842 3 ways less stressed barb flowers

3 Ways to Be a Less Stressed Educator

Uncover practical strategies and from-the-classroom wisdom from seasoned educator Barb Flowers. Learn how to set boundaries, embrace self-care, and manage your mindset to transform stress into strength. This is a great show for teachers seeing balance and encouragement so they can be their best in the classroom.

How are you doing, educators? Are you stressed? While that can be typical, we also want to consider the habits that will help us teach long-term with a high quality of life. Today will be a refreshing encouragement for educators everywhere.

Learn how to set boundaries, embrace self-care, and manage your mindset to transform stress into strength. This is a great show for teachers to see balance and encouragement so they can be their best in the classroom.

Today, I interviewed Barb Flowers, an elementary school principal and host of the Teacher Burnout Podcast and the Less Stressed Principal Podcast.

Listen to today's show to take care of yourselves, educators, and learn the mindsets to help you enjoy teaching even when it is stressful.

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    This week's guest

    Barb Flowers, an elementary school principal and seasoned educator life coach, brings 14 years of invaluable experience in education. With a Ph.D. in K-12 Leadership and ongoing certification pursuit as a Confidence Coach, Barb is dedicated to supporting educators in reducing burnout and boosting their confidence. Having navigated her own struggles with confidence and self-doubt as a teacher and early administrator, Barb is on a mission to assist others in overcoming similar challenges. Her passion lies in empowering educators to navigate their professional journeys with resilience and self-assurance. Barb is also the host of The Teacher Burnout Podcast and The Lessed Stress Principal formerly known as The Confident Principal Podcast.  https://barbaraflowers715.lpages.co/teacher-burnout-assessment/ Blog: https://barbflowerscoaching.com/ Podcast: https://teacherburnout.transistor.fm/

    Show Notes


    1. Setting Boundaries: Establishing clear boundaries, especially regarding communication with parents and managing work time, is crucial to prevent burnout. This includes not checking messages or emails during off-hours to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

    2. Self-Care and Wellness: Emphasizing the importance of self-care through healthy habits and routines. This can include exercising, meal prepping, and setting aside personal time for activities that rejuvenate one's energy and mindset.

    3. Managing Your Mindset: The importance of managing one's mindset to combat stress and burnout. This involves reframing negative thoughts into positive ones, focusing on constructive problem-solving, and avoiding dwelling on problems without seeking solutions.

    Key Links and Resources:

    • The Teacher Burnout Podcast: Hosted by Barb Flowers, focusing on strategies to manage and reduce educator burnout.
    • The Less Stressed Principal Podcast: Another resource by Barb Flowers aimed at helping educational leaders find ways to reduce stress.
    • Henry Cloud's Book on Boundaries: A recommended read for understanding and implementing personal and professional boundaries.
    • John Hattie's Research at Visible Learning: Highlighted for its insights into the impact of student-teacher social interactions on achievement.
    • B.J. Fogg's Tiny Habits: Suggested for its approach to developing positive habits and managing negative thoughts through “Pearl Habits.”

    Actionable Tips:

    • Model and Share Healthy Practices: Encourage a culture of wellness by sharing resources, organizing group activities, and supporting each other in establishing healthy routines.
    • Collective Accountability: Foster an environment where educators and administrators can hold each other accountable for maintaining boundaries, practicing self-care, and adopting a positive mindset.
    • Constructive Problem Solving: Embrace challenges not as insurmountable problems but as opportunities for growth and improvement, focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on the negative.


    Transcript generated by AI in Riverside and checked by a human. Contact us if you find mistakes!


    Vicki Davis (00:00)

    Today we're interviewing Barb Flowers. She's an elementary school principal and a seasoned educator She leads the Teacher Burnout podcast and the Less Stressed Principal, formerly called the Confident Principal podcast, but I think a lot of principals wanna be less stressed. And today, Barb, we're going to talk about three ways

    to have a mindset to be a less stressed educator. Oh my goodness. Isn't this an important topic right now?

    Barb (00:35)

    This is such an important topic and being a current elementary principal, this is a topic I love talking to my teachers about, so I'm so passionate about it. Because I'm constantly trying to help them navigate their stress and you know feel better about teaching and just enjoy the process of teaching versus focusing on all of the stressful parts of teaching because we know there's so much that goes into teaching and

    so many areas that cause stress. So I just think making sure that we take the time to really understand what those areas are and focus on it is crucial to education.

    Vicki Davis (01:10)

    But you know, so many people just say, oh, just take care of yourself or stress less. Like, and we're just sitting here thinking, yeah, right, like tell me how to do that. Like I've been doing this now 22 years and sometimes there aren't easy answers to the stress. Like you've been given too many duties and you have to do carpool and you're a homeroom teacher and you have the honor society and you coach a sport and you have all your classes to teach, which is supposed to be the most important thing.

    Barb (01:20)


    Vicki Davis (01:38)

    And then you have professional development days and you don't get any chance to work in your classroom. So you come in at six in the morning. I mean, this is not all me right now, but it has been me at certain phases of my career. And I know some educators who are there right now. So how do you start helping educators like you and me? What's that first way to get this mindset so we can be less stressed?

    Barb (02:02)

    Yeah, so the first thing I always focus on is boundaries. So, and I love talking to my own teachers about boundaries. I'm in an elementary building and so in the elementaries and I'm sure even up to middle school and high school, we deal with like class dojo and people being on messaging apps. So this is one of the most important ways I talk to my teachers about setting boundaries is what boundaries do you have in place with messaging and communicating with parents?

    because I have talked to my teachers a lot that they'll get a message over the weekend and it's the parent upset about something or just something that bothers the teacher when they read this message, just because of the tone of it. And then their whole weekend is ruined. And so I talk to them a lot about, this is why you have to set boundaries on your time. You cannot be checking email. You cannot be checking messages over the weekend and in the evenings because

    Vicki Davis (02:40)



    Barb (02:56)

    You need that time for yourself to decompress.

    Vicki Davis (02:58)

    Yeah. Well, one of the best things we did, because you know, during the pandemic, the boundaries just got totally blurred. It was a mess. And we went and adjusted our assignment requirements and our teachers can either have an assignment due in the online classroom, you know, at the end of class, the end of the school day or 8 a.m. the next morning.

    No assignments can be due at midnight because when you have an assignment due at midnight, you are setting yourself up for a perfect storm. Like don't do that to yourself. And then the other thing is when you send a message to parents at 5 a.m. then you're doing the same thing to them, aren't you? And you're not going to get a great response.

    Barb (03:39)

    And I always tell them you have to set the boundaries and then you have to model the boundaries So if you start messaging them at 5 a.m. Or 5 p.m. Then they're like, oh the teachers available versus if they just know that after 4 p.m. You don't message them because You know I as a principal put something out to parents about boundaries ahead of time I have a letter I send out and I say when teachers will message them, you know, if a teacher's sick They're not going to be messaging them

    Vicki Davis (03:44)



    Barb (04:07)

    if we're off school, those types of things. But I tell the teachers, I can do that all the time. And if you're not setting those boundaries and modeling them, then parents aren't going to remember that I said that, because they're going to think, well, our teacher's different. They will answer at any point in the evening or on the weekend. So I think that's important.

    Vicki Davis (04:20)


    Yeah. And all it takes is one teacher. Like you have to be a team too. Like if you have one teacher who's just available 24 seven, which they're not really, they're really just stressing themselves out and it's not sustainable. Even if you're at a phase of life, when you feel like you can do that, it's, you know, we're kind of in this together as a group, there's like a culture and I think that those boundaries, there's a great book by Henry cloud about boundaries. He has lots of different boundaries books that really have helped me understand

    that we do have to have those boundaries between work and home, especially when we're online teaching also, like this is great advice. And I love your letter. Do you have that letter online somewhere that we can share with the listeners?

    Barb (05:08)

    No, but I could definitely put it out somewhere so I can get that together and then share that with you so we can share that.

    Vicki Davis (05:13)

    That would be so helpful. Okay, so we establish those boundaries. We model those boundaries. We agree with our colleagues and have boundaries and hopefully we have a supportive principal who helps with those boundaries, you know, and doesn't send us emails at midnight. So, which I have happened some, it doesn't happen anymore, but I have had phases of life where, you know, he's getting an email late and it's like, oh. So second, what's our next one?

    Barb (05:25)


    So the next one is what we hear a lot, which is self-care, right? We have to take care of ourself. And I like to go a little bit deeper with this because when I originally would hear about self-care all the time, I think, take a bubble bath, go get a massage, these types of big self-care things. But self-care to me is actually just healthy habits and routines. So for example, every morning I have a routine that I get up and I work out in the morning before I go to school because I don't have the energy after.

    Vicki Davis (05:45)


    Barb (06:12)

    And I meal prep for the week so that I'm focused on my health and my fitness and I feel better and that's my me time. And I have little kids at home too. So they even know this. I set the boundary with them like, this is my workout time. If you wake up because I work out from home, I am set, you know, this is my time. I am spending this time for myself. And I think having, whether it's working out, walking,

    Vicki Davis (06:33)


    Barb (06:38)

    You know, even just meditating, whatever you want that to be, journaling, but having a time set aside that it's your time. Everybody knows that's your time, whether it's people you work with, it's your family. Again, you've set those boundaries. You've made it a routine. You've made it something regular that you focus on and you know that you need it to be your best self. Because if we're not focusing on what those habits and routines are that we need to show up every day as our best self.

    then we can't be for our students. You know, we can't pour from an empty cup. And so making sure that we really take that time and figure out what works for us is super important.

    Vicki Davis (07:16)

    Well, and if we look at the factors of achievement, if you look at John Hattie's work, student teacher social interactions is actually higher than student teacher academic interactions. And if you look at what happens when a teacher gets angry or snippy in the classroom and how it destroys relationships, not just with the student that you are being angry with, but all the students, because they are looking at your behavior and your disrespect of that student. And yeah, sometimes students do disrespect us, but you know,

    We have to be as educators rested because we all know what it's like to be exhausted and half sick at work. And when we do that, we're just setting ourselves up for a subpar classroom experience for both us and our students. One of the best things we can do is educators is to be rested and to work out and to feel good about…

    who we are as a person. So this is great advice. How do you help your teachers set the self-care and wellness? Like how do you encourage that?

    Barb (08:23)

    first, I like to model it and talk about it. So they know I'm a huge advocate for having that. We've also done challenges. I just found out recently one of my teachers is doing like TikTok videos of healthy recipes and I'm like share that with us. We could have you know where we hold each other accountable and cook some of these recipes and share them because we all need this where we're focusing on those healthy recipes.

    Vicki Davis (08:41)


    Barb (08:47)

    You know, finding that we've done Weight Watchers in our school before where we've had them come in and we've all focused on getting healthier together. We've done active challenges, you know, in the month of January where we try to get a certain number of steps or try new exercises. We've also had Zumba in our school. One teacher got Zumba set up. And so every Wednesday they would do Zumba in the gym after school. So just finding different ways that we can be active together.

    Vicki Davis (09:05)


    Barb (09:15)

    We've even talked about this spring all signing up, you know, whoever's interested in a 5k together. So it's something we're working towards together.

    Vicki Davis (09:22)

    That's great. I love that. Okay, so what's number three? We have boundaries is number one, self-care and wellness is number two. What's our third aspect of a mindset to be a less stressed educator?

    Barb (09:34)

    Yeah, the third thing is managing your mindset. And I think that this is so important because another role that I'm in, besides the podcast and being an elementary principal is I'm also a certified life coach. And so through that, I have learned to manage my mind and it has been life-changing. I have gone through burnout myself and what I realized caused me my own burnout was my thinking about everything. I was overwhelmed and…

    just had negative thoughts about so many things about school because school is hard. And so I've learned to just, yeah, manage my thinking about it and really taking those negative thoughts that I would have and reframe them into a more positive thought so that I was, you know, even thinking about going into a Monday. I know Mondays are hard for so many teachers. And instead of walking around dreading that we're there on a Monday and, you know, having those conversations with other staff members.

    Vicki Davis (10:08)



    Barb (10:32)

    started walking in on Mondays like I love Mondays. Mondays are a great day. It's the start of the week. This is going to be a great week and so at first it's almost motivating yourself to think that thought but the more you do it the more you do actually start thinking that thought and the mindset piece also reminds me of how we respond to our students right. If we have the mindset like you were talking about Hattie he talks about

    Vicki Davis (10:37)



    Barb (10:58)

    how we think about our students matters. And if we think about them in a positive way and we think that they can do something, they'll be able to do it compared to having those negative thoughts. And I think that translates into our own ways of thinking and how we act just to get through the day. And what our thoughts are about the stress or what causes us stress. You know, what caused me stress as a new teacher was way different than after, you know, teaching for six years.

    Vicki Davis (11:13)


    Barb (11:27)

    And same with being a principal what caused me a stress as a brand new principal is way different than now the stress is so much better because I've learned to manage my mind and think that Things that I used to feel were such a big deal are not a big deal anymore And once I learn that and realize that and can tell myself that it it's life-changing and how you think about the job

    Vicki Davis (11:42)


    There's a great book called Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg and in there he talks about Pearl Habits. And what he says is that if you can take a negative thought and attach it to a positive behavior. So he in the book quoted this woman who was experiencing a difficult divorce. And so every time her ex-husband insulted her, she would use that as an excuse to do something kind for herself. And

    And it's just a great story in the book about how it shifted everything in her life because she had a Pearl habit of it's like, Oh, I get an excuse to take care of myself, do something nice for myself or watch that movie or go do that fun thing. And you know, for me, I'm thinking about, you know, what did my own Pearl habits, the mindsets that are the thoughts that I struggle with.

    Managing your thoughts is so important and something people don't talk about, do they Barb?

    Barb (12:45)

    No, they don't talk about it at all, which is why I've been so passionate about this work and I love to have conversations with my teachers about it. And once we started talking about it, one thing I told them is we have to call each other out. We have to, you know, hold each other accountable. And when you hear someone saying something negative, I said, me too. You know, if you hear me say something in a negative way, because that's our natural reaction. We're naturally going to go to the negative.

    Vicki Davis (12:58)



    Barb (13:11)

    So if we hear it, call each other out and let's reframe to the positive. And the more we practice that with each other, the more we become aware, the more positive we'll be overall and can help each other in that journey.

    Vicki Davis (13:22)

    And we do want to be constructive and deal with problems. I mean, there are people who talk about toxic positivity. I mean, what do you say about those who are like, Barb, that's toxic positivity. I mean, I guess that's defined as everything has to be good when in fact, everything is not always good. So when you're dealing with problems, how do you encourage them to deal with problems in a positive way?

    Barb (13:27)


    Yeah, that's a great question because I have dealt with that where they've said that's toxic positivity. You're just focusing on the positive. And it's not that you don't focus on the negative. We still have to problem solve together. But what I like to say to them when, you know, that set is, OK, so if we just focus on the negative, how is that going to help the problem? So let's focus on this in a constructive way that we're actually getting to the root of it and not just focusing on what the problem is. Because sometimes I think when we're trying to

    Vicki Davis (14:01)


    Barb (14:12)

    fix something, we like to camp out on the problem and feel sorry for ourselves in that problem or think about how hard that problem is, which, you know, it is hard and it's okay to vent about it or just need to talk through a problem with someone. But if we just camp out there and we don't think about how to fix it and where to go from there, you know, then we get stuck in our negative thinking. So I think that that's really important to stress with teachers is

    Vicki Davis (14:34)

    Yeah, for sure.

    Barb (14:38)

    to just think about where we can reframe and how we can take it in another direction.

    Vicki Davis (14:43)

    So Barbara, as we finish up, we've talked about the three ways to have a mindset to be a less stressed educator. Number one, set boundaries. Number two, self-care and wellness. And number three, managing your thoughts.

    So, Barb Flowers, the Teacher Burnout Podcast, the Less Stressed Principal Podcast, and thanks for coming on the show, Barb.

    Barb (15:03)

    Thank you for having me.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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    Vicki Davis

    Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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