Episode 49 – Colby Sharp

49 - Colby Sharp

COLBY SHARP is a husband, father of five, fifth grade teacher, avid reader and book reviewer, runner, and self-proclaimed nerd. He is the author of The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection and 2018’s Game Changer!: Book Access for All Kids.

In our conversation, Colby recalls the discouragement of a harsh professional evaluation and explains how he grew from the experience. He describes the heart and process of The Creativity Project, and explains how teachers can use this anthology to inspire creative expression in their English classrooms. He also shares about his passion for reading, putting books in the hands of kids, creativity, daily exercise, podcasts, Casey Neistat, and much more.

Follow Colby online here:

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 0:49 – Colby teaches 5th grade at Parma Elementary School in Parma, MI.
  • 1:23 – He describes the experience of receiving fairly harsh reviews from his principal after his first year of teaching. Rather than throwing a pity party, he decided to learn from the experience, take steps to grow as a professional, and things improved quickly from there.
  • 3:24 – We talk about the mission and message of The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection. Colby describes how authors were given a choice of two prompts to respond to creatively. The results were amazing, and the book offers exciting examples of where the creative process can take students as well.
  • 8:11 – Colby describes another passion he has for education today: teachers. Teachers today have incredible passion for kids and for learning. They’re in it for the right reasons. The new teachers he’s seeing come to the profession are inspiring.
  • 9:25 – Colby is also deeply passionate about improving access to books in schools, libraries, and communities – finding more ways to get books into the hands of children. Nerd Camp is an annual conference that connects young readers and authors. The last Nerd Camp was attended by 1500 educators, 1000 kids, and 50 authors. Every kid that attended left with at least one free author-signed book.
  • 10:55 – His productivity hack is daily exercise. He’s only missed about seven days so far in 2018, and he believes in it enough to spend his lunch breaks running.
  • 12:48 – On Twitter, Colby recommends that you give @SusanKHaney a follow.
  • 13:53 – One tried and true edtech tool in Colby’s classroom is Audible, which you can follow on Twitter @Audible_com.
  • 15:22 – A professional book that Colby thoroughly enjoyed and learned from this summer was 180 DAYS: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle. Follow these incredible authors on Twitter @KellyGToGo and @PennyKittle.
  • 17:13 – Colby’s top education podcast recommendation is Cult of Pedagogy by Jennifer Gonzales. Follow Jennifer @cultofpedagogy.
  • 19:55 – On Youtube, Colby recommends subscribing to master storyteller Casey Neistat.
  • 21:16 – A recent Netflix title that Colby gives both thumbs up to is To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which embodies everything that’s good, fun, and wholesome about the teen romantic comedy genre.
  • 22:51 – We wrap up our conversation, and Colby shares the best ways to follow him online. See above for details and links!

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Song Track Credits

  • Intro: Relax (by Simon More)
  • Outtro: Starley – Call on Me Remix (by DJ Zhorik)

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Episode 42 – Jamie Osborne

42 - Jamie Osborne2

JAMIE OSBORNE is a middle school teacher-librarian in Richmond, BC, Canada. She writes at https://thebiblioz.wordpress.com/ and recently published her first episode of The Biblioz podcast for teacher librarians.

In our conversation, Jamie addresses the challenges of moving students from an unhealthy focus on grades to the uninhibited freedom of failure-free learning. She explains why she enjoys her new role in the library so much and describes her personal transformation from Twitter lurker to contributor, blogger, and now podcaster. Jamie also shares some of her personal habits and passions and offers some solid recommendations for books to read, Twitter accounts to follow, and more.

Follow Jamie!
TW: @TheBiblioz
IG: @TheBiblioz
Blog: https://thebiblioz.wordpress.com/
Podcast: https://apple.co/2MTMBXL

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 0:56 – Jamie describes her current role in education as a new teacher-librarian at a middle school in Richmond, BC, Canada.
  • 1:39 – One challenge she recalls from earlier in her career was when some of her high school students and parents seemed more focused on marks than their learning, and students seemed unable or unwilling to take risks. Since that time, it’s been a pleasure to move to the library where she enjoys designing learning experiences that take place without the involvement of marks. This fall, she’s excited to introduce a multidisciplinary course for 8th Graders called STEAM 8. Students will be free to pursue learning and creativity in all sorts of directions, much of their work modeled closely on the design process and all of it without traditional marks attached.
  • 4:46 Jamie discusses the things that currently ignite her passion in education: empowering students to become more confident and creative, take risks, think outside of the box, and adapt to new challenges.
  • 7:42 – Jamie explains how and why she went from being a Twitter lurker to a Twitter contributor, blogger, and now podcaster. A highlight from June 2018 included a visit to the ISTE conference in Chicago, where she interviewed some of the biggest names in the librarian niche and published their thoughts on her Biblioz podcast.
  • 11:13 – Areas of personal passion and learning include painting, calligraphy, photography … anything visually creative. She enjoys pushing herself and growing beyond her creative comfort zone.
  • 11:50 – Personal habits that contribute to Jamie’s creative success relate to self-care: exercising, taking times to shut off mentally, and setting clear personal boundaries.
  • 14:08 – On Twitter, Jamie recommends @ExLibrisMrHunt, @ErinKCald, and  @Esther_Memmott.
  • 15:14 – For edtech tools, Jamie looks forward to unlocking new learning experiences for her students through Google Expeditions.
  • 15:37 – As a librarian, you know Jamie’s got a great book pick for us. It’s Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student by John Spencer and AJ Juliani.
  • 16:36 – If you’re looking for another quality podcast to add to your daily commute this year, check out Educated by Design with Michael Cohen (@TheTechRabbi).
  • 17:23 – Finally, when she’s got no brainpower left for anything productive, Jamie’s watching Hinterland on Netflix.
  • 18:48 – We sign off on the interview, and Jamie reminds us how we can follow her content online. See above for details!

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Follow the podcast on Twitter @TeachersOnFire and on Instagram @TeachersOnFire.

Song Track Credits

  • Intro: Relax (by Simon More)
  • Outtro: Starley – Call on Me Remix (by DJ Zhorik)

Listen to this episode on YouTube and subscribe for more episodes!

Episode 36: Andi McNair

36 - Andi McNair

Andi McNair is a keynote speaker and blogger specializing in edtech, genius hour, and innovation in education. She is also the co-founder of #makeithappenEDU and the author of Genius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry. See more of her content at http://www.andimcnair.com.

In this conversation, Andi describes the low moment in her classroom that changed it all for her – when she realized her learners were completely disengaged and she knew she needed to reimagine her practice. Thanks to some inspiring education leaders, she began a journey of passion-based learning and has never looked back. Andi also tells us why it’s a great time to be an educator and shares some great recommendations for books to read, Twitter accounts to follow, and more.

Check out Genius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry on Amazon!

Follow Andi on the web at http://www.andimcnair.com/ and on Twitter @McNairan3.

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 1:00 – Andi describes her past and current roles in education.
  • 1:52 – Reality check: when Andi noticed her students had become completely disengaged, she knew she had to either leave the profession or completely reinvent herself and redefine her practice. She chose the latter.
  • 3:53 – We discuss the heart of Andi’s book, Genius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry. She describes how Genius Hour advocates like Don Wettrick, Gallit Zvi, Denise Krebs, Joy Kirr, and introduced her to the idea of passion-based learning. In the book, Andi maps out the 6 Ps of Genius Hour, a process that has worked well in her context give teachers and learners a clear path to the finish line: passion, pitch, plan, project, product, and presentation.
  • 7:52 – Andi tells us why it’s such a great time to be in education: because of the power to connect our learners with each other, with other classes, with outside experts, etc. and help students understand the WHY behind their learning through authentic products.
  • 10:07 – One of Andi’s personal passions is one that she enjoys with her family: watching and learning more about the great game of baseball.
  • 11:33 – A personal habit that contributes to her success: journaling every single day – not just remembering (what I did and how) but reflecting (what I learned and why). Some of her reflections happen collaboratively on Voxer!
  • 13:55 – Her Twitter account suggestion is @DonWettrick, international speaker and presenter, host of the StartEdUp podcast, and author of Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation.
  • 14:26 – Andi gives us two edtech recommendations. The first is Nepris, which connects industry professionals with classrooms (@NeprisApp on Twitter). The second is Thrively, which helps learners discover their strengths, interests, and aspirations (@Thrively on Twitter).
  • 15:25 – Her book recommendations start with a classic for any teacher looking for more passion, motivation, or imagination: Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess (@BurgessDave on Twitter). She also recommends a book we’ve recommended here recently: Shift This by Joy Kirr (@JoyKirr on Twitter).
  • 16:42 – On Netflix, Andi’s enjoying When Calls the Heart, a show built around a woman who teaches in a small Canadian mining town in the early 1900s. Add it to your list!
  • 17:02 – Andi signs off and gives us the best ways to follow her content online: and at her website (http://www.andimcnair.com/) on Twitter @McNairan3, and on http://voxer.com/ @AndiMcNair.

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Song Track Credits

Intro: Relax (by Simon More)
Outtro: Starley – Call on Me Remix (by DJ Zhorik)

LISTEN to this episode on YouTube and SUBSCRIBE for more episodes!

Episode 35: Joy Kirr

35 - Joy Kirr

Joy Kirr is a 7th Grade ELA teacher and Genius Hour advocate in Elk Grove, Illinois. She writes at GeniusHour.blogspot.com and in 2017 published Shift This!: How to Implement Gradual Changes for MASSIVE Impact in Your Classroom.

In this conversation, Joy takes us to a moment when a parent criticized her publicly with “Genius Hour is crazy – and all the parents think so!” She shares what she learned from that experience and how it has changed her communication going forward. Joy describes the heart and main message of her book, Shift This, which puts the focus on student-directed learning opportunities. She also points us toward a Twitter account to follow, a book to check out, an edtech tool that she is learning about, and more.

Follow Joy online:

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 1:02 – Joy describes her current teaching context (7th grade ELA teacher and big advocate for genius hour in Elk Grove, Illinois).
  • 1:22 – She recalls the challenge of hearing “Genius Hour is crazy – and all the parents think so!” from an upset parent, and explains how she learned and grew from this experience.
  • 5:32 – Joy talks about what excites her in education today: being challenged by parents, thinking deeply about her practices.
  • 10:29 – When it comes to personal passions and experiences, Joy likes to ask “Why not?” instead of “Why?” She likes to soak up life experiences for all they’re worth, investing in relationships, getting outside, and taking great pictures along the way.
  • 12:36 – On Twitter, Joy recommends we follow Vicki Davis @CoolCatTeacher
  • 13:13 – For an edtech tool, Joy suggests we try creating our own .gifs by converting our Google Slides using Tall Tweets. Try it!
  • 15:03 – Joy’s pick in books is Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston. Earlier in our conversation, she also recommended The Human Side of School Change: Reform, Resistance, and the Real-Life Problems of Innovation by Robert Evans.
  • 16:06 – No Netflix or movies for this educator … it’s all about reading!
  • 16:52 – Joy tells us how to follow her online and where to get more of her content. See above!

SUBSCRIBE to the podcast on your MOBILE DEVICE: iTunes | Google PodcastsYouTube

FOLLOW the podcast on TWITTER @TeachersOnFire and on INSTAGRAM @TeachersOnFire

Song Track Credits

Intro: Relax (by Simon More)
Outtro: Starley – Call on Me Remix (by DJ Zhorik)

LISTEN to this episode on YouTube and SUBSCRIBE for more episodes!

Episode 26: Bobby McCutcheon

26 - Bobby McCutcheon

Bobby McCutcheon is the principal of Randall Elementary School in Independence, MO. He’s a husband, father, #GeniusHour advocate, travel junkie, Royals fan, and occasional political expert.

After teaching for several years at the middle and high school levels, Bobby was offered the position of elementary principal and has never looked back. He points to a decision to transform his diet and fitness three years as a turning point in what has become an exciting journey of growth. Today, Bobby is passionate about building a positive culture at Randall and promoting creativity in his students through Genius Hour. You won’t want to miss his remarkable story about a struggling student who dove deep into learning about K-9 police dogs. His learning took him to places he’d never imagined, and he was able to share that journey with the entire school community.

Follow Bobby McCutcheon on Twitter @Fight4Mizzou and see what’s happening at Randall Elementary School @RandallBears.

TIMESTAMPS. In this episode, Bobby discusses …

  • 0:53 – his current context as principal at Randall Elementary School
  • 1:34 – the challenges associated with students who are dealing with trauma, and the positive community culture required to create safe spaces
  • 4:11 – what really ignites his passion for education today: teachers who think outside the box, students who explore their creativity through Genius Hour
  • 8:14 – other areas of passion and learning: sports, history, and politics
  • 11:40 – personal habits that have transformed his mental and physical health in three years: regular workouts and an improved diet
  • 15:21 – an education leader to follow on Twitter: Adam Welcome (@MrAdamWelcome)
  • 16:29 – an edtech tool that facilitates PLN participation: TweetDeck
  • 18:08 – a book recommendation: Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess (@Burgess_Shelley) and Beth Houf (@BethHouf)
  • 19:52 – a podcast recommendation: StartEDup with Don Wettrick (@DonWettrick)
  • 20:59 – two Youtube channels to subscribe to: Message to a New & Aspiring Principal (by @PrincipalKefele) and Athlean X
  • 22:11 – what he’s watching on Netflix these days: all the Marvel and Avengers movies
  • 23:17 – the best ways to follow him online (see above)

Song Track Credits

Intro: Relax (by Simon More)
Outtro: Starley – Call on Me Remix (by DJ Zhorik)

LISTEN to this episode on YouTube and SUBSCRIBE for more episodes!