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Episode 5: How to Create a Teaching Career That You Love

Kathy Lassalle: How to Create a Teaching Career That You Love

Zach Long interviews Kathy Lassalle on episode 5 of the More Than Teachers Movement podcast. Through their conversation, we hear about the importance of life-long learning, growing over time in your teaching career, and building meaningful relationships with your co-workers. Focusing on these three areas will help teachers to create a career that they love. 


Who Is Kathy Lassalle?

Ever since Kathy Lassalle was a little girl growing up in Puerto Rico, she has wanted to be a teacher. She was that child who made the others play school and even taught her younger sister how to read and write. After completing pre-med and pre-law undergrad programs, Kathy discovered special education. New York City was offering an incentive program to pay for a master’s degree in special education while you taught in an NYC  classroom. Kathy jumped at the opportunity to teach special education students and use her classroom as a laboratory. She’s been teaching for over 22 years and considers it the best decision she ever made.


The Importance of Life-Long Learning

Education is obviously extremely important to Kathy Lassalle– not just for others but for herself as well. Pre-med and pre-law are rigorous courses of study for an undergrad student, and Kathy pursued them both. She followed that achievement up by earning a master’s degree while she was teaching in a special education classroom. Kathy’s desire to learn continues today as she is finishing up her doctoral thesis. This pursuit of lifelong learning has led to Kathy’s growth as a person and as a teacher. It’s helped her to be the best teacher she can be and create a career that she loves.


Growing Over Time In Your Teaching Career

Another way that Kathy has cultivated a career that she loves is by being willing to evolve. She understands that, as times change, so must our techniques and strategies. The students we teach today are different from students twenty years ago. With the accessibility of the internet and social media, student mindsets and attention spans have changed. Unfortunately, the education system hasn’t caught up with these changes, and teachers often have to take it upon themselves to figure out ways to reach their students. Kathy recognizes that educators need to be innovative and that maintaining the status quo will only lead to frustration and burnout.  


Co-Worker Relationships Are Key

Kathy has learned over and over how powerful relationships with your co-workers can be. Through working on her doctoral thesis and interacting with teachers as a part of that process, Kathy has found that teachers who are isolated feel overwhelmed and discouraged. At the same time, she saw that teachers who build connections with their peers and administrators have a more positive perspective and are able to more constructively face challenges. 

When Kathy ran an educational center in Puerto Rico, she also saw the power of co-worker relationships. She worked really hard to get to know the teachers through dinners, drinks, and conversations. So, when Kathy had a health crisis and had to leave for an extended amount of time, those teachers were there to pick up the slack. They were happy to help out because of the positive relationships that had been built. 

When Kathy moved to Florida and found herself in a new school, she again leaned on the power of relationships. She bonded with her new co-workers through birthday celebrations and coffee which led to sharing, collaboration, and growth. Kathy has seen firsthand that building meaningful relationships with your co-workers is a big part of of creating a teaching career that you love.

Did you find this post helpful and want to read more? Subscribe to the More Than Teachers Movement and (re)discover all of the ways that you are more than a teacher. We will connect you with resources to help you reclaim your work-life balance.

Kathy Lassalle

Kathy Lassalle

My name is Kathy Lassalle. I was born in NYC and the eldest of 3 daughters and married for 28 years and a mother of an eighteen year old. I have a BA in Urban Legal Studies, where I was able to intern in the Brooklyn Supreme Court as well as a Senior Paralegal in a NYC law firm. Also, I acquired a certification in Mediation and Conflict Resolution, and was part of the IMCR institute in Harlem, New York. I was offered the opportunity to acquire a Masters Degree in Special Education which gave me the chance to work with learning disabled teenagers as well as youth with behavioral disorders. Also while residing in NYC, I was given the chance to work with adult immigrants that spoke no English and be able to help them communicate and start working on acquiring their citizenship.
I moved to Puerto Rico and that opened doors to become the founder of an Alternative School (The Magic Key Homeschooling) and worked with students from Kindergarten through Twelfth grade. Worked also as an Educational Coach and Mentor to new teachers as well as being certified as a PBIS coach to schools that are part of the Board of Education in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Recently, I moved to Florida and i currently work with Fourth graders that are English Language Learners and I am also in the dissertation stage of a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership.

Episode 4: 3 Simple Ways to Incorporate a Positive Mindset Into Your Teaching Routine

Zach Long chats with Lisa Walton about the power of positivity and how teachers can fit it into their daily routines on the More Than Teachers Movement podcast. Also discussed are the distorted perceptions of teaching by the media and general public. If you would prefer to listen to the podcast, you can check it out here. 

Who Is Lisa Walton?

Teaching wasn’t Lisa Walton’s first career. She actually was a lawyer before entering the field of education. In law school, Lisa’s heart was set on eventually teaching law. However, after getting married and moving to a small town where there weren’t any law schools, she realized that teaching law wasn’t in the cards. But, teaching children was. Lisa loves learning and considers herself a lifelong learner, so she wanted to make learning just as exciting and attainable for her students. She spent 20 years in the field of education and has teaching experience at the kindergarten, second, third, fifth, and college levels. Today, Lisa is a writer who mostly blogs about teaching tips, tricks, and strategies to help teachers become healthier, happier, and more productive. 

You can find her at

Teaching Is a Lot of Work

You wouldn’t know it from movies or tv shows, but teaching is more than just standing in the front of a classroom. Teaching is a lot of work, and it’s a job that’s never over. People don’t see the hours of planning and grading that are involved. Even if you aren’t actually working on a piece of paper, you’re always thinking about that one child and how you can reach them. Teachers are constantly considering ways to make learning more interesting, more hands on, and more meaningful. At the end of the day though, there is still this perception that anyone can teach, and it leads to a lack of respect for teachers and all they do. 

Here’s How to Stay Positive:

#1 Remember Your Why

Teachers are often surrounded by a lot of complaining and negativity from other teachers, parents, students, and administrators. One way that teachers can keep a positive mindset in these circumstances is to remember why they went into teaching in the first place. Most people go into teaching because they genuinely love kids and want to help kids love learning. Reflect on your why to ground yourself.

#2 Write Down One Good Thing

At the end of the day, take a minute to write down one good thing that happened. That’s it. Just one sentence. If you can focus on that one positive, then you’ll look at your day in a different light. Instead of remembering all the little things that went wrong, you’re taking the time to notice and celebrate that one thing that went right. It doesn’t always have to be a huge accomplishment either because even those small little wins really add up.

#3 Celebrate Fellow Teachers’ Successes

While they are constantly surrounded by students, teachers are largely isolated from other adults during their work day. One way to maintain a positive connection with the other teachers and staff in the building is to find ways to share and celebrate each other’s successes. One way to do this is through brag boards and text shoutouts. Another option is to start meetings by having everyone share a win or a strategy. Or, you could have a friendly bingo competition with a board full of simple, positive experiences such as making a student smile. 


Lisa is committed to helping teachers be happier, healthier, and more productive. She recently launched the Happy Teacher Crew, an online support group for teachers who love their jobs, but are tired of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. If your job is making your stressed, you can find some easy stress-relieving tips at

And if you want to print your own copy of Brag About it Bingo it’s available at

Did you find this post helpful and want to read more? Subscribe to the More Than Teachers Movement and (re)discover all of the ways that you are more than a teacher. We will connect you with resources to help you reclaim your work-life balance.

Episode 3: Learn How to Reduce Your Grading Load (Plus, the Teacher/Admin Gap)

Zach Long talks with John Schembari about the importance of feeling vested and best practice student assessment strategies that will save teachers valuable time. If you missed this episode of the podcast, you can listen here. Otherwise, you can keep reading to see what was covered. 


Who Is John Schembari?

In order to become a teacher, John Schembari went through New Jersey’s alternative certification program which allowed him to teach on a conditional license during the day and take courses at night. He completed that program in a year and received his standard teaching license. Next, John had the opportunity to teach at a magnet school (at that time magnet schools were not very common). At Morris County Academy for Law & Public Safety, he taught under a social studies license for about 5 years. From there, John took on a variety of roles in administration including a founding role in one instance. His administrative experiences allowed him to work in schools that were early to the table in offering dual credit programs. These programs were innovative for the time and allowed students in their senior year to earn both high school and college credit simultaneously. After that, John worked in roles as a k-12 curriculum director. He eventually left school-based roles and transitioned to working for school support organizations. These positions mainly entailed coaching teachers and school leaders. All of these experiences led to John becoming an independent education consultant which is what he does currently. 


Schools That Perform Better

John’s experience in various roles at different levels has allowed him to see “how the pieces fit together”. One of the things that he has noticed is that the schools that are doing better in terms of student achievement are also that schools that have a strong sense of community. These schools have a “we’re all in this together” mentality and this includes administrators, teachers, families, and students. When people feel vested, they try harder and do better.


Assessment Strategies

John points out that there are many different ways to grade, or assess, learning. He recommends that teachers always think about the purpose of grading. It doesn’t always have to come at the end of learning. Formative assessment allows the teacher to assess learning along the way. Plus, it does double-duty. It eases the grading burden on the teacher while helping the students more than having a marked up paper handed back to them.


Rubrics can be another helpful student assessment strategy. John reports that he has seen rubrics work well when teaching the writing process. They can be used to assess learning throughout the process and not just at the end. Rubrics can be taught and integrated into the peer editing portion of the process. Students can be taught the skill of giving constructive feedback. Then, teachers can line up the rubrics and see what students did well on and what areas need to be retaught.


The exit ticket is one student assessment strategy that John suggests. At the end of a class period, students complete a short activity to show what they’ve learned. Now, some teachers will take their red pen and traditionally grade the exit tickets, but there’s an easier way. Simply look through the exit tickets and sort them into three piles: got it, almost got it, didn’t get it. This helps to differentiate learning since you know who needs what now. 


 Another student assessment strategy centers around quizzes. After a quiz, give the students a copy of the answer key and have them work in partners to figure out which items they understand, which items they didn’t understand but do now thanks to the collaboration with their partner, and which items are still troublesome. Students share the items that are still troublesome with the teacher, and that will guide what the teacher does next. 

Did you find this post helpful and want to read more? Subscribe to the More Than Teachers Movement and (re)discover all of the ways that you are more than a teacher. We will connect you with resources to help you reclaim your work-life balance and give you a FREE copy of our 30 Days of Self Care guide.

Guest Speaker: John Schembari

Guest Speaker: John Schembari

At Education Direction, John supports teachers and school leaders by performing on site evaluations, identifying data informed trends, reviewing curriculum/assessment materials, creating improvement plans, coaching individuals one-on-one, developing and delivering group trainings to educators, and implementing evidence-based instructional strategies that improve teaching practices and increase student learning. John’s areas of specific interest include the facilitation of professional learning communities and educator affinity networks, implementation of project-based learning, and the development of teaching practices that promote student engagement, equity, and inclusion.

Raised in New Jersey, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Mary Washington (VA), his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Pittsburgh (PA), his second master’s degree in educational supervision from Montclair State University (NJ), and his doctorate in educational leadership from Seton Hall University (NJ). Prior to his time as a consultant with Education Direction, he served as a middle school teacher, high school social studies teacher, founding high school principal, K-12 district CAO, leadership development facilitator, and as national director of teacher and school leader learning. John also has lived/worked internationally in Japan, Saudi Arabia, and The United Kingdom, and, occasionally, performs on site reviews of American curriculum schools in The United Arab Emirates.

Episode 2: Using Extra-Curriculars to Build Trust and Reduce Stress.


Zach Long speaks with Hayley Klees about why it is so important to build positive relationships with your students on the More Than Teachers Movement podcast. If you missed this episode of the podcast, you can listen here. Or, continue reading to hear what they talked about.


Who Is Hayley Klees?

Even though her degree is in elementary education, Hayley Klees has been a 6th grade ELA and reading teacher for the majority of her 8 years in the classroom. She loves teaching at the 6th grade level though because it gives her the opportunity to be involved with extracurricular activities. Outside of the classroom, she coaches volleyball (her first love- she played in college!), basketball, track, and soccer. Hayley is also a wife and mother, so she understands how delicate the work-life balance can be. 


Why It’s Important to Build Positive Relationships With Your Students

According to Hayley, there are two main reasons why you should strive to build positive relationships with your students. The first is that taking the time to build those important connections outside the classroom pays off big inside the classroom. Hayley explains, “So for me, it’s been super beneficial because while it’s built those relationships outside of the classroom, it also brings it back into the classroom. So that when I do ask students to read a nonfiction passage about a not so interesting topic, they’ll trust me as their teacher and actually put forth the effort into reading it.”


The second reason why it’s important to build those positive relationships with your students is that it will make teaching more enjoyable and less stressful. Hayley adds, “Just knowing that when you have the correct mindset of wanting to build this relationship with your students, it’s going to help you as a teacher. Not only is it going to help you create that relationship, but it’s going to bring less stress to you. You’ll actually enjoy being in the classroom with those students. You’ll become a happier person.” 


How to Build Positive Relationships With Your Students 

Outside of the classroom, Hayley recommends getting involved in extracurricular activities like sports or clubs to build positive relationships. Obviously, Haley went the sports route, but there are often many clubs that need sponsors, too. Also, she recognizes that not everyone has the availability to coach a sport. In these cases, Haley recommends something low-commitment such as attending a band concert. 


There are also plenty of things that can be done inside the classroom that will build and strengthen your relationships with students. For instance, Hayley suggests sharing information and stories about yourself, so that students get to know and see you as a person. She shares, “I always do this thing at the beginning of the year where I share a PowerPoint that I’ve created with my students. And it’s not very long, like it’s maybe seven, eight quick slides, but it has some pictures. I just give some quick little bullet points about my favorite foods, my favorite color. I show them pictures of my husband and my son and things I like to do. So then that way, they realize I’m a normal person, just like them. And it kind of humanizes us right there at the beginning of the school year so that they can start to build that know, like, and trust factor right off the bat.”


Closing Thought

Hayley says it best, “I love the title of this podcast because we are more than teachers. You know, we are real human beings that have other desires and have other things that we want to pursue and we do have real emotions. And so when you can line those together and just find that joy and happiness again, it just really helps bring it full circle to be able to be a happier person in general, not just a teacher.”


Did you find this post helpful and want to read more? Subscribe to the More Than Teachers Movement and (re)discover all of the ways that you are more than a teacher. We will connect you with resources to help you reclaim your work-life balance and give you a FREE copy of our 30 Days of Self Care guide.

Guest Speaker: Hayley Klees

Guest Speaker: Hayley Klees

Hi friends! I've been a teacher for 8 years and have taught both 5th & 6th grades. I've spent the majority of my time teaching 6th Grade ELA/Reading. I am a former collegiate volleyball player and have been the head volleyball coach at my school for 5 years. I am very involved in extra-curricular activities within my school and have coached just about every sport out there & love it!

Episode 1: Reclaim time by Eliminating, Automating, and Delegating

Jeff Lisciandrello has the distinct honor of being the first guest ever on Zach Long’s  More Than Teachers Movement podcast. If you missed the podcast, you can catch it here. Otherwise, read on to learn how Jeff is (and helps others to be) way more than a teacher.

Who Is Jeff Lisciandrello?

Jeff is the creator of “Three Bridges Design for Learning”, a framework for making planning and differentiating instruction more manageable. He is also the founder of Room To Discover where he serves as the lead consultant. His organization is aimed at helping educators bring achievement, engagement, and joy to the classroom. Plus, Jeff authored the Reflective Teaching Guide which includes multiple assessments to help teachers think more deeply about their practice and environment. But, before all this, Jeff Lisciandrello was a middle school teacher of English and math for 12 years. Jeff is way more than a teacher though. He is a champion for work-life balance through working smarter and not harder.

Is a Work-Life Balance Even Possible for Teachers?

Finding a work-life balance as a teacher is difficult, and Jeff gets it. He admits that he struggled with it himself. But, it’s not impossible. According to Jeff, “It is really important to create boundaries and to find ways that we can provide a great educational experience for students without running ourselves into the ground.” 

Coaching Isn’t Just for Athletes Anymore

Coaching is one of the keys to teachers reclaiming balance in their lives. Jeff shares, “The good news is that coaching has become more prevalent over the past 10, 20 years. Now schools are recognizing that coaching is filling the gap.” He envisions a school where after a teacher has taught for a while, they become the head of a teaching pod where they support and supervise other teachers. Jeff explains, “You have this organic passing on of knowledge from experienced teachers to less experienced teachers.” Those with experience become more than a teacher; they progress to becoming a coach.

Eliminate, Automate, and Delegate

“Eliminate, automate, delegate means that we need to be thoughtful about whatever we’re doing whether it’s grading a paper or planning a lesson,” Jeff explains. You can actually do less to become more than a teacher and restore your work-life balance. Here’s how it works:

  • Eliminate anything on your to-do list that isn’t producing value. If it’s not making things better for your students, stop doing it. 
  • Automate those tasks that can be done just as effectively by a computer. Often, automation takes a time investment upfront that will pay off later.
  • Delegate to your students. Jeff explains, “If we’re preparing students for life outside the classroom, it should be more likely that they have classroom jobs as they get older, not less likely.”

We have two great free gifts for you today. 

Subscribe to the More Than Teachers Movement to claim your free 30 Days of Self-Care guide. I have gone through the 30 days, and let me tell you, it is wonderful. 

Also, make sure you get Jeff’s Reflective Teaching Guide here. It is an amazing resource for any teacher that you don’t want to miss.

Guest Speaker: Jeff Lisciandrello

Guest Speaker: Jeff Lisciandrello

Jeff Lisciandrello is the founder of Room to Discover, author of The Reflective Teaching Guide, and creator of the 3-Bridges Design for Learning. He brings 12 years of classroom teaching experience to his work as an education consultant and teacher coach, specializing in bringing innovative practices to traditional school settings. You can connect with him via Twitter @EdTechJeff