The Counter Narrative: Changing the Way We Talk (and think) About Education
By Charles Williams
The Counter Narrative: Changing the Way We Talk (and think) About EducationMay 28, 2021
Episode 184: Pause to Ponder - A Response to "A Case for Color Blindness"
Listen to the TedTalk here:
Episode 183: Interview w/ IntegratED
Introducing Kara and Megan, the visionary educators behind IntegratED, a revolutionary educational platform dedicated to fostering student growth and instructional innovation in classrooms across the United States. Kara and Megan specialize in delivering dynamic professional development solutions that empower educators to embrace cutting-edge curriculum development, innovative instructional strategies, and student-centered learning experiences. Leveraging their extensive expertise in transformative teaching practices, curriculum mapping and instructional design, Kara and Megan are committed to equipping educators and administrators with the tools and knowledge necessary to optimize student growth, engagement, and lifelong learning.
Visit their website: https://www.integratedk12.com/
Follow them on Twitter: @integratedk12
Episode 182: Pause to Ponder - The Allure of "Fun" In the Classroom
On this episode, I'm diving into a hot topic in the world of teaching: making lessons fun and engaging. It's a noble goal, but there's a tricky balance to strike. How do we keep students excited about learning without sacrificing the depth and quality of the education they receive? This is particularly crucial in low-performing schools, where this approach is often most prevalent.
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Episode 181: Interview w/ Natalie Vardabasso
Episode 180: Pause to Ponder - A Lesson Taught, A Lesson Learned
Is the pursuit of happiness a paradox? That was the question posed to students during a lesson while I was conducting a recent observation. A lively discussion ensued and I was asked to participate (a no-no for observations but...). The resulting student conversations left me pondering on the topic well after I left the classroom.
What have I sacrificed to get to where I am?
What am I sacrificing to maintain what I have?
Was it .. is it worth it?
Episode 179: Interview w/ Dr. Teresa Sanders
Episode 178: Pause to Ponder - Coming Full Circle
Finding Your Blind Spots Reflection
Part 4 of 4
In this final segment in which me and my team review Hedreich Nichols' book, "Finding Your Blind Spots," we close out with chapters 7 & 8. In these last chapters, she talks about representation and avoiding missteps. Join me as I reflect on how diversity shows up in our spaces and how I once shared a lesson with my students exploring how we are often more alike than we are different as well as ensuring that our attempts for inclusion and belonging do not stem from biased perspectives.
Episode 177: Interview w/ Sofia Gonzalez
Sofia Gonzalez is a nationally recognized educator of the year, nonprofit leader for organization Project 214, podcast host, and education activist from the Chicagoland area. She is a sought-after public speaker regarding the state of education who is known for her cutting-edge presentations and dynamic illustrations with a passion that’s infectious. A High School teacher, 15-year veteran, teacher leader, and alum in a variety of spaces like Fulbright, Latinos for Education, Urban Leaders Fellowship, and currently School Ambassador fellow with the US Department of Education, Sofia's passion and energy towards education equity remains a leading voice for the 21st-century classroom and beyond.
Episode 176: Pause to Ponder - Seeing Past the Surface
"Finding Your Blind Spots": A Series
Part 3 of 4
In this segment, I reflect on chapters 5 and 6.
Episode 175: Interview w/ Barbara Gruener
In this episode, I chat with Barbara Gruener, a passionate and connected educator embarking on her 40th year in this field and who is blessed to have grown alongside thousands of children and adults of all ages and stages. This nationally-recognized and sought-after speaker and coach holds a BS from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and two MS degrees from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, but more importantly, she gets to hold and dynamically shape the hearts of the people whom she has the delight to teach, mentor, coach and love. Barbara truly thrives on connecting by heart and unwrapping the present as she works with intention to help school stakeholders and leaders create a climate of acceptance, belonging, compassion and love. She is the author of two Mom’s Choice Gold Award-winning books and the proud mom to three amazing adult children. Barbara grew up on her family’s dairy farm in Wisconsin, but today she and her husband John call Friendswood, Texas, home.
During our conversation, we talked about the role that choice plays in education. Barbara points out that choice is often discussed but done so through the lens of student voice. And while this is important, she acknowledges, it is also limiting. Barbara shared how providing choice communicates trust, a necessary foundation for building strong, healthy relationships. By telling students that we trust their ability to make good choices and that we are available to guide them through inevitable poor choices, we are building relationships. Barbara also suggested that providing choice improves the mental health for our students thereby enhancing our approaches to SEL in our schools. When students feel that they do not have options, their stress levels rise and this leads to a basic physiological response - fight, flight, or freeze. Yes, student choice is important in our classes but it's so much more than amplifying voice.
Ready to hear more? Let’s go.
Episode 174: Pause to Ponder - The Hidden Bias of Labels and Curriculum
Reflections on "Finding Your Blindspots" Part 2 of 4
This week I am reflecting on chapters 3 and 4 of Hedreich Nichols' book, "Finding Your Blindspots," and examine how the seemingly innocent labels that we use in everyday conversation can have serious impacts on our perceptions, attitudes, beliefs and actions towards others. In fact, they can exacerbate the otherness that exists for marginalized groups. I also explore how bias shapes our understanding of the world, both current and past, and how a simple question can encourage the consideration of other perspectives providing a more comprehensive and holistic narrative.
Episode 173: Interview w/ Melody McAllister
In this episode, I chat with Melody McAllister, a wife, mother of five, educator, and author. She and her family relocated to Anchorage, Alaska from the Dallas, Texas area in 2019. McAllister is the 2017 Garland NAACP Educator of the Year and author of the “I’m Sorry Story”, a children's book about taking responsibility for mistakes and making sincere apologies. She is a classroom teacher, the community facilitator for several, large educational communities, and is a consultant for edtech companies and small business owners looking to enhance their social media presence. McAllister has spoken at ISTE and ASTE about equity issues in education, and writes about her life journey in her blog HeGaveMeAMelody.com She also guest blogs regularly at alicekeeler.com, edumatchpublishing.com, and spacesedu.com.
McAllister has been dubbed “Stream Queen” for her regular LIVE streaming broadcasts. You can watch and follow her LIVE streams on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube where she has a weekly book chat with other authors. She also hosts the Growth Over Grades Podcast sponsored by SpacesEDU.
During our conversation, we talked about the importance of restorative spaces. Melody points out that, as humans, we make mistakes and will often end up harming the relationships we have built with others. It is vital for us to learn how to navigate those spaces and engage in intentional work to rebuild connections. This is a challenging process and it is our job, as educators, to guide our students through this learning. What Melody does not condone, however, are forced apologies and other similar approaches that rob students of their accountability.
Ready to hear more? Let’s go.
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Episode 172: Pause to Ponder - Examining Bias and Confronting Shame
My staff have started to read "Finding Your Blindspots" by Hedreich Nichols and we are diving deep into this practical text as we engage in reflective dialogue around our own biases. This series will aim to capture my own perspectives as we navigate the eight principles outlined in this Solution Tree best-seller.
These first two chapters focused on examining your own biases and confronting the inevitable shame and guilt felt during this process. Hedreich suggests using a tool such as the Harvard Implicit Bias Assessment and sitting with the results regardless of how surprising they may be. The second chapter focuses on confronting that guilt and shame without allowing it to drive you into a safe space or become confrontational - both practices that prevent the roots of the bias from being addressed.
Be sure to tune in again on September 29th for a recap of the next two chapters.
In the meantime, be sure to pick your own copy so that you can follow along this journey of self-discovery.
Episode 171: Interview w/ Mike Rutherford
In this episode, I chat with Mike Rutherford, the founder and CEO of gotLearning. He has been a teacher, instructional technology coach, school district EdTech director, founder of the K12 group at Blackboard, Vice President of Business Development at Just ASK Publications & Professional Development, all before returning to the classroom as a 6th grade humanities teacher at International School Bangkok in Thailand where he built version 1 of gotLearning in his classroom.
During our conversation, we talked about the need for streamlining feedback to our students. In an age where information is consistently streaming in, we, as educators, need to be able to replicate that in our classrooms. After all, if companies can build systems to improve individual experiences, why can’t we do similar work in the K12 space? Mike points out that such shifts in practice not only benefit the students but also improve educator experiences as well. He compared teaching to running 5 to 6 hour long meetings with 30 clients everyday. Even the best CEO would burnout under those circumstances.
Ready to hear how an entrepreneur is shifting the eduworld? Let’s go!
Episode 170: Pause to Ponder - The Crucible
In this insightful podcast episode, I delve into a profound perspective on the tradition of "The Crucible" – as a tool wielded by marginalized students to navigate the complexities of their educational experiences and gauge the potential of their relationships with teachers. Join me as I explore how this unique ritual takes on new meaning when seen through the lens of empowerment and advocacy.
"The Crucible" has historically been viewed as a platform for intellectual challenge, where students test their educators' convictions. However, when marginalized students step into this arena, it becomes an instrument of self-discovery, representation, and equity. In this episode, we embark on a journey to understand how this ritual becomes a transformative force for those who often find themselves on the periphery of traditional educational narratives.
Episode 169: Interview w/ Elijah Carbajal
Episode 168: Pause to Ponder - Pedagogy v Andragogy
For most of us, as educators, the term pedagogy is one with which we are extremely familiar. It refers to our instructional approaches. Right? Well ... kind of.
During my recent IB training in Austin, we discovered a new term which made us think about our instructional approaches in a new way. Pedagogy actually refers to instructional practices designed for children. They are traditionally teacher centered wherein the teacher is the controller of knowledge. You know, the "sage on the stage." Meanwhile, andragogy refers to instructional practices designed for adults. This approach shifts the teacher into the role of a facilitator and relies on the intrinsic motivation to learn and grow as a person.
What is our teacher training practices instilled within us a reliance upon using pedagogical approaches, despite the shifting trends towards andragogical approaches? What if this has contributed to the declining academic performance of our students? What do you think?
Episode 167: Interview w/ Joshua Stamper
In this episode, I chat with Joshua Stamper, the Training and Development Specialist for the Teach Better Team and manager of the Teach Better Podcast Network. Prior to Joshua's current position, he was a middle school Administrator, classroom art educator, and coach. Joshua is the author of Aspire to Lead, podcaster, leadership coach, and education presenter.
During our conversation, we talked about behaviors in our school. All too often, we punish students who fail to meet behavioral norms while failing to recognize that these behaviors are actually their way of communicating with us. What would happen if we stopped reacting and started listening?
Episode 166: The Humbling Experience of The Lead Learner
There are those of us who have been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to share our experiences with other educators. Whether through conferences, screens, or texts, we spend time encouraging educators to grow and improve their craft through a number of strategies. I wonder, however, how many of us actually practice these same suggestions on a regular basis.
This episode shares a recent experience that I had while attending an IB training in Austin, TX. In this case, I was not presenting but was an attendee. All was well until someone in the room recognized me and I had a moment of internal conflict. Do I maintain a facade of being an educational guru or do I lean into the vulnerability that comes with being The Lead Learner?
Episode 165: Interview w/ Brandon Beck
Dr. Brandon Beck is an educator, speaker, coach, and author of "Unlocking Unlimited Potential: Understanding the Infinite Power Within to Guide Any Student Toward Success." As a keynote speaker, Brandon is best known for his inspirational storytelling that is directly connected to authentic activities which build upon the ultimate goal for all... Unlocking Unlimited Potential.
He is also the host of the "Unlocking Unlimited Potential Stories Show," a live show and podcast where he interviews inspiring people sharing their inspiring stories. Brandon is a National Board Certified teacher and also holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership.
His primary purpose is a simple one: “To inspire people to have faith in themselves and believe in their inner genius.”
He has been an elementary teacher for 18 years and a monolingual, bilingual educator for over 12 years. He is also a college professor, consultant, Results Coach, an editor and reviewer for AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice, a regular keynote speaker at state, regional, and national conferences.
Dr. Beck is also a Mutt-i-grees National Trainer. Mutt-i-grees is a program designed by Yale University’s 21st Century in partnership with North Shore Animal League. The Mutt-i-grees curriculum is an innovative Pre-K - Grade 12 social emotional learning program that brings adopted shelter dogs into schools.
Dr. Beck is an entrepreneur and professional soccer coach. He is currently a nationally certified instructor for the United States Soccer Federation. Throughout his career, he has coached teams that have won numerous state, regional, and national championships.
Episode 164: Pause to Ponder - Maybe We Can Learning Something from this "New" Generation
A series of recent events including a delay at the airport and our back-to-school leadership series resulted in a much needed reflection about our perspectives and attitudes regarding our roles at work. While we often criticize the younger generation about their apparent lack of concern for their jobs, their approach may be just what we need to combat the steady and drastic rise of mental health issues stemming from our workplaces.
Episode 163: Interview w/ Yaritza Villalba