An Interview with Educational Coach Tara Dusko

TeacherVision Talks expert Tara Dusko from Teach Without Tears talks to us about the stress and pressure that comes with teaching and her quest to help teachers find a healthy work-life balance.

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Tara has known she wanted to be a teacher since she was in the second grade. A little over a decade later, she got what she wanted: her very own classroom. After teaching for 13 years, Tara went on to become a reading coach, where she spends her days helping teachers use a reading workshop model in their classrooms to meet the needs of their students.  

When Tara started teaching, however, she had no idea how much stress and pressure came with the job. All of the expectations and standards, along with the observations and paperwork, began to wear her down, and she recognized similar signs of stress in her colleagues. That’s why Teach Without Tears was born.

TV: What is Teach Without Tears?

Tara: Part of being a teacher means being a problem-solver. Tara saw the problem clearly: teachers were burning out from all of their teaching responsibilities and having to care for their own families. It wasn’t a sustainable model to continue. Tara recognized that in her own life. She began to develop strategies to cope with the stress and take back time for herself, and like every good teacher, she couldn’t keep it to herself. She began to share her effective strategies for coping with stress and achieving balance in teachers’ personal and professional lives on her blog called “Teach Without Tears”.

"Take a step back and evaluate how you’re using your time."

TV: Tell Us About Yourself; Where Did It All Start For You?

Tara: I have a master’s degree in education, and during my years in the classroom, my favorite thing was helping my students develop a love of reading. That was hard to do when I was teaching from packaged programs, so I was really excited when my principal introduced us to a reading workshop model. My students’ engagement soared when they could choose their own books and spend more time reading books they enjoyed. 

I also have a lot of experience finding a healthy work-life balance. As a mom of two and a full-time teacher, there were many years when self-care was put on the back burner. I slowly found ways to add in exercise, healthy eating, and “Me Time” while still caring for my students and my family. I love to share these strategies with other teachers!

TV: Why Did You Decide to Join us for Teachervision Talks?

Tara: When I joined the TeacherVision Advisory Board and started making resources for the website, I was so excited to help teachers relieve some of their stress with ready-to-use lessons and activities. TeacherVision Talks is a way to share what I’ve learned about teaching and self-care and hopefully help even more teachers around the country.

"You have to start putting yourself first. You can’t pour from an empty cup."

TV: What Key Piece Of Advice Would You Give A Struggling Teacher?

Tara: Take a step back and evaluate how you’re using your time. If you’re drowning and can’t keep up with anything, prioritize the most important things and see what you can take off your plate. Do you really need to grade every single page your students complete? Can you simplify the tasks you must complete each day to make them take less time? 

Once you take a little bit of time back for yourself, find ways to include self-care in your daily schedule, even if it’s just taking a 10-minute walk before school or calling a friend to talk at the end of a long day. You have to start putting yourself first. You can’t pour from an empty cup. 

Wellness and self-care don’t have to be daunting. There are ways to integrate self-care practices that require little to no extra time or effort- which is exactly what every busy, burned-out teacher needs. 

Tune in to TeacherVision Talks

Tara Dusko is part of our panel of self-care experts for our latest teacher campaign, TeacherVision Talks and has shared a fascinating talk on Using Exercise for Self-Care. Watch now for free!

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