Episode 103 – Lisa Johnson

103 - Lisa Johnson

Meet Lisa Johnson

LISA JOHNSON is an educator by day, blogger by night, and the author of Creatively Productive: Essential Skills for Tackling Time Wasters, Clearing the Clutter, and Succeeding in School—and Life.

She loves everything in Austin, Texas – except the heat! You’ll find her at Westlake High School, which serves almost 3,000 students with 220 teachers on staff. Her role has evolved from an educational technologist to a merged position that now includes curriculum specialist. Today, she works with a partner to support English and science instruction, and she also offers a range of services and seminars to students and parents related to all things digital.

When Content Creation is Seen as a Threat

Earlier in her career, Lisa was working for a different district and wanted to have a way to share and archive her thoughts, ideas, and lessons that she was developing for other educators. She was also concerned that if she ever left the district, everything she was creating and sharing would not only be gone for her but for everyone else that had enjoyed her resources outside of the school.

She eventually started her own blog, TechChef4U, and launched a podcast to support commuting teachers. In addition, she began to seriously build her professional learning network by connecting with like-minded educators on Twitter and on other platforms.

Eventually, Lisa was called in to visit the district office and was questioned about her blog and her loyalty to the district. She remembers being taken aback by the questions because all she wanted to do was support innovation and push boundaries in education.

Unfortunately, her blog activities didn’t sit well with this district, and she started looking for another job that summer. It wasn’t her intention to leave the district and uproot her family, but at some point, she says, you have to find your tribe – educators who share your goals, values, and vision for learning.

When she found her current district, she found people like her – people that wanted to innovate, push boundaries, ask questions and thrive. She’s thankful for an amazing team at her high school and an awesome principal that really values the work she does and lets teachers have the autonomy they need to lead and help others grow.

The Heart and Mission of Creatively Productive

Creatively Productive by Lisa Johnson

Lisa’s heart and mission has always been to create thoughtful and practical content for teachers that they can use immediately with their students. She loves working with secondary students and staff, and believes it is really important to focus on college and career readiness skills. Lisa has also been a keen observer of secondary school life has noticed some trends and needs over the past 7-8 years. Many of these trends and needs are addressed in this book.

Lisa is often asked to create, share, and teach content that relates to self-management and executive functioning skills, including note-taking, digital organization, goal-setting, habit tracking, and time management – twenty-first century skills that students need to thrive in high school and throughout their lives. She has also been working with librarians and the campuses across her school to do lunch-and-learns for students in order to support them regarding these topics and tools.

Instead of hoarding resources, Lisa has always wanted to curate and share with the greater edusphere. Rather than dump a bunch of one-size-fits-all formulas, her goal for Creatively Productive was to put together a selection of recipes that might inspire learners and educators from all contexts to adopt and adjust for their own purposes. This book represents more than just “Lisa’s thoughts on productivity” – it’s a practical playbook of suggested solutions and resources that come from the practical challenges and experiences that she has encountered in contexts of learning.

What Else Sets Lisa on 🔥 in Education

When her head isn’t in spaces of creativity, productivity, and time management, Lisa is thinking about digital literacy. Lately, she’s been reminded of the importance of thoughtful sharing and posting.

As educators, we’ve been saying it for what seems like forever, but our students need frequent reminders that the internet never forgets. We do our learners a huge service when we impress on them the need for awareness and sensitivity to the perceptions of others. The goal here is not to hide core identities and values as much as it is to consider the long-term implications of our content. How could this post affect my options in the future?

A Personal Passion with Application in Education

Lisa loves her reader’s notebook and credits it with helping her grow as a professional. She finds it cathartic to reflect on what she’s been reading and feels like she retains more ideas and information by adding to it frequently. Most importantly, her reader’s notebook also enables her to apply resonating content directly into her practice. She used to just shelve books without sharing what she was reading, but the reader’s notebook has forced her to slow down, process, apply, and share with others.

Her reader’s notebook routine includes trying to reproduce a version of the cover of the book she’s reading, collecting ephemera related to the book, writing a lexicon library of words and phrases, highlighting great quotes, and collecting points to consider or investigate further.

Lisa’s Favorite Productivity Tool: Passion Planners

Passion Planner“If I didn’t have my passion planner, I might as well not get out of bed,” Lisa laughs. Her Passion Planner is home to all her lists, priorities, ideas, and creative thinking throughout the day. She recently shared a video walkthrough of her Passion Planner that highlighted the tools she uses, including macro and micro lists (check it out on Instagram). She also loves her Polaroid Zip printer which prints photos on sticky backs, allowing her to savor the highlights from each week in scrapbook fashion.

Voices & Resources That Influence Lisa’s Thinking

Over on Twitter, Lisa recommends following Julie Smith @JGTechieTeacher, a reliable source of great edtech ideas and solutions for the classroom.

One handy edtech tool that supports student voice in the classroom is an iOS app called Equity Maps. The app helps teachers track who speaks in a discussion, for how long, who doesn’t speak, who interrupts, and so on. Follow the app’s maker, Dave Nelson, on Twitter @EquityMaps.

Lisa is all about mixing in some juicy fiction with her education and technology reading, and she’s got a couple of strong recommendations to share here. The first is Verity, written by Colleen Hoover, and the second is After: The After Series, Book 1 by Anna Todd. Both writers have shot into stardom fairly quickly, and Lisa was privileged to meet both of them in person at a recent Book Bonanza event in Dallas.

As for podcasts, Lisa shares two picks: Change the Narrative by Michael Hernandez, and The Shake Up Learning Show with the legendary Kasey Bell

Sticking with the Passion Planner theme, when Lisa is on YouTube she is checking in with the Passion Planner channel

And finally, just for fun: when Lisa finds time for Netflix, she’s tuning into shows about women who do things differently! Her first shoutout goes to GLOW and the second to Working Moms.

We sign off on this fun conversation, and Lisa gives us the best ways to reach out to her. See below for details!

You can connect with Lisa …

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Song Track Credits

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Episode 95 – Justin Belt

95 - Justin Belt.png

Meet Justin Belt

JUSTIN BELT is a husband, father of five, and teacher of thousands! He’s an aspiring leader, innovator, musician, and part of our great writing team over at the Teachers on Fire Magazine on Medium. Last but not least, Justin is the host and producer of The WHYcast, a podcast about finding and clarifying your WHY.

This summer, Justin moved his family from Joplin, Missouri to Frisco, Texas after teaching in Joplin for thirteen years. He’s set to teach English courses at a high school in the town of Carrolton, TX and excited to connect with his new community.

When Relationships Don’t Come Easily

Justin calls his last school year the hardest of his career. He admits quite candidly that it was a challenge to connect with some of his students. As always, he had some students who had positive attitudes and were good at playing the game of school. But others seemed apathetic and unmotivated, and it proved very difficult to reach them.

After serious professional conversations and extended self-reflection, he learned to treat this class and these students in unique ways. He worked hard to put aside all expectations and assumptions and worked tirelessly to better understand and connect with these learners. He experienced some measure of success, and by year’s end, he was genuinely saddened to part ways with these students.

One of the keys to building relationships well, Justin has found, comes from postponing lesson plans when needed and simply talking with the students about whatever is pressing at the moment. When anxieties and other emotions reign supreme and unheard in the context of the classroom, trust isn’t built, relationships can’t form, and learning doesn’t happen.

The WHY Behind The WhyCast

Justin is tireless in his efforts to coax students into expressing their student voice with confidence, so he figured he needed to lead the way by sharing his message first.

“At my heart, I’m an encourager of people,” Justin says. “I like to find the best parts in people, speak to that, and encourage them to bring that out and share it with the world … My purpose is to encourage, to inspire, to motivate others. I want people to find their why, that burning thing within them that won’t let them rest, that pushes them to do great things in their communities.”

When we can access our inner WHY, then everything that we do in the school building takes on greater significance. This podcast has been great for him personally, says Justin, because as he listens to the inner purpose of others it helps to affirm and clarify his own why. 

Thinking About Podcasting? Just DO It.

Justin’s advice to other educators looking to begin podcasting? Just do it. “Don’t worry about the quality of the equipment that you have, don’t worry about having the most polished or put-together script — just do it,” Justin urges.

He talks about his humble beginnings on The WhyCast and his commitment to just podcast with whatever resources he has available. To anyone who is out there thinking about doing a podcast, you’ve got a story inside of you that the world needs to hear, he says. It’s embedded inside of you, so even if you’re recording from your phone, just do it and get it out there.

As you podcast more and more, your resources and expertise will inevitably grow. But they’ll never have a chance to improve if you don’t start.

What’s Setting Justin on 🔥 in Education Today

What sets Justin on fire in education today is the absolute dedication of teachers and administrators to building relationships — not just teacher-student relationships but administrator-teacher relationships as well. Aside from the SEL and PBL and Genius Hour and all the other exciting movements in education today, he is thrilled when he sees the lengths that education leaders are going to invest in their communities.

Learning standards are important but remain secondary, because kids won’t strive to learn when they don’t believe that we believe in them. Giving student choice and voice are important moves precisely because they signal to students that we value them.

A Professional Goal for 2019-2020

Besides building relationships, Justin wants to understand the curriculum sufficiently to tailor it to his students’ goals and interests. Taking prescribed standards and reconstructing them in ways that resonate for him and his learners is critical, and that will be his primary goal going into this school year.

Personal Passions Outside of the Classroom

Personal passions that bring Justin alive outside of education include connecting with his family, music, writing, and cooking. He was classically trained in music and earned a degree in vocal performance. He’s even performed as an opera singer overseas, and music remains a huge part of who he is.

Writing is another joy, and although this summer has knocked him temporarily out of his groove, he looks forward to getting back to it. He’s also a huge foodie, and relies on cooking as a method of decompression at the end of the school day.

Voices & Resources That Inspire His Thinking & Practice

Over on Twitter, Justin is gaining inspiration from @TheWrightLeader and @EricThomasBTC. Both are worth a follow, and Vernon Wright has agreed to appear on Teachers on Fire in a future episode.

When asked to recommend an edtech tool, Justin doesn’t hesitate to give the nod to FlipGrid. There are just SO many learning standards that this platform helps learners hit, from comprehension to analysis to oral communication. Flipgrid may be the very best tool for empowering student voice and choice, and it’s the tool most recommended by guests of this show. Follow Flipgrid on Twitter @FlipGrid

Hacking School DisciplineA book that has left a deep impression on Justin’s thinking this year is Hacking School Discipline: 9 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy and Responsibility Using Restorative Justice, by Nathan Maynard and Brad Weinstein. Follow these authors on Twitter @NMaynardEDU and @WeinsteinEDU.

After Teachers on Fire and The WhyCast, Justin has his podcast app tuned into DisruptEd TV Presents Dismissed with Jeremy Williams by @JWilliamsEDU. He’s also listening to Faculty Room by @Maire_from_NJ

On YouTube, Justin recommends subscribing to the prolific education thinker and animator, John Spencer. Check his channel at John Spencer and follow him on Twitter @SpencerIdeas

The Netflix series that has offered the right mix of entertainment and nostalgia for Justin this summer has been Stranger Things 3.

We wrap up this great conversation, and Justin gives us the best ways to connect with him online. See below for details.

Connect with Justin:

Sponsoring This Episode: Classtime

This episode is brought to you by Classtime.com, an assessment platform that delivers learning insights, giving you more time to teach.

Classtime.com helps you gain immediate visibility of your students’ learning progress, build engaging lessons, share with other teachers, and create your own tech-enabled questions to complement your lesson plans. Classtime.com also helps you engage all students with collaborative challenges & puzzles that make fun an integral part of the learning experience.

See what Classtime can do for your learners, and start your free trial at Classtime.com today!

Song Track Credits

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

Episode 61 – Chris Chappotin

61 - Chris Chappotin

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CHRIS CHAPPOTIN is the principal at Steam Middle School in Burleson, TX. He’s a husband, father, Engage 2 Learn Coach, certified Google educator, and big sports fan. He’s also a bit of a rapper as well.

Follow Chris:

*Watch his district’s music video parodies (in which Chris has played an instrumental part) and subscribe to the Burleson Independent School District YouTube channel.

Episode Summary

Chris is the principal at STEAM Middle School, a grade 6-8 campus in Burleson, Texas. He helped start the school in 2015, when he served as assistant principal. After leaving briefly to another school, he was blessed to be able to return and take on the principalship in January 2018. The school’s mantra is all about creating engaging learning through an instructional design process called Engage 2 Learn.

His greatest struggles have related to questions of identity. At times, you wonder as an educator leader if you are having a positive impact, if you are properly equipped, and if you are making the right decisions. Often when you move into a new position you realize that you need to develop new skills sets. Learning to develop new skills in collaborative and authentic ways has been challenging for Chris at times, but the process has helped him gain confidence as a leader as well.

Lately, Chris has been diving into the work of the Visible Learning Institute, including John Hattie and Jenni Donohoo. When it comes to teacher efficacy, Chris asks himself if he is equipping and releasing his teachers to do great work, or if he is limiting them to the role of simply managing. He’s been asking these questions:

  • How are we developing teacher efficacy as a leadership team and throughout our staff?
  • Does the evidence show that our instructional designs and strategies are having the positive effects on student learning and achievement that we want to see?

Referring back to his work on instructional policy and teacher coaching, Chris seeks to grow as a leader. Better leadership means more effectiveness in his own work and also better support and empowerment for his teaching team.

Outside of education, Chris enjoys engagement with his family and community. It’s about strengthening relationships and serving people that he and his wife have known for many years. Chris is also a big sports fan, following the Cowboys and Mavericks closely.

Chris’s favorite edtech tools are the ones that facilitate strong professional conversations. Voxer is still his go-to platform for that purpose, but lately he’s also been looking at another Slack-like tool called Glip. Get to know both of these applications on Twitter @Glip and @Voxer.

On Twitter, Chris suggests following @ShannonKBuerk, CEO of Engage2Learn. In books, Chris points to Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant. Follow the author on Twitter @AdamMGrant.

As a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys and Mavericks, Chris is listening to Undisputed with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe and First Take. Follow these great sports shows on Twitter @Undisputed and @FirstTake.

Although Chris doesn’t subscribe to YouTube channels, he’s watched a lot of content from the Corwin Press channel. You can follow this publisher on Twitter @CorwinPress. And although Chris doesn’t promote his district’s parody music videos, he’s been a big part of their production. They’re pretty amazing! Check them out at the BurlesonISDTV channel.

It’s not on Netflix, but a show that Chris enjoys when he does get the opportunities to watch some video content is Manifest.

Follow Chris:

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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 44 – Joshua Stamper

44 - Joshua Stamper.png

JOSHUA STAMPER is an assistant principal, husband, father, blogger, and graphic artist in Frisco, TX. He’s also the host of Aspire: The Leadership Development Podcast. You’ll find his writing at https://joshstamper.blogspot.com/.

In our conversation, Josh discusses the mission and vision of his podcast on leadership in education, Aspire. He tells us why he’s excited about the incredible changes that have come to education in the last decade, pointing out that “But this is the way we’ve always done things” doesn’t fly anymore. He explains how his experience in graphic design contributes to his current work, and reminds us that school cultures aren’t built from behind desks. Finally, he gives us some great recommendations for books to read, Twitter personalities to follow, and more.

Follow Josh online here:

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 0:55 – Josh describes his current context in education: he’s been an assistant principal for five years and now serves in the Frisco Independent School District in Frisco, TX.
  • 1:21 – He recalls the time and energy spent learning the ropes of administration before being denied the opportunity he was hoping for. Later though, he was given a different administrative opportunity which ultimately became the best scenario possible.
  • 3:44 – Joshua tells the story of the Aspire: Leadership Development podcast, including his discovery of an incredible appetite for more sharing of stories, resources, and information among education administrators. Part of his vision for the podcast is to recover the positivity, excitement, and joy found in leadership roles in education.
  • 7:34 – Josh talks about some of the sources of his excitement in education today: the rapid changes we’ve seen in the last decade, the fact that educators are learning about other ways of learning and teaching, and the reality that “this is how we’ve always done it” doesn’t fly anymore. Today, education is clearly about the learners, about seeing the whole child in all of their emotional needs, and about growing the whole person (including restorative and trauma-informed practices).
  • 8:31 – Other areas of personal interest and learning include his love of graphic design and more recently the process of podcasting. If you haven’t seen his promotional materials for the Aspire podcast, his expertise in graphic design is easy to see.
  • 11:03 – In terms of personal habits and productivity, Josh focuses on putting the most important things first, being a present administrator, being in classes consistently, and interacting with students. Building relationships and positive school cultures can’t be done from behind a desk.
  • 12:15 – On Twitter, Josh recommends following @BarbaraGruener.
  • 13:12 – An edtech tool that is working well for Josh is Calendly.You can follow them on Twitter @Calendly.
  • 14:23 – His book pick is Be Real: Educate from the Heart by Tara Martin (@TaraMartinEDU).
  • 15:02 – As a podcaster himself, you know Josh’s podcast picks will be good. He mentions two: My Bad by Jon Harper (@JonHarper70bd) and the ShareMO Edu Podcast hosted by Dr. Rena Hawkins (@Renathunderhawk) and Eric Carlin (@Eric_Carlin).
  • 15:40 – His pick for YouTube channels is one produced by Todd Nesloney’s. Follow Todd on Twitter @TechNinjaTodd.
  • 16:28 – When the day is spent and energy wanes, Josh and his wife are watching reruns of a sitcom classic on Netflix: Frasier.
  • 17:04 – We sign off on the conversation, and Josh reminds us of the best ways to follow his content online. See above for the details!

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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 36: Andi McNair

36 - Andi McNair.png

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)

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