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Conquer Your Teacher Burnout with Amber Harper [episode 12]


Click below to hear how to conquer teacher burnout:

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After the last couple of years, teaching and being in the classroom or school setting has been extremely difficult. Teachers are overwhelmed, exhausted, and quite frankly, burned out. But what can you do about it? On today’s episode, I have guest Amber Harper and we’re having an honest conversation about how to recognize teacher burnout and strategies you can use to move forward. 

Amber first provides ways to identify your type of burnout. However, they all start with you; your mindset, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about your career and education. Being ready to make a change means you need to be intentional in order to gain clarity to understand what your next steps are for you personally and professionally. 

Amber quotes, “If you don’t have a vision or practice the discipline and intention that you need to make true change, you will get sucked back into those old limiting beliefs and negative habits that are taking you away from your ability to change your life,” which sums up the importance and responsibility it takes to understand and deal with your teacher burnout.  

Whether you’re at the point of no return, wanting something different, or just feeling the stress of another school year, this episode is for you! Amber gives so much insight into what can lead to burnout and includes how learning these tools and strategies will help you let go of the things you’re not in control of. Remember, teacher burnout starts with you, for only you can change your future. 

There are so many exciting things happening at Wife Teacher Mommy, and one of those is our virtual summer event: Educate & Rejuvenate. This is an event we’re hosting and it’s going to be so fun! We have sessions including life coaching skills, talking about teacher burnout, and learning amazing teaching strategies that you can implement in your classrooms. Another bonus is you can get PD credit and tickets are only $5! Check out the links below for more information!

Key points about teacher burnout, we discuss:

  • The story behind the creation of Burned In Teacher
  • Why your mindset is the key to dealing with teacher burnout
  • A brief description of the five stages of burnout
  • Amber gives a sneak peek into her keynote for Educate & Rejuvenate

Resources mentioned:

Meet Amber:

Amber Harper is a long-time educator, author, speaker, and podcaster. She’s currently a Kindergarten teacher in Indiana. She’s the founder of and author of Hacking Teacher Burnout which gives struggling teachers a path to follow as they navigate their way out of burnout. Amber is a Teacher Burnout Coach working with educators to help them grow through their burnout and take their next best steps toward what they want from their career in education and in life. 

Teacher burnout related episodes and blog posts:

Connect with Kelsey:

Read the transcript for episode 12, Conquer Teacher Burnout with Amber Harper :

Kelsey Sorenson 0:00
Hey everybody, I am so excited for today’s episode of the podcast I have a very special guest named Amber Harper. Amber is a longtime educator, author, speaker and podcaster. She is currently a kindergarten teacher in Indiana. She’s the founder of and author of Hacking Teacher Burnout which gives struggling teachers a path to follow as they navigate their way out of burnout. Amber is the teacher burnout coach working with educators to help them grow through their burnout and take their next best steps toward what they want from their career in education and in life. And her mission aligned so closely with ours at Wife Teacher Mommy, and I love everything she had to say I just got off the interview with her and she did such an amazing job. And I can’t wait for you to listen to everything that she has in store for you in this episode. Now I want to remind you very quick if you are a member of Wife Teacher Mommy club, make sure you are subscribed to the private podcast because I bring on every guest that bring on to the podcast. For a bonus segment just for members on our members only private podcast feed. So if you are a member, make sure you are subscribed to that you should have received an email. If you can’t find it. Email us at And we will help you out because you definitely want in on the private podcast. It takes everything that you learn here on this podcast and you’ll just get even more. And another reminder is that Amber is one of our keynote speakers at Educate & Rejuvenate which is our event this summer. That is going to be such a great time. We are so excited about this event. We have over 20 speakers lined up there are going to be pre recording sessions that you can watch there will be live portions where you get to interact with the speakers in our event Facebook group and you will also get to do some fun energizing fitness classes. Our coach Chrissy Nichols is going to be doing live coaching which normally you need to be a member for but you’ll be able to attend the coaching sessions as part of Educate & Rejuvenate so it’s going to be a great time. And of course, you’re going to get to hear Amber’s keynote all about teacher burnout. And you’ll get to learn her teacher burnout process. I am so excited after interviewing her today to hear how much more she has in store during the event. So make sure to go to to grab your ticket. It’s just $5. And if you are a Club member, remember you don’t need to grab a ticket actually, because club members will get in free and you’ll also get all the replays and everything on the members private podcast. Okay, so let’s get started with today’s interview.

Hi, Amber, thank you so much for joining us today.

Unknown Speaker 3:33
Thank you so much for having me, this is going to be so fun.

Kelsey Sorenson 3:36
Well, I am so excited to be connecting with you here on the podcast because we are looking forward to having you as one of our keynote speakers at Educate & Rejuvenate next month, it’s going to be so great. So I’m so excited to have you on the show so our listeners can get to know you a little bit.

Unknown Speaker 3:51
I’m so excited to be here. And I’m so excited about the event next month, it’s going to be amazing.

Kelsey Sorenson 3:57
It’s going to be so fun. Okay, so your business and your keynote and your book. They’re all about teacher burnout. So can you tell us why is this a topic that you are so passionate about?

Unknown Speaker 4:08
As you can probably guess, as a teacher in today’s world, I have dealt with burnout more than once more than twice more than a handful of times in different seasons of my life in different grade levels for different reasons. And several years ago, it was fall of 2014 I had a really, really public emotional breakdown in front of my teacher friends. And I had been dealing with burnout multiple times before that, and that would have been in year, year six year six and a half of teaching. And I’d fallen into some pretty unhealthy habits and beliefs and patterns when it came to the way that I talked about and viewed my position education and it all kind of came to a head in front of my very, very good friends. It was in that moment and moments, you know, after that event that I was like The only person that is going to change my situation or be able to improve my situation, in my personal and professional life, by the way is me like nobody else is responsible for my beliefs, my thoughts, my actions, my daily habits and my career, but me. And so that’s sort of when I dove headfirst into the self help or personal development world, and just really started to learn about what it truly takes to grow through times of hardship. And when I started to do things and think things and say things differently, and hang out with different kinds of people and, and really sort of share what I was learning, it was interesting to me that nobody knew what I was talking about, most people didn’t know what I was talking about. Yeah. And so that’s sort of where, now this is a couple years in the future, from 2014. That’s where Burnedin Teacher was born. Because I knew that I had to, I felt selfish almost in a way, keeping everything that I had learned and all the growth that I had experienced to myself. So it really came from a place of necessity for me, and a necessity that I saw that was out there in the world, with my people with my teachers.

Kelsey Sorenson 6:17
That’s incredible. You were able to take what you learn through all of your own personal development journey, and now you’re able to help other teachers with it. I just love that.

Unknown Speaker 6:26
Yeah, you know, and it’s really interesting, because I started out by reading some very popular books that I almost felt like I was living in a cave, because they were very popular book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People I had never heard of that book before in my life. And I feel like everybody knows about that book, but they don’t. Think and Grow Rich is another book that I just, I just love so much. It’s not just about money. It’s about, you know, it’s it’s about many different types of wealth. I learned about Tony Robbins, I had never heard of him before, you know, all of these people and all of these resources that are out there to serve people who are hurting. I mean, I was just obsessed with consuming all that I could learn about not staying in this space that I thought was just normal for a teacher. Another thing too, that was brand new, you know, back in 2014 through 2016 was this thing called podcasts like what the heck is a podcast, and my husband started really diving into them, he was like, you’ve really got to check it out. You can listen to a podcast about any sort of topic. So I started listening to some podcasts from some people that I was learning about and these books and gosh, I just learned so so much that I started to see growth and change in my own life. And it really did start a lot with my mindset and the way that I was thinking, feeling and believing about my career and education.

Kelsey Sorenson 7:47
Yeah, and I think we just talked about that a lot on because we were recording an episode for your podcast, which I think it should already be live on your show, by the time this one airs. So everybody should definitely go check out the Burnden Teacher Podcast, we talked a lot about the thoughts and how they affect your life as a teacher. And I feel like both of these episodes are really going to tie together.

Unknown Speaker 8:07
And what’s really interesting is that when I you know when I speak or when I run a workshop, or I you know, work with a group of teachers, or even just talking to a teacher that maybe just comes and knocks on my door frame and wants to talk about what they’re struggling with. It’s very hard for somebody that’s struggling on a very large scale, if they are at what I consider a stage zero or one a burnout, they’re at a very dark place. And the last thing that they want to talk about is their thoughts and their beliefs. And it’s hard for them to understand how that can make such a huge difference in their experience and their daily experience in teaching and in life. Because they just want something to come along and fix their situation like they want somebody or something to be the fix. And what’s really hard to convince a teacher and it would have been hard to convince me when I was at that stage zero and one when I had that emotional breakdown, it would have been really hard for somebody to come in and say, well, Amber, what are you telling yourself every day? Like what what stories are you telling yourself? What do you believe about your job and yourself and where you fit into this career and where you are in your life? I would have been like, it doesn’t matter what I think it matters that every day I’m crying in my car, I just want to stop crying in my car, you know? So it really takes getting to that point where you make a decision like I finally did to say, What am I telling myself? And what what is it that I am believing and choosing beliefs or choices? What am I choosing to believe is true or not true about teaching about where I live about what I do day in and day out. And something else it’s really kind of pivotal is what am I truly in control of? Because if I had $1 for every time I was told that somebody that I’m working with or talking to is a perfectionist or a control freak or a type A personality. Those are strong personality traits. They have their strengths and those personality types, but they can also be very dangerous if you are not self aware about how they are affecting the ins and outs of your job and of how you’re living your life.

Kelsey Sorenson 10:17
Yeah, absolutely. Because like, you know, perfectionist, or whatever it’s like, you can take that to the extreme, and totally burn yourself out with that. And I just totally agree with it, what you said about, you know, if you are at that stage, and I’m not as familiar with your stages, so let’s talk about that in a minute. But when you talked about when you’re at that stage, where you’re just like, I’m just crying in my car, and you’re like, it doesn’t matter what I believe I just want to stop crying or whatever. But it’s like, you might not even at that point, realize that you are causing some of that, like you do have that choice. But in your mind, it’s so unconscious, that you don’t realize is just like that’s how it is. Yeah, it can be really hard to climb out of that, like, you know, I’ve experienced that. Like when I had my major postpartum that I talked about in episode three of my podcast, it’s like, you can’t see that it’s like, you really can’t see that without help at that point.

Unknown Speaker 11:04
You have a complete and total loss of clarity. Whenever you’re stuck in that dark place, you can’t see past your own misery. And unfortunately, that is where a lot of teachers park themselves. Because in the past before things like Burnedin Teacher, and there are other teachers out there doing work very similar to me, before we decided to bring to light the path out of this place, there was nowhere to go, but maybe Pinterest or Google and just finding, you know, quote, unquote, you know, one size fits all answer to self caring your way out of burnout. Like there’s no way to do that. And I also want to be very careful to say, you know, when I talk about this, and people are new to me, I feel like sometimes there’s kind of a stigma around like, well, I’m burned out because of all the expectations that are given to me, and the behavior of my kids. And my administrator is super out of touch, and you wouldn’t believe the state’s you know, all of these things. Listen, I am a full time teacher, I get it. I deal with things on a daily basis that are very, very, very difficult. And I’ve dealt with things in the past that have been very difficult. I’m not blaming your burnout on you. I’m not blaming your burnout on anybody. What I continually come back to is that burnout is not your fault, but it is your responsibility. You know what I do with Burnedin Teachers, I help you to gain the clarity to understand what your next best step is and what your next best step is, and what that best step is for you. Because if you raise your internal self awareness and you work on you first, then you can decide if the environment that you’re working in, whether it be your grade level, your building, or your district, or even education is the right place for you. And if you need to move on to a different place, because a lot of teachers that I work with, they’re struggling, and they might even be miserable. They just want to love teaching again. Yeah, they don’t necessarily want to quit. In fact, I just did a poll on Instagram, most teachers that I polled are returning to the classroom next year, and they genuinely want to be there. Some don’t. And some don’t have the privilege of choice at this point. But the fact is, is that they are returning, and they just know that they don’t want to continue every year, like this year, or like last year, and this I used to do this too, every year was going to be different, I’m not gonna let things bother me anymore, I’m just gonna go in and do my job and leave. And then I would fall into the same habits and the same beliefs and the same negative talk, whether it’s self talk or talk about my kids or you know, and it took me nowhere but down are kept me the same. And it is totally okay to cry in your car once in a while it is okay to embrace the suck. Being a burnedin teacher. And what I stand for, is not being a toxic positive person that’s, you know, smiling every single day and saying, everything’s fine, everything’s beautiful. It’s not, it’s about being real about what you’re being challenged with, but then doing something about it, if it is something that is in your control, and also learning the tools and strategies for how to let things go that are not within your control. Because Lord knows there is a lot in our careers that is out of our control so much. And as Type A perfectionist control freak people pleasers, it’s very hard for us to break that habit of feeling like we have to fix and control everything. There’s a difference between venting: venting is good and it’s healthy, but only to a certain point. There’s a difference between venting and stating a challenge that you’re having and taking the time to identify if it is worth your time and energy and maybe even money to try to solve it. So I kind of went down a rabbit hole here.

Kelsey Sorenson 14:48
So much good info there though. I know I was like, oh, we should talk about that and that and that. There’s just so much there. I love it. Our listeners are going to get a lot of that so I’m glad you shared all of it.

I am interrupting this episode for just a moment to let you know about our virtual event that I want to invite you to this summer. It is called Educate & Rejuvenate. And you’ll be hearing from amazing speakers such as Bri Richardson from Honest Teacher Vibes, Amber Harper from Burnedin Teacher, Bryce Sizemore from the Teaching Texan, Sara Marye from The Stellar Teacher, Heidi and Emily from Second Story Window, Amy Nielsen from Planning Time and so many more amazing speakers. And, of course, yours truly. Plus, there will be bonus live segments with our presenters, group by coach and Chrissy Nichols, and even fitness classes to do with your teacher friends. And you’ll get all of this for just five bucks. That’s why I mean it when I say this is going to be the education event of the year because it is going to help you not only with your teaching, but to help you feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the next school year, head over to the shownotes or go to to grab your ticket.

And the one nugget that I still remember, even though that was like you know, in the middle of all the goodness you were sharing is that the burnout is not your fault, but it’s your responsibility. And I hadn’t heard that before. I really liked that thought because I feel like it’s not our fault. Like all the circumstances we don’t control, like you were talking about, right. But what we do have control over are the things you were talking about as well, like, you know, we can control kind of our thoughts about the circumstances and our beliefs about them. And I feel like that’s kind of what your steps of your Burnedin Teacher are there to help with. So can you tell us a little bit about that?

Unknown Speaker 16:35
Yeah, so you had asked a little bit about the stages. And I won’t go too deep into all five of them, because we just simply don’t have enough time today. But when you’re in a stage zero and one, you are in that place of essentially victimization, you’re saying why are all these things happening to me, and if they wouldn’t do this, then I wouldn’t feel this way. And if this wouldn’t have happened, that I wouldn’t, or if I would have chosen a different career than this. All of these should have could have was blaming, and just feeling like you have no power. Either you have given your power away, or it has been taken from you. In a stage two and three of burnout, this is where you start to lean in to these ideas that well, maybe I don’t have to say yes to everything, maybe I’m not being negative. If I step away from this role, or say, I can’t do this anymore. You know, we sometimes adopt lots of different roles as teachers because we feel like we can’t say no, or we have to be the hero, or we are volunteer to do so. And what I do through the burning process, I help you to realize and again, like I said earlier, gain clarity on what is right for you right now, maybe what used to be okay for you to handle in the past, now you have three kids, and you can’t balance that in your life anymore, it doesn’t fit your highest values, or you can’t manage it well. This is in stage two, and three, this is where you start to look at your challenges and begin to be more solution focused rather than focusing on all the challenges, you’re beginning to think about solutions for the challenges that are within your control. And there’s so much more, but do you see the shift there between why is this happening to me? And okay, this is happening. What am I able to do about it? And how would a person with my brand with the values that I have? How would that person handle this the best?

Unknown Speaker 18:26
Stage four and five is when you have become more self actualized, where you are very self aware, internally and externally about who you are, what you want, what kind of life you want to live, what kind of teacher you want to be known for. And this is where maybe you have also made the decision that you don’t want to teach anymore, or you don’t want to teach this grade level anymore. Maybe you want to teach a different grade level or you want a different title. Or maybe you want to be an administrator or heck, maybe you don’t want to be an administrator anymore. You want to go back to the classroom. I have heard Administrators say that too. But it’s giving yourself the permission to say I don’t have to have all of this figured out. But I know that right now, this is not what’s best for me. And I’m going to start to set goals and make an action plan for moving this direction. And it’s not the forever direction it can twist and turn. I think sometimes we feel as adults that we have to have everything figured out. I mean, we’re even, you know, encouraged in high school to know our career path and go to college for a certain career gonna do forever. And I think that’s really unfair, especially in a global economy where gosh, you can do anything, you can learn anything and become anything at any age. It’s giving our teacher friends that we care so much about it’s empowering them with the belief that they deserve and are capable of achieving the life that that they want to live and I’m not talking an Instagram worthy life. It can be a very simple life that is best for you. You know, you could be living in chaos right now and all you want is to live a more simple life. Again, like I said, maybe you want to love teaching second grade again. So you can go home and just be with your kids. You know, maybe you do want to leave teaching, and you want to start an online business and you have these great ideas, but you’re telling yourself, you can’t do it. It can be anything that you want it to be, I used to tell myself that I was just a teacher. And I use that word just and that is such a powerful word. And it can be powerful in a positive or a negative way. I’m just a teacher, like, what the heck can I do but teach; we are a sought after profession, and so many other careers, because we are brilliantly able to do amazing things with very little.

Kelsey Sorenson 20:44
It’s so true, like teachers are so resourceful, and like I feel like we succeed in whatever we do.

Unknown Speaker 20:50
We are an amazing breed of human beings. And if you take the time to focus on your strengths, and you realize you could be really good at doing this other thing. I say, go for it, have a strategic plan, but be proactive. And you don’t have to settle for a life of burnout as your reality. And I think so many teachers do that. And I even hear veteran teachers say things that make me just cringe, you know, about like, teaching is a lifestyle. And this is who you are now and I say no, it’s not who I am. It is my job. It is a job that I love. But I refuse to accept that as who I am in and out day in and day out.

Kelsey Sorenson 21:28
Yeah, and I absolutely agree with that. We don’t need to accept burnout or like, you know, not loving our lives, we should love our lives, whether we are in the classroom or not. So for our teacher, friends who like you said, you pull most of them, most of them are returning to the classroom. What would you say to those teachers who are going back to the classroom next year, but they are feeling that burnout. And they’re considering attending Educate & Rejuvenate and hearing your keynote? What little sneak peek can you give it to them to encourage them to come join us at the event because they think it’s going to be such a great time?

Unknown Speaker 21:58
Absolutely. So I would think about number one, I’m going to start with the burnedin process here: begin where you are, and this is all about looking at where you have been to realize why you are where you are today. And this is physically mentally, emotionally. This is like what brought you to this point. And then what I would have you consider is what are your core values? What is most important to you right now? Because, you know, we talk a lot about kids being so different. But we have changed too; we are continually evolving and growing and changing. And you know, depending on our season of life, you know, we change and our values change. And that’s okay, that’s not just part of growing up. That’s just a part of growing, and we’re continually learning more every single day about what what we’re capable of.

Kelsey Sorenson 22:49
It’s part of being a human, you know, yeah, it’s part of life.

Unknown Speaker 22:51
Yeah. So really think about your core values, what is most important to you and your life. And like I said earlier, it could be that you have a family, it could be that you’re single, and you just want to live your hashtag best life ever. You know, whatever it is, you know, you can live your best life ever with a family too, but really hone it down. What are your two core values? And then thinking about what do I want an ideal life to look like for me in the fall? What do I want a day to look like? What do I want a week to look like? The summer is the most perfect time to shut it all down and lay by the pool, sleep in, rest and rejuvenate Right, right? But what I really am excited about with this event is that if you are clear on your core values, and you’re clear on your vision for what you want your life to look like in the fall, this doesn’t have to be a three year plan or a five year plan. What do you want your life to look like in the fall, you can attend certain sessions, you can start downloading certain podcast episodes, you can start reading different books and watching different YouTube videos that will help you get to where you can start actually taking action and start building on those habits and start building on those beliefs. So that when August or September comes whenever you start school, you’re not just doing what I used to do, which is this year, everything’s going to be different. I didn’t spend any time this summer preparing myself for success here. But this year is gonna be different. Because I guarantee you if you don’t have a vision, if you don’t have a plan, if you haven’t practiced the discipline and intention that you need to make true change, you will get sucked back into those old limiting beliefs and those old negative habits that are taking away from your ability to change your life.

Kelsey Sorenson 24:33
You are so right. It’s all about being very intentional. You can’t just be like Oh yeah, it’s going to be different. If you don’t do anything about it, it’s going to be the same. So you need to make that conscious effort in order for things to be different and they absolutely can be and that’s why we’re hosting Educate & Rejuvenate is so you know, you can feel rejuvenated and ready for the next school year. And we’re here to educate you on all these different ways that next year can be better and that’s why we invited you to come because I know your keynote is going to be fabulous in helping teachers accomplish that. Thank you so much.

I’m very excited about having you at the event is going to be such a great time. So if you are listening and you have not grabbed your ticket yet, be sure to head over to the show notes where you can grab your ticket and you’ll be able to hear Amber even more this summer, it’s going to be so much fun. So Amber, before we go, where can our audience find you to connect with you?

Unknown Speaker 25:20
Yeah, absolutely. You can go to You can find me on Instagram or on Facebook at @burnedinteacher and I have the podcast and if you want to take your first steps you can go to quiz. Those are the burnout types that Kelsey mentioned earlier, you can really start to think about, you know, what is burning you out? And what burnout type are you and what small steps and changes can you make today that can help you to move forward.

Kelsey Sorenson 25:49
Awesome. Thank you so much Amber, it was such a joy to have you on the podcast today.

Thank you so much for having me. I’m really looking forward to the event.

More about Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast

Being an educator is beyond a full-time job. Whether you’re a teacher or a homeschool parent, the everyday to-do list is endless. Between lesson planning, grading, meetings, and actually teaching, it probably feels impossible to show up for your students without dropping the ball in other areas of your life.

Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast is the show that will bring you the teacher tips, practical strategies, and inspiration that you need to relieve the stress and overwhelm of your day-to-day. Your host, Kelsey Sorenson, is a former teacher and substitute turned homeschool mom. Tune in weekly to hear Kelsey and her guests cheer you on and help you thrive as a wife, teacher, and mommy. Because with a little support and community, you can do it all. For access to every single Wife Teacher Mommy resource, join the club at

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