Episode 15 to 20


Eposode 15:

Amber Harper is an author, educator, Google Certified Trainer, and Teacher Burnout Coach whose mission is to Activate Teacher Self-Empowerment to beat burnout and live a happy, fulfilled life. She’s the founder of http://www.burnedinteacher.com, author of Hacking Teacher Burnout and is obsessed with helping educators go from burned-out to BURNED-IN. She also hosts a weekly podcast dedicated to action, inspiration, and support for teachers dealing with teacher burnout called The Burned-In Teacher Podcast.

Tell me about your story of being burned in teacher– during the 12th year of her career, Amber felt like she was on a roller-coaster of burn out. She got along fine some times with colleagues, often felt like there was something was wrong w/ her. “This can’t be normal”. She was challenged with burnout, it became a venting session. She would be told “go for a walk, take deep breaths”. She also practiced self-care, but she wanted to DO something about it instead of being looked at like a negative teacher. Couldn’t voice what she was challenged with. Self-aware, she wears emotions on sleeve. Didn’t have steps to address this proactively. Needed an attitude of seeking understanding.  Her mission is to impower t’s to take next step. What is it they truly want. If your goal is to leave education- it’s also honorable. It’s meant to help t’s change beliefs, daily actions. Many teachers focus on the negative, there wasn’t really a lot of opportunity to build skills she needed to become active audience member of our lives. Needed to be proactive member of her life, not audience member. She wants to active teacher self-empowerment. Growing through the burn out. It’s a call for change + action. She didn’t want to quit or move on. Don’t just wave the white flag. It’s not about changing who you are, it’s about changing maybe grade level you teach. Crossroads we come to. When she was honest with herself, things were truly able.   Let’s look at the name “burned in teacher”. Why are you flipping the concept? Story started when she was in another bout of burn out, she was surrounded by people who didn’t know her. Needed to adjust to new expectations. She was burned in about after going to google summit. She was hyped up about wanting to lead breakout sessions. Going to summit changed her life. Still doing google training. She was also inspired to talk about her continued challenges w/ burn out. Burned in was 180¤ different that was she had experienced. She brainstormed what BURNEDIN could mean, started a small group program.

B-begin where you are, free quiz. Talks about it in breakout sessions. Quiz identifies you w/ what type of burnt out you’re dealing w/. “If you can name it, you can tame it”. It’s time to sit in it & figure out how long they’ve been there. What brought me to this place. Who do you want to serve? Who is your why? Understanding your teacher brand. We build a brand as teachers- your brand is based on repeated patterns of interaction. I.e. how you conduct yourself. n a staff mtg. Your brand can be changed. Your people will say what your brand is. It takes work, but is worth is. R-reflect on your challenges. What do I have control over. What makes you cringe daily? Don’t ignore your challenges, think about what you can do about it. N-nurture your strengths (many identify themselves as “type  A”.) Recipe for disaster with a bunch of type A’s in building. We need to learn more about our strengths and personality types. How much sleep we get, food we eat, etc. E-extend your reach of possibility- what are you listening to, what work are you putting into extending your knowledge. Are you taking a course on classroom management, for example? Possibilities are what do I enjoy doing in life? Where you spend your time is your choice. D-determine your long term goals- what do I want. Do I want to teach 2nd grade? Do I want to coach? I-initiating lasting change, monthly, weekly, daily action steps. Goals can be subjective according to you. We look at personal goals a lot like fitness, take the trip you’ve been wanting to take for years. We continue to sacrifice our personal goals for a job. We do have to set boundaries around job. N-never settle- putting burned in into practice. Looking at things through a wider lens. Going thru that whole burned-in process instead of becoming a victim. Twitter, she encourages people to share your voice with people who will matter. It’s a choice you get to make. Burned in teachers will say “I’m going to live my life”.

What kinds of self-care routines do you practice? How have you been able to influence those close to you to be “burned in” instead of “burned out”. She considers self-care is paying attn to who you spend your time with. She does daily journaling. How you spend + optimize your time. Serving ppl through a business is much like running a CR. No professional is immune to burn out. When not feeling up to it. In her family she has shifted her daughters to Burned it teacher. They just want to vent. There is always going to be hardship. Life isn’t “easy peasy”. People who seem to have it all together don’t really. We don’t know what battles they’re dealing w/. Mentally prepare for hardship even with kids. Have strategies in back pocket when things get hard. If it happens, wonderful, if it doesn’t what’s plan B. In her book, she talks about activating system, radical acceptance. Is this settling or is it something we can do something about. Am I making excuses to stay where I am b/c it’s more comfortable to stay in this discomfort. Many adults say “I can’t change my life”. 

Out of everything we talked about today, what is 1 thing you especially would like listeners to remember? “Everything begins & ends with your beliefs”. Gandhi. This is your destiny. This is your 1 life. No one is immune to burnout, everyone is worthy of being happy”.

 Youtube: https://youtu.be/C4K3p2KdfbA Find Amber on Twitter: @burnedinteacher

Episode # 16: Nick Holtvluwer https://outofthetrenches.podbean.com?p=15330918&token=90c779b6d83ea4dbb5bfa7f07ebb0730

Nick is the principal at Mammoth Heights Elementary School in Parker, CO.
The Energy Bus principles are displayed prominently throughout Mammoth Heights.

Nick Holtvluwer is the principal at Mammoth Heights Elementary School in Parker, CO. Nick taught 6 years 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade in Tampa, FL, before he earned his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida. Soon after earning his Master’s degree, he moved within the district to another  Elementary School where he served as the Assistant Principal for three years. From there, he accepted the Principal position at Woodside Elementary back in his hometown area of Holland, Michigan, where he served for three years. He is starting his 5th year as principal at MHES. Three years ago, MHES adopted the Energy Bus curriculum.  

Nick is an an active poster on Twitter of TikTok Videos documenting his #dadsasprincipals and #fitleaders experience as dad to three young kids during the pandemic school closures.

Qu’s: Talk to me about the story of coming out of the trenches: He fell in love with communications, didn’t plan on becoming a teacher. He worked @ an NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids. Felt he was missing out on his calling to be a teacher. Got teaching degree while working at the TV channel. Hope College, television & video production. Was in Tampa for 9 years. His dream was working for Mr. Rogers on Sesame Street. Took a round-about way to become a principal. He sometimes felt he wasted a part of his live working in communications. Lots of his tv work transfers to social media + promoting school. Wants to show being a principal isn’t a stuffy job, not stuck in the office all day. Went back to alma matter to get elementary teaching degree. Had great guidance from professors. Not many openings in MI. Had to put contingency plans together for sporting events, he uses those are transferable skills. He’s embraced the opportunities. Doesn’t fit into the typical principal box. Wanted to take his impact further into school community, out of the classroom. Had to do contingency plans in television (what if golf match runs over). Sales experience helped him in building relationships. It’s about relationships, not about the #’s. Being put into an AP position mid-year was tough. Huge learning curve for him. AP at close to title 1 school w/ Affective needs program. Got good @ running after kids. Football, track experiences running transfer to his principal job. MHES has 6 charter schools in enrollment zone. First SAC mtg 1st yr at MHES- they asked how “we can be more like the charter school”. How can we be more like MHES? It’s hard to compete w/ what they’re doing. Get word out through social media. They’ll have struggled, but must rely on energy bus principles. Saw it first hand during COVID- quality instruction being delivered to students. Focus on building relationships w/ the kids transferred to remote learning. 

Student story: feel like every day you fail, put focus on successes you have. 2 students came from inner city Houston. Huge culture shock. Helped them learn mindset about how they’re supported, don’t need to fight. They thought only way to survive is through fighting, disrespect. Try to build positivity, relationships + love.2 steps backwards, one step forward. Culture is something we have to be intentional about. Push narrative that even tho they make bad choices, we won’t stop loving them. It’s about positive language, it’s not just at MHES, but in Stonegate community. Remind yourself you only have so much control as an educator. Continued to build relationships with family + older siblings. Kids may not understand what the culture @ new school means. 

Energy bus? In MI, was at a Title 1 building, wanted to build leadership capacity in students. He wanted a program that was beyond academic programming for students. “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. “Getting the right people on the bus”. Looked @ Leader in Me schools. Energy bus book spoke to him- he gave to staff first year @ MHES. Taught them how to understand positivity. Way to understand positivity is something you have to work on. Physical fitness is a metaphor to his positivity. Hoped it would help people become a more positive thinker in dealing with adversity. Wondered if there was a program that would be specific for schools. At the time there were only 5 schools piloting. Needed to build good character in students. Needed lifelong skills + guidelines. First school in CO. Can we give this to our kids? When things get tough do we run away, or do we get stronger? Gives common language throughout school, used in assemblies, permeated in every classroom, hanging on banners throughout school, on morning show. “Who’s the driver?” T’s reflect personally on language. Power of common language, based on bus analogy. He needed to freshen up the curriculum. Followed Nick Gordon + Nikki Spears. Stone Mountain principal also interested. They use a positive ambassador program. Needed to continue to teach expectations about what positivity looks like. Team together last summer, kids came in and worked on the program. Took 3 energy bus principles to drive the PBIS program, what we do in cafeteria, hallway, cr. “Love your passengers”. Through plan, they were able to collect data on positive or negative referrals. Where and when are behaviors happening. Brought a new dynamic to community. Clear expectation + common language. He doesn’t expect too much from t’s, they took it + ran w/ it on their own. He didn’t need “buy-in” from t’s. Didn’t give them list of things they needed to do. Organic. Part of culture. He doesn’t mandate things. Putting trust in the teachers. Care data wall, beyond test scores, talked to counselor about what kids were coming to office for. AP Brittnie showed data to kids and asked why this was happening, actionable feedback cycle.

Out of everything we talked about what’s one thing you’d especially like listeners to remember? “There are no regrets or mistakes”. “Those experiences in life where we think we may have missed our calling are learning opportunities that will serve us well in the future.” Use those experiences moving forward. Be more positive, especially in covid times. “Be courageous. When will we be if not right now?” 

 follow Nick on Twitter, Instagram & TiKTok (@NickHoltvluwer) and subscribe to @magParker MMES’ YouTube channel (Mammoth Heights) to learn all about the amazing things that are happening every day at MHE! The school’s hashtag is: #lovemhe

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Tg-2yjDoHPk

Episode # 17: Kevin Leichtman https://outofthetrenches.podbean.com/e/episode-17-kevin-leichtman/

Kevin Leichtman is the Director of @academicmindset,
Kevin wrote this book with his wife.

Dr. Kevin Leichtman is the Director of @academicmindset, and an ELA teacher. He holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instructional from Florida Atlantic University. He has been studying teacher burnout & mindset training since he shifted his dissertation topic 1 year into his Ph.D. Academic Mindset is a systematic approach to strengthening your mindset and preparing you to reach the highest levels of academics. Kevin is the author of Teacher’s Guide to the Mental Edge. He lives in S. Florida with his family.

Tell me about your academic journey of failing forward and never giving up:  Kevin was mediocre HS student. In HS he had a 2.0 GPA. Took 1 year working a minimum wage job after dropping out of OH State and got into mindset training. Prior to that, he had a weak mindset. Went to 1st college, made it for a few semesters, almost failed. Dropped out, then transferred to OH State, a bigger University. That didn’t change his effort. Failed. Took a year off, heard about mindset training, what impact it can have on you. He tried one more time, gave a sob story, a small school in OH let him in on academic probation (1.7 GPA), then graduated with a 3.5 GPA. Moved to FL did his MA and Ph.d. with a 4.0. GPA. Changed his mindset, his talent didn’t change. It changed his perspective on who he was. It was more of a growth mindset even in classes he felt like he wasn’t strong in.  

Tell me your story of being in the trenches as an educator?Kevin’s other story is about when he started teaching, he became burned out very quickly. He didn’t know it hits new teachers. Despite loving teaching and pedagogy aspect of it, got burnt out. Started his Ph.d right after M.A. He needed to research why he was burnt out. New teachers have so many  extra curriculars, building curriculum from scratch. He noticed he was being unhealthy, drinking soda, barely sleeping, overweight. Teaching career wasn’t going well. Everything was connected. Wasn’t doing anything positive in his life. He wasn’t doing anything to cope with his stress. Dedicated to becoming more healthy in + outside of work/life. He was able to endure burn out by researching. He didn’t use anyone from school. His dissertation is on burn out. Colleagues were also burnt out. School is high stress environment. He knew t’s wouldn’t necessarily share why they were burnt out. They made the concern bigger. He found out it wasn’t the profession burning him out, it was the reaction to it. Started changing his reaction. Physical health started to improve, then mindset started to improve. I have the opportunity to do x,y,z. Gratitude cup started to fill, thoughts on career started to change.

How did you get involved with Academic Mindset? Kevin is also a wrestling coach. Transferred the curriculum from wrestling to academics. Part of it was helping him get out of burn out. Things that were working for him, based on program that existed already. Having no fear of loosing, never giving up mindset. Don’t we need it in the academic space as well? The idea just fell into his lap. Went to NJ and had a planning session. See if students would succeed in the academic mindset piece.

Did you have to rewrite a lot of the curriculum from wrestling? That program allowed him to be a better teacher, it helped him be a better teacher. Kevin and his wife wrote it together. Some pieces they needed to change languaging, i.e. “being aggressive” was changed to “taking responsibility”. Took pieces that were build out, structured. Teacherss are often missing a structured curriculum when it comes to teaching growth mindset. 

Do you offer PD for schools? Government contracts, progressed on scaled from working with smaller schools to districts, continue forward momentum. Great results. Wants to expand into impact. One of his favorite conversations to have with other educators is “What are you noticing about a student’s mindset?

Key Quotes: “Mindset makes the difference”.  “Focus on what matters”.

You can find Kevin online at www.ZAcademicmindset.com He has a nbook coming out in ‘21. Book will be called “The Perfect 10”. Find him on Twitter @Academicmindset @KevinLeuchtman View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/fzMdHy2LfUY

Episode # 18: Gretchen Bridgers https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ieqmr-ebdc98

Gretchen consults individual teachers and school staff under her own company, Always A Lesson

Gretchen Bridgers is a National Board certified elementary school teacher from Charlotte, NC. In 2006, Gretchen received her bachelor’s degree at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. In 2010, she received her master’s degree in Curriculum and Supervision from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Gretchen taught grades 2, 3, and 5 before transitioning into the role of a New Teacher Development Coach for The New Teacher Project [TNTP]. During this time, she also published her first book for new teachers called “Elementary EDUC 101: What They Didn’t Teach You in College” to help prepare future teachers for the realities of life in the classroom. With years of mentoring new teachers, providing professional development to school building staff, and presenting at district and national conferences, Gretchen has now invested her time solely to consulting individual teachers and school staff under her own company, Always A Lesson. Her blog, podcast, classroom resources, and professional development courses serve teachers worldwide.

Tell me a story about a time you were in the trenches– she had read all the books, had a great mentor when she started as a teacher. Books in college didn’t teach you what happens “if”. Met other educators through Twitter chats, decided to become what she wished she had. Everyone has thanked her for giving them the “real stuff”. Educator prep books didn’t teach you much other than history and a methods course senior year. They were busy trying to do their planning. Found out via Twitter chats, got a lot of tools, felt like she was burdening other people through her questions. She built her own tribe through people who were willing & able to mentor her. Won’t turn someone away because she has a lot of things to do. They helped her learn to think/problem solve. Be your own advocate, build your own tribe, don’t recognize you’re in trouble. If you’re not ready to present, say I’m going to get one + give one. If you’re too much of an introvert, you’ll limit yourselves. Work on rethinking it w/ others. Force yourself to go into session + share 1 idea w/ others. Don’t go there to just “sit and get”.

How did you transition into your New Teacher Development Coach role? Her 3rd yr she had a student teacher. They wanted her to share her skills with someone. She was a peer mentor, walked people through life on campus, she gained more leadership skills. She thought maybe she wanted to become a principal. Thought that was next progression. Whole plan was out the window first 5 minutes. Decided she wanted to help teachers in the classroom. She wanted to either switch districts or schools. Had notecard box of ideas she’s read in books. All her struggle & hustle to find answers came to fruition. Now it was her turn to pay it forward.

Usually district hires her, they bring in a sub-set of teachers, district decides who needs the help. She has a mastermind cohort w/ different teachers. Mastermind started as a group of t’s who coach t’s. They wanted her to teach her how to coach other t’s. She created a course. Set up community for 10 teachers at a time. They have a FB group. There is a 3rd step, can upgrade to individual support.

What are the advantages of being on your own vs. in the district? Starting her own company happened at the right moment. She was supporting K-12, needed middle school experience first. Each stepping stone was necessary. If someone is interested, make sure you have worked w/ people at all grade levels. Chips lined up. 

Out of everything we spoke about today, what’s the most important thing you want listeners to remember? “Create your career for yourself.” “Don’t say in a school that’s not helping  you grow.” You can be a great educator even if not in the classroom”. “Don’t feel like you need to stay where unhappy. Make it happen. You can create your own journey. She was an advocate for making herself better. Think about how to upgrade your knowledge. Don’t wait for things to happen. Great teachers are flexible”. 

Connect with Gretchen on website, where you can sign up to get a newsletter. If you need ideas, send her an email: gretchen@alwaysalesson.com

Watch this episode on Youtube: https://youtu.be/KV_NSBtW2oE https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ieqmr-ebdc98 

Whether you’re teaching a lesson or learning one yourself, it’s Always A Lesson. 


(episode #19 is a “Thoughts and Reflections” episode): https://outofthetrenches.podbean.com/e/episode-19-thoughts-and-reflections/

Episode #20 Sheldon Eakins


Sheldon is He is the the host of the #LeadingEquity Podcast & founder of the https://www.leadingequitycenter.com

Sheldon L. Eakins, Ph.D. supports educators with the tools and resources necessary to ensure equity at their school. With over 11 years in education, he has served as a teacher, principal, and Director of Special Education. Dr. Eakins has a passion for helping educators accomplish equitable practices in their schools. He has earned a B.S. degree in Social Science Education, an M.S. degree in Educational Leadership (Capella), and a Ph.D. in K-12 Education (Capella). He lives with his family in Pocatello, ID.

Tell me a story about when you were in the trenches and how you managed to crawl out: He heard about equity in the Virgin Islands, and got recruited to teach there from TX. Growing up, as a high school student at a charter school, a teacher told them they had to be white, over 40 years old and have a family, to become president. When he saw Obama become president, he never forgot that moment, just seeing a black president. How did Obama being elected effect your teaching? He ties in the importance of knowing your audience. He ensures when teaching students he will provide challenges. He takes on that whatever he teaches is relevant to students. The teacher he had in high school thought that was all he knew was “cookie cutter”. “I might have my own view of the world, how do my students view the world?” He went to college in AL, at the historically black college Oakwood Univ. He wanted to be teacher because of his basketball coach who was a teacher. One day, they called him to come to the Virgin Islands to teach history. Took MA levels course there but quit due to not understanding their accent. He went online to continue his graduate studies. Taught in FL for a couple years, then got a principal job at 29 yrs old. After that worked at a bigger school in OR. Finished up his Ph.D. Tried to find a higher-ed job. Parents had moved to ID, dad told him about program he decided to work for. He is currently the sped director for last 2 yrs. There are only .8 percent of blacks in ID. Do you experience racism and micro-aggressions in your town, living in a largely white area?  He doesn’t experience direct racism, but microaggressions (unintentional). In TX, where he grew up, there is pretty blatant racism. How can we effectively teach about micro-aggressions in a largely homogeneous community?). Micro aggressions are like mosquitoes, they end up wearing you down. In a predominately white classroom, we can ask “what can we do when we see micro-aggressions/the n-word comes up?” He grew up using it the whole time. Older black man called him out because Sheldon didn’t know the history of the word, whether ending it in “er” or “a”. He doesn’t tell black kids not to use it. He doesn’t want to hear a white kid call someone that. That person has to choose not to use the word. Teach kids to be able to stand up against issues of discrimination. That’s what being an ally, co-conspirator. Black Lives Matter was formed in 2012 when whites were acquitted they said “All lives matter”. When Floyd’s murder took place, and also because of the pandemic, people decided “maybe Black lives actually do matter”. They got on board. He worries about if they will still matter in 6 months. Saying it isn’t the same as taking action. If you don’t say anything, you’re a co-conspirator. What would you do if you saw racism/discrimination take place? Would you step in? Do you say stop or do you laugh at the jokes? What can we teach our students? Teachers will ask, “why do we need to teach about Black history” We need to broaden their pallet. Don’t just talk about slavery and civil rights movement. Don’t teach from whiteness. How do we embed Black figures into our curriculum? It shouldn’t be just in February . (Black figures in history) “They need to be viewed as being part of the culture not just a contributor“. We can help students understand their ancestry. (many of them don’t know about it). Curriculum needs to be looked at in a way that shows how people of color were influential in the world, U.S. history. Look at it from perspective of how we present curriculum to students. What are diff. Perspectives of people of color? Since the Great Depression- black & brown people have been struggling. It’s white-centered. It’s not a one-and-done. You could suggest getting more representation of color. Image about black contributors are often out of how slavery has affected them.

Key quotes: Overarching- “We have to look at things from a different perspective”. “One place doesn’t mean that’s how the world is”. “The way we interact, cultural norms influence how we lead culturally responsive schools.”

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/V_yQCpwzGak

Follow Sheldon at @sheldoneakins on Twitter & IG. His website:www.leadingequitycenter.com You can find his podcast @ https://www.leadingequitycenter.com/podcast

Click https://danagoodier.com/my-podcast-show-notes-3/ for more great episodes!

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