Tag Archives: teacher burnout

The secret to helping students develop grit

You are barely into the school year and already you have a sense about which students will be successful in your class and which ones will be slackers… don’t you?

Are you usually right?

How do you know?  What are the characteristics of the children who stay the course and succeed?

How are they different from students who give up and fail?

Angela Duckworth, Ph.D and author of the book, Grit;  The Power of Passion Perseverance, left  a high paying management job to teach math to seventh graders in the New York City Public Schools.  She soon found that the students who were successful were not necessarily the students with the highest IQ or the best home environment.  The deciding factor wasn’t luck or talent.  Instead, she found that they were the students who had an inner strength and resolve that others didn’t, often despite other obvious disadvantages. She named that inner strength grit and has spent the last several years researching and measuring that quality.  Here’s what she has found:  “Grit is about a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.”

So how does that relate to the kids in your classroom?  In the long run it relates to why they are there.  The student who understands and commits to their why is invariably the one who has grit.  They care.  They are invested.  They believe that they are moving closer to their goal even when they experience failure and disappointment.  Even when the work is hard. They have a vision for the future and they are committed.

You Can Help Students Develop Grit

So how do you help students develop grit?  Or is it just something that you are born with? No doubt some of it is determined by  temperament and the role models that students have in their lives.  But as significant adults in our students lives we can also help children understand and develop grit.  Here are two ways:

  1. Help students understand and set goals, in every area of their lives.  Academic goals. Relationship goals.  Physical goals.  Here’s the key though; go beyond the usual setting of goals. Teach children how to reach those dream big goals by setting small goals leading to large goals. Then teach them the importance of learning from mistakes and failure.
  2. Be the encourager in your student’s lives.  Everyone needs someone who believes in them and by seeing the future possibilities and sharing that vision with your students you can help them shape their future as well.

    Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

    Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
    Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)


5 Ways to Create a Summer of Renewal

Does summer mean a time of renewal for you?

How do you make that happen?

Here’s how NOT to make it happen:  Dive into the weeks ahead with no plan except to fill every moment with enriching activities.  Schedule back to back camps or sports activities for the kids. Volunteer for every possible  need or request that comes your way.  After all, since you work with kids all year, you are the perfect fill in at vacation Bible school or scout camp. Plan exhausting family vacations and spend time on the road or jostling for  space in line at crowded theme or water parks.  Catch up on lots of classes and get the credits that you need…

I think you get the idea. If this is your plan (or lack of one) then you will return to school in the fall exhausted… and in need of a vacation.

How to Create an Oasis of Summer Renewal

  1. Take time to reflect and be aware:  What do you most need to feel refreshed and energized?  Relaxing time by the pool to catch up on your reading?  An exercise plan to get you back in the routine of regular exercise?  Quality family time to really connect and share? An educational class that will get you up-to-date and excited about new trends?
  2. Survey your family:  Rather than assume that the kids want to spend all summer at the pool or standing in line at the theme park, set up a family meeting to get everyone’s idea of a perfect summer.  You may be surprised at what is important to them.
  3. Set goals and create a plan:  Schedule events throughout the summer.  Create balance with family vacations and time for kids to explore and discover on  their own.  Studies show that creativity and critical thinking is enhanced with unscheduled  and unstructured time.  This is as important for you as it is for your children.
  4. Post a calendar and the plan: Keep everyone informed of the scheduled and unscheduled time and their responsibilities.  Re-frame “I’m bored” as a sign that a child needs to get creative and read, play a game or do something active outside. It’s not your responsibility to keep everyone entertained.
  5. Keep a gratitude journal:  Every evening review what family members are grateful for and either write it down, take a photo or draw a picture for your journal.  At the end of the summer you will have a great record of summer time memories!

Summer time can be a time to be renewed and energized or a time of exhaustion and over work.  The real key is to create a plan and follow through on it.  I wish you a summer that is an oasis  of renewal in the busyness of life.

Related Posts:

Creating Summertime Fun

Create Summertime Memories through Writing

3 Ways to Slay the Boredom Dragon


Wonder what Wyatt is doing this summer?  Visiting his grandparents at the beach… Check  out the Wyatt the Wonder Dog Book Series, children’s books with an empowering message.


Need some activities to keep the kiddos engaged with the lesson in the story?  I put everything together for you in one book!

Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books.  Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.





Are you all teachered out?

Already counting down to the last days of the school year?

Living for spring break and the relief it offers? (The holiday season already a distant memory?)

Given up on all those idealistic teaching goals that you envisioned for the year?

Have only one goal left…survival?

Sounds like you are all teachered out…

You started the school year with lots of enthusiasm and dreams of all you would accomplish–the difference you were going to make in your students’ lives.  But teaching is an exhausting job that drains your energy cup pretty quickly. If you aren’t refilling it you will find yourself depleted and barely surviving.

There are a couple of reasons why this happens:

  • we equate caring for our own needs to being selfish
  • we erroneously believe that we don’t have time (this is actually a boundary issue not a time issue)
  • we expect others to just know that we need a break and rescue us without our asking

Here’s the bottom line:

You can’t share energy that you don’t have and no one is going to rescue you.

It’s up to you.

When it comes to taking care of ourselves, most of us equate that with the shadow comforts.  I had a tough day at school so I will skip the gym and treat myself to pizza and cupcakes for dinner while I veg out on the couch.  Taking a bubble bath or going on a shopping spree is not going to change your life or awaken your inner soul.  Ultimately things we do to indulge and comfort ourselves drain us even more.  Here’s how to refill your energy cup and get back on track to thriving, not just surviving.

5 Essential Needs to Renewal

1. Take care of your body

Start with the basics. Make sure that you are getting adequate exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting the required number of hours of sleep.  Cutting corners because of a heavy workload eventually results in losing momentum and energy.  You may even wind up sick and forced to take the time to get well.

2. Take care of your environment

This is not actually about recycle and reuse, although I believe in that.  This is about maintaining an environment in the classroom and at home where you are organized and manage the clutter that naturally accumulates in a busy lifestyle.  Managing the details of your life will mean that you naturally feel better and calmer when your environment is set up to create energy rather than block energy.  Create systems and follow them regularly.

3. Take care of your relationships

Take the time to relax and enjoy your family and friends.  Step off the to-do-treadmill and create moments of connection and memories of love.  Create boundaries around your work and your relationships that encourage positive growth.

4. Take care of your self-development

Was the last class you took a required in-service where you sat in the back of the room and graded papers?  Cells that are not expanding aren’t stagnant, they are actually dying and this is true for our brain cells as well.  Take the class you’ve always wanted to take, read the books you wanted to read and expand your mind. It will impact your teaching in a positive way.

5. Take care of your spirit

There is no better way to refill your energy cup than through realigning your spirit with your beliefs. You do this through prayer, meditation, inspirational reading, reflection, gratitude or worship.   Pause and enjoy the beauty of the world around you as you reconnect with it’s creator.  In the process, you just might be reenergized with your purpose and destiny.

Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Just for you!  Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books.  Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.





10 things joyful teachers do differently


Does Back to School Mean Back to Burnout?

It’s back to school time for many teachers with all the excitement and anticipation of a new class of students to know and love.

How can you keep the energy and enthusiasm going for the next nine months?

How can you maintain a positive focus in the midst of the negative press, a demanding schedule and ever-changing standards? It’s not easy but it’s possible.

Here are ten tips to prevent burnout and put the joy back in your teaching:

  • Know your why: It’s easy to get lost in the details and demands of the teaching profession but my guess is that you went into it because you love learning and you love sharing that joy and enthusiasm with students. Renew and review that basic why on a regular basis.
  • Set an intention for the year: It might be one word or a phrase that really excites you but create a focus for your teaching for the year. Maybe it’s leadership. Maybe it’s adventure. You decide, but pick a word or phrase to set the tone for the year. Share it with your students.  Review it regularly.  Post it in your classroom.
  • Create a time of quiet focus each morning: It may be something you do before you leave the house or once you get to work. You decide the best environment to make it happen. You could even sit in your car for a few minutes once you arrive at work if you have trouble finding a quiet environment. Review your goals for the day. Read something inspirational. Get centered. Breathe. Meditate. Pray.
  • Infuse your personality into your teaching: Although teaching methods may be getting more and more standardized and lacking in creativity, buck the system and be who you truly are at heart. Share your humor, your quirks, your story with your students. At the end of the year, what your students will remember is not the facts that you shared with them but the model, the example you set with your life.
  • Learn to set boundaries: Most teachers are good at setting boundaries with their students but learning to set boundaries with parents and yes even the system is necessary. I understand that there are many things that you must do as part of the job, but too many teachers I know feel that they must say yes to everything that is asked of them. Make it clear that you have a life outside of your work and set boundaries around the time that you reserve for yourself and your family.
  • Give up perfectionism: Some things don’t deserve the energy that you put into them to do them perfectly. Sometimes waiting to do something perfectly keeps us from doing it at all. You know where this tendency is holding you back and keeping you overworked and overwhelmed.
  • Create systems and routines: Take care of the mundane routine chores of running a classroom by setting up systems whenever possible. Students also thrive on routine and knowing what to expect.  You’ll both be happier and have energy for things that matter.
  • Take care of you: It is easy to neglect your personal care and health during the school year because you are so busy, then try to make up for it over the summer break.  To function at an optimum level you need to take good care of yourself all year.  Eat a healthy diet that provides the energy you need. Get active and exercise. All. year. long.
  • Build a positive support system: This is not the same as the teacher’s lounge where everyone complains and shares the latest gossip,  but a place to get real support and help with difficult issues and situations. If you find that you are in a negative environment where everyone complains but doesn’t work together to find solutions—find another environment. You are the sum of the five people you hang around with the most and if everyone around you is negative… it will eventually rub off.
  •  Keep learning: If you are a teacher then I bet you love learning as much as you love teaching. Look for and create learning opportunities that excite you. Not only will you be a good model for your students but your enthusiasm will be contagious.

New!!  Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Just for you!  Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books.  Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.