Educating with Passion and Purpose: Keep the Fire Going without Burning Out

Educating with Passion and Purpose: Keep the Fire Going without Burning Out

Educating with Passion and Purpose: Keep the Fire Going without Burning Out

Educating with Passion and Purpose: Keep the Fire Going without Burning Out


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Stay engaged with your purpose to better serve your students—and yourself

In an era of sky-high burnout, Educating with Passion and Purpose gives veteran educators everything they need to thrive in their profession. This book will help you avoid the disenchantment and frustration that can come from doing the difficult work of K-12 education. You are in this field because you want to make a difference, but you often lack the support you need to do that amid overwhelming demands. Experienced educators themselves, authors Meredith Matson and Rebekah Shoaf speak the truth about what today’s teachers confront—and how you can navigate the changing landscape to face the challenges and opportunities we encounter.

Inside, you’ll find frequent opportunities for self-reflection on the topics that matter most to educators, including race, privilege, wellbeing, mentorship, and how to rise to the social–emotional demands that teaching asks. At a time when many teachers are leaving the field within the first years of their careers, Educating with Passion and Purpose offers you a way forward, so you can nurture your students and professional self.

  • Gain perspective on why you teach and what matters most to you in your career
  • Explore how race and identity impact interactions in your classroom
  • Learn practical strategies for protecting your social and emotional energy and seeking help
  • Find a new sense of inspiration in your teaching practice with hands-on activities and tools

This book is perfect for educators with three or more years of experience. It also offers crucial insights for pre-service educators, staff developers, and experienced teachers looking for ways to avoid career burnout and other pitfalls traditional teacher-training programs did not prepare them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781119893615
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 05/02/2023
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,072,054
Product dimensions: 8.90(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Meredith Matson is Principal at the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction in New York. In her twenty-one years as an educator, she has also been a teacher, assistant principal, mentor to new teachers, history department chair, and grade-team leader.

Rebekah Shoaf has been an educator for twenty years and is the CEO of the educational consulting firm What If Schools. She is also founder and owner of Boogie Down Books, a bookstore-without-walls® for kids, teens, families, and educators.

Table of Contents


Why We Wrote This Book

Who This Book Is For

How to Use This Book

Why Reflection Matters

Chapter 1: Finding Your Purpose

Meredith’s Turn

My Why, My Drive

Pain and Loss

Becoming Invisible

My Drive for Leadership

Rebekah’s Turn

Schooling vs. Learning

Finding My "Why"

Your Turn

Research to Help Excavate Your Purpose

Excavating Your Why

Refining Your Why

Amplifying Your Why

Connecting Your Why to Your Work

Exploring Your Ikigai

Meditating to Discover Your Why

Personality Tests and Purpose

The Roots of Your Purpose

Troubleshooting Your Purpose

Additional Considerations for Leaders

Helping Your Community Articulate Their Why

Finding Your Purpose as a Leader

Supporting Teachers in Understanding Purpose

Your School or District’s Purpose

Asserting an Equity Stance

Chapter 2: Purpose and Burnout

Meredith’s Turn

When Your Work Becomes a Job Rather than a Profession

What Feels Like Burnout But Isn’t?

Searching for an Identity

What Do You Do When All You Do Is Complain?

Rebekah’s Turn

Shift Happens

Losing My Prep Periods and My Purpose

Your Turn

Identifying Your Why Nots

Burnout Self-Assessment I

Burnout Self-Assessment II

Using the Burnout Spectrum

Identifying Possible Contributors to Burnout

Visualizing Your Own Fire

How Burnout Impacts BIPOC Educators

How Burnout Impacts Antiracist Educators

Additional Considerations for Leaders

Is Distributive Leadership Leading to Burnout?

What About Leader Burnout?

Chapter 3: What You Teach

Meredith’s Turn

Bringing My Why Out on Day One

Developing Daily Lessons Infused with My Why

When Your Curriculum Leads You To Be Misaligned

Coaching Teachers Using Their Why

Rebekah’s Turn

Designing for My Why

The Hazards of “High Expectations”

Designing for Transformation

Your Turn

Assessing Your Curriculum

Analyzing the Lessons that Resonate

What If You Hate Your Curriculum?

Standardized Tests Aren’t Everything…But They Are Something

What If You’re Still Learning Your Curriculum?

Additional Considerations for Leaders

Professional Development

Curriculum Design and Support

Chapter 4: How You Teach

Meredith’s Turn

Gaining Respect and Building Authentic Relationship

Systems and Structures that Empower

Take Control of Planning

Rebekah’s Turn

Keeping My Students’ Reading Fires Going

Reframing Resistance

Your Turn

Assess Your Instruction

What If You Have to Use Mandated Instructional Methods?

Listening to Your Students

How’s Your Sleep?

Connecting Instruction and Classroom Management

What If You’re Still Learning How To Teach?

Additional Considerations for Leaders

Clear Structures and Expectations Help Everyone

Feedback Is Essential

Chapter 5: Being the Lead Learner

Meredith’s Turn

Pushing Myself as a Learner

Professional Development Within the School Setting

My First Lesson as a Principal

Rebekah’s Turn

Professional Learning that’s Personal and Purposeful

Summer Schooling

Your Turn

Who Are You As a Learner?

What Do You Need to Learn to Fuel Your Purpose? How Do You Need to Learn It?

What Do You Have Control of When It Comes to Your Learning?

What if the PD at Your School Isn't Adequate?

What If You Just Need a Break?

What If You Need Time to Reconnect with Family and Friends?

What If You Need a Change of Scenery?

What If You Need to Earn Extra Money?

What If You Need to Provide Childcare?

What If You’ve Been Assigned a Mentor You’re Not Learning From?

What If the PD Is Causing Your Burnout?

Reading to Learn

Additional Considerations for Leaders

Chapter 6: Finding Your Professional Home

Meredith’s Turn

The Interview Process Can Tell You About Your New Community

Finding My Home

Rebekah’s Turn

Doing the Hiring

Aligning People, Positions, and Purpose

Your Turn

Reflecting on Purpose

People, Not Positions

When You Want To Be Hired

Change Is Hard

Additional Consideration for Leaders

Creating Space to Connect and Explore Identities

Knowing What You’re Looking For

The Transformative Process

Reflective Prompts for School Leaders

Building a Bench

Chapter 7: Nourishing Your Network

Meredith’s Turn

Being the Younger Sister to a True Inspiration

Challenging Patriarchal Norms

The Power of Mentors Who Believe in You

Cultivating a Team and Helping Leaders Rise

My Teacher Champions

Rebekah’s Turn

Team You

Who I Learn From

Who I Learn With

Who I Teach

Your Turn

People Plus Purpose

A Framework for Thinking About Your Network

What If You’re Having Trouble Finding Mentors?

Additional Considerations for Leaders

Supporting Teachers Through Community

Make Coaching a Priority

The Staff Lounge


Meredith’s Turn

The School Leader Within Me

Rebekah’s Turn

Why I Left

Where We Go From Here

Your Turn

Where Do You Go From Here?


Beginning of the Year Teacher Reflection Tool

Burnout Self-Assessment Checklist

Burnout Spectrum

Connecting School-wide Policies to Your Purpose

Excavating Your Why Reflection Tool

Fire Visualization Tool

The Five Whys

Intentional Summer Planning Protocol

Job Search Preparation Tool

Mentor Matching and Reflection

Modifying for Misalignment Tool

Network Reflection Tool

Planning Tool for a Sustainable Hiring Process

Preparing for Conversations about Equity

Professional Learning Reflection Tool

Purposeful Planning Tool for Professional Learning

Purposeful Planning Tool for Units and Lessons

Reflecting on Community Spaces for Collaboration

Reflection Tool for Burnout Factors

Reflective Tool for Designing Classroom Systems

Sample Student Feedback Survey

Staff Member Community Involvement Survey

Teacher-Led Inquiry Cycle for Professional Development

Time Management Tool

Back Matter


Meredith’s Turn

Rebekah’s Turn

Our Turn

About the Authors

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