The purpose of this podcast is to share ideas and resources for classroom teachers and school based administrators.
Many of my episodes are interviews but some are just me talking about helpful thoughts for school leaders and classroom teachers.
Teaching Learning Leading K12 is available on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and other platforms.
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Many thanks to:
Technical Producer: David Rogers
Featuring the voices of Dana Sheffield and Rick Mitchell on the intro and outro
Music provided by Ben Sheffield. Check out more of his music at www.reverbnation.com/dramasceneband
The show has now hit 125 episodes.
Listed below are a few but go to the links in the sidebar or
here Teaching Learning Leading K12 for the most recent.
Episode 42: First Year Teaching with Melanie Knight
Mrs. Melanie Knight is a first year middle school teacher at Wheeler County Middle School, in Alamo, Georgia. She is a graduate of Brewton Parker’s education program and teaching is in her family tree. She is the daughter of teachers; her father was also a superintendent of Wheeler County Schools as well as her grandfather.
As of the interview, Mrs. Knight is in the middle of her first year of teaching. She uses many instructional strategies, small groups, individual practice, integrated technology, word walls, and other techniques to help the kids get the content. When I asked her where she learned to use these she credited other staff in her school as important mentors.
I had the great fortune of watching her teach. Not only does she have good command of many strong instructional strategies but she also emphasizes a need to develop the students’ understanding of content and academic vocabulary. She uses TIPS (Terms Information Pictures and Sentences)…this is an adaption of something she learned from Learning in the Fast Lane by Suzy Pepper Rollins (listen to Suzy on my podcast click here to go there) and what she has been taught by other staff members to develop the students’ understanding of vocabulary.
Mrs. Knight emphasizes the need to create engagement. It is quite noticeable as the kids are up and working and part of the class. They are not passive, but active.
She also has developed an excellent rapport with the kids. She commented, “I’m strict but friendly.” When you walk in her class you are automatically aware that it is a bright and cheerful place to be. She noted, “I use bright colors to help me create a welcoming classroom.”
When I asked her what has been most helpful for her during her first year in teaching she responded, “Help and support from the school staff and family members.” She continued, “It is helpful to have someone to talk to…to talk things out.”
She is a big fan of Pinterest and finds that the social media tool is a great help for getting ideas and support for working with the kids.
I asked her what advice she would give to someone who is getting ready to find their first teaching position and she replied, “Be open to new ideas…Be open to learning…learn from everyone around you.”
Mrs. Knight’s energy and focus on the kids is wonderful!
Episode 41: The Georgia Vision Project with Dr. Stan DeJarnett
Dr. Stanley DeJarnett is the Executive Director of the Georgia Vision Project
The project came into existence in 2009, but implementation didn’t begin until 2010.
“… A collaborative effort between the Georgia School Boards’ Association, The Georgia School Superintendent’s Association and about 35 partner organizations…”
“The Georgia Vision Project exists for the purpose of transforming public education in Georgia.”
Dr. DeJarnett and I talk about what the Vision Project it is and how it works.
For example, Stan notes, “It is about sharing a clear and compelling vision of where public schools are going.”
He comments that there really are two target audiences:
1) Teachers and School Administrators
Stan reflects, “The story that our teachers have to tell about the lives that they change through their interaction with students is the story we want our community to hear.”
He continues, “We make a huge difference in the lives of over 1.7 million children in this state every day and this work is being done by teachers and those who support teachers.”
“We hope that the reality of what we do in our schools every day…a positive reality…can be reflected in our message.”
The Georgia Vision Project has 7 Components:
1. Early Learning and Student Success
2. Teaching and Learning
3. Teaching and Learning Resources
4. Human and Organizational Capital
5. Governance, Leadership, and Accountability
6. Culture, Climate, and Organizational Efficacy
7. Financial Resources
Check out several short videos to learn more at the Vision Project website.
Episode 40: Forestry with Mike Harrell
Forestry is an age old profession that should be attractive to people who have a knack for business (managing resources, purchasing, marketing, selling, accounting, and running a money making operation) and like to be surrounded by nature.
You may get dirty, be surrounded by some amazing machinery and even have a few run-ins with the wildlife that calls the trees and the brush their home.
Mike is the VP of Stuckey Timberland. His world is the forest. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Forestry program. Forestry is a life career that is in his family lineage.
You will hear Mike reflect on his career and his desire to be in the outdoors. He talks about the business and the misconceptions that those looking in often have about the business of growing trees for wood products.
I think that you will find this interview interesting as well as it might make you a little envious about Mike’s ability to be outside many of his work days.
If you know a young person who is thinking about future careers, ask them to take a look into forestry. It has a definite place in our future world, trained foresters are needed, and the profession offers opportunities to be engaged outside of a typical corporate office!
Here are some links that can provide you further information:
Episode 39: Financial Wisdom with Danny Kofke
Danny Kofke is a self-made millionaire. He started out as a kindergarten teacher, became a special education teacher and is married to a 2nd grade teacher. He and his wife took international teaching positions originally and actually taught in Poland for a while.
He now teaches teachers how to manage money.
He is an author of currently three books: How to Survive (and perhaps thrive) on a Teacher’s Salary, A Simple Book of Financial Wisdom: Teach Yourself (and your kids) How to Live Wealthy with Little Money, and A Bright Financial Future: Teaching Kids about Money Pre-K through College for Lifelong Success!
He has a 10 year old daughter who also is a published author she wrote…The Financial Angel: What all Kids Should Know About Money (ages 4-11)
This is a podcast for everyone…especially those with kids!
Information that we all needed when we were kids…now you can share with your children and with the kids of others.
I hope you will share this interview with your children, grandchildren, neighbors, and colleagues!
Episode 38: Protecting the Performing Arts
Over the last 10 years, the performing arts have often been pushed to the side in the name of needing more math and science or simply cut to balance budgets.
This is unfortunate.
Whether its band, chorus, orchestra, theater, dance or a myriad of others; the performing arts have their place in our schools.
Students desire to study and perform in the arts often in addition to studying math and science or other academic content areas.
The Georgia Institute of Technology has one of the largest marching bands in all of the college worlds…and there are no music majors at GATech.
In order to protect the arts in schools it takes commitment and a willingness to make cuts in other areas, instead of in these classes. It takes becoming good at creative scheduling and looking closely at what the students want over the classes they could do without. What could you do to help protect the arts in your schools?
Episode 36: Growing Up in Poverty and Lessons Learned with Dr. Hayward Cordy
Dr. Hayward Cordy is the Executive Director of the Oconee RESA.
Hayward grew up in Wrightsville, Ga-Johnson County…the son of sharecroppers. As you listen to Hayward talk, think about the ultimate lessons that his family taught him. He could have complained and wanted someone to save him. He could have bemoaned his station in life. Instead, he focused on succeeding. He didn't let others derail his focus, he stayed the course and earned college degrees and eventually became the superintendent of the same school system where he had once attended class.
Listen for Hayward to explain … Damaged Goods, Choices and Consequences, The Greatest Lesson Taught to him by His Family, and An Improbable Dream Became Reality.
There are many lessons to be gleaned from Hayward’s memories.
I hope that you will come back and listen, again and again and share with others.
In a world where it is easy to be negative about all of life experiences…Hayward’s recollections make you realize that hard work and determination do pay off!
Thanks for listening! I hope that you will take his words to heart!
To discover more about the Oconee RESA or to connect with Dr. Cordy use the link or address blow.
Dr. Hayward Cordy
206 South Main Street
Tennille, Georgia 31089
Episode 35: The Law of the Inner Circle and Team Building
According to John, "A leader's potential is determined by those closest to him."
John notes, "When you have the right staff, potential skyrockets."
The team or organization leader needs team members he/she chooses. Many times they can inherit and/or have someone from higher up in the organization want to add people to the team. This is unfortunate and can cause issues of with results orientation and effectiveness. When given the opportunity to select his/her own team mates the leader needs to take advantage of this to select the best and the brightest that will bring their special attributes to the team.
It is important for the leader to recognize that he/she wants to select those individuals who address the weaknesses of the leader not clones of the leader.
The leader has to take time to support and develop that team that will become his inner circle. This is the group that will connect with each other and will develop a deep sense of trust to the organization, the leader and accomplishing the mission. Check out Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of the Team.
This does not happen overnight it requires the leader spending time developing his team.
This means interacting with each other not just in meetings and eating together. It means having an opportunity to laugh and play together and to experience turmoil and difficulty together.
Check out my thoughts about playing soccer, raising cars, and The Three Musketeers.
It also means that the leader needs to find out what training and coaching they need and insure that they get it.
As a note, it is possible that you will make a bad selection for the team, the leader has to be willing to address that because it is a weakness for the team that will disrupt success.
I hope that you enjoy this episode and I challenge you to take the time to examine your organization and ask yourself …
Do you have an inner circle?
Do you support them?
Does someone not need to be on that team?
Some words of wisdom from John Maxwell:
"One of the mistakes I often made early in my career as a team leader was that I thought everyone who was on my team should remain on my team."-John Maxwell
"Hire the best staff you can find, develop them as much as you can, and hand off everything you possibly can to them."-John Maxwell
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Also, you can subscribe to John Maxwell's Minute with Maxwell; A daily dose of leadership advice from John at no cost to you.
Episode 34: Valerie Wilson and Richard Woods Candidates for Georgia State Superintendent
This November, Georgia will elect a State Superintendent. The group has been down sized since the campaign trail started. The candidates for the office have been reduced to two: Valerie Wilson and Richard Woods.
I recently attended The State of Education in Georgia Conference at the University of Georgia. During lunch the two remaining candidates were each given 15 minutes to speak.
The podcast today is my recording of their talks. Listen to their thoughts and comments. Keep in mind that if you are a Georgia registered voter that you will have a chance to vote for either candidate this fall.
I refrain from doing too much editorializing. The only edits involve the time between candidates and then at the conclusion of each talk. Otherwise, you are hearing exactly as the audience heard them.
I have included links to each candidate’s websites or Facebook page.
Episode 33: Six Apps for the Classroom with David Lockhart
David is a high school teacher at North Atlanta High. This summer we met at the Georgia Virtual School Symposium in Athens, Georgia where I had the chance to attend his awesome class titled,
…30 Apps in 30 Minutes.
David has always had an interest in Tech… he says, “I found something that I was good at…”
In our interview we focus on four points…
1) His 6 favorite apps
2) The cost of apps (In a word…cheap!)
4) Ease of use…
David advises…in looking for apps, “Find what works in your classroom…and then find an app that will help you. If it doesn’t work…then adjust.”
Most importantly…David comments, “Don’t be afraid!”
He has amazing advice for apps to use and why as well as how to find the best apps.
I know that you will find this episode brain food!
Here are the 6 Apps that we talk about and their websites.
1) TouchCast www.touchcast.com
2) Google Drive https://support.google.com/drive/answer/2424384?hl=en
3) Symbaloo http://www.symbaloo.com/home/mix/13eOcK1fiV
4) Weebly https://education.weebly.com/
5) Tackk https://tackk.com
6) 81dash http://81dash.com/
Follow David on Twitter @ld112265
And read his blog at www.edtechspeeddating.com
Seasame Street Song, “There’s An App for That! Find it at www.sesamestreet.org or on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhkxDIr0y2U
Episode 32: Planning- A Key to Better Teaching
Benjamin Franklin once commented, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
This is so true in every facet of our lives and especially in the world of teaching. Too often colleagues will act as if no planning is necessary. They will fly by the seat of their pants…Doing whatever hits them at the moment. This is a terrible way to work with kids. The better teacher needs to take time to purposefully plan. The best plan is developed with the big idea in mind. As Stephen Covey said, “Start with the end in mind.” What is it that you want the kids to know? To get to this takes time to develop unit plans that are used to guide the teacher in working with the kids. These plans should contain at least the following six elements:
1. Essential Question (What is the point/purpose of this unit?)
2. Content Vocabulary (What words are necessary for understanding the subject?)
3. Formative Assessment (How do you know that the kids understand or get it?)
4. Engagement (What activities will you use to engage the kids in the lessons?)
5. Connections (How will you connect the topic to the real world?)
6. Use of Time (Are there any special considerations?)
It takes time to create lessons that engage kids and move them to learn and grow academically. The better teacher understands that planning and preparing leads to success in the classroom. Bear Bryant once said, “It’s not the will to win that matters-everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
Some excellent resources for developing plans and understanding why you should plan with the end in mind have been developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in Understanding By Design and Essential Questions.
Here is a link to an overview of UbD at grantwiggins.org
Here is a link to an overview of UbD at JayMctighe.com
Here are links to YouTube clips of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe explaining Understanding By Design.
Here is a link to the excerpt from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Time to start planning…
Episode 31: Trust-The secret to getting things done.
When a leader is assigned to an organization…immediately, success or stumbling is determined by the individuals’ plans for making change.
Is it I am here to save the day and we will proceed according to my plans or is there an attempt at creating a team mentality which means that the leader is working to create trust?
Leadership requires more than a plan but time spent purposefully building trust.
As Seth Godin, in Tribes, comments... “Leadership is not management.”
To me this means that you have to get others on board…you have to spend time building a team…and creating a trusting organization…avoiding…It’s my way or the highway…
Throughout this episode I reflect on comments from the works of Dan Pink, P. Lencioni, and J. Maxwell.
After listening, I hope that you spend some time evaluating your team direction and decide whether you have created real trust. Ask yourself…Do your members really interact with each other or are they simply complying for fear of retribution or being wrong?
Listed below are the links to books that I mentioned as well as the opening YouTube clip. I hope that you will take time to explore these wonderful tools for developing your teams.
Episode 30: Twitter in the Classroom with Leslie Houck
Like most people I taught myself how to do Twitter… but I wanted to make sure that I did it right! I had the chance to take a class titled Twitter 101 and many of my questions were answered.
Leslie Houck is a Social Media Specialist with the Georgia Department of Education who has a background in communication and journalism and says , “I kind of fell into social media as a job.”
Leslie gives advice for educators who might be afraid of using Twitter primarily because they only hear about the bad situations that have happened.
Leslie comments that Digital Citizenship 101 should be taught in every class to all kids and to the staff. She noted that New York City Schools, Facebook, and Edutopia have recently released examples of these guidelines for schools to use.
No matter what, she emphasizes that it is important to “be smart with our on-line reputation.” Make sure that you pay extra close attention to this part of the interview as she makes many points that help to address the use of social media in the classroom and as a professional educator.
We talk about Twitter etiquette, RTs, MTs, follows, Favoriting, the restriction of 140 characters, creating a handle, the list function, and of course the # Hashtag!
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn about Twitter from Leslie and I know you will, too!
Notebooks with Lynda R. Williams
Lynda Williams started teaching elementary school and now teaches beginning teachers at Utah Valley University. She has been in education for 28 years. She specializes in how to teach science.
I think that you will really enjoy this very practical and user friendly episode.
It is filled with ideas for challenging your students to expand their understanding of the content through the use of foldable graphic organizers and interactive notebooks.
Lynda explains what foldable graphic organizers and interactive notebooks are and describes how to use them. She talks about why teachers should want to use them and how they can help the kids with retention. Lynda states, “The notebook gives the kids a chance to process an idea in writing…it is great for explaining and recording information visually and linguistically.” She notes that kids and students of all ages enjoy using the organizers and the notebook, even her adults in college.
Creating the notebooks is engaging and retention of content information is increased but there are other benefits. Lynda reflected, “ A couple of side benefits of using these resources is that the notebook makes an awesome study guide and the students have created a portfolio of their work.”
Lynda suggests that teachers who are experimenting with the organizers and notebooks should model frequently and keep their instructions clear.
Mrs. Williams has an amazing blog, posts on Twitter, has very helpful boards on Pinterest, and has a store at Teachers pay Teachers. See the links below.
I hope that you will take time to check out her many resources.
Here is a link to her guest blog post at Teaching Learning Leading K12.com
Enjoy the show!
Episode 28: Coaching-Supporting New Team Members
Every organization should have a way to support new staff members.
Induction programs are great but they are just one aspect of helping.
Everyone needs a coach.
It can’t be left to chance.
In this podcast I talk about the #1 reason for having a coaching program and the 5 components the coaching program should address.
I discuss why most coaching programs in schools fail and what can be done to make them work.
I hope that you will listen and take a look at your school. Do you have a program for coaching your new teachers or other staff? How about at the system level? Do you have a program in place where coaches work with your principals and others throughout the district? If not, why not? If not then get started!
A good coaching program will help you keep good…no great staff members!!!
As always, I hope that you will share with family, friends, and colleagues.
Episode 27: Teaching Tip…Learning the Kids Names
It is extremely important that the classroom teacher get to know and use the names of the kids. Kids need to know that you know who they are. The better teacher has strategies for doing this as soon as possible. Whether it is the beginning of a new semester or school year, the better teacher takes time to learn and use the names of the kids.
Today, it’s just me talking about getting to know and use the names of the kids.
What ways do you have for learning and using the names of the kids?
Please share them with me. I would love to hear your ideas about this.
Here are the links to the works by Deborah Meier.
Episode 26: Mike Buck, Chief Academic officer, Georgia Department of Education
Join us as Mike talks with me about education in Georgia and tells us some things about what makes Mike…Mike.
Mike has served the families of Georgia through public education over 31 years.
He has been a teacher, administrator, high school principal, assistant superintendent and now the Chief Academic Officer for the State of Georgia.
We talked about the responsibilities of the Chief Academic Officer (basically, I asked him what he does…)
Listen to hear Mike explain that his greatest lesson learned as the Chief Academic officer was that “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”
Mike reflected on the initiative called Career Pathways and the positive role it will play for the children of Georgia in their future planning.
I asked Mike what challenges he thought teachers faced today that are different than from when he was a high school principal…
One of his comments was …Time. Check out where we go with this topic.
Mike is the child of a soldier who moved with his career. This meant that Mike had to learn to make friend and to get along with others who were different than him. Mike talks about his love for diversity.
Mike is running for State Superintendent of Schools of Georgia. He shared his thoughts about the race and what he would bring to the role if he was elected.
Mike is a fan of Jim Collins and John Maxwell as leadership writers, but the book that he is reading now is called Praying Circles around Your Children by Mark Batterson. He says that he sees the greatest leadership challenge is that of being a parent and raising children. He reflected on a couple of thoughts from the book that have had a huge impact on his interactions with his children and how he lives his life:
· Teaching your own kids how to say and mean…please, thank you, and I’m sorry.
· I try to live my life in such a way that those who know me best respect me the most.
You can find out more about Mike at his website www.buckforsuperintendent.com
Episode 25: Do You Have a Teacher You Would Like To Thank?
This episode is quite a bit different than our others. This time you will hear many different people share their thoughts about a teacher who made a difference in their lives. You will hear recollections of good deeds, of persistence, of faith, of inspiration, and of encouragement. You will hear commonalities in most cases. You will hear sincerity and even though you can't see those telling their stories you will feel their tears and sense their smiles.
What about you? Do you have a teacher from your days in K-12, that if you could, you would say thank you? If so, what would you say?
If it's not too late...why not reach out and take the time to say thank you...you made a difference in my life!
I hope that this episode ignites memories and that it entices you to go find that special teacher and say...Thank You!
Episode 24: Teaching First Grade with Tonya Hair
Mrs. Tonya Hair teaches first grade at Pulaski County Elementary School located in Hawkinsville, Georgia. This is her 11th year of teaching. Mrs. Hair grew up in Hawkinsville and is now a teacher at Pulaski County Elementary School where she attended as a child. She is working with some colleagues who were teachers when she was a student. How cool is that?!
Mrs. Hair has some amazing routines and practices. Her kids know them and it is obvious. They transition between activities and different locations in the classroom with no down time or disruption to the learning. I asked Mrs. Hair to explain how she is able to accomplish this. She commented, “Practicing routines. If you set it up in the beginning then it is not that hard as the year goes on.” Tonya also noted, “Organization and planning are keys to being successful, as well as learning from your mistakes.”
Tonya uses groups quite successfully. She says that she is looking to find the best fit for the child. She uses these groups to help her address the individual needs of her students.
As you listen to us talk teaching and learning you will hear us touch on…
· reading and math stations
· problem solving
· showing numbers in different ways
· starting class with an activity
· formative assessments
· charts that she uses to make notes on student progress (she uses this information to adjust her instruction)
· using mini-white boards
· engaging kids
· organizational skills
Her favorite resource for her classes is her SMART board and if she could have anything for her classroom where money wasn’t an option it would be a parapro and a set of laptops.
If she had a chance to give advice to 30 brand new elementary teachers she would tell them, “Always be prepared and forward thinking. Be flexible.”
At the very end you will hear Tonya express her thoughts about a teacher who made a difference in her life… She says that she was like… Wonder Woman.
Mrs. Hair has much to share!
Jean Mixon has been teaching for 32 years all as a kindergarten teacher. She teaches at Pulaski County Elementary School in Hawkinsville, GA. This year she is retiring. She says that kindergarten has changed over the years. I hope that you will take time to listen and learn from her many nuggets of awesome teaching practices!
I had the pleasure of watching her work with her kids. As you listen, you will hear us talk about classroom management techniques like becoming consistent in what you do, developing procedures and routines, and practicing what you want you want the kids to do in class. Mrs. Mixon reflects, “We have to practice… The first two weeks in Kindergarten are so important…they are learning procedures and routines.” She also talks about the importance of using their names to connect and build a positive relationship. “You have to build that personal relationship.”
By the way, she has this very cool rug that helps her establish that consistency…I think that you will find that discussion very illuminating and also just cool.
We also talk about instructional strategies and her use of formative assessment, modelling and getting the kids to doing.
She always is with kids… “Just part of good teaching, be right there with them…”
Her favorite resource is the SMART board!
She was fun to watch and is an amazing teacher!
I am sure that you will learn much from her!
Episode 22: Technology and Classroom Routines with High School Science Teacher...Dana Niblett
Dana is a high school science teacher at Dodge County High School in Eastman, Georgia.
She has been teaching for 7 years and even though she is a science teacher she started out teaching middle school math. Mrs. Niblett comes from a tradition of teachers as both of her parents were teachers.
I had the wonderful experience of observing Dana teach her environmental science classes. From the outset it was apparent that she was very organized. She had tardy boxes, places for work to be turned in, places to look when the student is absent and so much more.
Her students understood the routines and procedures of the class. This was very noticeable when she shifted from the bell ringer (Science Question of the Day) to the general instructions to the lab groups and back to their seats to work with the technology. There was no down time. The students knew what was expected of them. She did not have to threaten or shush them. They went right to work.
Dana and I talk about how all of this is possible. She reflects on the days when she first started teaching and struggled with classroom management. Then she found Harry Wong and studied his comments about managing the classroom. She then “stole ideas” from colleagues who were very good at creating the routines and procedures that helped the students get right to work and focus on the content.
Her biggest secret is “PRACTICE with the kids.”
Mrs. Niblett is a tech guru…or at least not afraid to try to use many different technology applications and tools to help her engage the kids. She uses tablets, laptops, QR codes, Weebly.com, Padlet.com, Prezi, SMART board applications and tools, Google searches, youtube clips, voicethread.com and follows Tony Vincent on Pinterest (He is a teacher who is constantly providing information about cool tech apps for the classroom). Her kids are creating digital portfolios on weebly.com and recording their labs and daily activities in this website. They use padlet.com to respond to questions.
My head was swimming with the amazing about of free technology being used by the kids to help them learn their content! Dana says that she once was made to go to the Georgia Technology Conference and now she knows that it is awesome!!!! She reflects, “It’s the best conference I have ever gone to! There are classroom teachers showing what they use and what works for them!”
I hope that you will take a look at some of her ideas for classroom management and technology uses. Her kids were focused on learning and having fun. Try these out! I dare you!
As Dana says, “We have to get out of our comfort zone and get with the times!”
Episode 21: Allen Fort -Talking about Rural School Systems and other Education topics in Georgia
Allen is currently the superintendent of schools in Quitman County, Georgia. He has 39 years of total education experience. He was a teacher, a coach, an assistant principal, a principal, and worked for five years as a GA Department of Education School Improvement and Redesign Specialist.
He feels that he is very fortunate for his opportunities to travel across the state and get to know educators in many different regions of Georgia.
Allen is familiar with the needs of the rural school systems. He has created a rural school system learning group that is comprised of educators from rural systems. He sees this group as providing an opportunity for the different systems to learn from each other on how best to use their limited resources.
As a principal he instituted one of the first ninth grade academies in the state. We talk about his thoughts and lessons learned.
We also talk a little about the challenge of teachers working with kids who have access to incredible amounts of information through Google and other web based solutions. We talk about how when we were kids the teachers had the information or it was in books that they could direct us to, whereas today, the kids can study beforehand and actually know more than the teacher about some topics. This becomes a challenge in that the teacher is often trying to keep up with the kids, but another challenge is that all kids don’t have access. It is quite possible that in the same class there will be those who can and those who can’t access web based information.
I enjoyed talking with Allen and I think that you will enjoy your time listening!
You can find out more information about Allen at www.allenfortga.com
Episode 20: Classworks with Kristie Brooks
Kristie is a former special education teacher who eventually became a Special Education Director for a school system. She now is a Georgia Account Executive for Classworks.
Classworks is a web-based tool for assisting students in achieving more during their education. It has tools for assessment and instruction that are used to personalize learning and to support teachers as they help students achieve academic goals.
Kristie and I explore the following questions and many more…
· How can software programs go beyond the “computer lab” to impact classroom teaching and student engagement?
· How does Classworks use student data to form individualized plans? How can a teacher use this tool to help with differentiation?
· What do you think is the greatest challenge for teachers working with kids? How can Classworks assist with these challenges?
Hope that you enjoy the conversation.
For more information go to…
or contact Kristie at
Episode 19: Dr. Tim Elmore and Growing Leaders
Dr. Tim Elmore is the founder and the president of the non-profit organization, Growing Leaders.
Tim worked with Dr. John Maxwell who has spent many years teaching leadership skills to adults. Out of this experience of working with Dr. Maxwell grew "the desire to teach basic life skills and leadership skills to kids while they are still in school." Hence, the vision for Growing Leaders was born.
Tim and I discuss his ideas about changing the school house. He talks about Marching off the Map or being willing to do school differently.
He explains, "Our current school systems were designed for a past era..." and our teachers feel like "more is added to their workload every year." He notes that as a result many schools are in "maintenance or survival mode" where the teachers and administrators are "not willing to live on the edge." Tim creates a brilliant image of the difference between pioneers and settlers. The settlers are comfortable with being in one place, whereas the pioneer has to explore.
Tim states that we need to be EPIC in our classrooms and schools...
He also explains the thought that..."Kids Google." Tim notes, "They don't need us for information, they need us for interpretation."
Finally, Tim discusses the purpose of Growing Leaders and how it partners with schools and other organizations that serve children.
Tim was amazing to talk to!
He is energetic and insightful!
He has so many ideas that hit home.
You can find out more about Dr. Tim Elmore and Growing Leaders at www.growingleaders.com.
Nelson Lauver learned at the age of 29 that he was dyslexic.
Unfortunately, throughout his school experience no one knew this. As he struggled in school, he had to face a choice…be the dumb kid or be the bad kid. He chose to be the bad kid.
As he progressed through each grade what was really happening was that they were promoting him to get him out of their classes and eventually out of the school. He graduated 104th out 104 students.
Nelson and I talk about his experiences as a kid and as a young man trying to hold down a job.
Nelson has the following statement on his website: “A better world starts with the courage to believe you have something to contribute.” He has an amazing story and explanation surrounding this wonderful thought! As you listen to him, you will say, “You know…I think that he is talking to me…that he is telling me that I could contribute to this world…”
His memoir will touch your heart and make you wish that you could have been there to help him.
In response to this…He says that he can only move forward and take these experiences and use them for good.
My favorite part of our talk is when he starts talking about…Don’t give up on that kid!
After you listen to his story, I hope that you will take time to check out his website and look at his foundation and the work that he is doing to help promote literacy.
Also, listen to his wonderful talks under the link “audio stories.” You will not be disappointed.
His memoir is the winner of three book awards….
Gold Medal: Book of the Year, Independent Publisher Association 2011
Gold Medal: Inspirational Category Winner, INDIE Book Awards 2011
Silver Medal: Memoir Category INDIE Book Awards 2011
Find out more information about Nelson at his website…
You can order his memoir at Amazon. Click on the title to go to that page. Most Unlikely to Succeed
Episode 17: The ACT with Carl Forbes
Carl has been working at The ACT now for the last eight years.
He is assigned to both secondary and post-secondary schools.
He helps secondary schools understand what their data is telling them and how to respond.
With post-secondary schools he helps them look at the student data with a focus on what admissions and scholarship decisions could be made from that data.
We discuss everything from understanding about the organization known as ACT, what the organization offers besides the college entrance test, what the ACT test scores mean, and what the fundamental differences are between the ACT and the SAT.
Carl states, “The ACT is focused on college and career readiness but also work preparedness.”
He explains the ACT standards and benchmarks and what they mean to an educator, parent, and a student taking the test. As Carl explains, These components help “you understand what the scores on the ACT tell you about what you are ready to do.”
He also shared that there are ACT apps that students can use with their Smart phones and tablets.
We had an awesome conversation!
I think that you will learn so much whether a teacher, administrator, student, or parent you will want to listen again and then share this podcast with others. You will also want to take to explore the ACT on the web.
Also look for them on twitter and facebook
Specializing in helping kids and families be successful!
Barry Frazier, CEO, MDIV MA LPC
Richard Hamilton, Chief Clinical officer, MA LPC
The vision for BOSS united grew out of a mentor program at Barry's undergraduate university. According to Barry, "I grew up in a very urban area that was not conducive to being successful. I wanted to give back to kids who were like me."
During my show preparation, I ran across the term cognitive behavioral therapy on their website. This is a term that I am not quite familiar with so I asked what it meant...in my layman's version...It has to do with how they get people to change. Basically, it has to do with addressing the way a person thinks and behaves. This was a fascinating discussion to me.
I asked them to identify and talk about some of the major issues that they have to address with families. Richard explained, "Most frequently it is family conflict. The members of the family don't know how to express themselves." On top of this, they explained "children are often dealing with anger, anxiety, depression, and a lack of focus."
They work with kids who range in ages from five to twenty, if the twenty year old is still in school.
Barry and Richard talk about how it is important to see the world through the lenses of the kids. In other words, to see and approach their behaviors from an understanding of where the kids are coming from.
They have created another aspect of B.O.S.S which is named F.O. C.U.S. (Fathers Offering Counseling Understanding and Support).
This program is designed to introduce boys to proper male role models. The group studies leadership, dress for success, anger management, speaking, addressing young ladies, as well as other topics.
When asked about advice for teachers and school administrators, Barry and Richard offered, "It is important to be patient." They encouraged educators to revisit human growth and development writings. They suggested dusting off the books and becoming familiar with what happens at different ages. The point being that the adult will be more patient when he recognizes behavior that is typical for the age.
I learned much from this discussion. I know that you will, too!
By the way, we were in a Chick-fil-A that was fairly empty when we started the interview, but rapidly was filled with moms and kids. We were right next to the playground which added a nice nuance for a discussion about helping children and their families. At one point, there was a little boy, knocking on the glass trying to get us to look and his mom mouthing apologies as she lead him back to the slide. What a nice, happy environment!
You can learn more about BOSS United at www.bossunited.com
Episode 15: Ms. Kamorra Crafton, 3rd grade teacher talking with me about learning centers and mini-whiteboards
Episode 14: Statewide Longitudinal Data System and Robert Swiggum, Chief Information Officer, GADOE
Episode 13: Formative Instructional Practices with
This is Episode 15! Awesome!
Today, I am talking with Ms. Kamorra Crafton, a 3rd grade teacher at Saxon Heights Elementary School in Dublin City Schools, Dublin, Georgia.
This is her 7th year in teaching and her 3rd year teaching 3rd graders.
I had the pleasure seeing her teach using learning centers and mini-whiteboards to create engagement and to provide feedback about student understanding! Her students were involved and excited to be working in the centers and using the boards. It is not an exaggeration to say that they were totally engaged in the activities! Ms. Crafton commented, "I use the centers to provide more individualized instruction." She continued, They allow me to see what the kids are struggling with..."
The mini-whiteboards help her get immediate feedback. She shared, "Anytime they can get out those markers and whiteboards they are excited!"
She reflected, "The information gathered helps her with determining what direction she needs to go, what she needs to re-teach and what she may need to make harder..."
I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and I am glad that I was able to see her work with the children.
Check out the use of learning centers and mini-whiteboards to assist with aiding instruction and getting feedback about student understanding.
I have a board on Pinterest called Assessment Strategies where I have pins pertaining to using the mini-whiteboards and one called Stations(Learning Centers).
Go here for Saxon Heights Elementary School.
The State of Georgia has a Statewide Longitudinal Data System.
What's that? You don't know what that means?
One aspect of it puts student information at the finger tips of the classroom teacher. This information was previously only available, that is if the information in the school was up-to-date, in the files in a school information vault often located in the school's counseling office. This meant that it really was not accessible to most teachers. After all, the files could not be removed from the vault and it meant staying in there looking up every student's information at one time...which could have meant an overnight stay in the vault.
Mr. Robert Swiggum is the Chief Information Officer for the Georgia Department of Education. He became enamored with technology, became a programmer, and "has held just about every job there is with technology." He has watched "technology transform the business world and knows that it can have the same impact on education."
This interview took place just prior to the holiday break in December 2013.
Hope that you enjoy the conversation!
You can find more information about the Statewide Longitudinal Data System and what Georgia is doing at the following link:
Kelli Harris Wright GADOE
Kelli is a recently retired public educator. She was a special education and general education teacher. She also served in many different capacities within public school systems. Her most recent role, prior to retiring and going to work for the Georgia Department of Education, was as the Director of K-12 Teaching and Learning for a large Atlanta school district. She now oversees the FIP or Formative Instructional Practices program which falls under the Division for Assessment and Accountability at the DOE.
FIP is based upon the work of Rick Stiggins, Jan and Steve Chappuis, and Judith Arter. According to Kelli, “It focuses on the formal and informal methods that teachers and students collect information about student learning. It is about the use of the information that is collected.”
Formative Assessment helps teachers to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their students. The collected information then enables the teachers to modify their instructional practices to address the needs of the kids.
One aspect of this program is that the teachers learn how to create learning targets based upon the standards for the unit content. These help the teacher understand what it is that needs to be taught.
Formative assessment is purposeful. The teacher creates activities that provide information about the understandings of the students. As a result, these activities typically are not graded and should not be graded. It shows what the students know or don’t know therefore, a grade cannot be administered.
The actual training for teachers happens through professional learning networks, overview sessions, and on-line modules. There are five on-line modules for teachers.
1. Overview of the Research about Formative Assessment
2. Learning Targets
3. Ways to Collect Evidence of Student Learning
4. Analyzing the Evidence of Student Learning/ Effective Feedback
5. Student Ownership of Learning/Peer Feedback
There are two additional modules: One for leadership personnel and another for coaches and teacher leaders.
Kelli recommends three books to help with understanding formative assessment:
Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning
Jan Chappuis, Pearson Assessment Training Institute
©2010 • Pearson • Paper, 272 pp Published 03/01/2009
Assessment Balance and Quality: An Action Guide for School Leaders, 3/E
Steve Chappuis, Carol Commodore, Rick J. Stiggins, Pearson Assessment Training Institute
Pearson • Paper, 240 pp Published 03/02/2010
Formative Assessment and Standards-Based Grading
Robert J. Marzano, Publisher: Marzano Research Laboratory
November 11, 2009
You can find more information about Georgia’s use of FIP at www.gadoe.org/fip or simply google
You can contact Kelli at
Phone: (404) 463-5047
Fax: (404) 656-5976
Darby Jones is the CEO of Arts Now.
Darby comes from the classroom; He taught in an Atlanta middle school for 10 years and he was the fine arts department chair. During his teaching days he started working with The High Museum of Art in Atlanta which lead to him working with the Atlanta College of Art and then the Savannah College of Art and Design as an adjunct professor in visual arts instruction.
ArtsNow is about integrating the arts into schools. Darby calls it, “A true collaborative.”
The program has local, state, and national support. It's not seeking to replace arts in schools but instead is focused on the integration of the arts in all content areas.
Darby comments that too often “kids learn in silos” and this program breaks those down. It develops connections. It is about increasing engagement. It helps make learning meaningful.
I had the pleasure of seeing the program in action with the teachers and kids in an elementary school in Dublin City Schools, GA. The kids were truly excited to be participating together and using the instructional strategies. They were discovering and excited to be involved in the activities throughout all content areas.
Find Darby and Arts Now on the web at www.artsnowlearning.org or on facebook at Arts Now Learning where you can find contact links for Darby.
Length 29:34 minutes
Episode 11: Dr. Lodge McCammon
Differentiation and Engagement, part 2
This is part 2 of my discussion with Dr. McCammon.
If you haven't listened to Episode 10 (part 1), yet...I encourage you to start there first.
As we continue our conversation, Lodge states that the purpose of Flipping the Classroom is to make the teacher more efficient. The teacher creates short film clips to introduce or continue the lecture and thus, makes more class time for hands-on activities.
Listen to his awesome thoughts about there being an intersection between challenge and engagement... he shares his ideas on engaging the students who don't want to be in school at the same time as the teacher has to recognize their level for challenge...
We couldn't have completed our talk without spending some time with his ideas about music and the classroom...
Lodge is an amazing musician and I think that you will totally enjoy hearing him express his ideas about..
"My passion is to bring the power of music right into the classroom, allowing (the kids) to be artists, again."
We had a great time recording this conversation...I know that you will enjoy listening!
Have fun and check out Dr. McCammon on social media at the following links:
On YouTube search for Flipped Teacher Training as well as Lodge McCammon or follow the links below.
Also, visit his website:
Length of Episode 11:
Episode 10! Dr. Lodge McCammon
Differentiation and Engagement, part 1
This is our 10th episode!!! Yay!!!
Dr. Lodge McCammon was fun to talk with, so much fun that the conversation lasted close to an hour. We decided to break the interview into two parts. This is part one.
Dr. McCammon is a former public high school teacher in North Raleigh, NC where he taught AP Econ and civics. He earned his PhD from NC State University in Curriculum Development. Many people might have come in contact with him through YouTube and his videos on Flipping the Classroom or through his very cool original songs about each of the states that he is currently producing and you can also see on YouTube.
What an amazingly, talented educator!
The interview was conducted after he worked with teachers on creating activities to differentiate instruction and to engage the kids! He had the teachers involved and having fun while learning how to use his instructional practices. I think all were pleased, engaged, and ready to go try his ideas in their classes!
It was a pleasure participating in his class and talking with him!
Episode 9: Dr. Larry Cuban
Implementation is the Weakest Link
Dr. Larry Cuban has been in education for over 5 decades! He earned his PhD at Stanford and is an Emeritus Professor in Stanford’s Graduate School of Education.He is the author of many books a few of which are: As Good as it Gets: What School Reform Brought to Austin (2010), Hugging the Middle: How Teachers Teach in an Era of Testing and Accountability (2008), The Blackboard and the Bottom Line: Why Schools Can’t be Businesses (2007), Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform (with David Tyack, 1997), Teachers and Machine: The Classroom Use of Technology Since 1920 (1986).
This interview took place on the campus of the University of Georgia this past fall. Dr. Cuban had just completed a key note presentation with an audience of Georgia educators and Graduate students from the University of Georgia.
Listen to him explain that what is the weakest link in school reform is the implementation.
He uses the metaphor of the hurricane to compare the political talk about school reform being like the swirling, turbulent winds at the surface during the hurricane and the calm at the bottom of the ocean being the implementation in the actual classroom.
He is very personable and I enjoyed our talk!
Take time to follow up with him on his blog. Check out his books, they are excellent!
Episode 8: Dr. Mark Wilson/Helping school leaders develop the skills, attitudes, and habits to make a difference.
Dr. Mark Wilson is the founder of Education Leadership Group and an assistant professor at Kennesaw State University. He is the 2008 GASSP Principal of the Year for Georgia and the 2009 NASSP/Metlife National Principal of the Year.
A former high school principal, Mark now spends his time presenting, holding workshops and coaching principals. Mark comments, “I have been a teacher for over 27 years.” He sees what he has always done and is currently doing as that of a teacher. Whether working with kids, teachers, or principals, Mark says that he is an “encourager and supporter”. Dr. Wilson has lived by the mantra, “If you help the people around you get what they need then everything you want will come your way.”
Mark is an amazing educator and his positive outlook on the world is intoxicating! He is creative and incredibly knowledgeable of leadership, instructional strategies, and the political arena. His classes and workshops are always engaging as he gets the participants not just talking with him but each other! He is focused on helping school leaders develop the skills, attitudes, and habits necessary to make a difference in their schools and kids lives!
An avid reader, Mark can often be caught talking books with his colleagues and students. One of his favorite writers is Daniel Pink. He says that he probably sounds like he is part of Dan’s marketing team, but he highly recommends educators read Drive and To Sell is Human.
When you listen to Mark you will hear his enthusiasm for helping people. Look for the segment where I ask him for one piece of advice for a new school leader…His answer… Listen.
You can find Dr. Wilson at:
Scoop.it: @Mark Wilson
Also, you can contact him at Mark.Wilson.email@example.com
Episode 7: Dr. Joe Hutcheson and Thinking Maps
Thinking Maps is a national organization based out of North Carolina that focuses on equipping children “with the tools necessary to become successful thinkers, problem solvers, decision makers, and ultimately, lifelong learners.”
Dr. Joe Hutcheson is the representative for Thinking Maps for the State of Georgia. He is a former teacher, assistant principal, and principal at middle and high school levels. Joe is a dynamic speaker. His success in schools has made him an excellent rep for Thinking Maps. He actually used Thinking Maps in two different schools as well as in his personal life. According to Joe, “The power of Thinking Maps is that it helps children learn how to organize their thoughts.” He notes that “the maps are not worksheets, graphic organizers, or just a model where the child fills in the blank.” Look for him talking about Google Dad and Mom…I’ll bet it makes you go…I think that’s me! Joe is engaging and fun to talk to!
You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (706) 818-5632 or go to www.thinkingmaps.com to learn more.
Length 29:45 minutesDownload this episode (right click and save)
Episode 6: Debbie Daniell/Using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge to Guide Assessment and Instruction
Debbie Daniell is a former teacher of social studies in public schools: elementary through high school. She has worked with children of all socio-economic levels. She currently is the Social Studies Curriculum Director for the Gwinnett County Public School system in Georgia. She provides engaging instruction for teachers in many areas K-12.
Today's interview is about her classes in Webb's Depth of Knowledge. Often shortened to DOK, Debbie encourages teachers to step out of their comfort zone and analyze the connection or lack of connection between instruction and assessment in their own lessons. She explains that often the content may be at higher levels but the assessment is not. According to Debbie, when instruction and assessment are disconnected, the students do not learn at the levels that they should. Mrs. Daniell states that DOK is about "how deep the student has to use the knowledge and cognitive processes to develop an answer."
She is a practitioner who sees her focus as helping to support teachers as they strive to help all children to be successful. I think that you will enjoy listening to Debbie explain the differences between DOK and Bloom's Taxonomy and how to apply this information to strengthen your instruction and assessment.Download this episode (right click and save)
Episode 5: Dr. Tim McNamara: Building the Instructional Tool Box in Math
Dr. Tim says...
"The more students who can be actively involved the more the students get out of the time in class…Engagement lends itself to discovery…"
"When students discover they retain…students tend to hold those ideas longer…"
"Less memorizing equals more thinking..."
"Teachers should become students of mathematics…that way that they look at math problems in more than one way. They always should be learning about the ways students learn."
Tim helps teachers learn how to make math engaging! He introduces teachers to hands on activities that make students think! His classes are amazing! Teachers enjoy the opportunity to learn with him. He is a master teacher who makes teachers say, "I can do this."
I think that you will really enjoy listening to Tim. Check him out on-line at the following links:
"Dr. Tim" is a private, in-demand, and highly-respected improvement specialist in K-12 math for educators and school districts nationwide. His 30-year career as a classroom teacher, curriculum supervisor, and assistant professor included teaching at two upstate New York schools that were both recognized by Newsweek magazine as a Top-100 American High School- one in Rochester and one in his hometown of Buffalo. He currently contributes to a variety of ongoing projects- including developing assessments for the New York State Education Department, producing webinars for the Ed Leaders Network of state administrators associations across the Midwest, and helping lead the coaching efforts of the CESA 6 Math Center with participating school districts in southeast Wisconsin.
LDC stands for Literacy Design Collaborative. Its purpose is to assist teachers with tools or protocols that help them use the literacy standards in their content instruction. Dr. Huie has taught English in grades 8, 10, 11, and 12 in public schools for 25 years. She now works with the Georgia Department of Education to teach teachers how to bring more reading, writing, and communication skills into their classrooms.
LDC is a way to teach the content. It assists the teachers create engagement through helping the kids see information, read, or write like a historian, a scientist, etc. The students discover that the teachers want to teach them how to think critically and that they will ask them for their ideas about the content. This encourages the students as their opinions are valued. "They love that!"
I think that you will enjoy learning more about the Literacy Design Collaborative. Find out more about Georgia's initiative at https://www.georgiastandards.org/Common-Core/Pages/LDC.aspx
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Download this episode (right click and save)
Episode 3: Brian Mendler/Working with and Motivating the Most Challenging Students
Brian Mendler was a kid who created challenges for teachers. As an adult, he became a special education teacher and now teaches teachers and administrators how to work with kids like him. He is the author of the book The Taming of the Crew which provides educators with easy to use strategies for preventing and responding to difficult, disruptive, defiant and unmotivated behavior.
He is engaging! His commentary is amazing and his sessions are thought provoking!
This interview took place right after an all day session (We were talking as he was traveling to the airport.) where he was working with an audience primarily composed of special education teachers. The energy of the audience was non-stop as Brian gave them ideas about working with kids who are difficult to teach and engage in positive ways in a classroom.
You can Google his name and you will find links that lead to his video clips.
You can also find him on FaceBook and Twitter at Brian Mendler.
Finally take a look at the company that sponsors him called The Teacher Learning Center. Find that website at www.TLC-sems.com
Enjoy and be prepared to learn!Episode 2: Suzy Pepper Rollins
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Download this episode (right click and save)
A former lead teacher in a public school system, she discovered that mathematics needed to be more hands-on and engaging. Based upon studying multitudes of research her Math in the Fast Lane is designed to "get our kids on fire in mathematics!" In this interview, Mrs. Rollins discusses how teachers are taught to make the fire catch with the kids. She describes that what she teaches is how to address gaps in math and still move forward. You will hear the energy in her voice which she brings to her classes. No one is bored in her classes as she demonstrates how to engage the kids! Catch her at http://www.mathinfastlane.com/
Episode 1: What is a RESA?
The first episode explains what a RESA is and why I am producing a podcast. RESA stands for Regional Educational Service Agency. The concept was developed in the 1960s to help rural school systems fund services and support. The RESA is funded locally, through grants, and some state money. The school systems pool these funds to address their needs. A RESA has seven areas (research and planning, staff development, curriculum and instruction, assessment and evaluation, technology, health, and school improvement) which it addresses but its primary mission is to support school improvement efforts. There are 16 RESAs located throughout the State of Georgia. The Heart of Georgia RESA is located in Eastman, Georgia which is in Dodge County. Our RESA is comprised of 10 public school systems, 2 colleges, and 1 regional library system. The 10 systems are Bleckley, Dodge, Dublin City, Laurens, Montgomery, Pulaski, Telfair, Treutlen, Wheeler, and Wilcox. The 2 colleges are Middle Georgia State College and Oconee Fall Line Technical College. The regional library system is the Ocmulgee system.