How Good is Canva’s Magic Eraser Tool?

For years, I’ve been teaching my media design students how to edit subjects out of photos using photo editing tools in, the web’s best cloud-based photo editor. But AI applications are evolving quickly, and tools like Canva’s Magic Eraser can now do in seconds what used to take minutes.

Exactly how good is Canva’s Magic Eraser? I set out to find out using six increasingly complex images. Here are the timestamps for the video:

  • 0:00:00 – Welcome! Start by logging into your Canva for Education account.
  • 0:24 – How to use Canva’s Magic Eraser to remove a paddleboarder from a lake.
  • 1:27 – How to use Canva’s Magic Eraser to remove a man (doing a handstand) from a beach.
  • 2:52 – How to use Canva’s Magic Eraser to remove Elias Pettersson from a hockey photo.
  • 4:27 – How to use Canva’s Magic Eraser to remove Lebron James from a basketball photo.
  • 5:46 – How to use Canva’s Magic Eraser to remove a college student from a group photo.
  • 7:16 – How to use Canva’s Magic Eraser to remove a politician from a political photo.

My conclusion: Canva’s Magic Eraser isn’t perfect, but it’s highly proficient and scary fast. For teachers looking to remove a photobomber, power lines, or another subject who shouldn’t be represented in a school publication, Canva’s Magic Eraser tool might be your solution.

*I have no affiliation with Canva.

9 Lessons That Teachers Can Take from Mr. Beast

What does the world’s most successful YouTuber have to teach students and teachers about creativity, learning, and education?

Meet Mr. Beast, the most successful individual YouTuber in the world. With 140M subscribers on his main channel and dozens of other channels in operation, Jimmy Donaldson’s life has been defined by his creative work on the platform.

His videos earn billions of views annually across multiple languages, and his first retail products have met with mind-numbing success.

The scary thing? He’s only 24 years old.

I have questions.

As an educator and creator, I’ve been intrigued by Jimmy’s story for some time.

How does he view formal K-12 and college education?

What’s his approach to learning and creativity?

What can we take from his story as creators, learners, and educators?

Several videos and documentaries later, I’ve got some answers and takeaways to share. Some surprises, too.

1. Extreme learning guarantees extreme results.

“I would say since I was eleven years old, almost every waking hour of the day I’m thinking about YouTube in some form or capacity.”

Quote and Image from How Much Money MrBeast Makes | The Full Story (Graham Stephan)

One thing that becomes quickly apparent in Jimmy’s story is his absolute obsession with learning more about the YouTube platform and the art of video production.

It’s manic. It’s compulsive.

He’s been continuously learning about YouTube content creation for over 13 years and he just refuses to stop.

It’s a kind of frenzied focus that we’re not sure we’d recommend for our own students or children. As educators, we’re in the business of developing the whole child, but to hear him describe it, Mr. Beast-style obsession doesn’t leave much room for other life priorities.

Still, Donaldson seems to have a good relationship with his mother and brother. He has a girlfriend and enjoys long-lasting friendships. He’s a renowned philanthropist and seems driven by opportunities to help others. Balanced lifestyle or not, the world could use more Jimmy Donaldsons.

There’s a clear takeaway here: extreme learning leads to extreme results. Mr. Beast’s level of obsession isn’t the path for everyone, but there’s a powerful principle at work here that is worth emulating.

2. It’s still possible to start at zero and become a master artist.

“I had no idea what worked. I had to teach myself everything.”

Quote and Image from How Mr. Beast Became Successful on YouTube (PowerfulJRE)

Watching Donaldson entertain millions of global viewers each month, you might be forgiven for guessing that he grew up in wealthy suburbia, enjoyed the stability of a nuclear family, attended elite private schools, or was given the financial resources to acquire cutting-edge equipment as a teen.

That’s where you’d be wrong — on all counts. He enjoyed none of those advantages.

He started at zero.

Jimmy grew up in lower class neighbourhoods of Greenville, North Carolina with a single mother. His first computers and cameras were giveaways from friends and family — some of the lowest quality gear possible. He never attended a formal course or received specialized training.

He’s entirely self-taught. He scratched and clawed and experimented and failed and learned and failed again and learned some more to become the creative genius that he is today.

He’s another testament to the 10,000 hours hypothesis popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers. Put in 10,000 hours at just about anything, and you’ll become an expert.

It’s an incredible story, and the takeaway is powerful: you don’t need a single external factor or advantage to become skilled in a creative field.

You don’t need a head start. You just need to start.

3. Accelerate your growth by learning with others.

“Most of my growth came after I graduated high school. Basically what I did was somehow I found these other four lunatics … We were all super small YouTubers and we basically talked every day for 1,000 days in a row and did nothing but hyperstudy what makes a good video, what makes a good thumbnail, what’s good pacing, how to go viral. We’d just call them daily masterminds … We were very religious about it. That’s where most of my knowledge came from.” How Mr. Beast Became Successful on YouTube (PowerfulJRE)

Image Source:

Think carefully about what he just described.

A group of teenagers decided to collaborate — in person and online — every day.

All day, every day. To learn.

And when he says “all day,” he means it. Jimmy describes connecting with his friends on Skype in the mornings and remaining in the calls for literally the entire day.

Daily masterminds. For years. That’s a lot of learning in community.

Here he describes why this level of collaboration is such a powerful hack.

“It’s like, if you envision a world where you’re trying to be great at something … and it’s just you learning and [messing] up and learning from your mistakes, in two years you might have learned from twenty mistakes. Where if you have four other people who are also messing up, and when they learn from their mistakes and they teach you what they learned, hypothetically two years down the road you’ve learned five times the amount of stuff. It helps you grow exponentially way quicker.” — How Mr. Beast Became Successful on YouTube (PowerfulJRE)

He’s right, of course. This perspective matches everything we know about the powers of collaborative learning, peer assessment, and the iterative design process.

Simply put, more brains are better than one brain. Accelerate your learning by learning with others.

4. For significant results, action is everything.

“Like, the entire room is a huge LEGO fort. He was intense, and he was passionate about what it was that he was working on at the time.”

Quote and Image of Jimmy’s Mother from The Origin and Rise of Mr. Beast (Curiosity Stream)

We’re all creative beings. For many, the trick is simply to identify their passions, unlock them, and give them the opportunities they need to blossom and flourish.

And by “opportunities,” I mean taking action. I mean creating. Publishing.

This bit about action isn’t automatic. Lots of people have dreams and ideas of creative work. But few people act on them.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes: “This is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

I like the scene of the little LEGO builder told by his mother in the excerpt above, because it gives us a valuable snapshot of Mr. Beast before YouTube.

He was a builder. He was an experimenter. He was a creator before he was online.

From LEGO to videos to businesses, Jimmy has had the courage to bring forth the treasures hidden within him.

His creative passions have led to consistent action.

And when it comes to results, action is everything.

5. Proficiency requires resilience through adversity.

“Every night before bed, I’d just be like, it sucks. It’s a lot of work. And I feel like I’m not getting anywhere, but if I just do it long enough, eventually it will click. Eventually, I’ll figure it out.”

Quote and Image from The Origin and Rise of Mr. Beast (Curiosity Stream)

Every successful creator has experienced discouragement and dark days.

Days when nothing seems to be going right. Days when it seems like the only ones who even see the work are laughing.

They’re going to happen.

Most creative spaces require considerable investments of time, patience, and focus in the face of difficulty. Quality content — regardless of the medium — doesn’t happen just because you’re present.

Mr. Beast doesn’t talk about his lows often, but listen to his story enough times and you’ll realize that he’s dealt with more than his share of adversity.

From equipment fails to editing disasters to dismissive comments to the theft of all of his gear, there were many moments when he could have thrown in the towel and moved on to other hobbies.

But he refused to let problems, setbacks, or failures defeat him. Refused.

And fifteen years later, he’s enjoying the results.

6. Failure isn’t just something to survive: it’s an essential part of the creative process.

“Just fail. A lot of people get analysis paralysis and they’ll just sit there and they’ll plan their first video for three months … Your first video is not going to get views. Your first ten are not going to get views. So stop sitting there and thinking for months and months on end. Get to work and start uploading. All you need to do is make 100 videos and improve something every time. Then on your 101st video we’ll start talking about maybe you can get some views.”

Quote and Image from MrBeast: Future of YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram | Lex Fridman Podcast #351

In Mindset, Carol Dweck taught us the importance of a growth mindset in learners of all ages.

Those with a fixed mindset view new learning and potential failure as a threat to identity. If X doesn’t go well for me, it will mean I’m dumb or a loser or both.

In contrast, those with a growth mindset embrace the challenges of X precisely because it represents new territory. Failures are interesting to those with this mindset. Failures are viewed as opportunities to learn.

“Make 100 videos and improve something every time.” For me, that’s the key phrase in the quote above.

Yes, we will make mistakes in the creative process, but that’s actually the point. Austin famously took six tries to draw a butterfly, but he never would have achieved proficiency without trying for the first time.

That’s the beauty of content creation online. There’s literally infinite ways [to improve]. Every little thing can be improved and they can never not be improved. There’s no such thing as a perfect video.”

Weightlifters welcome muscle failure because it means they are pushing their limits.

Creators should be no different.

Try, fail, learn, and improve one more thing every single time.

7. Traditional schooling isn’t a required path to success. For some students, it’s the obstacle.

“Even in high school, I never once studied. I literally wouldn’t even take my books home. I legit don’t think I studied once for all of high school at my house … I didn’t have the best grades … I hated school with a passion, but [my mom] forced me to go to community college. That was the worst thing ever. That made me hate life, like borderline suicidal. I just can’t stand having to just sit there and listen to this dumb stuff and listen to some teacher read out of a book.” — How Mr. Beast Became Successful on YouTube (PowerfulJRE)

Image Source:

As a committed educator, this one hurt.

“I hated school with a passion.”

“That was the worst thing ever.”

“That made me hate life.”

Mr. Beast doesn’t hold back when it comes to his school and college experiences.

Listening to this brought up all kinds of questions for me.

Did he ever enjoy any of his teachers in K-12 education?

Did he ever get any opportunities to experiment with media creation in school?

One thing becomes crystal clear here: the traditional K-12 school experience is not a required stop on the highway to success.

And by “success,” I’m not just thinking of financial freedom, although Mr. Beast certainly has that. I’m thinking of self-actualization, the ability to cultivate quality relationships, becoming a contributing member of society, and the practical power to make the world a better place.

Mr. Beast is just one of millions of creators, entrepreneurs, and leaders who didn’t need traditional education and never once saw value in it. He saw school as something to survive, to outlast, to get away from.

As a teacher, this is a little discouraging. But I also find it liberating.

You know that seventh grader who refuses to finish assignments and obsesses endlessly about creating games on Roblox? Yes, do what you can to push, support, and hold him to high standards. Encourage him, love him, let him know that he belongs and that he matters.

But once you’ve done all that, don’t lose sleep over him.

Chances are, he’s going to be fine.

8. Creative work can thrive where friendships fail.

“I was really shy, especially when I was younger. I really didn’t like being around people … Outside of sports, it was just literally YouTube. That was all I watched. No one in my school watched videos, so I kind of just felt like an outcast, ’cause I was just hyper obsessed over it.”

Quote and Image from The Origin and Rise of Mr. Beast (Curiosity Stream)

“I kind of just felt like an outcast.”

If you’re a teacher, you know these kids.

They’re present in our rooms and in our halls. But they’re disconnected. And as much as we try to do to include them, connect them, love on them, and help them engage in the life of our learning communities, we’re not always successful.

Here’s the thing. Friendships and relationships are incredibly important. But they’re not everything in a child’s life or development.

The story of Mr. Beast reminds me that in the absence of busy social lives, some students will dive deep into creative pursuits. I find that comforting.

Where does that leave me as a teacher? No, I can’t actually make middle schoolers build deep friendships with other middle schoolers.

But I can get to know the creative impulses of my students. Curiosity and encouragement from adults that students know, like, and trust can go a long way to fan those flames of passion.

We’re not giving up on relationship-building. But just maybe, while some of these students struggle along, we can help them develop a life-giving world of creative work that will boost their self-confidence, define their identities, and introduce them to others who think like they do.

In a world of obsessive gaming, vaping, drugs, and TikTok consumption, the path of creative work can be one of the healthiest for our students to walk.

Let’s cheer them on.

9. A creative life is a fulfilled life. Take time to create.

“If I’m not creating, then I don’t feel fulfilled, I don’t feel like I’m progressing, and I feel like I’m wasting my time.” — How Much Money MrBeast Makes | The Full Story (Graham Stephan)

Image Source:

Adobe released a report in 2022 that confirmed what many of us already know: the more we create, the happier we feel.

Every human being has a creative impulse inside of them.

I do. You do. Everyone we know does.

Fulfillment in life comes in many forms: meaningful faith, family, friendships, generosity, gratitude, service, and alignment between values, identity, work, and play.

For an increasing number of people, including Mr. Beast, fulfillment is also found in creating.

There are a couple of important takeaways here for educators.

One is to weave as much creativity into our instruction as possible. Give students the tools and opportunities to design and express and create multimodal representations of their learning. There are a host of good reasons to do this.

The second takeaway is more subtle, and I don’t want to pile another should on already-tired teachers. But here it is.

Do you want to go from burnout to on fire as a teacher? Try taking some time to indulge your creative side.

Explore. Experiment. Draw. Write. Photograph. Speak. Share.

Punch fear in the face and hit publish.

When you share your creative work with the world, you’re giving us all a gift.

But you’re also developing yourself. You’re taking another step toward self-actualization. You’re building confidence and competence with every rep.

You’re hopping on an upward trajectory that will make you a better educator and increase the value of what you have to share with the world at the same time.

Creative work is fulfilling.

Mr. Beast’s story makes me sad and glad at the same time.

As an educator, Mr. Beast’s story is both saddening and inspiring. He’s experienced phenomenal creative success despite his education experience, not because of it.

School fail.

But his story has a lot to teach students and teachers about the nature of learning and creativity. Whatever your role in education, there are powerful lessons to be taken from his journey.

Self-directed learning. Collaboration. Resilience. Multiple iterations of work. Excellence. Generosity. Finding joy in the creative process. These are all values and practices that are easy to see in the journey of Jimmy Donaldson.

From student to teacher, classroom to district, we could all use a little more Mr. Beast.

You Just Created a New Google Classroom. What’s Your First Move?

You’re at the beginning of the year, the semester, the term, or a fresh unit of study. Fun!

Your brand new Google Classroom is sitting there, sparkling, completely untouched. You want to set it up a little before having your students join.

What should you do first?

In this video, I’ll show you the important move that I make in my middle school context that optimizes my practice, preserves my sanity, and supports my learners.

If you’ve got a better first move, I’d love to hear it.

Why the NYC Department of Education is Wrong on ChatGPT

A system-wide ban feels like fear instead of curiosity, defense over offense, convention over adaptation.

The most recent iteration of ChatGPT was released on November 30, 2022. ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence bot that was trained on an enormous pool of information to engage in simple conversations with users.

Within a week, the AI bot had acquired over one million clients. And as K-12 schools began winding down for the calendar year, ChatGPT was making headlines around the world.

You’ve likely heard the buzz already, but in case you have yet to try it, ChatGPT is to Google what Google is to a set of encyclopedias.

Google is a master curator and locator of information, but ChatGPT has the ability to quickly aggregate and mobilize that information on a level the world has never seen.

If you haven’t seen ChatGPT at work, watch it perform these school-related tasks [9:48]:

  1. Design a lesson plan for an 8th grade civics class
  2. Compare the evolution of protagonists from two different novels
  3. Describe how the water cycle affects Vancouver, BC
  4. Calculate triangle side lengths using the Pythagorean Theorem
  5. Write a campaign speech for middle school president
  6. Suggest solutions for anxiety and loneliness
  7. Write a love poem for a special friend (and then make it spicier)
  8. Write a short story with specific character names

ChatGPT is just the latest manifestation of the growth in AI we’ve seen in recent years. And we know it’s only going to get better.

Enter the NYC Department of Education

Schools across North America were only a few bright days into the new year when the news came down from the NYC Department of Education, the largest school system in the United States: ChatGPT would be banned in all of their schools.

I can understand the fears and concerns about how this technology will impact K-12 education. I think we all can.

Like I said to my wife this week, this technology has permanently changed the way that I read and think about student writing. How can it not?

But I think a blanket ban is the wrong response.

Here’s why.

4 Reasons Why a System-Wide Ban on ChatGPT is the Wrong Call

Let’s start at the most basic, practical level.

1. A ban on a particular website is practically impossible.

NYC can only blacklist websites on school wifi networks, so students will still be able to access ChatGPT when they’re at home, off-campus, or using any device with access to a data network. Since students can obviously still use ChatGPT for homework, a school wifi ban doesn’t mean too much.

One has to wonder if a ban is actually more counter-productive to its own aims by simply raising the profile of the forbidden fruit in question.

2. Whack-a-mole isn’t sustainable.

ChatGPT has certainly grabbed the headlines, but there are plenty of other similar tools out there. And more are appearing all the time. is an AI paraphrasing tool that appears to render classic plagiarism checkers useless. offers a whole suite of free AI writing tools.

Premium (paid) AI writing services such as, and all claim to be able to deliver spectacular results to marketers.

The point: if the district strategy is to ban these tools as they appear, there will be another new tool to ban every month. That doesn’t feel like a strategy that will age well over the years to come.

3. Like wifi, Google, and YouTube before it, ChatGPT is just another step forward for learning tools.

It wasn’t long ago that schools were banning YouTube on their wifi networks rather than leveraging the world’s largest library of video resources to support learning. They opted for the safety of zero exposure rather than do the work of teaching best practices and applying skills of discrimination.

Even before the arrival of YouTube, many schools wrestled with the question of having a wifi network at all. As silly as these questions seem today, they were important conversations at the time.

Of course, Google itself has become a much smarter search engine over the years, prone to serving up large-font answers to closed questions (“How far is the sun from Earth?”) before listing any search results.

Because of this Google Effect, schools and educators have been moving away for some time now from a focus on strictly “Googleable” information to a more nuanced approach to critical thinking.

For example, instead of asking students to memorize the names of all 45 presidents (content which is very Googleable), we ask them to critique the legacies of particular presidents based on currently relevant policy issues.

Content is still important for students to learn. We know that a mass of knowledge forms a necessary foundation in order for students to learn more, make distinctions, draw conclusions, and establish new theories about their world.

But the power of Google has put downward pressure on the importance of content memorization — of that, there can be little doubt.

Like YouTube and Google before it, ChatGPT is just the latest application that will change the way we think about teaching, learning, and assessment.

These powerful technologies are here to stay. Let’s embrace them.

Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

4. The biggest reason: a ban sends all the wrong signals about learning and mindset.

In December of 2022, ChatGPT forced the world to reckon with an AI tool that could complete complex tasks in seconds. There’s no doubt that things will never be quite the same.

Who will be the most excited to play with this tool? Our young learners.

Students of all ages will share our child-like fascination with the possibilities. And well they should: this is clearly a technology that will only grow in significance throughout their lifetimes.

Sadly, I fear that a school ban sends all the wrong signals about technology and the nature of learning. It feels like fear instead of curiosity, defense over offense, convention over adaptation.

It looks like head-in-the-sand, I-hope-this-goes-away kind of thinking. And that’s not the approach of a lifelong learner.

I’m not suggesting that every teacher should give their students unfettered access to these tools. There will be times to close computers and show evidence of learning and critical thinking using pencils and paper, just as there are in classrooms today.

But there should be other times to play. To experiment. To learn together — teachers and students, sitting side by side, engaging, thinking, and talking about what it will look like to leverage ChatGPT and similar tools in constructive, powerful ways.

Closing thoughts

Whenever I come up against a difficult decision in our schools, I run it through this tried-and-true filter:

  1. What is best for our kids?
  2. What is best for learning?

Banning the latest technology from our schools just doesn’t feel like a great answer to either of those questions.

Listen, there’s no doubt that the path ahead will be challenging, and these tools will require new approaches.

But growth doesn’t happen in the comfort zone. Let’s lean into uncomfortable spaces and do what we do best: learn.

Together, let’s shape the nature of thinking and work in 2023.

The Teachers on Fire Awards: Top Education Voices of 2022

7 education content creators to add to your playlists and bookshelves in 2023

On December 21, 2022, I asked teachers for their input. Which education voices had done the most to spark their thinking and ignite their professional practice in the past year?

The purpose of this project was to amplify the education voices that are sparking teacher thinking and igniting professional practice in order to bring more fire to our classrooms and support student learning more powerfully than ever. I think you’ll agree: that mission was accomplished.

As educators, we glean ideas and inspiration from a wide variety of voices from within and outside K-12 education. As Jennifer Smith wrote recently on LinkedIn, educators can learn a lot from other industries.

But for the purposes of these awards, I wanted to keep the focus on education voices only. For example, I let contributors know in advance that I wouldn’t consider entries for Brene Brown or Simon Sinek in the speaker category, as much as we might love them.

Over the week of voting that followed, I was delighted to receive responses from 86 educators — not a bad starting point for this first edition of the Teachers on Fire Awards. If you’re hoping to take your practice to the next level in 2023, these are introductions worth making.

Education Book of 2022: Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, Grades K-12

The question I put to educators for this award read “What was one education book that sparked your thinking and ignited your practice this year?” I clarified that the book did not need to be published in 2022 to be nominated.

With a ton of titles for teachers to choose from, the voting results were impressive. Taking over a third of the votes was Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, Grades K-12: 14 Practices for Enhancing Learning by Peter Liljedahl.

I couldn’t agree more with this outcome. I led a book study on Building Thinking Classrooms (or BTC, as it’s affectionately known by fans) in the spring of this year in my Vancouver middle school, and it was one of those books that actually changed our professional practice in significant ways.

I won’t review the book here, but here are a few Peter principles that I’ll throw out as teasers:

  • The difference between studenting behaviors and students actually thinking
  • The power of visibly randomized student groups
  • The benefits of having students solve Math problems while standing at whiteboards instead of sitting
  • The possibility of de-fronting the classroom space
  • How to respond to student questions without doing their thinking for them
  • Rethinking homework and the role that it plays in learning
  • Rethinking what we require from students in terms of note-taking

I could go on. It’s a revolutionary book. If you teach Math at any level, it’s worth your time.

Education Facebook Group of 2022: Building Thinking Classrooms

Well, teachers found the book helpful, and the Facebook group clearly kept these learning conversations going. The question I posed to teachers for this Award category asked “What was one education Facebook group that consistently sparked your thinking and ignited your practice this year?”

It’s been interesting to watch the slow but steady growth of Facebook groups as platforms for professional learning over the last five years. Expect that trend to continue, and expect more learning conversations at the 37,400-member strong Building Thinking Classrooms group.

Education Instagram Account of 2022: @GCouros

For this Award, I asked teachers to consider this question: “What was one education account on Instagram that consistently sparked your thinking and ignited your practice this year?” I was careful not to rule out education organizations that are doing so much for our profession, but teachers tapped an education leader: George Couros.

George is a former teacher, principal, and now sought-after author and speaker. With over a quarter million followers on his education Twitter account and a large audience for his weekly newsletter, he is perhaps best known for The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity (published in 2018).

George creates valuable weekly content for educators on his YouTube channel and on his podcast, and I recommend subscribing to both. Interestingly, his Instagram account is probably the most personal of all his offerings, focusing largely on his family and weight loss journey in recent months. It’s content that clearly resonates with teachers.

Education Podcast of 2022: Control the Chaos EDU

What was one education podcast that regularly sparked your thinking and ignited your practice this year? That was the question put to teachers and education leaders for this category of the Teachers on Fire Awards.

Lots of my personal faves showed up in the results, including Natalie Vardabasso’s #EduCrush, The Tom Schimmer Podcast, Alfonso Mendoza’s MyEdTech Life, and House of #EdTech by Chris Nesi. Each of these shows earned multiple votes, but in the end, Control the Chaos EDU took a decisive lead.

At Control the Chaos EDU, tech coach Stephanie Howell and behavior coach Tara Ruckman engage in real conversations around instructional strategies, today’s classroom, the nature of learning, and teacher wellness. Recent episodes have included Use Student Excitement to Your AdvantageTaking Back Your Winter Break, and The Power of a PLN with Evo Hannan.

Upgrade your learning experience in 2023 by adding this show to your playlist on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts.

Education Speaker of 2022: Peter Liljedahl

When teachers were asked “Who was one education speaker who sparked your thinking and ignited your practice this year?” the answer came back loud and clear: Dr. Peter Liljedahl.

If the name sounds familiar, you’ve been listening. Liljedahl is the author of Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, Grades K-12. If you slept through my preview of this book and the powerful principles it contains, scroll up in this post to read why this title was voted Education Book of the Year.

So who is he?

Borrowing from his official bio, Dr. Peter Liljedahl is a Professor of Mathematics Education in the Faculty of Education and an associate member in the Department of Mathematics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He has authored or co-authored 13 books, 41 book chapters, 39 journal articles, and over 50 conference papers.

A former high school mathematics teacher, Liljedahl has kept his research work close to the classroom. His scholarly interests include creativity, insight, and discovery in mathematics teaching and learning, the professional growth of mathematics teachers, and engaging student thinking. He consults regularly with schools, districts, and ministries of education on issues of teaching and learning, assessment, and numeracy.

If you’re ready to rethink education and hear a message that stands out from the crowd, Dr. Peter Liljedahl is a speaker to pay attention to.

Twitter Educator of 2022: Stephanie Howell

On Twitter, I wanted to put the focus especially on individuals. The survey question: “Who was one educator on Twitter who consistently sparked your thinking and ignited your practice this year?”

People have a wide range of impressions of the Twitter experience, but let’s put it this way: your feed is exactly as positive, wholesome, inspirational, and helpful as the people you follow. If you’re committed to building a vibrant professional learning network, I highly recommend doing so on Twitter.

The 2022 Twitter Educator of the Year Award goes to Stephanie Howell, found at @mrshowell24. You’ve seen Stephanie’s name show up previously in this year’s edition of the Awards, where Control the Chaos took Education Podcast of the Year. Her Twitter account is a similar flow of positive ideas, shares, and practical resources for teachers.

With 25,000 followers and counting, Stephanie has a proven track record of delivering value on Twitter. Follow her there — you’ll thank me.

Education YouTube Channel of 2022: Gold EDU

It’s no secret that YouTube has a lot to offer classroom teachers, but in all the noise of channels, brands, and influencers, which specific creators can be trusted to deliver quality content on a reliable basis? Coming in strong with a high percentage of the final tallies was Stephanie Howell’s Gold EDU.

On Gold EDU, Stephanie keeps the mission simple and clear: “We want to transform education to help educators use technology in powerful ways.” And that’s exactly what she delivers. Her video feed includes a mix of timers for the classroom, task trackers, tutorials (How to Use Google Earth), and conversations with other educators. If you’re looking to get more from your education YouTube account, Gold EDU is a must-subscribe!

Thoughts on the Awards and Learning in 2023

It was at the very tail end of 2021 that I first had the idea to try this project, but it was so late in the month that I realized I had lost my chance. So I did what any normal person would do and put it on my calendar for December of the following year.

That reminder was all I needed to launch the first-ever edition of the Teachers on Fire Awards in the final weeks of 2022. If you took part in the voting, thank you. By elevating educators who are making a positive impact, we introduce them to new audiences and allow other teachers to benefit. In turn, we support student learning, too.

I’m also grateful to the teachers who volunteered feedback around possible future awards at the end of the Form. Some of their suggestions for additional categories included TikTok Account, Education Conference, and Education Blogger of the Year. All are worthy considerations and will likely appear in next year’s edition.

To the Award winners above, thank you for doing what you do! Your work is making a positive impact on learning, and the world is a better place because of what you do.

Keep that fire for learning burning bright.