Finding your Zen as a Teacher with Dan Tricarico

Teachers need to practice self-care to prevent teacher burnout. We talk with the author of The Zen Teacher and Sanctuaries Dan Tricarico about education , how to practice self-care and following your calling.   Marni Pasch Academic Coach Team Pasch Academic Coach Podcast School Counselor Gone Rogue

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Teacher Burn Out and the state of education with Dan Tricarico - episode 021

Teacher stress levels are at an all time high, and burnout is a risk many teachers face. Think about the number of times you have had your child lose a teacher in the middle of the school year-what was the reason for their departure? With so many passionate educators fleeing from the field, it was my pleasure to speak with author, teacher and speaker Dan Tricarico about the state of education and more importantly, teacher self-care.

He is the author of two books, The Zen Teacher: Creating Focus, Simplicity and Tranquility in the Classroom and his new book. Sanctuaries:Self Care Secrets for Stressed out Teachers . In addition he hosts a summer virtual retreat for teachers to help them find their inner peace as they help inspire our students.


The Interview with Dan Tricarico

MP:  This episode is all about teacher self-care – how teachers can step back and take care of their needs.  Dan, thank you for popping in and talking with us today. Having teachers on this podcast is very important to me. There’s a lot that happens behind the scenes that I think parents just don’t know about.  Let’s start with a little about what your job is in the education field and what your background is.

DT: Started in acting, had a friend who always planned to become a teacher. I went to LA for a couple of years to pursue acting and realized it wasn’t a terribly nice business. So, I went into substitute teaching and realized that was what I really love to do- so why wasn’t I doing it at home?  Moved back to San Diego, got a job at the school where I teach now. This is my 26th year teaching English in the same school and same classroom. It’s my home away from home. I’m very grateful to be at the school I’m at.

A lot of the best teachers incorporate performance techniques to engage the students – especially if you’re talking about struggling students. You have to find a way to connect. Things like character voices or dramatic pauses – simple things that any teacher can do can increase the engagement for the struggling student.

Some teachers come in costume and transform their classrooms – one guy turned his classroom into the moon and talked about the moon shot with his history class. Teachers change their classrooms based on topics, resources and inspiration- almost good teachers use theatrics to engage the students.

MP: You need to find a way to bring the information to life, so you’re engaging students at all learning abilities and getting them invested in the information.

One of the questions that has come up with teachers: have your principal and administrators been supportive of your bringing theatrics into the classroom and how you teach, or are they trying to have you teach more to the text?

DT: That’s a really interesting question. I feel fortunate that my school is open to creativity. My English department chairwoman used to always say “all roads lead to Rome,” meaning I don’t care how you get there, just get there.

There has been a movement in education where the testing machine is out of control. The standardized testing, We test them relentlessly There’s a lot of pressure on teachers across the nation to teach to the test and that they’re practicing – those are all valuable things, but that’s not my style, especially coming from a theater background.

I want to bring the material to life. I don’t just want you to check a box on a scantron. If I thought that was all my job was about, I would quit. I would go work at a convenience store selling sodas or whatever. I want to create lifelong learners. I want to light a fire. I want to get kids excited about the subject matter –books, reading, writing that kind of thing because it’s going to make their lives more exciting and more fun after they leave me. I always call myself a “polite subversive” I try to follow the rules within I try to take risks, experiment, say “Let’s see where this ends up.”

Knowing the book that you wrote and your interest in mindfulness for teachers, it seems like you’re mindful of what drew you to the profession, what you find engaging and fulfilling and what would be your cue to exit stage right if that creativity had to go away.

How do we get our kiddos more engaged with their school experience?  School Counselor Gone Rogue - A Podcast hosted by Marni Pasch MA Counselor Ed.   #schoolcounselorgonerogue #parenting #middleschool #highschool #podcast   Marni Pasch Team Pasch Academic Coaching

How Zen Teacher Began

 DT: It was 2013 - I saw teachers burning out and melting down and leaving the profession for the reasons we just talked about: The testing machine was out of control. My classes WERE hovering around 37-40 students in a class, which is insanity.

I have that in multiple English classes right now, 5 classes, several are up to 36-37 per class. It’s ridiculous, but that’s the boat we’re in.

Teachers were feeling overwhelmed, overworked and overburdened. I was too. I was headed down the road of burnout Lost 3 teachers in my own department in a number of years because of burnout, stress, not being able to navigate the pressures.

The school district says do more. Teachers, who are givers, say “we’ll make it work.” But teachers, because they’re givers, they don’t stop to take care of themselves.

My joke is “not only will teachers empty their cup, but they’ll also give the cup away too.”

My job was – I had to find some way to cope. I had to make it work. I thought back to when I was a drama student, teachers taught us about mindfulness, being in the moment, meditation and breathing exercises and relaxation.

They talked about relaxed preparedness- you need to be relaxed but ready to perform. Calm but ready to go.

I thought, “boy, that’s what teachers need”- I started a blog called” The Zen Teacher” because I loved writing and as a way to remind myself of all of this. Because of the world we live in, I started putting it out on Twitter and teachers started to respond and comment on the blog posts. Teachers said it was something they could use and I thought “maybe there’s a book in this.”

Now I go around doing workshops teaching teachers to reduce their stress and improve their self-care. I’m lucky enough to come on shows like this, and it’s really been an amazing path and has given - I think of it as a new calling. I always say “the only thing better than helping students is getting to help teachers.” At the twilight of my career – I think I have 5-6 years left, to be able to do this is just wonderful.”

MP: I think that is an amazing message. I think that the saying that you give away the cup too is completely true. Not only are teachers givers in the classroom, but they also have 40 possible students to give to, their bosses to give to.

One of the things my husband tries, to find balance, is, after teaching incredible sixth through eighth-grade students all day, he has to come home to his own children and not have that same the rule the room mentality.

There’re so many hats that teachers can wear. And some have second careers outside of school to maintain their income, and I think self-care is so crucially important for those teachers to understand. What formats,  are you reaching out?

DT: Podcasts like this one, thank you. I have a Facebook group of about 900 teachers from all over the world where we talk about self-care and mindfulness. I have another book coming out called Sanctuaries: Self Care Secrets for Stressed Out Teachers; the same publisher as the Zen Teacher.

Not only do we wear all these hats, but we have a home life and a family life. I used to tell my own daughters, “I’m sorry I’m not more patient. I get paid to be patient for other people’s children.” It’s true. It’s funny, but it’s sad. They have to deal with my cup being empty. The other part of that is the balance that you’re talking about – making sure you have enough left in the tank to make sure you can be everything you need to be for everybody, it’s super hard.

How to Separate Self Care and Teacher Improvement

MP: I was going through your blog, and there were a couple of tidbits I picked up on. One post you mention is buying a quality pair of shoes. You were in the store and having this conversation with yourself – “Do I treat myself to nice shoes to wear to work, or do I not? And yes, darn it! I do deserve these shoes.”

How many teachers do you know that practice self-care? What do we need to do to keep teachers in the field rather than jumping ship?  School Counselor Gone Rogue |

On the flip side, here you were trying to decide if you were going to treat yourself to a pair of shoes, but these shoes were going to give you comfort for your job. The taxpayers’ money should provide you with quality shoes. That should not be something you do for your self-care. What is the last amazing thing you did for you that did not impact your teaching life?

DT: I like how you think. When you said that about teachers having second jobs – I have multiple jobs. I privately tutor, I’ve driven Uber; I’ve worked at restaurants. Almost every teacher I know has second or third forms of income because it’s very very difficult to live on what we make as teachers. Now I’m going to kind of out myself here and say I’ve made some not great spending choices and habits over the years, so that didn’t help, but it’s tough. Every teacher I know has a second or third gig. So when you’re in there, staring at the shoes and you’re going “do I get the $35 shoes or the $75 shoes?” It’s so easy to grab the $75 shoes. But I didn’t even think about how these shoes would affect me in the classroom, I just knew intuitively that I would feel better. You’re right. There’s something about walking around this classroom I’ve been in for 26 years, feeling like I’m walking on clouds, feeling like I have super comfortable shoes, that’s been amazing.

The most amazing thing I did that did not impact my teaching life…

I’m really working on sending out the message to teachers like the shoes, pick one aspect of your life where you can upgrade, and it’ll help you feel like you’re living a richer, more comfortable life.

One example: I like coffee every day in the morning like a lot of people At school, I drink the generic grocery store coffee. One place I decided to upgrade was in coffee: I go the fancy schmancy coffee that costs a lot more than the coffee I’m getting for school. On the weekends, I have the good coffee. That has been a lovely thing. It’s been a nice way that I feel like I’m pampering myself. It’s only a few dollars more, and it’s not like I have it every day, so I’m going through it.

The other thing that I did – last summer – a lot of the times I teach summer school, it’s another way to make ends meet. Last summer I got summer school.

The summer before I didn’t. So, for the first time in years and years and years, I had the whole summer off. Here in San Diego, there’s a place called Balboa Park. It’s absolutely lovely. Close to downtown. It’s ginormous. It’s got museums, a botanical garden. It’s right next to the San Diego Zoo. It’s so absolutely peaceful and calm that I said to myself “I’m going to go there once a week,” That was my goal for myself, and I made it. Last year I had summer school, and I said “I’m going to go there three times. I go there and walk around, I’ll get a snack. Mainly, I take my backpack at this tree that I love, and I put my hat down over my eyes, and I just lay there. I look up at the sky and just watch the clouds.”

To say that didn’t impact my teaching life isn’t entirely accurate. I go back in the fall more relaxed, more rejuvenated, more fulfilled than if I had worked all summer.

How can we Keep the Good Teachers?

·       MP: I think that’s great and I want to get some coffee and sit in that park with you. That sounds quite relaxing. It goes back to how important self-care is. To be mindful, - that’s such a buzzword, but it’s one we need right now.

Teachers, I feel, are so always on the go-go-go-go do-do-do that you need to be mindful and say I’m going to take THREE days out of the entire summer to do this for myself. If you don’t and you’re not conscious about it, you’re going to give all those brief moments away to someone else. In your book, you’d mentioned for some people teaching is a job, for some people, it’s a calling. I’ve seen both. I’ll keep my opinion to myself, but how do you keep the people for who it’s a calling here – in the profession?

DT: Pay them more. It’s contradictory because I know I went into teaching going I know I don’t care about money, teaching is the noblest profession on the planet. We’re affecting the future. There’s a ripple effect in ways that we cannot calculate.

With teachers and teaching as a profession, the attitude and the conditioning is that “it’s such a noble job, you should just want to do it.”

We go through training and education as much as any professional over the years, but you kind of go into teaching knowing “I’m not going to make as much as a doctor, or as a lawyer, I’m just supposed to want to do this because it’s helping kids.” That’s a lovely thing, but if a school advertised for a teacher they want someone who will fulfill a job. What if they got someone who looked at it as a calling? You’d find those people, but you’d have to pay them more. You’d get your money worth. The teachers who I know who see this as a calling, as something they want to do to make the world a better place – they are worth so much more than what we’re getting paid.

MP: I’m baffled on the rare occasion that I come across – usually an op-ed in the newspaper – people complain – “teachers complain they get the summers off!” What teacher gave you that jaded impression? I just want to hug these people. I know so many teachers you would just be like “Bravo!” I feel so bad for those people that had such a bad experience in education that they just hate teachers. It is baffling to me.

Paying more and –, I saw this as a school counselor – SC were considered on the same scale as teachers, but they weren’t given bonuses that teachers were given. In Florida, someone said, “let’s give bonuses to teachers based on their SAT scores 30 years ago.” School counselors weren’t eligible, yet we had to do other things. We feel the same frustration that teachers feel – we’re often giving everything we can, and sometimes if you’re getting into certain districts, your vision of how you want to impact students is crippled by the rules and regulations you have to follow that are set up by people who never set foot in a classroom.

What an amazing conversation I had with author and teacher, Dan Tricarico.  Make sure you check out this episode of School Counselor Gone Rogue to learn about teacher self-care and self-preservation.  Look for episode 021 on Itunes, Stitcher Google Play on the Team Pasch dot com site!

With your years of experience in the classroom, do you feel that overall, people are still motivated and called to this profession, or are you starting to see people who don’t know why they’re getting into the field?

DT: That’s a very troubling question to me because the answer is both. The teachers I see coming in still have the fire, still have the passion, fire and enthusiasm and the faith in what they are doing as a calling to change the future, change the world. But, even with my own daughters, - I cannot fully recommend this as a path. I cannot fully articulate how heartbreaking this is. I absolutely recommend teaching as a path – but the types of things you’re talking about: the expectations and overwork and snuffing out of creativity in favor of the test, playing counselors against the teachers and that kind of thing – I can’t recommend that.

That’s why I saw teachers burning out. That’s why I was heading to burnout- luckily, I found a way to cope. And that’s where the Zen comes in. Zen is accepting what is without judgment. I have to accept I’m not going to get paid as much. I have to accept the people who don’t understand what we do on the summer, who don’t understand why we have second jobs, the people who go “oh, it must be great to have that time off.” They don’t get it. They’re not going to get it. I can’t get all wound up about that. I have to let that go, breathe and go” Yeah, they don’t get it. They don’t get it, and they’re not going to.”

I can get frustrated, or I can breathe and be content in what I’m doing and know my own situation. I don’t know their situation either. I try in a very Zen way not to make judgments about what they’re going through. But, no. They don’t know what I’m going through. They assume what teaching is like, but they don’t know. I think we’ve heard stories about people who watch a teacher, who sub for a day and go

 “You do that every day??” “Yeah. “I probably wouldn’t be able to do it.”

They don’t get it, and I have to accept that.

MP: You’ve found an outlet where you can continue to give in a way that’s helpful to a different population on your terms.

DT: Absolutely. It’s probably not accurate to say I’m stifled. But my job is another place where I have to be Zen and say “these people don’t understand.” I love my school, my department. I love everyone. They’re my family. They’re my friends. I’ve been here 26 years. But the work I’m doing with the Zen Teacher platform, they don’t understand. They don’t get it. They don’t know what I’m doing. They don’t understand the message or the way I’ve tried to reach out. They looked at me funny when I said I was going to record a podcast today. They were like “Why is Danny going to record a podcast?” They have no idea that I do this work really.

My publisher said something that put it in perspective for me that really made me okay with it and gave me that sense of Zen on it. He said, “It’s really hard to be a prophet in your own backyard.” I think that’s true, because to the people here, since I started my career here, I’m just Danny who’s been here since 1994.

Some people know me through the Zen Teacher work and hopefully, have benefitted.  I do get emails and messages that say “Your book changed the way I look at things, and I bring it back and forth to school every day.” That’s surreal to me. Even to me, I’m just Danny. It’s not about me. It’s about the message- self-care and taking care of yourself.

Teachers with better mental health who are not stressed out, who are not running on fumes who are not at the end of their tank – they’re going to help the struggling students better. They’re going to be in a better place to help those students because if you have a struggling student who for whatever reason is at the end of their fumes and tank and all of that tank fume and all of that and a teacher in the same position- that’s’ a recipe for disaster. If one of them can rejuvenate, refuel, and be fulfilled, comforted and soothed, you’re going to have better interaction and maybe a possible solution.

MP: I agree 100% I think too, a lot of it comes down to feeling supported as a teacher. Yeah, being paid more monetarily would be beneficial, that pays the bills. But, I think a lot of times, teachers want to feel like they’re trusted. Teachers, especially when they’ve been doing this for years and they’re passionate, and they have students who are engaged and want to learn, they want to have the ability to run their classroom in a way that they see fit and is productive. Now if they were running their classrooms and the students were rioting in the halls saying this is the worst teacher I’ve ever had, that would be different. Don’t tie the hands of teachers who are creating students who love learning.

DT: Yes, you know, in other professions at that level, you would not be telling them how to do what they do. Let me be clear, I’m very very grateful because I underestimated my feelings on this and I am thrilled with the autonomy I have in my school and my district to do things the way I want to do. They’ve told me no, they’ve told me they don’t like what I do. Some I change, and some I go “No, I’m right,” and I keep doing them. But, that autonomy is something I’m very grateful for. I didn’t realize I would want is that in a job. I did work in corporate America as an actor, and I knew at an intuitive level that wasn’t for me to have the boxes.

I get to do what I want to do when I want to do it for the most part. That probably creates a bit of arrogance of “How dare you tell me what to do?” in me, but that’s one of the benefits of teaching.

One of the questions that you and I were talking about is how can parents support teachers?

 Treat them like a friend, or a professional. Be kind. Communicate with them. Sometimes ask “What do you need?” “What can I do to make this go better? How can I support you in ways other than a bigger paycheck?”

In addition, why not a gift card for office supplies in April when our supplies are running out, and we’re kicking in our pockets? Those kinds of thoughtful and mindful things are ways to support teachers and realizing that we’re up against it, we’re on the front lines, trying to do the best we can with your kids.

We don’t get to weed out the bad parts like they would in an auto plant or the bad fruit on a farm. We get who we get, and we do it. We just do what we do, and we try to make everybody learn. Sometimes that does take a village.

What the Heck is Mindfulness?

MP: As soon as we are done, I will be emailing my children’s teachers. Even living with my husband who is a teacher and dipping my toe into the school setting – as a parent, you can get that tunnel vision and be like “kay, school’s totally got this. They know what they’re doing.” Thank you for reminding me as a parent that I need to reach out and be more conscious of offering what the teacher needs.

With your approach to mindfulness, have you ever come across teachers who are like “what’s mindfulness? I don’t want to meditate!” What do they get from what you teach?

DT: I follow a marketer named Seth Godin. He says- and I’m going to paraphrase here – do it to delight the believers, not to convince the skeptics. I want to organize and attract the tribe of people this is for, and not those who this isn’t for.     

I did a talk in Texas and on one of my slides, I had the word meditation. And I know some people aren’t comfortable with meditation even though it’s only breathing. I know it has some associations that people aren’t comfortable with and I’m trying to be empathetic to that. She came up and said “I’m glad you didn’t have me meditate. I don’t want to meditate with these people.”


Some people are definitely not ready for certain aspects of this or certain steps.

You’re also reminding me of a story with my Vice Principal years ago when I started this. I asked to go to a mindfulness conference, and I was denied because we didn’t have the funds. I’m used to that. It was the second or third conference I was denied going to. I told her “I want you to know, in three years mindfulness will be all over education.” She went “Yeah, yeah yeah.” I said, “No, it’s going to happen, and you’re going to take me out to lunch.” I’m sure that she’s seeing it now.

I think people are scared of new ideas and that it’s too woo woo and too out there. It’s really not. These techniques work on everybody, I just happen to be focusing on teachers. Everybody is worthy of Self-Care. Everyone deserves time for stillness and silence and to learn to be kind. With everything going on – the divisiveness we all need empathy and kindness which is part of the message.

MP: I am ready for you to start a tribe out in the desert somewhere where it’s not too hot. We should just start a commune where they all grow vegetables together. But where would all the good teachers be then?

DT: I’m going to share this – it made me laugh. I hope it doesn’t undermine everything I’ve just said. My daughter is one of the quickest people I know. She’s one of the quickest wits I know. She was thinking about the Zen Teacher stuff, and she said: “Are you sure you’re not just lazy and calling it philosophy?”

I was like “well, don’t know, maybe there’s a little overlap there.”    

But, I think that’s because she lives in this world where she has homework until 11 o’clock, she has activities scheduled every weekend. I used to get on my bike and just go. What’s the old joke? We used to come home when the street lights came on. It’s a different world, but I think even y own daughter is trying to figure out what I do here.

MP: I think that mindfulness, call it meditation, call it self-care call it whatever you want to call it. Everybody needs to find at least five minutes in the day when they hit the pause button. But if teachers are going to be continuously asked to have these increasing responsibilities that go outside the scope of educating a child, they need to have self-care for themselves. That is so important. I just hope that if there are teachers or counselors listening, they take a moment to read your book, or start to look at their day and say “Am I taking some time for myself, making sure I’m the best person I can be? And the best teacher I can be?”

DT: People don’t.

MP: I’m constantly “check the email, check everything.” The seconds you take for that start to chip away and take away from something else.

DT: Absolutely. My daughter – the one I was just talking about- she has an app on her phone that limits how much screen time she can have. And I’m like, what kind of teenager are you in 2018 that you’re doing that? She’s being mindful of that. She teases me and says “you’re on your phone all the time.” But when I’m mindful and I’m intentional, and I say “hey I’m on my phone right now, is that what I want to be doing?” I’ll shut it off and go write something, I’ll go read for pleasure, which is something that I love, I’ll go listen to music, which is something that I love. There are all kinds of choices you can be doing to fill that tank and fulfill yourself and take care of yourself that isn’t Facebook, and it isn’t Twitter and whatever else it is that you’re looking at on your phone.

MP: If you ever get to the point where you’re finally mindful, and you try to put that phone or whatever it is down, and try to do something else or pay full attention to your child or to your spouse and it feels weird, that’s when you know it might have gone too far to giving something attention in your life that is not breathing. Go and test yourself and see where your barometer is. Are you comfortable in giving that away time?

DT: What I call that – it’s chapter in the new book – intentional and radical self-care. Intentional means that it’s on purpose. It’s a choice. It’s not going to happen randomly or serendipitously. No one’s going to come up to me and say “You know, Danny. You need a nap.” I have to choose to do that. The other part is that it’s radical. People aren’t doing it. So it’s going to look weird. It’s going to feel weird. You have to be okay with that. It’s going to ruffle feathers when you stop to take care of yourself, and no one else is.

I tell this story about when we were cleaning my house, and I was like “I need a break.” I went and laid on the couch for 15 minutes or something. My family members were still cleaning, and everything started getting more aggressive, and doors started slamming. Everyone was giving me side eye like “Why does he need to take a break?”

I didn’t tell them “hey you can take a break anytime you want,” cuz I didn’t have a death wish, but I chose. I knew that when I went back, I was going to be better because I wasn’t going to be cranky because I had just gone to the nth degree and worn myself out. I needed a breather, and after that 15 minutes, I was back at it. And I knew that later that night if we went out to dinner or whatever, I was going to be in a better place. But, they didn’t understand.

How to Reward Teachers

MP: You say “take a break when you need a break.” You see it in new companies when they’re starting – the tell employees take vacation whenever you want to take a vacation. Do the self-care that you need to take care of, and it won’t put you at risk of being fired.” Studies have shown that people take less time off, and the time that they’re in the office is more productive because they know they have the ability to take care of their emotional and physical needs that they need to take care of.

DT: Absolutely. You’re reminding me of – I don’t want people to think I’m all about money, but I remember my very first year of teaching, they had an incentive that if you had perfect attendance for that year, you would get an incentive. I was young and single, and It was like $300. To me at 25, that was a lot of money. I had bronchitis that whole year, and I didn’t take time off. I got that incentive. The next year, I took some days off, and I was like “I was out of my mind. What was I thinking? “

Now, I’m a firm believer in mental health days for teachers. I’ve taken them. We went to a place where we used to have so many days for sick days and so many for personal days and you kind of had to specify, then they went to you have 10 days for whatever you want to do, just do it.

I feel like sometimes you need to say “I just need to take a day.” Give yourself permission to do that without guilt – and that’s’ the tough part. Without guilt.

MP: Without guilt and without repercussions. My husband’s big thing –he went to work with shingles – he would be on his death bed to miss a day of work. When I say repercussions, I don’t mean his bosses by any means. But he’s always like “It takes me more work to miss a day than to just go to school. He actually sets up activities for the sub, and then he feels behind.

DT: It’s a practice, and you can stumble, but it takes practice. The first step is permission. It doesn’t sound like he gives himself permission. I’ve heard it’s harder to set things up for the sub than it is to power through. I think it’s true for me too, but that’s where more non-judgment and Zen approach comes in, because I know I’m going to go back better, more refreshed than if I had to power through. I need to trust the teacher, which is hard, the sub pool can be kind of shallow. Sometimes the best sub-plan is press play on a video or whatever. But I have to trust that it’s going to be okay. The kids are going to be okay.

It’s okay to give yourself permission and do it without guilt. Occasionally. You don’t want to take advantage of it, of course.

In Closing - One Final Zen Thought

MP: No, no I don’t think you would. But I am going to pay you to be my husband’s Zen coach and be like “Oh, no. You’re coughing dear, talk to Dan. Dan says you need a shot of Zen in the butt...”

I love my husband and want him to be in the best mental and physical shape he can be in for his students and his family and for us to, selfish me. I think what you just said about the sub, and everything makes a lot of sense. This whole conversation has been a positive and enlightening one.

What is one Zen tip you can leave them with?

DT: The Zen Tip: Everybody can find five minutes. That’s the time it takes to listen to one good classic rock song, which is what I love and what I go by. Part of that is, we underestimate the value of stillness and silence. If you can find any time for stillness and silence, whether that’s before class, at lunch, driving home – I always say silence is a gift we give ourselves, and we’re never silent in this culture.

 The thought I want to leave everybody with – our yearbook advisor sent out this email to all the teachers – “Hey fill this out – this open-ended statement. We’re going to put it in the yearbook, and the open-ended statement is this:

“If my students could learn anything from me, I wish they could learn ___ “ and you fill in the blank.

I said, “If my students could learn anything from me, I wish they would learn they are enough.” There are so many messages that we are not enough that we’re not meeting the standard, we‘re not meeting the expectation. That is my message for all the teachers that I know.

My closing thought: You are enough. And you’re worthy of self-care. You’re valuable. We need you. Take care of yourself. You’re enough as you are. You’re working hard enough. You’re doing enough of the things. You don’t need to kill yourself to be a good teacher.

One of the great things about my path: I am a little positive voice in people’s ears. All I am is a reminder of the things people know, but that they don’t do.

*This interview contains affiliate links.


  • The life of a teacher

  • Pursuing the teaching profession

  • Practicing self-care as teacher

  • Preventing teacher burnout and maintaining your passion for teaching

Teachers need to prevent burnout. To do this, it is important to practice self-care to remain a passionate teacher. We talk with the author of The Zen Teacher and Sanctuaries Dan Tricarico about education , how to practice self-care and following your calling.  Share this with any teacher you know!    #teacher #podcast  Marni Pasch Academic Coach Team Pasch Academic Coaching

Dan Tricarico has been a high school English teacher for over twenty five years. He is author of  The Zen Teacher: Creating Focus, Simplicity, and Tranquility in the Classroom  (DBC, Inc. 2015) and  Sanctuaries: Self-Care Secrets for Stressed Out Teachers  (DBC, Inc., 2019). In his spare time, he enjoys writing fiction, watching movies, listening to music, reading, and staring out of windows. His first love is writing poetry, and he has published many poems both in print and online.

Dan Tricarico | English Teacher, Author of The Zen Teacher & Sanctuaries

Dan Tricarico is a high school English teacher and author of The Zen Teacher: Creating Focus, Simplicity, and Tranquility in the Classroom and You're a Teacher. . .So Act Like One: Improving Your Stage Presence in the Classroom. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing, listening to Classic Rock, staring out of windows, and watching old sitcoms. Dan shares The Zen Teacher experience around the country as a presenter and speaker.

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