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21st Century Skills - Competencies without a Classroom Podcast - Episode 22 [BONUS] Recap

S2 E22: Amber Harper - @burnedinteacher
Griffin Jaeger
April 29, 2021

We’re back with a bonus #21for21 episode of Competencies without a Classroom! In this episode, we chat with Amber Harper, author of Hacking Teacher Burnout, host of The Burned-In Teacher podcast, and creator of

Amber created back in 2016 when she found herself tired of “riding the rollercoaster of burnout”. She created this wonderful resource to offer support strategies and steps teachers can take when they’re struggling and don’t want to settle for burnout.

What can you borrow from Amber for your classroom to help teach 21st-century skills?

Back in 2015, when Amber taught first grade she had a lot of big emotions and big behaviours in her class. She decided that rather than focusing merely on curriculum, she would spend time communicating with her students. In doing so, she could help them communicate what they were feeling.

Each morning her class would start with a mindfulness GoNoodle, take deep breaths, and have some quiet time together. Then, Amber would give each student the opportunity to say hi to the class, tell everyone how they are feeling/why, and share something they were excited about (if they were comfortable doing so).

This changed the culture of her class, creating a safe space for her students where they were able to have conversations that weren't about curriculum, but about their feelings and experiences.

Amber was able to get to know her students as humans, rather than just students. She taught her students that if they were feeling a certain way, the class was a team that could come together and help them through those big emotions.

Amber’s students were able to practice vulnerability in a safe space as well as self-actualization and self-regulation in the process.

Reflection Prompts for Your Students

Use the prompts below to have your students reflect on what they heard in the episode and consider how Amber’s advice can be applied to them.

  1. Drawing on Amber's mission to help those experiencing burnout - have you ever felt feelings of burnout in your life as a student? What strategies and steps did you employ to help yourself get through it? What was the biggest takeaway you took from that experience?
  2. If Amber was given a billboard and could write anything on it, she would write 'If you don’t change it, you choose it', referring to outlooks, perspectives, and realities you frame for yourself. From personal experience, what do you take away from this statement? How might it apply to you as a student?
  3. If Amber was hired as superintendent and had to decide on one skill/competency students needed to showcase before graduating, she would go with communication. In your opinion, what other competencies/21st-century skills do you feel go hand in hand with communication? Drawing from your own experiences, explain why.

Yearning for more? You’re in luck! We’ll be speaking to educators all month long about #21for21 and the development of 21st-century skills in the classroom. Join the fun and head over to to sign up for episode recaps, lesson plans, and chances to win some awesome prizes.


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