How to make it as a teacher

How to Make Teaching A Long-Term Career: What Works

“In today's episode, we're thrilled to have Jay Schroder, author of “Teach From Your Best Self, A Guide to Thriving in the Classroom.” With this in mind, we dive into a critical yet often-neglected aspect of teaching—teacher well-being. Join us as we explore high-impact, low-effort teaching strategies crucial for bringing your best self to the classroom and forging a sustainable, rewarding career. This enlightening conversation is packed with practical tips for flourishing in one of the most demanding professions.

Therefore, as we wrap up the year and enjoy our holiday festivities, I invite you, the remarkable teachers and educators listening to the 10 Minute Teacher, to pause and reflect on self-care and your approach to our noble profession of teaching. Understandably, if we are going to have long-term success in education, we have got to begin focusing on the well-being of our teachers. Now, in my 22nd year of teaching, I look back and wish I had known many of these lessons sooner. So, let's embrace the new year and reflect on what we can learn from the stresses and messes of this past fall and take the opportunity to renew our commitment to not just teaching but thriving in our classrooms.

Teach From Your Best Self
Jay Schroder, author of Teach from Your Best Self: A Teacher's Guide to Thriving in the Classroom, shares tips for longevity in the classroom.

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They can show you have to use technology to unlock deeper student relationships with your students.

So many people ask me how to respond to Artificial Intelligence and my response is always, that we need to shift our pedagogical practices into the classroom to the time-tested research-based best practices. That is what you get with Modern Classrooms so go to today and sign up. You’ll be glad you did.

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This week's guest: Jay Schroder

Jay Schroder has taught high school in both traditional and alternative education settings for 24 years. During this time, Jay developed approaches to teaching that allow him to thrive in this challenging profession. He now leads teacher trainings to help other teachers do the same.

Jay is an affiliate faculty member at Southern Oregon University. He has recently stepped out of the classroom to work with Southern Oregon Regional Educator Network (SOREN) as an Implementation Coach. His book, Teach From Your Best Self: A Guide to Thriving in the Classroom, will be released by Routledge in August 2023.

In 2021, the Oregon Council of Teachers of English (OCTE) awarded Jay the High School English Teacher of Excellence Award. In 2022, Jay received the High School Teacher of Excellence Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Jay is a certified instructor of Social Emotional Learning and Character Development. He holds a sixth-degree black belt in karate and has been honored with the title Kyoshi, meaning expert martial arts teacher, by grandmaster Tom Spellman.

Show Notes

Hosts, Guests & Featured People:

Guest Information: Jay Schroder

Related News and Articles on Teacher Burnout and Stress
How to make it as a teacher


Hello there, fellow knowledge-seekers! You're about to read a transcript that's been generated by the AI in Adobe Premiere Pro and then me. I've gone through these lines like a cat chasing a laser pointer. But, even the best of us can be caught napping. Spot a mistake in this transcript? Help this teacher out and shoot an email to vicki at coolcatteacher dot com. Thank you for being helpful! – Vicki, your podcast host and friendly fellow classroom teacher.


The Sustainable Classroom: How to Make Teaching a Long-Term Career

Guest: Jay Schroder

Hosts: Vicki Davis

00:00:00:22 – 00:00:04:07
This is the Ten Minute Teacher podcast with your host, Vicki Davis.

Sponsor: Modern Classrooms Project

00:00:04:09 – 00:00:25:19
Vicki Davis:
Today's sponsor is the Modern Classrooms Project. If you're ready to take a free course on how to center students in your classroom with modern pedagogy, join Modern Classrooms at I'll tell you more at the end of the show about this fantastic opportunity to improve your classroom.

Meet Jay Schroder

00:00:25:19 – 00:00:51:21
Vicki Davis:
Today, we're talking to 24-year classroom teacher Jay Schroder. He is the author of “Teach for Your Best Self: A Guide to Thriving in the Classroom,” which is exciting for you, Jay. You received the High School Teacher of Excellence Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in 2022. Congratulations.

00:00:51:23 – 00:00:54:14
Jay Schroder:
Thank you. I appreciate it, Vicki. Thanks for having me on the show.

00:00:54:15 – 00:01:07:04
Vicki Davis:
So obviously, you've got the credentials. You're an amazing classroom teacher, but you're not really writing about teaching. You're talking about thriving in the classroom. Help me understand.

00:01:07:04 – 00:01:33:20
Jay Schroder:
It's a big lift, especially right now, isn't it? So, one of the things that I've been observing over the years is that teachers are saddled with way too much to do, and the job becomes consuming and depleting for a lot of teachers all over the country. As I tried to find my way to successfully manage my own career as an educator, I had to learn a lot.

00:01:33:20 – 00:01:52:08
Jay Schroder:
And I learned some new ways of doing this. Some of these come from my martial arts training, and some of them come from a very wise mentor of mine. Some of them actually come from having been so sick. I had chronic fatigue syndrome, and so I had to really figure out a way to conserve my energy and to lower my stress levels or the job would just flatten me.

Evaluating the Return on Investment (ROI) of our Time

00:01:52:10 – 00:02:16:12
Jay Schroder:
And one of the things that I talk to the teachers I work with, as well as in this book, is this idea of ROI – return on investment. We have, as educators, a limited amount, just like all human beings, of time, energy, and attention, and we have to get a lot more strategic about how we use that because the net result, what we want, is maximum learning gains.

00:02:16:12 – 00:02:40:04
Jay Schroder:
What I'm about here is high-impact low-effort teaching. The reason that's so important is because I'm going to be able to bring my best self to my students, not a self that's stressed out, flustered, frustrated, overwhelmed. Because it turns out the best ROI, the thing that gets the biggest return on investment, is actually not what I do, but the self that I bring.

00:02:40:04 – 00:02:48:17
Vicki Davis:
That's so hard. I'm sure you've had it happen. All the extra duties. There are things that we have to do that we didn't sign up for. We were voluntold, you know.

00:02:48:17 – 00:03:07:21
Jay Schroder:
Until we can get the system to start paying attention, that teacher well-being actually matters. And the only way we can finally get the students thriving is when their teachers are thriving. Until we get to that place, we kind of have to close our doors and do our own thing, figure out how we can prioritize the self that we bring.

00:03:07:23 – 00:03:31:12
Jay Schroder:
Because ultimately that's what's going to allow us to thrive and have a long, fulfilling career. I've seen a lot of teachers put everything they've got, heart and soul, for two or three years into their kids, and then they end up leaving the profession. You think about that. Is that really our model teacher, or is it someone that's able to thrive in the profession for 30 years and positively impact thousands and thousands of students?

00:03:31:14 – 00:03:48:11
Jay Schroder:
That's really the direction to go because right now, our education isn't sustainable. So the book, “Teach for Your Best Self,” offers a roadmap and an entryway into how we can start looking at education both for ourselves as well as system-wise to make it a sustainable profession for people.

Focus on What You Can Control

00:03:48:12 – 00:04:04:04
Vicki Davis:
So, Jay, let's get practical. School Year Fall 2023. I'm getting ready to teach my classes, looking at that load, what are some principles you can give me for how I should structure my week differently than in the past when I've kind of burned out?

00:04:04:04 – 00:04:23:17
Jay Schroder:
When we're looking at ROI and looking at how we can save our time, energy, and attention, which is limited, one of the ways that teachers tend to use up a lot of time, energy, and attention is on things they don't actually have any control over. It's kind of baked into the system that we're supposed to control things that we don't actually have any control over.

00:04:23:19 – 00:04:44:11
Jay Schroder:
I hear people say things like “Control your class.” The truth is, I don't have any control over the behavior of my students unless I'm literally willing to physically control them. What I have is influence, and I have to be clear what exists in my realm of control, which is mostly myself, and what I do and say, and the self that I bring.

00:04:44:11 – 00:05:05:19
Jay Schroder:
And then what exists in my realm of influence. Because I'm going to use different tactics, different strategies for each, and if I'm trying to control things that I only have influence over or that I'm actually even worse, powerless in regard to, that's going to exhaust me, and it's going to be super frustrating and deplete me. Influence is like a different world in that I will use different strategies.

00:05:05:19 – 00:05:35:19
Jay Schroder:
So, relationship, for instance, is an influence approach. Safety, availability, giving people positive messages, validating them, appreciating them, encouraging them, welcoming them, letting my students know that I'm 1,000% behind them being safe. These are ways that I can exert influence in order to do it. I have to do my best now because as soon as I start getting stressed and reactive, then I probably resort to some control techniques to try to control their behavior or make them stop doing whatever they're doing.

00:05:35:19 – 00:05:46:14
Jay Schroder:
And it actually undermines the safety in my room. It undermines their ability to bring their best self to the relationship as well as me, and the whole classroom environment gets derailed from there.

The Power of Radical Acceptance

00:05:46:15 – 00:06:08:04
Vicki Davis:
Jay, I always start off great, and am rested coming out of the summer, but usually, by January, I'm really rested. I start off, I'm working out all those days, so many days a week, and I'm feeling great. And then it's like I wake up mid-March and I'm like, “Oh, what happened to the rested Vicki?” Because I'm kind of exhausted. Can you give me some things that'll work?

00:06:08:04 – 00:06:27:18
Jay Schroder:
It's a mindset of prioritizing. The self that you bring means that I might have to let some of those things that I would normally do go because I'm prioritizing the self that I bring as the most important thing. And then I'm looking at what else gets a high ROI. So all of the things in “Teach for Your Best Self” are high ROI.

00:06:27:18 – 00:06:49:15
Jay Schroder:
So, one of the things I talk about is radical acceptance in the book, and that's where the capacity to accept students where they are is actually where I have the most influence. If I resist because I think they should be different, I think they should be doing something else, or I think they should be more engaged in my class, that again, it's going to cost me more energy.

00:06:49:17 – 00:07:08:18
Jay Schroder:
There are all these ways that teachers use energy that we don't actually have to use, that might be better deployed in a different way. And so it's more of a systematic approach. Vicki, in terms of one technique, you're going to feel better in March. I don't know quite what I would offer, but I'll give you this: the teacher teaching best self-model.

00:07:08:18 – 00:07:27:05
Jay Schroder:
Think of it as a triangle, and at the top of the triangle is the teacher bringing the best self they possibly can to their students. On the bottom left, students, and interacting with students in ways that will bring out their best self, and on the bottom right, creating a classroom environment that helps support me in my best self and helps support students in their best.

00:07:27:05 – 00:07:49:12
Jay Schroder:
Now, automatically, if I'm in my best self, students are going to tend to bring their best self to me because of mirror neurons. If I'm relating to students in a way that brings out their best, my job suddenly becomes much easier because they're not bringing me that same kind of resistance or that same kind of defiance or disruption that they would if they were coming from a lesser version of themselves.

00:07:49:14 – 00:08:19:02
Jay Schroder:
And likewise, if I'm working on creating this learning environment that brings out the best in all of us, that saves all of us energy, because it's like working smarter, not harder, right? Because I don't have to fight this. I don't have to fight them. We can just have fun and learn together. And, you know, it's not always roses, but what “Teach for Your Best Self” asserts is that we can maximize whatever available learning is possible on any particular day if we bring our best and minimize the amount of energy I'm spending.

Behavior Standards Are Still Important Even As We Accept Where Students Are Now

00:08:19:03 – 00:08:32:14
Vicki Davis:
Let me ask you this, with radical acceptance. So I'm accepting them as they are. But does that mean that I allow them to behave in a way that's less than they could be, or maybe should be?

00:08:32:16 – 00:08:49:09
Jay Schroder:
It's a really good question. No, because I can accept something as it is, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to take a stand, that it's good and needs to change. Where I discovered this key is I was teaching a class early, as a brand new teacher, and I had in my imagination everything that I thought my students should be.

00:08:49:10 – 00:09:13:23
Jay Schroder:
They should be engaged, stimulated by these discussion questions I'm provoking. They should do their homework. And I had this idea in my head of what they were like. And I was judging the students I actually had because they weren't matching up to my ideas in my mind. I just said, I'm holding high standards. But no, what I was really doing was judging my students for being how they were, and I didn't have leverage to help them grow from there.

00:09:14:04 – 00:09:35:23
Jay Schroder:
All I had was kind of a cudgel that they resisted, which would actually wreck the relationship or diminish the relationship we could otherwise have. Learning alliances between teachers and students come from a bedrock of acceptance. To accept them as they are now. If a student disrupts my class, I'm not going to just accept the behavior. I'm accepting that their behavior is happening.

00:09:35:23 – 00:09:56:11
Jay Schroder:
And that helps me be less reactive because if I resist it's happening, I'm going to actually slip into fight or freeze. I'm going to lose my frontal cortex. I'm going to start becoming reactive with the student, and then we're going to get into a power struggle. So I need to avoid power struggles to stay in my best self then, so I can just stay in that place and handle the situation.

00:09:56:15 – 00:10:09:07
Jay Schroder:
Acceptance, really, in a lot of ways, is great for the students, but it's also for me because it helps me stay in my best self and respond to the situation rather than reacting to it in a way that isn't really good for anybody.

00:10:09:07 – 00:10:23:12
Vicki Davis:
Well, and saying, okay, this is how things are now. Let's see if we can improve, but not comparing it to some sort of movie. Also, Jay Schroder, “Teach for Your Best Self: A Guide to Thriving in the Classroom.” Thanks, Jay.

Modern Classrooms Project: This Show's Sponsor

00:10:23:15 – 00:10:49:00
Vicki Davis:
Modern Classrooms Project will help you bring engaging, exciting teaching to your classroom with their free online course and community. Go to right now to sign up for the Modern Classrooms Essential Course for free, where you will learn about the strategies, research, and resources that can drive student-centered, self-directed learning in your classroom.

00:10:49:01 – 00:11:17:01
Vicki Davis:
They can show you how to use technology to unlock deeper student relationships. So many people ask me how to respond to artificial intelligence, and my response is always that we need to shift our pedagogical practices in the classroom to time-tested, research-based best practices. That is what you get with Modern Classrooms. So go to today and sign up.

00:11:17:03 – 00:11:18:03
Vicki Davis:
You'll be glad you did.

00:11:18:04 – 00:11:30:15
You've been listening to the 10 Minute Teacher podcast. If you want more content from Vicki Davis, you can find her on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube at Thank you for listening.

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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Hannah Grissom February 16, 2024 - 10:12 pm

Hi Vicki! I’m currently in the process of becoming an educator (I’m in my junior year in school). I just wanted to reach out and let you know that your tips are so helpful for all teachers, but especially new teachers. One of my personal concerns with going into this profession was that I was going to quickly burnout. I have a tendency to overwork myself, in general and burnout quickly. But, this article and podcast transcript offers some great tips to combat this. It will be great to implement these early in my teaching, so I can sustain my teaching for longer than I might’ve before! Thanks for all the articles and podcasts you provide! I’m learning so much!

Vicki Davis February 19, 2024 - 3:00 pm

Burnout is real, Hannah. We have to be wise and pace ourselves so we don’t. We need more people like you to go into this amazing profession. Welcome. The kids are worth it!


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