Episode 71 – Rose Pillay

71 - Rose Pillay

Meet Our Guest

ROSE PILLAY is an education leader and curriculum consultant for the Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese. Her One Word for 2019 is SMILE, and Rose keeps educators inspired on her mission to serve, support, and celebrate growth and relationships. She sees her roles as 1) professional learner, 2) good news gossip, and 3) educational matchmaker.

Buckle up for this interview! Her colleagues call her a girl on fire, and you’ll understand why when you hear her passion and commitment for learning. Follow Rose on Twitter @RosePillay1 and visit her blog at https://teachafl.wordpress.com/.

Everything We Do in Teaching is Relational

There are days when Rose has felt she isn’t making a difference. Imposter syndrome creeps in, and she the doubts can be debilitating.

To counter these feelings of inadequacy and negativity, Rose makes a conscious choice to curate and keep any and all the cards, comments, and collectibles that are affirming and empowering. She also designates a label in her inbox simply marked Sunshine, and it’s filled with messages that empower and bless her.

To further bolster her confidence, Rose is proactive about surrounding herself with people who not only cheer her on but challenge her to be better. “Everything we do in teaching is relational,” she says. We need to find others who will fuel our passion.

Faith and Learning

As a committed Catholic, Rose feels called to bring the light of Jesus into this world, and as such she strives to be a lighthouse and source of hope for others. She wants to live in such a way that people say “I want what she’s having,” not living as one seeking to be accepted but in a way that is unashamed, unapologetic, and authentic.

She enjoys partnering with educators from all corners and backgrounds because we all want the same things for children: to equip them to live well in an ever-changing world. She is relentless in her pursuit of the good, true, and beautiful in an effort to make our students into saints. Education has shifted its focus from transmission of information to transformation, from products to people. We’re trying to define the very best qualities of what it means to be human, to contribute to this world and make it a better place.

Why Network on Twitter?

For Rose, Twitter serves two main purposes:

  1. it builds professional relationships, and
  2. it creates access to classrooms, innovative practices, and inspirational conversations.

Twitter isn’t the all-important platform, but the key is to find something, someone, or some place that recharges your batteries so that you have the ideas and energy to give back to your learners.

Fail Better

Rose’s blog, Fail Better, began as a reservoir of resources for educators looking to do more with assessment for learning. In June 2012, Rose wrote a post called Fail Better, inspired by a quote by Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

From that time forward, Rose decided to use her blog to reflect on her own learning journey. Dylan Wiliam says that every educator needs to accept two commitments.

  1. Every single teacher will carry on improvement in their practice, and
  2. Focus on the things that make the most difference to students. Embrace the idea that the job of teaching is so difficult that we never really get good at it. We fail every day, but every day following we can come back and fail better.

To fuel and direct her learning journey, Rose asks herself those Big Three metacognitive questions each week:

  1. What am I learning?
  2. Where am I going?
  3. How will I get there?

As Richard Wagamese writes, “Don’t just write what you know. Write what you wish to know.” Storytelling is about discovery of one’s self, a way for writers to document their growth and evolution.

New Competency-Based Curriculum for BC

One thing that really ignites Rose today is BC’s new competency-based curriculum. It’s infused schools across the province with fresh energy, vision, and joy. The focus is where it should be – on ALL students learning and growing, from wherever they are on their journey. It’s about students finding themselves, developing holistically, and answering the most important question they will ever answer: Who am I?

Rose is also thrilled by the new Career Life education program coming to BC’s high school curriculum – “the sun around which all the other courses will orbit.” Among other things, this new initiative is sure to challenge long-held assumptions and ways of doing in terms of high school timetables and course structures.

A third thing that energizes Rose is the cross-pollination of ideas, resources, and practices happening between districts in British Columbia.

A Professional Goal for 2019

This year, Rose would like to grow as a confident, competent, and creative workshop presenter. This will mean attending more professional development events led by people who are pushing themselves, including an upcoming CAFLN conference in Delta, BC.

Learning is a Life Passion

Rose is a fan of learning, whatever it is and wherever it’s available. She loves to rub shoulders with other learners who attend events by choice – she calls these campfires. Being with other educators who are there because they want to learn and love community is so energizing.

It’s the sharing of stories that really helps us grow, and for that reason Rose and her brother Gabriel are passionate organizers of an annual event called EdVent. It’s a place for educators to come and share their stories of learning and innovative practice. Teaching and learning have to be team sports! We need teammates to learn beside.

A Productivity Hack: Saying YES More

Inspired by Catherine Mulskey’s Ted-X Talk, The Courage to Say No, Rose is learning to actually say YES to more things, including this podcast. Saying no sometimes means that we’re not growing, and we miss out on learning. Right now, she’s focused on saying yes more often.

“My need to KNOW things trumps my need to say NO to things,” Rose says. “For me to be successful in what I do, I want to model what it means to learn, to grow, to stretch, to take risks.”

Voices & Resources That Inspire Rose’s Professional Practice

On Twitter, Rose recommends following @Vendram1n. He’s a continual source of leadership and inspiration, and he’s one of the kindest and most generous leaders in education you’ll ever meet.

Rose’s book pick is Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese. It’s a breathtaking work of life and beauty from an indigenous perspective.

If you’re looking for another education podcast to add to your line-up, check out The Catholic Teacher Podcast. Follow the host @BeingCatholic1.

Over on YouTube, Rose suggests subscribing to Five Moore Minutes by a leading voice on inclusion in education, Shelley Moore.

Although Rose isn’t on Netflix, some of her current viewing includes This is Us and Doctor Who.

Connect with Rose

We sign off on this amazing conversation, and Rose reminds us of the best ways to connect with her and learn together online. Make sure to give her a follow on Twitter and subscribe to her blog!

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Song Track Credits

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Episode 41 – Jarod Bormann

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JAROD BORMANN is an advocate for educator empowerment, a tech integration specialist, adjunct professor, learning designer, speaker, blogger, and the author of a new book, Professionally Driven: Empower Every Educator To Redefine PD.

In our conversation, Jarod talks about the need to redefine and reimagine PD with three main elements in mind: 1 growth mindset, 2 intrinsic motivation, and 3 sustainable autonomy. In the age of Google and instantly available facts, he explains how technology can unleash greater creativity, higher level thinking, and problem-solving.

Check out Jarod’s book on Amazon!

Follow Jarod:

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 0:53 – Jarod describes his experience and current context in education. He taught MS/HS English in northeast Iowa for a few years, and is now a tech integration specialist at an area education center that supports schools in eight counties. Putting it simply, he’s a teacher of teachers.
  • 2:07 – His lowest moment came when he saw MS English students lose their joy of reading thanks to the rigid limitations of an accelerated reading program and the quizzes and tracking systems associated with it. After redesigning the reading program, student scores in his school at first appeared to drop – and in a faculty meeting, these results were displayed on a screen for all his colleagues to see. The following year, however, the same students improved significantly, and Jarod was able to determine that in fact students were doing more recreational reading.
  • 6:07 – His book, Professionally Driven: Empower Every Educator To Redefine PD, is about redefining professional development with three main elements at the core: 1 growth mindset, 2 intrinsic motivation (along the lines of Daniel Pink’s Drive), and 3 sustainable autonomy. Provide these for educators, he argues, and you’ll see dramatically better results from your PD.
  • 12:03 – Speaking to K-12 education in general, Jarod is excited by the ways in which technology can unleash greater creativity and higher level thinking in students.
  • 15:52Personal passions that light his fire outside of education include disconnecting from technology and engaging with nature through hiking, camping, and kayaking.
  • 18:00 – One personal habit that contributes to Jarod’s success is the practice of constantly seeking things to be better at. The Crossfit community embodies this well by aggressively addressing weaknesses instead of shying away from them.
  • 20:43 – His suggestion for a follow on Twitter is @FroehlichM.
  • 21:36 – Jarod’s edtech recommendation is a tool called Wakelet, an aggregator or collector of links, videos, text, or images on any topic. He is currently using Wakelet to collect journal articles and resources for his doctoral work.
  • 23:48 – Given one book to recommend, Jarod points to Mindset by Carol Dweck. “No other book has changed my life in so many different ways,” he explains.
  • 24:54 – A podcast that Jarod continues to enjoy and gain great takeaways from is the TED Radio Hour. Follow them on Twitter @TEDRadioHour.
  • 25:55 – A YouTube channel that he’s found incredibly helpful in terms of video editing and Final Cut Pro techniques is Ryan Nangle’s channel.
  • 26:59 When it’s Netflix time, Jarod wisely tunes in to whatever his wife is watching. Right now, that’s Orange is the New Black.
  • 27:37 – We sign off on the conversation, and Jarod gives us the best ways to contact him. See above for details!

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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 36: Andi McNair

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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 34 – Sarah Johnson

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SARAH JOHNSON is an author, speaker, and consultant in the areas of instructional leadership and personal-professional balance. With experience as an English teacher and principal, she likes to laugh, sing, and makes a habit of running every day. She is a co-author of Balance Like a Pirate: Going Beyond Work-Life Balance to Ignite Passion and Thrive as an Educator. Her mission? Helping educators thrive at work, home, and life.

In this conversation, Sarah describes the main message and heart of her book, which describes her experience and the lessons she’s learned from living out of balance as a school principal. She talks about the personal passions and practices that support her self-care and growth today, and offers some great recommendations for books to read, Twitter accounts to follow, and more.

Follow Sarah on these great platforms:

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below.

  • 1:17 – Sarah describes her current context in education: speaker, consultant, and author living in NW Wisconsin after a career in education as a teacher and principal.
  • 3:02 – The heart and message to educators in Balance Like a Pirate. Instead of the popular 50-50 work-life concept, Sarah urges educators to think of balance in four quadrants: personal, professional, positional, and passions.
  • 6:03 – Sarah recalls a particularly low moment in her education career, and explains how she was able to move through this experience.
  • 9:13 – What really excites Sarah about education today: the incredible opportunities for authentic collaboration and creation (for students and educators).
  • 11:15 – Rise: Sarah’s ongoing personal commitment to learn how to live the most purpose-driven life possible (in part, by listening and journaling every day). Another serious passion is education around mental health and suicide awareness.
  • 13:23 – A personal habit that contributes to her success is running every single day. She has not missed a day since July 11, 2014!
  • 15:47 – Sarah’s recommendation for educators on Twitter is @BethHill2829 (Bethany Hill of #JoyfulLeaders fame).
  • 16:42 – It’s been around for a while, but Sarah’s favorite edtech tool is still Google Docs. She even used Google Docs to collaborate with her co-authors on Balance Like a Pirate!
  • 17:23 – Her book recommendation is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (@ParsOpercularis) and of course anything written by Brene Brown (@BreneBrown).
  • 18:39 – Favorite podcast? For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (@JenHatmaker)
  • 19:17 – We review the best ways to follow Sarah online and receive more of her content. 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 32 – Jeff Bradbury

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JEFF BRADBURY has been recognized as an ASCD Emerging Leader, Google Certified Teacher and Trainer, and digital innovator. The founder of TeacherCast.net, Jeff has spoken at TEDx and other conferences, provides training and consulting for educators across the United States, and currently produces ten regular educational podcasts. Simply put, there aren’t many figures in the world producing more resources for educators than Jeff.

In this episode, Jeff talks podcasting, ISTE, funding models for content creators, the Twitter algorithm, how to build a PLN, learning management systems, personal branding, and more. When it comes to creating education content, Jeff advises, make it from a place of personal passion and you’ll never get bored.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @TeacherCast, visit TeacherCast.net to access all of Jeff’s podcasts and instructional resources, and subscribe to Jeff’s Youtube channel.

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below.

  • 0:55 – Jeff tells the story of how he got started with the TeacherCast network seven years ago.
    2:06 – The three areas of focus for TeacherCast: instructional technology, STEM education, and leadership.
    3:40 – I ask Jeff to give us a quick tour of his ten education podcasts.
    5:59 – When it comes to high-powered edtech conferences like ISTE, how do we separate glitter from substance?
    7:32 – Jeff shares about his passion for instructional coaching.
    9:17 – Instead of charging up front for his educational content, Jeff enjoys sharing as much as possible for free and then walking through doors that open for him as a result.
    12:27 – Where should teachers go to start building a PLN? How does Twitter serve educators differently than it did five years ago? Jeff also points new educators to conferences, EdCamps, and TeachMeets as other places to network.
    14:28 – We dive deeper into Twitter’s algorithm and talk about the user experience it creates.
    19:49 – Areas of passion and learning for Jeff this summer: questions around Learning Management Systems, Student Information Systems, and observing his children as they learn to read.
    23:40 – Talking LMSs: Schoology, Google Classroom, FreshGrade, Seesaw, Canvas, etc.
    26:10 – Jeff on building a personal brand and producing online content: make it for yourself and you’ll never get bored. Follow your own passions and questions.
    33:14 – The best ways to follow Jeff and find more of his great content for educators: visit TeacherCast.net and follow him on Twitter @TeacherCast.

SUBSCRIBE to the Teachers on Fire podcast on your mobile device: iTunes | Google Podcasts | YouTube

FOLLOW Teachers on Fire on Twitter: @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!