Teachers These Days: A Must Read

Catherine MoffattBlog, Connect Better, Engage Better, Manage Better, Reflect Better, Self Care Better

TL;DR:

  • Teachers These Days by Dr. Jody Carrington and Laurie McIntosh is a must-read. These authors are follow-worthy on Instagram because of their infectious enthusiasm and inspiration.
  • Building relationships with staff and students are important. We are stronger together, can do more together, and thrive when we connect to others. Find peers that will support you.
  • Being trauma-informed means we need to show up and be a safe place. We need to be consistent and understanding, show genuine kindness, compassion, and concern. 
  • Teaching students how to manage big feelings, self-regulate, and practice mindfulness are all important.
  • Laurie also makes playlists for her class based on student choices. Below you will find a recommended song list.

My very first blog!!! Ahh! I’m moving out of my comfort zone to share a great book. Whether this is your 1st or 20th year in the classroom, everyone can benefit from this book.

Teachers These Days (I will use TTD) is just what you need to help you get pumped for back to school or just to have in your bookshelf to look back at when you have those days. We all have those moments.  It is like a hug in a book. It champions teachers to look after themselves in order to be at their best for their students. While acknowledging the emotional toll teaching takes at the best of times, let alone a pandemic, it also reassures, reaffirms, and honors teachers.

This is what I like: it doesn’t avoid the hard truths, but at the same time gives hope.

I can’t recall exactly how I found Dr. Jody and Laurie. I am so grateful for finding them. I started following them both on Instagram. 

I watch Dr. Jody’s Instagram live morning quick chats. Her enthusiasm is infectious and helps set a good tone for the day—knowing I can do hard things and I am awesome.

Her simple relaxation prompt of drop your shoulders, drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth, and wiggle your toes was so helpful. I would listen in the morning as I got ready for work and use the relaxation techniques many times throughout the day.

I still haven’t read Dr. Jody’s other book Kids These Days, but it is on my list. Laurie’s Instagram updates from her classroom are inspiring and demonstrate how her class truly is a community of learners. I knew from following them both for just a few short months I had to read this book. 

I bought the Kindle version the day it came out and couldn’t stop reading it. I finished it in barely 24 hours. I highlighted a ton, sent screenshots to teacher friends, told others on Twitter to read, and also decided I needed to order the hard copy to refer to. Maybe a little over the top, but oh well.

Teachers These Days is just what you need to help you get pumped for back to school...It is like a hug in a book. It champions teachers to look after themselves in order to be at their best for their students. Click To Tweet

I appreciate the organization of the book.

Dr. Jody explains the theory and research.  Then the ideas are expanded on with stories submitted by people who work in schools, and what the concepts look like in practice in Laurie’s classroom. Sharing our stories is so powerful to help us learn and grow.

After having watched Dr. Jody ‘s Instagram videos, I could hear her voice as I read. I laughed. I cried. I felt seen and acknowledged. It made me feel excited to meet my new group of Grade 2s soon. 

I also felt I was on the right track reading the book when several other experts and authors I follow and admire were mentioned: Shelley Moore, an advocate for inclusion, and Dr. MacNamara, an expert on attachment and developmental psychology.

It reminds us how our relationships with students matter so much for their emotional well-being, not just their academic progress.

Building connections and community with our students and among staff is vital for the well-being of everyone. Often we close our doors and try to do everything for our class and wear ourselves out in the process. Sometimes we think asking for help or inviting others into our class is admitting we aren’t enough in some way. Maybe that is just me. What it does show is our strength, our willingness to grow. TTD reminds us we are stronger together, can do more together, and thrive when we connect to others.

Early in the book, Laurie (pg. 22) talks about finding her way to a new position and her friend Colleen. She encourages us to find your “Colleen” who knows what part of teaching is your passion and can support you.

It resonated with me, especially after this last year and a half, how important it is to have teacher buddies with whom you can connect. Right away a couple of people came to mind. I know I wouldn’t have made it through without them. I could say in the morning, “I am tired. All this pandemic stuff sucks,” or “I am just feeling negative today.” And I knew they would hold space for me and not judge. I could say, “check on me today because life outside school is overwhelming.”

Find those people you can celebrate with, be vulnerable with, but who also challenge you and encourage you to grow.

So much of what we hear now is we have to be trauma-informed. There is a big focus on SEL and mental health, and it can be hard to know what these things mean and what resources to choose to fit the needs of our students. I appreciated the explanation and research of what trauma-informed means.

We are reminded that what we need to do is show up and be a safe place. We need to be consistent and understanding, show genuine kindness, compassion, and concern. Lightbulb moment: trauma-informed practice is what many of us have long done, but maybe we need to frame it in a new way, through a new lens. That is how I understood it.  TTD validates these efforts and gives us some new things to try, tools to add to our kits, so to speak, in the 3-2-1 feature at the end of each chapter. 3 things to try, 2 quotes, and 1 question to ponder. 

I also appreciated the chapter on helping broaden our understanding of what grief and loss are. I wish I had that chapter on grief and loss two Septembers ago for a student of mine.

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Mindfulness is something else many of us have been exploring recently.

TTD supports these efforts too, for helping us model and show our students how to handle big feelings.  How can we expect students to self-regulate if we don’t show them what that means? I know I often benefit just as much as my students when we ding our chime and pause to take deep breaths, or watch a few minutes of livestream of cute animals from our local marine mammal rescue center.

Look up Joey the Sea Otter at Marine Mammal Rescue. How can you not smile? Yoga cards with different poses have also been a favorite in my class.

My school also has access to something called Brain 1st. They have great mindfulness activities and other activities to help with core strength. So I love and appreciate that TTD is affirming that these efforts, things I have been trying out, are needed and beneficial. We all need that acknowledgment and cheerleading.

Laurie also makes playlists for her class based on student choices, so I want to try that this year!

I am not sure why I also thought of a few songs as I read, so I started thinking more about the music that has helped me through the pandemic and what songs could help me remember the ideas from the book. So in no particular order, here are my songs for TTD.

These are songs to remember we are awesome, can do hard things songs, and we matter.

  • Today I Am Going to Try and Change the World by Johnny Reid
  • Fire It Up also Johnny Reid
  • I’m Not Ready to Make Nice by Dixie Chicks. May seem not to fit but when we need to advocate for ourselves or students sometimes we need a song to remind us of our strength.
  • Rise Up by Andra Day
  • For Good from the musical Wicked – the idea of how some people we meet have a profound impact on our lives

Songs to remind us to light up others. They talk a lot of light-ups (a way to connect).

  • Shine a Light by Bryan Adams
  • Be a Light by Thomas Rhett and featuring others

A song to remind us that when a student is upset or dysregulated, we need to sit with them on the floor, on a bench, or in a chair next to them. We need to be in proximity to help guide them back.

  • Room Where It Happens – Hamilton Soundtrack

I would love to know your song connections after reading the book. Fellow teachers, take their message to heart that you matter and are awesome.  Be well, safe, and have a great year!


About Catherine Moffatt

Catherine has been teaching for almost twenty years. She has taught Kindergarten and Grade 3, and has been a teacher-librarian. She currently teaches Grade 2 part-time and is also the primary coordinator at her school. One of her favorite parts of teaching is to share her love of books with her students. Outside school, she is a busy mom of two amazing kids. She lives in Richmond BC with her husband, kids, and two pet guinea pigs.