Is your teaching practice sustainable? The answer I hear most from teachers is “no.” Teachers enter this profession determined to do it all – design and facilitate lessons, communicate with parents, monitor and track student progress, provide timely feedback, and grade everything

This unsustainable approach leaves teachers feeling tired and disillusioned. Disappointment in our work lives can wreak havoc on our personal lives. But what’s the solution? As educators, how do we empower ourselves to create boundaries both inside and outside the classroom? What strategies we can implement to reinforce those boundaries, day after day? 

As an educator with 16 years of teaching experience, I have dedicated the last several years to training, coaching, and supporting teachers. I want to help educators establish and maintain balance in their teaching practices and in their lives. In each episode of The Balance, I’ll talk with a different thought leader or educator. We’ll explore this complex issue and strive to find ways to achieve a healthier work-life balance.

In this episode of The Balance, I talk with Tiffany Wycoff, a mother, an educator, and an entrepreneur. We explore issues related to the balance or, more accurately, the imbalance of power and responsibility in classrooms. We question the current role many students occupy as passive consumers. We discuss the need to model a growth mindset for our students and what is needed to cultivate classrooms where we celebrate experimentation, risk-taking, and failing forward. We talk about the potential of technology to connect learners as opposed to isolating them. As advocates of blended learning, Tiffany and I explore both the pitfalls and potential of integrating technology into classrooms. 

If you are part of a professional learning community, the questions below are designed to facilitate a conversation–in person or online–about the issues discussed in this episode of The Balance.

  1. Have you had moments in your career when you struggled to engage your students? How did you respond to those moments? What strategies did you use to combat the students’ reluctance to lean into the learning?
  2. How do you stay current when it comes to new teaching strategies, instructional models, and technology tools? When and where do you learn–school organized professional development, engaging on social media, listening to podcasts, online courses, reading books or blogs? Which of these strategies have you found most useful in continuing your informal education?
  3. How do you currently use technology? What role do devices and technology tools play in your curriculum? Are you using technology primarily to transfer information and facilitate personalized practice? Do you use technology to engage students in the active construction of knowledge? If so, how?
  4. How do you model a growth mindset for your students? Are there strategies you use to create a classroom culture where taking risks and failing forward are encouraged and celebrated?
  5. What can teachers do to partner with their students and give them more responsibility and agency in the classroom? What would giving students more agency look like in a typical lesson? How might giving students more choice and voice impact your classroom culture?

Find The Balance on iTunesBreakerStitcher, and Podbean

Thank you to StudySync for producing and sponsoring this podcast! StudySync is committed to helping teachers find balance in their lives by providing them with a robust multimedia ELA platform that simplifies lesson planning, automatically differentiates tasks for learners at different skill levels and language proficiencies, and blends online and offline engagement to help students develop as thinkers, readers, writers, and speakers.

4 Responses

  1. Loved this podcast! Great ideas! I, personally, adopted your ideas about reviewing student work with the student (as opposed to doing it in isolation). Brilliant.

  2. Sorry, I haven’t listened to this, but read in Mindshift that you are evaluating student work as they do it. I am glad to hear this, as I know how happy I am doing this. I started last month giving open-ended quiz questions where I helped students as they answered.
    For example, if they left out that the sea otter is missing from the CA north coast ecosystem and only mentioned the missing starfish, I added sea otters. I teach biology to high school students who have previously flunked classes. We have smaller class sized in our program, so I can get to most students quickly. I also have been working real-time as they do reports. I’m thrilled with building a learning team through real-time help, so students see their points rising as we work.

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