The Chalk Blog

Taking Care of Your Mind, Body, and Soul to Avoid Teacher Burnout

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Teacher Burnout

Four Ways to Encourage Integrity

In honor of National Honesty Day, (yes, that is a thing that takes place on April 30th) we are going to talk about integrity! Why you ask? Well, these concepts are closely related. Many people think integrity is synonymous with honesty, but author, Thomas R. Hoerr, tells us that integrity takes honesty one step further to action. Integrity pushes us to be better, do better, and it can also elevate the behavior of those around us. That being the case, integrity is not innate, so we must teach our students to act with integrity. While National Honesty Day might be the perfect day to do so, it is important that we teach, model, discussand behave with integrity every day. 

But let’s be honest…you might not have a lesson in your back pocket on integrity, so I’ll share four of my favorite ideas for embedding integrity into your classroom for just day or all year long.

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Distance Learning

Earth Day Celebrates 50 Years

When the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970: 

  • 10% of the U.S. population took to the streets to mobilize and protest “environmental ignorance.” 
  • the environmental movement was launched, resulting in the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act 

Now, at the age of 50, the Earth Day Planning Committee is preparing for campaigns that “will activate over a billion people” worldwide.  

There’s never been a more dire reason to participate. Evidence of climate changes are evident around the world. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently stated that their Doomsday Clock, which has assessed threats to humanity and the planet since 1947, is closer to the end (their version of apocalypse) than ever. Species continue to go extinct rapidly, and changes in weather  (which affects everything else) are alarming. 

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Holidays

Funny Teacher Stories

Students and Teachers Say the Funniest Things!

Art Linkletter devised the clever moniker, “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” and made a lot of money capturing parent stories of precocious children saying amusing things. If he had asked teachers about things they heard in the classroom, he'd have a wealth of new material to add. We asked teachers to weigh in with some of the interesting things they have heard, interactions in which they have participated, and general missteps from the mouths of teachers.  

We share them here to illustrate the messy and humorous days of teachers, and to highlight the very real vulnerability that we ask of ourselves and our students to show in the process of learning. Enjoy! 

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Student Engagement

NEW Course on the Importance of Student-Teacher Relationships

Great Teaching Starts with Relationships

Classroom management. Starts with strong relationships. 

Student achievement. Starts with strong relationships.  

Social-emotional growth. Starts with strong relationships. 

Culturally Responsive Teaching. Starts with strong relationships. 

Notice a pattern? When it comes to quality teaching and learning, authentic relationships are key! The science of learning tells us that from birth, relationships and experiences drive brain development. As teachers, we have to opportunity and the duty to make relationship building a priority, thereby positively shaping the developing brains of the children in our care.

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Educator Coaching

Teacher Feature: August

Interview with Travis Dresch

When we were kids, our minds were blown when we saw teachers outside of school. It was so out of context, but mysteriously cool: we saw them as humans, rather than just as their professional selves. 

To this end, the Learners Edge Chalk Blog interviews teachers in a regular segment called "Teacher Feature!" To hear more about the people behind the magic in the classroom, read on, and be inspired by these fantastic education superstars.


“Choose to be happy.” This is Travis Dresch’s teaching mantra. Travis is our featured teacher for August! Travis teaches high school chemistry and biology in the Cornwall-Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania. It’s apparent he enjoys science and teenagers which not everyone can say. 

I virtually “met” Travis when he signed up for one of our new courses: 5100: Train Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Practice of HappinessHis choice of courses sense given his mantra! (We thank Travis for his loyalty as this most recent course was only one of EIGHTEEN courses he has taken since 2015. Clearly Travis is also a life-long learner!)  

We asked Travis some serious, and not so serious, questions! Take a look.

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Teacher Appreciation

10 Ways to Pay it Forward

Ideas for Students & Teachers

On May 20th, Robert Smith, a billionaire philanthropist, shocked the 2019 graduating class at Morehouse College by pledging to pay off all of the graduating students’ school loans. His only requirement? Pay it forward.

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration

5 Easy Tips for a Co-Designed Classroom Makeover

Creating a Well-Designed Learning Space

Every year, when summer was in full swing and my teacher batteries were nearly full, it never failed-- I would move into classroom planning mode. I don’t mean the curriculum stuff, but fun planning like classroom desk arrangements, wall decorations, and bulletin boards. I would head to Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers to find the perfect posters to match our carefully selected classroom theme for the year. So much time and energy and money went into these efforts, with the hopes that it would have a positive impact. But a recent study found the opposite to be true-- children are more likely to be distracted in a highly decorated classroom.

As we embrace more teaching and learning practices that offer our students a voice and choice in designing how they learn, it follows that we should allow for that same sense of empowerment in designing the place where the learning happens. Flexible, inviting spaces with student needs at the center have the potential to create feelings of safety and relevancy, which then lead to a willingness to engage. Spaces where students have a say in where materials are kept, how tables are arranged and what goes on the walls, can do just that. 

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration

Perfectionism: Burnout's Evil Sidekick

A Guest Blog from Taylor and Francis

About the Author: Dr. Jenny Grant Rankin has taught the Post Doc Masterclass at University of Cambridge but lives most of the year in the U.S. writing books for educators and researchers. She is a Mensan who serves as Coordinator of Mensa's Gifted Youth Program in her county. She has a Ph.D. in Education, has been honored by the U.S. White House, presents extensively (e.g., her TED Talk at TEDxTUM), and has many media appearances such as National Public Radio (NPR). Learn more at www.JennyRankin.com.


It takes a very special person to embark on a teaching career, let alone sustain one. We teachers want so much for our students that we set the bar very high on what we do to help them. Yet this can lead to a problem that looks good on the surface, yet steadily erodes our ability to enjoy our jobs: perfectionism.

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, educator wellness, Teacher Burnout

Teacher Feature: Josh Petitt

Interview with Josh Petitt

When we were kids, our minds were blown when we saw teachers outside of school. It was so out of context, but mysteriously cool: we saw them as humans, rather than just as their professional selves. 

To this end, the Learners Edge Chalk Blog interviews teachers in a regular segment called "Teacher Feature!" To hear more about the people behind the magic in the classroom, read on, and be inspired by these fantastic education superstars.


Josh Petitt is a middle school English Language and English Language Arts teacher at St. Paul City School, a pre-k through eighth grade charter school near the capital. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters of Arts in Teaching through Hamline University. Josh lives in Hugo with his wife, two daughters, ages ten and seven, as well his son, who is three years old. The family also has a dog named Slipper.  

Why did you decide to become a teacher? 

"As is usually case with major decisions, there is not single reason. After earning my undergraduate degree, I tried a series of jobs over several years. Most of them paid reasonably well, but they also left me feeling incomplete. I knew I needed to look for something wherein I felt I could make a difference, wherein I felt I mattered beyond the bottom line. At that point, I started volunteering, and one assignment was a middle school in Burnsville, MN, where I enthusiastically volunteered with one of their English as a Second Language classes. After the first day in that school, I knew I wanted to teach middle schoolers; I simply enjoyed the children that much. So why did I become a teacher? I suppose the easiest answer is that I enjoy spending time with adolescents."

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Teacher Appreciation

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