want the kids in my, I’m an adviser too to student council I want my steppers to know that I love what they do and I support what they do and I’m there for them.I wanted the kids in an honest society and I want to know that I appreciate their work that I'm open to new ideas, that I am so excited to see them leave. I want when I spend time with my family that they know they can count on me not to distract with me, not represent with me, I want to be able to tell people that if I’m gonna meet with you for lunch, you will have all my time. We have my attention if you have my heart not there at the back of my mind, and more, oh my gosh my plan didn’t finish. I have to rushed off to the phone when maybe my dog, I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to do and now I’m like that. You know I have teenage kid and elderly parents so I need to be there. I want to be there for the people I care about like recharging when I’m down and dumb. We were all have those days but just living my truth is that It’s just really be an intentional about what I’m doing. While I’m in the classroom, I want to make a difference, I want every single kid in there to know at some point that I know a little bit more about you than just your name and your grade. When I’m just unprepared like I know your name, I collected my data, I did everything my job wanted me to do but it was that beyond peace that my son had a teacher that was just phenomenal. I came out of the classroom and at the end of the year I cried for this one moment, I said I want to be her. When I tell you that she knows everything about my son. Everything like I’m not gonna this exact things that she did but I loved that energy. When your mind like different places you’re not gonna get those energy and you treat the kids out , you treat your significant other out, you treat anybody you met. You treat them other performers than you are. You can’t give what you don’t have. Mental capacity of life..


Amber: It’s interesting, because again I got a little teary-eyed as you’re saying these things now. I’m an emotional person okay. But the reason that I’m feeling so much right now is because I have felty those things. This is why I truly don’t believe that there are bad teachers. 


Lisa: Yeah, just burned out.


Amber: I think we fallen into bad habits maybe a little bit of bad luck, bad self talk, you know just bad routines, maybe we fell under on bad leadership one time and there are a plethora of reasons that we gotten to where we are. It’s not that you don’t care about your student’s name or knowing more about them than their name and their grade like you said, but it’s that when your brain is just like you said in all those places it just, it only creates more and more and more problems for you and of course with you relationship with your students which affects your classroom management. And that just brings on all of the burnout. Not just burned and unbalanced but then burned and over it coz my kids are disrespectful and more apathetic and then you become apathetic so it’s just that cyclical process.


Lisa: Absolutely. 


Amber: So Lisa, take us to September 2019. 


Lisa: I have to say that this year I have started, Oh my Gosh… all of the years..

 I had so many things done beforehand that I was using my time more efficiently that would be you know my, I would always kind of teach for June until Summer to get my act together. When summer comes I wanna be  drinking sangria not be on school mode kinda ooze cyclical 2 days full of work and then not doing enough work others days and just totally unbalanced. Even with my home-to-do list or I want to quote on this, It just wouldn’t happen because I didn’t purposely scheduled the time to do it. It would get done here and there but not as effectively as you could. So this year, I’ve walked in with a plan and a lot of grace. So say, you were starting something new that you’ve never done before so I still have to be excited, I’m not gonna lie because you keep on falling in to those bad habits. But I’m so much more hopeful because I had a vision so when I would get scared and anxious I will start thinking of,Oh my gosh I can’t find anything where that I left I did last year, the organization was also part of my problem. I would just say, you know what, I’m gonna do, I’m gonna look through everything that I have now 12 years have accumulated so many things. First look at what you have, don’t try to create everything new and give yourself graceful back to the goal when you feel nervous. Or you would feel, Oh my gosh, there's so much to do, I don’t know what to do. But now yeah….


Amber: I want to interrupt you really quickly because it, pardon me I’m not laughing at you but the situation and that specific box that you sent me that when you, Coz you didn’t want to organize your drive, your Google drive. You were annoyed with me when I said “got to get this organized” and you actually did it, you are such a good student.  And you boxed me one day and you said, “Amber, you won’t believe it, I found this entire curriculum that I purchased that I totally forgot about” Again going back to that anxious, frantic, forgetful brand that we get when we were trying to keep you know we’re like in panic mode. You know the term, Keeping my head above water, just surviving the day you forget about these things that you said that you purchased or conferences you’ve gone to and you never brought it to your students. You use this it good stuff. And you’re now utilizing it.


Lisa: I have to admit that I keep on purchasing things in twice in teachers pay teachers but now you know, look what you have and most of the time like 9, 10 I’ve had what I needed and now I’m doing a little better at filing it or even just you know I took here 90 minutes the webinar I use it. I use the replay. I decided this year I was gonna create all my lesson on slide and it’s been so beneficial to me because I can insert the links to documents. I have my lessons now more brief, I can give my students break because I teach them on block schedule. It’s exciting. I first creating the slides were I was anxious. Locally I was you were helping me cut so fast. Just don't make them again so I find a template and I just modified it and I did find myself initially like wanting to put all these kids thing in it. My kids need more a hundred percent of me rather they need a cute theme and when you told me not to decorate my classroom, I thought I was gonna fall off the couch but I put on when I talk to you. My lesson plan are more important than decorating. I can always do that later as a surprise to my kids which actually I just decorated finally were like on week 3 because a student ask me “Hey do you need help with anything?” Now I’m asking every kids, ‘Hey you don't have anything to do come by my room, I have stuff for you to do and my kids are showing up one hang up coasters for me and it gives them something to do, chat a little bit while I’m answering on the other hand stuff. When you said that, I was like, “How can I not?” I spend hours and then my lesson plans weren’t done but I had a great looking classroom. 


Amber: Right, The fun stuff! We would have spent, were no different than kids so we want to spent time on  the fun stuff. The things you can see, the visual stimulation but then we all then, the reason we are teachers which is to teach. That’s the hard stuff that’s the preparation and the discipline and the stuff that it takes to plan effective lessons. That’s like, “It’ll come.” It’ll come.


Lisa: No, that needs to be first and then you know when you said that I was like, I’m learning the process, that’s another reason why I did the one-to-one coz that was so like I had to start being a little selfish. Alright I need all the extension now because I feel like a failure.  And you just get to a point where I totally understand why teachers leave their profession. You just get to a point where you’re like, I’m either going to be the most resentful person, resentful teacher if not hopeless which I think is the worst person or I have class to make a change and I have to be patient with myself to the process like even we just came out of our call and doing all these lies and at first I really didn’t have a format so taking me forever in a day but now I have more of a template than works with myself. Just admitting to you that I was bringing too much work home. I need to be careful of that because then I would be robbing other people of my, so now you and I agree that I’m gonna try staying at school 3 days a week even or so an hour and a half after my plan. 


Amber: Because that’s still what time? ‘


Lisa; That’s still at 4 o’clock which what you said was “Sometimes we just like, Oh my gosh! Instead of being out at 2:30 I could be out at 4! Which I’m still so lucky to be home sooner than most of my neighbors so it's plenty than most of the day we get all your home stuff so that’s a new thing. Along the way I am a lot of great continuing challenges like the first one I got to  get these slides done coz I will need them as a teacher maybe not everybody else but I need them. Now I’m going to stay after a little bit later not do so much work back home because I would love to start reading personal book during the school year. 


Amber: That’s actually one of your goals by the next time we talked is to read a book. 


Lisa: Because I just can’t just be. Because I am waiting for summer for personal reading, I’m waiting for summer to go on my walk. I’m waiting for summer, its like what people say when I retire, I’m gonna do all I wanted to do and like no it’s not! 


Amber: You don’t know, you don’t know. And we're not gonna go too deep this rabbit hole but it makes me so incredibly sad for people to say “It’s Monday, I was gonna through till Friday” or “it’s January 3rd just gonna get through till spring break” And then spring break like, Who wants to live like that? 


Lisa: And you don’t have to and that’s what I feel like. The stigma of being a teacher is like, Yes it is tough because we're teacher, counselor, we’re part-time lunch lady, food service like giving them snacks, we counsel them like I go to this game, I, oh my gosh! 


Amber: But you said some things today that were profound and one of them even have to do with, you’re working with me to create more balance and more harmony in your life and to focus on the right things at the right time. I mean you are, this is a Monday of this interview. And Lisa tell everybody how far out your plan with your slides and everything? 


Lisa; This is huge and I know for some people they’re like. I actually have this whole week plan and I’m going to try it for Thursday. Now that I have my template for the slides it's so much easier now  like the first time I did it. I really felt like I was spending like an hour for each slide now it’s like half an hour. I’m done I’ve serviced everything I needed to. There’s no more crazy like “Gosh I forgot to go for this topic!” or “Oh I didn’t do this, I forgot this announcement! Like no way, I just quickly think about it. I’ve been writing on the big thing that coaching has helped me, is I did give up my darling bullet journal . I was so obsessed with it, I loved decorating it but you know when you forget it, then it's like you forgot your external brand so I did do a switch to an online calendar which is an incredibly helpful.


Amber: But you do keep a paper to do list? 


Lisa: Yes, the paper to do list….


Amber: That is something that you  really like. 


Lisa: For when I, You know so I could think “Oh my gosh, I got to do this!” I’ll say no, it’s not the time to do it. I can do it when my work time comes. I teach a class at a middle school. Start my day at the middle school and I just have like little rule come on boundaries. I checked my email and I only answer email related to the middle school and when I’m there I’m only doing middle school stuff. So that way that will make me walk to the door and I’m with it. I can now then spend sometime I pay with over the weekend! Like how was that game? Or you told me  you just downloaded two, did you win?! You’ve witnessed but before I wanted do all those things. It’s not that I didn’t want to, that’s how I wanted my thinking to be. To make it, to show them that you can use the language to know about anything. But when you don’t even know like “Oh my gosh, I haven’t. I don't have and this were you know, like even having teenagers at home. I want to be present, my daughter wants to talk to me at eleven o’clock at night, and yet it’s not ideal. I’m gonna take advantage of that time because those can be at the house. And I will regret the time I didn’t encore into my relationship and my teaching. 


Amber: Yeah, that’s no way to leave. No way to leave! So Lisa, if the Lisa today was in the same room as the Lisa  last March-April, last year. The two years before. And you heard her and this was funny because we were talking about this incident where you actually did asked a teacher in the last couple of weeks, “How can I help you?” If Lisa from last year, the year before was telling you how she was feeling. What would you say to her?


Lisa: I would say first of all, even though you were looking to some of your failures, you have incredible success. Don't forget about that and there is hope in creating a vision and a plan for your life, it doesn’t have to be what anyone else is doing, just work and seek help right away. And what’s nice about working with you is that there is no fear like it’s hard sometimes  to open up to a colleague coz your favorite judgement, you prayed that Oh my gosh what if the administration here is how I feel. I don't want them to think that I’m not a good teacher but working with you, there was none of them. It’s nice that we don’t work together because you’ve removed all of that. It’s just, I was a teacher, this is my story because you’re so transparent that allows other  people to be transparent. That’s it and that’s why you should find help. You can, you don’t have to live this life, oh you’re teachers, we dont bring value, we absolutely bring them. 


Amber: You have to value yourself. You even have to value the burnout. You have to show what respect. Which is what you did by doing the research, you were on Matt Miller’s site which is a great site by the way. And you said, yeah, this is me, this is where I am and I’m going to explore this idea. This is not to say that the only way to solve your burnout is to get on burnedintecher.com and give me a call. It’s the fact that just taking action just acknowledging at stopping the shame, having the conversation. If you’ve been listening to Burned-In Teacher Podcast for the past year, you know that’s where I’m all about. But Lisa, everything that you have said just solidifies the fact that  this is no way to leave, and you are worthy and you are powerful. And you just have to believe it. And actually do the work even if sometimes it’s not decorating your classroom. Right? Doing the hard self-care. The nails and the friends and that’s the fun. You’re going for a run, you know exercising that’s all good stuff but the hard self-care is where the real change comes. To see your transformation Lisa, it’s just, it has brought me so much joy. So, I hope you know that. You’ve also enriched my life as much as you say that I have helped you so. I’m so grateful that you took that risk. You did something scary, and you did the work. So, I’m so proud of you. I feel like you’re like, like one of my students in class you know. Like, you’ve come so far, and you’d still gonna go further. You still have challenges, you’re still things you’re working through, and you won’t need me forever. You’re gonna move on and you’re going , you already started to inspire other teachers in your school. It’s funny that  we are going to the burned-in process together. This is one-to-one, what do you need, how can I help you? Let’s make a vision and let’s make a plan. Let me help you with this self discipline. But you’ve almost started going through yourself like you’re building your own teacher brand based on your daily patterns of interactions with other teachers. And that’s all just happening naturally coz you’ve decided. So, I’m so grateful that you took extra time to talk to me today and to share your story that was brave too, so thank you so much. 


Lisa: Thank you for what you do. We gotta stop the shame and just the feeling like you're all alone. 


Amber: So true. 

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