Zen Teaching with Dan Tricarico
March 23, 2021
managing burnout

As academic trailblazers, we take the current educational system on our shoulders and attempt to create lasting change for today’s young learners. Do you want to know a genuinely radical and revolutionary act that will deepen your impact and allow you to succeed beyond your current potential?

Self-care.

Today we are joined by educator, author, and Zen teacher Dan Tricarico, who reminds us that self-care is a necessity, not a luxury. Dan reminds us of the importance of creating an attitude of gratitude, trusting the moment, and combating burnout.

Listen in as we talk about using Zen teaching to break through educational bureaucracy. If we can’t change the system, we have to change how we operate within the system and ourselves.

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, Dan is a national speaker who shares his expertise and insight to show teachers how to reduce their stress and improve their self-care so that they can thrive both inside and outside the classroom. Learn more about Dan and his teaching on his website or by subscribing to his podcast. You can also follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Jump Through the Conversation

  • [2:01] Dan’s final straw
  • [5:11] Exploring the irony of self-care
  • [7:42] Reducing stress with the Five S’s
  • [10:04] Creating an attitude of gratitude and detachment
  • [18:04] Universal Design for Learning (UDL) vs. state testing
  • [30:06] Dan’s Magic Wand to change the system of education so that all teachers can flourish and break loose from top-down mandates
  • [32:45] Maureen’s take-aways

Links and Resources:

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
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 and the micro school coalition, where we are fiercely Committed to changing the narrative to 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?

Hey, Dan, it is so good to have you on education evolution today.

Dan Tricarico
Thanks. Great to be here.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
And listeners. Today I’m chatting with Dan tricker. Rico, who after 30 years as a high school English teacher 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, Dan is an author and 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. And I have his books and links all in the show notes. So let’s learn from Dan. What was the final straw that led you to transform yourself into a Zen teacher?

Dan Tricarico
Well, I think the final straw was that within the space of a couple of years, we lost three different teachers in my own English department. And I looked around and I said, I can’t do that. I had 10 years to go before retirement. And I had you know, a family and a mortgage and all the things and I thought I have to figure out some way to go the distance. And so I started writing the blog, and I was fortunate enough to get the blog turned into a book. And they were I always say that the blog and the book, were all reminders for me. And so if they, you know, work for other people, that’s awesome. And now I tell people, here’s what worked for me, take what works, throw out what doesn’t, but I hope that I’m some help.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
I love it. And it doesn’t it seem to be that way that we teach what we most need to learn.

Dan Tricarico
Absolutely. And one thing I learned that I and I put it in my second book sanctuary is that serving is really important. And the irony is that when you serve and you help other people, you feel better. And, and that was like magic to me. And I didn’t really realize that until I started doing it. And so I’m very grateful that and gratitude is a whole other thing we can talk about, but very grateful that I was able to get out of that phase. And and now I’m not worried I know I’m going to make it through.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Yes. And you know that serving. It works so well. For our youth too. There’s so much anxiety and depression and Emma micro school, we pre pandemic Fridays we were out and about in the community. And oftentimes it was service. And those kids are lit up and it’s like, oh my gosh, who knew how many pounds of rice we could be filling for this food bank and bagging rice and or digging potholes. It wasn’t that it was anything extraordinary. It was just that sense of I have something to contribute, I have efficacy and and it’s so powerful for all of us. So good for you for sharing your learnings with other teachers, because we have so much attrition and so much burnout and impossible expectations in a broken system. So I’m sure a lot of people share your pain and have also benefited and had relief from what you share with them.

Dan Tricarico
Yeah, and you know, it’s funny, I’m going to jump back to something you just said, which is the fact that it’s a broken system. And I’ve been there for 30 years, and I love teaching. I’ve loved every minute of it, but there is no denying that the system is broken. And I thought and we talked about this off air in our last discussion, but I thought well, I I personally didn’t feel like I could change the system. But what I could change was me. And I had you know, like Stephen Covey talks about working within your circle of influence. Yeah. And I felt like well, I can change what I do and how I approach things. So I focused on that.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
I love it. And that’s the Serenity Prayer. You know, what do we have the power to change and then do we have the courage and you did have the courage and then to play big and write about it and write books on it and speak on it. So that’s huge. I’m wondering, what do you see as the most common struggles that our teachers face?

Dan Tricarico
Well, I feel that probably the biggest struggle that I see teachers face is the sort of I’ll call it irony. I’ll be diplomatic and say the irony of districts and admin teams saying, Hey, take care of yourself. Self Care is so important, while at the same time shoveling on 400 other things that we’re supposed to do, and not and not really seeing the the discrepancy there. And somebody told me the other day, you know, you know, and I get that, you know, there are fads, and self care is a fad that kind of came along. And now people, there’s a little backlash, oh, or were we talking about self care again, and somebody said, teachers are tired of talking about self care? And I said, Yeah, they’re tired of talking about it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Yes.

Dan Tricarico
They need to do something about it. And they need the support that they’re not getting. So I think that’s the biggest struggle.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
It is, it is I am a part of a big picture learning advisory group around the US. And I’m listening to some people in the Midwest that is like, Yeah, do all this student interest driven on top of District benchmark tests and state tests and everything else? And they just feel so sad and overburdened, and make this relational make it relevant. While you’re so exhausted, you can’t even function. Right. Exactly. The irony there? Yes. Yeah. So the system needs to change, and politicians need to take the state tests away. And, and districts need to take some of these things away and trust educators as the professionals, and we need to value our kids

Dan Tricarico
Dream world.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
I know. But I am so excited by all of you amazing people that are on my podcast doing this. And I know we can pull together and and flip this. I think we’re getting to a tipping point. And I think during the pandemic, parents are seeing how dead the learning is and remembering Oh, yeah, I hated going from cover to cover on textbooks to Ah, so hopefully, we’re getting to a shift in the meantime. First, I think your your content is not just to teachers. No, it’s now our teachers, business people are working from home. I think your self care, Zen like messages for all of us. So I hope that our listeners if they if they’re not teaching right now, don’t feel like this isn’t about them, because it is and so for teachers and people, right now, what would you recommend to reduce stress?

Dan Tricarico
You know, it’s funny, you’re absolutely right. I always tell people that this the things that I write about, I just happen to aim them at teachers, because I’m a teacher, but they work for everybody. I said, I didn’t invent meditation, you know, that’s, you know, that it’s 1000s and 1000s of years old, and I’m not quite that old. You know, so I didn’t invent my mindfulness, you know, so if these concepts work for everybody, but when people say, you know, what’s, what’s something that that you can do right now, to deal with the stress, I always go back to what I call the five S’s, which are stillness, silence, space, subtraction, and slowing down. And the, here’s another irony is that our culture doesn’t value any of those. And so he really has to be an intentional on purpose choice, to be still to slow down to be silent. You know, the white noise in this world is insane. And to just find some moments, if it’s in the morning, with your morning coffee, or at night before you go to bed, to just turn everything off and be silent. Is is I always say silence is a gift we give ourselves. Yeah, no. So there’s that. And I also think that, you know, it’s tough because, you know, a lot of times the white noise is distraction. Because when you are silent, it’s like when you you know, you go to bed at night and things are still in silent. And then you have to face what is and sometimes what is isn’t always pretty, and you don’t want to face it. So you go do lalalala I am not listening, right? I have that distraction stuff going on, and people get used to that. But when you are silent and still, and you face those things, things improve. But you have to get through that tough part of being able to practice that and give that gift to yourself. And then things get better.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
I completely agree. Yes. So your book, first book, that’s the title kind of gives us some some sense of direction. The Zen teacher focused simplicity and tranquility in the classroom. So how do we get to that focus, simplicity and tranquility. What I mean in a nutshell,

Dan Tricarico
Well, again, I recommend the five S’s that’s a that’s a good first start. I also Talk in the book about things like gratitude. I say that, you know, when you have a some kind of gratitude practice, and you’re looking at what you’re grateful for in your life, it’s really difficult to be unhappy. Yes, there’s always something to be grateful for, there’s always something going well, regardless of all the negativity or the problems or challenges that you have. So if you can just shift the lens, then you know, that’s going to be better. I think detachment is another thing, another Zen concept that I talked about, about. And of course, teachers have to have goals and objectives and outcomes and all of those things. But if you’re not attached to them, you have the magic and the art of teaching where you get to go where they lead you and, and sometimes you end up in a better place. Sometimes you end up in, you know, times, and I’m going to confess this out loud. Sometimes when when I have gone into the class, and I didn’t have a clear lesson plan or a very strong lesson plan. And I quote, unquote, winged it, I was so focused. And so in the moment that we ended up going to a magic place that I couldn’t have anticipated. And I thought, well, no, I don’t recommend winging it all the time. But there is that, that kind of moment that just happens when you when you just let things go, where they’re gonna go.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
I professionals like you, the art of teaching comes out in those teachable moments like, Whoa, this comment just came up, pivot lesson. And it’s really about the teachable moment and the magic. So honoring that and honoring that flow, I love the, the mantra, this or something better, right. And a lot of times, I’m like reaching out to people like you and say, Hey, I’m not sure about what this will bring, but I really want to connect with you. And then I’m blown away. It’s like, oh, okay, we have all these things in common. And we have the synergy. So yeah, trusting that. And also letting go that detachment I actually have a mantra, my Whitestone practice for this year, my one word is actually three, it’s let period it period go. And sure enough, embeded night, I’m like, I relaxed. Oh, did I do this? Could I do that? And it’s like, breathe. And I just have to tell myself, Let it go, let it go. And then I’m asleep. But boy, my brain my mind wants to, to not detach. So your suggestion of detachment is when I need to keep hearing,

Dan Tricarico
I tell this story about how when I was a young parent, I came home one night, and you know, I was really tired. And you know, we and we just said, well, we’re too tired to cook. Let’s just go to the burger joint and get a hamburger. And you know, so I went to the restaurant brought it back. And I don’t remember what the problem was with the hamburger. But you know, maybe it had something on it. I didn’t want or whatever. But I kind of pushed it away. And I huffed and puffed and I said, Oh, I can’t believe I work so hard. And I can’t even have a burger the way I want it. And I say now, you know, like I said, I don’t remember what the problem was. But what I do remember is the fit it through and how it ruined the night for me and probably the people around me. And so now my mantra is there’ll be more burgers. And if something’s not going exactly the way you want right now, that’s okay. It’s temporary. Everything’s temporary. Every single thing is temporary. Yes, good and bad. And there’ll be others. And so that has allowed me that that detachment and really kind of eased my stress a lot.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
I love that there’ll be other burgers and there’ll be other burgers. And you know, when I have those rants, I realize that I am so overloaded, that I really work hard because it’s like I hate it. But I really work hard at loving myself forgiving myself and looking at what was underneath it because I needed something I was overextended or rushed or doing something the opposite of the five S’s that you mentioned, and I needed something and it was my inner body inner selves way of saying, hey, you’re out of balance. But boy, those are not pretty having those little rants.

Dan Tricarico
No, they’re not. And certainly the people around me. I mean, your family loves you. So they tolerate them, you know, but it’s it’s not good for them. It’s not ideal for them. So anything you can do to minimize that and mitigate the problem, I think is a good a good plan.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Yeah. What about burnout, I feel by the time we are just like lifeless and apathetic and just trudging on. It’s too late. We’ve hit burnout. And I know that’s a gigantic problem for teachers. So how can we using your, your research and what you’ve written on? How can we avoid burnout?

Dan Tricarico
Well, I always say that I feel that stress is the difference between what you’re doing and what you want to be doing. And so if you can, you know, and we’re going to it takes a tremendous amount of self awareness which Again, people are resistant to a lot of times they’re hesitant to look at themselves, honestly, because sometimes they don’t like what they see. And I get that I don’t either. But if you look at yourself and say, Okay, what? What do I really want to be doing here? Some people will have 30 year teaching careers, when they really don’t like teaching. And, and I understand bills, and I understand I can’t quit, and I get all that. But if you’re feeling stressed out, or you’re heading toward burnout, ask yourself, what is it I really want to be doing? And what steps can I take to move there, because I think even a few steps in that direction will lower the tension and the stress and the anxiety, and maybe give you a more clear lens through which to view where you’re headed, and where you want to be headed. So the stress is the difference between what you’re doing and what you want to be doing, and how can you close that gap.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
That is brilliant. And it’s so true. And that when we’re out of touch with that, and the extrapolation right away, I I’ve just been researching schools that are totally founded on student interest, and I just took an axe you wish I hadn’t even heard of this wonderful organization, I just took a workshop on purpose with one of my board members, and came away with my own mission statement. And everything would not be nice. If our high schools could set kids up to know their purpose, know their passions, know what they want to be doing, before they pick a college degree or a job, maybe even give them some practice in these real world things in high school, to launch them so that they don’t have a career 30 year career in teaching when they don’t like it, or they don’t take any my adult daughter calls it soul sucking job just to pay off student loan debts.

Dan Tricarico
Oh, yeah, don’t get me started on that. But you know, I have two daughters in college right now. And it’s just ridiculous. But you know, it is what it is what it is, I’m going to just detach from that I’m going to let it go. Like you said, Bree,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Wait a model?

Dan Tricarico
And we’ll figure it out. But yeah, I think that that’s a great idea. And again, I think the system, especially like I’ve been in the high school system for, you know, three decades, and, and again, I love it. So I always feel like I’m bad melting. And I don’t mean to, but the change happens so slowly, if it happens at all, in those systems, and structures. And, you know, they don’t I sounds mean to say, but in some cases, they don’t want to hear it either. Right? You know, a lot

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
of cases Don’t, don’t confuse me with things like how are students mental health is? Or how this is outdated. I have a, I have transactions to continue with. Because I’m a manager Don’t ask me to be a leader.

Dan Tricarico
Yeah, wants to go into that place of of, we don’t know how it’s gonna turn out. And I think right now the big irony that I’ve noticed, and again, nobody wants to hear about it, is there’s a big push in UDL, universal design, learning, and you you tailor it to their their passions and interests and give them choice, which I’m all for. And then we have standardized testing. And I’m like, those two don’t go together. They don’t go together. But what So why do we have to continue? If we’re interested in UDL? Why do we have to go on with this a whole other topic? But why do we have to go on with a standardized testing? It doesn’t match up? There’s no Zen there to bring it back? You know? Yeah. And to your point, I think I think the reason that they do it is because their position is well because we’ve always done it. And we have to have data and we have to have the numbers and the metrics. And you know, okay, I get that I grew up in the 70s. And there wasn’t enough of that stuff. I’m the first to admit it, you know, it was all sit around and rap and talk about your feelings. And I love that.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
But Angela is way, way ahead, because we already always done this way. No business from the 70s. Or from, in this case from the 19th century, which is what our high school assembly line model is done. No business from the 1800s is still operating today. Because this is how we’ve always done things so that our public institutions are still saying this is how it’s done. No, the rotary phone was was around when you and I were growing up. There’s no kids today that would say that’s the only way no families and that’s the only thing we’re going to have as a rotary phone for communication in our houses. So no, that’s not okay. And you and I could rant on that. Yes, that we want. So, you have your books you do speaking I’m just wondering, you’re you’re teaching on top of this full time teaching. But what’s next for you and your mission? And Dan?

Dan Tricarico
Well, it’s kind of I think it’s kind of like what you said where I think these concepts work for everybody. And I wanted to kind of I’ve been looking into branching out and making these types of concepts and message available forever. And especially people in business, the corporate sector, I know that they’re dealing a lot with burnout. And, you know, stress a lot too. And again, I nobody, I certainly didn’t anticipate this global pandemic. And I said, I really kind of have a little bit of an obligation here to step up, given my message and help out. And I will tell you that we were released from school on March 13. So it’s been almost a year. And then the next day, I started a pop up Facebook group. And by the middle of the next week, there were over 500 teachers in it. And just it’s a place and I told them, I said, you know, you can get informed about what’s going on anywhere else that you want. But this place isn’t a waste this, this is not where we’re posting COVID updates. This is not where we’re listening, you know, news articles and things like that. This is where we talk about how do we take care of ourselves? How do we chill out? How do we relax? How do we navigate the tension and the stress of getting through this? And again, that place was an amazing resource for me, but hopefully helped other teachers as well, they say it has.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
So it sounds like true community. First, I’m going to advertise something, I’m going to throw something out there. But a real every now and then for connection. Yeah.

Dan Tricarico
But you know, cuz sometimes you I think it’s relevant and important to say, I’m doing all of this for free. But here are some things that I have some resources that I have, that do have a little bit of a price tag. And if you want to go deeper, yep, you know, here you go. But But yeah, I do a lot of you know, I have four or five, maybe five years, five or six years of blog posts. I keep saying for but Time keeps going on. About five or six years of blog posts on my website, the Zen teacher calm. I’m on Twitter, I do a free podcast called the Zen teacher experience. So there’s lots of free content that people can access to, hey, how do I get through this? You know?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Yes, yeah, no, I’m all about making sure you know, as you’re putting resources out there, plenty of free, but I also charge for my builder on micro school course, and my mastermind, a small school leaders. And for me, it’s how I can give back to the black life matters movement. So the charges are donations, right to a New Jersey, nonprofit. And that works for me because I like you. I’m, I’m working in a school. So I have a paycheck. And so yeah, it’s okay, that not everything is free. And I think sometimes we value things a little more, when there is a price tag. Yes, definitely. So I want to take a second and get to know you better before I do my capstone question. So I call this turbo time and, oh, Andrew morado did this when I was on his podcast, I just love that it gives a snapshot into the rest of you and not just what you’re known for.

Dan Tricarico
Sure. I don’t know how turbo the Zen teacher can be. But we’ll try.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Yeah, it’s you don’t have to you don’t have to wrap it you get to stay with that s of slowness. Oh, there we go. Slow and steady, slow and steady. So what’s the last book you read?

Dan Tricarico
It was a book called The big leap. And it talks about as I learned these entrepreneurial skills, which I never had to learn before, the idea of all the limiting narratives we tell ourselves that keep us from reaching our goals. And again, I think it could apply to anybody, not just business people, entrepreneurs. But that was kind of eye opening and mind blowing to read that really fascinating book.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Love it. I will put it in the show notes. And yeah, the challenge to live in our zone of genius. Okay, yes. And be happy all the time. And I’m with you on that. Yes. Awesome. Two inspirational folks that you would love to meet.

Dan Tricarico
I talk a lot about because I’ve learned so much from these people. I talk a lot about always wanting to meet Anne Lamott, who is a writer, and she was very disruptive because I read a lot about self care from her before I started this, and she kind of showed me that it is okay to take care of yourself. And that you can give yourself permission to do that. So am I definitely and of course, Brene Brown, because I think she’s amazing. I might have a teeny tiny crush on her, too. Yeah. She’s the best and I’ve read her books and I have not gotten over to her podcast yet. which I’m sure is amazing. But so those two people or two the first people that come to mind,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Yes. I’ve listened to a couple of her podcasts and Yep, it’s signature of Brene Brown and and I feel like I’m just right there. front row seat.

Dan Tricarico
Yeah. so down to earth and I love her sense of humor.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Yes. What is your favorite place to travel?

Dan Tricarico
I’m not much of a traveler. Okay. But I what I will tell you is that here in San Diego, California, there is a place called bubble Park. And it is one of the most peaceful, tranquil places Is that I’ve ever been, and I love going there. And I go there as much as I can. And I’ve been going there since I was a child. Because I was born and raised in San Diego. I lived for two years in Los Angeles. And the two things I missed were Balboa Park, and a place called seaport village, which is Down by the bay. So I go there as much as I can, it’s been a more challenging. The irony is I, as I’m teaching from home because of the pandemic, so I have more time. But it’s been more challenging, because I can’t get out as much. So I wish I could go. And I’ve been there a few times, but they just have museums, and there’s a reflection pond and just, you know, you can walk all around lots of grass, lots of beautiful trees. It’s just, I just, it’s just lovely. It sounds like I live in San Diego. You know, I know people are getting mad at me for saying this. But I’m like, why would I go anywhere? You know, I feel very grateful to be here every day.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Yes. What’s the biggest thing you wish folks knew about self care? That it’s possible, and that it’s okay.

Dan Tricarico
They need to give themselves permission. That’s the first step I always talk about, you know, is your worth it. You’re okay the way you are. But you need to take care of yourself because you can’t. So many of us go at this this rate. That’s not sustainable. And if we keep we’re gonna hurt ourselves. And so, you know, it’s not laziness, and it’s not selfish. And I always do say that my daughter one time said to me, are you sure you’re not just lazy and calling it philosophy? like, Well, okay, there might be a little overlap there sometimes. But generally, people feel like, Oh, I can’t stop. I can’t take care of myself. What will people think? I don’t care what people think. And the monk calls it radical self care? Well, it’s radical, because it’s not what other people are doing. You’re going to ruffle feathers, and they’re not going to understand. And you got to do it anyway.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Yes. What is a pet peeve of yours?

Dan Tricarico
Gosh, I have I have lots. Pick a really annoying one. Oh, my gosh, okay. I think I get very, I get very much on my high horse. And this is so unsend. But I get on my fight horse when I’m out driving, and I see people make maneuvers that I think are inconsiderate or dangerous. So I might have a tiny problem with road rage. You know? Because that’s what you would expect from a Zen teacher. Right? Like, yeah, I think it because it makes me feel like they’re, they’re not thinking of other people. And that makes me mad.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Yep. Yep. What’s your best morning routine tip?

Dan Tricarico
Again, I would have to go with silence is just spend some time being silent. And generally, for me, that’s and I’m very protective of this and very grateful for it is the time with my morning coffee, especially now that I’m home. Sometimes just a little soft jazz music, just slowly sipping my coffee. And as teachers, you know, when I’m in the classroom, I’ll make the coffee. Get that that coffee. And sometimes, you know, you set it down, and then it gets cold and you don’t ever get back to it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Right.

Dan Tricarico
So I would say the first step is just for me. So I stopped, I mindful, I take that first step I breathe it in, I smell the aroma. I take that first sip, and then and then it doesn’t then I detach, then it doesn’t matter what happens after that. If I get to drink the rest of the cup, that’s fine. If not. So that first sip of coffee, I would say is one of my morning routines.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
I want that I’m going to start doing that. Because that that mindful gift to myself. And then yeah, I have to put it down and life happens. Who cares? You had that one moment? Yes. What do you think is something positive that has come out of this COVID time?

Dan Tricarico
Time, I have just had more time. And I always say you know that in this life, there’s money and there’s time. And you can always get more money, but you can’t get more time. I felt that way since I did and people didn’t understand where I was coming from. But you don’t want more money. Not if it takes up time that I could be using to get my life back. Right? again. And so I’ve really been trying to appreciate even though you know, stuck in the house or in quarantine or whatever, really been trying to appreciate the the gift of time that I’ve been giving, I’ve been able to write, I’ve been able to catch up on some Netflix stuff. But you know, I do the work though, too. I just want to say that, you know, there’s just all this extra time that I wouldn’t normally have. So I’ve been very grateful for that.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Nice. What is something about you that most people don’t know?

Dan Tricarico
Probably that I started out as a drama major and an actor and that I had one line on the soap opera General Hospital and so that was my big claim to fame. There was a lot of fun, but it you know, the whole acting thing just ended up not being for me and I came back to teach and I loved it and I’ve been doing it for 30 years.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
That is fun. Okay, I always like to end the interview with a magic wand moment. Oh, so Dan, all of this time isolated from others is an opportunity to rethink our priorities and our systems. So if you had a magic wand, what changes would you make to education at a systemic level, so that our teachers could all be Zen teaching?

Dan Tricarico
Oh, my gosh, that’s like the best question I’ve been asked since I started this. I think you touched on it earlier in our conversation, which is, we are professionals, and we have training the same way, you know, and this, this is all different doctor, lawyer, whatever. But, you know, it’s, in some ways can measure it. And I think if the admin teams and the districts and the state even trusted our professional judgment more, I think that would be that would open up a lot of possibilities. I know, amazing teachers, I mean, mind blowingly, amazing teachers, who are just hamstring by the system, and cannot work their magic in the way that they should. Because they’re not, they’re not trusted. And what they’re suggesting that we do, or what they want to do, is just not in keeping with the status quo. And so it’s frowned upon and sometimes centered to the point of them getting in trouble, even, you know, and that’s just ridiculous. So I think, you know, trusting a professional trusting our professional judgment,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
yes, I completely agree. And the thing I see amazing teachers to do is put the emphasis on the relationships with the students, and also on real world learning and really empowering the kids. And it’s just crazy making because I’m looking at mental health issues for teens, skyrocketing anxiety, depression, isolation, and the relationships and then real world learning where it can connect to kids and, and make sense. It’s like the teachers have the solutions, and they’re said, um, yeah, that’s nice. But make sure you’ve covered all this content, and that the kid is gonna pass the state test. And then if you have a chance to see them as humans and make it all human centered, bonus. No, it’s not.

Dan Tricarico
It’s fundamental.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Absolutely. Well, Dan, I really appreciate all you are doing as the Zen teacher and sharing your resources with others. So thank you for joining us today.

Dan Tricarico
Of course, my pleasure.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Dan trigger Rico has Verizon Mike answers Disney. I’ve added his books and resources into the show notes. And he’s also a podcaster and has guested on others podcasts. So be sure to look him up and check him out. I appreciated Dan’s reference to the Stephen Covey circle of influence. I know when I focus on things outside of my control, it definitely adds to my stress. So that was a great reminder. And his five S’s, stillness, silence, space, subtraction, and slowing down. We’re also powerful. When we look at stress through the lens of it being the difference between what I’m doing and what I want to be doing. I really do think about our learners as well as our teachers. How can we make education relevant, and tie into what students want to be doing and what they’re curious and passionate about? And how can we help create systems and institutions where teachers can mentor and use their professional expertise to guide the learning conversation? We can’t get to the universal design learning that we know would serve kids if we have all of this irrelevant memorization based testing, and results being mandated. And the UDL is a framework and set of principles for curriculum development that give all our learners an equal opportunity to learn. as Dan said, teachers are trained professionals so we need to create ways that their professional judgment is trusted, more and external assessments are relied on less. Dan’s magic wand is spot on. School founder and kindness specialist Andy Smallman, talked more about teachers trusting their ability to sense and respond and go with those teachable moments. In Episode 10. Teachers could use more of their professional discretion to enhance learning if top down mandates were less restrictive. In closing, I just want to echo Dan on self care. It is possible and vitally important. You are worth it. It’s not lazy or selfish. Make that first sip of coffee or tea, a mindful moment just for you. Please take wonderful care of yourself. Thank you for being a part of the education evolution.

If you’re finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school, let’s talk about it. I consult with schools to help them find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s put together an action plan. Visit education evolution.org backslash consult to book a call and let’s get started.

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. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you for listening, signing off. I am Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

 

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