The Amazing Power of Gratitude: How can it serve us as educators?

In this edition of the Roundtable, host Tim Cavey connects with eight uplifting educators to discuss the incredible power of gratitude. Why is it important and how can we make it a more intentional part of our daily practice?

Questions That Guided Our Discussion

  • 0:53 – Who are you and what is your current context in education?
  • 7:35 – How does gratitude make a difference in your life?
  • 31:09 – What are some intentional gratefulness practices that figure into your day?
  • 34:57 – What is another habit of wellness and self-care that you could share?
  • 51:36 – Sharing circle: what is one thing you are grateful for today? (no repeats)
  • 1:00:17 – How can we connect with you? What other resources can you share?

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Resources Shared by Our Panelists

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As of this post, I’m still appearing weekly on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time/11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. I’d love to see you join us and would be happy to feature your questions and comments on the show!

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Media Creation in Schools

In this edition of the Roundtable, host Tim Cavey connects with educators Bruce Reicher, Paula Neidlinger, and Erika Sandstrom to discuss media creation in schools. Why should we invest time and resources in media creation for students, and how can we get started?

About Our Guests

Bruce Reicher and Paula Neidlinger are two of the three co-authors of Scripted: An Educator’s Guide to Media in the Classroom, published in August 2020. Erika Sandstrom is the Green Screen Gal, a digital learning coach with a passion for media creation and social-emotional learning.

Questions That Guided Our Discussion

  • 1:11 – Who are you and what does your current context in education look like?
  • 5:29 – How do you use media creation to inspire your learners? What sorts of projects energize you?
  • 12:44 – What sorts of wins or opportunities for learning do you see during the time of COVID?
  • 20:45 – Why should school leaders be thinking about investing more in media creation resources?
  • 32:58 – What would you suggest I do with the 20 x 20 foot media/multipurpose room in my school building?
  • 43:15 – Who are some of the creative voices who inspire your learning in the area of media creation? (See full list with links below.)
  • 51:16 – How can we connect with you?

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Media Creation Resources from Roundtable Guests

Other Inspiring Media Creators Mentioned by the Panel

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As of this post, I’m still appearing weekly on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time/11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. I’d love to see you join us and would be happy to feature your questions and comments on the show!

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Episode 138 – Evo Hannan: Agency, Innovation, and Inspiration

Meet Evo Hannan

EVO HANNAN is an educator, education leader, freelance designer, and speaker in Dubai who is passionate about promoting confidence in students through innovation and agency. You’ll find him active on Twitter at the hashtags #Agents4Agency and #CrazyPLN.

Cancelled by COVID: Forced to Pivot

This interview was recorded on March 8, 2020, and Evo had just recently had to cancel his plans for his #Agents4Agency tour of the United States due to the appearance of COVID-19. He had been planning in-person professional development sessions for New York City, Houston, and San Francisco, and four and a half months of work had gone into their preparation.

It was absolutely heartbreaking to cancel these events, but as the pandemic started to make its appearance in North America, people’s health and safety took first priority. Rather than completely give up, however, he began the difficult task of pivoting these events into virtual settings.

“I’ve built up a little bit of resilience over the past decade or so with some of the crazy ideas I’ve come up with,” Evo admits. When it comes to go big or go home, he generally never goes home.

Advocating for Growth: the Work of The Agency

At the core of Evo’s #Agents4Agency movement is the idea that teachers reflect on their own practice and pedagogy first before they start to implement and promote student agency. Agency doesn’t only come from students, Evo points out. As educators, we are the facilitators that can help to elevate their voices. Find out more about The Agency and join the movement at Evo’s website.

The Four Pillars of Innovation

Evo is passionate about innovation in education, and that passion has only grown in his years as a design teacher. His understanding of innovation is quite functional, and he sees it made up of four pillars: knowledge, creativity, characteristics, and culture.

Innovation is his heartbeat for education, he says, and the idea of student agency flows naturally from there. Voices that influence Evo’s thoughts on innovation include Tony Wagner, Craig Kemp, Adam Hill, Kieran Kelly, Steve Bambury, and others. 

Building Movements That Inspire Change and Transformation in Education

Vehicles like InnovationX and Agents for Agency allow me to directly connect with people on an interactive level,” Evo shares.

Even with the appearance of COVID-19, Evo is committed to growing these movements and continuing to learn and gain inspiration from the like-minded educators who join forces in the process. His goal is to inspire as many educators as possible and provide them with the tools to help them inspire students to become the innovators of tomorrow.

An Expression of Personal Passion: Project Decade

“I’ve always been quite a positive person,” Evo says. It’s been in the last year or so that some of Evo’s friends have encouraged him to channel those passions into efforts that motivate positive change and transformation in the lives of others, and that’s what motivates him today.

Project Decade is one expression of those efforts. On his Instagram account, he shares daily inspiration and thoughts around inspiration, passion, places, and people. If we can stay in touch with those four on a daily level, Eve suggests, we’ll continue to find ourselves and live positive lives.

Finding Productivity in Ways That Work for You

Evo is quick to admit that his daily routine is not the healthiest: he knows he needs to get to bed earlier and eat more intentionally. Some of the traditionally rigid advice about productivity and time management hasn’t worked for him, he says, but one thing he has found reliable is to work as and when he wants to.

If that means sitting with his wife with both of their laptops open and Netflix on the TV, then so be it. No, it may not be the highest level of productivity on the planet, but it strikes a comfortable balance between having a life, being human, and chipping away at projects to the extent that he’s inclined to do so. 

Voices That Spark Evo’s Thinking and Ignite His Professional Practice

On Twitter, Evo shouts out the Lead Agents that have been so instrumental in supporting The Agency’s work in North America, including @KBahri5, @TheWrightLeader, @Support_A_Teach, @ChrisQuinn64, @BBray27, and many more. “These guys inspire me on a daily basis by the things they do and the suggestions they make both on and off Twitter,” Evo says.

The power to really move things forward in the classroom comes from collaboration, Evo says, and in that regard, nothing beats the edtech tools found in the G Suite (now Google Workspace), including the workflow and applications associated with Google Classroom.

When asked to recommend a book that was influential in his journey, Evo points to Screw It, Let’s Do It: 14 Lessons on Making It to the Top While Having Fun & Staying Green by Richard Branson.

When it comes to YouTube, Evo’s more of a searcher and surfer than a subscriber. But on Netflix, one of his recent favorites has been Drive to Survive, a series about Formula One racing. It’s a great place to learn about how people deal with success and failure at a very high level, Evo says. It gives some great perspective for the space you’re in, and it builds your growth mindset in the process.

We sign off on this international learning experience, and Evo gives us the best ways to connect with him and follow his work. See below for details!

Follow Evo

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Song Track Credits

  • Sunrise Drive by South London Hifi*
  • Anthem by The Grand Affair*
  • Coupe by The Grand Affair
  • Species by Diamond Ortiz
  • *tracks courtesy of the YouTube Audio Library

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Chromebooks: Wins, Questions, Tips, and Best Practices

On this edition of the Roundtable, I connected with Justine Wright, Emily Russo, Jessica Reed, Scott Nunes, and John Sowash from the Google Classroom to discuss the state of Chromebooks in education today: what’s working, what needs to improve, and what are some strategies that are worth sharing?

Questions That Guided Our Discussion

  • 1:19 – Who are you, what is your current context, and how does your learning community use Chromebooks?
  • 13:44 – What is working right now? What are some wins that you’re having with Chromebooks?
  • 27:59 – What isn’t working well? What questions do you have?
  • 50:02 – What are some other tips, hacks, Chrome extensions, or other strategies that you can share?
  • 1:04:00 – How can we connect with you?

Cloud-Based Resources for Chromebooks Mentioned in This Episode That Will Support You and Your Learners

Thanks to the Guests Featured in This Roundtable

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As of this post, I’m still appearing weekly on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time/11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. I’d love to see you join us and would be happy to feature your questions and comments on the show!

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The Power of Sharing Circles

I’m a slow learner, so it’s taken the chorus of a few voices to get me sold and focused on the positive impact that sharing circles, check-ins, and check-outs can have on the culture of classes and learning communities.

I first experienced sharing circles during my MEdL classes at VIU in the summers of 2017 and 2018 (pictured below). Our class of 45 started and ended every day of learning in circles.

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In the summer and fall of 2019, I read about the power of restorative circles in Hacking School Discipline: 9 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy and Responsibility Using Restorative Justice, a book written by Brad Weinstein and Nathan Maynard that my MS staff team read through in the 2019-2020 school year.

Then I spent two days of workshops put on by the International Institute for Restorative Practices learning about the philosophy behind sharing circles and some thinking around best practices when they’re used in school settings. It was during my second day of learning with IIRP that I think the impact of circles really crystallized for me.

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Why Circles?

Circles assign value to every member of the community. They include every voice. They share perspectives that aren’t always heard or apparent. They allow us to learn from each other.

These benefits are simple but profound. They don’t happen by accident. Without circles, it’s actually hard to come up with these outcomes at all.

It turns out, our indigenous peoples were on to something big.

Circles can be as powerful for learning as they are for building relationships, and you’d be right to argue that the two are really linked, anyway.

As I mentioned earlier, I saw some of the potential of circles myself when my Master’s classes would begin and end in circles. In a large class of 45, circle times offered a convenient way to share insights and get to know people that I had yet to connect with personally.

A Powerful Circle Experience

It was during our second day of IIRP workshops at an in-house professional development event last fall that I was profoundly touched by the raw power of circle practices.

I was in a mini-circle of five teachers and administrators. We were tasked with applying a lesson that we had just learned in a group session, and it was up to me to choose a question for my little group.

Hoping to get real with my colleagues, I went with “Talk about one thing that is causing you stress in your personal life right now.”

By the time we completed the circle, most of us were in tears. Things had gotten that real. That fast. In the span of 15 minutes, we had shared our hearts, our personal stories, our realities.

And just like that, we felt a lot more connected with each other.

When was the last professional development event where you saw something like that happen?

It was a powerful reminder that when it comes to the learners in our classrooms, there is always, always, ALWAYS more to their stories than meets the eye. We ignore those stories in our own classrooms at our own peril and to the detriment of our class cultures.

Circles in My Teaching Practice

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Ever since that emotional moment with my colleagues, I’ve made circles a regular part of my eighth grade classroom. And every single time I do them, I learn new things about my learners, the class learns to trust each other just a little bit better, and the culture of my room improves. It actually makes me sad that I went so many years of teaching without using circles more strategically.

Regrets aside, what follows is an evolving list of circle check-in questions. I love this list SO much … but it’s not complete. I’m looking to add to it all the time, and if you’ve got a question to suggest, please leave it in the comments below.

Suggestions for Circle Starters

Circle Check-In Questions for BUILDING COMMUNITY

  • Quick go-round: From 1-5, how are you feeling right now?
  • Who is one adult outside of our school that you admire? Why?
  • What is one book that you have read that you enjoyed? Why did you enjoy it?
  • What is one thing you are grateful for right now?
  • What is one thing that is stressing you or making you anxious right now?
  • What is one thing that you appreciate about someone in this group?
  • What is one thing that someone in this group has done to help your learning?
  • What is one rose and one thorn from your weekend?
  • What is one aha, apology, or appreciation from your week?
  • What are you obsessing about right now?
  • What is one thing you like to do in your free time?
  • What is one thing that you hope will happen this week?
  • What is one way that you’ve failed recently?
  • What is your ideal learning environment?
  • What is one movie that inspires you?

Circle Check-In Questions for LEARNING

  • What do you already know about this topic?
  • What is one personal connection you can make with this topic?
  • What questions do you have about this topic?
  • (And at the end) What questions do we still have?
  • Why do you think we are learning this?
  • What is one idea that you have for something to write about?
  • What is one thing that stood out from you in this learning activity?
  • What is one takeaway from this learning activity?
  • What is the next thing you would like to learn?
  • Big 3 Questions: What are you learning? How is it going? Where to next?
  • What is one thing you would like to achieve in this period?
  • Where are you in the design process?
  • What is one thing that you could do to improve your work?
  • What support do you need to continue your learning?
  • How would you answer the guiding question right now?
  • What should be in the success criteria?
  • What is your top priority for this block?
  • Read three lines of writing from your writing today.

Circle Questions for UPCOMING SCHOOL EVENTS

  • What are the opportunities that might come from this activity?
  • How could we grow from this activity?
  • What are some behaviour problems to watch out for in an upcoming activity?
  • What are our goals for this activity?
  • What are our fears and anxieties about this activity? (*use with caution — don’t let this become a negative venting session)
  • What would it look like to give in to fear regarding this activity?
  • What would you want people to say about PA after our visit?

Circle Questions for a DISRUPTIVE CLASS

  • How do you think the class went?
  • How could we improve our behaviour?
  • What needs to happen to make things right?
  • What do you want to be known for?

Circle Questions for WORK NOT GETTING DONE

  • Which tools could better support your learning?
  • What are some strategies that we could use (or will use) to get our work done on time?
  • Is there anything that I should know about what is causing you anxiety?
  • What do you think might motivate you to get your work done?
  • How is your lack of work impacting the people around you?
  • How will your work habits now prepare you for life?

Circle Check-Ins for EMPOWERING STUDENTS

  • What are your progress goals for this period? (eg. a media class)
  • What challenges or obstacles have been slowing down your learning lately?
  • How will you overcome the challenges or obstacles that have been slowing you down?

Circles for STAFF ACTIVITIES

  • Grade level or department meetings: how are things going right now?
  • What is one thing you’re taking away from this staff meeting?
  • Who would you like to shout out on our staff team and why?
  • How do you think [X staff activity] went? How could it be improved?
  • What is one thing that you’d like support with right now?
  • What is one thing you’re working on right now?
  • What is one thing you’ve learned recently?

Maybe you’ve never tried circle check-ins your classroom, or maybe (like me) you’re on a journey to learn more about circles and leverage their power more.

Wherever you are in your journey with circles, I’d like to hear about it.

Let’s circle up.

Step Inside the Circle: a Powerful Video