Monday, June 19, 2017

My Review of Angela Watson's 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club

During the 2016-2017 school year I considered leaving the teaching profession.  After 7 years in the classroom I felt burnt out, overworked, depressed about my job, and considered breaking my contract at the end of each quarter.  I had been teaching second grade for a year and a half at my current school and was desperately looking for another job that provided a similar income.

I applied for office types of jobs, marketing, and even considered going back to college to pursue another degree.  I finally ended up landing a couple of interviews in higher education for support positions.

Around the same time another teacher on my team mentioned the book "Unshakeable", written by Angela Watson.  She mentioned that it helped her get through the school year as a first year teacher and offered to lend me her copy.

I ended up purchasing a copy of the book on my Amazon Kindle on a whim hoping for a good read.  Up until this point in time, I had never heard of Angela Watson, so I was not sure what to expect.  My go-to resources for education included Fred Jones' "Tools for Teaching"and Robert Marzano books.  I expected Angela Watson's book would be similar.

Much to my surprise and delight, it was not.

Angela Watson's book "Unshakeable" addressed the reality of the impossibly unreachable expectations that are placed on teachers.  Reading this book allowed me to forgive myself for being a teacher this is also human.

The book was refreshing and the tone was empathic.  It was so nice to read something written by another teacher that didn't focus on classroom decoration themes, ways to attach a grass skirt to your horse-shoe table, or turn ottomans into kid chairs with storage.

Angela Watson addressed how teaching can drain your energy not only physically, but very much emotionally.  The book offered lots of ideas that she has actually put into practice to make the profession less stressful.

After reading "Unshakeable", I began to explore Angela Watson's website The Cornerstone for Teachers.  I read the blog posts and began to listen to the podcast: Truth for Teachers.  With each article and podcast, I listened to Angela Watson address the common struggles teachers face that are not always talked about.

Instead of blabbing about lesson ideas where I would need old magazines, a glue gun, dollar store junk, creatively shaped hole punches, and other time consuming things to make the cutest project ever; she talked about ways to save time, streamline my lesson planning, and focus my energy on the most important areas of teaching to actually be more effective.

Last spring as I was listening to one of her podcasts on Truths for Teachers she mentioned a program called "The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club".

This is an online course that promises teachers work/life balance.  The idea is that by implementing the strategies taught in the course, teachers will spend less time not only working on school work, but also less time thinking about school.  While it is impossible to completely shut off your school brain, the program actually does provide some pretty good strategies.

The program is approximately 1 year in length and includes a lesson for every week of the year.

Every Saturday you are given access to a new lesson.  Each weekly lesson includes an audio recording of the lesson (that can be downloaded an then listened to on almost any mobile device), a PDF script of the lesson and printable supplemental materials.

Some of the lesson topics include:

  • Creating a self running classroom by utilizing classroom jobs as well as the way you set up your classroom.
  • Ways to streamline your lesson planning to create more effective lessons in less time.
  • Easy solutions to organizing your paperwork instead of creating piles everywhere (this includes papers from lesson resources to newsletters to papers that need to be graded).
  • Effective ways to truly differentiate your instruction without having to write your own curriculum.
  • Strategies to shave off hours from your workweek to spend more time on your personal life. 
  • Multiple strategies to save time and sanity in almost every aspect of teaching.

The cost of the program is a little more than $100 (there are a few different payment plans which influence the overall cost of the program).  The cost of the program also covers life-time access to the lessons, audio recordings and printable materials that are available at the time of purchasing the membership.  (Any updates or additions will cost extra once your year in the club is up, but the content that was already published will be forever accessible).   While this seems expensive, I believe the cost was well worth it.  Not only did I end up working less hours, I became a more effective teacher because I was no longer burnt out.  I finally had strategies that I could implement to make the teaching profession sustainable for me.

If you are interested in learning more about Angela Watson, her books, or The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek club you can visit her website here at The Cornerstone for Teachers.