Precious Future

I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats


Mini Yoga Sessions During the Day at Your Desk

We know that exercise can cut our stress during the day by helping to release tension and toxins while flooding our bodies with the positive effects of oxytocin. Many medical professionals advise talking lunch-hour walks to fight stress at work.

But teacher's days aren't the same as other professionals. We often don't get lunch "hours" alone, we are usually responsible for playground, cafeteria or hall duty during our time. Teacher planning hours are seldom long enough to walk around campus.

A meaningful alternative is to steal little bits of time throughout the day to use for yoga breaks--not crazy goat-on-a-steep-hill poses which would dirty your clothes or make you feel nutty, but simple little stretches that can be incorporated into your day whenever you have a moment to stretch and breathe--even if you must keep thinking. Once you learn the poses you'll find ways to use them.

Marcia Langenberg, a teacher at the University of Alberta and a yoga practitioner, has posted an easy-to-follow series of tiny, free movies on-line showing indoor, seated yoga poses. You don't have to leave your room, or you can do these poses in a break room--some will even work in a bathroom.

The movies can inspire you to find ways to move and create a release for the day's tension, so they are well worth considering to add to your stress reduction toolbox.


Mid-Week Snapshot

A teacher's brain the night before grades are due, after reading 30 student essays.


We Will Prevail!

Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune, but great minds rise above them. --
Washington Irving

We Don't Teach Well When We are Burnt-out

Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise.--Woodrow Wilson


Deciding What You Want Ends Burnout

If you don't know where you are going,
you'll end up someplace else. ~

Yogi Berra


Mid-Week Snapshot / Dressed for Success

Why do I even bother wearing "professional" clothes when my professional meetings look like this?


A Beautiful Future

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Eleanor Roosevelt


Surviving Burnout

You're happiest while you're making the greatest contribution. --Robert F. Kennedy


Mid-Week Snapshot / When Will We Be Paid Fairly?

Alas, School Boards Keep a Tight Fist Over the Money
Teachers Will Be Paid Well When Pigs Fly
(though if we work together, we could teach that pig...)


Hope for Ending Burnout

The power of imagination makes us infinite.~~
John Muir

Changing Ourselves

Happiness depends upon ourselves.


Mid-Week Snapshot / No Recess

On rainy days, we play board games instead of having recess outside.


Recovery from Burnout

You're happiest while you're making the greatest contribution.~~
Robert F. Kennedy


Mid-Week Snapshot: Escape


Rising Above

Live up to the best that is in you: Live noble lives, as you all may, in whatever condition you may find yourselves. ~
Henry W. Longfellow

Preventing Teacher Burnout by Looking at the Big Picture

"You must have long-range goals to keep from being frustrated by short-range failure" ~ Charles Nobel


What would be your price tag to change jobs?

We may speak the same language, but apparently the state of teaching in Australia is very different than in the U.S.

Australia's teacher crisis is that they have many new teachers, but older teachers aren't leaving spots for them. To encourage them to move on to other careers, according to the Courier Mail, a grant program was started--but it didn't have a full quota of applicants:

"UP to $18 million in "career change" grants
will be paid out to nearly 360
older primary school teachers being
jettisoned by Education Queensland to make
way for new graduates.
figure falls short of an estimated
$25 million that would have been
paid out if the full quota, set at 500
teachers, had successfully applied
for what has been dubbed the 'burn-out

American teachers couldn't image this happening in US schools. In the US, school districts have special programs trying to recruit teachers from any field to fill slots, and people leave with no compensation to start over. I've had days where I would have left if someone offered me Haagen Daz and a plastic spoon! We need to study what is going on right in Australian schools.


Teachers with Burnout Midweek Snapshot

Can rewards prevent burnout?

Here is a link to an article about how employees benefit from rewards, no matter how small. It's interesting to think about the times in your career when you felt rewarded, and how that differs from the times you have not.

It's part of a series of articles about reducing turnover; it's worth a look for inspiration or insight.


Are teachers slaves?

A letter to the editor in the September 18th Post and Courier at thinks teachers have been treated like slaves. She wrote after reading a previous letter to the editor that stated that teachers needed to work more hours, including Saturdays, to improve South Carolina's educational system.

Most teachers have heard their working hours described as easy before---summers off, only work until 3 p.m. But anyone who has actually known a teacher knows that many more hours, and many Saturdays and Sundays too, are spent by teachers working to provide quality services.

The writer said:

"Slavery was outlawed nearly a century and a half ago, but it is still being
practiced in the South Carolina educational system. Teachers at a school I have
visited start their day at 7 a.m. The children begin to come in a 7:15 a.m. The
day ends at 2:30 p.m. That's seven hours. They go to lunch and recess with their
students. They have no official planning period and no bathroom break. The only
time teachers have time during the day when they can make plans, go to the
bathroom and straighten up the classroom is when their students go to a
specialist, such as music. Two of these teachers with whom I spoke do not get
this "free" time until after 1 p.m.

I don't think it is legal to deprive someone of a break of some kind for six hours. Imagine not being able to relieve yourself for that long. When the children leave school, the teachers I talked with said they always have a meetings or training session to attend.

The letter writer suggested teachers should work on Saturday. In fact,
every teacher I talked with does. They also work until five, six and even until
10 at night — voluntarily — for no extra pay other than the satisfaction that
they have done their jobs well. "


Teachers with Burnout Mid-Week Snapshot


USA Today Covers Kozol's Protest Against No Child Left Behind

USA Today reports that Kozol is continuing his partial fast. He has lost 29 pounds but has gained inches and minutes of news coverage. The USA Today article says:

WASHINGTON — No Child Left Behind is "wreaking havoc in our inner-city schools," alleges education author Jonathan Kozol, 71, who today begins the 75th day of a partial hunger strike to protest the law.
Congress passed the education reform law with bipartisan support in 2001, and lawmakers this month are preparing to reauthorize it. The law seeks to get all students reading and doing math at grade level by 2014, mandating annual math and reading tests for about half of all children and sanctioning schools that don't keep improving.

Kozol on Monday said the law effectively has dumbed down school for poor, urban kids, creating "a parallel curriculum that would be rejected out-of-hand" in the suburbs.

Would Packing a Pistol Help Teacher Burnout?

Today the Christian Science Monitor covered an Oregon story by asking: Should Teachers Be Allowed to Pack a Gun?

An Oregon high-school teacher, backed by a firearms lobby group, is challenging district policy that prohibits anyone except law enforcement officers from having a firearm on a school campus. She specifically wants to pack her Glock 9mm pistol in order to protect herself from her violent husband. Gun-rights groups say that a district policy that prohibits firearms violates statutory law. Overturning district policy would have national implications.

Although her primary goal was to protect herself, the teacher also feels that as a veteran teacher, she has come to believe strongly that having responsible armed adults on campus could have prevented tragedies such as those at Columbine High School in Colorado, Thurston High School in Oregon, and Virginia Tech University.

Of course, teachers and administrators are divided as to whether guns would increase their feelings of stress and burnout, or if they would help teachers feel secure.


Creating Public Awareness of the Damages of "No Child Left Behind."

Jonathon Kozol released a manifesto explaining why he is fasting in protest of the damage created by the "No Child Left Behind Act." In addition to the being a respected education expert and a National Book Award author, Kozol publishes a blog on The Huffington Post. September 10th he wrote:

The real effect of No Child Left Behind is to drive away the tens of thousands of exciting and high-spirited, superbly educated teachers whom our urban districts struggle to attract into these schools. There are more remarkable young teachers like this coming into inner-city education than at any time I've seen in more than 40 years. The challenge isn't to recruit them; it's to keep them. But 50 percent of the glowing young idealists I have been recruiting from the nation's most respected colleges and universities are throwing up their hands and giving up their jobs within three years.

When I ask them why they've grown demoralized, they routinely tell me it's the feeling of continual anxiety, the sense of being in a kind of "state of siege," as well as the pressure to conform to teaching methods that drain every bit of joy out of the hours that their children spend with them in school.

At the time of writing he was on the 67th day of a partial fast. His actions and writing have created a great deal of attention and some controversy. His writings are well worth reading, and he speaks directly to the concerns of many teachers who feel that they are burning out.


Perfection is a dark room and a bag of popcorn: Chalk

If you need some stress relief this weekend (if ??? ), a movie might be a good idea. Give this a try: Chalk is a mockumentary showing high school from a teacher's point of view. It's funny and empathetic, and is receiving very good reviews. It even features a teacher's lounge that is exactly like my first one--down to the stolen lunches from the "team" fridge.


Mid-Week Teacher Burnout Snapshot


Inspiration for Recovering from Burnout

"One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child."
~Carl Jung


School testing pressure leads to teacher burnout

“What our teachers really need” is an interesting opinion article published by the Boston Globe on September 6, 2007. Lily Rayman-Read, a graduate of the Harvard Teacher Education Program wrote about her student teaching experience at Another Course to College in Brighton, Massachusetts.

She writes about teachers bearing the brunt of the decision to emphasize student testing instead of a more diverse curriculum:

Meanwhile, teachers are seeing less preparation time per class, as well as
increased pressure for student performance on the state's MCAS tests. Teachers
need a greater amount of time to interact with each other, and with their
communities, in order to meet the ever-increasing demands on their time and on
their students. Especially in inner-city schools, reaching out to the community
and having interaction with other teachers can save a teacher from early burnout
or isolation. In my experience, the MCAS test drives teachers away from one
another and into a philosophy of "teaching to the test," which limits them both
in the classroom and out of it.
She draws a good connection between what students need—engaging opportunities to keep the fire for learning alive, and teachers’ needs for autonomy and a student body that is able to be engaged. Rayman-Read ends by saying: Students need stimulation outside of reading and writing, and teachers need the flexibility to lead their classrooms according to their students' abilities and interests. Then perhaps we can make school a place for both education and enjoyment.


"To Hell With the Bell"

This group of retired Canadian teachers get together every morning on the first day of school to celebrate their freedom. Their tradition includes breakfast, merriment and at 9 am, the starting bell time of the local schools, they ring their own old school bell.

And then they yell "To hell with the bell," they laugh, and continue their party. According to an article in The Kwarthan September 4th edition, one of the teachers said: "It's remembering the good times of the job, but also celebrating the freedom retirement brings,” says Ms Prole.

Someday...that will be us!

Teacher Burnout Midweek Snapshot


Inspiration for Recovering from Burnout

"That which is to give light must endure burning."

--Victor Frankel


Teachers with Burnout, Unite!

It's a Friday before a three-day weekend, and I should be doing cartwheels--but I'm too tired. Burnt. Fried. Crispy. And it isn't even September yet! Something has to give. I'm going to fight my burnout with fire. I am! After a brief nap, some popcorn and a movie. And some coffee. If you're feeling the same, plunk yourself down and put up your feet. You are in good company.