As of this post, I’m still appearing weekly on YouTube, Facebook, 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!
This edition of the Teachers on Fire Roundtable featured writers on the Teachers on Fire Magazine publication on Medium, including Heather Edick, Debbie Tannenbaum, Kelly Christopherson, Tammy Breitweiser, and Jamie Brown.
Talking About Writing in Education
🔥 What does education writing look like for you? 🔥 WHY do you write about education? 🔥 How does it affect your professional practice? 🔥 What is your favorite time of the day to write? 🔥 What is your go-to writing beverage? 🔥 What is your go-to background sound? 🔥 Where and how do you complete your rough compositions? 🔥 How do you collect future blog topics and headlines? 🔥 Who is a current education blogger that you admire? 🔥 What is one book that inspired you to write? 🔥 What are some tools and strategies that you use to share your content?
If you’d like to join a growing community of education writers that are passionate about growth and change in education, join us on Medium today! Comment below or DM me @TeachersOnFire on any social media platform for more details.
SCOTT NUNES (rhymes with dunes) is a dad, teacher, coach, Schoology ambassador, and CCCUE board member. He’s Nearpod certified, MIE certified, a rapper, and co-host of the TNT EdTech podcast. In his day job, Scott teaches 9th and 10th grade ELA at James C. Enochs High School in Modesto, CA, where he’s also a site leader for digital curriculum and coaches swimming.
In Education by Design
Scott’s story of adversity actually began before his teaching career. He had started freelancing in graphic design – a personal passion – but the combination of cheaper foreign designers and a stiff downturn in the economy forced him to reconsider his direction.
After wavering between nursing and education, he eventually recognized that teaching was the path for him, and he’s so thankful he made that decision. Even in his current capacity today, Scott is able to do design work for CUE, his podcast, and other opportunities that come along.
On Dancing and Celebration
Scott’s dancing skills took center stage on edu-Twitter after he shared a clip of his fancy footwork from the Schoology conference in 2018. It was there, he says, that he first got into Twitter and began his relationship with Schoology as an ambassador for their platform.
“I like to have fun in the classroom,” Scott says. “It’s a way to engage students.” He enjoys the feel of the room when students engage in freestyle rap competitions or try to trip him up on a rhyme. It keeps the classroom fun, fresh, and lively.
The TNT EdTech Podcast
Scott co-hosts the TNT EdTech Podcast with Matthew Ketchum, and he says the podcast really traces its roots back to the Fall CUE Conference in northern California. He and Matthew were attending a session on podcasting hosted by Tom and Mike from TOSAs Talking Tech (@TosasTalkinTech on Twitter), who convinced Scott and Matthew that the podcasting gig was easy and inexpensive to get into. Scott and Matthew already had access to Camtasia, Adobe Audition, Google Hangouts, and other apps and equipment they needed to launch their own show, so they went for it!
Today, their podcast talks about edtech, offers tools and tips, and features educators in the field who are doing cool things with technology in their classrooms. Scott brings the classroom experience, and Matthew is the tech coach for their 30,000-student district. Scott agrees that the podcasting business is a tremendous privilege, and he learns a lot from every guest they speak to.
What’s Setting Scott on 🔥 in Education Today
Scott’s biggest interest in education at the moment is the magic of connecting with other educators. He’s also passionate about the opportunities for student podcasting that lie ahead. Although they may not have permission to publish out to the web, just the chance to publish audio content and share out learning within the district is exciting.
Scott is a fan of the Anchor app for publishing content, and he offers a pro tip about how to line paper boxes with audio-muffling foam to create some really clean sound – even in busy classrooms.
A Professional Goal: More Blogging
Something Scott plans to invest more time in is blogging. As part of CUE’s sponsorship of his podcast, he is required to do some regular writing and publishing. Once the partnership with CUE ends, he’s hoping he’ll have a regular blogging habit in place that he can then transfer to a blog of his own.
A Personal Passion Away From Education
Few things bring Scott alive and allow him to decompress quite like building sandcastles at the beach. It’s a passion that he will devote several hours to, and his three kids are big fans of his work (although they specialize more in the deconstruction).
Scott’s Productivity Hack: Strong Starts
Scott sets aside the first 90 minutes of each day as highly productive time. It’s here that he focuses narrowly on 1-3 major tasks that he’d like to complete very well. With this routine successfully completed, the day is already a win from there!
Voices and Resources That Inspire
Over on Twitter, Scott recommends following @JMattMiller. Despite his high profile and numerous accolades, Matt remains the real deal, Scott says.
An edtech tool that has got Scott excited right now is Gimkit, a smart quiz and formative assessment application that was developed for the classroom by a high school student. Follow @Gimkit on Twitter to learn more!
Aside from our two awesome podcasts, Scott recommends subscribing to Between the Johns, a podcast produced by two administrators who bring interesting perspectives to education topics. Follow the pod on Twitter @BetweentheJohns.
If you’re a creator, designer, or maker, it might be worth your while to subscribe to the 3D Printing Nerd channel on Youtube. The host never fails to amaze with his creativity and ingenuity. Follow @3DPrintingNerd on Twitter to see what he’s up to.
By settling for safety, we miss out on certain growth and learning.
“Fear is always triggered by creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something to be dealt with.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
At the outset of the new year, AJ Juliani issued a challenge to the education world: blog — or engage in blogging activities — for thirty days.
His call was a welcome one. Research has long been telling us that our students learn best when they are given the time, tools, and opportunity to reflect thoughtfully on their own learning journeys. In Leaders of Their Own Learning, Ron Berger calls this sort of metacognitive activity “writing to learn.”
The same principle applies for educators.
Writing to Learn and Learning to Write
The more we speak, write, tweet, vlog, and publish about our learning and professional practice, the more we will learn, grow, and develop as educators. And as we make our own learning visible, others benefit and grow as well.
John Hattie talks about the power of collective efficacy. Stephen Covey calls it win-win. Simply put, we’re better together.
Our professional growth isn’t just about reading and listening to the established voices in education. It’s also about sharing and contributing our own experiences.
So, as passionate educators, why don’t we participate in the global conversation more than we do?
It’s Not Really About Time
The typical response says we don’t have enough time in the week. But for most, that’s not actually the case. As Laura Vanderkam demonstrates convincingly in 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, most of us actually do have the time.
When you get right down to it, most of us aren’t hitting ‘Publish’ for one reason: fear.
We fear embarrassment. Rejection. Crickets.
We assume that our voice doesn’t matter. That no one will pay attention. Or worse yet, that we’ll be exposed as an imposter.
As Elizabeth Gilbert points out, most of us don’t publish creatively because the outcome is uncertain. There’s just no guarantee of success — whatever success means.
So we take the safe option.
The Power of Practice
But people who aren’t publishing are overlooking an absolute guarantee: improvement.
That’s right, I said it. When you create content consistently over time, your growth and improvement is guaranteed. You can’t help but get better.
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell makes the case that repetition is highly underrated. He tells story after story of individuals who simply put in the time on their craft to gradually become an expert in their space.
Earlier this year, I listened to a podcast featuring YouTuber Marques Brownlee, a soft-spoken, thoughtful, and charismatic tech reviewer. He talked about how he began publishing YouTube videos back in high school simply because he loved the medium and enjoyed the process. As he describes it, his first 100 videos were viewed by audiences of around 100 people.
Today, Brownlee’s videos earn millions of views apiece. He has 7.7M subscribers.
It’s not all about growing an audience. That’s not really my point, although the size of his growing viewership does speak to the value of his work.
What I’m more interested in is those first 100 videos. Just think about the sort of headspace he was in to continue creating.
As he puts it, he created content simply because he enjoyed it. The views and reactions were secondary.
And because he stuck with it, he’s obviously eclipsed Gladwell’s 10,000 hours. He’s become a master at his craft.
The Teachers on Fire Podcast
In March of 2018, I realized a long-held dream by launching a podcast for educators, Teachers on Fire. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I had questions about everything from applications to equipment to guests.
It took a lot of work to get started, and it definitely wasn’t easy. My sound quality was awful at the beginning, and I made a ton of unfortunate mistakes that made the process even more painful.
The interview for my very first episode took forever to complete because the recording app I was using crashed at least six times. It was a frustrating first experience.
Almost a year later, I still don’t have it all figured out. But I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m improving my craft. I’m miles and miles from where I started, and my conversations with education leaders are inspiring listeners around the world.
Consistent Content Creation is a Direct Line to Improvement
I don’t consider myself a skilled artist. But I have zero doubt in my mind that if I set aside three hours a weekend to learn and practice pencil drawing for 52 weeks, I would be a much better artist by year’s end.
Absolutely no doubt in my mind.
I’m convinced that the same holds true for any kind of creative publishing. Once we embark on the commitment of regular creation, improvement isn’t a question. It’s an absolute certainty.
And as we hone our creative skills, our contributions to the world around us become more valuable.
This is what I want my stepsons to know. My students to know. And you, fellow educator, to know.
We can lament our lack of creative skills. Or we can take action.