Best Podcast of My Week #cpchat

I’ll admit it.  I am addicted to podcasts. I think it initially started out of necessity.  I’m a daily commuter.  That was wasted time for my brain, until I found podcasts.  Now I have this hour of deep thought on a daily basis…not too shabby!  Each week it seems like there is one podcast that really connects to multiple points of my day as an educator and administrator, this week was no exception.  Here’s my pick for this week’s best podcast

This episode of the TED Radio Hour was called Extrasensory.  The four segments of the show shared different TED Talks and each one hit me as an educator in a different way.

1. In the first section, 1 Artist Neil Harbisson, discusses What’s It Like To Hear Color?

Why you should listen (taken from

Born with the inability to see color, Neil Harbisson wears a prosthetic device — he calls it an “eyeborg” — that allows him to hear the spectrum, even those colors beyond the range of human sight. His unique experience of color informs his artwork — which, until he met cyberneticist Adam Montandon at a college lecture, was strictly black-and-white. By working with Montandon, and later with Peter Kese, Harbisson helped design a lightweight eyepiece that he wears on his forehead that transposes the light frequencies of color hues into sound frequencies.

I won’t even try to replicate the content of the talk…listen or watch.  The connection to me was just that reminder that every single person we encounter on a daily basis sees, hears, smells, feels and tastes the world differently.  This is true of our students, our parents, community members, colleagues and beyond.  Many times in our days we forget this singly important empathetic concept.

2. In the second section of the show, Todd Kuiken answers the question: Can a prosthetic limb feel?

In discussing his talk, Kuiken said, “From an engineering standpoint, this is the greatest challenge one can imagine: trying to restore the most incredible machine in the universe.”

What struck me here was the level of perseverance and lack of fear some humans have.  What an incredible problem to solve.  How do we create students that will move toward these types of challenges without hesitation?  How do we get everyone past the “it can’t be done” mentality that is rampant today? 

3. Rupal Patel: How Do You Construct A Voice?  This piece touched me more than any other shared in this episode.

Here’s the link to the video:

What a reminder that as we move through the use of technology to support learners that we need to remember the human part too.  Don’t lose the human element, the feeling, the voice…the heart.  We talk a lot about student voice in education, while not the literal interpretation, the meaning and connection is the same.  How do we allow that human side to come out and be shared for each of our students? Check out and consider supporting this amazing effort.

4. Julian Treasure: How Can We All Listen Better?  This closing portion of this episode sealed the deal in terms of connections for me.

In our louder and louder world, says sound expert Julian Treasure, “We are losing our listening.” In this short, fascinating talk, Treasure shares five ways to re-tune your ears for conscious listening — to other people and the world around you. (taken from

I see evidence of this shift everyday.  I see it in students, families, colleagues…everywhere.  The art of listening is changing and needs to be revived. One of the most powerful portions of this section for me was the emphasis on paying attention to sound.  I’ve shared before that since I’ve begun producing podcasts for our school I have become soooooo much more aware of sounds…voice…feeling…the whole sensory experience!  Julian’s emphasis on getting back to the art of listening was powerful and awesome!  

All four of these talks spread through my head and world for the week.  I kept seeing connections and trying to make sense of it all.  As if purposely planned, The ASCD Educational Leadership magazine arrived and you’ll note the topic seems well connected to the above:

Pay Attention to Comments Like This On Your School’s Social Media #cpchat #edchat

Screenshot 2014-11-09 at 7.46.58 AM

I’m always proud of the great stuff that our school shares with the community and beyond.  I believe wholeheartedly that this work has helped flatten our organization and share more of what our school values than anytime in the past.  And that…that makes me and others very, very happy!

At least once a week I see a comment like this on our Facebook page.  For a while I didn’t do much with them other than enjoy them and be reminded that this work is important.  Now, I make sure to share the comment with educators.  If it’s a comment about a specific post from a specific staff member I make sure to send it to them directly with a thank you.  It’s their hard work that is making that connection beyond the school doors, they deserve to know that it’s appreciated and valued!

We host content across mediums and not all educators follow our threads constantly, so it’s important to send along these good words of encouragement when you see them.

To those leaving comments like the above, thank you…we use positives like this as fuel!  It means a lot to us and we thank you!

Episode 008: What’s Most Powerful in a Parent-Teacher Conference and the Power of Student Blogging

This week’s podcast is proving a point to me.  I keep learning more and more about our school, our educators and our students as I work to produce these podcasts.  It just reminds me that you can learn a lot when you are preparing to share information with others.  Awesome stuff.

This week I wanted to see if I could involve the parents of our learning community in the podcast.  It’s always interesting to see peoples’ reactions when I ask them to be a part of a video, podcast or even photo.  Many are hesitant but they always, always end up contributing something great when they do jump in.  Podcasts have proven to feel safer for folks, which I’ve found interesting.

As I was asking the different groups about parent conferences I was really struck by the difference between, what I called, our “habits of parent conferences” and what people really centered on when we talked about the power of a parent-teacher conference.  For example, I feel like sometimes, as a parent, I get into the habit of sitting and listening at a parent conference…and it’s not until I’m in the car after that I wish I had asked more about something or heard more about something.  As I talked to teachers and families, and we got past those habitual responses to parent conferences it boiled down to much deeper human connections.  Most interesting or striking was that generally parents wanted to know what their student was like at school and teachers wanted to know what students were like outside of school.  Does this speak to the idea of knowing the whole child or what!?

In the second half of the podcast I was able to connect with some great work being done by @darcierankin around blogging.  In particular, commenting.  The students have been working with paper blogs and using post its to practice leaving comments and then also responding to those comments.  It was truly powerful to hear the students talk about the experience and say things like “Wow…I got six comments!”  I think it was interesting that they were making comments like that not out of the realm of that obsessive need or self-fulfillment of having a ton of followers, but more from the standpoint of having people genuinely interested in what they were sharing.  We even had one student take the learning to a whole new level and create their own blog!  You can check it out at 

What a great week!

How Do We Promote Self-Confidence in Educators and Learners

This morning as I was scrolling through my “Watch Later” videos and came upon this one from Dr. Ivan Joseph via TEDx Talks channel.  There are several things that resonated with me throughout the video and helped me think about how we instill self-confidence in education…some things we do really well already and others we could extend upon in the future.  Here are a few points from the talk that really stuck with me because I think they apply to how we are with our students as well as how we are with each other as educators:

  • We often talk about how we value flexible thinkers in our world.  Dr. Joseph talks about how parents often shared with him as the head coach of a soccer team that their children were excellent at “seeing the whole field” or at “kicking goals.”  What he really valued was self-confidence.  I think that connection is true in our world.  When learners represent skill in one or two areas we appreciate that and value that, but when a student can demonstrate the flexibility in thought to learn and experience learning in multiple areas…that’s really powerful for us as educators and for the scholars themselves.
  • Dr. Joseph references self-confidence as a skill…one that can be taught and learned and that it is “the belief in yourself to accomplish any task.”  The first strategy Dr. Joseph presents is repetition.  When we are in a situation where the task feels comfortable, we’ve done it a bunch of times and that nervousness is gone…that’s when we see self-confidence increase.  Think about this in terms of the classroom.  I don’t interpret this to mean that we drill and drill until a task is so mundane that learners aren’t intimidated by it but instead to mean that we practice and practice and practice being open to learning, feedback and risks.  If our scholars have the opportunity for repetition in this experience and gain that self-confidence in taking risks, being wrong and learning, then I think we’ve succeeded in instilling the right kind of self-confidence in our learners.  Dr. Joseph does a great job of recognizing the hardest part about this repetition…sticking with it.  It’s hard to keep repeating something when you don’t see the immediate success.  That perseverance is the hard part and that’s our job as educators…keep our scholars going!
  • Self-talk is the next strategy for strong self-confidence.  We see this everyday not only with our scholars but in ourselves.  How often do we avoid situations that we aren’t confident in?  How often do we see or hear students sharing that they don’t feel confident in something?  All the time!  Thoughts influence actions.  We need to model these positive affirmations for our learners.
  • Thirdly, Dr. Joseph shared that adults, coaches and educators should think about how we support or impact our learners’ self-confidence.  Do we point out the positives (catching them while they’re good) or do we point out the negatives?  It’s a simple strategy but a powerful one to bring into the classroom, the hallway…every interaction.  The results of this strategy speak for themselves.
  • Self-confident people interpret feedback the way they choose to.  That perception is what makes us different, helps us power our own belief in ourselves.  That’s where true self-confidence comes from.

This was a great video for a Sunday morning!  In my searching I also came upon this post that features a conversation guide to accompany this video.

Podcast Episode 007 Finally Up

One of my many goals this year is to increase the level of content that we are sharing with our learning community.  Specifically, I’ve been working on showing our learning and student experiences through our podcast and other social media platforms. This episode features a look at a third grade geology unit.  By sharing student experiences and even just a short listen to the classroom experience my hope is that parents, community members and learners can gain insight into our school experience beyond the opportunities that already exist.

This episode took a little longer to produce than in the past because…we are a victim of our own success!  The podcast has been growing and going so well that it was time for us to upgrade our recording systems…and with that comes a STEEP learning curve.  We’ll get there, but I’m happy to have it complete.  The other thing that has been a great strategy for us is using the podcast as kind of preview to further content.  In this case, we’ll revisit the scholars’ progress at the end of the unit and be able to share the experience after it’s done.

Along with the podcast I was lucky enough to be asked to help out with sharing some photo and video of areas around the school that may have been exposed to erosion.  And yes…I had a blast doing it!

Education Lingo Bingo Resource Share


Lately there has been a whole slew of new education lingo out there.  It’s moving pretty fast!  This year I’ve had many meetings with parents who have the opportunity to hear about new innovations and movements in education and are interested to learn more about my thoughts and the thoughts of our school.  As our staff prepares for parent conferences I tried to think of a way to review and share some of these trends and ideas.  I settled on the idea of a bingo board.  As it turned out I think folks were more interested in the information than in playing bingo which was alright.  Below is the presentation I used during the bingo game as well as one of the bingo cards.  Many of these are specific to Vermont educators, and some are local to our district and supervisory union.  Feel free to make a copy, edit and share.

Listen! Seriously…Listen!

Cleaning between the ears

Today I was recording some audio for a podcast that I’m putting together and I had this aha moment that I didn’t know what to do with.  It wasn’t anything astounding but it was a powerful reminder of how the classroom (or any) environment can be a true challenge for some of our scholars.  Here’s the scenario:

I have a microphone connected to my iPad and another on my iPhone and this group of students are discussing an upcoming geology unit…and it’s awesome!  I love podcasting and I really geek out over good quality audio of kids being themselves.  When I’m in recording mode I’m SUPER aware of extra noises and sounds in the room.  During this session there were things that were amazingly present:

  • Adults in the room can be some of the biggest noise contributors!  This includes me…when the teacher is in the front of the room and extra adults are in the room washing their hands, moving chairs, preparing materials, talking in the hallway, coughing…you name it, it’s noise!  None of this is malicious, but it’s amazing when you isolate your senses to this one area.
  • The student tapping his shoe…just loud enough that I know the audio is picking up his shoe, not the great thing that his classmate just said.
  • The weedwacker running outside the window
  • One student snorting and blowing his nose
  • The iPad that accidentally makes an alert noise

The list goes on.  I’m not saying that any of these things are inappropriate or wrong in nature.  Noise happens…but think about that student that has trouble focussing.  If these things were driving me through the roof imagine what everyday in the classroom is like for that student.  Wow.  It was a great reminder for me to consider the students perspective (or anyone’s for that matter) before I do anything else.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to edit out some noise from the next RESVT Podcast!