Episode 102 to 108


Episode #102: Melissa Lowry



Melissa is the co-author of Answer Keys: Teacher Lesson Plans for Successful Parenting.

Melissa Lowry is a sought after education and parenting coach with over 20 years of experience as a teacher, curriculum director, and school principal. She is the founder of Melissa Lowry Education Coaching, a consulting firm that provides distance/virtual learning coaching services for students in grades K-12, organizes and manages home learning plans, works with students to develop strong executive function skills, and helps parents and educators build and maintain strong home-school relationships.  Her work has been featured in print, on the web, and on the airwaves.

Tell me about a time when you were in the trenches and managed to crawl out: When she went into the field of advertising. Went home and thought about her skillset. Realized she needed to go into teaching. It was hard to take criticism about her job. She was pounding the pavement applying for teaching jobs. Need to go back to school. Her family had 5 x-country moves in 6-7 years. She was out of the workforce for 5-6 yrs. Was capable of doing good things in schools but had a gap in her resume. Then she worked at the school her kids went to. Had been a  principal but went to a TA position and worked her way up to long-term sub position from there. This was in ’12-13 then went into a teacher-leader position from ’13-18. Curriculum director moved to AP, she got the job as curriculum director. Left the school during pandemic to do consulting. At her current school, she eventually was able to become the principal. Patience is a virtue! Know your worth. Your timeline isn’t going to look the same as the timeline you get. Let your actions speak louder than anything else. Positively influence the school community. Disappointment she’s experienced in the past will make her a better leader. 

Tell me about various roles you’ve had, how you’ve gotten to your current position. Has taught every grade K3-8th grade. Sub, TA, Curriculum director, principal. Accepted a principal job this past July. Wasn’t seeing eye to eye with where the principal was where she was. Pivoted during the pandemic. Went into distance learning. Consulting business, education/parenting coaching. She was meeting with parents who have issues with kids implementing psych evaluations at the site level. Ran a micro-school out of the basement at beginning of 20/21 school year. Managed remote learning plans for public school students. The students were getting support with their virtual learning. She does SSAT prep, not ACT or Sat. This year has been fun that she’s been in this year. Is in Catholic education predominantly. Is located in Atlanta.  Worked with families who were choosing to homeschool and supporting them. There were lots of inquiries. They’re all back in (in-person) school now. Husband was so supportive.

She started giving Test Prep (SSAT, standardized tests). Listeners how to better support students. She focuses on the admissions process into competitive high school, such as if a family wants to leave the public school and go into a private school. Looked at the area of Language Arts, Reading comprehension, math. She looks at how a child would react to different interpersonal situations. Explores what type of environment student would thrive with. She would say to parents they have to think about who their child is, they have engaged in a lot of test prep, they should pause to see if it’s the right school (they’re applying for). Will rigor fit your child? Look at a child’s stress level. Space it out over time so the kid doesn’t feel too much pressure.  

In terms of Tutoring- if a child requires a consistent level of support for an extended period of time, they’re not ready to be at that level. It’s different for dyslexia. Math is interesting because kids need to be developmentally ready for some skills. It’s like the metaphor is when children learn to walk. Is the tutor like a crutch? If they’re struggling so much in the subject area there’s too much. When a school looks at its admissions process, they look at if a students can take on the rigor, and recommend specific tutoring for a specific period of time. However, if a student is struggling significantly in an area and no improvement is being made, it may not be the right time for extensive tutoring. 

Tell me about PD you’ve done on Executive Functioning (soft skills, grit, growth mindset): Peg Dawson has written many books, “Smart but Scattered” series. She went through several days of training with her. Ran a study for her thesis on study skills development. Looked at what happened with kids’ GPA and core functioning. She found what was interesting is that they’re no one size-fits-all. It’s more about the meta cognitive process. St’s need to think about thinking and how they learn. Don’t think there’s a formula for every child. We all learn differently. Give kids choices. Help to prune based on experiences. What’s working and not working right now. She’s created situations for students on how to build E-F skills. 

How do we support students in being successful in different types of environments? What went right/wrong? There are questions she challenges students with. She prints out a new challenge per week. Students may be thinking in pictures. List by day. She started to engage in metacognition. She presents many different strategies.

How to choose a tutor and how to monitor progress: it’s important for the tutor to have a “meet and greet” (at no charge). Make sure they’re buy-in and they’re not forced to work with her. There needs to be subject-matter mastery from the tutor. Any tutor should set out goals with the child. Say “x # sessions will close the gap”. If she’s doing her job, she’s not working with the child for more than 6 months, maybe a year. Is there a deficit, something else influencing a child’s achievement?  Tutors shouldn’t charge an arm and a leg. “For this money, this is what you can expect xyz”.

Tell me about your experience in public school vs. charter and/or private school-she talks about her perspective from working in a parochial school: She was a title coordinator. They were able to get title funding. Private schools are able to get the same funding as Atlanta Public Schools. Can be a controversial topic. Her side is “a student is a student, our children all need a level playing field”. Almost all her experience is in parochial schools- they’re always attached to a church. Tuition is very much lower than a typical private school. Class sizes in parochial schools are larger. St’s she’s worked with from public schools have had good support during pandemic. Title 1, if parochial school is in Title 1 district, they will be offered the funding, free & reduced lunches. Atlanta Public schools has let them access title funding well. They’re not taking the funds that would have gone to children in public school. They’re working towards the same goal.

Talk to me about parenting tips (discipline, parent coaching, developmental ages/stages, building a literacy rich home, building study/success stations): if they’re small. Don’t put tech in front of them if toddlers and below (iPads, “academic games”). Kids lose their patience level. They’re not getting the soft skills training. Have really good rules in place for when they access tech. Audiobooks are phenomenal. They can download the books, even if the kids can’t follow along with the books. Magazines are highly underrated such as for a sport you like. You will hear “I don’t like the book”. Go back to it, take them outside, tell kids “we’re reading for a half hour”, they need to get the wiggles out. Build up to it. Many will fall into a book. Have a literacy-rich hope: have them watch you read. It’s less important what they’re reading. 

Key quotes: “Childhood is short, fleeting. They’re only young for a short period. We don’t need to cram so much into their brain so early. More isn’t necessarily better. Give them space to develop something. Don’t do it for yourselves. Trust them to pursue their own interests”.

Find Melissa online on  IG: @melissalowryedu  and visit her Website: www.melissa-lowry-education-coaching.com

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/5E8vUgSQ0vI


Episode #103: Noah Geisel



Noah was recognized as the 2013 ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year.

Noah Geisel is the 2013 ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year. He is the World Languages Badges #BadgeSummit founder. He serves as the Micro-credentials Program Manager at the University of Colorado Boulder. He founded and coordinates the annual Badge Summit Conference and is a lecturer at the University of Colorado Denver.  His background is as a World Languages, EdTech and Digital Badges consultant and teacher passionate about helping educators and students make awesome happen. He has 19 years of experience teaching Spanish, English and Technology and He is a constant collaborator on Twitter and frequent blogger on Medium.com. As a community organizer and champion of Digital Badge Credentials, he co-founded #BadgeChat and seeks to amplify others’ efforts to change the world. He is a learner, sharer, traveler, and giver of high fives. Noah makes his own buttons, collects ViewMasters, and takes his dog dad duties to Pepper very seriously.

Trenches story: It has to do with the discomfort that comes with being called out, owning your own stuff. Reactions to critical race theory. A student told him once he was racist & sexist. This was 15 years ago. He was defensive. How can I be part of the problem when I am trying to be part of the solution? He looked out across the field instead of in the mirror. Is still getting out of the trenches. It’s about the power of humility. It’s the “I don’t know much even though I thought I did”. He feels he needed to be called out- your impulses to go a a defensive posture. It’s not about us but about someone else’s struggle for dignity. It’s about the names students are being called. 

Talk about your transition from teaching Spanish to current work: You can never take away being a Spanish teacher from him. 7 years ago he had too many full-time jobs, consulting was too demanding. 2, 3 years ago, at first he was teaching part-time Spanish and was doing 2-3 Spanish full-time jobs. His consulting job took off. He didn’t want to burn out. He is also currently teaching Spanish at UC Denver, 1 single class. In terms of digital badges, he’d been following it on Twitter, was lucky to get it off ground at UC Boulder. Following inquiry, not knowing where. The credentials are for all students at CU- centralized for all colleges, out of registrar’s office. Can be for staff, faculty. 

What does the CU Digital Badge Micro Credentialing entail? Teaching credentials. Advising credentials. Biological anthropology. Opportunities to recognize there are narratives missing from students transcript. How to communicate what type of learner you are through the credential. Employers can click on the certificate. Because it’s digital we’re able to attach evidence. It doubles as a portfolio. Can attach a video, ppt, word doc.   

What doors did being the ACTFL TOY open? There were a-ha moments, connections with other WL teachers throughout the country. Fellow CO language teacher and ACTFL TOY Toni Theisen told him he should nominate himself,  Wants to wax on the role those kinds of recognitions play on our profession. There is the “edu-celebrity” buzzword now, the TOY there is backlash again. There is power of recognition in the profession. Teachers are so humble. Toni came up to him and told him to put his name in the hat. You could use that “sash” in order to advocate for other teachers. People might miss the value awards have for everything else. You reach out to legislators as TOY. Am I allowed to say I believe in myself that much? It’s about having the audacity to self-nominate. We can wait around for other people to do it but nothing wrong with believing it’s true. Because of being a TOY, your words have different weight.  

Tell me about PD, courses you’ve written, presentations: Know Your Place: Placemaking, Storytelling & the Struggle for Human Relevance & Productive Consumption and the Bias Against Learners as Sheeple: They have wacky titles, the first is really rooted in most of his research what are we gonna do in this world outsourcing automation. What’s the role of teaching and learning. It got him into the micro credentialing piece. It is accessible to us to do better. Stuff that actually matters that’s not showing up on report card. We’re not capturing data points but could be. As teachers, we don’t necessarily get to see what jobs aren’t automated and outsourced. World Languages & the Arts are showing up in these spaces. Opportunities that are hidden in plain site. Jobs that don’t exist now. What are the things we can have as fundamental conditions that play into it? Think around how that might shape our learning efforts. The 2nd course- there’s a lot stuff around student voice and student as producers. You’re consuming, consuming, opportunity to question conventional wisdom.

Talk about ties to the community we make as World Language teachers: For him, it gets real for learners in engaging them. Not about finishing worksheets, getting a grade. Instilling risk taking. When he studied abroad, his cohort went to O’Brien’s. Noah went to the café and spoke Spanish to the locals. He had an activity where his students would call the restaurants. He can’t overemphasize the value of using authentic language opportunities. Colleagues who put blood, sweat, tears into putting together skits for UNC. Denver film center- short films they will put together for your class.  When we as teachers are willing to take the risk and ask, it’s great. Spa. teachers will show “The Election”. He looked up the directors, they zoomed with his class. For the ones who do, you create the amazing experience.

What are your hopes/thoughts on how WL teaching can change post-pandemic? In terms of veteran vs. newer teachers, it’s worth slowing down and see how far we’ve come, some things that were hugely controversial, it’s gone from “this is how you could do it” to “this is how things are done”. Whether it’s tech or pedagogy, recognize how far we’ve come. We’ve gone from learning about practices in sessions to it being common knowledge. We have responsibility to acknowledge this, beyond the tech, regardless of any sort of toolkit/instructional strategies. Age isn’t a great predictor of comfort with new things. Massive assist- working smarter, not harder. T’s have realized there are easier ways to doing things in terms of st agency. Formative assessment-time saver to use tech. Absolutism isn’t where it’s at. Look at dept mates, don’t use “you need to” “you should”.

We talk about looking at WL from the proficiency lens. The system makes us say level 1,2,3, but using “novice high” in “presentational communication”. What does it mean from school to school, even within a school. Can do statements and look-for’s. Powerful for connecting learners, having a streamlined process. They can serve as meaning-making vehicles. They help us think about how our learners are served. Every language teacher every year, parents say “I wish I would have learned a language”. 

Key quotes: given the podcast trench theme, as dire as it can feel, there’s opportunity for reflection. You will hopefully get to the other side. Did you take advantage of a bad experience to find learning that will come from it.

Find Noah online on Twitter: @senorg 

IG: @senorgeisel                                    

Website: https://noahgeisel.medium.com/ 

View this episode on YouTube (part 1): https://youtu.be/fegwxOdWcxw    View this episode on YouTube (part 2): https://youtu.be/v-iSWfrPWOk


Episode #104: David Weiss



Community Superintendent David Weiss has worked in public education for 19 years. Prior to joining the School Leadership Team, he served as the principal of Westgate Elementary school for five years, and as a high school assistant principal for 4 years before that. David also taught middle school math and science for 8 years. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Youngstown State University and also holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Specialist License in School Leadership from the University of Denver. David is a learner who is passionate about innovation, equity and opportunity for all students who walk our hallways. David oversees the schools in the Alameda and Jefferson articulation areas.

Trench story: He was really trying to think about a specific trench story but the work he loves to do is really in the trenches. When he took over as an ES principal, it was in turnaround status. They spent a few years in the trenches. Did community building. Got it to be be performance for 3 straight years. Connection is the work of the other people around him. Community worked hard, lead, love & learn. It was the pinnacle of his career. He likes to be in the trenches getting into the data, doesn’t believe the work happens in a “tangible” way. 

What does a community superintendent do? Could be called area or quadrant super. His role is to carry out the mission of the district, carrying out the mission of the schools where he supports principals. The K-12 experience he has really helps him in current job. Supports turn around in the district. Eastern part of district. There is a small # of Title 1 schools. He is passionate about that work. Can be about dealing with an angry parent to walking through classrooms, helping principals figure out budgeting. Working with principals to find out if their structure is working. He is supervising the team, instructional coaches on special assignment to get really focused. Priority schools about getting schools to performance. Can be a type of leadership coach, other days it can be more operational. Typically he’s in 3 schools a day- 80% of week in schools. Will evaluate their SIP. Supporting district mission. Is in every school every week, usually with admin or an instructional coach. 

Tell me what you learned from being a Title 1 principal: In the other podcast, he talked about how he walked into a school that was a mess in terms of culture. He realized that everyone wanted to be good at everything. He had taught in Denver Public as a teacher. Working in highly-affluent schools there was always something missing for him. Did great work there with students, parents, teachers. Took a few months to remember the poverty that affects families when he returned to working in Title I schools. Couldn’t get focused, dialed in, progress monitoring. Needed to narrow down the action steps. He supervised 11 schools. 10 of them are Title 1. This past year no one got SPF’s. They meet with schools that are in the turnaround status. Go through data and help the principals narrow their focus. They can’t address it all. He got there in 2 years as principal. Good leaders spend a little time figuring out the system they’re working in. Head wrapped around a direction. Can’t focus on everything at one. You have to be dialed in to the UIP. Monitored it during PLC meetings. He teaches school leadership at Regis Univ. and one of the first things he says is aligning goals to the UIPs. Everyone needs to know the goals and where they are on the continuum. Decided on a mission, took 6 months to write it. Lead, love, learn. First question to ask was “does it fit our mission?” Made it part of the norm to discuss the undiscussables, like the black & brown boys not being served. They held themselves to the mission. They often dilute their work without improving their work. Team helps them monitor this every month. Will put data. Observations/feedback and instructional strategies they focus on. His job is create the conditions for his principals to success. Schools as community hubs, connections to food stamps, bus passes, local churches. 

How do you make sure they have everything they need to get across the finish line?  He is also a type of leadership coach. District leader- initiatives as district like literacy, part of role is to ensure the schools are collecting good data (8 ES, 3 secondary schools). 3 schools are IB schools as well. What is district initiative, how does that interplay with Expeditionary Learning and IB? This year they had some interim assessments. Self-assessment tools, importance of school culture with surveys. Used a progress monitoring tool for literacy as well. Validity of data in pandemic is questionable. Really important in the fall, don’t start with assessments but do something in the first month. He thinks a lot of kids will be ok. Don’t want people to make assumptions. Some students disappeared, those students may return and have missed an entire year. Don’t make assumptions. Use data to see who needs what and why. The pandemic could be defined as a trench. Must be careful to think as what we put in places. 

What innovations or post-pandemic strategies are you looking forward to in the upcoming school year? He found that a lot of HS kids were working FT but still participated well. In Jeffco they started remote learning program,they’re building a K-12 model both async and synch. Innovation is a passion for him. Teaches a class on data literacy at Regis. Asks students to think about “what are the good things that are gonna come out of this?”. We can’t keep talking about things that have gone wrong. We have done some good things this year we can’t loose. Teachers have provided opportunities to kids they didn’t think they could have provided before. Big opportunity to learn from the experience and not go back to “normal”.

How do we engage & interact with all our families and students? What about those kids who will engaged in an online blog discussion that don’t interact in F2F class? 2 things: Pandemic forced us into critical equity conversations. Many people didn’t realize what other people didn’t have. 2nd thing- teachers kicked ass. We can’t pay teachers what they’re really worth, but how do we harness what they have created & share with the rest of the world? they were forced to innovate, they learned some really cool things along the way. T’s should still engage in tech. What can we learn from students who engage better online? 

How do we lift up some young teacher leaders and engage them in part of the system? He learned early in principalship that many teachers don’t want to lead. He wants to lift up some but he wants to make sure principals ask them. For all the grief we give millennials, they’ve took things and run. We love to empower the most veteran teachers but we need to respect the younger ones as well. There are different ways to allow people to lead. If they’re willing to share through observation, let them have people observe their classes. He doesn’t want the message to come across that we should be innovative to the max but he believes the families will expect something different. It will interesting for principals. They’ll have teachers who are ready to go (early adopters) but those who will dig their heels in.

Key quotes: “Be thoughtful about kids coming back at beginning of the school year. We need to be very methodical about determining what kids and teachers really need. Adults were impacted more than kids. Let’s not decide for them. Build culture and community. Collect data. Don’t give interventions to kids who don’t need them”. 

Find David online: on Twitter @teacherdave 

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/XUrczOcG-ts


Episode #105: Dan Butler



Prior to serving as an administrator, Dan taught third and fifth grades in the Western Dubuque District, as well as serving as a baseball and football coach.

Dan Butler serves as the principal of Epworth Elementary School in the Western Dubuque Community School District. Previously, he was the principal of Epworth and Farley Elementary Schools simultaneously for four years focusing on positive relationships with all members of the learning community, high impact instructional techniques, building leadership capacity in others, and establishing successful school cultures. In addition to his responsibilities as a building principal, Dan works as an adjunct professor in the Educational Leadership department at the University of Northern Iowa where he earned his doctoral degree. Dan has received numerous awards and most recently was recognized as a finalist for the School Administrators of Iowa Elementary Principal of the Year in 2019 and 2020.

Trenches story: This past school year stands out with last summer (2020) and opening safely and making things as normal as possible. Had a lot of great people supporting him. Called it a hybrid model, 4 full days a week. Fridays were virtual days. Stayed in that model till mid-Feb.

What can people learn from reading your book “Permission to be Great”? Worked with connected publishing with Jeff Zoul & Jimmy Casas. They asked him if he’d be interested in writing something, It’s his 18th year in education. He started thinking about the book 8 yrs ago. He defended his dissertation in August 2020. He started writing the dissertation during Covid shutdown. Was geared toward teacher burnout. Positive psychology strategies. Weaved in some personal and fictional stories. Research comes from Matlock and Reiter. The book is about 6 mismatches between work and work environment, what can principals, teachers, teacher leaders to do impact it? Their plates are overwhelmingly full. He tired some if his research into his book.

There are 6 mismatches. 1) Resource-too much work to do and not enough time to do it. We need to get more in line w/ resources to meet demands

2) Lack of autonomy 3) Encouragement, recognition, appreciation- organization doesn’t value you, they’re not honest 4) Issues of fairness in terms of promotions over a consistent period of time 5) Insufficient rewards, compensation 6) Lack of community at a high level.

These don’t just exist in education. Research on burn-out is rich and thick. Does the federal govt value us as an educator. The greater the gap between these two, the greater the gap is in the environment. 

Is they anything from the book that has changed your practice in the past year? Practicing gratitude, notes, recognition, has done that the last 3 years, Is embedded into the staff culture. Increased engagement w/in the people. He writes 1 note card per day. Makes both feel better. Being very mindful of the workload of his teachers. What can we do to take things off people’s plates? Is he giving people enough decision-making authority? Provide better outcomes for students.

How coaching sports added to your toolbox in terms of classroom management? You truly have to maximize your time in terms of decisions you make. Was a coach for the better part of his teaching career. Athletic field is like 1 big classroom. Is teaching kids responsibility. With football, there are many moving parts. 50 kids on the team. Ability to manage time. You need to know the objectives in each segment. In classroom- what is the teacher, para, etc. doing, designing the environment to fit that? 

You were involved in Iowa educational chat, moderated since 2014 and did it until 2020. It was a Sunday night twitter conversation with 2 other Iowa educators talking about the latest trends in education, whatever was on their mind. Structured 7 questions whatever was on their mind. Did a live video feed where they welcomed on guests, live once per month. Took hiatus last summer and the ed chat has since been dismantled.

Dan speaks at conferences in Dubuque, IO region and a few natl. conferences. Breakouts, not too many keynotes. Likes to present about digital leadership. Communicate a message to engage people within a F2F environment or otherwise. Has spoken at NAESP 6 times. He has presented the info written about in his book as well. How could you increase encouragement, recognition, appreciation? He has 1-on-1 conversations with every staff member weekly. Individual core values vs. organizational core values. What can you do to get those values in line? It increases engagement in the setting. When you’re clear about what’s at your core, it makes those decisions easier when you’re acting within your organizational values.

Key quotes…take the conversation seriously in terms of mismatches between individual & work environment. Many tools to “fix” all that’s wrong in education. How can we address the workload? How can we establish relationships/sense of community? It’s not easy but not too complicated.

Find Dan online at www.danpbulter.com, you can access all social from there.

Follow Dan on Twitter: @danpbutler 

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/nU5YlKpJUWk


Episode #106: Erik Francis



Erik Francis is an international author, presenter, and speaker with over 25 years of experience in education. He is the author of Now THAT’S a Good Question! How to Promote Cognitive Rigor Through Classroom Questioning, published by ASCD. His book Deconstructing Depth of Knowledge: A Method and Model for Deeper Teaching and Learning will be published by Solution Tree International in October 2021. Erik is the owner of Maverik Education, providing academic professional development, guidance, and support on how to develop and deliver teaching and learning experiences that are academically rigorous, socially and emotionally supportive, and student responsive. He is also ranked consistently as one of the World’s Top 30 Education Professionals by the international research organization Global Gurus. 

Trench story: His biggest challenge was that he was an unsuccessful building administrator (AP). He takes ownership. He inherited a campus that was a hot button. Managerial, personnel issues. Inappropriate behavior among kids. Former AP wasn’t well respected. He felt like he couldn’t do anything right. It was tough not due to students, it was high SES. He turned a tragedy into a success. He realized that going into State Dept. of Ed in AZ after that job taught him a lot about Title 1 policy. He realized the didn’t have mentors to help him in his struggles even though he had leadership coaches. Never dreamed he’d do consulting at 50. Some people take the principal title to heart. It’s important whether the community accepts you or one. There seems to be another way to the end goal. Put him on a path he never would have dreamed of. Has been on consultant path for the past 9 years. Lesson- you always can bounce when you hit the ground. Lesson learned- think about the position you want and how that fits you. Don’t just go after it because it’s money. He’s more macro- looking at the curriculum, PD. A lot of it was youth, insecurity, arrogance. You have to ask yourself if you’re ready. 

Talk about your new book Deconstructing Depth of Knowledge: he’s made it an RTI model. It’s being published with Solution Tree. There is an E-doc that show the extended levels of development. Pre-sales started the end of June. 10 years ago we were introduced to Webb’s DOK levels, it was an inaccurate doc (the DOC wheel). It’s not about the verbs it’s about what comes after the verbs. FL was one of first states to use DOK. The wheel is based on Barbara Clark’s “Growing up Gifted” wheel. Karen Hess superimposed Webb’s DOK with Bloom’s. It functions like an RTI support system. IT will help post-pandemic looks at standards & DOK level. You know where the finish line is, you need to identify where you are on the course. Do you know how to multiply? Find out where you need to start. You’re using DOK as a strength builder. 4 skills:

Tell me about the 4 things we know about teaching this year and about your DOK training- we know for certain there’s been “learning loss”, this happens all the time in education. It comes from bad scheduling, bad teaching. There’s also going to be gaps. students have strengths and skills and they’ve survived a global crisis. IF we focus on I have to reteach this it’s on us. Build upon students’ strengths they’re coming back to us with. How can we tap into the student’s skills? How do get to the destination for each student? Shifts in education need to come bottom up. His book will plant a seed in someone’s head. 

Talk about the new 3 R’s– rigor, relationships, resilience. Look at learning framework, either Webb’s, Bloom’s. Look at recall, strategic thinking, give the kids an answer in order to justify why. 4 DOK’s. Relationships- have students establish connections w/ classmates, community. You get an investment. They form a relationship with the content. Resilience- replace grit. How can we take our students’ education and their experiences, personal skills and develop that into strengths, skills and sense of self? We need to be patient with ourselves as educators, schools are asking him to do PD.  First quarter, reestablishing relationships. Getting their sea legs back. Reconnecting. Realizing there’s not gonna be social distancing, no masks (in some places).

Talk about your contribution to the #100Stop Series. He wrote chapter 100- Stop Teaching if you don’t love the Profession. He wanted to tap into his AP experience. He shaped it as you might not love what you do within education. It takes a special type of person to be in those roles. It’s OK to do public speaking. Teachers can apply to speak at conferences. There’s more to what you’re doing- figure out what it is you’re doing and the why. Teachers even a struggle to identify who we’re gonna be now.  

Questioning and inquiry (might be his next book)- It’s interesting this journey about questioning and inquiry. In his book, Now that’ a Good Question, he writes about how teachers struggle to come up w/ good questions. Asking good questions aren’t easy for people to answer. Don’t just accept “I don’t know” as an answer.  There’s a lot of questions about what’s a good question and what’s not. 4 different types of essential questions. What distinguishes questionings and inquiry, how do we shift the mindset. He can give 2 diff. examples in terms of U.S. history. How do you use questioning and how to make it comfortable? If you can tell me how you got the info, you’re creating strategic thinking around it. Reflect before responding. Giving kids the answer. We’re asking kids to retrieve and then give their info based on that knowledge. Question stems teachers often use aren’t actually asking questions. Concept about inquiring minds. Hook- peaking your interest. How do you know? The question would be should be acknowledge Washington or others who were appointed under articles of confederation? Why do we differentiate instruction but not PD? 

Tell me about PD you have planned for this fall-he’ll promote the book. He is speaking at AMLE in Nov. He is mostly working with schools & districts at school level. Wants to create some online courses as well, preorders thru www.solutiontree.com.

Key quotes…“Always ask yourself “what if”. We don’t call it learning loss, but unfinished business. Tragedy can be temporary. You decide how the story is to end. Everything is happening for a reason. It may not be immediate, but we’re in charge of our own destiny”. 

Find Eric online on Twitter:  @maverikedu12  and visit his website: www.maverikeducation.com

View this episode on YouTube (part 1) https://youtu.be/4tneFfLyTaU (part 2): https://youtu.be/C1A8q3B01zI


Episode #107: Martin Silverman



Martin Silverman is a father, grandfather, husband, and long-time educator in beautiful San Antonio, Texas.  He is committed to providing the best educational experience for the students and families at Salinas Elementary school where he is principal.  Martin has worked in urban, suburban, and rural districts as a teacher and administrator.  His interests are in creating and nurturing school culture, providing enriching experiences for students and families, and developing future teachers and administrators.  As a former bilingual teacher and administrator,  Martin is committed to providing all students with quality programs to develop their unique skills.  He hosts a podcast called The Second Question, which highlights educators and provides them a forum to discuss ideas, and to honor the teachers that have influenced their lives.  He is also part of the Texan Connection podcast team that shares perspective from a trio of Texas educators.

Trench story: He has been 38 years in education. His first principalship  was in 1993. Had only taught 7 years. 3 years he served as a pseudo-admin. Saw a newspaper ad about a rural, suburban school district. Pre-K-2 grade only 400 kids. Was a major city boy, so were his teaching jobs.  Felt like he “knew everything”. A lot of ideas were separate than what people thought they needed. Everything he thought was brilliant, they thought was terrible. There was no accountability, state testing didn’t start until 3rd grade. His admin Master’s gave him a lot of info on managerial tasks, not how to create change. Thought staff loved the minor changes. Honeymoons end quickly. The speed was uncomfortable for many staff members. Achievement gap b/w Hispanic & white kids. Needed to prepare the groundwork. Shocked by response to survey they did ½ through the year. Spent 5 years there & won back trust. Another example, more of a punch. Came into district he’s in now. School burned down by arson. Kids & staff were in 4 different buildings. Grieving from a fire, him being new building next year. Every morning, kids came to burned-out shell building. busses came there and then buss kids to the other campuses. Him & AP would meet back before the end of the day. Prev. principal had made t’s powerless on purpose. No PA system, so he used a metal bell to ring to begin & end the day. Big disconnect by the ability for staff to empower themselves to do things. His philosophy was “snap out of it”. Took a long time to work with people to get to that space. By 4th yr he had internal strife with teachers. They were back to the grind. Was terrible with 1 grade level in particular. 1 sub-group of 1 test in 1 grade level. What he learned from all those things, is to try is make the most of it. Personnel issues should have been addressed before.

Self-care- we’re conditioned to achieve and achieve. He never had impostor syndrome. Many admin suffer from that. They keep wanting to move up. It’s often dependent on other people’s whims. In his district, new principal coming from other area of TX. AP of that school didn’t get the job. His advice is to center your identity first. Honor what truly matters in life. People get tied up into their work identity forgetting what their real identity is. There’s work that goes into the job, it’s never easy. Is everyone who was successful pre-pandemic equally as successful now? Build on your strengths, be aware of what you need to work on.  

Longevity in the principal position– his last classroom teaching job was in 89/90. How have you managed through all the federal changes? He does back to pre “A Nation at Risk” report no federal accountability (that came back in ’84-86). It’s lowered our expectations of kids, previously there was no floor or no ceiling. Just go as far as you can go.

What was the leadership coaching/fending for themselves back then? When he was AP, they didn’t get together. We train our teachers exactly the same way we train our kids. He emailed other principals first year and met with local K-2 principals. In TX, principals were often coaches. They knew how to manage people. What has changed is that people took a job and stayed in it, nowadays people more up.

How has being a part of (Teach  Better Team) TBT benefited you? TBT blogging- some topics he’s written about recently. A teacher told him recently he has “gallons of words”. Has written 11 so far. Prior to pandemic, he was very much action mode, not reflection mode. He was able to relieve stress from pandemic year by writing his stories. He pounded out the stories because he had something he had to say. Did a post about CTE chat he had for TX connection. This summer he published “Cool of June thinking”. His office is cool, it’s hot outside. This is time we get to think on “Carpet”. The principal’s office is carpeted. Couldn’t it be great, it seem like a good idea in the “cool of June”, but still need to take into consideration 1 million things that will happen in. 

Tell me about your read aloud videos, FB lives– did a FB live Xmas story this past December. He wanted the community to hear others from other places. Became a weekly show. Stories from near and far. Thought it would be cool to hear from others. Wants to develop a school YouTube channel. Had a great response. Had more people volunteer than they had slots for. Might do a summer version. These archived stories are on Salinas Elementary FB page so people outside community can enjoy.

Key quotes: How important it is to not let your job become who you are. It’s easy for him to say as he’s near retirement. Things work out the way they’re supposed to. Do it from a center of “it’s not a personal vendetta”.

Find Martin on Twitter: @   MrSilverman116 IG: @the5silvermans  FB: Martin Silverman @SalinasElementary Email:martinsilverman62@gmail.com  View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/g7mDUainxs8


Episode #108: Christine Ravesi-Weinstein




Christine Ravesi-Weinstein currently serves as a high school Assistant Principal in Massachusetts and previously worked as a high school science department chair for four years and classroom teacher for 15. Diagnosed with anxiety and depression at 23, Christine began her journey towards mental wellness. She began a non-profit organization in June of 2017 aimed at removing the stigma of mental illness and promoting physical activity as a means to cope with anxiety.

As an avid writer and educator, Christine became passionate about bridging the two with her advocacy for mental health. Since March of 2019, she has had numerous nationally published articles including the number one most read article of 2019 on eSchool News (she also had the number six and eight most read articles in that year). She has also published articles with District Administration, the Teach Better Team, Tech & Learning and SmartBrief and author of the book Anxious, published in March 2020, read up to here on Podcast

Out of the trenches story: as someone diagnosed with anxiety, she is almost in the trenches every day. Her first panic attack was gut wrenching. Was able to pull herself out of the moment. Wasn’t instantaneous. She speaks on mental health awareness advocacy because she lives it every day.

Christine has presented at numerous national conferences including ASCD CEL 2019, Empower20 (selected), ASCD CTE 2020 (selected), the Tech & Learning 2020 Virtual Leadership Summit, the 2020 ASCD Virtual Conference, ESEA 2021 National Conference and has provided professional development for educators in various districts.  Christine is an MASCD Board Member, author of the book Anxious, published in March 2020, and is a member of the CodeBreaker Leadership Team. Her second book will be out later in 2021, with the working title “Fighting your Inner Voice”.

Tell me about what people can get out of reading “Anxious” and who this book is geared for. Ed leaders, parents, teachers can all benefit from it. It explains how to support kids for the non-counselor. Not written from a clinical lens. She touched based with people who have kids who aren’t struggling with anxiety. Small strategies on how to approach kids. They are what she’s been. Students are glad there’s something out there that speaks to them & their needs. It’s filled with stories. Also how she organized classroom to help with kids who experience anxiety. Strategies from 3 lenses, from her as sufferer of disease, of teacher, and of school admin. 

We talk about her work history, she is starting her 19th year. First 15 in the same school. Was a classroom teacher. The last 4 of those was also a department head for science. Was a bridge to becoming an AP. Is now at a different school. Has only been at the HS level. When she was in HS she aimed for perfection. Went to UMass Amherst. Fairly healthy emotionally there. Went to Harvard for grad program, lost control she’d established in undergrad. Needed to forcibly implement strategies. Landed a job as sci teacher. Still suffered mighty w/ anxiety. As team lead, was part-time in classroom only. Wanted to help teachers become better teachers. Lens she has dealt with anxiety-routine & structure is paramount. Anxiety is about control. She was very organized, had weekly agendas. As admin, she tried to implement listening skills, instead of making presumptions. Ask questions. You treat others how to treat you- that’s why she does what she does in her work. Can’t be messy/disorganized and get mad when kids are disorganized.  

We talk about she has a new book that will be out, just finished manuscript the day of recording. First book was a whirlwind. It’s different than her first book. About fighting your inner voice. Will speak to young kids, educators, and adults. Really a memoir. She reached out to educators, it’s not just her, her story is unique. Used her position to reach more people. Allowed other’s voices (5) to be heard. Was a part of the project she never expected. Emotionally challenging. Wants to put out by the end of the year. Code Breaker doesn’t push timelines on you. There’s all about breaking the status quo. She is promoting it. Different from “Anxiety”. Working title “Fighting your Inner Voice”. Has interviewed educators across the country, she has been able to write their stories. Sub-plots. The way you get over it is really hearing other people’s stories. 

We talk about her YouTube channel “The Runner’s High”, she does 2 minute organic video clips before/after a run. Has established her own vlog that’s scripted. Has gotten awesome feedback. Thoughts she gets during her run. Vlog is separate, will pick back up after manuscript now. She writes, produces, edits. Things she’s thinking of over a month’s time. How we can overcome what we’re thinking about. Often about how things are for those going thru things that induce anxiety. It’s raw and authentic.

We talk about her running journey. On her 29th birthday she blew out her knee. Reconstructed ACL. In running, her longest race is ½ marathon, has done numerous 10-5K’s. Any distance from 5K to ½ marathon. It’s the excitement of running a race, an awesome analogy for life. Is signed up for races now, just ran her first in 2 yrs. Falmouth Road Race, world renowned, 7 mile. Very hot. Likes to do 1x month. She picked up running 4 yrs ago (after 2nd kid). Was a good soccer player. Had to get her knee reconstructed. Still played, but then her knee got tweaked. She needed to be competitive.. Started running. Became addictive. Best ½ marathon time is 2:03 (Your host’s best time is 2:28 so she is envious!). There were nearly 4 months of PT before her knee operation. It’s such a metaphor for life. Runs at 3:45 in the morning sometimes. Combo of things has gotten her thru anxiety, meds, therapy, and running. Typically she sees a counselor 1x/week. She can say she accomplished something when she does this early in the day. Blank canvas. Started golfing as well, it’s so much less about physical skills more about mental skills. 

Key quotes: It’s the people you know. You gotta think about what if it turns out right? Think about all the risks you took and challenges you faced. “Britany runs a marathon” movie (on amazon), check out the first running scene. The hardest part is taking the first step.

Find Christine online: Follow her work on Twitter, FB @RavesiWeinstein and on YouTube at http://bit.ly/TheRunnersHigh. For more information about Christine, please visit her website at www.ravesiweinstein.com View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/CQecW0PcnnQ

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