The Teacher Leader Podcast

Preventing Teacher Burn Out with Maria Bridwell

April 20, 2021 Brittany Rincon
The Teacher Leader Podcast
Preventing Teacher Burn Out with Maria Bridwell
Show Notes Transcript

Come join me and  Maria Bridwell in this week's episode! She is an amazing educator, administrator, and podcast host that supports educators with encouragement and information so that they can thrive in their day to day life. 

In this episode we talk about:

  • Nurturing relationships to prevent burn out 
  • Setting boundaries as a form of self care 
  • Remembering to stop and reflect on our own mindset, self care, and how the stress if affecting our students 

Connect with Maria on Instagram or listen to her podcast, The Maria Bridwell Educator's Podcast.
Catch Maria's presentation at the
Educators2Educators Conference this summer.



Links Mentioned in this Episode: 

Save your spot for the How to Start a Podcast to Grow Your Biz Workshop happening Sunday, April 25th, 2021 at 8:00pm EST. 


Connect with me on Instagram and send me a message if you have any questions about the workshop or want to learn how to get started launching a podcast.  

Brittany:

you a busy teacher, ready to make an impact, wanting to share your message with the world, but not short, where to start welcome to the teacher leader podcast. I'm your host, Brittany rank con I help educators use their voice to share their message and find new ways to leadership. So that you are reaching as many teachers as possible. Join me for interviews with aspiring educators and tips to grade a plan for ways for you to lead and inspire whether it's in the classroom or online. So grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and let's get started on this journey together. Before we dive into this week's episode, I wanted to just pop on and share some really exciting news. This Sunday, April 25th at 8:00 PM. Eastern time, I am going to be hosting a live workshop called how to start a podcast to grow your biz. Now I know I've been getting so many questions on how to get a podcast off the ground. Like, is it really as hard as I think it is, or do I really need all that fancy equipment? And the answer is now. Let me show you the ways that I got this podcast started and how I am reaching so many teachers every single week, head on over to Brittany rincon.com forward slash workshop to save your seat today, I'll also put the link in the description, so you can just click, click, click, and save your seat. Now. Enjoy today's episode. So I am so excited for this interview today. I am joined with Maria. Hi Maria. Welcome to the podcast.

Maria:

Hello, Brittany. I'm so excited to be here with you today.

Brittany:

Excited. I always love talking to a fellow educator who also has a podcast. I mean, we could talk forever, right?

Maria:

Yes, absolutely. It's fun. Lot of

Brittany:

fun, so much fun. So before we get started and talking all about your teacher business and how you help teachers tell us a little bit about you, who you are and what you do and how you help other educators.

Maria:

Sure. So I'm Maria Bridwell and you know, I've been in the education business now for 16 years. The funny thing though is after my first year of teaching, I actually wanted to get out of teaching. It wasn't necessarily the best experience, but after a year off, it just kind of drew me back. I think I'm an education or an educator at heart. You know, I just loved being with kids. I love teaching. And so I went back into teaching and after a few years, or so maybe about six or seven years ago, there was an admin position that opened in our school. And, um, of course the go getter that I am, right. Like, let's do this and see what happens. And so I, um, I. Kind of went towards that journey. And so I have been in I'm in the admin position now as the elementary director at our school for about six to seven years. So, um, and then on top of that, I am also a mom of two girls. So I'm, I'm excited to do that. That's probably one of the best things and best experiences in life is to be a mom. And I am also going back to school. So that's cool. Part of this journey that I feel is a little crazy, but I think, you know, with the leadership position, I felt the need to. To really gain more knowledge because it's, you know, I, I felt that I needed to be accountable and to, to really know what I'm, what I'm doing and to make sure that I'm helping the teachers as best as I could. And so I started into this path of, um, getting my master's and now into getting my, my doctorate, which is just the craziest thing ever, because I don't think I would have. Imagine being in that position, if you would've asked me this in the beginning of my educational journey, I would have said, heck no, I'm not doing that, but here we are. So that's kind of who I am, you know, in a nutshell.

Brittany:

Oh, I love that. Wow. So you have a full plate.

Maria:

I do. It's crazy, but it's, it's a fun, crazy. It's I find creepy.

Brittany:

Definitely. I'm the type of person who, if my plate isn't full I'm. Useless. I know that sounds so funny, but it's true. Like if I don't have a lot of things going on, I get very like, Well, I'll get to that one thing when I have, when I can write and then I never get to it. So like, if things keep moving, I ha I'm like forced to keep moving. So I totally understand. And as someone who just finished my doc, Oh my goodness. Yes. Yes, I finished it during COVID. So, um, it's, uh, it's an experience.

Maria:

It really is. And it's, it's, uh, it's opened my mind to a lot of things. I mean, you feel that you have a good grasp on, you know, educational issues, but then you kind of dive into learning about it and, Oh my goodness. It's just, there's so much out there and there's the more. That I learned about something, the more I feel that I need to learn more about something. So it's just this cycle of, you know, being learning, I guess. And I love the way that you introduce yourself in your podcast, that, you know, you're a lifelong learner because I can still relate to that as well. There's so much more out there to learn.

Brittany:

No. I agree. Um, it's like a rabbit hole. It is. It is. So you have so much going on, you are going back to school, you're an administrator, you have podcasts and you have a teacher business. So what made you go into that part of this? Like what made you start a teacher business on the side?

Maria:

Oh, goodness. Um, I think that the more that I. Read about certain things about education and, you know, in research and things like that. I felt that I wanted to give that insight to other people. You know, my, my coworkers hear a lot about my research and for them, they get to hear about me ramble about things. But now it's, I feel like it's an up, it's a platform, an opportunity for me to. To, um, to give that insight to others and just really to help, because I know myself, I have been encouraged many times by going through Instagram and following educators and like-minded people, and I've been inspired by them. And I have been encouraged and motivated to really continue the job that we're doing because let's face it. It's not easy. You know, we, we have a very difficult task, our work matters, but it's very difficult. There are times when you do want to give up, there are times when you feel like it's not worth, it's not worth it, but people on social media that I follow have really helped me in a sense, or encourage me and inspire me to keep going. And so I wanted to give that platform as well, just to give information and just encouragement and, you know, motivation to others, just to add value to, um, what we already do, which is an important work.

Brittany:

No, I totally agree. And I'm over here, just nodding my head because like everything you said is so true. Right. You get inspired and you're just like, you're motivated. Right. And you want to continue to add more to that. Positive mindset about education and for teachers to inspire them to want to keep going as well. And kind of going along this line, like this has a lot to do with what I see you posting all the time and really helping teachers, you know, manage their, manage their stress and avoiding burnout is something that you talk about all the time. So can you just give us a little bit of advice that you have to kind of combat that.

Maria:

Oh man. Um, I think the reason why I talk about it a lot is because I sometimes feel it, you know, we, we, we are in a very stressful job because we are in the serving profession. And one of the things I think that we need to remember is that stress is actually a natural thing that, you know, stress can actually be good for us. If we manage it properly, you know, stress is a signal to our bodies that there is imminent danger or there's something that we need to change. And so we need to manage it carefully. And then. What re what happens a lot of times is that we have this unresolved stress that we don't really manage it. And that's when it really turns to burnout. And there stages of that. And so we don't want to ever get to the point where there's a crisis mode, right. Where, you know, we can't handle it. There's no way we can cope with it. And cause that's really where we get into trouble. And so one of the things that we. That we think about when we think about burnout is that relationship with, with ourselves. Because a lot of times we get to a state of emotional exhaustion and we sometimes don't want to admit that we are emotionally exhausted or physically exhausted. We just want to keep going, because man, we're at teachers, we are, you know, we're in this field and you know, we, we want to be resilient. We want to keep going. And part of it is being aware that there is a problem that we are getting to that point of getting burned out and we have to be able to set boundaries. And so that's really, one of the things that we have to do is really look at, you know, how are we taking care of ourselves? And that I know sounds very selfish that you take care of yourself, but you can't pour from an empty cup. And so if we are not investing in ourselves in taking care of ourselves, we can't go out there and help and serve other people. And so in, in. This was in a way a lesson for me, because I never thought of taking care of ourselves as something that you know, that we needed to do. First, I've always been taught. You serve other people, you know, you help other people. That's what you're supposed to do, but you can't do that effectively. If you don't take care of yourself. And, um, Our culture these days, they overplay busy-ness and they over glorify it and say that it's, you know, in order for us to be productive, you have to stay busy. Well, I've learned just recently that rest resting is. Productive. That is a productive thing to do. And one of the things that I have done lately is to actually schedule that time. I know that sounds really crazy, but I, I schedule that time during the weekend to where I could be doing homework, but I had to have a stopping time instead. And I tell myself, okay, at this time I'm going to stop and I'm going to take a nap or I'm going to do Netflix. Or something just to really get myself into that mode of, you know, I need to spend that time so that I can read juvenate and relax and reset for the following week. Because if I don't take the time to do that, then I bring along the stress from the, the front of the other week, from the week before into the new week. And I don't want to do that. And so taking care of self is really important to preventing burnout, but also. We also want to nurture in a way relationships with others. That's also important because people around you are, are your support system, you know? So you want to nurture that relationship with your, your coworkers and people that you work with. You collaborate with them. And, um, that's really, really, really important to managing. That stress, you know, the APA, the American psychology association puts out a stress report and, um, it's really astounding the statistic that they have, um, in 2020. 78% of Americans say that this whole COVID 19 pandemic has really affected them and has caused them a lot of stress. And then also about 65% have said that this political unrest in our country has really. Um, has really been detrimental for their, for their stress life and, and the gen Z generation, which is the, which are the kids that we are teaching as well as the younger adults that are coming out of college about, Oh man, they, the stress level, the moderate stress level for Americans is five. Is, is that a five out of 10 though for the gen Z generation? They're saying that. The, the average stress level for them is a 6.1. So it's above the moderate average. And it's really crazy to me because we are finding that this generation of kids are not able to handle stress very well. And so we as teachers, it's our responsibility in a sense to help them cope with it. To help them cope with setbacks and failures. And that's really where a lot of it is, is found as well as that, you know, we as adults sometimes can't do this and so let alone our kids, but it's so difficult for us to cope with mistakes and failures. I mean, It's, it can be hard, you know, a setback or a failure can really devastate someone. And so being able to, in a way, manage that and think of that setback and a failure as something that could be positive. It's an opportunity to learn, can really help with, um, managing of that stress because a lot of that comes from the way that we also see ourselves, you know, we. We sometimes have a very low self-efficacy or self-confidence. And so when we don't feel confident in ourselves, we tend to want to compare ourselves to other people or. You know, we compare ourselves to people on social media and think, Oh man, though, that person is doing so much better than we are. And then it stresses us out. It puts a lot of pressure on us when really the best comparison is to compare yourself to yourself, you know, that are you getting better and improving each day? Yeah. Are you better off today than you were about a year ago? You know, have you seen growth in your life? And so focusing on those positives can really help with managing that stress. I know that was a lot, but, um, I hope it was understandable.

Brittany:

There were so many like moments that I was like, Oh, wait, I think I want to talk more about that. Oh, wait. She said something else. I really want to kind of go into that.

Maria:

I know there's, there's a lot in here that just needs to come out. And so here we are

Brittany:

said so many amazing things and I kind of want to dive into a couple of them. I think one of the things that really resonated with me was thinking about how teachers. Are not really scheduling self care, right? Like we think self care, we think vegetative state. Right. And that's not always the case. Right. I love that. You said you have to like actually put it into your, your, your schedule and like schedule. These are the moments where I'm going to rest and, and kind of like re regenerate myself. Right. So that I have the energy I need to keep going. So that was one thing that I definitely wanted to say, because I think. Self care is such a buzzword right now. We keep hearing it and, you know, take care of yourself, take care of yourself. But at the same time we have this like, Toxic positivity where it's like, everything is fine and there's rainbows everywhere. Like balancing all the messaging that we're receiving is really, really challenging. Um, but that's something that I've just recently implemented as boundaries. And I don't think, I think a lot more teachers really need to kind of put self-care and boundaries in the same category because when you put boundaries up for yourself, like for me, I'm only recording podcasts now. Two nights a week for a very short window. I am not available 24 hours a day. And it just took me up until last week to make that decision. And it's just been really helpful for me. I put up a boundary, but guess what? I'm more productive and I'm more present when I have these conversations. So that was one thing that I love that you mentioned the other thing that you mentioned, which I had no idea about what the statistics for stress levels amongst kids right now.

Maria:

It's crazy. Yeah, it really is. And I'm sure 20, 21 is going to be even, I don't know if it will be worse or I'm not sure. I mean, I hope it gets better, but, but you know, this current pandemic I think, was so unexpected, you know, for all of us. Um, and I think it's affecting, you know, a lot of our, a lot of our kids as well. And so we really, as educators have this task to really help them, you know, get out of the. Get out of this. I don't want to say funk, but I mean, a lot of them are in this mental funk and we have to really help them, you know, get out of that. And one of the things that I, that I see a lot with kids, and I even see with my own kids is, is that coping with mistakes because I think a lot of kids, when they make a mistake, they tie it to their identity. They tie it to who they are. That they are a failure. Instead of seeing it, as, you know, I failed in this situation, then let me learn from this situation and grow. They instead see it as I failed, I'm a failure. And so it's really important for us to change that and turn that around so that they understand that they can learn from it and then they can develop that so that they can be better. Next time they face another situation.

Brittany:

Definitely. I mean, yeah. Being a kid is hard enough, right.

Maria:

It

Brittany:

really is. That's like, I just, I remember how hard it is. Like you're trying to figure out who you are and you know, those like teenage years, you know, those early pre-teen years, like how, how you really trying to just navigate normal life and then to grow up right now with everything going on. Yeah, I understand why the stress would be higher for this generation. You know, we've got three kids at home and I don't know what they're going through, you know, going through those years during this time and, and how school is not school, you know, it's not a safe place. No,

Maria:

it's confusing. And I think what age of social media also doesn't help. Yeah, with that. I'm just, I'm just really, really thankful that we didn't have Instagram or Facebook when I was in high school, because I don't know what I would've posted way back when I send them

Brittany:

all the time.

Maria:

So I know that that doesn't help them either. You know, that constant inundation with what's going on out there, but then also. The constant comparison of who's better and why am I not like this person or that person? And so I know that also poses a lot of threat to, you know, the mental, the mental health of our kids these days.

Brittany:

Yeah. And I mean, you know, bringing it back to, to teachers, you know, and thinking about boundaries and self care, like how do you think mindset plays a role when it comes to teachers? Kind of like making this decision? Yeah.

Maria:

So mindset is, is, is a big thing. There's a couple of different things with, with our mind. When we think of mind, we think about thoughts and that's our conscious thoughts, what we think about, well, what affects our conscious thoughts is our subconscious thought, which is our ideals and our values that we hold on to. And that's going to affect the decisions we'll make every single day. And so really. And this is also something that I have been learning as well is, you know, the mindset of our self-talk, the way that we talk to ourselves and the way that we talk about ourselves, because, um, it's sometimes really easy to be negative and say, I can't do this, or I am a failure or, you know, I messed up and that's that. And to constantly be, and sometimes we, we say it once or twice and think, Oh, that's harmless. You know, it's not a big deal, but the more you repeat it to yourself, the more it's going to be ingrained within your subconscious thought. And then that's going to then affect your decisions that you make every single day. And so, um, it's really important what we, what we think about ourselves, because it can either be productive and help us to increase our confidence, or it can be very, very detrimental to, to our mental health. The more that we tell ourselves lies. The more we believe that those lies. And then the more we really put ourselves in a situation to where we can't develop our ourselves, we can't know, we can't take care of ourselves. And in, so it's, self-talk, to me has been a lot more important lately. Um, because I used to say those things to me, it was a very menial, like, Oh, you know, saying, telling myself, Oh, I can't do this anymore. Or, you know why I'm such a. I mean, even saying things as simple as like I'm such an idiot or I'm, so this, you know, like sometimes you have to be careful when you say those things to yourself, because it's, it's going to be ingrained within you and you don't want to think that way about yourself. Um, because you are in the VR and the serving profession. We as teachers, we are, we are leaders in education and we want to make sure that we set a good example. To our kids. And so when we talk to ourselves that way, I mean, our students are going to emulate that same kind of talk within themselves. So really, and I say this to my teachers all the time, you know, you as a teacher, you are a leader in your classroom. And so whatever it is that you say and whatever it is that you do, that's going to influence all the kids around you. I mean, you have a captive audience for eight hours a day. And so the way that you talked to yourself and the way that you talk to your students is really going to impact them and influence them in the way that they see themselves. And then the way that they, um, that they talk to other people, you know, around them. So it's important mindset is very, very important. And I talk about this concept of fixed mindset and growth mindset and, and this concept that sometimes it's kind of a revolutionary word in, in education, but really it's, it's so foundational. Because do we feel that we can develop our skills or abilities or intelligence, or do we feel that you're born with it or you're not, you know? Um, and that's something that you can impart to our students. If you feel that your students can't develop their intelligence or their skill, um, then that's going to be detrimental to how you teach them skills in, in life. And so we really need to make sure that. Our mindset is where it needs to be in order for us to really influence and impact those kids that are in our classrooms.

Brittany:

I think you have such a powerful message, you know, and I think, yeah, so many teachers really need to understand that, you know, we preach to the kids about having a growth mindset and, you know, dealing with stress and all of those things. And we expect so much and they're so young. And then sometimes we just don't, we don't practice what we preach sometimes. You know, we don't, we don't have that same, uh, outlook when it comes to our own fixed mindsets, our own ways of handling stress, you know? And I could totally see why, you know, you started a podcast to have this conversation ongoing. So can you tell us a little bit more about your podcast and why you started, why you decided to kind of go along in that

Maria:

journey? Oh man. You know, there's actually a lot of people that inspired me to do that. You being one of them, you know, I, I see you post so many different things about starting a podcast and here I am thinking maybe I should do that. So I finally jumped in to doing that about a month ago or month and a half ago. And I just really felt that, you know, there's so much that I learned just in researching or just reading books. And I felt that I needed to communicate that because I felt that it could help other people. And it's really in that mindset of helping others, helping to inspire them, motivate them and just encourage them in this journey. You know, we all need. Support from one another once in a while. And so doing a podcast, you know, 20, 30 minute podcast too, and have information on there for, for teachers, I hope it will, it will truly help and give insight as it has given me insight as I, as I prepare for these things. And so that's why I started it. I started it to just be a help to, to teachers to inform, to encourage, to motivate and. No, I'm thankful for you. And for many of my friends who have inspired me to do that, because it really it's real. It's a lot of fun to do a podcast. I don't know if people know this, but when you sit there in a microphone talking to yourself about these things, I mean, there's a lot of excitement to that, but, you know, I feel like I'm also teaching. And I, like I said, I'm an educator at heart. And so I feel like I'm teaching a lot of these things to others. And I, it really, really encourages me. It motivates me to keep doing what I'm doing for sure.

Brittany:

That's so amazing. It's true. Right? If we could, if we can inspire one other person to take action, I think we've done our job when it comes to having a platform and a message. That's all you need, right? Like podcasting is so easy to, to share what you have to say and to inspire. Like, I love the idea of someone taking that 20 minute drive to work and getting out of the car and feeling like. They've just had the best PD session ever, or they feel like now inspired to tackle the day, you know, and it's such a powerful tool and so much easier now than it used to be. And so much like it's so widely available to kind of jump into it. But I am so excited that you decided to go on this journey. Yeah. Awesome. It is it's and I, you know, I listened to a couple of episodes that you have. I know you just started, but I'm loving it.

Maria:

Yes,

Brittany:

we'll definitely be linking your podcast in the show notes. So if anyone listening wants to check out Maria's podcasts, that will be down below and if, and where else can we find you if you want to learn

Maria:

more? So the, the podcast is called the Maria Bridwell educators podcast, and then I'm also on Instagram at Maria and Bridwell. And also I wanted to kind of put this plug in there as well. Cause I'm presenting this summer at the summer reboot conference. For educators to educators. And I know that registration has just opened and started. So educators out there, it's an amazing conference. I learned so much from the, the one that wasn't, that we just had, which was in the, in January. And so I'm really looking forward to, to this one. So I'm presenting in that one. So if you guys could register, there's so many other great presenters as well, and we are presenting on back to the basics. So the back to the basics of teaching in the classroom and dealing with students and parents and connecting the students and parents as well as preparing, you know, for the school year ahead. So, um, you can, you can find me there as well,

Brittany:

so exciting. And as someone who presented and attended the one that was in January, the January reboot, I can say it's an amazing,

it

Maria:

really is so much.

Brittany:

Yes. Yes, definitely. So I'll leave that link down in this, in the show notes as well. So if you want to register for the educators to educators conference, you can go ahead and do that there. You can check out Maria on Instagram. I'll leave her link for that below. And thank you so much for joining us. This is, it was

Maria:

fun. It was a lot of fun. Thank you so much for inviting me. I really appreciate it.