Episodes #139-146

Episode #139: Doug Reeves

Episode #139: Douglas Reeves (podbean.com)

Dr. Douglas Reeves is the author of more than 30 books and over 100 articles on education and leadership.  Twice named to the Harvard University Distinguished Authors Series, Doug is the recipient of many national and international awards for his contributions to education. He has worked in 50 states and more than 40 countries.   His most recent books include Fearless Schools:  Building Trust and Resilience for Learning, teaching, and Leading; and Achieving Equity and Excellence.

Trench story: he has many, teaching is at the core, during covid what he and others did was to provide free webinars to 40K educators. Learning still needed to happen. Showed who colleagues are as committed people. His first teaching job was at a MS, he started mid-year. 

Newest books- Talk about Fearless Schools- about building resilience, trust and psychological safety for students/staff and Achieving Equity and Excellence (2020), Deep Change Leadership also came out this year & 100 Day Leaders

Fearless Schools- you can only learn when u can make mistakes. Noone criticizes a toddler when learning to walk. Amy Edmundson at Harvard Business School- he adapted his work for education. We need to have fearless classrooms. Don’t get the wrong message from observers. It’s ok to make mistakes. Carol Dweck-we’ve been talking about it for 20 years. It’s not pretty when people have failures in education. Superintendent he knows has sent out “oops” grams. We’re good about talking a good game but not putting it into practice. In the classroom- he believes in equity sticks-they are like popsicle sticks. Teacher poses a question and gives everyone a moment of think time. Later in elementary school, and in Secondary everyone raises their hand. It’s the opposite of effective learning. College professor uses this now. Adult learning-he does random calling on participants. People are never humiliated. 

Achieving Equity and Excellence (2020)- 909090 studies- research he was best known for. Updating poverty success. He honors Karin Chenoweth in research. Heather Sadobsky. Steven Graham. What do you do technically to make it happen? Research is most creditable when robust & it works in high & low poverty schools. Non-fiction writing, achieved better results. Even in kindergarten, end of K, they’re writing sentences. Never get it right the first time. Even Doug has to do rewrites. Picture gets smaller Title- he didn’t know that the term “equity” would become controversial. Write to evaluate, score, kids love getting famous for it. Not just in ELA. Do non-fiction writing. it’s for all classes. Music, art, science, ss. He uses Ken Williams’ definition-In his world he says it’s about high expectations. Getting kids ready for college- kids need to be able to do writing in every subject.

Work with districts/state-level leaders: Has been on the road all 2021. Coast-coast. Not so much internationally. Webinars. Specifically-inside out change. Science fair approach- grading for example. Don’t just use his best ideas on grading. Don’t do it his way. Dig down to the issue. Different issues for different schools. Didn’t use the average. it’s how they finish the semester. 80% reduction in D-F rate. teacher-to-teacher credibility. Inside-out-change. Lots of people think they can make change education change with the “drive-by”, but he asks What do you want to achieve? What do you think is going to change with the drive-by speakers.

Biggest a-ha during past 3-5 years on changes in education: he wrote about it in Deep Change Leadership. Example-he doesn’t think buy-in works. If you believe that it will be futile 50 years from now. What works is inside-out change. It works through practice. Tom Gusky-article in Nov Educational Leadership on EfficacyDo change through experiences- real world practical appl. He loves speaking to parents, boards, ppl who do like him need to be modest about what they do. Teachers and admin.

Key quotes: as teachers and parents, admin. It’s resilience. Bouncing back from failure, defeat. Are we improving resilience. get rid of average. Teacher evaluations let us bounce back. Important for kid’s home life. Models are music teachers, coaches. Aspire to have math classes resilience. People in academics resist sports analogies. John Wooden f.ex. they called themselves teachers.  Coach Summitt as well.

Find Doug online? He Tweets @DouglasReeves, blogs at www.CreativeLeadership.net lots of free recourses, he has done lots of work around world. Volunteer group- finishthedissertation.org if you have a colleague or loved one who is trying to finish dissertation. He does www.marshwriters.org- free writer support group.

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/PdXyFocQ7Z4

Episode #140: Kathleen McClaskey

Episode #140: Kathleen McClaskey (podbean.com)


Kathleen is CEO and Chief Learning Officer of Empower the Learner, LLC (empowerthelearner.com), founder of Make Learning Personal (kathleenmcclaskey.com) and co-author of bestsellers Make Learning Personal and How to Personalize Learning. She is also a contributing author to the bestseller, 100 No-Nonsense Things that ALL Teachers Should STOP Doing. She is an innovative thought leader, international speaker, professional developer, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) consultant with over 35 years’ experience in creating learner-centered environments as a teacher, K-12 technology administrator and consultant.  Kathleen is passionate in empowering ALL learners to thrive with tools, skills and practices so they become self-directed learners, learners with agency, who are future ready for college, career and life. 

Trench story: she started her career in ‘86, became computer teacher in late the ‘80’s. Made a decision to get out of school districts. She was empowered to make that decision. Was a Tech Director in MA & NH. Heart wasn’t in it. But the entrepreneur business is tough. You have to be very confident about what to do next, takes 1-2 years to make a decent income.  She has impacted lots of people. You have to have a real vision, mission and know what to go after in life. You have to be willing to fail. Come out the other end. Have to have mission in life. You can’t write the script on your future. It’s about the ppl you connect to. Her goal now is to help transform education. We’ve done such disservice to kids. 

Let’s talk about your books Make Learning Personal (2014) and How to Personalize Learning (2016): MLP was built around a course she and Barbra Bray built. Some of the first people to write about personalized learning. The work she had done around pers learning has evolved around how kids should have been able to take charge during pandemic shut down. If we knew strengths and challenges, she has used Universal Design for Learning for 20 years to incorporate it into the MLP book. Change from supporting learners to empowering learners. We need to change what we do otherwise kids won’t be successful in learning. 2nd book could have been 2-3 books. Discover the learner in every child. We don’t recognize all children are learners. We don’t discover enough about students’ strengths/challenges. When she entered personalized learning world, they created a PBL chart, she still gets contacted by people to use the chart. If we’re creating learner-centered environments we need to create the environment. Sped EA’s can sometimes cripple rather than help kids. We need kids to develop skills around learning. Problem is that we don’t talk about challenges readily. Many kids to negative self-talk all day. Kids are afraid to share what they can’t do. We need to create respectful cultures. Learner profile is great tool to build relationships with kids. Open convos to talk with them about strengths. Sped system is based too much on the deficit model. Thru the process she has created Empower the Learner process and profile. Open to anyone- not for purchase.  Identity is at the core of personalized learning.

Tell me how Empower the Learner got started: it’s actually her 4th business. 5 module program for educators & parents. 2 practices with kids- mindfulness & learning. She wants kids to know who they are who they want to be. Based around science of identity. She thinks it has to happen earlier. Learner profile started early on with 1st book (ch. 4). She hasn’t used “student” for 10 yrs. We need to see the learner 1st. We’re not going anywhere w/ kids if we don’t see the learner in the classroom. They can do school really well. We need to get kids more independent & have better self-control. 

Talk about kid’s negative self-talk it’s stories we tell ourselves, that’s what we believe about ourselves. When kids can’t share out that they have negative feelings the 1 angry kid will attempt suicide. Kids compare themselves to others in cr. We need to create a culture of inclusivity. We need to allow kids to discuss in an open forum. 

Talk about the Learner Profile and Personal Learning Backpack (PLB): Empower the Learner profile We need to encourage kids to see themselves as learners. Empowered Learner Profile, backpack is tools & challenges. We want kids to be able to achieve the skill development. Kids need to self-advocate for who they are and how to learn. Don’t just tell them. We need to stop using “you” in education. It removes ownership. We want kids to use the “I” word. Many t’s have used the profile and 3 step process. Kids begin to self-advocate, what they need to learn in the classroom.  She presents with a teacher who has been using this for 4 years, kids who lead their own IEP meeting. Alot of sped teachers use this. Game changer. We’re too focused on academics. We haven’t talked about the learner as much as about learning loss. They need to be taught self-advocacy. Once you know your strengths and challenges you can talk about the skills you want to learn, most t’s have no way of learning what kids’ strengths & challenges are. We’ve done a lot of activities around who I am not about how I learn. Created UBL lens in 2012- way for kids to look at themselves through that lens. Created around access, engagement, express.  Kids are still not getting all the tools they need. We want them to change their self-perception. So many kids don’t have that. UBL lens looks at processing usable knowledge. How do we engage w/ content, concepts and ideas. How do we express what we know and understand? Most kids can’t tell you how they learn. They can tell you what their preferences are. Last point is what I aspire to be. Hopes & dreams. Personal understanding about self. Remember you can’t act on something you can’t talk about. You need to give students ownership. Recent blog post: Ownership to Learning, what does that really mean? 

She works with parents as well: she was that parent who never felt empowered to change anything. She knows from personal experience what the outcomes are with children who don’t believe in themselves. Son was a severe dyslexic with ADHD. Parents need to know this as well as educators. It’s hard to broach conversations. Her youngest son had learning disabilities- he was reading and not visualizing. It shows up in his writing. You need to find the right program for your kid or use an independent evaluator. That was the game changer for both her kids.  3 aspects of identity. Why do all of this? We want kids to build common lang around learning. Right now, there is no common lang. around learning. Reasons to empower the learning. We would have had a much different year with remote learning.  Best thing we can do for them is for them to be able to self-advocate.

Her PD/keynote training opportunities- how can ppl implement it in their school (school-wide): She talked about as she went over presentation. Project that begins in January. Will adapt Learner Profile for kids w/ neurological disorders. LP can be used by any child.

Key quotes: *she shares on screen* Let kids tell their stories. Empower kids to lead their learning. Start with the kids. She hopes ppl out there still have those hopes & dream. A 74 y.o. friend who kept all her hopes & dreams on hold. Son gave her an opportunity to jump out of airplane at 65. Now she writes children’s books.

Where can ppl find you online? Twitter: @khmmc, @LearnerEmpower

IG: https://www.instagram.com/empowerthelearner/                              


FB: https://www.facebook.com/EmpowerTheLearner

Website: empowerthelearner.com or www.learnerempower.com

She will run a beta test, teachers will want to contact her by the end of January. She would love feedback from educators.

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/T-EHIeHqRYE

Episode #141: Eric Guise


Eric Guise is a media specialist and technology coach with more than a decade of experience as a teacher. As co-creator of GotTechED the Podcast, Eric (Known as Guise) has teamed up with long-time friend and officemate, Nick Johnson, to share his educational technology expertise with teachers around the world. Eric is a recognized professional development and educational technology expert, who has presented at countless events, including ISTE, NJECC, and the NJ Science Teachers Convention. Eric was named the 2016 Biology Teacher of Year by the New Jersey Biology Teachers Association and recently completed his EdD in Leadership in Digital Transformation in Educational Technology.

Trenches story: you’re always in the trenches, you get up over 1 and then find something else to dig out of. Self-made reflections of teacher in practice. Eric is 16 years into his career. At beginning was a science teacher. Came out of college with the thought “I’m gonna be the best teacher in the world” complex. Realized he’d fail his students if he wasn’t a great storyteller. Wasn’t happy with the level of student engagement. Uphill battle-redefining his craft about how students like to learn. Participated in research studies. Brought real-life research project. Iron Royal, in the middle of Lake Superior. Through Earth Watch. Moose & wolves research study- can share some stories around curriculum in the classroom. People learn best when out of their comfort zone. Went back with students. He needed to have something to get kids interested. His 1st re-invention. 10 years later, went from science teacher to tech specialist. Reflected on mission as educator. During pandemic shutdown, had to lead tech for school all day while being a dad to kids @ home. Needed to be well-diversed in the tech he uses. He helped teachers refined the ed tech toolkit.   


Podcast story (from their website): #GotTechED The segments cover a range of topics, including pedagogy, trends, and lesson ideas, but always centered around educational technology. By interviewing teachers, students, and leaders in the edtech world, Nick and Guise hope to provide an engaging platform full of new and unique ideas. As a lifelong athlete and coach, Guise brings a competitive spirit to recurring segments such as the “Tech Battle Royale” where opponents argue over who has discovered the best new edtech. Just recorded episode #99. After 7-8 years in the classroom, he pivoted to tech. Both had grad school assignments. That’s when podcast got started. “Create a new way of delivering PD” so made 3 podcast episodes. Pushed for 1-1 chromebook integration. Became a tech coach. Now his students are teachers. Needed a narrative to teach from. Nick was a chem teacher, Eric was a bio teacher. They had an assignment in grad program 4 years in March. 1 every 2 weeks soon will release 100th episode. Consistency is important. Did a couple live recordings with Scott Nuun’s TNT podcast. Flipped podcast live as well. They want to get into some other podcast networks like TBT. They want to provide tech tools that help. First year had a few guests, will have more on soon. 75% just them talking. 

Is #EDUMEntor twitter chat still going strong? took hiatus from that when COVID started. Runs Gottech.com Guisegottech Nickgottech. Has a YouTube live video chat. He works with Ways of getting students to be content creators: Has a new project as well- MyEdTech bundle.com allows teachers to get extended premium bundles, 3 tools for $5. (see graphic below for coupon code). Visit it, for example, Nearpod is free for 3 months. He bought tools during pandemic. T don’t often have time to try out new tool during trial period. They partnered with different edtech tools. Needed tools with specific functions. Couldn’t implement tool in just a few free wks. Don’t give ppl too many tools, or it gets lost. They’re trying to get edtech tools in teachers hands to promote student engagement. Started podcasting course at his school with 18 students at hvspn.com. Eric is into student content creations, blogs, YouTube channels. Alot of tools for content creation, both for teachers & students. They have over 20 tools. 

Talk about your Ed.D work/dissertation- we both completed Ed.D’s at Capella University. Eric learned to be a decent writer, was a bit of a challenge for him. Stepping stone to get narrative for professional speaking. Dissertation was on efficacy of teachers after being trained using certain models of teachers within the 1-1 program. Learned how to overcome challenges. It’s tough to get districts to pay for tech coaches. Learned resilience. Need to have tech coaches when implementing 1-to-1. 

Key quotes…Eric is big with reflections. Rudyard Kipling quote: Strength of the wolf is in the pack and vice versa. It’s in us all. Everyone has some good in them. 

Find Eric online on Twitter @guisegottech @wegottech ask him any tech questions or tech need questions you may have.

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yF6W6nNNe5s


Episode #142: Allison Rodman

Episodes > The Out of the Trenches Podcast (podbean.com)

Allison Rodman is a professional learning consultant and founder of The Learning Loop. Allison integrates her experience as a teacher, coach, school leader, and board member to design professional learning that is personalized, purposeful, and paradigm-shifting. She is an ASCD faculty member and author of Personalized Professional Learning: A Job-Embedded Pathway for Elevating Teacher Voice (2019). She has also written for Educational Leadership, EdWeek’s Classroom Q&A, and Edutopia.

Trench story: Was during her first or second year teaching. She had the best laid plans. Problem-based experience for students. A lot of students weren’t prepared. A lot of things went wrong. Felt awful in the moment. Contributes to the exhaustion/burnout. Fuels passion that her classroom management training was grounded in routines, processes/procedures. We need to personalize PD in districts, esp. for new teachers.

Talk about The Learning Loop | Personalized Professional Learning -which came first, website your book? Website came first. Was going thru the admin internship. Asked “what if” questions. Reimagined PD as part of her internship. She saw that there was a lot of work around PD and wanted to understand adult learning practices better. It’s not a one-time sit & get PD. Started her website to amplify other’s work. Began working as consultant in 2016, using observation & evaluation data. Entry pts and leverage opportunities. Her work continued to evolve. She approached ASCD and had written a piece in Educational Leadership. Her book came out in 2019. Many years of trial and error. Came from research in andragogy. Design about how to design learning for adult. Had amazing mentors. Educators fell into 2 camps- either they were already personalizing (support of facilitators), or they weren’t at that point yet (needed help developing SEL learning capacity). Folks reacted in 2 different ways. They found out they could help coach up teachers as facilitators. She engages in data analysis w/ schools and asks who can do this work well. It’s about Leveraging power from within (your school). Her 2nd book will be released in 2022, it’s currently in the editing phase. It speaks to ways in which we can lean into our own strengths, developing SEL skills in adults. At what it means to be an educator at all levels. Move from “constant recharge”. We need to have work be more sustainable. 

Talk about upcoming Keynoting/Professional speaking- was at ASCD Leadership summit in January was a concurrent session. Was recorded and avail for members. She’s collaborating with folks in the month following the conference.  

PD courses available on your website? many are in production; many partners aren’t ready yet. Piloting virtual courses. Will release in course of ‘22. Series of mini courses related to new book. Achynchonous collaboration. She consults 3 days a week for her former school. The school k-12 came back in the fall after 18 months virtual. She helps with staff/school wellness. She says we’re kind of in “emergency” mode- operational facilities. Sensitivity levels and moving forward. Will release a course for PD facilitators in spring/fall, synchronous course. Helps districts navigate challenges from personal / professional lens. 

Work with ASCD and when she got into adult learning. What fueled this passion? Was an Instructional Coach before being AP. It gave her headspace to truly help teachers. Built relationships with staff, sudents. A Lot of her work was born. Was also Director of PD for district as well. It hit her as teacher there was “one & done” PD. When in admin prep program, had convos w/ AP about personalizing PD. Looked at what might work. experiences grew richer. Troubleshooting perspective. Interest was rooted in “how can we make this better”? People were worried about challenges personalized PD might present. What is our collective response to be most effective in this work. How are we handling PD days? Prepared to respond to challenges.

Has written for EdWeek Classroom Q &A Edutopia pieces asks about prompts, not being afraid to make mistakes. Aslo coaching pieces. Wrote with Brandon Johnson. EdWeek: https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/opinion-response-a-mistake-is-a-door-to-discovery/2016/09   Edutopia:


Key quotes: “Even when days are difficult, focus needs to be 1% better. Don’t need all the answers. What can you do to make today a little better than yesterday?”

Fnd Allison online on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thelearningloop                  

IG: https://www.instagram.com/thelearningloop 

FB: https://www.facebook.com/thelearningloop 

Website: www.thelearningloop.com 

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/53wxvlg93io

Episode #143: Teresa Brown


Teresa Brown is the Dean of Student Support, Teacher Coach, Induction Coordinator at Academy for Advanced and Creative Learning (charter school in Colorado Springs School District 11); President-Elect for PPAGT, STAR Grant Chair for CCIRA, Vice-President for PPIRA.

Trenches story: Started teaching in another district at age 33, about 20 years ago. It was hard. Kept saying “it’s just the first year”. She moved to 1st grade after 2 years. Building sub & her switched positions. Friend told her about AACL (her current school) opening and said she should apply.  So she “stalked them” a bit. Her gut got louder about her previous district not meeting the needs of kids she had. Applied as 3/4th grade teacher. Listened to her gut. Her first year was really tough, but she didn’t give up. Had a wide variety of needs in the same classroom. 12 years later. Has been a dean for 6 years after spending 6 years in the classroom. Was RTI and G/T coordinator. She attended all steering & board meetings before the school opened 12 years ago. Has been on Leadership team since 3rd year. They have 315 students. total. Their divisions are multi-age classrooms w/ 2 grade levels in any division. 4th graders can take pre-algebra. Don’t have to take pre-assessments but use NWEA math data. Some kids will float b/w classes. A colleague had more exp than her. She provided the foundation. They created lessons & units. Kids now grown up still remember. Division 1-K, D2- 1,2, D3-3,4 etc. K can go to 2nd grade reading class. Students in HS level class are creating movies, writing screenplays. They get to be with idea mates instead of age mates.

How did you get interested in working w/ G/T students? When she did teacher prep, it was night school. First years in D2, some kids were very gifted. Wasn’t allowed to differentiate. Had some kids who couldn’t read well at 2nd grade. 2nd year had 3-4 kids way above grade level in science. Noone was doing anything to serve the needs of G/T schools. District magnet school wasn’t completely built out. When she started at her current school, she understood their quirks. Teresa was very introverted, went to Catholic school but there was no G/T. In D2, there was only 1 coordinator for the district. Got some higher-level thinking skills PD. Questioning that allowed kids to go deeper. More than just memorizing names of planets. You want the kids to be thinking about what’s next. Her current director has Master’s coursework in G/T and her own G/T kids. Great activity w/ an engineer friend who meet w/ kids on zoom. Kids asked higher-level questions.

CAGT– Is more involved with the Co Assn. for G/T now. General board member. Came on to help with the conference. Everyone wants to see the kids succeed. This year their convention was in Denver for natl. org.

PPIRA-Pikes Peak Assn. of Gifted-Students-conference was cancelled both 2020-1. She is president-elect. Their next conference is virtual Jan 22. They’re a resource for parents. They’ve had speakers about self-advocating. Be an advocate for you kids in the classroom. This is a group for parents who can’t find other supports.

Resource center for G/T students in Pikes Peak? talk with parents and walking them through the journey. 

What’s your Philosophy of Discipline of G/T Students? She helps kids learn from the mistakes they make. Older kids are plagiarizing. When kids come to her office, she asks them why it happened, what they can do different. Their own intensities are at play. She gets a lot of students who need a quiet place to be. Grown-ups can more easily self-advocate. She teaches them what to do with their anger. She walks them through their feelings. Difference between respecting someone & being their friend. She won’t forget a kid who got suspended because he spit off railing from 2nd floor. Not thinking through things. 

What do you look for, how do you identify their needs in a G/T classroom? See the child. The G/T students are going to come to table w/ more questions than the neurotypical kid. Learning how to scaffold questions. Research about time the novel was written. Birdie Kenler- tiny activities, highly suggested getting to know G/T resource teacher. Kids have to understand the “why” behind the work. The teachers needs to learn for self to be able to meet kids’ needs. Can’t just take a curriculum and advance it. Look for connections to other things in the text.

 Process for a student who has newly been identified: Parent should be their advocate for a higher-level course. Give the kids opportunities to self-advocate. Tell them how to have convos w/ adults. Come to t w/ a plan. Have them talk it our with parent. Don’t come to their rescue right away. Walk with them next to them, not in front. Model for them having convo about something really meaningful. Kids with IEPs go through this. View G/T as a special need.

Key quote…Gifted is who they are not what they produce. See them for that. Honor that.

Find Teresa online: www.AcademyACL.org under staff. Blog www.tallpoppyteaching.com PPAGT has FB.

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/DSgKWnsTeW8

Episode #144: Merlyna Valentine

Episode #144: Merlyna Valentine (podbean.com)

Merlyna Mathieu Valentine is an international speaker, author, and consultant. She retired after thirty years having served as a teacher, principal, and executive director in an extraordinarily successful school district in Louisiana. Her transformational leadership as a school principal resulted in her school’s recognition as a “Top Gains” school.

Ms. Valentine has received numerous state, national, and international awards and commendations such as teacher of the year, principal of the year, and the University of New Orleans College of Education and Human Development Alumna of the Year. Ms. Valentine was featured in several news segments and articles including a spotlight in Ebony Magazine. Audiences were captivated by her inspirational story of survival, courage, and hope when she was a featured segment on the Today Show. She was recently chosen as the 2020 Inspirational Speaker of the Year in an international competition hosted by Speaker Slam of Canada.

In the face of tragedy and daunting obstacles, Ms. Valentine unleashed a remarkable inner strength that enabled her to lead by example. As a quadruple amputee navigating life’s tumultuous terrain, Merlyna demonstrates that no matter what challenges surface in your path, you have the power within yourself to overcome it and cross the bridge from impossible to possible. Through her current endeavors as an international speaker and consultant, Merlyna empowers audiences to embrace their personal power and prove what’s possible.

She is the of Daisy, the Extra Special Flower and Living without Limb-its.

Trenches story: In Aug. 2007 Merlyna became an Elementary school principal. At meet the teacher night. Had pain in her side. Excruciating. Was diagnosed w/ kidney stone. After visiting her dr. became violently ill. Struggled at home. Went to ER, sent home. went to hospital #2, ambulance to 3rd hospital. Couldn’t pinpoint issue. Was in major organ failure. Ambulance to 4th hosp. Had less than 10% chance of surviving. Kidney stone blocked her kidney, caused sepsis. It segwayed to getting back into being a school leader again. Was in a medically-induced coma for 3 weeks. Tragedy didn’t define her. 2 years after date of illness, she went back to school as principal/ Definitely allow her to get to the story part. Determination and drive to fight her way through. Returning to her job was WHAT kept her going. Consistently got msg/cards from students. IT led her to be the leader she was. It helps her get to the unexpected. Would she ever return to the quality of life? “Normal isn’t the best we can do, stop living in the now”. 

Talk about getting back into the principalship after your healing journey (were you a principal prior to the tragedy was for 2 years prior?) Changed drastically. Was already a servant leader. Collective effort. When returned was passionate to “level up”. Connected w/ ppl in a different way. Was both accepted & embraced. Became a model just by walking in the room. Now principal had a story. This is how we perceive. Don’t say “can’t”. The school embraced her differences. 

Talk about some of your keynotes, which ones are the most well-received, has the pandemic had an impact on your professional speaking? Making it through uncertain times. She didn’t know how long her journey would take. Was no future plan. Take it one minute at a time. People are looking for that inspiration. We’ve made it thru our worst days. About overcome adversity. Persevering thru tough times. We don’t allow change to manage us. “Prove what’s possible” is popular. Take “I am” out of impossible. Passion, perseverance, purpose. Tomorrow will be a better day, even if it’s 1% better. She had to figure out how to do virtual keynotes. Struggle to make connection. People with cameras off. No smiles/head nods. 2021 opened some doors. Up until early Jan. 22. Omnicrom possibly postponed, delayed or cancelled some events. 

School context- went back to same school following her illness. Then was promoted to exec. director. in 2016 retired. Coaches school leaders. Isn’t just locally in Louisiana, does a keynote sometimes and then goes back to visit and give feedback. (few times a year out side her area). 2009-13 was principal. Enjoyed every moment of it. Gratifying work. New superintendent in ‘13 she had followed Merlyna’s leadership journey. Superintendent wanted her to be exec director of Elementary schools. The “why” in her life was about kids. Questioned how she could do that at central office. Was responsible for 9 campuses. Took while to figure out how to still connect with students. Visited campuses. Impact exploded exponentially. Has worked now at every level in district. Can look at it through many different perspectives.  

New books– has 2 books in “brainstorming” phase. She likes the bigger projects. She shares on social media but doesn’t blog. Still figuring out who to tap into. Because of the sucess of Daisy, and using it when she speaks to students, has mentored MS/HS who have struggles since pandemic began. Body image, non-acceptance. Will begin brainstorming. Had to remind self to breathe. Take students on journey. Knowing worth/value. It’s OK to stand out. 6 months away from being able to publish. Wants to give back to kids.

2nd book-for school leaders- about what it takes to lead with staffing shortages. Recruiting/retention. Supporting veteran teachers. Bridge gap for teachers that all leaders are different. The kind of leader we need to be. How to lead following an event, such as Hurricane Katrina. About servant leadership. Hoping for release end of ‘22. 

Key quotes…people knowing things in life don’t go as planned. We can accept, embrace. People want to react. Slow down, respond, take into acct things that are happening. Tragedy is 5% what happened. We’re more than prepared to make it through. Pandemic has given us the gift of time. We can let it be transformational. Merlyna 2.0. 

Find Merlyna online on every social media, FB, business pg, IG @merlynavalentime Twitter @merlynainspires, LinkedIn and YouTube channel (snippets from keynotes). www.sherovalentine.net

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/CJ2URsG0hpg

Episode #145: Steven “Étienne” Langlois 

Episode #145: Steven ”Étienne” Langlois (podbean.com)

Return guest Steven “Étienne” Langlois is an award-winning teacher-rockstar and author of the #1 best-selling book ROCK YOUR CLASS. When he’s not performing for millions of fans in packed theaters and arenas worldwide or teaching in packed classrooms back home, he’s busy helping K-12 teachers rock their classes with expert engagement strategies. ​”Étienne” has spent the better part of three decades teaching K-12 and is the winner of multiple educational lifetime achievement awards and was awarded “Canada’s Artist of the Year”. He has worked as an author and consultant for leading educational publishing companies in Canada, the USA and Europe, developing effective curriculum content.

This recording was a live session at the CCFLT (Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers) Conference on February 19, 2022.

We discussed: 1. What will be the biggest gap we starting next school year after 2 years of COVID?

2. What gave you the idea to make these Interactive Comprehensive Readers? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWykW…

3. What exactly is an IC Reader?

What makes them different than a regular book?

4. What kinds of things do IC Readers springboard students into?

5. This is not your first time speaking in Colorado? What is that you like about working with Colorado teachers?

Follow Steven on Twitter & IG: @rockyourclass Visit his website: www.rockyourclasss.com

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/P9L07hG9NFE

Episode #146: Roman Nowak

Episode #146: Roman Nowak (podbean.com)

A teacher for the past 18 years, Roman has taught varying subjects from grades 7 to grade 12. A passionate ELA teacher, department chair, and leader for several years, Roman has transitioned to various roles from the classroom to student success coach and leader, to a specialist in the integration of technology in the classroom and a coach to develop 21st-century skills. He has also completed a 3-year secondment with the Ministry of Education of Ontario to lead and champion the Student Success and Learning Until 18 Strategy. A father of two, he is passionate about pedagogy and researches strategies to increase student engagement and motivation. In the last few years, he has done meaningful work, research, and led movements to include more diversity and center teaching around equity and social justice. Presenter and speaker at various conferences in Canada and the United States, guest on various podcasts, Roman loves to collaborate with educators across the globe on various projects. An active member on Twitter and founder of the #BuildHOPEedu chat, his objective is to participate in the active changes in the education system through equity, HOPE, and student engagement. His first book, Build H.O.P.E.: the Courage to Change, to Teach, and to Lead is due out later this year.

Trench story: He’s passionate & loves to learn. Can talk about 2 things, was stagnant in his job. Went to work for ministry of ed after a few years in CR to help change policies & programs, applied on a whim. 3 years of intense learning, reflection, growth. Worked on the French language side. Worked with 12 French-language school boards. champion the Student Success and Learning Until 18 Strategy. It gave him stamina, drive, dealing with more detail. Was a great experience. Policy, program side. Saw how districts use improvement plans. Spoke w/ t’s, admin. Went came back, needed to go back to ELA position. Has been in current position the last 4 years. Took what he learned at provincial level to the classroom. Increased/changed his workload. 

Teaching in HS, roles as student success leader. There is an official position for that now in the schools. It’s kinda like MTSS coordinator here. Starts around grade 7. Tier 1,2, 3 supports. Specialized intervention, failing credits, at risk for mental health. Started in 2003, in order to increase graduation. Has increase immensely. He encouraged all t’s to play the role of student success leader. HE focused on “agent of transformation” title. Means not starting from scratch but taking what exists and working with. In the culture it’s not there yet. It’s ok to have specialist, but in that case you “hand off” challenging students. It gives t’s extra support. Goal is to have 1 per school but will be pro-rated in terms of size of school. They are still your students even though they need extra support. We’re big on acronyms rather than the role. 

He’s big on the relationship piece. Some educators feel threatened “what else am I NOT doing?”. You can’t expect t’s to build student relationships if the adults aren’t fostering those. Same w/ transformation & development. In education, we focus on what we’re not doing. We need to build on what we’re already doing. We’ve asked everyone to add in past 2 yrs. We’ve talked a lot about relationships in past 5 yrs. Jimmy Casas. Adm need to build relationships with teachers. Dr. Jody Carrington- if our teachers aren’t fine, our students aren’t going to be fine. Listen to what they need. 

Blogs with J. Stamper & T. Nesloney on website. Has hosted a twitter chat. IS taking a break. You do what you feel you need and don’t feel guilty about the rest. Listens to Brene Brown, comparative suffering. “If they can do it than I should be able do”. While at ministry of ed, didn’t want to loose touch with what was happening in schools. Need to do personal growth work. He needed to reflect, put writing forward. Todd came to talk about “Kids Deserve It”. He’s wanted to write/collaborate w/ others. Felt like on an island himself. Was in 15-20 Twitter chats a week, like 5 a night at one time. 3rd year #BuildHOPEEdu, 30 m of reflection on a Sunday night. You need to find what you need. For some it may be auditory, zoom mtgs, it’s ok to choose what works for you! 

You signed a contract for your first book, Building H.O.P.E. in Nov. ‘20 with Code Breaker. Tell me about your progress on the book. Is in the process of finishing it. He’s hoping for Feb/Mar. Has been a long journey. Shifted to do it a different way. When he started Twitter chat started #BeKindEDU, found it wasn’t enough. Participates in world kindness day. Piece was missing for him. Centered around hope. None of it will work if we don’t believe in hope things will get better. How can we infuse it & see changes happen. It’s asking a lot of people to get them to change. He wants the book to be a community. Spotlights educators who are “beacons of hope”. They share how they build hope in where they are. Represents his learning, foundational importance of hope in education.

Is speaking at conference in Toronto on literacy/reading. What type of session do you give? When he started speaking, it was on tech. This one is “Reading for the Love of it”.  It’s a bilingual conference. Has spearheaded French-language sessions. Going beyond reading for decoding.  Has done a lot of work with social justice in his teaching English. Choice in what we read, what does it mean to show empathy, passion, understanding. 

Traditional teachers viewing classical vs. modern literature. We have to look at the history of what books were created as classics, why are we not using books like “Frankenstein”, in it we talk about science, nature, etc. T’s need to find a balance. Teachers are so focused on teaching a content area. Don’t just use the same old chapter ?’s. Find if there’s anything that can relate to modern day. Saw IG live with Nick Stone, if we’re still reading the same books we shouldn’t be focusing. In 2020 was supposed to give social justice literacy session with Nick Stone.

Out of everything…Centered around hope. Doesn’t want teachers to loose hope despite difficult times. Don’t be afraid to stop for a second. Bring about small changes. It could be you may not have a lot of flexibility but bring about changes w/ what st’s want to do. You need to talk more about mental health with kids in the classroom. You don’t always need to know the answer. Research the answer. Branch out the chapter questions to have kids develop their reasoning.

Find Roman onlineon Twitter: @NowakRo

Instagram: @roman.nowak (has developed more on there recently)

Facebook: @roman.nowak.73  check out his fireside chat

email: mr.roman.nowak@gmail.com 

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/oD6kD8vgc7Y

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