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 EducationJun 12, 2021
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.
Certified Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/shop/mjmcalliwrites
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
Episode 162: Pause to Ponder - New Construction
Watching the construction happening around my school provided me with an insightful moment - in order to build something new, the old must often be demolished and removed. We, for the most part, are the same way. In our efforts to grow into someone better, how often do we fail because we are afraid to let go of those tainted foundations? To compensate we build facades and then question why they crumble under pressure. Are you willing to do the work that is needed to become the person you want to be?
Episode 161: Interview w/ The Core Collaborative
Episode 160: EduCelebrity or EduHero
Inspired by a post from Vernon Wright, this episode examines the difference between EduCelebrities and EduHeroes. While there may exist some overlap between the two, there are some clear distinctions which distinguish one from the other.
Do you know an EduHero who should be celebrated? Fill out this form (you should also share it with others so that they can too!) and I will be sure to show them some appreciation.
EduHero Nomination Form: https://bit.ly/EduHeroNominee
Episode 159: Interview w/ Dana Goodier
In this episode, I chat with Dana Goodier, who has 23 years of experience in education. She has taught World Languages and English and has worked at the middle and elementary school level as an administrator. Dana completed her doctorate degree (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership in early 2020. She often speaks at conferences, providing educators with techniques to minimize off-task behavior and to increase time on task. She also writes blogs for the Teach Better Team and is the author of Out of the Trenches: Stories of Resilient Educators, published by Road to Awesome, LLC. She is the host of the “Out of the Trenches” podcast, which features educators who share their stories of resiliency.
During our conversation, we focused on leadership and school culture in a post-pandemic world. Dana pointed out that administrators shouldn’t just focus on those for whom they are responsible for evaluating but should strive to create opportunities for building individual relationships with all staff members. She acknowledges that school leaders often become so consumed that this seemingly simple task is often forgotten but she also suggests that building those very relationships can not only help to diminish the issues they are addressing but that it also paves the way for building even stronger relationships. It’s cyclical.
Ready to hear some more? Let’s go!
Follow her on Twitter @danagoodier and visit her website at: www.danagoodier.com
Episode 158: Pause to Ponder - A Fresh Perspective
Nearly a year ago I announced that I was transitioning not only to a new school but to a new grade level. After spending nearly a decade leading schools at the elementary level, I opted to accept an invitation to become a high school administrator. This episode offers an insight into five fresh perspectives that I was able to achieve by shifting roles and stepping out of my comfort zone.
Episode 157: Interview w/ Sawsan Jaber
Episode 156: Pause to Ponder - Dear Teachers
Teacher appreciation week is traditionally a time dedicated to honoring the teachers in our lives and those impacting not only their fields but also the communities in which they serve. This episode is an open letter to those educators who need a word of encouragement, of inspiration, of gratitude. Thank you for all that you do.
Episode 155: Interview w/ Maxwell Roach
In this episode, I chat with Maxwell Roach, the Founder of JonAyves Learning Club, a forward-thinking tutoring service that teaches children concepts such as long division as early as the age of 3. Max has traveled a diverse career trajectory, spanning the child care, music, food, technology, and education sectors. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto and is certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHRi). This has opened doors to an eclectic and wide range of opportunities, including performing as a musician, sharing stages with Beyoncé and the Rolling Stones, leading a multi-centre child care organization as CEO, and working as an Operations Director and Consultant for e-commerce tech companies globally. Maxwell is a serial entrepreneur who values the need to "fill the industry gaps" by way of disruption and modern solutions.
During our conversation, we explored several topics including how the term tutor often has a negative connotation and that shifting semantics to personalized learning instructor adequately captures the work of this role. In fact, Maxwell points out that algorithms exist to personalize experiences across most social media platforms and we should investigate replicating similar experiences within our classrooms. We talked about the seemingly ironic push for increased SEL in our classroom noting that teachers are often not adequately prepared or trained to handle these sensitive mental health approaches resulting in increased stress which we attempt to address with … you guessed it … SEL approaches. We closed out the discussion with the proposition that education shouldn’t be about competition but instead should be focused on collaboration. How do we lower our defense mechanisms and develop solutions in a system that is often unfair and punishes deviations from the norm?
Ready to hear more from this dynamic educator? Let’s go!
Website - https://www.jonayves.com
Books - https://www.jonayves.com/shop
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/@JonAyvesLearningClub
Twitter - https://www.twitter.com/@JonAyvesTV
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/AJsHouseKids
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/JonAyvesTV
Linked In - https://www.linkedin.com/in/maxwellroach
Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/@AJsHouseKidsY
outube - https://www.youtube.com/@JonAyvesTV
TikTok - https://www.tiktok.com/@AJsHouseKids
TikTok - https://www.tiktok.com/@JonAyvesTV
Episode 154: Pause to Ponder - The Hedonic Treadmill
When was the last time that you allowed yourself to experience joy? When was the last time you truly celebrated an accomplishment? If you are struggling to recall that moment, you are not alone. We have been primed to consistently pursue whatever we define as success without acknowledging that this pursuit is futile in that success is a series of small wins that may never truly end. Thus our efforts to obtain this goal will only result in the production of additional milestones hence the term "hedonic treadmill."
Recognizing the toll that this takes on our mental health, I wanted to share that this is something with which I struggle and implore listeners to find ways to both pursue their goals while also being intention about stepping off the treadmill to enjoy that which they have accomplished.
Episode 153: Interview w/ CJ " Real Rap" Reynolds
In this episode, I chat with CJ Reynolds, a West Philadelphia high school literature teacher, author, YouTuber, & public speaker. In his book, Teach Your Class Off, on his YouTube Channel, Real Rap With Reynolds, and on his Podcast, Sunday Night Teacher Talk, Reynolds offers an authentic glimpse into what it looks like to teach high school in the inner city. Using “Real Rap” to share teaching tips and strategies, Reynolds helps new and veteran teachers alike become the teacher they always dreamed of being.
During our conversation, we talked about his usage of rap and hip hop in the classroom. Reynolds points out that this musical culture focuses on things that are “fresh” or relevant and that we, as educators, should mirror this in that we should not try to be cool but strive to be as relevant as possible. He explains that this is only possible by forming authentic relationships while also acknowledging that such practices feel dangerous because we need to be vulnerable and actually invest skin in the game.
Ready to hear more from one of the keynote speakers for this year’s Teach Better Conference? Let’s go!
Episode 152: Pause to Ponder - Dashboard Warning Lights
For most of us, the dashboard warning lights in our vehicles are an indicator that something needs to be addressed. For some, those signals are ignored often leading to larger issues as time progresses.
The same can be said for ourselves as well. Our bodies have warning signs to indicate that things are not going well and to serve as a reminder that we need to resolve them before we burn out.
Episode 151: Interview with Andre St. George
During our conversation, we talked about the role of leadership and Andre pointed out that we are all leaders in our own rights. It is necessary then for each of us to tap into our uniqueness and to identify our superpower. Andre points out that people are drawn to our energies and that their perceptions of us will depend greatly on how we see ourselves. To that end, he stresses that we must be the leader of ourselves before attempting to lead others.
Episode 150: Pause to Ponder - The '89 Land Run
On April 22, 1889, thousands of settlers, or Sooners, rushed into modern day Oklahoma in an attempt to settle "unassigned lands" and continue the European westward expansion of America. A moment that is commemorated across Oklahoma City, the '89 Land Run was foundational in the establishment of the state's eventual capitol and other major hubs. What is often not discussed, however, is how these "unassigned lands" came to be. Listen as I share my discoveries on the darker side of this momentous event and the Native American Nations that were ultimately decimated by this progression.
Episode 149: Interview with Sarah Said
In this episode, I chat with Sarah Said, an educator who has served in various roles including Teacher, Assistant Principal, Dean, Curriculum Coordinator, and Multilingual Coordinator. Sarah is an advocate for the students she serves and is a strong voice in education. She has been published in various publications such as Learning for Justice, EdWeek Teacher, The Teaching Channel and Edutopia
During our conversation, we talk about how Sarah got her groove back by examining her journey from classroom to administration and then back again. We focused on mental health and questioned how much we are truly doing despite talking a lot about the need for shifts in this area. We reflected on the often unnecessary burdens we carry with us and the impact that has not only on ourselves but those around us. Sarah also pointed out that we could benefit from shifting from our standardized approaches to Norway’s more fluid practices.
Ready to hear more? Let’s go!
Facebook - Sarah Dollah-Said
Twitter - @MrsSaid17
Instagram - @dollahsaid
Linked In - Sarah Dollah-Said