Episode 35 to 41

Episode #35: Todd Whitaker


Dr. Todd Whitaker is recognized as a leading presenter in the field of education, with a message about the importance of teaching that has resonated with hundreds of thousands of educators around the world. Todd is a professor of educational leadership at the University of Missouri and professor emeritus at Indiana State University. He has spent his life pursuing his love of education by researching and studying effective teachers and principals.

Prior to moving into higher education he was a math teacher and basketball coach in Missouri. Todd then served as a principal at the middle school, junior high, and high school levels. He was also a middle school coordinator in charge of staffing, curriculum, and technology for the opening of new middle schools.

Todd has written over 50 books including the national best seller, “What Great Teachers Do Differently”. Other titles include: “Dealing With Difficult Teachers”, “Ten-Minute Inservice”, “Your First Year”, “What Great Principals Do Differently”, “Motivating & Inspiring Teachers”, and “Dealing With Difficult Parents”. My personal favorites are “Essential Truths for Principals” (co-authored with Danny Steele) and  “School Culture Recharged”, which he co-authored with Steve Grunert.

Todd is married to Beth, also a faculty member of educational leadership at the University of Missouri and professor emeritus at Indiana State University. They are the parents of three children; Katherine, Madeline, and Harrison.

Tell me about a time when you were in the trenches and managed to “crawl out”? He still feels like he is in the trenches. He sees his peer group as teachers + principals. His first year, he was a coach + teacher. He had a student named Curtis who slept during his whole math class. He felt like it was a reflection on him. Punishment didn’t help. He told Curtis to help him call on kids more. Curtis would put marks on what side of room students called on. Curtis fell asleep. Yelling at him wasn’t the solution. Todd tried the next day with different ways to have him put marks on paper. Curtis caught on. Curtis started doing % and fractions. You don’t need to be quicker than students but smarter than them.

Tell me a little about your journey from school and district leadership into higher-ed and what that transition was like- challenging, or easy? He was a business major and in law school. He got into education because he wanted to make a difference. Wanted to have more influence. Really would like to teach people how to be principals. Realized all teachers weren’t similar. They all want to be good. He realized they don’t all do it the same. Biggest disadvantage principal has is they never worked with good principal. What you don’t learn in prep program is how it resonates. Average people don’t know how to be great. When you need something, when new teachers spend lots of time on onboarding process.  

In your book “School Culture Recharged”, you talk about how school culture changes first by changing the measure of trust between adults in the building. You wrote about how educators should be vulnerable to their peers’ enterprise. How have educators progressed, in your observations, in the past 3-5 years, in “stepping outside their comfort zone” and listening to peers, instead of just “being on their own island”? He doesn’t believe people who are truly bad are different. Teachers who has been in the field for 30 years will likely be better. We need to show “principal who makes himself vulnerable is…” Schools often need a disclosing male that can give suggestions to other males on how to help kids. Trust- the higher the level, the larger the zone of indifference. If you trust your leader, you’re not questioning every decision they make, same with teachers. We open ourselves out to learn from each other, social media becomes knowledge of all.  

How would you advise leaders who come into a building dealing with toxic stress among staff? As you write in “School Culture Recharged”, “the culture of the school will cause teachers to go into defense mode”. He does a lot off PD on leadership during difficult times, during pandemic, you’re more exposed. Same skills are needed as before. If you put teachers into a low socio-economic setting school, their weaknesses will be exposed. If teachers see you as supportive of them, they don’t care what you say. None of the other things matter. There is no reason to have a very involved process to hire an AP. Their skills will determine who is on committee. You want to hire talent. 

I want to refer to p. 83 in “School Culture Recharged” of your definition of the 6 types of school culture: toxic, fragmented, balkanized, contrived, comfortable and collaborative. Please talk to me a little about how PD plays a role in these types of school cultures, and how it is especially important today to embed ongoing PD into school culture. There are so many things involved in building PD. PD isn’t on-going. There is so much on teacher evaluations that’s incorrect. He wants teachers to be more excited about teaching than they were yesterday. If you give them something that will make them more effective in the classroom. “10 min In-service” is a book that has ways of embedding PD into your everyday practice.  If you have a bully teacher, he says the principal should stand up to that teacher, not the other teachers. Leaders who don’t stand up to a bully, let the bully become powerful, because it shows the principal is afraid of them. 

Finally, in “School Culture Recharged”, you talk about Culture Builders, where culture in is charge. I want to point out on p. 143 something I personally experienced as an administrator in a toxic culture. What exactly do “culture builders” do? What you’re doing as a leader is proving what really matters in a school. His last school had 150 kids. Don’t make the student who is sitting in the office most important student in the school. If you don’t support teachers, you don’t support kids. the secretary can often deal with 3 dysfunctional kids in the front office better than some teachers can. Concept of culture builder- if you change today, you change the climate. He had to work with Curtis every day his first year teaching. The pandemic is an opportunity to change things. Reinforce effort, don’t just reinforce results. It’s like when he coached basketball. His daughters are teachers, he’s written a few classroom management books with them. Classroom management can be seen as selfish because it benefits you (the teacher). Teachers should observe others in the building. Classroom management is all embedded in a teacher’s practice. Struggling teachers don’t have it embedded. With ineffective teachers, you hear their classroom management from down the hall. The best people have it so embedded in what they do that it becomes their way of teaching. Proximity is embedded when teachers have good proximity. For the average teacher who isn’t walking around it becomes “oooh” when the teacher gets up out of their desk.                                                                              

Key quotes: That “it’s really up to you, if you’re having trouble getting students to do work, look in mirror, be willing to be vulnerable, ask for help”. For some teachers it was really easy to go to distance learning. It’s in us, we have opportunity to be great. 

Find Todd on Twitter @ToddWhitaker or visit his website www.toddwhitaker.com  See this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/IxFd1wzVhrQ

Episode #36: Mandy Froehlich


Mandy’s interest lies in reinvigorating & re-engaging teachers back into their profession, and identifying what’s needed to support teachers in their pursuit of innovative & divergent thinking & teaching.

Mandy Froehlich passionately encourages educators to create innovative change in their classrooms. A former Director of Innovation and Technology, technology integrator, and teacher, she has experience at many levels of the organizational structure. . Her books, The Fire Within and Reignite the Flames discusses mental health awareness for educators and educator engagement and disengagement. Her latest book, Divergent EDU, is based on an organizational structure she developed to address the support necessary for innovative thinking. She also hosts the Teacher’s Aid Podcast with Jon Harper.

Tell me about a time when you were in the trenches and managed to crawl out? Her main source of disengagement came when she left the classroom. She resonates with people right now (in terms of teacher burnout during the pandemic). They feel like they’re in the trench and there’s an anchor holding them there. She had some typical issues as an educator, taught 4-5th grade, looped. No reason she should have felt disengaged. It wasn’t about her students. She blamed others, like the community and the parents. When she wanted to leave but couldn’t because she needed to make ends meet. Was in a new district and position as a tech integrator, still felt the exact same way. It was really about her. Everything else had changed. Because she enjoyed the people she worked with, she realized the problem was her. She felt like she deserved to be happy in her job again. The real reason to re-engage is to stay passionate about the profession you chose to go into.  

Explain your transition from being Director of Innovation to now. She left teaching to go into tech integration, loved supporting educators. She took to the idea and started to reengage then became a tech director. A position became open for Director of Innovation. Interesting experience, learned a lot about herself. Learned about strengths, about how to make things organized and make sense for people. Had been part-time consulting for 7 years, then decided to go to consulting full-time because a lot of districts have shut down their PD possibilities for educators. Helped districts during the pandemic, says she was “professionally bred for pandemics”. She has been very busy. Prior to March, she helped districts develop online programs. Some districts recognized best practices and continued that, others not so much. In terms of online learning tools, some don’t use best practices for various reasons, or don’t feel it’s right for their district. Some best practices have to do with what structure you are using for pedagogy than trying to replicate class online. It’s a tough pill to swallow when they want kids to be online all day for live instruction. Live instructional model online is not necessarily the best practice. 

Tell me about your blog: She uses it as source of reflection for self, hasn’t wanted to monetize it. From the beginning to today, you’d absolutely see how she’s reengaged with what she’s now doing. One day, she put out a post about anxiety and depression, got a lot of response. Her first book touches on mental health issues in education. How do our experiences impact what we do in the classroom? People can go through trauma and use that to help other people. As a tech director, saw people who were constantly disengaged. We may be ignoring demoralization. Teachers with cancer who continue to teach have less physical and mental capacity. Reignite the Flames talks about reengagement and how to re-engage. 5 things that happened for her, friend who struggled to realize impact it had on her. She didn’t really acknowledge how long it takes to come back from teacher/educator adversity. It IS something you need to heal from. Healing from that takes a long time, 2 steps forward one step back. 

 How did you get involved with the Teacher’s Aid Podcast (how many episodes are out, how often do you publish, who do you interview)? She has been with the BAM radio network for a long time. Jon Harper picked it up. She came across it as a guest. Went on the show and recorded a long episode, BAM reached out and said how they loved the chemistry. Has been doing the podcast for 2 years. They interview authors and people like Dan Pink- i.e. “boots on the ground” educators. They talk about different things about supporting teachers. Things that are assumed to be part of the profession that can cause angst. They don’t release episodes on regular basis, like 1x/month. In the summer, they released episodes on racism: “Let’s talk about this”. 

Key quotes: It goes back to the idea of resilience, she started talking about it several years ago. Was told it’s about “bouncing back”. She has been through things where she had to “bounce back”, but you often fail. When you go through things like the pandemic, it changes you. “Pieces out of adversity make you stronger. They give you tools for your toolbelt”. “It’s about recognizing who you are and learning to love that person. It’s about understanding you can love who you are and get better, it’s not an either or”.

Find Mandy online on Twitter @froehlichm  IG: @divergentedu     Visit her Website: www.divergentedu.com Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/e9OnFsPs5u4

Episode #37: Traci Nicole Smith


Traci has transformed the lives of countless families for over two decades through her educational expertise and intuitive wisdom.

Dr. Traci Nicole Smith is a former public-school teacher, and holds a B.A. in Psychology, B.A. in Journalism, and M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education), and a Ph.D. in Special Education. In 2019, she formed The Educational Epist-olary, LLC, a consultancy specializing in the navigation of education through a spiritual lens.  Over the past year, her vision has evolved.  She incorporates spiritual education into her teaching practices to assist others as they awaken and search for their true life purpose. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Tell me a story about how you got out of the trenches: She never considered a path out of the classroom. After Hurricane Katrina, her friend’s sister got a grant to help with the RTI (Response to Intervention) process, through RRA Obama stimulus money. She had also gotten a grant to have students get paid and earn a Ph.D. She got her Ph.D. and started focusing on teaching higher ed. She had to pay it back with 2 years of service in the field. It opened so many doors.  Bal State University emailed her about remote learning opportunities once she had her Ph.D. She got into asynchronous learning opportunities way before COVID. She learned how to build a new normal after Katrina. Has been teaching in the ABA Autism Graduate Program. The program is about how to implement behavior into students’ lives. Students with autism need a little more repetition as how to function in the world. One can sit for the BCBA certification at the end of the program. She teaches research + intervention classes. The field of autism research is forever evolving. We know # of new cases, 1 in 49 this year. In 1996, it was 1 in 120. 

Tell me about your stepping stone from higher education to opening your consultancy? How did your experience working for a suicide hotline in your early 20’s help you understand how to assist young people in crisis? Her story starts with in her mid-twenties, she worked as a suicide hotline counselor and learned to understand how emotions and feelings have a profound effect on wellness.  While spending two years listening to individuals in crisis and assisting them through extreme difficulties, she also offered them compassion for their circumstances and hope for the future. If people don’t have a compassion for other people’s plights, they wouldn’t be a good crisis counselor. Hearing thoughts, feelings, emotions really blew things out of proportion for her as a student. She worked at a med school for a residency coordinator. She felt like there was still a lot of compliance tied to the job. A lot of focus was on being a good team member. In Dec. 2018, a student narrowly missed hitting her with a desk. By that time, she had worked her way up to SPED director. The universe “spit her out”. She got her consultancy moving forward, then COVID came. Joining Twitter changed the trajectory of her life. Started writing on Medium the stories of corruption. She got tired of just talking about her experiences. She got involved with Teach STDs and UN Sustainable Goals. She started following Kin Timmers who started a school in a refugee camp in Africa. It’s all about the power of activism + desire. She has noticed there is a compassion chip missing in some teachers. She has noticed there is a lack of compassion from top-down. Her consultancy got its first project in August. On Twitter, she is seeing like-minded people there, so discussions and Twitter chats are deep + intellectual. People she follows lives have a purpose + meaning. She feels envious of people in thee classroom who have a support system because she didn’t have one when she was in the classroom. Now since the onset of COVID, a lot of people want to find connection with their true purpose. A lot of people tend to not follow through with their dream. She attracts people in helping professions. She is currently working on creating a low-cost membership site with helping people figure out their purpose, especially with the uprisings around equity. She tries to help people understand you have to protect your energy and fill your own vessel. Twitter-people try to help others, but you also have to fill your own bucket. Look at ways to be non-reactive and have pleasant aura around you. You need to invest in others if you want people to invest in you. Read other’s posts/comments on Twitter and comment on them. When the comments/posts are not over planning and overthinking, they can help other people. If you want to be in a community of learners, know you’re not the expert.

What kind of clients does your consultancy work with?   She feels like we undervalue the importance of valuing what people are going through. You have to wear a certain armor. She is still wearing that to a certain extent. Take a spiritual perspective- looking at problems in your own life- how you can go in + heal the part of you that’s reacting. She was like a buoy and needed to find out how to be the lighthouse. She stood there with a light + let the water crash. She doesn’t react to what others react to. People who are constantly triggered manifest imbalance. People are coming to her because they’re not ego-filled.

What kind of educators would benefit working with you? She is about to get the membership site up. She wants people to feel like they have something they can learn. People who are self-reflective enough to see it has to do with what’s within. She understands how to navigate people’s triggers. Schools have a deeper pull for people to get upset, i.e. the angry teacher, toxic building culture. You have to meet people where they are- you can’t tell them they need to change. They need to realize it, they can’t go on being sad, angry. Her inner resolve is still out there. People keep creating the narrative by living that over + over again. She understands she needs to do things to create piece in her life. It’s not necessarily “self care”. You can meditate & still be in the present moment. Her services are for people who want help navigating the next steps in their life. You need to find something you “vibe” with.

Key quotes: She tells people she “leads from the middle” i.e. middle of the pack. “Once you learn to identify your triggers, you have to feel it to heal it, if really want to have every day be a new beginning“. “Don’t avoid it, it will lead you right back to where you were. Don’t live in fear of the future.” We’re in a ripe time for people to what to change once we can get past the dark. 

Find Traci online at The Educational Epist-orary is her consultancy www.tracinicolesmith.com. Follow her on Twitter/IG @theedepistolary You can reach her by email: traci@tracinicolesmith.com Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/NOJ1SGWeq5Q

Episode # 38: Evan Whitehead


Evan Whitehead has been an educator for more than 20 years spanning three decades.  Over the course of his career, he has held the following positions: special education paraprofessional, special education high school teacher, Latino parent outreach coordinator, dean of student discipline, community outreach coordinator, director of special services, director of bilingual education and English learners, Title I director, and assistant superintendent of special services. 

In his current role, Evan oversees all federal programs (special education, McKinney-Vento,  English learners, and Title I); early childhood education; multi-tiered system of support (MTSS); social emotional learning, equity, diversity, and cultural competency.

Evan is also National Consultant, Trainer ,Presenter, Speaker; Frequent Podcast Contributor; Mental Health Advocate ;Mindfulness Practitioner ;and proponent of Equity, Diversity and Intercultural competency. Evan’s 3Bs “ Balance, Boundaries, and Breaks” (#BalanceBoundariesandBreaks) promotes self -advocacy in the areas of mental health, self-care, and wellbeing. 

Talk about a time you were in the trenches and how you managed to crawl out: A lot of us identify with being in the trenches in many ways. He’s dealt personally with that and had to overcome. It’s about where we’re looking to go and how we do that. It resonates with him, working with kids that have challenges. That type of work is heart work. During his undergrad, he studied special education, started out as a para in a therapeutic day school. Focused on social-emotional well-being of kids, but his current focus is on educator self-care and well-being, now that people have more impact to influence other educators. Challenges he’s overcome helped him be all the more effective. There is a lot of pressure on educators from the community. We pour our heart & soul into our work. We’ve taken a lot and we keep things in and push forward.

Tell me about your keynotes, training for schools for Ruby Paine: Her bestselling book is “Framework for Understanding Poverty”. It takes away layers such as race & ethnicity that compound the factors. She put out a book 2 years ago about depression in the classroom, transcending race & ethnicity. Students go through a lot. We don’t think about the pressure kids in affluent families are under. Despite material wealth there is a big disconnect. This biggest thing is the 3 B’s, was initially educators, but anyone, any profession can identify with. It’s about self-care awareness. Things such as access & opportunities, remote learning is extra challenging. For families in a remote or hybrid model, childcare is often overlooked. “Emotional Poverty” talks about how factors impact a student’s life and how risk factors have an impact on physical ailments. We need to understand that all the things we go through have an impact on a person, ACEs. In Ruby Paine training, they cover a lot about kids and then about adults in the second half of the book. “Emotional Poverty II” book came out recently. A lot of adults are trying to manage & determine their balancing act. It focuses on how to get ourselves centered.

You mention a lot about how we need to recognize both affluent and lower SES kids’ struggles. It’s about what’s going on underneath the surface. Often there are internal behaviors, such as suicidal ideation that may not manifest as easily. Families have resources so families can often get external support & kids can get educational component. A lot of times so many pressures to be successful lead to suicidal ideation in the more affluent areas. When kids are asked to take on adult responsibilities too soon in lower SES areas, they will be stressed. In these families, children are often asked to take care of younger siblings. It’s two sides of the same coin, often times they’re not seen that way. When you see violence consistently at early age, there are higher rates of PTSD. Look at affluent areas-the pressure to be “better than”; they need to be children. Can’t put adulting on them at an early age. Think about what we’re expecting out of young people. Give them an opportunity. 

What can we do during the 20/21 school year to better serve them? You mention ACEes-how emotional maturity makes a kid respond at an age when trauma happened-both with kids & colleagues. First and foremost, it’s about knowing your students. Are you building the connection & rapport with them? He learned this early on as a para. They’re still a child in a school even if they look like an adult. Once you’re in the moment within a crisis- who are the external people you have? Some sort of crisis team, such as a de-escalation area. Who are the go-to people in the building? Do not call the disciplinarian- this isn’t necessarily oppositional defiance. We don’t want to engage where their triggers will get worse. Looking up calms them down. Having them drink water. Understanding differences in response between male & female students. Males- you need to give them their space, they will communicate via a (hands-on) manipulative. Don’t ask them to communicate by looking in the eyes. They’re better communicating side to side.

How have the needs for staff self care evolved in the past 10 years i.e. work/life balance? No one ever talks about why happy hour is such a big deal. At end of the week, we all just want to decompress, we put work into students but don’t get the results. Reality with a lot of that is escapism. Not necessarily good or bad, eventually they no longer work anymore. We need to recognize a lot of the wellness challenges exist. Like a “badge of honor” for educator to say how much they worked. We’re trying to downplay the hurt/challenge. Evan went through his own challenges, story isn’t different from a lot of people. We’re not speaking to it, we’re only speaking about it. 3 B’s helped him get through a lot. Balance– energy, time and effort balance: How do you balance more work with life responsibilities? How do you find ways to shift balance? What do you put time & effort into? Boundaries- it’s our own personal boundaries. Educators are fixers, we put so much into everyone else, don’t say no. He wasn’t getting a return from others. You are the best advocate for you! Breaks– to him, biggest a-ha moment. He felt he always needed to play catch-up. Was a non-traditional college student. Took on a lot to play catch-up. By the time he was 34, was assistant superintendent. Didn’t take a chance to pause. It took a toll. We need to give ourselves grace & start small. Time the pandemic gave us we didn’t really knew what to do with. We were forced to pause. Communicate & talk with people, especially for teachers in remote settings. Our work is similar to first responders, we’re the consistency in the families’ lives. They rely on the school/teacher to be support system. They’re hard to reach. Space isn’t always safe & comfortable. In terms of going into work or not with schools, hybrid model, what options are we providing? There isn’t an excuse. For not putting families first and making work easier for families with young kids. It’s tough for families to have to choose.

Key quotes:  “During these times, make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Take 3 B’s advice. Center yourself, if we don’t take care of ourself, we can’t take care of others. Whether it’s physical health, soc-emotional wellbeing, not self-less”. He’s currently writing the 3 B’s book. It’s coming out in the next year.

Find Evan on Twitter: @evanwhitehead00 or Facebook :https://www.facebook.com/evan.whitehead.794 Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/iI3SA1z4hGQ

Episode #39: Tyler Christensen


Tyler’s goal for 2018 was to loose 42 lbs. He lost over 100 lbs within that year and has kept it off.

Tyler Christensen is a Math Teacher, Author, Speaker, and Founder of Virtual School Assembly (VSA). He lives in St. George, UT, his with his wife and four kids. VSA episodes can be found at https://www.youtube.com/c/VirtualSchoolAssembly. He has spent over 15 years in classrooms as an elementary, middle school, and university instructor.  His educational research stems from his own 100 lb. weight loss journey and explores the role of exercise in cognitive development and long-term memory. Tyler is the founder of a national recruiting service for student-athletes as well as an academic journal for those preparing to teach, and he is the host of Virtual School Assembly and After the Run. When he’s not teaching, working on his businesses, or training for a race Tyler is doing his most important work–spending time with his family. Learn more at www.tylerchristensen.com

Tell me your “coming out of the trenches” story: It’s his weight loss story. It was particularly difficult for him. It coincided with him being a new 5th grade teacher after being a university professor. His running story is that he’d been a runner his whole adult life. After weight loss did a double marathon. He even ran a marathon at 280 lbs. Tried to make changes to diet, tried to exercise more, tried things, it worked for a week or two. During summer vacation, he had more control over his schedule. First day he went out running, did a little more every day. Drank water, ate more greens and salads. Goal for 2018 was to loose 42 lbs. He hit that by end of the summer. Kept setting more goals like to loose weight while on cruise. Lost over 100 lbs within that year. It changed his life. It changed more than just health-wise. Tyler then wrote & published a few books, spent time landscaping. 

Tyler’s educator trenches story is that one of the things coming out of COVID is that we work in silos is that we don’t collaborate very much. As a professor, he could do what he wanted. He went back into the classroom to teach. VSA makes content that teachers can share with their grade level right away. During his first year as an elementary school teacher, he struggled with liking to do his own thing and how collaboration is a necessity (in public ed). A lot of extra work goes into play for teachers who don’t collaborate, both physically and emotionally.

Tell me about how Virtual School Assembly came about: There was about 1 year between 2019-20 between his weight loss and starting VSA. Year 2 after weight loss was continuing to live healthy. VSA is pretty small, new, he was on the news locally, not quite “viral” yet. Tyler posts resources in the show notes of his episodes. There are teachers who are using it now, but he needs to build it up & build the website. Over the summer, he did 150 interviews with professional athletes, Hollywood celebrities and set up TED talks, well-known people within the educational realm. He has an assembly scheduled every Tue/Fri until June 3rd. He was getting attention because of weight loss story. Was getting invites to speak on stages to share about productivity. Landed TEDX talk talking to youth. Was scheduled for Mar. 13. While he was travelling for the engagements, they told him they were shutting it down. Had important message to share. Sulked for a bit but thought about what students must be feeling. They love assemblies. Thought about how assemblies could be held virtually. Arranged for special guests to come speak with students. Had an actor friend, friend in NBA. Reached out to other people first was with the Evolution of Dance viral video maker. He spoke about “struggle bus” and how to face obstacles. Had magician, athlete, ninja warriors. Is still waking up early to record/edit assembly videos. Is hearing from a number of teachers and parents about messages that are needed and that resonate with certain people, such as strategies for coping with anxiety in the classroom. Certain resonate more than others. 

Are there other areas you’re conducting PD/keynotes in right now: A lot of PD has gone away due to the pandemic. He was doing assemblies on health in the classroom that dried up with the onset of COVID. HE hasn’t given any keynotes since COVID. Has done breakout sessions/workshops. He launched VSA the last week of March already. He had 50 episode already by the end of the school year. Hasn’t monetized it at all. Just a YouTube channel. He wants to create messages that resonate with the High school-aged kids. He gets feedback from adults and even younger kids. He doesn’t care if it gets huge or not.

Tell me about the rebuilding of your website: He is currently rebranding. He thinks VSA is hitting a great need. We’ll have to see what the attrition rate is for teaching in 5 years. He is connected to 100’s of celebrities. They can learn how to do it from sharing from celebrities. There is a keynote camp in Denver every December. Invitation-only only 20 people every year. He loves speaking and often talks about literacy and digital literacy. His TedTalk was about impact exercise has on the brain. He has a book coming out called “Dancing in the classroom” he expects to launch this spring. He literally dances with his students every day  with “Just Dance” videos. It took 5 minutes. Lessons he’s learning are helping him develop brand. His book “Unlocking the Power of Transformation” was set to be out in October 2020. (See his website for updates on book releases)

Key quotes: “Find times throughout the day to be active”. He will do pushups right in class in front of students. There are many opportunities to be active for 1 minute or more throughout the day.

Find out more about Tyler and book him for a speaking engagement via his website, www.tylerchristensen.com  Follow him on Twitter & IG: @TylerTheSpeaker    Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Fga-S3Zgbio

Episode #40: Adam Kotowski


Adam was born and raised on the Northwest side of Chicago where he lived up until he married and has been a resident of Channahon, Illinois for 20 years.

Adam Kotowski, aka Coach Adam is a mentor & lifecoach who developed The Extraordinary Me Program. He is a published Author & host of The Extraordinary Me Program podcast. He is a husband and father to four amazing children. He created The Extraordinary Me Program out of a need to transform. Realizing how limited perceptions and beliefs are, being heavily influenced by his acceptance of other’s opinions regarding his ADD/ADHD, brought him to a critical point in his life. He created the program and has been an intern in that very program for 16 years, mentoring many Student/Athletes on how to be in the moment, handle emotions, create a feeling of certainty, and permit your Extraordinary Self to take over. He’s Coached over 1,000 student/athletes through the years, including my his own children. Being part of the process in their transformation from youth, to teenagers, and then to adults, he’s had the honor of working with these Extraordinary mentees through their life cycles and journeys to Endure. He’s a Certified Master Practitioner of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and Certified Hypnotherapist along with holding an MBA from Capella University. His book “You Are Extraordinary” was published in Nov. ‘19.

Tell me about a time you were in the trenches? He had a nervous breakdown at 26, (9-12-01) and was in the hospital. At the time, he had young kids under 1, recently married. Looking outside the hospital window, didn’t want his kids to know him that way. 7 days till that decision he had the worst panic attack in his life, critical point. Asked wife to let him get through it. 1.5-2yrs reprogramed himself. On own, studied psychological books. Studied NLP psychology books. Self-driven. Was completely drained. Transformed. 1.5-2 yrs reprogramed his central nervous system. Hasn’t had similar happen for 18 yrs. Works now with student athletes. Studied neuro-linguistic programming. Applies this to student athletes, teachers and coaches. They have limiting beliefs. Kids from many different backgrounds. Doesn’t like to say “results speak for themselves” but has testimonials. Inspirations were Deepak Chopra + people who were able to reprogram thinking. Took NLP practitioner training in Santa Cruz and got certified as Master Practitioner. NLP is becoming more mainstream to work on their own beliefs. He started to use it working with athletes. Self-discovery. He needs the client to discover the answer.

Currently, Adam gives talks to student athletes, programs, many kids are emotionally breaking down. Much pressure from teachers and parents. Creates a program fit for a season, day or year. Uses google classroom + zoom for it. He does a lot of google meets, athletes, parents join in. Prior to COVID, was able to work in the classroom. Worked with IL challenged youth in a correctional facility. They all get the “you are extraordinary” program. He tells kids “you’ve been conditioned to think you’re something. We need something to fill that gap. Who can you influence in society.“ You can still change beliefs, no matter what. Kids from correctional facility reach out to him after he’s spoken there. He sits with kids during their lunch, kids often the question whether or not they belong. Their grades would skyrocket after the program was implemented.

Do you give PD to schools and not just parents and coaches? “Your DNA’s your DNA” he says in his book. It’s not driving the bus, it’s just the shell. Everyone’s a different height, weight, etc. You need to have limiting and supporting beliefs.

How do you recognize protentional in kids, especially those with ADHD? He’s living proof of it. He went to the “Ivy League” of high schools in the Chicago area. He has ADHD, but standardized tests not so good at. He never uses that as a crutch. He has to work harder than others. Kids who are shown to be a value to the classroom work harder. You can impact a kid to want to learn so bad. His job is to help kids question some of their identity. It’s more about how they developed their beliefs cause they’re more than that. We often get “muddled” because we’re trained to belief we are less than worthy. The mission is “why are you here?”. Beliefs are supporting or limiting. Update the ones that are limiting you. He can use ADHD as a superpower, how to figure out things through different vessels. Circle of confidence. Knowing that you can disassemble engine. It’s not as difficult as it was before. Kids can then do it with confidence. They figure it out. 

Focus on the fact that every kid is hiding something, could be something that’s going on at home. Trauma. You as educator needs to be the one who makes difference in their life. You can inspire them to get help.  Kids have to see that getting mental health support is not bad. Many athletes feel like they have too much pressure on them. They show them how to filter what parents, teachers, coaches are saying to them. They set expectations because they want the student to perform. The student needs to realize that getting help there’s nothing wrong with. Many schools he works with have been doing a great job of helping kids still play. He uses a formula, discouragement equals adversity minus purpose. We have to help kids discover the purpose to their adversity. Then they can actually find a new hope, a new beginning. We don’t know anyone’s life until we’ve been in their shoes. He wants to inspire educators that they may be the only person who can give the student purpose. Biggest thing is helping kids reach out when they’re hiding something. Answer also is that kids teach us adults something, uniquely about parenting.  We have to ask “what do we wanna create to have kids become who they want to be”. What can we do as parents, coaches, to help them describe. Many parents are reaching out to him because they are struggling an extra amount because of COVID.

There isn’t necessarily the sports outlet in some places so how are you helping parents when sports aren’t being played or the season’s delayed? There is opportunity for every parent, teacher, coach, to help kids get the outlet. He can’t give us the answer. We as educators, parents, have to realize what motivates this kid. Really it’s about discovering their extraordinary. How do you let the kids’ creative spark out. You have to engage their level of energy. You may watch a documentary or read a book about how you can help kids be creative.

What kind of stories do you feature on your Extraordinary Me Podcast? He created the podcast with the intent to make it about ordinary people who can do extraordinary things. People were referred to him. They overcame a lot in their lives. He wanted to find the everyday person. They are so extraordinary their story needs to get out there. How they found their purpose. Is also creating the Extraordinary Me Mentoring program for students and teachers.  Students as well are listening to the current podcast. He’s buildt a good network and following for it. Works mostly with middle + high school students. It’s often harder to transform beliefs at the college level. They start to align athletically and academically at that point. Some athletes drift away from the sport due to it being parent pressure. Sometimes find another sport. First guest, Pearson who got cancer while playing baseball. Bailey was 14-15, done with gymnastics. She was at a tipping point. 2x national champion. 3x all-American. She’s now studying to become a psychiatrist. She’s overcome a lot. He’s going to do the Extraordinary Me Mentoring podcast where it’s just him also. He wants kids to listen to him so they can get the free mentoring.

You’re working on a new book, My Extraordinary ADHD. It will be finished in next couple months. Simple read, 1 chapter is 1 page. Great minds like Einstein had ADHD. There’s a lot to be discovered about it. On supportive side for students. He thinks about how t’s told his parents he can’t learn, but he’s willing to learn.

Key quotes: #1: every person listening: “You are extraordinary”. “Let the purpose of these difficult times be meaningful to you” “Don’t let these times keep you anchored, learn from it and then go help others”. #2: to parents, teachers, coaches, “your role in history is SO vital”. He wants the adults to feel extraordinary. Guide kids to get them out of their own way. Our role is to make the world a better place, let kids teach us. They will overcome. 

Find Adam online at: http://coachadam34.com  He has links to the podcast and everything from there.  Follow him on Twitter: @Coachadam34    IG: @Coachadam34    FB: Coachadam34

You Are Extraordinary book by Coach Adam: https://www.amazon.com/author/coachadam

My Extraordinary ADHD book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08M2G2253/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glc_fabc_6eK9Fb0W8XA1C

YouTube: :https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHfIK-aLwCWe_IrGe0ZpKlg?view_as=subscriber  Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/2oaExHl3FHc

Episode #41: Sherianna Boyle

Episode #41: Sherianna Boyle (podbean.com)

Sherianna is the author of eight books, including her most recent Emotional Detox and Emotional Detox for Anxiety.

Sherianna Boyle is an international, Emotional Detox Coach® and author off 8 books. She has a Masters in Education as well as a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in School Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.  Sherianna has been featured in over eighty-five articles, and a featured presenter for renowned organizations such as: PESI® Behavioral and Mental Health Education, Kripalu Health & Yoga Center, 1440 Multiversity University and more. Her book, The Four Gifts of Anxiety, was endorsed by the National Association of Mental Health. She is an adjunct Psychology Professor and founder of Emotional Detox Coaching® servicing clients (of all ages background and abilities) virtually world wide. She is the co-founder of CLEANSElife.com, which features her CLEANSE Yoga® virtual video collection, Emotional Detox courses and Corporate Wellness.  Sherianna is a featured expert on Simple Habit App, and host of  Emotional Detox Radio Show on Healthylife.net. She is married to her home town hubby, KB raising three daughters, living her best CLEANSElife! 

Tell me about a time when you were in the trenches and managed to crawl out: There was a time when she was working in the schools as a psychologist. When was pregnant with her first daughter, and took a leave of absence. She was overwhelmed preparing for a sub. She came out on the other side with the journey she’s been on ever sense. This was back in 2000; a leave of absence turned into collecting research and helping clients. What took her out was that she realized she was suffering from anxiety. She thought she was really good at job, but she was anxious about being behind in curriculum, not meeting everyone’s needs. She went on a journey of trying to help herself. Went to 5 anti-depressants in 1 yr. Felt horrible about herself. Realized the depression wasn’t it, anxiety had been going on for a long time. Liver results showed she needed mindful approaches to handling anxiety. Curve starting taking shape and still taking shape. The science has been there about how mindfulness influences learning.

How would your book Emotional Detox for Anxiety help educators dealing with toxic stress and anxiety, especially now during the pandemic? In the core book, it lays the foundation- white detox. This one is specific for anxiety. She studied mindfulness for years, has had many workshops, classes, retreats, but what really helped is writing the book. Our emotions are something we can’t get rid of. She wanted to act like she didn’t want them in her life. All emotions are good, so long as you process them. She described it like food- if it’s layered with chemicals that aren’t good. If emotions are layered with belief systems they’re not as good for you. We have to do “unlearning”. She took me through the 7 steps, what Sherianna finds is that people must become aware is how people suppress our emotions. She says there’s a lot of tensions, especially in shoulders. She helps people guide this is what I’m suppressing, releasing and what it feels like to be grounded. You can’t circumvent the process. Try to not loose the emotional detox energy. The wear and tear some of the systems are running consciously and some are running unconsciously. A lot comes from research on trauma. We’re at a point where we can’t hide it anymore. Before, people could keep work & personal life separate. COVID has brought to light people who weren’t addressing certain things. Not being in the building means you’re not in the “throws of a trigger”. We’ll have to tread lightly.

Tell me about your “Emotional Detox podcast”: how many episodes do you have & how often do you release new episodes? She’s on the radio, podcast is on podbean. Has emotional detox radio through healthylife.net. There are also alternative lifestyle offerings. Best way is to go through her website. Podcast is on hiatus, will build it back up again. Wants to broadcast live as new approach, being re-invented for January with pre- and post-cleanses. Good learning experience for educators at all levels. At some point you have to build a foundation, what are your values + beliefs, how can you have that be part of your school?

Tell me a bit about your new class “Manifesting”, starting on Jan. 10 for 8 weeks-is this the first in the series of several classes? It’s for 1 hour/1 time a week. She’ll teach things about manifesting that she didn’t previously offer in her courses. Everyone’s looking for foundation right now. Her emotional detox is a mindset. Clarity is anxiety-relieving for people. It’s extremely powerful when you cleanse in a group. Some people jump on board to a course without prior knowledge and realize they’re pretty intuitive. People are able to get inner guidance and trust what they feel. They don’t compare themselves to others. People support one another in such as class. It’s non-competitive.

What do you have coming up? Next fall she will have another book released “Emotional Detox Now” with 135 self-guided practices (every area you could imagine) in it, ones for work, home, relationship, health. There are ones for social anxiety, rejections, etc. She hopes people come out of the COVID era more mindful.

Key quotes: She ends her radio show with “your emotions are a resource”, it can help you get more change, connection, peace. She hopes people will turn more to their emotions, take time to process them. Then you’ll realize they can help you, they’re designed to help.

Follow Sherianna on Twitter: @Sherianna Boyle IG: @Sherianna.boyle or visit her website: www.sheriannaboyle.com www.cleanselife.com is where her yoga videos are housed. Here are links to buy her books: Emotional Detox: 7 Steps to Releasing Toxicity & Energizing Joy Emotional Detox for Anxiety

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/lZgtYk_QpcA

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