JENNIFER CASA-TODD is a mom, wife, teacher-librarian, speaker, coordinator for Google Educator Groups of Ontario, ISTE Librarians leader, and an @ONedSschat advisor. Jennifer is also the author of Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @JCasaTodd.
Jennifer was in her first year as a teacher-librarian (after serving as a literacy consultant), excited to be back in a school and eagerly building relationships with staff and students. After suffering a concussion, she was forced to battle depression and other concussion symptoms for the next ten months. Jennifer shares more about the challenges of this experience in Mandy Froehlich’s book, The Fire Within.
Jennifer credits (1) staying connected with other supportive educators on Voxer, (2) learning from a TED Talk about brain healing from Jane McGonigal, and (3) an app called Super Better as important factors in her recovery. Her battle with concussion symptoms has also given her more empathy for people suffering silent battles that don’t meet the eye.
The Mission of Social LEADia
Social LEADia actually began as a passion project. Jennifer didn’t expect to write a book, but after encouragement from George Couros she ended up speaking to a publisher about her vision, and the rest is history.
Part of her passion comes from the “ban and block” stance of many schools, which focuses more on preventing online activities instead of talking about how students and staff are using media positively.
In the words of George Couros, digital leadership is all about improving the lives, wellbeing, and circumstances of others. It’s time for schools to take another look at social media tools and start talking about how they can make learning come alive. As William Dwyer puts it, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
In addition to the power of social media tools to make a positive impact in the world, Social Leadia also looks at media literacy. Are we equipping our learners to be discerning consumers of online content? When it comes to personal branding, she pushes students to build “a brand of you” without losing authenticity or a sense of who they really are.
Jennifer is thrilled by the incredible possibilities in education today. Technology is enabling exciting global partnerships on meaningful, real-world projects like the Sustainable Development Goals and global book clubs.
Goals, Passions, and Productivity
In terms of a professional goal, Jennifer is taking the second semester off this year to focus on her Master’s thesis. She looks forward to once again becoming a full-time student and doing more of her own research on the relationships between social media and students today.
Outside of the school, Jennifer is a very social person. She’s plugged into a curling league, she connects regularly with friends to play cards, and she’s in three book clubs. Even when she doesn’t finish the books in her clubs, she values the relationships and connections fostered there.
Although she’s not the most organized person, Jennifer credits a strong work ethic and intense passion as the simple secret behind her professional work and success. Becoming a high-profile speaker and author isn’t about luck — it’s about sacrifice and commitment over time.
Voices & Resources That Inspire Her Professional Practice
On Twitter, Jennifer points not to one account but to one of the lists on her Twitter profile: Kids Who Inspire.
Her edtech recommendation is FlipGrid. Follow FlipGrid on Twitter @FlipGrid.
Jennifer’s book recommendation is Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. Follow the author on Twitter @AskPang.
Her podcast recommendation is VoicEd Radio, headed by Stephen Hurley. Follow Stephen on Twitter @Stephen_Hurley. Jennifer also hosts The Social Leadia podcast! Visit her podcast home and listen to her latest episodes at VoiceEd Radio.
Jen’s YouTube picks are Video Writing Prompts (with the very creative John Spencer) and Editing is Everything. Follow these channels and their hosts on Twitter @SpencerIdeas and @The_Real_Editor.
On Netflix, Jennifer and her family are watching How I Met Your Mother, which keeps them laughing partly due to the nostalgic Canadian references.
We sign off on our conversation, and Jennifer gives us the best ways to follow her online!
Follow Jennifer …
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.