Meet Kelly Croy
KELLY CROY is a committed husband, father of four girls, educator, speaker, Apple Distinguished Educator author of Along Came a Leader and the producer of The Wired Educator podcast.
On Adversity and Empathy
Kelly feels a tremendous amount of empathy for those around him, and so his lowest moments tend to be the lowest moments of others. When he sees struggles and frustrations in motion, his instinct is to get involved and try to provide solutions.
He recalls a time when he was able to use technology to help a sick student stay connected with her classmates as she fought a serious illness. Although the health situation was difficult, he recognizes the way in which technology helped facilitate human relationship and connection for someone in need. He tries to approach other experiences of adversity with that same positive approach, looking for learning, growth, or other opportunities for new relationships that can come as a result.
Advice to Educators Around Social Media
Kelly’s message for educators when it comes to social media is to enjoy it (“Instagram can be a beautiful place”), leverage it for learning, but avoid falling into the comparison game.
Today’s new educators come to the profession very comfortable and familiar with social media, and it doesn’t make sense to ask them to leave it. Instead, he helps them think about (in some cases) rebranding themselves as professionals and utilizing social media in their classrooms in order to advance learning.
Authenticity on social media is critical: our job isn’t to emulate others so much as it is to share who we are and what we’re all about.
The Mission of the Wired Educator Podcast
The Wired Educator podcast is a passion project for Kelly. He considers it an art form and counts it a privilege to share, promote, and celebrate the great things that educators are doing for learners all over the world. He tries to elicit the essence and fire that makes each guest unique, and he pursues the ideas that produce the best outcomes for students.
One of Kelly’s dearest accomplishments from the Wired Educator podcast was preserving the legacy of inspirational ideas shared by one guest who died unexpectedly in the year following his appearance on the show. He also recognizes the intimate connection that podcast hosts can build with their audience members over time. It’s a powerful medium.
Along Came a Leader
It was a lifelong dream for Kelly to write and publish his own book, and Along Came a Leader represents the fulfillment of that dream. The book came out of the realization that some of the education principles and values that Kelly considered common sense weren’t as widely held or understood as he thought they were.
The book is focused on six tenets of leadership, which apply both in and out of education:
- vision, and
Done right, these six traits create great leaders and great educators. “No one is born a leader,” Kelly points out. “You can become a leader – through practice, hard work, trial and error.”
Content Creation for Educators
Kelly notes that in education, 1) we get to do work we love, and 2) we’re put in a position where our creation, improvisation, design, and communication skills are continuously tested and developed. As educators and practitioners, Kelly sees it as essential that we practice what we preach: we need to remain innovators and model our creative process in front of our learners.
As an overall philosophy of education, Kelly also observes that our highest levels of learning, rigor, relevance, depth of knowledge, and synthesis of learning are all demonstrated through creative activities. Yes, consumption of materials and information is an essential part of the learning process. But it’s in the project-based learning and creative projects that students truly demonstrate the application and transfer of knowledge and skills in meaningful ways.
As an Apple Distinguished Educator, Kelly also points out that Apple is supporting a tremendous campaign and curriculum called Everyone Can Create, which puts powerful resources in the hands of educators and students that empower the creative process.
The 1:1 Debate: Chromebooks vs. iPads
Kelly discussed an article from the Wired Educator called The Greatest Chromebook is an iPad, where he sought to help people understand that iPads contain a lot of the same features that Chromebooks do. When one considers cost, capability, convenience, and creative applications, Kelly believes the iPad may offer better value than the typical Chromebook.
That said, he’s also quick to point out that the key outcome is the learning that happens in the course of the creating – and that trumps brand or device. When collaborating and creating activities aren’t taking place in classrooms equipped with these devices, learners lose.
Things That Excite Kelly About the State of Education Today
Kelly is thrilled to see the attention and energy that districts today are focusing on building culture. Culture is the starting point for everything we do in schools, and Kelly talks about how legendary coach John Wooden would always start his training right at the basics. In the same way, Kelly is seeing districts teach their educators how to communicate with parents, how to think more strategically about homework, and how to build relationships with students more effectively. “Your best day in education is going to come from a culture moment,” Kelly says.
Another thing that is getting Kelly excited about education is the convergence of subjects and disciplines. In our classes of today, we’re seeing the arts and skilled trades integrate more than ever with the subjects that have formed the traditional core of education: English, Math, and Science. He envisions large-scale projects that combine awesomeness from every subject to produce some truly impressive and meaningful results.
Ongoing Professional Growth
Kelly points to his daily interactions on social media as a constant source of learning. Can any other industries match the intrinsic motivation of educators to engage on Twitter, read blogs, and listen to podcasts with the aims of learning and growth?
Kelly is finding that in his new role as Director of Innovation and Instruction, he’s becoming a more mindful leader. One recent observation has been the frequency that we all hear “I’m so busy … overwhelmed … tired.” We all need to give ourselves more time to reflect, practice self-affirmation, and celebrate victories.
Personal Passions and Productivity Hacks
For the past couple of years, Kelly’s been trying to learn the guitar. He’s also using Duolingo to learn Spanish and Swift Playgrounds to acquire coding languages. In the future, Kelly would love to build an online course that helps people further.
One of the most important habits in Kelly’s life is the process of journaling. He began doing it about twenty years ago, and he credits it for many of his accomplishments (including the creation of The Wired Educator podcast). Journaling also helps him track the things he is grateful for, his goals, and failures.
“Journaling is the key to all my sucess,” Kelly says. “What gets written down gets done.” He favors the Day One app because it’s accessible on any device or platform, but he also uses Things, Evernote, and Drafts.
As a podcaster, Kelly also began the habit of recording self-affirmations for five minutes of his commute each morning. Doing so helps bring him into a positive mindset and prepares him mentally and emotionally for the challenges of the day.
Voices & Influences that Inspire Kelly’s Thinking and Practice
Kelly’s two book picks are The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly and The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday. Both are helpful in terms of clarifying mindset around life, purpose, and a positive outlook on one’s self.
Not only does Kelly produce two podcasts, but he’s an avid listener as well. His recommendations include The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes, Side Hustle School, Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin, The Smart Passive Income Online Business and Blogging Podcast, his own Future Focused Podcast, and of course the extremely popular Joe Rogan Experience.
Kelly doesn’t have a channel to suggest subscribing to on YouTube, but he’s interested to see the ways in which younger learners are using the platform as a creation, communication, and learning tool.
We sign off on this insightful conversation, and Kelly tells us the best ways and places to connect with him and receive more of his great content.
Connect with Kelly:
Subscribe to the Teachers on Fire podcast on your mobile device.
Follow the Teachers on Fire podcast on social media.
- On Twitter: @TeachersOnFire
- On Instagram: @TeachersOnFire
- On Facebook: Teachers on Fire
- On LinkedIn: Tim Cavey
- On YouTube: Teachers on Fire
Song Track Credits
- Intro: Stand Up (by Mike Cosmo — license purchased at https://taketones.com/)
- Outtro: Bluntedsesh4 (by Tha Silent Partner, courtesy of FreeMusicArchive.org)