Episode 60: AJ Bianco

60 - AJ Bianco

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AJ BIANCO is a husband, father of two boys, aspiring leader, and middle school teacher at Harrington Park School in Bergen County, NJ. A fan of the flipped classroom and blended learning, AJ is also a co-host of another great education podcast called Podcast PD.

Follow AJ online here:

Episode Summary

AJ is currently a 7th-8th grade Social Studies teacher at Harrington Park School in Bergen County, New Jersey. His classroom is student-centered, flipped, blended, personalized, and he enjoys making the learning experiences as authentic as possible.

In general, AJ says that the lowest moments in his professional journey boil down to rejection. One example of this comes from his first five years of teaching, when his district repeatedly moved him due to budget cuts. After being split between two different high schools in year five, he was almost ready to quit the profession completely. One of the things that he credits for restoring his hope and faith in the education career was the PLN that he found on Twitter. Once he started connecting with other passionate educators, he was inspired to reimagine his practice and redefine his trajectory.

AJ recalls the beginnings of #PodcastPD, the podcast he co-hosts with Stacey Lindes and Chris Nesi. Stacey had been using the hashtag on Twitter for some time when Chris Nesi suggested they use the name as a title for a podcast show. The three co-hosts are all about “Anytime, anywhere professional development.” The show keeps it real, and the hosts include a good mix of humor, pop culture, and real life in the show content.

When he looks around at education today, AJ gets excited about the ways that educators are sharing their voices, ideas, and experiences authentically with others. Teachers aren’t afraid anymore — instead, they’re taking more risks and their practice is more inspired. Today’s classroom has come so far from the passive compliance of the classrooms we grew up in.

When asked about a current professional goal, AJ talks about his commitment to learning more about what leadership looks like in education. He’s reading, watching, and listening to whatever he can on the subject.

AJ’s primary passion outside of the classroom is his boys. He currently has two with a third on the way, and it’s a thrill to be involved in their development and play a part in their learning. Second to his boys, AJ is also a big sports fan and superhero aficionado.

AJ’s productivity stems from his competitive nature. Wherever he applies himself, he wants his work to be the best.

He’s got two Twitter recommendations, and they’re both amazing educators hailing from the New Jersey area. The first is @RichHayzler and the second is @Kevin_Carroll_.

Two edtech tools that AJ recommends trying out are Adobe Spark Video and Adobe Spark Post. Follow these apps on Twitter @AdobeSpark and @AdobePost.

AJ’s book recommendation is The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon. Follow the author at @JonGordon11.

If you’re looking to add another great education podcast to your commute, check out The Leader of Learning Podcast by @DKreiness.

On YouTube, AJ suggests subscribing to How it Should Have Ended, a fun channel that reimagines the endings to popular movies.

When he’s got no energy left for anything else productive, AJ’s watching Daredevil on Netflix.

We sign off on our conversation, and AJ tells us the best places to find him and follow his content online. Find AJ on Twitter @AJBianco and on Instagram @AJBianco.

For more from AJ Bianco, follow him online here:

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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 32: Jeff Bradbury

32 - Jeff Bradbury

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)

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Episode 30: Nicholas Amaral

30 - Nick Amaral

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Nicholas Amaral is the district staff development coordinator at the Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District in Bergen County, NJ. Nick’s passion is education technology: helping teachers help students create and innovate in their classrooms.

In our conversation, Nick shares about a point early in his teaching career when he faced deep discouragement and a lack of motivation. Rather than turn in the towel, he doubled down, reinvented his practice, and engaged his learners like never before. Today, Nick gets excited about blended, personalized, and mastery learning, and he describes the personal habit that energizes him outside of education. Don’t miss his recommendations in books, Twitter, edtech tools, and more!

Follow Nick on Twitter @NAmaralEDU and check out his blog over at https://edtechforay.wordpress.com/.

TIMESTAMPS. In this episode, Nick discusses …

  • 0:51 – his current context in education as a staff development coordinator
  • 1:26 – the experience of hitting an emotional wall in his third or fourth year of teaching, and how he overcame it
  • 4:13 – what ignites his passion for education: seeing the effects of blended, personalized, and mastery learning; shifting the emphasis from content to skills
  • 6:02 – a passion and area of learning outside of education: music
  • 6:46 – a personal habit that contributes to his success: being vulnerable, embracing failure, remaining down to earth
  • 8:55 – his Twitter recommendations: Chris Aviles (@TechedUpTeacher) and Jeffrey Bradbury (@TeacherCast)
  • 9:57 – his choice for learning management systems: Schoology (@Schoology)
  • 11:18 – a book recommendation: How We Learn by Benedict Carey (@BenCareyNYT)
  • 12:03 – his relaxation viewing content right now: Lost in Space, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Fall
  • 12:31 – the best ways to follow his content online (see above)

Song Track Credits

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

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Episode 24: Christopher Nesi

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24 - Chris Nesi

Christopher J. Nesi teaches 9th grade history at New Brunswick High School and is a Professor of Communications at Rutgers University. He also hosts the House of EdTech and Podcast PD podcasts and operates the Education Podcast Network.

In our conversation, Chris shares his passion to see educators and learners of all ages take up the endeavor of creative work. “You don’t have to share it with the world … but just create – you never know what’s going to happen when you create something that didn’t exist before you tried it,” he says. Chris also shares a personal habit that contributes to his success and gives us some awesome recommendations for accounts to follow on Twitter, the best maker channels to subscribe to on YouTube, books to read, and more.

Find more of Chris’s content on these great platforms:

In this episode, Chris discusses …

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!