Blocking Burnout: Life Lessons from Pear Deck Certified Coaches

by Pear Deck Teacher Advocate Risa Fadenrecht

Educators make a daily impact on the world and believe me, that’s a rare privilege. But those of us who have been in the trenches understand that the high that comes from “making a difference” can really ebb and flow depending on the day, the week or even the weather. (Teachers, can I get an amen?) Sometimes those highs can seem few and far between. In my experience, establishing safeguards against energy drain and avoiding burnout is critical to making sure that your impact is positive.

As Teacher Trainer and Advocate at Pear Deck, I run our Certified Coaches program, which means that I get to rub elbows with some of the most passionate, talented teachers in North America. I’m not exaggerating. These folks from all over the US and Canada are writing books, creating Google extensions for the classroom, and presenting their research in front of hundreds of educators at a time — some are even traveling abroad to be certified as Google Innovators. It’s only been a few weeks and already I’ve learned so much from these educators. Every day I find myself thinking about how different my career trajectory might have been if I’d known a few of these individuals when I was a young teacher. (Hint: I have a strong suspicion I would still be in the classroom.)

Whether seasoned or new, educators who find themselves wearing down under the pressures of teaching can benefit from two key behaviors modeled by our Pear Deck coaches.

Find Your Tribe
Building relationships with your immediate colleagues is both natural and necessary, but active networking outside of your organization is just as important. Does “networking” sound too corporate to you? Then let’s call it “finding your tribe”! The right supportive tribe of peers can be a powerful source of innovation, and expose you to tools or trends that may not have reached your school yet.

Pear Deck coaches are regularly attending (and presenting at) Google Summits and participating in #edchats on Twitter. In the words of of our Coach, Stacey Roshan, “I love attending Summits because of the people. People who attend want to be there, are interested and interesting.”

Are you facing a problem in your school that seems insurmountable? Your expanded tribe might have already remedied a similar solution. We can all benefit from the support and problem solving power found in a larger community of educators.

Keep Sharpening the Pencil
Figuratively, of course! The most important thing we can do to avoid burnout is Keep. On. Learning. And I don’t mean logging the obligatory PD or graduate hours — I mean actively pushing yourself to learn newer, harder, scarier things that will take you and your students to new levels of learning.

Don’t we want our students to be bold? How can we encourage them to forge fearlessly on to the next grade or out into the world if we are not modeling that behavior for them?

One of my favorite stories from a Pear Deck coach starts out like this:

“I went to the GAFE San Diego Summit full of anxiety because technology truly scares me. I have never used it in my classroom and never really planned on using it.”

I know this is a common feeling. Whether it’s learning a new tool or rethinking your lesson plan to include different technologies, change is hard. But here’s the end of that story.

“The Pear Deck presentation was the type of session where I was able to implement ideas the next day. It really has shown me that technology doesn’t have to be scary and it does engage students.”

I love it! The truth is most things that we fear are not nearly as scary or difficult as we imagine them to be.

Keep Popping that Bubble
Of course we want our classrooms to be warm, safe places for our kiddos to learn; but don’t mistakenly cultivate a bubble that stifles your growth and, by proxy, the growth of your students. Grow your tribe so big it bursts your bubble — your expanded network will breathe new life into your curriculum and refresh your spirits! And of course, a flimsy bubble doesn’t stand a chance against a sharpened pencil. Poke holes in the fear that keeps you from trying new things, and the high you get when you master a new tool will translate into the high of making a positive impact on your students’ day and on their future!

Risa will be hosting our first Pear Deck Twitter Chat on November 14th at 7PM CST! Bring your ideas to this 1 hour chat discussing building community in a 1:1 world. Follow @RisaPearDeck and participate with #PearDeckChat. RSVP in advance for a chance to win 1 of 3 Pear Deck Celebration Packs.