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Podcast Articles   |   Jan 23, 2022

We’re back! Here’s what’s coming in 2022.

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

We’re back! Here’s what’s coming in 2022.

By Angela Watson

Hey everyone, happy 2022!

I am so glad to be back on this podcast, and I wanted to kick off our new season by just giving you an update about what I’ve been up to, and what I have planned for you in the coming year. If you’re new here, this episode is NOT our normal vibe, this episode is much more Angela-centered and our regular eps are centered on YOU and resources/ideas for your life and teaching practice.

I just like to do some personal updates every now and then, so you’ll hear what my sabbatical was like, what I’m working on in 2022, and what topics we’ll be covering on the podcast this season.

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Sponsored by Every Teacher, Every Day and BetterHelp

Sabbatical 2021 reflections

So as listeners of the show know, I now take a sabbatical every December from the Internet and I don’t create any new content or post on social media during that time. This is an annual tradition that I unwittingly started in 2020 because I was really grappling with burnout, depression, and anxiety, and frankly didn’t have much of a choice from a mental health perspective other than to take a break and step back.

My sabbatical in 2021 was much different. I had the sabbatical planned for an entire year and was looking forward to it and plan accordingly, and I went into the sabbatical feeling really good. Just in general, 2021 was a better year for me than 2020 in terms of mental health, productivity, and motivation.

So this sabbatical for me was less of a, “Well, I’m in a state of burnout and I have to step away,” than something to just give me space from thinking about all things work-related and come back with even more creativity and inspiration.

It turned out not to be particularly restful.

We found mold in our home in Pennsylvania so there was a lot of contractor stuff to deal with. We also sold the condo we had in Fort Lauderdale. I used to live and teach in South Florida before I got married and moved back up north, and this was the right time in the market to let that place go, so I made a trip to Florida and packed, cleaned, and dealt with all the real estate, financial, and tax stuff and so on.

My husband and I spent the entire week of Christmas in Virginia celebrating with my extended family, and right after we came home, my grandmother who is 93 fell and broke her hip. So there’s been a lot to process and handle with all of that as well.

So my December involved dealing with a lot of practical stuff and wasn’t like a true rest or anything, but it was so nice to be totally present in everything that was happening.

I’m particularly grateful that we had that entire week staying with my grandmother at her house because it’s unclear if or when she will get to leave the assisted living facility, and our time with her will look different for a while. I am so grateful for that time of just tuning out the whole world — everything happening in the news and on social media — and just enjoying my family.

Carrying the spirit of a sabbatical throughout the year

That’s what I really wanted from my sabbatical, and if you chose to take a sabbatical over your winter break, that’s what I really wanted for you too. I found it so refreshing to wake up in the morning and focus on what was happening in my actual home with the people around me rather than thinking, “I need to check email, I need to get back to that person about that meeting” and so on. I hope you were able to experience that too.

So whether you took a sabbatical and it was wonderful, or you took a sabbatical and it wasn’t quite what you were picturing, or you weren’t able to take a true break from work over the holidays this year, I want to emphasize the fact that a sabbatical is a really loose concept, or at least it can be if you’d like it to be.

I heard from one teacher who said she wanted an entire month-long sabbatical, so she decided to do two weeks in December and it’s going to be two weeks in summer. I love that for a teacher’s schedule.

Another teacher who told me about her sabbatical said she decided she was going to do 5 consecutive days each quarter, with a slightly longer sabbatical over the winter holidays and two full weeks in the summer. So she’s getting a quarterly sabbatical that ranges from 5 to 14 days depending on how much time she has off from work and what else is going on in her life.

So as we are now deep into this current school year but still not anywhere near the end, when you hit those walls where you feel like you really need a break, I encourage you to continue to look for ways to do that. Maybe on a three-day weekend, you can take a two-day sabbatical from work or even the whole three days in which you don’t check email or do lesson plans or entertain any thoughts about school at all.

I have found that even just protecting my two-day weekends helps a lot, to stop working on Friday afternoon and to not think about it again until Sunday afternoon. I do like to organize my tasks, make a to-do list, and get a feel for what’s happening in the week ahead on Sundays, but you can try any approach that works for you.

The point is to carry that spirit of sabbatical with you throughout the year. And I think it’s especially important when you are experiencing the winter months as we are in the northern hemisphere, this is a time when nature has gone silent, into hibernation, very deep underneath the ground, nothing blooming or growing.

This time of rest is essential for all of the activity that comes later in the year. And I think our bodies are designed to work with the seasons. Just because it is a new year on the Gregorian calendar does not mean that it aligns with what’s happening in nature and therefore with what our bodies are inclined to do. My body still wants to stay inside by the fire and eat soup.

My energy levels pick up in the spring, and if that’s the case for you too, go easy on yourself in the winter — allow a time of more quiet, less running around, and give yourself more time for rest and regeneration in preparation for spring.

Making new year plans slowly and with intention

January for me has shifted into a time to slowly set plans and goals for the year. I don’t have new year’s resolutions in which I try to be a new version of myself or implement all these new habits suddenly on the 1st. I ease in slowly and spend the whole month mapping out what I’d like to be doing with my time, blocking off periods of non-work and rest, considering when I’d like to do certain things or go to certain places.

I’m still in a very rough draft of figuring out 2022, but I can tell you about two new resources planned to create for you. I’ll tell you about that and then give you a sneak peek of the podcast season and new articles and resources that are coming out there.

Project #1 for this year

The first major project for 2022 is releasing a second edition of my book, Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching. This was a book that I published in 2010, so it’s now 12 years old, and not only has the world changed and education has changed, but I am a very different person now and my beliefs and value systems have shifted.

I want to update that book and create an audio version of it which currently does not exist at all. I partially want to do this because I feel like the book is really powerful and there’s a lot of valuable stuff in there that I want to say, but there’s also some stuff in there that I don’t stand by anymore.

And that’s the problem with publishing books is that you put stuff out into the world and it’s permanent. If I disagree with something that I say on the podcast or the blog, I can take it down or edit it or make a disclaimer at the beginning. I can’t do that with a book, and I feel like there are some concepts in that book that I don’t want anyone to take the wrong way.

For example, I don’t want anyone to read Awakened and conclude that the reason they are unhappy as a teacher is because of their mindset, and if they just think more positive thoughts, then everything will be fine.

I don’t think that’s the way the book is written currently, but as I reread it, I see some places where I want to specifically address toxic positivity and the fallacy of believing that we can just think our way out of every negative emotion.

I want to address systemic issues and talk about the mind-body connection and how some of the stress we feel is not necessarily coming from our thoughts but from trauma stored in the body. I definitely have a much more trauma-informed perspective — I know a lot more about that now and want to talk about that.

And, I want to take out the religious references in the book which was the primary thing that people complained about when they read it.

I was careful to state in the preface of the book what my own perspective was, and I worked very hard to be inclusive of people of different faiths and people who are agnostic and atheist, but ultimately there’s a whole devotional guide for Christian teachers that goes with this book which is still in print and still available. So there is still something specifically for Christian educators, but I wanted to take out mentions of religion.

Without getting too much into it in this episode, I’ll say that my perspective on the harm that religious beliefs can create has changed over the last seven years, and I have distanced myself from American evangelicalism as I’ve watched it become intertwined more and more with politics and power instead of love and service to those in need.

When I identified as a Christian, I was always a progressive Christian, always socially progressive, so I don’t think taking out my personal faith-based references from Awakened will impact the tone of the book very much. In fact, I think the book draws more on Buddhist teachings than Christianity.

But I honestly just want to remove all of that, particularly for schools who want to use this book.

There have been a number of times over the years where principals have asked which of my books to have their staff read and I’ve had to tell them, don’t buy Awakened, because there are mentions of religion in there and it’s not appropriate for a public school to mandate that its teachers read a book that has religious references. If I take out the religious references, the book becomes immediately accessible to more people and that’s a big part of my goal in creating the second edition.

So that’s part of my big projects for 2022 — the second edition of Awakened and an audio version. It’s just a wider scope of things I’ve learned over the past 12 years and recording an audiobook for sure because I think it’s going to be fabulous in audio.

Project #2 for this year

My other big project for 2022 is something that I actually mentioned in spring 2021, but got pushed back for various reasons, and that is a new type of resource that is a combination of curriculum, as in ready to use materials with students, and professional development for the teacher.

The focus of this product line is on time, energy, and attention/focus management. And I want teachers to be learning right alongside the kids. I want teachers to be able to understand themselves better and have a shared vocabulary with kids around things like focusing on your work, what motivates you personally, what times of the day and week are your most productive, and so on.

It’s basically personal development work for kids and adults to do together because as I mentioned when I first introduced this idea last spring, productivity is a lifelong experiment.

Figuring out what energizes you and what de-energizes you, protecting your energy, communicating about what you’re feeling and what you need to other people around you in a healthy way — these are lifelong skills that will make us happier and will help us enjoy our lives more, make our relationships with other people better, and make us better at whatever types of work we choose to do in our lives.

So the big problem that I’m trying to solve here — you all know I’m always trying to solve big unsolvable problems, that’s my life‘s purpose — my big unsolvable problem that I’m attempting to solve, at least in part or at least contribute a possible partial solution to, is the lack of attention and focused time and energy that I think almost everyone in our society is feeling.

How can we make our world a more humane, compassionate, and empathetic place where we are communicating clearly with each other about what we need and setting boundaries but also looking out for each other? I want to support teachers and live their lives that way and influence students in that same way.

So I’m still at the beginning stages of putting this together, but I intend for it to be a product line which I will sell on my own site as well as on Teachers Pay Teachers for people who prefer that platform for one reason or another, people who don’t like TpT can just buy it directly from me.

I want this to be widely accessible to people, so I anticipate having some small elements available for $5 or $10 or $15, and then entire units that cost a little more than that, and working with schools to get the cost covered via purchase order so you’re not paying for it on your own.

I’ll be gearing these resources primarily towards upper elementary and middle school and then I hope to have a team of people help me adapt for high school and possibly for early elementary. Frankly, I’m not too sure about the K-2 version because I did that for my emergency sub plans. I have emergency sub plans for grades K to 12 and the grades K-2 plans we’re basically a flop.

There are so many resources out there for the younger grades already that the need just wasn’t there like it was for the secondary level. The K-2 teachers who have bought the sub plans have raved about them, and said they are extremely high quality and they love it, but there are just a gazillion things for that grade level, particularly kindergarten and first grade.

Ditto for SEL resources which are going to be overlapping in a major way with these time and energy management lessons — most that exist already are for younger kids.

These kinds of healthy communication skills are baked into a lot of early childhood programs already, and so the expense and time required to adapt it for the youngest kids just for my own personal experience have not been worth it, so I don’t want to promise that I’m gonna have anything for K-2. That’s gonna disappoint the people, and so I’m telling you upfront the reason why I will probably not go down to those grade levels.

Why I’ve chosen these areas of focus

But that’s my plan — to begin putting resources like that out into the world. And it’s really twofold.

The personal reason for me is that I spend the majority of my time and energy on things that don’t generate income. I work for myself, and all of my income comes from my own brand and my own business, so speaking, coaching, consulting, my online courses, book sales, curriculum resources, and podcast sponsorship.

And probably 90% of my energy goes into creating more free content, or at least it’s free for you, it’s not free for me to create. I’m actually taking a loss, so for example the blog post episodes which are written by the teachers and writers. We don’t have ads on the site, and there’s no paywall, there’s no Patreon. I make all of their amazing ideas available to everyone for free.

And that’s great, but I do have bills to pay, AND I have folks who WANT to buy my stuff, but I’m not creating anything new for them to buy. I am so so grateful for all of you out there who support me and love my work, the folks who love listening to the podcast, who would buy stuff from but there’s nothing new. They already have all the stuff I created that they’re interested in.

So I want to serve those folks better and also it makes good financial sense for me to create something new that brings in income rather than always spending my time and energy on things that I’m not directly compensated for, like composing my weekly emails to the teachers on my newsletter list and posting on social media.

Those of you who have teacher brands or side hustles and you maintain social media accounts for them, you know how time-consuming it is. Keeping up engagement and playing to the algorithm can be exhausting after a while and a real distraction from the income-generating work.

So I am unapologetically prioritizing income-generating work in 2022, I’m always telling YOU stop working for free, I also sometimes need to remind myself, yes Angela, some of the stuff is fun to do, it helps people, and contributes to something really nice, but you do actually need to just like make something and charge people for it. That’s OK to do. So that’s one of the reasons I want to create these time management resources

There’s also a legacy-oriented reason. I do like to solve these unsolvable problems. I’m not a person who can just create something quick and easy, I feel like there’s tons of that out there and I want to contribute something to the space of education which is already noisy and crowded online, something that is unique to my skill set and experiences and passions, and I think this is it.

So both this new professional development + curriculum on time and attention management,t as well as the second edition of Awakened, are underway and my goal is for them to be released in 2022.

What to expect from the Truth for Teachers writers collective

That said, the free stuff this year is going to be incredible. The articles that our Truth for Teachers collective has been writing are phenomenal. If you haven’t checked out the new website at truthforteachers.com, run don’t walk. You will find dozens of teachers from all over the country sharing their ideas, their truths, and their resources.

If you missed it, this was my big project for 2021 — I wanted to expand the site to include more than just my own voice and to center the experiences and perspectives of practicing classroom teachers. You all are the only ones who know what it’s like to teach in a pandemic and pandemic fallout and are the experts on what kids actually need from our schools right now, so I want YOUR voices front and center on the site.

Some of our upcoming topics include how to be unbothered as a teacher (how to let stuff just roll off your back instead of taking things personally or getting worked up about every problem). There’s an article on why you need a to-don’t list: a list of things you are NOT going to do, and 4 ways to make the to-don’t list work for your personality.

There’s also a very deep and personal article from a teacher pushing back against the idea of “learning loss” and advocating for community healing in its place.

There’s an article on teaching Black History month during an era of manufactured CRT backlash, and one on how to disrupt white supremacy culture in your classroom by examining expectations around urgency, individualism, conflict avoidance, and quantity over quality.

And … there are some light post topics, too — like how to teach outdoors in the wintertime when it’s cold (that one’s out right now!).

All of these are articles on truthforteachers.com, not podcast episodes, so if you want to get notified when they’re published, click here and sign up so that you won’t miss out on anything.

What to expect from the Truth for Teachers podcast

And finally, let’s talk about this podcast. I’m planning a mix of solo episodes where it’s just me talking directly to you, interviews with our Truth for Teachers writers, and possibly some coaching calls with 40 Hour Teacher Workweek members as we talk about what’s working for them in time management and what’s not.

This season in the podcast, we’re going to be breaking down some teaching practices, like how to manage tiered instruction without overwhelm, streamlining lesson planning by making decisions early, and how to create fewer assignments to grade.

And, we’re going to be talking A LOT about the unique behavioral challenges that many teachers are facing this school year. It’s no secret that we have a lot of kids who are struggling right now, and teachers are exhausted trying to maintain rigorous instruction and accelerate learning while also being empathetic and responsive to what it’s been like for our students these past 2 years.

I know some of you are teaching in places where folks are doing their best to pretend that everything is normal but my perspective has always been that this is NOT normal, that our entire world was turned upside down in March 2020, and that there is no going back.

I don’t think we can just try to keep doing what we were doing before, particularly since teachers were overwhelmed and kids frustrated with school even before the pandemic, but I just can’t be the one to keep talking about normal topics in education all the time like it’s 2019.

Lots of other folks are able to do that, I’m glad for them because some folks need and prefer it, but here on Truth for Teachers, we’re going to be supporting and validating those of you who feel like we are in truly unprecedented times in education, with very unique challenges that need better solutions than what we’ve been trying so far.

I’m going to have several classroom teachers who are TfT writers talk about behavior this year. They span different areas of the country, different grade levels, and different teaching contexts. We’re going to explore the root causes of why so many kids are depressed and seemingly unmotivated right now, how to combat empathy fatigue, and practical strategies for supporting kids while also maintaining high expectations and keeping everyone moving forward.

All of this will come directly from other folks like you who are in the classroom living this out day by day: the convos they have with me on the podcast will be honest, transparent, direct, and compassionate. We’re not here to pit teachers against parents and kids, we’re centering the wellbeing of ALL stakeholders including YOU as the educator because your needs matter too.

How to get the latest, best stuff

So that’s a sneak peek into what’s to come in 2022: For more great stuff from Truth for Teachers, go to truthforteachers.com to get on my email list. I generally message just one time a week — on Sunday nights — so use your best email address because I’m not going to spam and overwhelm you with messages. I’ll tell you about new articles that are out and send messages of encouragement and validation that aren’t published anywhere else.

Thank you for indulging me in this very Angela-centered episode. We’re getting back into resources and ideas for YOU starting with the next episode. Have a wonderful week — you can do this and remember it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be worth it.

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Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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