Making Teaching Sustainable with Angela Watson

EP 30 Angela Watson: Making Teaching Sustainable


On this episode of the Teacher Career Coach Podcast, I invite you to follow along as I chat with the incredibly inspiring Angela Watson about how to make teaching sustainable. Now, maybe you’ve already heard of Angela and all of her incredible resources for teachers. Either way, this is one of my favorite episodes to date. Angela is one of the most highly regarded productivity and mindset specialists for educators. In addition to being an author and a motivational speaker, she’s also the host of the very popular Truth For Teachers podcast. Whether you’re ultimately looking to leave the profession or stay in the classroom, this episode offers tangible tips to help you adjust your priorities, systematize your processes, and better manage your workload. You’ll want to take notes on this one, as Angela shares all of her best strategies for making teaching a more sustainable profession.

Angela Watson Resources:

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Making Teaching Sustainable Podcast Episode Recap and BIG Ideas:

  • It’s easy for teaching to become your whole life, but remember, working more hours does not mean you are a better or more effective teacher
  • You don’t have to do all the things. Focus your time and energy on whatever has the biggest impact on the kids. Streamline, simplify or eliminate the rest. 
  • It’s okay to say, “No.” You don’t have to feel guilty when you scale back your workload. 
  • You can’t be driven by the fear that you’re not doing enough. Be mindful of your intuition, letting it guide you to make better decisions. 
  • Never write off a block of time because you think it’s too short. Instead, look for concrete tasks you can accomplish in that time. 
  • Establish a flow for your days, weeks, and grading to be more efficient with your time both in and outside of the classroom
  • Advocate for yourself. You deserve to have a voice when it comes to restructuring education in the post-pandemic world.

Listen to the episode in the podcast player below, or find it on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

It’s not just what teachers do, but who teachers are, that matters. 

Daphne: Hi, Angela. Thank you so much for joining us here today.

Angela: Hey, Daphne. Thanks for having me.

Daphne: I’ve been a huge fan of yours for a really long time, so I’m excited and actually kind of nervous about having you on the podcast today. For anybody who may not know who you are and what you do, could you please introduce yourself and explain why you’re so passionate about helping teachers manage their workload? 

Angela: I was an elementary-level classroom teacher for 11 years. I just loved sharing my ideas online with other teachers. I would go into message boards and post links to things that I had done and systems I had set up. As much as I was sharing logistics and routines and things like that, I realized we were spending a lot of time talking about what teachers do rather than who teachers are. I found that you could give the same practices, routines, and principles to different people, and you get entirely different results. How you see the world and your mindset, confidence levels, personality, and temperament all impact how you show up for kids. 

I think the education world has a tendency to try to take the humaneness out of the profession. Instead, they just standardize everything, and all teachers will teach the same, and all kids will learn the same. I think we’ve lost sight of how much the way that we think, feel, and see the world really impacts the way we teach. I find that fascinating. Who teachers are is so much more interesting to me than the nitty-gritty of the things they do. 

So, I began to really study, reflect, and read more about this. Most importantly, I listened to teachers and really focused on finding what the mindset of an effective teacher is. So, when I moved out of the classroom and into instructional coaching and educational consulting, I started by focusing on classroom management. Then I started to move more into the mindset piece. From there, things just naturally evolved into a focus on productivity because I found there’s really only so much mindset work you can do when you’re dealing with systemic issues. 

If you’re super stressed out from being a teacher, it’s not because you’re not a good teacher or you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s because the job is really stressful. We’re asking more of teachers than is humanly possible to do. So, I started looking more into the productivity and the time management side of things and really focusing on how to figure out what’s super important. 

The number one problem that I continued to hear about from teachers was that they did not have enough time to do everything that needed to be done. You can change the way that you think about that problem. You can examine perfectionistic mindsets and ways that you, as a teacher, may be overcomplicating the work. That’s really, really important. But the problem isn’t all in your head. A big part of the problem is that more and more demands are being placed on teachers every year, and the support and resources aren’t being provided. Instead, it’s up to individual teachers to just figure it out. 

That’s why, in 2015, I started a full-year professional development program called the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek. The program covers the mindset shifts that you need to make in order to find a sustainable approach to your work. It also touches upon the practical things you can do in order to get organized and prioritize tasks, manage email, simplify assessments, and all those kinds of things. I just feel like teachers shouldn’t have to figure out everything on their own. You shouldn’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. It’s not okay with me that teachers are told just to figure it out. So, I want to give teachers the tools to help them figure it out while also advocating for systemic change so that teachers aren’t put in that position where they have to choose in the first place. 

Finding clarity as you struggle with the work-life balance.

Daphne: I want to go a little bit deeper into what you said because I 100% agree that one of the most prominent challenges teachers face is work-life balance. Teachers are taking so much home every day, causing the job to become their entire life. That takes away from every other bucket of their life. 

But before we go into that, I wanted to say that when I was struggling, burning out, and looking for resources, the one resource I remember finding back in 2016 was the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program. I found your resource way back then when I was looking for support because I struggled in that same area. 

Angela: That’s awesome. You were so not alone and I’m really glad that you found it. I know that you have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what’s important to you and what you want to be focusing on, and I think that clarity piece is so important. As you often note, some people will decide to stay and find a sustainable way to approach their work, while others decide to leave. Either way, knowing you’re not alone in having to make those decisions or figure it out by yourself is so critical.

Daphne: So, what are some of the biggest challenges you see teachers face when it comes to managing their work-life balance?

Angela: As you mentioned, it’s easy for teaching to becomes your whole life. I feel like teaching is a job that’s never really done. And you never feel like you’ve done enough. You can work a 12-hour day and always feel like there’s something more that you could have done. I think it’s really easy to fall into this trap, where you’re comparing yourself to other educators and all these things that you wish you were doing to support your students. You think, if only you could do more to help your kids, then they would all magically be thriving at the optimal level. It just creates this impossible trap because the expectations keep getting raised, and then we keep moving the goalposts on ourselves too. 

I think what’s unique about teaching is that you’re not proving that you’re good at your job so that you can get ahead or get a raise. That’s the case in other fields, right? If you really do an exceptional job, hopefully, you can make more money or get promoted. What’s unique about teaching is that your dedication to kids is what’s on the line. It’s not about titles or money, but we’re trying to prove that we care about kids and we’re willing to do whatever it takes. I think a lot of teachers have been explicitly fed that idea from people in positions of authority over them. It’s the idea that you need to do whatever it takes, and you can’t do a good job by just working your contractual hours. 

Hours worked does not correlate to how effective you are as a teacher, and it’s not a sustainable teaching practice.

That’s another thing that I think we all heard before we even got into teaching, right? Teachers would tell you to be prepared to work nights and weekends because that’s just what the job is. So, if you’re putting your own needs or your family’s needs first, then by default, you must not care about the kids. It’s almost like if you try to create boundaries on your time after entering the profession, people assume you’re just not in the profession for the right reasons. Those reasons are thought to be purely altruistic reasons. You know, like this is volunteer work or not a whole career and job.

I really want to challenge the correlation between effectiveness and hours worked because it’s not how late you’re staying in the building that makes a difference. It’s whether you’re focused on the things that make the biggest impact on kids or not. 

Daphne: I think a lot of what teachers struggle with is when it comes to being asked to do something, they always make that correlation to supporting the kids. They feel like they have to say yes to everything that’s thrown on their plate, or else they don’t care about kids. They might not feel comfortable advocating for themselves, afraid that they’ll be perceived as lazy. 

I think that an important piece is pulling back the curtains and looking at what effective teaching truly is. What is our main goal? What is our objective? That’s something that you’ve really gotten great at figuring out is just how to pull back that extra work and do it in a way that’s empathetic towards both the students and teachers. 

Angela: That’s right. So many of the things that consume teachers’ time really aren’t making a huge difference for kids anyways. It’s not like we’re saying, “Well, let’s just not plan great lessons. Let’s just walk into the classroom and wing it.” No. Put the time and energy into lesson planning and it’s going to pay off in huge ways. But there are so many other things that have been piled on teachers’ plates, and it’s really difficult to see the forest for the trees to figure out what it is that matters. But that’s the only way you’re going to find a path out.

Making Teaching Sustainable with Angela Watson

How to clear unnecessary things off your plate so you can find more balance and make teaching sustainable.

Daphne: What are some examples of things that teachers spend time on that don’t necessarily move the needle forward? 

Angela: You know, it would be so great if I could give a nice, neat universal list that just applies to everyone, right? Like, just don’t do this, this and this. But I think as much as teachers want to hear that list, they also know it’s not that simple. It really is a personal process that requires reflection.

One of the easiest places to start is to look for ways that you’re going above and beyond what’s required without seeing a measured impact for kids. For example, if your district has a policy that you should reply to all emails within 24 hours, but you’re keeping notifications on your phone, or you’re refreshing your email every hour, that’s not expected of you. The expectation is to reply within 24 hours. So, if you’re responding to every single message as they come in, that’s going above and beyond what’s required. It’s probably not making that huge of an impact on the students, but it’s likely pulling you away from focusing on the things that do make a big impact. 

So, you can change that habit and check three or four times a day, or whatever is right for you. And then you’re responding to those emails in batches instead of as each comes in. Will some parents expect an immediate response? Yes, especially if you train them to expect that. If you email someone and they always get back to you within the hour, but then they don’t reply to you immediately the next time, you get indignant about it, right? You feel entitled to a faster response. So, it’s important to decide in advance what is going to be sustainable for you based on what’s actually necessary for your specific district. 

Then you can ask yourself, “What can I actually do that is going to make sense for me, my students, and my families?” Then you can communicate those boundaries to families and students, and tell them upfront how long you’re going to take for certain things. Give yourself a little bit of extra time. If they know the standard is 24 hours, and you happen to reply in 12 hours, then you’re doing better than what they expected. That’s only going to make them happier.

Saying No Helps Make Teaching More Sustainable

Daphne: I wanted to touch even more on that idea of being dedicated to the kids because this is a common struggle. Everything in teaching feels so high stakes. No one entered this position for the high salary. They got into it because they’re empathetic, they love children, and they have a huge heart. When we pull back, disappoint someone, or feel as though we’re “underperforming,” we assume that prioritizing our own needs will actually have a negative impact on others. Teachers have a lot of guilt associated with prioritizing themselves over others. 

What advice do you have for all those teachers who struggle with teacher guilt when scaling back their workload?

Angela: Yeah, the guilt is tremendous. So if you feel guilty when saying, “No,” know that you are not alone. Especially if you are a female teacher, you’ve been conditioned to please others, to make other people happy, to pay attention to other people’s emotional response and make things nice and keep the peace. There’s a lot of emotional labor that goes into that. And to say, “No,” feels like a rejection of those conditioned ideas. It definitely takes time and practice. I found that the more that I say, “No,” the easier it becomes. 

In terms of knowing what to say no to or what to cut back on, you really have to practice reflection and be really confident in who you are, what you stand for, and what you value. I feel like that piece is missing. A lot of times, it goes back to what I was saying earlier about how who teachers are matters more than what they do. If you don’t have a core set of strong values that drive your work as a teacher, you’re going to bend over backward to try to please your principal and the parents. Then, you’ll give in to the kids because they’re pushing back. 

You cannot please all administrators, all parents, and all students while staying true to yourself. It’s just not possible. You really have to know what’s important and have the confidence to say what you are and are not willing or able to do. This will come from knowing that you are doing the things that make the biggest impact on kids. 

The essential step is uncovering what those practices are. What are you doing that does make a big impact for kids so that you don’t feel guilty when you create boundaries? You’re not going to say no to the things that are super important. You’re going to say no to the rest of the things. Maybe that’s a practical starting point for teachers. It may not be something that they can think about until summer because, in my experience, you really need to have some distance from the problem in order to be able to think of creative solutions. Again, I would recommend teachers plan to do this kind of reflection process over the summer. 

It doesn’t have to be some super structured reflection process. My best ideas often come when I’m just going for a walk, or I’m out in nature. You just want to give yourself some space over the summer for your mind to wander and do this reimagining. First, you have to have mental space for it. Find that space for yourself and think about what practices were really stressful for you this past school year. Identify the things you want to streamline, think about the parts of your job that you absolutely hate, and focus on how to create boundaries that will help you simplify. Following that process will help ensure that you are brainstorming solutions for things going forward, and identifying the things you want to carry into the next year and the things you want to do in a better way. 

Daphne: I love a lot of the points that you just made. Back in episode seven of this show, I talked all about battling your teacher guilt, whether it’s scaling back your workload or ultimately leaving the profession. One of the key points I made was that, at some point, our priorities and taking care of ourselves is going to clash with the needs of others. But one thing I’ve never really thought of that you just mentioned is a lot of this stems from issues of confidence and imposter syndrome. 

You need to know that you’re doing enough in order to confidently stand you’re ground with people who claim you’re not doing enough. You need to have the confidence and advocate for yourself. If you haven’t reflected on the fact that you are doing enough, you’re not going to be ready to stand up for yourself if a parent or an administrator pushes back.

It’s important to be mindful of your intuition, letting it guide you to make better decisions for yourself.

Angela: That’s right. A lot of it is mindfulness. It’s noticing what feels good in your body and what doesn’t. It’s knowing when you say yes to something and then you get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, it’s your intuition telling you something. You need to notice it’s your intuition overriding the part of your brain that feels like you have to say yes. It’s your body telling you it’s a bad idea and is going to make your day too stressful. Maybe you’re not going to have time to do a good job and that means you’re going to do it poorly. Then you’re going to feel even worse. Honor that in yourself. Use that feeling as a clue to say, “You know what? I may have overcommitted here. I think I’m in over my head.” 

When you acknowledge this, you’ll notice a lightness in your body. You can train yourself to pay attention to this over time and start to feel the weight lift off your shoulders once you admit these things to yourself and decide to make a different plan. Pay attention to those feelings. I think sometimes we just get caught up in our own heads and all the things we think we should be able to do as if we’re robots that can just be programmed to perform. Instead, start to notice what feels heavy, what feels light, and just move toward the lightness as much as possible. It’s just a daily practice and something to pay attention to. It gets easier and easier over time the more you do it. 

Daphne: I love that. I’ve actually started to use my body cues, even with something as simple as asking people for advice as we remodel our house. No matter what their response is, I’ve started trusting my gut. I thought I was asking someone’s opinion, but the second my body tensed up at their response, I knew I had a favorite. Once you realize taking a certain meeting off of your weekly schedule feels good, lean into that. 

Once you start to realize what feels really good for you, it’s a sign you should be doing more of it. You should be leaning into whatever extra time you need and whatever types of activities are holding you back. 

Tips for making teaching sustainable by working more effectively and efficiently during contracted hours: 

Now, I wanted to get more into specific strategies like we just talked about because that’s where you really shine. You have such a wealth of knowledge. What is one of your favorite strategies to better utilize classroom time while staying true to a teacher’s contractual work hours?

Angela: I think one of the most important things to know is never write off a block of time because you think it’s too short. I think that’s what happens a lot during the school day. Teachers feel like if they only have a 30 minute planning time, there are so many factors and interruptions that could get in the way and leave them with only 10 minutes to plan, so what’s the point? Think about something that needs to be done every single day that does only take 10 minutes. Identify something that you can knock out in that amount of time and then build that into your routine. 

The frustration comes when we try to do something like grading, that takes more time. The idea is to just think about something you can fully accomplish during that time. It’s unsatisfying to work a little bit on 20 different things, because then you feel like you’ve worked all day long without actually finishing anything. There’s nothing moved off your plate. So, look for really concrete tasks that you can move off your plate. 

My advice would be to avoid the things that you know you can’t do well at school. Don’t try to do those during contractual hours. I never did lesson planning at school because I just I can’t think well enough when I’m there. I like to do backwards design. I like to do unit planning and really think holistically about how the different skills weave in, that’s not something that I can do when the intercom is going off every five minutes after school. I need a break and want to go home. I want to relax and clear my head and then do that at a different time. I’m happy to spend some time on a Sunday afternoon once a month really doing a deep dive on lesson planning instead of trying to do it during the school day. 

You have to get really clear about what tasks make sense to do when based on your energy levels. Some people like to go in early, while others can’t because they have other obligations. Maybe you’re not a morning person. If so, figure out what works for you and have a variety of different strategies. Maybe you would plan to stay late one day, but it wasn’t a good day. Rather than forcing yourself to try to stay and get it done, just roll with it. Just acknowledge that the best thing for you is to get out of there and go home and start fresh tomorrow. You can stay late another day. It’s really about paying attention to what is the best use of your time and not forcing yourself to try to do things that don’t really fit into that block of time. 

Avoiding Shiny Object Syndrome to help make Teaching Sustainable 

Daphne: I know you’ve talked a lot about how every person is unique, even when it comes to teaching. As a teacher, I struggled with Shiny Object Syndrome. I would have these great lesson plans, but then I would learn about something new and exciting that I wanted to bring into the classroom the next day. So, maybe I spent an additional two hours doing a really last-minute lesson plan because I wanted to do this project-based learning activity that was really going to impress the parents of my gifted and talented students. That meant that I was two hours behind on grading or two hours behind on all the other priorities I had during that time.

I needed to have a little bit more control over realizing it might not be the right priority at that time. I needed to be able to table those ideas, put them in a binder to look at later when I had the time and bandwidth to do it. At that time, it definitely shouldn’t have been a priority.

Angela: That’s so smart to think about it like that. In the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program, we talk a lot about real work versus hobby work. For many of us, teaching is a hobby and something we enjoy doing as a creative outlet. It’s saying, “You know what this, this project that I’m going to do for my gifted and talented program is something that’s probably going to take two hours.” Then you have to decide if that’s what you want to spend your time on that evening instead of all the other things that you had planned to do. Sometimes you might want to make the sacrifice, and it’s absolutely fine to do that with intentionality. 

It’s also smart to do exactly what you said and realize you only have a limited amount of time that day and you can’t do it all.  It’s knowing that if you start chasing the shiny object, you’re not going to get the things done that absolutely have to be done for tomorrow. So even though that thing would be more fun to do, you are going to have to table it for a little bit. That kind of intentionality is the name of the game. That’s really all it is. It’s just constantly weighing what’s the most important thing to do now, and making sure that those things get your attention.

Daphne: And this isn’t something that I learned while I was teaching. It’s taken me the last six years of having a lot of things on my plate to learn it. It’s one of the reasons why teachers have to seek these outside resources is because these types of challenges aren’t really addressed in most professional development programs. Instead, you’re just given a lot of exciting lesson plans and a lot of exciting ideas and told to go with it while still staying on top of everything else.

Strategies for better managing your time and reducing your workload, without negatively impacting students. 

That’s where teachers have a lot of trouble with scaling back their time management. They have to learn productivity and time management strategies. So, what are some of your favorite strategies for managing after school hours or summer planning that helps teachers save time from their future workload?

Angela: I think two of the things that take up the most time for teachers are lesson planning and grading. Those are things that often have to be done after school. So, if you know what and where you’re teaching next school year, then this approach that I’m about to share will work. If you don’t yet know, just think about broad plans. The idea is to be really intentional about what you’re going to have students do. 

They don’t need to do every workbook page just because the workbooks are there. They don’t need to do every activity that you did last year, just because all of your colleagues do them. They don’t need to do every project that you have purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers, just because you don’t want the money to go to waste. Really think about the routines and learning practices that made a big impact for the kids. If you’ve been teaching for a couple of years, you know the kind of stuff that really helps kids develop deep understandings, really engages them, and really just sparks their curiosity. Think about how you can do more of what works instead of always reinventing the wheel. 

So, for lesson planning, you can create a flow for your day and a flow for your week. That will really simplify how long it takes for you to plan lessons. That way, you’re not necessarily starting from scratch with this blank lesson plan every single day for 180 plus days. You’re planning to use the same structures every Monday, and a different set of structures every Tuesday, and so on. So, when you’re planning, you know Wednesdays are quiz days, Thursdays are for station rotations, and so on. You can have the same flow on each of those days. Maybe it’s 15 minutes of bell work or morning work or 15 minutes of vocabulary practice. It should be whatever fits your needs.

Obviously, you can change stuff out anytime you want to. You don’t have to stick to it, but it’s such a time saver for lesson plans. It’s so much easier to plan for Thursday, when you know that that’s the day the kids catch up on projects. Maybe you always end the class with a peer conferencing session so you can see how they’re doing. Having that kind of stuff already figured out and already typed into your lesson plan template means you don’t have to rewrite it and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every single day. The structure or the flow is decided in advance. So that’s one thing you can begin thinking about in the summer is how you can structure your days. Then, figure out how you can structure your weeks so you don’t have to figure out what you’re going to do for each and every day. 

You can also decide in advance what you’re going to grade. This really goes hand in hand with what you’re going to teach. You don’t need to grade everything. You’re going to grade the most important things that really move the needle for kids. As you’re doing your lesson planning, think about what those assessment pieces are going to be. It’s sort of a more casual way of doing backward design. 

Every district I’ve ever taught in required two grades per subject per week. At the elementary level, that meant I had to take two grades in math, two in science, two in reading, two in writing, and so on. That’s all I needed to do. I had colleagues who were taking a grade in every subject every day. We taught six subjects, so that was six grades a day, and they spent all of their evenings grading papers. I really tried to concentrate on other ways to get engagement, knowing I didn’t have to grade every single paper to see if kids were understanding or not. I could tell just from the looks on their faces when I was asking them questions. I didn’t need to grade every single little thing. 

I looked for multi-day assignments that the kids didn’t just finish in 20 minutes, which just created this sudden stack of papers for me to grade. I looked for bigger projects that they could work on over several days, or even weeks, and maybe just grade one aspect of that project. So it doesn’t even take me that long to assess, but they get days and days of skill practice. 

So I would say to the teachers listening to this, examine the approach to your workload, and consider what things you are doing that might be making the work harder than it needs to be. There’s a lot of fear in teaching around messing up and not doing something right or not giving your all for your kids. But you can’t let that fear that you’re not doing enough be your driver or your motivator. When you’re making decisions about how to spend both your personal time and your class time, it can’t be fear-driven.  Look for things that make the biggest impact for kids, give 100% in those areas, and then streamline, simplify, or eliminate the rest of it.

Daphne: I couldn’t agree more. I taught fifth grade for three years across two very different demographics. It wasn’t until my third year teaching that I realized I was allowed to let the students actually grade a lot of the work themselves as I went over the answers. 

Angela: That’s such a great strategy. When the kids do more grading on their own, they get so much more from it when making the corrections themselves than if you just hand them a paper that’s already corrected. That’s also such a great use of class time, right? That’s one less activity you have to plan for kids, and you can turn the self-assessment piece into a learning experience itself. It’s such a valuable use of class time and is such a win-win.

Daphne: I think that there needs to be more space for teachers to learn different strategies, learn what works, and then see what works for them. Often, that time gets bogged down with district professional developments that might not be as helpful or as supportive. Sometimes they do need to reach out and find outside resources in these areas they are really struggling with. They need to reach out and find these types of strategies, but it’s been a challenge for a lot of people to find where to go for this kind of support. 

Learn how Angela’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program can help (and count as PD). 

So, I wanted to take some time to talk all about your program, the  40 Hour Teacher Workweek, which could help many, many teachers go into next year with building systems and mental ships and everything that they would need to make teaching more sustainable.

Angela: Yeah, this is such a great time to be thinking about that as we figure out what post-pandemic teaching is going to look like. I think it’s so important for teachers to have a voice in shaping things. We cannot just sit back and let other people make the decisions about what school is going to look like. I think it’s so important for teachers to bring their ideas to the table, advocate for themselves, and to say, “I know what works for kids. I’m the one doing this job. I know these students in this curriculum better than anyone else. These are the things that we need to be focused on. These are the things that really make an impact. These are the practices we need to let go of.” We need to just be intentional about deciding what to keep and what to toss out. 

So, the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek just provides a community of educators to do that kind of work with and bounce ideas off of and learn what teachers are doing in other schools that is helping them in their students make better use of their time. It’s a place to collaborate and not feel like you have to do it by yourself. It’s a full-year program and is called the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Full Year. It runs once a year and starts in July, and it runs through the following June. 

The idea is that you’re getting professional and personal development support through every single season of the school year because what you care about in July is very different from what you care about in November and from what you care about in March. I really wanted to provide ongoing support, so teachers felt like they had someone addressing all those different challenges. There’s an audio component as well as PDFs, so you could listen or read. I just want you to really internalize the mindset because that’s the piece that helps you when it’s time to do all of the things that we talked about here. It helps with listening to your body, trusting your intuition, and knowing what’s important. These are things you have to do over and over and over again for them to feel natural. I think having a full year of support makes that so much more likely. 

The program talks about the mindset piece, but it also talks about the practical things like streamlining lesson planning, grading, parent communication, email management, and all that kind of stuff. That way, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. These are proven systems. Nearly 50,000 teachers have gone through this program since 2015. So, these are teacher-tested, and we’ve had teachers in any kind of grade level, subject area, and type of school that you can possibly think of. I know that it works, and I know that it helps teachers. 

It is really just such a joy and such an honor to be able to see teachers realize how much more power they actually have over how their days are structured. I mean, as the saying goes, how you spend your time or how you spend your days is how you live your life. I think being able to feel like you have some control and some agency over that is just really empowering.

Daphne: And I know that we’re going to be releasing this episode in May, and the program doesn’t open up until July, but I think an important thing to touch on is that there are a lot of administrators who are supportive and who want to help their teachers, but they don’t have the right resources available to them to help with the development teachers are actually looking for. 

You actually have the program open where administrators can actually sign up to purchase the program with PD funds. Can you talk a bit about that option for any teachers who are listening who might want to share this opportunity with their principals? 

Angela: Yes, you may be surprised at just how many principals are amenable to this, particularly now that the teacher attrition crisis and the teacher shortage crisis has worsened. Many, many more people at the district level are waking up to the things that we’ve all been shouting from the rooftops for years. It’s things like how we cannot treat teachers as disposable resources because they are not replaceable. No one wants to sign up for that. So, there are a lot more people talking about wanting to spend money on programs like this. 

We get emails from principals all the time, including deeply caring administrators, who notice their teachers are struggling and want to help them. So, we do take purchase orders. We have an entire page for the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program that is designed for administrators. It talks about the data and the research behind the program and all that kind of stuff that makes it a little easier to justify the funds. Administrators can go through this process for purchase orders at any time. So, even though the program begins in July, and we have an early bird period in June where you can join beginning June 15. Administrators can sign up any time. We know that it can take longer for the funding to come through.

So yes, this is not something that you necessarily have to pay for out of pocket. You may be surprised at how much your administrators want to help you find ways to balance it all because I think if there’s anything this past year has illuminated is that teaching as it is required of teachers now is not sustainable. This is not something that we can keep doing forever. It has to be reimagined. It has to be rethought to find a way that actually works for teachers and kids. You know, as I said, it’s a proven system. So administrators don’t have to figure it out on their own either. There’s someone else who can kind of take over that training for them.

Daphne: There are so many teachers who have been missing this piece to the puzzle. There’s no shame in leaving a career for any reason. Whether it’s related to finances or just a desire to change, there’s absolutely no reason to feel shame. However, there are a lot of people who’ve just been struggling with the work-life balance piece. They have a supportive school environment award, or they’re changing schools to try a new school environment this next year, but they still have been struggling with this piece. 

That’s why it’s something that I hope everybody listening at least looks into. I wanted to have a straightforward way for everybody to find it, so I’m putting the link at the end of the show notes. Angela, I just wanted to thank you so much for being here and for everything that you do for teachers. You’ve positively impacted so many teachers through your podcast, the Truth For Teachers podcast, and your program, the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek. Every time I give you a shout-out, people reach out to tell me you changed their life or saved them from leaving. 

Angela: Oh, that is amazing. I really appreciate that, Daphne. I’m so glad that you and I have connected because I just think we have such a nice partnership. You’re so supportive, recommending the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek to people who listen to your podcast and follow your resources and aren’t quite sure if they want to leave. I mean, I remember questioning if I should stay or leave. It’s really, really scary. 

I love that I’m able to support the teachers who are trying to find ways to stay and that you’re there to guide them when they decide they might want to leave and start thinking about that transition. That’s such a huge need as well. I find the same as you do, in that when I share your resources with people they’re so grateful for your resources and community. It’s just so nice for teachers to have choices and not feel stuck. 

Daphne: Yeah, I think the most important thing to remember is that there’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all answer for any of us because everybody and every situation is unique. Our hearts are all in different places. There are lots of different answers. The one common problem our audiences have is they’re unhappy in some way with their situation. We’re just trying to steer them in the right direction toward happiness in whatever they choose to do. You have helped so many teachers find their passion again, and that’s huge. Thank you so much for being here.

Angela: Thanks for that. I definitely appreciate it. This is a great conversation.

For anyone deciding to stay and teach another year, I want to end with some advice. I want you to commit to going all-in on teaching this year. Start to adopt systems to manage your workflow and truly prioritize self-care and your mental health. I know that managing work-life balance isn’t always the only solution you need. Still, it’s time to take ownership of your decision and make necessary changes to improve your situation. You’ll likely have a better year because of it. Worst case scenario, it will help you walk away in the future with more clarity, knowing you gave teaching your best shot. 

If you are interested in joining the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program, be sure to check out the links and resources below. I’ve even included a letter template you can use to ask your principal to consider purchasing the program for your school with school funding. 

You deserve happiness, my friend. So remember, regardless of what you decide to do, I’m here to support you along the way. You’ve got this! 


Help for managing teacher stress & burnout

Too many teachers downplay their mental health struggles thinking it’s just “new teacher jitters” or part of the position. My final year of teaching at a toxic school environment completely broke me. After walking away from that experience and finding happiness, I was shocked at how conditioned/numb I had become to being consistently unwell.

You should not feel intense dread about your career on a daily basis, period. If you are miserable more often than happy, let’s try to find solutions to support you:

Recommended reading: The Teacher’s Guide to Self-Care by Sarah Forst. You can also listen to Podcast Episode 14, where Sarah shares actionable advice on how to implement self-care into your routine.

Blog Post: Stress Management for Teachers; 5 Strategies to Implement Today

The Teacher Career Coach Podcast Episode 31: Blake Blankenbecler, Therapy for Teachers

Finally, if you’re struggling day-to-day it may be worth it to look into a therapist. Get started today with TalkSpace, a private, online therapy with flexible plans to meet your needs.

And if managing stress brought on by teaching isn’t enough, it may be time to look into alternative careers. If you’re at a loss when it comes to figuring out your options, check out our free quiz below for customized suggestions teachers transitioning out of the classroom.

What career outside the classroom is right for YOU? Free Quiz
Step out of the classroom and into a new career, The Teacher Career Coach Course