This past October, I was so flagrantly behind on the deadlines for my doctoral capstone paper that the director of my program reached out to schedule a one-on-one conversation. His message, in a nutshell: Get your butt in gear and stop missing deadlines. Shortly thereafter, I did.
Eventually, I started enjoying the writing process. While I did a variety of things out here in Stockton Unified School District this past year, my capstone paper focused on Educators Thriving, the program that I led for about 150 teachers and administrators across the school district.
Educators Thriving is a research-based personal development program I’ve worked to design over the past few years to help teachers and administrators achieve well-being. We cover empirically-proven strategies to help educators avoid five pitfalls of experienced by so many of us in this line of work: being overwhelmed, personal neglect, struggling with a fixed mindset, unexpected challenges, and isolation.
I feel strongly that all districts should offer a program like this one. Why? Well, let’s start with the fact that we know teachers and administrators face challenges. We know that some of those challenges are professional challenges (“I’m struggling to get my students motivated and engaged”) and that others are personal (“I’ve haven’t exercised since school started.”). At the system level, we provide lots of professional development. But we do almost nothing to support educators to overcome the personal challenges we can anticipate they’ll face. That’s shortsighted. Frankly, it’s dumb. Teachers who are emotionally distraught are less effective with students. And they leave the profession at a higher rate.
Programs like Educators Thriving are even more important during moments like this one. You’ve seen the headlines recently: “A third of Americans now show signs of clinical anxiety or depression.” More than ever, we need to construct a set of supports that can enable educators to overcome the professional challenges they face, yes, but also the personal challenges they’ll inevitably confront.
Anywho, that’s a long way of giving a bit more insight into what I was up to out here and why I think it matters. On the off chance that you’d like to read my capstone, you’re welcome to. You can find it here. Fair warning: As the title of this blog post suggests, it’s long and almost certainly more than you want to know! After all, there’s a reason why the primary function of doctoral papers seems to be dust collection.
If you’d prefer, you can watch a video of my doctoral defense by clicking here or on the picture below. My defense is the first 35 minutes of the video.
Hope that you and yours are doing well, enjoying summer, and staying healthy.