Your Teaching Career May Be Defined By Who You Hang With

I recently came across this quote from Chris Emdin and I could not agree more with this perspective.  It comes from his book “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education“.

Take a second to read the featured image again…

I cannot agree more with this view.  For me when I reflect on this quote I never had more fun teaching when I was working with a team who was invested, dedicated, and having a blast.  The positive energy that I felt, even through the tough times, kept us all strong and we never lost sight of the end goals.

Think about the time when you were on the other side.  You worked with that teacher who did their job, but teaching was just that… a JOB.  How about the colleague who is a BLAST to be around outside of work but when within the walls of the school they have a negative attitude, no patience for their students, and always seem to provide a negative comment about something that is happening in the school.  Another personality is someone else on the team loved teaching, kids, and was a solid educator but they resisted change and transforming their classroom.

This type of behavior is addicting.  At first you might roll your eyes, shake your head, laugh with them because they are being funny.  The danger here is that this is addictive and WORDS HAVE POWER.  More power than most of us will ever give them credit for and eventually you will go from shaking your head to participating in the act.

Once you start down the path of negativity it can be hard to control and maintain.  It is unfair to expect that we all can avoid tripping up and needing an opportunity to vent, share disappointments, and just clear our minds of frustration.  It is how you move forward form that moment that counts.  Does this becoming a daily occurrence?  Do you start to take your frustrations home with you?  Do you take some of these frustrations to social media?

Some of you might be reading this and thinking that the teachers you hang with do not influence your impact.  I can appreciate that, you want to defend the people you hang with.  If this is you then my first thought is that this quote might be more true for you than you think.  Maybe one or a couple of the teachers on your team have the potential to be cancerous to the entire group OR maybe you can just see and feel that this might be happening at your campus.  What do you do?  Well if your career depends on it, and according to the quote from Chris it might, please take a second to think and reflect on what is best for your mindset.  This is crucial because your mindset will directly effect your students mindset and being anything but positive, kind, and empathetic, to me, is unacceptable.  If you are not then you might just miss out on a chance to “Flip a Kid”.  


Leadership…The Biggest Issue in Education?

The featured image is borrowed from

This is a really power piece written by Jimmy Casas where he discusses “Leadership…The Biggest Issue in Education?”.

Jimmy talks about how he frequently poses a question to the audience: “What do you believe to be the biggest issue facing us today in public education that is resulting in many of our schools to be labeled as low performing?

He lists those most commonly heard responses and I want you to take a second to do the same.

He talks about how those are all valid responses but in the end, it all comes down to leadership.  I could not agree more with him.  You probably thought of standardized testing, poverty, lack of resources, state rules, etc. but through all of those, if you have a strong leader guiding the school, you will be successful.

Think about this.

How many of our have worked for a great leader?  Do you feel like you dwell on the shortcomings of education when you are being led effectively?

Conversely think of a bad leader that you have worked for.  Did the shortcomings of education then impact your growth, abilities, etc?

For me the answer is clear which is why I loved this post so much.  When I worked under strong leadership there was always a sense of love, trust, and empowerment in the building.  Teachers felt good about being there and students felt loved, respected, and heard.  I did not get caught up dwelling on the issues surrounding education because I was confident in my leader and felt that my leader was confident in me.

Working for poor leaders brings a sense of anxiety that is easily felt and seen.  You are worried about your job, meeting test scores, your next teacher review, etc because you do not believe in or feel supported by your leader.  You do not feel safe and comfortable.  If you are feeling this way, what do you think the students are feeling?  They certainly are aware of this and can feel it as well.

Leadership is crucial and I believe, the key to a successful classroom, school, and district.  I agree with Jimmy that it is a major weakness in education today because far too many are not leading effectively.  What do you think?

What makes you special? – Mariana Atencio

This TEDx Talk is amazing and REALLY made me reflect on how I look at and perceive others.  She reflects on a very unique childhood that her father provided her and her sister.  They traveled the world, experienced what is like to be “different” then what it is like to fit in.  This could easily be a great lesson on social emotional learning where you students can sit back, think, and then reflect on how they look at others.  Use this to build a culture in your school or classroom of love, compassion, and empathy.

Here is Mariana’s bio copied from TEDx Nevada.

Mariana Atencio is a Peabody Award-winning journalist, currently a national correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC. The Huffington Post called her ‘our Latina Christiane Amanpour’ and Jorge Ramos wrote: ‘Mariana is the next-gen voice for Latinos breaking all barriers.’ Mariana is known for combining in-studio work and high profile interviews like Pope Francis, with tenacious field reporting all over the world, covering youth-led protests in places like Ferguson, Mexico, Haiti and Hong Kong.

An immigrant from Venezuela who fled violence and censorship, Mariana’s passion lies in telling stories that promote understanding and give a voice to undercovered communities. She anchored the series “Searching for the Latino Voter” during the 2016 election; “#SOSVenezuela” about the crisis in her native country and ‘PRESSured’ a one-hour documentary on press freedom in Latin America. Mariana is a millennial journalist leading the next generation of storytellers.

How Has Google Affected The Way Students Learn?

Another killer article from the writers at Mind/Shift and this one focuses on the impact of Google.  Here is the intro to the article.  It. Is. AWESOME.

“Take a look at this question: How do modern novels represent the characteristics of humanity?

If you were tasked with answering it, what would your first step be? Would you scribble down your thoughts — or would you Google it?”

“Oh you know I would” is what instantly ran through my head.  I Google everything!  This post is insightful, thoughtful, and shed light on something that many of us over look.  She discusses how the novelty of Google can represent humanity.  I tell my wife to do it when shes asks me how to post something on Facebook or my father when he cant keep up with the newest slang and even when I need a video to help me construct a bookshelf.

I remember learning how to use a card catalog, reading encyclopedias, or annoying my parents asking. “why this” or “why that”.  One of the beauties of Google, to me, is that it allows us to be independent, inquisitive, and problem solvers because you can simply “Google it”!

How often do you use it?  Has it redefined your lifestyle like it has mine and many others?

Superintendents: The lessons we learned in 2016

Who better to learn from than your peers?!  “Superintendents: The lessons we learned in 2016” is brought to us by Stephen Wood with eSchoolNews.

He interviews and shares valuable takeaways from 4 Superintendents over the past year.  Here is a list of the Superintendents, check the article for all the details!

  1. Turning Around a District is a Marathon, not a Sprint” – Dr. Royce Avery, Superintendent of Manor Independent School (TX)
  2. PBL Teaches Educators Flexibility in Lesson Planning”  – Dr. Stephanie Miller, Superintendent and Principal of Congress Elementary School District (AZ)
  3. School Improvement Models Should Be Shared Across the Globe” –  Dr. Bryan D. Luizzi, Superintendent, New Canaan Public Schools (CT)
  4. “Becoming a Great Leader Is Not One Thing” –  Tammy Mangus, Superintendent of the Monticello Community School District (NY)

He is doing a 3 part series and I will be sure to share all 3 on the website!

Changing the Teaching Profession in the Midst of a Storm


The storm is the looming teacher shortage.

Annette Christiansen hits the nail on the head, several times, in this power post via EdWeekTeacher.  She discusses her sons journey to being an education major and how he was born to be a teacher but explored several other paths before finally “settling” on education.  I hate to say settle but that is the truth in today’s world.  The profession does not carry the respect, honor, and salary that it deserves.

As a former teacher her story resonates with me because I always felt I was born to be a teacher and I did not hesitate to go to college to be one.  I have since left education because I felt a calling to impact education in a different way.

Here are some things that she highlights to help prepare us for this inevitable challenge.

Be positive.


Get involved with teacher-preparation programs.

Promote and support new teachers.


Shape our future through ESSA.


4 Ways to Encourage a Growth Mindset in the Classroom


Great post by Katie Finley via EdSurge. (image provided 2.0 Flickr user LendingMemo)

Katie discusses the 4 ways to encourage the growth mindset in your classroom:

1. Think about setting achievable micro-goals to encourage students’ consistent, incremental progress.

2. When students succeed, praise their efforts and strategies as opposed to their intelligence.

3. Help students focus on and value the process of learning.

4. Design classroom activities that involve cooperative–rather than competitive or individualistic–work.


As you all know, I LOVE the growth mindset and feel like this concept is one that is important for all children to have.  Here are other posts I have made on the growth mindset:

Growth Mindset-Why Not!?

Powerful Podcast-Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset May Counter Effects of Poverty on Achievement




How to Spark Curiosity in Children Through Embracing Uncertainty

This article is written by Linda Flanagan and comes via Mind/shift.  She does a great job highlighting strategies to spark curiosity.  I highlighted her thoughts below.  Read the article for more details and to see how this can happen at home as well as school!

Address the emotional impact of uncertainty. 

Assign projects that provoke uncertainty.

Adopt a non-authoritarian teaching style to encourage exploration, challenge and revision. 

Emphasize the current topics of debate in a field. 

Invite guest speakers to share the mysteries they’re exploring.

Show how the process of discovery is often messy and non-linear.


Personalized Data Units or Personal Learning?

“The assumption here is that curriculum can be broken into little pieces, that skills are acquired sequentially and can be assessed with discrete, contrived tests and reductive rubrics. Tracking kids’ “progress” with digital profiles and predictive algorithms paints a 21st-century gloss on a very-early-20th-century theory of learning.” — Alfie Kohn

Read this article by Mike Crowley via Medium that discusses how “personal” some personalized learning really is.  His school uses the term Personal Learning and he layes out what a Personal Learning program looks like!

Here is the number 1 highlighted piece of the article: “empower students to make meaningful learning choices that reflect their own personal needs, wishes, beliefs, feelings, aspirations, strengths, and challenges.”

Happy reading and awesome work Mike!