Truth for Teachers is designed to speak life, encouragement, and truth into the minds and hearts of educators and get you energized for the week ahead.
EP258 Envisioning what’s next for schools: my personal reflections & hope for the future
44:53LAST EP OF SEASON 15! We're wrapping up with thoughts on processing, healing, dreaming, and rebuilding as we find our path toward whatever is next for schools. So in this unscripted episode, I share my broad observations, loosely-held conclusions, and partially-formulated ideas about what might be possible. What is the future of public education? How do we keep the dream alive with so many forces undermining, privatizing, and monetizing it? In the midst of culture wars and opposing demands, can schools please all stakeholders? How do we ensure that the responsibility for personalizing education for the preferences of each child/family does not fall solely on classroom teachers? I’m talking from the heart about what I’m hopeful for right now, and why I’m choosing an optimistic take on the future of schools. I believe in public education, and the importance of not growing apathetic or hopeless about the state of education, our country, or our world. I’ll end the episode by sharing a bit about my summer plans and how I’m creating space for dreaming and vision-building … and encourage you to do the same. The Truth for Teachers podcast will be back in August. In the meantime, check out the summer blog post articles from our writer’s collective, our weekly email, and our posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. And, if you’ve enjoyed this season of the podcast, leave us a review on iTunes! Your feedback is so, so important. Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.
EP257 How to work ONLY your contractual hours as a teacher (with Samantha Smith)
25:41The job of a teacher is not designed to be completed within 40 hours a week. It’s assumed that teachers will provide additional labor by coming in early, staying late, and bringing work home on a regular basis….all without compensation. So, how can we change this norm? One way is to amplify the work of teachers who have resisted that pressure to be the last person out of the building each evening, and who are willing to talk openly about how they have streamlined and reduced extraneous expectations. You can hear this in a secondary teacher’s story in episode 250 (about lesson planning), in episode 256 from four different educators, and now in this elementary teacher’s story. To be clear: you may not be able to work exactly your contractual hours (depending on your personal teaching context and workload. This does NOT mean you’re doing something wrong: it means systemic change is needed. A realistic goal for you might be to reduce the amount of time you spend working on nights and weekends as a starting point. Listen to Samantha’s story here for some hope + inspiration that it IS possible to do a great job for kids without working endlessly for free. She shares: How she tracked her work hours, and what she learned from doing it If Samantha never takes work home, when does the work get done? Samantha's lesson planning and material prep process — how she walks out every single day with the next day's lessons and materials set out and ready to go Why people are always curious about the logistics of streamlining, but the mindset behind the actions has been Samantha’s most powerful shift How she stopped worrying about being perceived as someone who doesn’t really care or isn’t truly dedicated to kids (and how her colleague’s perceptions of her changed) Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.
EP256 Four teachers' small changes that made BIG reductions in their workload
19:30We all want to work smarter, not harder … and that doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your teaching practice or a brand new innovative workflow. Small changes in daily habits and mindset shifts can add up to big results, and I’ve invited 4 teachers to share what’s made the difference for them: The MVP principle and timer when lesson planning (LB Blackwell) Using a turn-in sheet for student work to speed up grading (Christina Rudd) Simplifying and automating email with parents (Christie Manners) Not having kids turn every assignment in and using less paper (Becky Teater) These teachers cut back on the amount of time they spend working WITHOUT sacrificing their instructional quality or shortchanging students and families. They’re proof that it’s possible to do a great job for kids without working endlessly on nights and weekends. Want more support in reducing your workload? Check out the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program these 4 educators completed: https://join.40htw.com Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.
EP255 Student behavior, grace, & consequences in the final weeks of school (with Amy Stohs)
49:31Teachers are often told to “focus on the positive and ignore the negative” when it comes to student behavior. While providing positive reinforcement and specific praise is good practice, it’s NOT the only thing we need to do, and consequences are a part of learning behavioral expectations. So how do we get the outcome of better behavior? Classroom teacher Amy Stohs is here to share how her teaching philosophy manifests in a blend of grace and consequences in the classroom. Having taught at both the early elementary and middle school level, Amy offers practical guidance about how to take away privileges as a logical consequence for students at all age levels. Amy also shares tips for maintaining a productive learning environment even during the final weeks of the school year, having fun with each other, and enjoying the classroom community you’ve built together. Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussionor, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.
EP254 An instant way to have fewer assignments to grade
14:09No, the answer is not throwing the whole stack in a recycling bin. (Although it’s perfectly fine to toss out some assignments from time-to-time.) And, the answer isn’t to give more assignments digitally. That can help make assessment more effective and efficient, but the pile-up of student work awaiting feedback online can feel just as daunting as a stack of papers. This episode will help you explore ways you may be overcomplicating the assignments you give or your approach to assessment, and think outside the box about how to streamline. I’ll share how to instantly reduce the assignments you need to grade, and help you uncover your own answer to the following questions: Is there ONE type of assignment that I’m giving to students which is taking me forever to grade, and that I might be able to reduce or change up a bit? What can I do to experiment or push back on expectations this year, in order to make my grading workload more sustainable? Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.
EP253 Is teaching still the right career for you? (with Daphne Gomez)
46:00If you’re ready to reevaluate your job, and decide if you want to return next school year or explore other options, this episode will help you consider the possibilities. I’m talking with Daphne Williams Gomez of The Teacher Career Coach about what’s changed in the job market for teachers since she was a guest on the show back in March 2020. She’ll share trends she’s noticing, as well as questions you can ask yourself to make the very personal decision about whether teaching is still what you want to do. We’ll discuss ways to make teaching work, and the benefits of looking for a school, grade level, or subject area that’s a better fit instead of transitioning to an entirely new career path. We then explore the attachment many educators have to their job identity, and the struggle to find another career that offers the same noble calling and sense of purpose. We discuss the pros and cons of finding a job that you like–not love–in order to have the time, energy, and money to do non-work-related things you love. We push back against the “anti 9-5 and “be your own boss” narratives that aren’t the right fit for everyone. Daphne will also share examples of former teachers who have matched their skill sets to other jobs that they enjoy–often, careers they’d never even considered. Finally, Daphne shares what your next steps should be if you’re curious about other work you could do apart from teaching. You can take Daphne’s free quiz about career options here: TeacherCareerCoach.com/truthforteachers You’ll also find links to her Teacher Career Coach podcast, resume and job hunting resources, and info about her online course + mentorship to help you transition to your next career. Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.
EP252 Three practices for more one-on-one time with students (with Kareem Farah of The Modern Classrooms Project)
36:49Finally — a sustainable model for self-paced learning and mastery-based grading! Kareem Farah of the Modern Classrooms Project (MCP) shares how ANY teacher of any grade level or subject area can maximize class time and connect with students one-on-one. If you feel like you never have enough time to truly differentiate or personalize learning, try the MCP approach. Kareem’s sharing 3 strategies that you can experiment with integrating in your classroom to allow kids to work at their own pace, and free you up to work with students individually and in small groups. This convo will help you figure out logistics and practical considerations, whether your school’s fully on board with student-centered, innovative teaching methodologies or you’re just getting started. Check out MCP’s free online course at: https://learn.modernclassrooms.org/ Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.
EP251 Empathy fatigue is real. How can educators push through the exhaustion? (with Kyle Cohen)
22:53How do you show up each day as the best version of yourself? Kyle Cohen, a 4th grade teacher in Cleveland OH, is here to share his contagious positive energy. Listen as Kyle talks about what keeps him motivated, how he taps into his patience and empathy when working with students, and how implementing fun, engaging lessons helps him keep energy levels high throughout the school day. Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.
EP250 Peek inside one teacher's lesson planning process—and how she streamlines to stay ahead (with Megan Faherty)
45:11“When I leave school, I’m not only ready for the next day, I’m ready for the rest of the week. I almost never do planning or preparation the day before.” These are the words of high school social studies teacher Megan Faherty, who’s sharing her lesson planning strategy in today’s episode. Megan’s overall strategy boils down to making decisions about planning early, so her day-to-day work consists of simply implementing the decisions she's already made. During our conversation, Megan will share the 9 steps of her lesson planning process. She’ll also share tips on overcoming obstacles to efficient planning, suggestions for team planning, and lessons she’s learned from hybrid and virtual teaching over the last 2 years. Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.
EP249 What if we stop moving goal posts, and enjoy where we're at?
35:43The constant pressure to achieve more, work harder, increase results, generate more money, and so on can be exhausting. In this episode, I wanted to share some things I’ve been mulling over in terms of holistic wealth and wellbeing, and what it means to use our time well. What if we didn’t try to maximize EVERY moment, and instead allowed for some moments of rest, daydreaming, and moving slowly with intention? What if we identified some things that add a richness and satisfaction to our lives, and prioritized those activities at the same level as “getting things done”? What might it look like — in our schools and in our personal lives — if we weren’t constantly upping the ante and working toward the next goal, but focused on reveling in what we’ve already done? Click here to read the transcript and participate in the discussion or, join our podcast Facebook group here to connect with other teachers and discuss the Truth for Teachers' podcast episodes.