Episode 21 – Cami Anderson

 

CamiAndersonPHOTO“I like to think of it as choice ready, which is to say I think every kid needs to graduate with very high levels of reading, writing, quantitative, social and civic skills,” shares Cami Anderson, co-founder of ROADS, a network of charter high schools dedicated to court-involved youth, and former superintendent of schools, first overseeing alternative high schools and programs serving 90,000 young adults in New York City and then supporting 45,000 pre-K–12 students in Newark, New Jersey.

“… I think we have to be very real [about] 21st century jobs – only one in five jobs in 2020 is going to be available to folks without a post-secondary degree,” Cami continues as she discusses the importance of ensuring that all students are learning both college-ready and life-ready skills. “So, if we want folks to be life ready, to have access to economic freedom, justice, and all those things, and even the ability to thrive in 21st century jobs, requires a ton of academic and hard-core content. Gone are the days when we have vocational careers, persay – I mean everyone always has one example about their cousin who is a plumber or something – but the reality is, the vast majority of jobs are going to require a level of academic knowledge. And I want all of our kids to know that, because I don’t want to make that choice for them because they happen to be growing up potentially in an economically challenged circumstance. Having said that, they also need to be passionate about what they do and know how to work through challenges, and de-escalate anger, and vote, and build a community. Obviously those skills are just as critical.”

Fast Facts about Cami

  1. Full name: Cami Anderson
  2. Years in education: Over 15 years in both traditional and non-traditional education settings
  3. Grades taught: Middle School
  4. Current position: Founder and Managing Partner, ThirdWay Solutions
  5. Current city: New York, NY
  6. Favorite resources:
  7. Why teach: “Every single child, regardless of what zip code they are born in, deserve to be in an amazing classroom and a good school that delivers on their genius; there’s no more important or difficult job.”
  8. Follow Cami on Twitter @camianderson12

Noteworthy Outtakes from Cami’s Chat

Recognized by TIME magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, Cami Anderson is a fierce advocate of high academic expectations and a well-rounded educational system that meets the needs of all students, from all walks of life.

Equality doesnt mean Equity“I think equality means everyone gets the same amount of things – teachers, money, resources, breakfast programs, etcetera – on the theory that somehow we have a level playing field already,” says Cami on the differences between equality and equity. “And so therefore the same amount of [resources] will allow everyone to achieve at the same levels.

“And we know that’s not true, our country has a very rich history of systemic racism in particular, and other -isms, that make it unfair for certain groups of folks.” Cami continues. “Equity is when you invest whatever you need to invest to make sure that every young person, in this case education, is able to perform at the highest levels academically, socially and civically. And so that means – and I am perfectly comfortable with this – some young people need more in order for them to overcome the barriers that have been placed in front of them. Not by their own choosing, but just by circumstance or zip code.”

Listen as Cami goes further in depth about this topic, her work to provide formerly incarcerated youth with quality education that leads to a High School diploma and more.

Want to learn more about Cami? Click here for her full bio.

Episode 16 – Louise Craig

 

Louise Craig“Veteran teachers mostly just know that this one aspect of their day is not going well and they’ve usually tried a few things and they just need another set of eyes that are saying, ‘Well this is what I see, and this is all the good things and maybe this is just what we need to tweak.'” reflects Louise Craig, 2nd grade teacher and an Instructional Specialist at the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District in California. “Sometimes new teachers… there’s just so much, they just don’t know where to begin. And it has to be broken down and said, ‘You know what? The kids know that you care about them, that’s the first start and now the next step would be this…,’ because I don’t know about you, but my first and second year I just didn’t even know what I didn’t even know.”

Fast Facts about Louise

  1. Full name: Louise Craig
  2. Years teaching: 14
  3. Grade(s)/Subject(s) taught: 2nd, 3rd and 4th multiple subjects
  4. Current position: 2nd grade teacher and an Instructional Specialist at Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District
  5. Current City: Suisun City, CA
  6. Favorite books:
  7. Favorite resources: Other teachers!
  8. Why teach? To see the light in the eyes of students as they figure it out!
Noteworthy outtakes from Louise’s chat
Listen in as Louise delivers a humbled chat about her journey from mom of four who spent time volunteering with her kids in programs like 4-H, which guides children through projects grounded in areas like health, science, agriculture and citizenship, to a veteran teacher piloting a new kind of mentorship model with the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District (FSUSD).

Grounded in the belief that veteran and new teachers alike need, and deserve, a mentor who can provide one on one coaching that includes modeling, emotional peer support and a more, Louise describes her passion for her role as an instructional specialist.

Learn more about her role and the way that FSUSD helps mentor teachers balance their time in the classroom and their time with their mentees so that they all feel supported in their efforts to grow as educators for the sake of the children that need them the most.

Episode 15 – Phil S. Quinlan

 

PhilPhoto“We have to be activists,” reflects Phil S. Quinlan, 7th grade social studies teacher in Scottville, MI, as he discusses what he believes is the role of educators when discussing the current state of politics with students. “How did all of a sudden our profession become demonized?” he continued. “I have an opinion on it, but I have to be careful as far as, if I want to encourage my students to have voice and choice, I have to model that. I don’t want the students to know my perspective. Because what am I doing? I am not really enabling them to have a thought of their own. So, when it comes to students, I want them to ask driving questions, essential questions of the ‘how’s’ and ‘why’s and try to make connections… of how politics, and today’s world, plays into their future.”

Fast Facts about Phil S. Quinlan

  1. Full Name: Philip S. Quinlan
  2. Years teaching: 29
  3. Current City: Scottville, MI
  4. Current position: 7th Grade Teacher of World Cultures & The Story of Movies at Mason County Central Public Schools
  5. Grade taught: 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th
  6. Favorite books:
  7. Why teach? The French call it raison d’être, ‘a reason for being’; teaching is my purpose, my passion; my raison d’être.

Noteworthy Outtakes from Phil’s Chat

You would be hard pressed not to feel motivated and like you are in a profession among “giants,” while listening to Phil share his journey as an educator. Listen in as Phil discusses a movement he has started called #FTTTP, and how it emphasizes social emotional learning at the core of teaching. He will also be presenting this movement at The 2017 Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) in March!

Phil’s passion for connecting to his students and keeping grounded in his family will remind you what teaching is all about and how important it is to keep family first.

Check out the links below to learn more about Phil and #FTTTP — a mantra Phil uses to remind himself, his students and fellow colleagues of what should be at the center of building relationships with students, and stands for:

  • F: Faith in self and Leadership
  • T: To develop compassion and empathy
  • T: Trust and resilience
  • T: Talents: The world awaits
  • P: Passionate pursuit of knowledge and life

FTTTPImage

Professional Portfolio
Linkedin
YouTube Channel
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

Here are some of Phil’s favorite resources

And, if that’s not enough, Phil has also generously shared courses he has created too!

 

 

Q&A With My Teacher Mentor: Understanding Executive Functioning

At the beginning of my teaching journey I taught in a standard self-contained classroom. Over the past two years, I have had the fortune to join an amazing group of educators in a charter school that is taking Montessori public and offering access to this unique type of learning to a diverse community of students in a typically undeserved and underprivileged community, for FREE!

Along with Montessori’s concept that the classroom environment can be designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child, our school also ef_pullquoteintegrates Design Thinking, the Arts and is an Ashoka Changemaker school. What a mouthful, huh? Well, it is!

With so much to integrate into a day’s curriculum, differentiated small group learning is at the core of running a classroom that also teaches children how to independently go about their day picking and choosing the follow up work that they are most drawn to. That’s right folks, in a classroom of approximately 33 students, while a small group of them are receiving a lesson, all the rest are freely exploring the materials in the classroom and completing work independently.

How is this possible? Well, I will admit it is very useful that each classroom has the benefit of two teachers — but also, one of the central components of running a classroom structured around small group instruction and freedom (within limits) is building a community of trust and being hyper-aware of the need for your students to build self-regulation skills. Or something I have come to learn called, “executive functioning.”

In one of my recent sit downs with my own teacher mentor, Jennifer Heeter, Director of Instruction for the Upper Elementary and Middle School Programs at Urban Montessori Charter School, she answered some of my questions about executive functioning and how understanding it can help me become a better teacher. Here’s a peek at our Q&A, and some insight into how being aware of this developmental function can help any teacher, even if you are in a standard classroom, build trust and teach self-regulation:

Jennifer K.: What is executive functioning?

Jennifer H.: From my perspective, executive functioning is the body’s ability to regulate and control itself. Many Montessorians also call it self-regulation. Essentially it’s about noticing and then bouncing back from a trigger, focusing on a task, understanding and regulating emotions, being kinesthetically aware, recognizing social signs and cues, and setting and following through with goals. From what I’ve learned, the brain at birth is about 70% programmed for emotional reactions, but not regulation. We learn how to regulate (or not) as we develop, based on modeling after the adults and other children in our environment and explicitly taught tools and strategies.

Jennifer K: Why is it important to understand executive functioning, and how can it help me be a better teacher?

Jennifer H: It’s important to understand what it is so that as a teacher, you can focus on the whole child and not isolated traits. Watching a child work, interact, and communicate within the classroom can tell you a lot about where they are in the process of developing these skills. It requires a whole new perspective in how we look at children and what they need to progress. It is easy (for me at least) to look at a child who has been struggling with math and recognize that they have underdeveloped skills in that area, and then find the patience and creativity to come up with new ways to show them the same ideas. It’s trickier to notice their interpersonal challenges and recognize them as “underdeveloped skills” because they show up as negative attention-seeking behaviors. The process a child takes to normalize is very individualized, depending on their background, upbringing, genetic makeup, and exposure to tools and strategies for emotional regulation. Modern neuroscience tells us that children need to attach in order to maximize their learning potential. We need to look at each child to see whether their basic needs are being met and do our best to fill in those gaps and support them where we can.

Jennifer K.:How are some ways I can help teach this skills to my students who have trouble with it?

prezicoverimageJennifer H: If it’s helpful, check out my Teaching to Every Child’s Potential slideshow. Begin with connection. Children can’t take in information unless they feel safe and trust their environment. Then we need to look at their actions and determine the root cause. Children only act out when a need is not being met. What are they looking for? The mistaken belief chart is uber helpful here. Then we explicitly teach skills for problem solving when the child is calm. And practice them. And practice them. And practice them to strengthen those neural pathways so they can easily access those responses when stressed. Mindfulness, brain gym exercises, and community problem solving are whole group tools that help strengthen the whole classroom’s skills. Connecting with the family to share the strategies and build rapport and trust is the last piece so that the child recognizes the importance and experiences the tools in both home and school. Here’s a great article on  thinking outside the box for engagement.

 

Episode 10 -Iain Lampert

 

Initially I thought that the best teachers were able to create success stories out of any student, but it really does take two to tango,” says Iain Lampert when recounting one of his own personal a-ha moments as a teacher. “I initially was hurt when a student would transfer out of my class, because I took it personally. And the challenge was realizing how sensitive I was … and to stop taking it so personally.”

14316712_10153870036428202_3288112764384533690_nFast Facts about Iain

  1. Full name: Iain Gabriel Lampert
  2. Current city: Van Nuys, CA
  3. Years teaching: 7, including coaching Speech and Debate since 2010 and teaching speech classes since 2014
  4. Grades taught: 6th-12th
  5. Favorite books:
  6. Why teach? If we don’t, who will?
  7. Some of Iain’s favorite resources:

Noteworthy Outtakes from Iain’s Chat with Teachers

Listen in as Iain takes us on a journey through his time as a child who had no desire to become a teacher, to a High School student who found his voice and passion for speech through various theater and debate classes. And, finally to a dedicated teacher to a future generation of confident communicators.

Iain shares his love for speech and debate and how he  uses his passion to teach children to use the skills they learn in his class in all parts of their lives that include communications – whether interviewing for a job or communicating with a partner.

Some valuable tips he also shares for any new teachers in the field, regardless of grade or content area, is the value of self-reflection. As a lover of all things speech and theater related, Iain talks about teaching being a stage for educating children. He has a deep recognition of all the roles a teacher plays: teacher, friend, counselor and more – many roles that a  teaching program simply cannot prepare you for. But be that as it may, Iain encourages new teachers to never walk into a classroom for the first time without first recording yourself and playing the recording back twice.

First to listen to the audio only. By isolating your voice, says Iain, you are able to hear whether or not there are any problematic things in your voice, such as verbal flubs. Second, Iain suggests watching yourself with the video portion of the recording only to see if you have any awkward hand gestures or if you move in any unstructured or unfocused way that may be distracting your students.