Slowing Down for Happier Thanksgivings

Much of our misery comes from trying to get too much too quickly. The “too much” focus may relate to material items as well intangible qualities. Spiritual traditions, literary works, and life lessons all invite us to take heed of signs that tell us to slow down. Here are some thoughts about slowing down for happier thanksgivings throughout our lives.

Discerning Teacher Challenges: Demoralization versus Burnout

After musing last weekend about teacher burnout, Marin Luther’s spiritual reformation, and Dilbert, I’ve come to realize the importance of discerning demoralization from burnout. Doris A. Santoro’s “The problem with stories about teacher ‘burnout’” provides this helpful distinction: “Burnout suggests that a teacher has nothing more to give. However, teachers whom I would characterize as demoralized were most frustrated because they could not teach the way they believed was right.” As educators, we need to think more about this distinction and its relevance for current personal, professional, and public challenges.

Dilbert’s Vision for How Not to Handle Burnout! (Prelude to Reformational Teaching & Learning)

Over the past two decades, I’ve often been struck by how well Scott Adams’ satirical insights about the corporate world also reflect issues about human nature and relate disturbingly well to public education challenges.

Cynical Teachers Anonymous: A Pilgrim’s Regress

For some of us, maybe the deeper issue behind teacher depression, anxiety, and burnout has to do with drifting into cynicism as a worldview and lifestyle. In trying to deal with dread and anxiety about the upcoming school week, I find myself increasingly disappointed by self-care and support strategies that I’m encountering these days from well-meaning folks.

With Apologies to Bob Carter: Apparently, Poor Planning on Someone Else’s Part Does Constitute an Emergency on My Part!

That’s a great saying from Bob Carter: “Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.” I used to have quite a bit of optimism that I could study time management, productivity strategies, leadership, and plenty of thoughtful resources to get better at working with the chronic crushing Chronos of my setting. (Unfortunately, I don’t have time to blog about Karios versus Chronos modes of time, and how well that distinction could fit with a more humane I-Thou versus I-It approach to time, leadership, and culture.) I’m finding that I can only try to get through it.

A Simple Intervention for Internal Chatter: Good Morning, [Your Name Here]…. Get to It.

Returning for my 28th year of teaching high school English, I’ve been struggling with internal and external conflicts about teaching that often drive me to unhealthy introspection and self-doubt. Psychologist and researcher Ethan Kross calls this inner noise “chatter.” It’s a hot mess of negative self-talk that can sabotage our mental and physical well-being. KrossContinue reading “A Simple Intervention for Internal Chatter: Good Morning, [Your Name Here]…. Get to It.”

These Six Paradoxes for Teaching, Relating, and Long-term Flourishing

Teaching is paradoxical in many ways, and I tend to do best when I work with Parker Palmer’s six teaching paradoxes in mind. (Actually, these six paradoxes can help with all sorts of relationships.) Palmer believes that the spaces in which he teaches need to have room for these six areas of paradox: 1. boundedContinue reading “These Six Paradoxes for Teaching, Relating, and Long-term Flourishing”

The Courage to Teach When You’re Losing Heart about Relationships

Here are more gems from Parker Palmer about heart-centered purposes for teaching in a subject-centered classroom: “Many of us became teachers for reasons of the heart, animated by a passion for some subject and for helping people learn. But many of us lose heart as the years of teaching go by. How can we takeContinue reading “The Courage to Teach When You’re Losing Heart about Relationships”

The Courage to Teach Again

So often, Parker Palmer helps me regain a healthy perspective on teaching and returning to the classroom: “After three decades of trying to learn my craft, every class comes down to this: my students and I, face to face, engaged in an ancient and exacting exchange called education. The techniques I have mastered do notContinue reading “The Courage to Teach Again”