In our multi-part interview with Jenny Grant Rankin, PhD and author of First Aid for Teacher Burnout: How You Can Find Peace and Success, Engaging & Challenging Gifted Students, and How to Make Data Work: A Guide for Educational Leaders, we explore her journey from teaching to writing, the best ways for teachers to leverage technology and resources, and how she addresses burnout.
Kelly Knoche: One of the things I think is so unique about your book is the number of e-resources. As a self-described data and tech nerd, I would love for you to share a little bit more about how you offer e-resources?
Jenny Rankin: Yeah, I'm a total tech geek, data geek, and there's so much online that can make our lives so much easier that's free and easy to access. Teachers can stand in line and look at this, or while waiting to pick up their kid at the bus. Technology in general, it's one of those things that can make teachers cringe like, "Oh, gosh, technology. Oh, I have to learn something new, change is hard," especially when you don't have that time to integrate something new.
I really try to convince teachers in that chapter that once you get over the bump, it's crucial. It makes your life so much easier. It becomes a time saver when used appropriately with the right tools. I highlight some key tools and key practices—like using tools for reading multiple choice, either via homework or tests, so teachers can quit hand grading. The kids drop it in a tray and it automatically goes into your grade book and the parent portal. Those sorts of things that exist. Even if something is an open response, you can very easily enter that and instead of it all being by hand it's already in your grade book. It already goes to transcript and report cards.
These are all things that make teachers' lives so much easier and take the weight off. If teachers can get up to speed on using those tools and can advocate for these sort of tools, something that's a district-wide purchase, it's so worth the time.
Kelly Knoche: The question isn't just how we are going to continue to stay engaged with the generation that has grown up with technology, but finding ways to integrate as much as possible to make our lives easier. We do the learning and then connect with our students because they're going to have a deeper understanding of that work too. The last question I have is: do you have a recommended reading list? There were a ton of articles, books, and academic publishings that you reference in this book. Can you give us your top recommended readings to support teacher sustainability?
Jenny Rankin: Oh gosh. When it comes to books, that's a little tricky, because it's so based on whatever the teacher's dealing with. It might not even be something that mentions teacher burnout. It might be something on efficient grading practices or classroom management techniques or that sort of thing. I really think that a teacher who's struggling with burnout, in addition to my book, should go to topic specific books where he or she can then delve more deeply into those areas to really make life easier in that department.
There is one stands out for me because it's such a phenomenal book. Dr. Gail Thompson, she and her husband Rufus wrote, 'Yes, You Can'. That book is amazing. It talks about teaching students of color, but it's for everyone no matter what your classroom diversity looks like, it honors realities teachers are dealing with that they don't even necessarily know. It brings things to your attention that aren't on your radar as a teacher necessarily that are making life harder, making connections more difficult, leading to behavior problems and to poor performance for the kids. The tips they offer are super practical and easy to implement with a big payoff. That is one I'd recommend.
Kelly Knoche: Yes! Awesome. I'm going to check that out. So, how can people get your book?
Jenny Rankin: Oh, it's everywhere. It's on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble. It's also on the publisher's website, Routledge Taylor & Francis, with online resources. Things that didn't fit in the book or are helpful to have in electronic format. Check them out!