Episode 85 – Andrew Milne

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Meet Andrew Milne

ANDY MILNE is a charismatic PE educator who has hopped the pond from London to Chicago! He’s also a speaker, blogger, and was named 2017 Health Ed Teacher of the Year. 

Today, he’s thrilled to serve at his dream school, a high school located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with 4,000 students spread out over two campuses. It’s Andy’s sixth school and his 23rd year of teaching, and he finally feels like he’s found his sweet spot.

He serves on a fantastic team of 36 PE and dance teachers, with three former national Teachers of the Year and several former state Teachers of the Year. His students are motivated to succeed in every area of studies, and Andy enjoys the support of visionary administrators who cultivate a culture of yes and encourage positive risk-taking on the part of their teachers.

Leaving the Profession

Seven years into his career and at his second teaching position, Andy started to feel jaded. He was seeing things he wasn’t happy with, a mentor had moved away, he was overlooked for a promotion, and he was starting to lose some of his fire.

Eventually, he decided to leave education and take a job in a completely different industry. Once there, however, he quickly started to realize that education was his truest passion and highest calling. He returned to education after about 18 months away, and he’s never looked back.

How to Bring More Energy, Creativity, and Empathy Into Your Practice

When it comes to bringing energy to the classroom, Andy turns to a book called The Kinesthetic Classroom. Get kids moving, because movement is engagement. Remember to send more oxygen to our students’ brains by prompting them to physically move around the room whenever possible, he advises. Another favorite activity is sending students on a walk & talk, which can be a powerful exercise in reflection and reinforcement of learning.

When he thinks of creativity, he urges educators to see the world through the lens of their classroom. Model your passions for your learners whenever possible. When students start to see the world through your lens, you’ve helped them reimagine their world and increase awareness of the opportunities for learning around them.

On building a culture of empathy in our classrooms, Andy says we need to listen to our learners – REALLY listen to them. When we care about our learners not as students for a time but as human beings preparing for life, we’re giving them the armor and weapons that they will need to take on all the challenges and decisions they will face in the years to come.

Mobile Devices and Wellness

Andy works in a school with a 1:1 iPad policy, but devices don’t need to be used in every setting and learning activity. We need to model and support the sort of mindful device management that recognizes times when devices are not helpful. As educators, we also need to include students in self-reflective processes and activities that help them to analyze their own digital habits and adjust accordingly.

Parents can and should actively support their children with device management as well. Sometimes, this might look like parking all devices in main living areas overnight or turning the household wifi off at a given time every evening.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Education

Andy is energized by the conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion that only seem to be gaining steam on Twitter and in other professional circles. Hashtags like #EduColor, #CleartheAir, and #HipHopEd have offered a steady stream of provocative questions, ideas to consider, books to check out, and educators to follow.

A Professional Project on the Go

Andy is currently developing a walking curriculum. He is passionate about all facets of walking: stress relief, pacing, breathing, heart rate, blue minds theory, and engagement with nature. He’s been reading Born to Walk (by Dan Rubenstein) and other titles by authors who are shining light on the connections between walking outdoors and cognitive activity.

Becoming

Everything Andy does is about BECOMING. He’s becoming a better husband, a better father, and a better person. That’s his passion: becoming better in every part of his life, little by little.

A Timeless Productivity Hack

Andy read Dr. Matthew Walker’s book, Why We Sleep, and it’s completely revolutionized his view of sleep. It’s the no. 1 life hack! Sleep has to be a non-negotiable for us as professionals and for our learners as well.

His ideal sleep quota is eight hours a night, although he admits that doesn’t always happen. His alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m. every morning, so he tries to get to bed by 9 each night. He keeps devices out of the room, makes sure the temperature is cool, and draws the blinds tight to make his bedroom as dark as possible.

Voices and Resources that Shape His Practice and Inspire His Thinking

Over on Twitter, Andy recommends following @MrPranPatel, who has been boldly leading conversations around diversity and equity in education in the UK.

Two of Andy’s favorite edtech tools are Canva, a powerful design creation tool, and Calm, one of the best meditation and mindfulness apps available today. Teachers are entitled to a free account on Calm! Check out this link to learn more.

Andy’s two book picks are Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brene Brown and White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo.

If you’re looking for some interesting history content to complement the Teachers on Fire podcast, Andy suggests checking out The Chernobyl Podcast, an HBO special. In it, the producers take a close look at all of the events surrounding the world’s most famous nuclear meltdown.

Andy’s not really a YouTube subscribing type, but he’s sure thankful that YouTube satisfies his need for 80s soul music. On Netflix, a fun series that takes him back to his homeland is Turn Up Charlie. Check it out!

We sign off on this conversation, and Andy lets us know the best places to connect with him online. See below for links and details.

Connect with Andy:

Subscribe to the Teachers on Fire podcast on your mobile device.

iTunes | Google Podcasts | Spotify

Follow the Teachers on Fire podcast on social media.

Song Track Credits

Listen on YouTube and subscribe to the Teachers on Fire channel.

Episode 72 – Tisha Richmond

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Meet Our Guest

TISHA RICHMOND is a Technology Integration Specialist serving 19 schools in Medford, Oregon. She’s also a speaker and author of Make Learning Magical: Transform Your Teaching and Create Unforgettable Experiences in Your Classroom.

From Misery to Magic

In 2014, Tisha was at a real low point as an educator. She was frustrated, tired, and dreamed of becoming a barista. A sign in her classroom spoke as a silent reminder: “Above all, have a good time.” But the good times seemed elusive, and she found herself struggling to find joy in her work.

When the culinary teachers in her district first adopted iPads, she was skeptical at first, but after attending iPadpalooza and seeing what educators were doing with technology, her imagination was captured. She went all in on iPad integration in her classroom, utilizing Google Classroom, iMovie, app smashing, green screens, and other strategies to allow students to demonstrate understanding and elevate their learning.

Her passion for the profession was completely rekindled. The magic was back.

The Heart of Make Learning Magical

Make Learning Magical starts from the incredible transformation Tisha experienced in her own practice. She wants educators everywhere to know that no matter how long you’ve been in the classroom, magical learning experiences are still possible.

In her book, Tisha makes MAGICAL an acronym for the factors that bring the magic to your practice:

  • M – Meaningful Beginnings
  • A – Authenticity and Agency
  • G – Gamified Experiences
  • I – Innovation
  • C – Creativity and Collaboration
  • A – Authentic Audience
  • L – Legacy.

To the last point on legacy, Tisha recounts some memories from a teacher that was instrumental in her own life and urges educators to create experiences that will cause students to want to continue learning long after they leave our classrooms.

Breakout EDU

Breakout EDU, one of Tisha’s latest passions, involves games of logic and problem-solving that groups of students (or educators) can play together. Think of an escape room – but instead of trying to get out of a place, participants try to unlock special containers using provided clues. Tisha has been thoroughly impressed by the level of immersion she’s seen from students: they’re all in, enthusiastic, excited, collaborating, and relishing the productive struggle.

Education Today & Professional Goals

Tisha is thrilled by the opportunities that our learners have for authentic global collaboration today. She shares a recent joint effort between culinary and design classes who were able to team up on a project from different parts of the country.

Tisha is keen on learning more about augmented and virtual reality, but when it comes to technology in education she is just hungry to learn wherever she can. She wants to serve the educators in her district well, and that means creating professional development opportunities that are personalized and meet the needs of every educator. She will continue to speak and write – two of her passions – and she’s recently been accepted into a class that will equip her to build her own BreakoutEDU games.

Other Passions and Productivity Habits

Outside of education, one of Tisha’s chief passions is design – especially interior design. Along the same theme, she really enjoys the creative process, including calligraphy, sketchnoting, hand lettering, and graphic design. Many years ago, she wouldn’t have considered herself a “creative,” but she’s really enjoyed getting in touch with this side of herself in recent years.

Exercise and running are key in terms of clearing her head and improving her focus. These activities give her those opportunities to process, and they seem to lead to some of her best creative breakthroughs. Writing has also become a foundational habit in terms of reflecting and processing her thoughts.

Voices & Resources That Inspire Tisha’s Professional Practice

Looking to strengthen your PLN on Twitter? Tisha recommends following @TamaraLetter and @SixthIsGoal.

The edtech tools Tisha sees being put to best use in the classroom these days include Canva, Pear Deck , and FlipGrid.

Two books deserve the most credit for reviving Tisha’s practice and revolutionizing her perspectives on education. They are Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess and Explore Like a Pirate by Michael Matera. Follow these two awesome authors on Twitter at @BurgessDave and @MrMatera.

In  educational podcasts, Tisha’s tuned in to The Google Teacher Tribe Podcast with Kasey Bell and Matt Miller, Cult of Pedagogy with Jennifer Gonzales, and Well Played with Michael Matera.

Over on YouTube, Tisha points to sketchnoter Carrie Baughcum. Follow Carrie on Twitter @HeckAwesome to see more of what she’s all about.

Though she claims not to be able to sing herself, Tisha is digging a show called The Masked Singer in her free time.

See More From Tisha

We sign off on this magical conversation, and Tisha reminds us of the best ways to connect with her and learn together online. Get connected!

Subscribe to the Teachers on Fire podcast on your mobile device.

iTunes | Google Podcasts | Spotify

Follow the Teachers on Fire podcast on social media.

Song Track Credits

Listen on YouTube and subscribe to the Teachers on Fire channel.

Episode 28 – Jordan Potrzeba

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Jordan Potrzeba is a 4th grade teacher at Walter Caldwell Elementary School in Auburndale, FL.

Imagine being told by your principal in your first year of teaching that you were different and didn’t belong. After experiencing just that, Jordan moved from Nebraska to Florida, where he found a school that welcomes his energy, ideas, and unique personality. In our conversation, Jordan shares about his passion to see teachers grow, share, be vulnerable, and take risks. He also describes how travel and music enrich his life, and offers some great recommendations around books to read, Twitter accounts to follow, a great YouTube channel to subscribe to, and more.

Follow Jordan Potrzeba on Twitter and Instagram @JordanPotrzeba, and check out his reflections on education at https://bloggingjungle.blogspot.com/.

TIMESTAMPS. In this episode, Jordan discusses …

  • 0:58 – his teaching situation: 4th grade teacher at Walter Caldwell Elementary in Auburndale, FL
  • 2:10 – a low moment in his career: being told by an administrator in his first year of teaching that he was different and didn’t fit in
  • 7:45 – what gets him excited about education today: seeing teachers stand up, share their voice, be vulnerable, and regain their passion
  • 12:22 – another area of personal passion and learning: travel
  • 13:36 – a personal habit that contributes to his success: listening to music no matter what the context, dancing when possible
  • 15:23 – two accounts we need to follow on Twitter: Nicole Taylor (@GuysBride) and Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd), co-author of the new Sparks in the Dark
  • 16:34 – his favourite edtech tools: Nearpod (@Nearpod) and FlipGrid (@FlipGrid)
  • 19:21 – two book recommendations: Refugee by Alan Gratz (@AlanGratz) and Play Like a Pirate by Quinn Rollins (@jedikermit)
  • 20:36 – a YouTube channel pick that works well in elementary Math classrooms: NumberRock Math Songs
  • 22:44 – his go-to on Netflix (even though he’s currently not a subscriber): The Office
  • 23:23 – 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!

Episode 23 – Danielle Peters

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DANIELLE PETERS is an elementary teacher at Westerman Elementary School in Surrey, BC, Canada. Recently completing her Master’s in Ed. Tech., Danielle is passionate about helping kids learn, create, and innovate using technology.

In our conversation, Danielle talks about how team teaching allows her to better meet the social-emotional needs of her learners and grow from her colleague’s perspectives each day. She describes how her third graders are using green screens and stop motion to make stories come alive, and explains how she combines her loves of book reading and photography to produce beautiful book reviews. Finally, Danielle gives us some great recommendations for books to read, Twitter accounts to follow, a YouTube channel to subscribe to, and more.

You’ll find more of Danielle’s content on these great platforms:

In this episode, Danielle discusses …

  • 0:56 – how she team teaches 42 3rd graders
  • 2:58 – how team teaching helps her meet the social-emotional needs of her learners
  • 5:07 – what lights her passion for education: the amazing possibilities for learning enabled by new technologies in the classroom
  • 7:12 – a personal passion outside of the classroom: book reviews and photography
  • 9:25 – the importance of building a strong network of educators, and the role of critical friends
  • 11:52 – educators to follow on Twitter: Karen Fadum (@MrsFadum) and Curtis Wiebe (@DivisionW)
  • 12:36 – what her students are currently creating: stop motion videos
  • 13:47 – a book recommendation: Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student (by John Spencer and A J Juliani)
  • 14:19 – podcasts to check out: Serial (a crime series) and TED Talks
  • 14:51 – a great YouTube resource for the English classroom: Flocabulary
  • 15:44 – what she’s watching on Netflix: Evil Genius and Black Mirror
  • 16:23 – the best ways to follow her (see links above this section)

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 8 – Steve Lai

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STEVE LAI is a primary French teacher at Richmond Christian School in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, and author of teachingwithipad.org.

In this interview, Steve talks about Apple’s new iPad for Education and what it means for educators. He also shares some great edtech tools, strategies, and encouragement for teachers looking to grow, and gives us his recommendations for books, podcasts, Netflix, and more.

Follow Steve on Twitter @sly111, Instagram @ipad_gadgets, on Facebook at TeachingWithiPad.org and of course on his blog at teachingwithipad.org.

In this episode, Steve discusses …

  • 1:11 – his current teaching situation
  • 1:53 – a challenging experience early in his career
  • 4:31 – what excites him about education today
  • 8:50 – a simple habit that works well in the classroom
  • 10:47 – his favourite edtech tools at the moment
  • 15:24 – a book recommendation (Sketchnote for Educators, by Sylvia Duckworth)
  • 16:52 – a podcast recommendation (After Buzz TV)
  • 18:14 – what he might do if he wasn’t teaching
  • 19:27 – a Netflix recommendation (The Layover)

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!