Getting Back to Your Circle of Influence for Educators with Dan Tricarico
February 8, 2022
Getting Back to Your Circle of Influence for Educators
Teachers are (still!) not okay, and that’s coming straight from the mouth of a teacher. The pandemic continues, and teachers continue to struggle with making the impact they went into the profession to make.

The result is a lot of burnout and frustration, a lot of complaining (from teachers, students, administrators, parents), and a mass exodus of teachers leaving the profession. This week’s guest is not one of those teachers. In fact, he’s a teacher on a mission to help others get back to themselves and the impact they want to make.

This is Dan Tricarico’s second appearance on the podcast and it won’t be his last. As a school administrator, it was helpful to hear Dan’s perspective on what he’s seeing and hearing from other teachers. And he shares what teachers, leaders, and parents can do to help support the wellbeing of their educators.

It’s an enlightening conversation that will leave you with a different perspective of what teaching and learning look like right now.

About Dan Tricarico:

After 30 years as a high school English teacher, Dan Tricarico found himself heading toward burnout and knew something had to change. Wanting to continue as a teacher, he cultivated strategies that helped him reclaim his control and stay in the classroom.

Today, Tricarico is a national speaker who shares his expertise and insight to show teachers how to reduce their stress and improve their self-care, so they can thrive both inside and outside the classroom.

He is author of The Zen Teacher: Focus Simplicity and Tranquility in the Classroom and Sanctuaries: Self-Care Secrets for Stressed Out Teachers. Creator of The Zen Teacher 5 Step Blueprint, he has also been featured in Fast Company Magazine, EduTopia, Teacher 2 Teacher, and The Truth for Teachers and Talks with Teachers Podcasts.

Jump in the Conversation:

[2:51] – Dan becomes international resource for teachers
[6:02] – Dan’s second book: Sanctuaries
[6:25] – You have more control than you think as an educator
[7:18] – You can control your response to the next shutdown
[7:47] – Teachers’ situation as pandemic drags on
[8:18] – Teachers master the pivot
[11:05] – Business as usual?
[11:46] – Underlying friction makes the whole thing harder
[13:28] – This is where we are; accept it
[14:07] – Key recommendations for educators
[16:21] – Give yourself the gift of stillness and silence
[18:28] – What can school leaders do right now to help teachers
[20:12] – Tired of talking about self care
[21:40] – Trying to walk my talk
[22:45] – What parents can do to help in the schools
[25:12] – Message to parents: Trust us
[26:23] – Turbo Time
[30:19] – Dan’s Magic Wand
[31:36] – Maureen’s Takeaways

Links & Resources



Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at education evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of Ed active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
Our teachers, our frontline workers who are leaving the profession in droves. listen in as Dan Takara, CO, the Zen teacher unpacks how they have gone from heroes to scapegoats. And what we can do about it. Why Dan, after 30 years as a high school English teacher, Dan found himself heading toward burnout and knew something had to change. Wanting to continue as a teacher, he cultivated strategies that helped him reclaim his control, and stay in the classroom. Dan continues to work as a teacher, often with over 35 students in each class. He knows what teachers are going through, and is an author and national speaker who shares his Zen expertise and insight to show teachers how they can reduce their stress and improve their self care. So they can thrive both inside and outside the classroom.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:20
Hi, Dan, it is so good to have you back on the podcast today.

Dan Tricarico 2:24
Oh, it’s my pleasure. I had a great time. Last time. Thanks for asking me about it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:28
And listeners. today I’m chatting with Dan Takara. CO you may remember him from our interview a year ago, Dan has gone from burnout teacher to Zen teaching resource, Dan, more than ever, we need your expertise and insight to show teachers how to reduce their stress and improve self care. Let’s start with your story. What led you to become this international resource for teachers?

Dan Tricarico 2:56
Well, thank you for asking. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I was experiencing massive burnout. This was around 2014 or so. And I thought, goodness, you know, I had a wife, kids mortgage, all the normal stuff that just, you know, raises the stress. And, you know, the education profession had just, you know, gone out of control. And there was no money for supplies, and the testing machine was insane. And, you know, class sizes were exploding. i At that time I was rocking, I think was right around 40 students a class, which is Oh, my God. Yeah, it was ridiculous. They’ve kindly lowered it to 36. Now, which, of course is still insane, but it’s fewer. So that’s nice. But I was like, how am I? You know, how am I gonna make it was really the question. And so I remembered back to when I was a drama teacher and an actor and a drama major. And the drama teachers, I had talked about something they called a relaxed preparedness. Were you were relaxed, but you were ready to go. And I thought, well, that’s what teachers need. And all those acting teachers, they talked about mindfulness and being in the moment with your scene partner, and relaxation exercises, and breathing exercises. And all of those techniques and strategies really helped me to calm down to kind of be in the moment and realize what was in the circle of my influence and what wasn’t. And so I started blogging about that under the platform name of the Zen teacher, really as reminders for me, just as right. I’ve always been a writer, I always loved writing, and it’s my therapy. So it just was a way to navigate all of those issues. And then what happened because we live in a magic world with social media, that as I pushed those blog posts out on Twitter, at the time, people responded, and I was like, Oh my gosh, it’s just me. And then I was fortunate enough, I turned that into a book and then another book came after that. And again, it was you know, super selfish in a way because they were all reminders for me but the the icing on the cake is that I feel so Blessed and so grateful that teachers reach out to me all the time and say, what you’re talking about really helps. And what’s better than that. That’s why we’re in education, right, is to make that impact.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 5:10
Absolutely. In our last Teacher Training Day, I remember talking to our teachers, and we actually did a journal reflection on our circle of influence. And if we worry about our circle of concern, and using Stephen Covey’s model, if we worry about our, you know, what’s going to come after Omicron. And when we have to go remote, if we worry about these things beyond our control, it shrinks our influence. So we actually set three areas that we wanted to impact that were in our circle of influence, moving into second semester, you know, and so I can impact how I welcome our new students and how I am totally present when I visit the classrooms. But I can’t impact if we have to go remote. So I think that alone, really is an important stress reduction tool. And I also just want to comment, you’re like, oh, yeah, on a book and a book. I did one book and it was super duper hard. So you make it sound so casual, but congratulations, two books is amazing.

Dan Tricarico 6:13
Thank you. Yeah, well, it’s always been something I’ve loved to do. And so I, I think it’s fine. If I don’t write, I feel a little off, I get a little cranky. So it’s something that I try to do as often as possible. But thank you. Yeah, I think that Stephen Covey’s where I found that idea too, of being within the circle of your control. And what you made me think of is that it’s really two sided, that not only, you know, are you able to reduce the stress, but on the other side, it’s very empowering, because then we do have control. And we have as educators, we have more control than we think. And, you know, it gets easy, especially with the teachers martyr narrative, which in my opinion, needs to end yesterday, and the, you know, the gaslighting that sometimes happens in the education profession, you know, we think we can’t control anything. And like, as you said, even within the course of our day, in the classroom, there are a million things of choices that we have. And so you know, lean into that and recognize that and identify those places where you have control. But yeah, we can’t control Omicron, we can’t control for going remote. The other thing, you know, this goes back to Viktor Frankl is, we can control when we do go remote, or when the next variant does come along, we can control our response to that. We are in control of that.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 7:30
I love that. And Viktor Frankl is such an icon. I mean, if he can do that as a prisoner of war. Yeah, I think I can do that during a pandemic 100%. Absolutely. So your mission is wonderful to help teachers Thrive both inside and outside the classroom. Yes. How would you assess the teacher situation as this pandemic drags on?

Dan Tricarico 8:00
I try to be a positive person. But I also owe you honesty. And I will say it’s bad if we are not in a good place. And there’s a million reasons for that. And I’ll just touch on a couple ideas. couple thoughts right now is one. And this is really something I hope your listeners internalize is when teachers went from, you know, march 13, is when almost everybody shut down. I think I know that’s when our school stop of 2020. And when we stopped and teachers pivoted and took their programs from in the class to online within a week, sometimes within days, they got all this a praise and applause and you know, are heroes and dah dah dah dah, dah. And then when we said hey, we don’t feel safe going back yet we want to continue to work from home. Everybody’s I owe you slackers, you’re lazy. You just want you know, the time off, you already have summers, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. And it was just whiplash Marine, it was like, Oh my gosh, what happened? And what I hope the listeners really internalize is none of that is true. You know, it’s we can’t listen to the good or the bad. It’s like being a famous actor or something. You know, don’t read the bad reviews, but then you can’t listen to the good reviews either. Just do your thing. Just do the work. However, and be true to yourself, be true to your own value system and belief system. Now I will say as an aside kind of in a stage whisper, but you are all heroes to me. Because I was Sarah and I did it and taking that program from the classroom online because you had to this you know, because you want it to it within a week or days was heroic, just full stop Period End of story

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 9:43
up so lately I agree and I feel really blessed that in our micro school, all of our teachers are vaccinated boosted now that our sixth graders can be vaccinated everybody. All of our students are vaccinated and getting boosters as soon as five months have passed. So and even still, it’s hard work keeping middle schoolers six feet apart. And when they take their masks off for lunch to remain a part, it’s a lot of work and a lot of stress, even though we feel a little safer with windows open, it’s frigid in the classrooms is so I agree. And I can’t imagine the teachers that have multiple kids every period and no idea who’s vaccinated who’s not what’s going on, who’s been out in group settings, our community is committed to not being in group settings and to quarantining after they’ve had air travel. So we are able to contain that. And I can only imagine how much more stressful it is, for teachers in the public school trenches.

Dan Tricarico 10:47
Thank you. Yes, it you know, again, I have 36 when it when I went back in May of last year, because I ran out of leave time, and don’t even get me started on that I had to go back is they were still doing the six feet apart and desks in my classroom had been taped off. In my absence, I taught at home for 15 months. But in the fall, it kind of was like business as usual, which was, in my opinion, not safe. And so I was messed up, we the mandate was you had to wear masks. But then as you said, there’s so many thing, things to manage above and beyond your curriculum of, here’s my impression of me being in the classroom every day Marine, put put your mask up. No, it’s got to cover the nose and the mouth. No, do you know, constantly, every period? Yep. And, and often and I’m not, I’m not dissing these kids, because a lot of times ms don’t fit or, you know, there are things going on at home or whatever. But it was the same kids every day, you know, and so, you know, there’s all of that stuff. And then I don’t want to go too far down this road. But it’s a reality of the situation is I know, teachers who are anti masking anti vaccination, and that complicates things. And I’m going to say on both sides, because because there’s a tension and there’s a, a subtext and an underlying underlying friction. Yes, that just makes the whole thing harder. Right. So I personally, and I don’t again, I don’t run things by I feel we should still be remote right now. Especially when, you know, the numbers got bad again, with Omicron and everything like that. I again, here was my circle influence is I had been wearing cute cloth masks, you know, I figured might as well have some fun with this. I had a Scooby Doo one in a Flintstones, bear one, you know, my kids don’t even know who Yogi Bear is. But you know, I had that, you know, on. And then, you know, I had friends who, you know, we’re kind of the ones who literally during, you know, the 15 months, I was kind of didn’t go out of their house at all. They were like, hey, those are not strong enough for the Omicron. So I upgraded it’s less fun, but I’m wearing the 95 they can 95 now and it’s it’s something I can do to feel a

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 12:52
little safer in your circle of influence in my

Dan Tricarico 12:55
circle of influence. And it’s not, you know, it’s not as fun because I like I have a Batman mask Batman, it’s my favorite. You know, he’s like, favorite.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 13:02
Yeah, and these tan 95 They, I see why they’re better. They suck to our faces. So I feel a little claustrophobic wearing it. But I we are wearing those now because it is safer.

Dan Tricarico 13:13
And you know, I’ll tell you this is, you know, again, I don’t want to be negative. And we can move on from this. But I’ll tell you right now, I am doing Shakespeare in all five of my classes. Okay, all masked, and we can’t hear each other, and there’s no articulation. And you know, but here’s the thing, too. And this is where it goes back to the Zen Marine is, I have to say, this is what is this is where we are and accept that. And the acceptance lowers my stress. And the recognition of this is what it is lowers the stress. And then not having an anticipated outcome of you know, yelling and screaming about we should be online or remote. But just saying, I’m going to go in, I’m going to protect myself the best I can and accept what is right now is the best approach, and it lowers my stress.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 14:02
Love it. So, Dan, that’s one good example, what would be a couple of things that you think would be really key recommendations for our educators that are listening, what can they do? And I think recognizing what is and coming to a place to accept that understanding our circle of influence and staying in there. What else would you recommend?

Dan Tricarico 14:28
One of the things that I keep going back to and that’s a great question is the idea that we all know as educators, we are not operating at the top of our game. Yeah. And giving yourself permission for that to be okay. And to say it’s not your fault. You know, that in different circumstances you would be kind of, you know, operating at a higher level, but just doing what you can we’re all kind of in survival mode right now. And I don’t use that as an excuse or a rationalization for you know, cremation. Some plants or, you know, chillin in the classroom or whatever, but it’s the idea that again, it is what it is, and you’re doing the best you can and you can’t beat yourself up. Because that’s just going to add to the stress. If you’re beating yourself up on top of things not going the way you want, yeah, knowing that everything is temporary, even the good stuff, right? Everything is temporary, this too shall pass. I keep telling people we will get out of this. I know two years, it’s hard, you’re in the eye of the storm, it feels like holy cow, we’re never gonna get out of this. And I have those moments too. But knowing that, you know, there was a pandemic in 1918. And for most of my life, I didn’t have to wear a mask because these things kind of stabilized and and get out of it. Right? So just understand that, that you’re okay, right now you’re in survival mode, you’re doing the best you can and that’s okay.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 15:49
I love that permission. Yes,

Dan Tricarico 15:53
yes. And nobody else can give it to you. If only you can give you that right.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 15:57
And very Buddhist, that concept of impermanence. I’ve really gotten back into my practice of meditation, because survival mode it, it helps me and so yeah, that peace of, you know, equanimity. This is whether it’s good or bad. It’s impermanent and not getting so emotionally caught up in everything, I think, is super important. Is there another suggestion that you think would be really key?

Dan Tricarico 16:22
Oh, my gosh, I was just gonna say, Can I share another thought I didn’t want to. I’ll try to do this quickly. I talked about something I called the Five S’s. I don’t know if we talked about it last time, but it’s stillness, silence, space, subtraction, and slowing down. Always good ideas. I say the five S’s are always available. And they’re always free. But the two that have been super helpful in this current situation for me, are stillness and silence. Because we don’t have those in our culture. And we certainly haven’t really had those in a pandemic, stop the Doom, scrolling, stop looking at the headlines, go to a place where you can be still and silent. And just give that gift to yourself. So that you just breathe as you say, or meditate, pray, whatever your jam is, and just decompress, where you’re apart from all of the madness. And you’re apart from all of the insanity. And you’re just taking care of you. Because you’re honoring your own space. And being with yourself, which is very good company, by the way. And just taking care of yourself by by going. And it’s very rebellious. And it’s very subversive, because our society is loud, loud, loud, go, go go. So to just calm yourself by by giving yourself the gift of stillness and silence, I think has really helped me.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 17:38
I love that and you know, that affirms I would not let my husband take down our Christmas tree until late January. And I spent a lot of mid December to late January, in the dark with just the Christmas tree on no music, no podcast. And he was just I was craving that. And I hadn’t really put it into the stillness and silence into the five s concept. But yeah, I needed counterbalance, and much more stillness and much more space and and slowing it down much more than I have other holiday seasons. So that’s an affirmation that we can give ourselves these five S’s and be countercultural. I love that. Yeah,

Dan Tricarico 18:21
I grew up in the 60s and 70s. It’s just a you’re gonna do? Yeah, I’m a hippie at heart.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 18:26
Love it. I want to shift to other stakeholders. So what do you see our school leaders who are super invested in learning? What would be a suggestion of something they could be doing right now to help teachers get through this tough time?

Dan Tricarico 18:43
That is about for whole other podcast episodes.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 18:46
But okay. You back what were your your top top suggestion for administrators,

Dan Tricarico 18:53
you know, I feel for them, I have a great deal of empathy, because they are really stuck in the middle is they have to take care of the teachers, but then they have to execute the mandates from the district, the state, etc. So they are really caught in the middle. The problem that I see first is that a lot of times, they will pay lip service to things like oh, teachers, you got to take care of yourself. But here are 40 Other things you need to do. And that’s not helping. But then the teachers are like, very critical of admin and district level. But they don’t have the whole picture. You know, they don’t know what these administrators and leaders are up against. So that causes a lot of trouble. But for the leaders, what can they do? Well, of course, because there are people they can do all the things we’ve been talking about the five S’s the stillness, the silence, to giving yourself permission to take care of yourself, all of that. But I think one thing that’s coming to mind is genuinely and sincerely taking care of their staff will benefit them almost in a selfish you know, circular, completing the circuit kind of way because if you have a staff that is stressed out and on fumes and at their wit’s end. It’s just gonna make life more difficult for you. So if you could find a way, and I don’t know, that’s going to look different for every school, every administrator, etc. But like I said, a lot of times we hear like I heard a teacher say the other day, I’m tired of talking about self care. I thought about that for a minute. And I thought, yes, it’s become a buzzword, but you’re tired of talking about it? Yes, yes, talking about it. That’s, that’s all we’re doing. If you’re practicing it, if you’re implementing if the if the leaders would have sort of a more genuine and sincere approach to it and provide opportunities, I think things would be a lot better. Now, again, we’re restricted on funding, we’re restricted on time or restricted on mandates from the state. So again, you look at that circle of influence. And you say, how can I genuinely help my staff? Whether I mean, some schools have have created a Zen room some give, you know, I saw and I’m just going to put this out there because and I checked on it. And as far as I can tell, it’s it’s legit. There was a school district in Virginia that just said, we’re taking two weeks off. I mean, think about the magnitude of that. They said for our to our teachers mental health, okay, I’ll take you at face value, I’ll take your word for that. It may have been for 72 Other reasons. But who cares, because then the teachers have that break that they need. And that was a massive, that was a bold move, and they did it. And so I would like to see schools and districts in the state recognize the crisis situation that we’re in, where there are no subs, where teachers are leaving the profession in droves. And and put your money where your mouth is, Oh, you gotta be fired up. Now, Marie, I tell you, I

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 21:42
love it. No, I think you’re completely right. And, and I also am that administrator stuck in the middle and trying to walk my talk. I know, I approached you do. It’s tricky. But I approached our board. And we agreed on two more non school days. So personal days for teachers for second semester, a couple teachers said, we want to go Axe Throwing for the second half of the day. And some others were like, Oh, we have too much to do no and so much stress. But enough teacher said let’s do it. So we went X during who knew?

Dan Tricarico 22:15
Hopefully not at the district office, though? I mean, just you know, just

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 22:19
Yes. Oh, my gosh, it was so it was wonky. And and it was it was really fun.

Dan Tricarico 22:24
And it really says that blow soft.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 22:27
Yeah. So and we have our lowest student teacher ratio ever, just to kind of to make it easier. And even. So it’s not easy, but I hear you, I hear teachers not seeing all of it. I see teachers feeling like there’s lip service. It’s tricky. And I want to shift to another stakeholder group. What can parents do to help us in the schools?

Dan Tricarico 22:51
You are, you’re touching a lot of nerves and pressing my buttons today. Somehow, I don’t know how this happened. And I’ve been in the classroom for 30 years, but somehow people assume they can do what we do. And that they’re better at it than we are. And that’s frankly, just inaccurate. I saw a meme the other day, and I’m not a sports guy. So I hope I get this right. And I don’t know if this is true or not, but it’s representative of what I’m talking about. Because I run my life by Facebook memes. So it’s it said that this athlete, Harris Bader, I think his name was he was a centerfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals stepped up and was, you know, heard that the school was having a hard time. And so went in and substituted for a day. Awesome. Cool. I think it’s so cool of him to step up and offer to do that, people Sorry, I’m gonna I’m gonna out you here and people. If this audio, they can’t see that, you just furrowed your brow. Like, what is that? Oh, and that’s my point. Is that? Okay? Yeah. And In related news, I will be playing centerfield for the St. Louis Cardinals in their next game, because of course, anybody can throw around a little piece of rubber and thread and leather. And how hard can it be? I’ve seen a baseball game I can do it. Yeah, this connects.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:09
I mean, so many thoughts go through my head. Okay, so they did the fingerprinting and sent them off to the FBI and did the background check on this guy, right, all within 12 hours. And they explained the class roster, the curriculum, the scope and sequence and explained all the personalities and the kids with their different needs. And floors. Yeah, walk in and address all of that. And yes, sometimes Warm Bodies are Volga mirror. Yeah. And if we can get somebody so that there’s somebody present for those kids, if there aren’t any subs. That’s duct tape, but that’s just duct tape. Yes. So I

Dan Tricarico 24:43
understand the crisis. I understand the shortage and they do need somebody in there. Otherwise you’re bringing them into the auditorium and putting on Encanto or whatever. You know,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:52
that that’s the same as like a really nice babysitter, a 12 year old watching my kids and me parenting my kids, the 12 year old The 12 year old babysitter’s gonna make sure that they go to bed and that they turn out their light and read them a bedtime story. follow my directions, but they’re not the parent and they don’t understand the big picture. So what would you want? If you could tell parents one thing? What would you tell our parents?

Dan Tricarico 25:17
Trust us? Because here’s the thing, Maureen. We were talking, we’re doing Romeo and Juliet, we were talking about what’s the most important quality in a romantic relationship, and we kept coming back to trust in any relationship. Trust is key. Yeah. And I wouldn’t be talking about this, if it hadn’t happened to me, when the parents are like, Why are you doing that you shouldn’t be doing that I know better about how to teach my kid. It’s, there’s a disconnect. And it’s, and it’s not. And again, there’s, it’s it kind of all goes back to the tension and the friction. And if, if I trust that you know how to parent and you trust that I know how to teach, as has happened for many, many years, it goes a lot better, a lot more smoothly.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:02
Absolutely. I love that. And I think we do need to have you back on and unpack many more concepts. Because this is just the tip of the iceberg and are really feeling this, and you’re a buffer in this storm. So I really this spring, let’s make sure we have your back on. That would be great. I want to pivot and just tap into you, Dan, and ask you some turbo time questions.

Dan Tricarico 26:29
Sure. This is the fun part.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:30
Yeah, I think it’s always cool to unpack the speaker and not just the topic. So can you tell me what’s the last book you read?

Dan Tricarico 26:39
You know, well, I’m currently reading The memoir of Mel Brooks about me because he’s one of my Comedy Idols because I love comedy. And it’s fascinating to hear all the stories from the 50s and 60s and 70s, about how he did his shows and started in show business and all the movies he made. And it’s just been a hilarious romp, and I’m having a great time with it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:58
Oh, my gosh, I bet. How about two inspirational folks you’d love to meet?

Dan Tricarico 27:04
I always look up to the writer Anne Lamott. And the writer and researcher Brene Brown, I might even have a teeny tiny crush on Brene. Brown. But I just think she’s amazing. And, and I always love their work.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 27:18
Yeah, it’s an and it’s spiritual. It moves me. Yes. And Brene is like walks through the vulnerability talks. Oh, I am. So with you on that. How about a favorite place to travel?

Dan Tricarico 27:30
Oh, my gosh, I’m not a super big traveler. And so what I will tell you is I live in San Diego, California. And the other day, I told my dad, I want to thank your grandfather for bringing the family out to San Diego, California and in 1952, or whatever it was. Because now I just get to live here. And it’s like paradise to me. And I’ve born and raised here, but I never ever take it for granted. And I try to be a tourist in my own town. I love the San Diego Zoo. And I love the beaches and I love the mountains. And there’s a place called double park. That’s my favorite place in the world. So I travel right here. I traveled about 2020 minutes away.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:03
You know what I hear you your location was my central Washington upbringing, our vacation, we would get to go down to Coronado visit us in San Diego. And it was like our dream. We looked forward to it. We got to do about two or three different summers. So yeah, you are in a prime location.

Dan Tricarico 28:23
Thank you. And here’s the trade off is I have three jobs to cover. And you know, other people are like I’m out of here. And then they want they buy there. They sell this house and they go someplace else and they buy the new house cash. And I’m like, Well, okay, that’s you know, yeah, I guess if that’s what you want to do. But I’m willing to to grind to stay here because just even looking out the windows on most days. I’m just like, oh my gosh, I’m so lucky.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:49
Yes. How about a TED Talk that inspires you?

Dan Tricarico 28:54
I’m going to go back to Brene Brown and her vulnerability. I’ve showed it in class. I’ve watched it several times. It never fails to inspire me. Love it. Whatever Netflix special. Oh,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:05
yes. Yes. Yeah, she’s omnipresent. I actually got to see her in person in Seattle prepared. Oh, my goodness.

Dan Tricarico 29:14
It was so cool. It was really cool.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:16
Yes. Um, what’s the biggest thing you wish folks knew about? How Our teachers are faring right now?

Dan Tricarico 29:26
Hmm. That we care about their children?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:30
Ah, yes. How sad. Sad that that’s getting lost.

Dan Tricarico 29:37
Yes, it is getting lost. And I didn’t realize that until I just said it. And it’s making me a little emotional. Ditto. Yes.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:45
How about a passion you bring to them teaching?

Dan Tricarico 29:51
Humor, I think is so important, especially in tough times. You know, and again, I have to go back to thanking my dad because he gave me two things that I say have saved my life, which is music and humor. I was brought up on classic rock and funniness. And, and those, and when things get tough, I go to those two things.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:12
Love it. And then I’d like to wrap up with a magic wand moment. And so if you did have this magic wand and were omnipotent, what would you wish? Overall for schools right now?

Dan Tricarico 30:30
Respect for teachers. And, or Okay, in fairness, I would say more respect for teachers, I’m sure there are people who do respect teachers and what they do enough resources for them to do what they can do to be at the top of their game, whether that’s money or supplies, or what have you. And time, time, and that really is a magic wand situation. And I know we all have the same 24 hours. But in education, I always feel rushed. Mm hmm. So those would be my magic wand wishes.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:05
Amen. I agree with all three. Dan, thank you for being this buffer for helping us have resources to be mindful and to de stress and promise me you’ll come back in a month or two and add to this conversation.

Dan Tricarico 31:22
Oh, my gosh, I have to come back because talking today helped me clarify how I feel about these things. So of course, anytime.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:29
Thank you.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:39
Wow, Dan has so much to offer us that is very needed right now, for educators and for all of us. His drama background is a wonderful resource. As we talk about how self care can look in the middle of a seemingly endless pandemic. Actors have to be fully in the moment, paying attention to things as specific as their breath. They know what they can influence and what they need to take off their radar to be fully present. Getting into that circle of influence can help all of us be in the moment and not carrying worries of the past or future on our shoulders. I hadn’t framed the teacher experience as one of whiplash until Dan addressed that they have gone from hero to feeling undervalued. And that lens helps my understanding of why so many teachers are leaving the profession, even in the middle of the school year. I agree with Dan, our teachers remain heroes, how they do as much as they do in an outdated and ineffective system. With so many meaningless boxes to check off is a wonder. I encourage all of us to lean into dance five S’s, stillness, silence, space, subtraction, and slowing down. Less is definitely more right now. Saying no to as many non essentials as possible means we can say yes to our well being. Since we’re talking alphabet soup, I like to look through my to do list through the lens of three Ds. My questions are, what can I delete? What can I defer? And what can I delegate? These questions are my way of doing the subtraction Dan refers to and when I take time to create clarity on my priorities, and to do the simple practice of setting up my top three goals for the day. And defining completing those three goals as a success, then I have a much more grounded sense moving forward, that focus pays off. Dan balances his empathy with an awareness of what he calls the teacher martyr narrative. This was interesting to me. He reminds us that teachers have choices and that he does not buy into teachers as powerless martyrs. I’ve added in the shownotes Man’s Search for Meaning Victor Frankel’s seminal work, it addresses the power we have, even in horrible circumstances over what we choose. One of Victor Frankel’s quotes that aligns with our topic is life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks we constantly sets for each individual. Agree, my fervent hope is that we can evolve education so that teachers don’t feel like the way they take responsibility for their well being, is to leave the profession. And so that students don’t survive. They’re learning with no sense of what to pursue after receiving their diploma. So I know I need to take this quote, to heart, I need to take responsibility to help find the right answers to our problems in the broken institution of education. And I also know it means more tasks constantly being set for me, and all those striving for relevant and equitable learning that serves all learners. no easy answers here. But definitely Wayshowers to help us, like Viktor Frankl then dipped back into Zen thinking, reminding us that we can get very clear on what is and this recognition and acceptance of our reality lowers stress. I know I increase my amount of anxiety when I focus on what isn’t working the way I want it to. So this was a good reminder for me. In the turbo time responses, I was again surprised by Dan, that what he most wants others to know about teachers is that, quote, we care about their children, and quote,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 36:35
to me, that should be a no brainer. Teachers push through an often thankless profession, with many external demands that feel irrelevant, and still managed to make a difference to many of our youth. Of course, educators care about our children. I also appreciate that Dan understands administrators are not willingly wearing black hats. His empathy for how often we administrators are stuck in the middle was welcome. I know I need to balance the needs of our students, those of our teachers, the expectations of our parents, graduation requirements, and resources on hand on a regular basis, it is not easy to be an administrator. And that reminds me of the humorous quote, a compromise is an agreement whereby both parties get what neither of them wanted. It seems like anytime I can reach that compromise, there is that sense that people are still not satisfied. But most administrators I know strive to align with the school mission and what is best for learners. Teachers rarely see the whole elephant which unfortunately can make them feel unsupported. That said, administrators, what more can we do to lighten the load our teachers are carrying to walk the talk of self care and not just suggest self care on their own time. Dan’s magic wand is one we all need to hear, trust our teachers, build more respect for teachers and give them resources they need, especially time so they can be on top of their game. Our teachers deserve no less. And of course, our learners will benefit as well. In closing, I have this message for our teachers. You are priceless frontline workers. I trust the work you do with our learners and respect you. Thank you for your service.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 39:04
I know how challenging it is to make changes inside your own school or community. I spent years traveling working with schools around the world on creating learner centered programs and it always struck me on how much schools were able to get them with the right tools and guidance. If you’re ready to make changes like this in your school, or to start a new school, let’s talk and put together an action plan. Visit education forward slash consult for a free 15 minute call. And let’s see if we’re a good fit for more work together.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 39:48
Education evolution listeners you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen heard, valued and thriving. We need you Let’s go out and reach every student today. Leaving a rating and review for this podcast lets others know that you find it a value. Add it gets in the earbuds of more educational leaders like you. Thank you listeners, signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.

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