AMA: Lessons from a Mediocre Teacher - The Mediocre Teacher Project.

May 24, 2018

The Mediocre Teacher Project is a coaching program for teachers who are dealing with burnout or considering leaving the classroom. We work directly with teachers to help them re-ignite their passion to remain in the classroom or to develop their own educational consulting practices should they decide to leave the classroom. Additionally, I coach new educational consultants to develop engaging and effective presentations based on their individual teaching styles.

Go ahead, ASK ME ANYTHING about teacher burnout and/or The Mediocre Teacher Project at my FB page: The Mediocre Teacher!


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Are you a certified coach? Do you have any additional studies?
May 28, 2:58AM EDT0

I am a licensed 6-12 Science Educator with 16 years classroom experience and 18 years in the education field. I do hold certification as a Teacher Support Specialist, which is an instructional coach in the education field. I also have a masters degree in Technical and Professional Communication, along with a doctoral degree in Instructional Leadership. Aside from certifications and degrees, I have the invaluable lived experience that allowed me to create this program to help other teachers avoid some of the pitfalls that I experienced during my own career in the classroom.

May 29, 7:32AM EDT0
How can teacher burnout be prevented? Do you have any tips that you would like to share?
May 27, 5:23PM EDT0

Someone asked this question below, so I've copied and pasted that response:

Teachers can employ the following strategies to avoid burnout :

-Protect planning time. Don't use it to socialize with friends, but actually use it to plan, grade, etc.

-Find an activity that has nothing to do with work and do it consistently.

-Stop taking work home. Employ processes that allow you to do more during the school day.

-Choose to work in an environment that suits your personality and career goals. If you work best with gifted students, don't take a position with at-risk students. This is a recipe for disaster!

-Don't be afraid to change your mind and move on. Maybe you thought that gifted was your population and found it's not. It is okay to take another position and find the right fit!

May 29, 7:27AM EDT0
What changes would you like to see in the educational system to support more teachers?
May 27, 4:50PM EDT0

The first change I'd like to see is an increase in pay to better align with assigned duties and responsibilities.

I'd also like for teachers to be given more "choice and voice" (just as we are instructed to give students), when it comes to the students in our classes, the courses we teach, instructional mandates, and district- and state policy- decision-making processes.

May 29, 7:25AM EDT0
How high are the rates of desertion for teachers who are suffering from burnout?
May 27, 2:49PM EDT0

Hello. Please clarify "rates of desertion". Thank you,

May 29, 7:21AM EDT0
What kind of workspace environment a teacher should have to be in a positive and creative mindset?
May 27, 3:07AM EDT0

A teacher should have the workspace environment that fits his/her learning style(s). There is no one workspace environment that will work for all teachers. Because teachers are trained to create an environment that honor students' learning styles, many times what makes the teacher productive is overlooked. Teachers should carve out a little space in the classroom just for themselves, that reflects how they learn and function. I don't recommend doing a lot of work at home, but in some instances, teachers may not be able to create this type of space at work. Perhaps having a space at home will help as well.

If space is a concern, then conditions would be the next thing that teachers should adjust. By this I mean, having a morning motivational playlist that they can listen to upon entering the classroom in the morning or during planning time. Setting a "No visitors" policy during planning time can also be an example.

May 27, 4:59AM EDT0
How do you reach out to these teachers, and how do they reach out to you?
May 25, 9:43AM EDT0

I primarily connect with teachers through presentations at professional development conferences. 

May 25, 11:25AM EDT0
Where are your currently based? Which cities do you offer your program?
May 25, 7:37AM EDT0

I am based out of Atlanta and I work internationally! 

May 25, 11:25AM EDT0
Do you wait for teachers to contact you or do you ask school admins to let you know if a teacher might need help?
May 24, 3:45PM EDT0

I present at a lot of conferences so most teachers approach me individually. I also reach out to school administrators as well.

May 25, 11:24AM EDT0
Why did you call it Mediocre Teacher Project?
May 24, 9:55AM EDT0

I named my coaching program The Mediocre Teacher Project because that is how I would describe my own experience burnout. I went from being a highly active and enthusiastic teacher to one who was just doing enough to survive each day.  During that time, my performance was mediocre.

May 24, 11:16PM EDT0
What are the differences between emotional, physical and psychological burnout and how does one know if one is at risk?
May 24, 7:15AM EDT0

I'd like to preface by saying that I am not a psychologist, so this response is based on my own interpretation of what I have experienced and observed. 

Emotional burnout comes from teachers bearing the load of the problems of their students. Many teachers become so emotionally attached to their students that they become burned out due to feeling as they can do nothing to help.

Physical burnout occurs when teachers are simply tired. A lot of teachers spend an excessive amount of time at school and wear themselves out. They don't eat well or get enough sleep and exercise.

Psychological burnout results from teachers internalizing the challenges of the job. There are mandates from the district, evaluations by administrators,  apathetic students (in some cases), and sometimes difficult parents. I believe that some teachers take too personally the actions of others which leads them to burn out.

May 24, 11:22PM EDT0
What affect does burnout have on one's emphatic abilities and why is this affect particularly important for teachers?
May 24, 7:07AM EDT0

Burnout is of particular interest to teachers with respect to emphatic abilities in that once a teacher hits burnout, he or she is unlikely to advocate for his or her own needs. A burned out teacher is more likely to remain in an environment that is not conducive to effective teaching than one who has high self-efficacy. A teacher experiencing burnout is also likely to accept less than his or her best performance in the classroom.

May 24, 11:25PM EDT0
Why did you choose to work with teachers and not any other professionals?
May 24, 6:34AM EDT0

I was a teacher in the classroom for 16 years and I experienced the exact problem that I address!  :-) I wish there had been someone that offered this service for me!

May 24, 8:38AM EDT0
To what extent can burnout be classified as a social illness?
May 23, 10:23PM EDT0

I am not sure what you mean by "social illness". Do you mean that the condition is exacerbated by the thoughts, opinions, and influence of others?

May 24, 8:37AM EDT0
What are the advantages of using coaching in the context of burnout?
May 23, 10:20PM EDT0

The major advantage of using a coach in the context of burnout is that the teacher is able to have someone to look at the situation without emotion. Once a teacher hits burnout, lots of emotions impact how that teacher is able to perform in the classroom each day. A coach can be objective. Also, other advantages are the additional support with planning and execution of lessons, immediate feedback for reflection, and adjustment of practices.

May 24, 8:36AM EDT0
Who are the people behind The Mediocre Teacher Project and what are the initiatives the project is presently involved with?
May 23, 3:44PM EDT0

I, Dr. Marquita S. Blades, am the person behind The Mediocre Teacher Project. It is an entity of my business, Dr. Blades Consulting, LLC. I am currently coaching teachers, as well as consulting in schools & with summer programs. I also host training workshops on STEM instructional strategies and speak at conferences.

May 24, 8:30AM EDT0
What is the changing role of the teacher, and how should society support that new role?
May 23, 10:05AM EDT0

The role of the teacher is becoming more of a facilitator than the person who holds all of the answers. Society should support that new role by changing its expectations of what a teacher should be doing and what learning looks like.

May 23, 8:20PM EDT0
What is it about the environment and circumstances that engulf teachers that makes it more likely for them to suffer from burnout?
May 23, 9:04AM EDT0

Environment and circumstances are a huge part of a teacher's ability to be effective. The problem is that a lot of teachers are willing to accept or remain in positions where the environment and circumstances are not a good fit. Other circumstances, such as an overbearing administrator or teaching a course the teacher has no background in can also lead to burnout.

May 24, 11:28PM EDT0
What are the detrimental effects of burnout on a person's long-term emotional and mental well-being?
May 23, 4:25AM EDT0
What, in your view, does it mean for schools to “educate” children?
May 23, 2:22AM EDT0

This one will take a while. I'll have to revisit.

May 24, 11:29PM EDT0
If unaddressed, how will burnout impact the quality and satisfaction of one's life?
May 23, 2:01AM EDT0

If left unaddressed, burnout can impact a person's personal relationships and overall health. Many illnesses are stress-induced.

Quality of life is compromised if a person dislikes going to work every day. 

May 24, 11:32PM EDT0