About Janna Miller & Chris Brownson

Janna Miller was a 2007 corps member in the Mississippi Delta region. She taught 4th grade during her two years in the corps and then stayed in Mississippi a third year and taught 5th grade ELA. Before joining Teach For America, she majored in psychology. After teaching, she joined the doctoral program in Counseling Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Chris Brownson is a former corps member (LA '93) and a licensed psychologist. After his two years teaching, he promptly returned to his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, to pursue graduate work in counseling psychology. He received my Ph.D. in 2001 and is now a licensed psychologist in the State of Texas, the director of the University of Texas Counseling & Mental Health Center, and the National Mental Health Consultant for TFA.

Helping a Friend in Need


As teachers, we often work closely with our colleagues. Not only is this a great way to share our workload, but it is also a way to share how you are doing generally. Sometimes we get into situations where it becomes very clear that our friends and colleagues are struggling. They may tell us outright, or it might be clear through their behaviors.

Making a Case for “Good Enough”


We have all encountered some version of perfectionism within ourselves. There are certainly ways in which perfectionism benefits us. Striving for flawlessness can often mean that you are thorough and scrupulous when approaching projects, which can be a useful skill. Perfectionism likely played a contributing role in your life successes thus far—a great resume, excellent grades…you get the picture.

New Year’s Resolutions: Ignore Goals, Embrace Systems?

reading book

It’s that time of the year—the time when we reflect upon things we would like to improve in our lives and set goals for doing so. Unfortunately, as many of us can relate to, New Year’s resolutions are often abandoned after several weeks (the average resolution is kept for eight days).

8 Tips for Finding a Mental Health Professional


Now that we’re almost halfway through the school year, it’s a good time to step back and ask yourself how you’re doing with your mental health. There’s no doubt in my mind that the semester was hard. And there were probably particular periods in the classroom that felt like lows. Were you able to harness resources (both personally and by reaching out to those around you) to manage your teacher stress and wellbeing?

The Holiday Spirit: Winter Break Is Around the Corner

candy canes

Thanksgiving break provided a much-needed respite from an incredibly busy semester. And now, the end is in sight. There are only a number of weeks before the semester is over and you will have the winter break to spend time with loved ones, tend to things you’ve been putting off (hello dentist!), and finally get some real rest.

Teaching Isn’t All Gold Stars and Red Apples


One of the more difficult experiences I had while teaching was seeing a side of myself that I didn’t know existed. A side that yelled, that was sarcastic with kids, and that felt incredibly angry. This happens to all of us when we teach, especially in the beginning years when management is particularly challenging. We find ourselves doing things we didn’t realize were within our capabilities—engaging in power struggles with 11-year-olds, rolling our eyes, and even crying in front of our class (yes, I’ll admit—I did this).

Three Minute Breathing Space


(Photo Credit: Camdiluv)

Sometimes, life can get so busy that we function on automatic pilot just to get through our day.  But wouldn’t it be great if we had a reset or a “clear” button, like the kind you find on calculators, just to wipe the slate clean and view our world with fresh eyes?  After all, if you don’t reset your calculator prior to running calculations, the results will be off.

Teaching As A Marathon, Not A Sprint


(Photo Credit: lisaclarke)

I recently received the following in an email from an alumnus who stayed to teach for a third year:

“I am very interested in finding a way to create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle as a teacher. I want to both be an excellent teacher and to have a healthy, balanced personal life – I figure that is the only way I can succeed as a teacher in the long term.”