Yesterday, I was at the grocery store near my parents’ house in Florida where school is already out for the summer, and I saw two women who knew each other strike up a conversation. “Hey, how are you? How’s your summer?” said one. “It’s fine, but I’m already dreading next year!” replied the other. “Tell me about it!” came the response. I realized they were teachers who have been on summer vacation for less than a week and were already upset about the fall. They started talking about new assessments and curriculum changes and my heart sunk a little bit. I totally know that feeling where you can’t even enjoy your time off because you’re so fixated on the stress that’s ahead, and it’s a terrible way to waste a summer.
And yet that experience is so, so common! I hear constantly from educators who are burned out on teaching and desperate for any information that will help them regain their enthusiasm. Each story is unique, but the common thread is always the same: these teachers all loved their jobs at one time, but the unrealistic expectations and intense pressure they’re under has killed their passion and sucked the joy out teaching and learning. They want to know: What can I do to make teaching less stressful? How can I cope with all the demands placed on me? Is there ANYTHING I can do to make the situation better?
The answer is YES, absolutely, but the solution is difficult to explain in an email or blog post. So two years ago, I wrote Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching. Awakened provides simple steps to help you feel peaceful and energized no matter what’s happening around you. The book draws from principles of stress management, cognitive behavioral therapy, biblical and spiritual truths, and my personal experiences to help you develop thought habits that produce an unshakeable sense of contentment, motivation, and purpose.
I don’t want a single teacher to spend the summer dreading the fall. I want each one of you reading this to return to school with a positive, resilient mindset so you’re ready to face whatever comes your way. I want you to experience a transformation in the way you think about your work so that your enthusiasm for teaching lasts beyond the first few days of school.
So, I’m starting a month-long online book club for Awakened. We’ll tackle one chapter each day during July, taking Sundays off. I’ll send out a daily post in a separate blog, which you can get via email or feed reeder if you’d like. It will have a few reflection/discussion questions which you can respond to in the private blog community, sharing as much or as little as you’d like. You can comment daily, chime in occasionally, or participate only by reading–whatever works best for you! I would recommend setting aside 15-30 minutes per day for the study. If you fall behind, pick up where you left off whenever you have time.
The group is free to join, and you’ll only need to a copy of Awakened in order to participate. You can order through Amazon or through my website (where the total price for U.S. residents including Priority Mail shipping is $21). Or, you can get the eBook version which is delivered immediately after purchase for $9.99. Email me if you’d like group discount information.
The sign up form is here. After signing up, make sure you check your email for a confirmation link. If you don’t click that, you won’t be able to access the group! Sometimes the invitations get sent to spam folders, so if you don’t see it in your inbox within 24 hours, check your junk mail and then let me know the invite didn’t arrive.
If you’re a Christian teacher, check out the Awakened Devotional Online Bible Study for Christian Educators instead: it’s running on the same dates (July 1-30) but includes the devotional guide for Awakened which ties in scriptures and make biblical connections to the principles in Awakened. Over 800 educators participated in either the fall or spring sessions of the online Bible study this past school year, and I’m excited to try it this condensed month long version over the summer.
I hope that either the online book club or the online Bible study will invigorate you this summer and help you create lasting change so you can love your job more and take a fresh approach to the challenges of teaching. See you in the groups!