239 episodes

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.

Angela Watson's Truth for Teachers Angela Watson

    • Education
    • 4.8 • 983 Ratings

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.

    EP226 Seven takeaways from this school year that simplify teaching from now on (with Amy Stohs)

    EP226 Seven takeaways from this school year that simplify teaching from now on (with Amy Stohs)

    What made teaching easier and more sustainable this school year, and how can we carry those principles over into next year?
    Those are the questions I'm exploring in this podcast episode with my guest, Amy Stohs. She is currently a 2nd grade teacher in Northern Virginia, and was named Teacher of the Year in 2019 while she was teaching 6th grade.
    Amy’s experience is unique in that she has now taught both elementary AND middle school in a pandemic, so she’s experienced the challenges of working with both younger and older students in face-to-face and hybrid learning.
    Her experience is also unique in that she’s been an active participant in my 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program for the last few years, and I’ve been really impressed by the ideas and resources she shares in that community.
    So at the start of this school year, I reached out to Amy and asked her to join the 40 Hour team, and help create the adaptations for the program for remote and hybrid learning. If you’re part of 40 Hour or the 40 Hour Grad Program and you’ve loved the remote/hybrid bonuses, you’re about to hear directly from the teacher who brainstormed them with me.
    Amy’s going to share 7 principles that helped simplify her teaching and make her work more sustainable:
    Do what HAS to get done, not what you WANT to get done. Backward design your classroom management: figure out the goal, then decide what action steps will get you there. Go slow to go fast. Instead of always doing your best, ask “What do I have to give today?” When you’ve tried it all, try one thing. Shift focus from finding something new and different to doubling down on what we know kids need. Look for moments of joy and find the fun. 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.

    Power through with...release of regrets

    Power through with...release of regrets

    This was the most challenging school year of almost every educator’s career.  We’re used to certain aspects of the work getting easier over time, but there were so many new challenges in 2020-2021 that even the most experienced teachers often felt like it was their first year all over again. 
     
    You had lots of personal and professional growth, of course … but somehow you’re feeling less confident in your abilities now than ever before. It’s a very weird dichotomy, to feel like you worked so hard and learned so many new things, yet there’s no sense of a commensurate payoff.
     
    So what does it look like to wrap up a year feeling like this? How do you get a sense of real closure?
     
    I think it’s important to acknowledge that we’re all experiencing various levels of collective grief right now. There’s a sense of loss for what we’ve missed out on: “regular” school, being close to family and friends, traveling, vacations, and our normal way of life. Some are also grieving deeper losses for any number of reasons, and not being able to process those losses in our normal ways is also painful.
     
    The thing about grief is that we each experience it differently. And, there are many different phases and types of grief which people might cycle through. 
     
    Some days, I’m content. I’ve made peace with the limitations I have in my life right now and the things I love that are unavailable to me currently. I feel content and able to embrace my new routines for as long as I need to.
     
    Other days, I’m simply resigned to these new routines. I’m restless and frustrated. Sometimes I’m deeply sad. I have moments when I feel hopelessness and helplessness that won’t ever seem to end.
     
    But that’s the other thing about grief, right? It doesn’t feel the same forever.
     
    The ups and downs are all a natural, expected part of the process.
     
    So if that’s how you’re feeling as the school year draws to a close, know that you are not alone in experiencing those mixed emotions.
     
    There’s a surreal quality to the end of this school year, because many of the activities and face-to-face goodbyes that create closure have changed or been eliminated. Traditions have been altered. Not shutting down classrooms with our colleagues and celebrating together in the usual way makes it harder to emotionally and mentally transition into summer.
     
    On top of that, the excitement for summer may also feel a bit muted, with fewer plans to look forward to.
     
    And throughout all of this, there’s this sense that maybe you didn’t do a good enough job, because you could have done MORE.
     
    The what-ifs start to swirl: Would that student have passed if I’d done A,B, and C? Would that parent have been on my side if I’d offered X, Y, and Z? Would that kid I yelled at have participated in our Zoom meetings if I’d done a better job connecting with them?
     
    All of our lowest moments of the year circle around in our heads: the mistakes made, the opportunities missed.
     
    And this year that feeling is intensified because of all the limitations in how we were able to reach our students. The number of kids who were disengaged and not making learning gains is probably much higher for you this year than any other in your teaching career.
     
    My encouragement to you is to avoid dwelling on the losses. Don’t focus on the things you could have done, or wish you had been done differently. Don’t torture yourself by imagining how much better everything would have been if only certain conditions had been different.
     
    Your kids’ learning gains this school year are NOT an accurate measure of your abilities or theirs.
     
    Their learning (or lack thereof) is NOT reflective of your worth, or theirs.
     
    You’ve been teaching through a crisis. And if you’re reading this, that means you’ve made it th

    EP225 To solve for ALL kids, start with ONE...

    EP225 To solve for ALL kids, start with ONE...

    When a problem seems insurmountable, try creating change one name at a time.
    Because if you can solve a problem for one person, that means it IS a solvable problem ... and you can solve it for the next, and the next.  
    In this episode, I’ll share how often the solution to big problems is solving smaller ones. You’ll hear NYT bestselling author Dan Heath share a short case study from Chicago Public Schools that illustrates how this name-by-name approach worked for reducing dropout rates.
    And, I’ll share an intuitive 8 step approach you can use to tackle big problems like student engagement or work completion. You can practice solving for individuals first, and notice patterns in what your students need in order to scale those solutions.
    There’s something powerful about knowing that even if you can’t solve every problem for every student, you CAN help solve THIS thing for THAT kid. 
    This is how we make progress. And, this is how we create better systems: by designing those systems for individuals rather than trying to force individuals to fit into the systems.  
    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.

    EP224 Deciding what matters: Authentic teaching through setting boundaries (with Gerardo Munoz)

    EP224 Deciding what matters: Authentic teaching through setting boundaries (with Gerardo Munoz)

    How do you develop confidence in your teaching when you’re constantly hearing about everything you’re doing wrong?
    How do you know what you should and shouldn’t be focusing on, and discern what’s a good use of your time and what’s not?
    And most importantly, how can you be sure you’re showing up as the person your students need you to be?
    Answering these questions is a personal, lifelong journey, and I think the answers from my guest today will really get you thinking about how to answer those questions for yourself. I’m talking with Gerardo Muñoz, a teacher of middle and high school social studies who was named Colorado’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.
    Gerardo is here to share how his teaching identity has been shaped over the years, and how he’s learned to prioritize what matters most. He discusses how he’s developed the confidence to live and teach authentically, and ways he supports his students in also truly being themselves:
    “I'm like every kid's hype man. I think that most of what we bring into our classrooms as teachers is the work that we've done on ourselves. That happens before we can work on our students. And so, I have to create a mindset in myself that says, ‘Every single young person in this room is exactly who they are supposed to be’. My job is not to change their personalities; my job is not to make them different humans. My job is to help them identify their strengths, and help them gain skills and behaviors that are going to amplify who they are.”
    Gerardo then shares how he was on the verge of quitting the profession back in 2017, and what practices from the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program enabled him to not only stay, but to thrive. We talk about setting boundaries, and not being flattered into saying yes to everything.
    When you know what you’re truly, uniquely good at — what matters deeply to you and what really lights you up — it becomes much easier to say no to obligations that pull you away from those priorities.
    Confidence and authentic teaching are inherently intertwined, and the work we do on ourselves is what helps us uncover what to focus on. As Gerardo says, “Our lens becomes our practice, so we need to interrogate that lens.”
    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.

    Power through with…reframing

    Power through with…reframing

    We’ve all had moments this school year when making it to summer felt impossible. You might even be feeling that way right now: like your job has just taken everything out of you, and you have nothing left to give. 
     
    Being in that headspace is very normal, and it’s fine to allow yourself to feel exhausted and overwhelmed. You don’t have to talk yourself out of your feelings, ignore what your body is telling you, and push through no matter what.
     
    (There’s a difference, after all, between pushing through and powering through. Pushing through, at least to me, means doing it regardless of how you feel and just get it done with no regard to the outcome. I see powering through as tapping into the source of your energy and motivation to see things through with strength. We want to power through, not push through.)
     
    The determination to power through comes partially from reminding yourself that the way things are now is temporary. No circumstances stay the same forever.
     
    I guarantee that you will not be dealing with this exact same set of problems in the fall — your workload will change, your students will change, and YOU will change. 
     
    Some of it will be for the better and a few things will change for the worse, but it will be DIFFERENT. You will not feel exactly like this every day for the rest of your teaching career.
     
    Recognizing the temporary nature of our problems is a technique I learned when studying Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The most influential CBT strategy for me has been learning to recognize my own distortions in thinking that create problems, and then reevaluate them in light of reality.
     
    (I’ve actually written an entire book about this, called Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching. If you want to do a deeper dive into what I’m about to share, check that out.)
     
    A pessimistic viewpoint is that problems are permanent, pervasive, and powerless. That means they will never go away, the problem is the same everywhere so you can’t escape it, and you are powerless to do anything about it.
     
    An optimistic viewpoint is that problems are temporary, specific, and changeable. The circumstance will not last forever, it’s specific to this particular situation and is not something you’ll have to face everywhere all the time no matter what, and you have some control over how you respond to the situation in order to make it better. 
     
    Dr. Martin Seligman’s research has shown that we can train ourselves to be optimists. Or, if you prefer, you can train yourself to be a realist. 
     
    A realist sees things as they really are, which means giving an appropriate weight to the good stuff that’s happening and not allowing our lizard brains to only focus on potential threats and problems. 
     
    You don’t have to choose a negative framing for your situation: “Teaching is just completely untenable for me. It’s never going to get better, and in fact, it’s only going to get worse. There’s no point in trying to find another teaching position where I can have better working conditions, because it’s terrible everywhere and I probably couldn’t find another job anyway. The whole profession has gone to hell in a handbasket and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
     
    While you are entitled to think these thoughts whenever you wish, I think it’s obvious what kind of depressed feelings that choice will create. 
     
    A realist would examine those thoughts, and consider what else might also be true: 
     
    Is there any way to know for sure that teaching is always going to be too demanding and miserable for me forever? Of course not.
     
    Is it absolutely true that there are no schools that have better working conditions? Nope.
     
    Things will never get better? No, we don’t know that for sure, either.
     
    Once we recognize that this pessimistic

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
983 Ratings

983 Ratings

meri for mary ,

Right on

Your podcast has been helping me process teaching issues for a while now, but WOW. They just get better. Today’s was powerful. Thank you!!

Mendy416 ,

Made me cry

Thank you. How did you know exactly what I needed to hear? I am going to make a serious effort to have my inner voice be as kind to myself as I am to others.

BernPN ,

Thank you!

Angela,
Thanks so much for your openness about your struggle with depression and realization that you needed an anti-depressant. Your story is similar to mine. It's so nice to listen to someone who understands. God bless you.

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