The Truth for Teachers podcast is BACK for season 14, and have I got some incredible things in the works for you!
Read on for a quick personal update about my summer, what new changes are coming to the site, and a sneak peek at some upcoming podcast episode topics.
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Sponsored by Planbook, Scholastic Scope, and Midwest Teachers Institute
A personal update on my summer
This has not been a particularly restful or fun summer for me. but it has been incredibly productive, and given how low my capacity was for getting things done throughout the first year of the pandemic, I’m honestly pretty thrilled to be accomplishing things that have been on my to-do list for a long time.
I spent the first half of the summer working a lot — this is one of my primary busy seasons as an educational consultant — and we successfully kicked off another cohort of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program. I was also able to bring to life the 40 Hour Instructional Coaching program with Nicole Turner to help coaches take back their nights and weekends, and it feels amazing to be able to offer that, given how long folks have been asking for it.
We also introduced the 40 Hour Leadership program to help school administrators streamline systems and processes school-wide to support their staff in better work/life balance and I’m really happy at the outpouring of support. I think this coming school year is THE time for re-evaluating the way we think about our workloads and creating more sustainable approaches for moving forward and I’m really looking forward to supporting these innovative school leaders who share that vision.
If you missed any of this, it’s not too late — go to 40htw.com to learn more about any of the programs!
So that was the first half of my summer. Then, I wound up going full swing into house projects.
I’m pretty cagey about sharing personal details about where I live for privacy reasons but back in 2013, we bought a little cottage in the mountains about 2 hours outside of Brooklyn where my husband is based, and over the years I have increasingly spent more and more time here. It’s in the middle of nowhere surrounded by forest and I have slowly developed hobbies that revolve around this environment: hiking, moss gardening, foraging, wildlife spotting, and so on. It’s peaceful and quiet and my favorite place to be.
It’s also an older home that feels like it always needs work done, and my husband and I have always been city folks living in apartments and condos prior to this so we have a big learning curve, and it’s very difficult to get contractors to come out and help us even before COVID. After a months-long wait, we finally had a housepainter agree to come out and do some repairs to the wood siding and get everything a fresh coat of paint inside and out.
Well, the new paint was like the first domino in a set where once you change one thing, it leads to the next and the next. So I’ve been leaning hard into small house tweaks and upgrades and redirecting, and this has really been the perfect time because I have literally no other plans: I’m not travelling or doing very many social things, I’m pretty much home all the time by choice, and it just makes sense to do it now.
So that’s been my month of July. And now that we’re into August, my next focus is on Truth for Teachers.
What’s next…introducing the Truth for Teachers writers collective
For the first time ever, I have recorded all the interviews for the entire podcast season in a single batch over the course of 5 days, and the content is almost entirely lined up already for every season.
And that’s because my guests this season will entirely consist of new writers for the Truth for Teachers collective. My vision is to expand beyond just a podcast with corresponding blog post transcripts into a collection of written articles as well that is composed by lots of different practicing classroom teachers. In mid-August, we’re going to be changing over the old Cornerstoneforteachers.com site to be updated and rebranded with Truth for Teachers — I’ll talk about why in a minute.
We hired the team earlier in the summer and began publishing their posts on a twice-weekly schedule in July, so there are tons of new articles and resources at truthforteachers.com in addition to the podcast.
Secondary teachers, you are going to especially love this, as I’ve got a bunch of high school teachers sharing ideas. I always try to pick guests and topics that appeal to a wide range of teaching contexts from K-12, but I do hear from time to time that there’s a bigger focus on elementary teachers, probably because that’s my own background and also there are just more elementary teachers practicing than there are secondary teachers. While I don’t think folks who teach younger students will feel in any way left out this season, I do think secondary teachers are going to be especially seen and heard.
Here’s a sneak peek at some upcoming episodes:
- We’re going to be talking about THE most powerful tool for building a respectful and inclusive class culture — that’s next week as a matter of fact.
- Another teacher is going to share how she differentiates communication for families (you know how some folks want all the information and some just want you to tell them the most important stuff? She’s going to share how to do that without burning out).
- We have a teacher talking about incorporating more playfulness into your lessons even at the secondary level so you and your students are having more creative fun together.
- I’ve got a teacher sharing some incredible tips for making data meetings actually valuable instead of a frustrating waste of time.
- We’re going to debunk some myths about teaching ELLs that’s going to make it much easier to support them
- We’ll talk about some really simple ways to meet the needs of neurodivergent learners without having to create 10 different versions of every lesson.
- I’ve got an interview with a teacher talking about boundaries and locus of control
- Another teacher is talking about how to reclaim your weeknights and make the most of those evenings instead of just waiting for the weekend to do things you enjoy.
- There’s also an episode on 7 shifts you can make in your grading that I honestly believe will be transformative for every teacher listening.
There are some good surprises I’m going to sprinkle into the season for you as well, and then we’re going to end by talking about how you can join me for a sabbatical in December if you’d like over your holiday break, and we can create some truly restorative practices that allow us to disconnect from everything education and school-related to come back in January refreshed.
Why this site is changing from TheCornerstoneForTeachers.com to TruthforTeachers.com
Embedded in all of these episodes with all of these different teachers is a shared mission. I was very intentional in the application for Truth for Teachers writers about the worldview that I hold and finding teachers who represent diverse backgrounds and teaching experiences while sharing a core set of values.
And when I began doing the podcast interviews with some of the writers, I was really struck by how different they are from one another in personality type and teaching style yet so committed to approaching teaching through a very human-centered, compassionate, intentional, and mindful lens.
It was so cool to hear the way they have learned from me on the podcast, blog, my books, 40 Hour, etc. over the years and how my way of thinking has shaped their teaching, AND how they’ve taken those ideas, the ideas of others, and their own experiences and truly made them their own. I learned so much from these interviews and was honestly blown away by the depth of them.
So that leads me to WHY I’m changing over my old site from The Cornerstone For Teachers to truthforteachers.com. The site is called The Cornerstone because that was the name of my first book back in 2008 and I was getting married and choosing to take my husband’s name so the original URL back in 2003 of mspowell.com wasn’t going to work anymore.
But I’m a very different person than I was in 2008, and the world is a very different place. Teaching is very different. And as a person who enjoys each new evolution of myself and constantly learning and growing, I wanted my site to grow along with me.
I’m going to share our mission statement and core beliefs with you in a moment because honestly, I think it’s fire and it’s going to get you so pumped up not only for the new Truth For Teachers resources but also for your own work ahead this school year.
Know that I don’t require your full agreement — we don’t have to see eye to eye for you on everything for you to be part of this community.
I’m just changing the name and description and mission of my site to better reflect all of what I’m wanting to do here.
If you just want teacher tips, there are plenty of folks out there who will not ask you to think this deeply, who will never challenge your perception of the world, or won’t ask you to unpack your limiting beliefs or biases or assumptions, or do any kind of personal development work with you at all. They will keep it 100% on professional development and fun teaching ideas. Know that I respect those people but am not ONE of those people.
And know that when I do give you practical teaching resources and systems to streamline your workload and make teaching more effective and efficient, I have a much deeper motivation that is driving me, and it feels good for me to know the folks using my systems appreciate that.
It really doesn’t matter to me if your papers are organized. What matters to me is that you can find the materials you need quickly and easily so that you’re not feeling frazzled in your classroom and you’re able to show up for students the way that you need to. What matters to me is that having your papers organized in a way that makes sense to you and it’s easy to maintain helps you to leave work at a decent hour and go take care of yourself.
What matters to me is that you show up in the world as the most healed, healthy whole version of yourself because if we could all do that, the world would be a very different place. This is the deeper motivation, and it is inextricable from how I see the world.
The Truth for Teachers mission and core values
The new tagline for Truth for Teachers is “Real talk from real educators.” We are a community of educators dedicated to speaking honestly about the realities of K-12 education. The encouragement, motivation, and practical teaching strategies you’ll find here are grounded in these shared values:
#1: We believe classroom teachers have a unique and essential expertise that must be centered in discussions about education. Decisions about teaching should not be made without teachers. So, we use our platform to amplify the voices of classroom practitioners.
#2: We seek out a diversity of perspectives and honor the wide range of experiences teachers have in K-12 schools. We focus on teachers in the United States, but welcome and learn from the voices of educators around the world. We encourage them to speak openly and transparently about all they are experiencing.
#3: We believe in the relentless pursuit of truth by uncovering history, facts, and experiences that have been obscured or whitewashed. We look to see whose perspectives are missing from common narratives and how that’s shaped what we believe is true. We are constantly learning and growing, and sharing that process with other educators.
#4: We believe that who teachers ARE matters just as much as what they DO. Therefore, we focus not only on professional development, but also personal development. We delve deeply into topics of mindset, unpacking personal bias, habits for strong mental health, and overall teacher wellbeing. The goal is to provoke self-examination and help educators be the best true version of themselves.
#5: We work to be inclusive but aren’t afraid to take a stand on divisive issues when needed. When deciding whether to tackle a controversial topic, our guiding question is, “Who benefits if we choose to stay silent about this?” We stand with folks in the margins and work for justice, accountability, and equity.
#6: We believe in a humanized approach to education, addressing not only the needs of the whole child but the whole teacher. The physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of both children and educators is our central concern, and does not come secondary to academic goals.
#7: We believe the status quo is not best serving the needs of teachers or kids, and push one another to reimagine what’s possible. We do not believe in martyring ourselves to meet impossible expectations or overburdening students with irrelevant assignments and excessive testing. Instead, we support teachers in focusing on what makes the biggest impact for kids and setting boundaries on how much time they — and their students — dedicate to less impactful tasks.
#8: We believe there is a huge overlap between what’s best for kids and what’s best for teachers, and work to offer solutions that serve the best interest of both. Kids learn best from happy, supported, balanced teachers. So, we reject the tendency to pit teachers’ needs against those of students and instead look for the alignment between them.
#9: We believe teaching is inherently impacted by the larger political, cultural, societal, and institutional frameworks that our schools operate within. So, we don’t shy away from discussing current events, and work to inform and equip educators to navigate systemic challenges.
#10: We believe that a free, high-quality public education is not only the right of every child but essential for the greater good of a nation. We respect parental choice and support teachers working in private and charter schools. We also have a deep passion for strengthening our public school system through equitable learning conditions for kids and sustainable working conditions for educators.
#11: We actively look for solutions that make teaching more effective, efficient, enjoyable, and equitable. We seek to help teachers find a sustainable approach to their work in order to maintain their enthusiasm and creativity. We support them in identifying practices that make the best use of class time and help meet the needs of all students, without burning out.
#12: We believe our mission is up for questioning but not up for debate. We invite healthy discussion initiated in good faith for the purpose of clarification. We encourage pushing one another’s thinking to include additional perspectives. And, we welcome all educators in this space. In the interest of cohesion and forward progress, we focus on the needs of educators who share our core values. We do not compromise the work of our community to center the perspectives of those who are disinterested in (or opposed to) our goals.
If you feel energized and excited after reading this … you’ve found your community of educators. Buckle up, because we’ve got an amazing, invigorating season of episodes ahead!
We’ve got a pivotal school year ahead of us, and together we’re going to be pushing our schools in the direction they need to go. Thank you for being part of that work in your school and local community — that is an absolutely essential component of the change that needs to be made. You can do this. It’s not going to be easy it’s going to be worth it.