Episode 106 – Andrew Arevalo

106 - Andrew Arevalo.png

Meet Andrew Arevalo

ANDREW AREVALO is a 4th grade educator in the city of El Centro in southern California. He is a speaker, innovator, and game designer with passions for blended learning, design thinking, and gamification. He also has his Master’s degree in education and has been recognized as a CUE Emerging Teacher.

From Delight to Disappointment

Andrew experienced some adversity as recently as last year, when he finally worked up the courage to speak at a national education conference. He was absolutely delighted when his proposal was accepted, but that joy was quickly followed by disappointment when he learned that he would be docked pay for the missed day of school. Eventually, after encouragement and support from family and friends, he decided to sacrifice the income in order to attend the conference and speak.

The experience was absolutely worth it, igniting his passions further and connecting him with other inspiring voices in education. To other educators who face similar financial dilemmas, Andrew says “You’ve got to go for it. You just never know who you’re going to meet, who you’re going to meet, and who will inspire you.”

Like Father, Like Son

On July 7, 2019, Andrew tweeted this touching tribute to his father:

“First and foremost, I love my dad!” Andrew says. Greg Arevalo has generously served his community for decades, and he is well-known and loved by many as a result. It’s a tremendous legacy to step into, an honor that Andrew, his brother (a local high school principal), Andrew’s fiance, and his sister-in-law all carry with pride. Greg never pushed the path of education on his sons, but he quietly sold the profession by the joy that was so evident in his work and the growth he consistently witnessed in his learners.

How a Lost Pitch Event Led to a Game-Changing Opportunity

A few months ago, Andrew participated in a pitch event at the University of San Diego thanks to a connection with Lisa Dawley, Executive Director of the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education and someone Andrew calls an amazing soul. Andrew was pitching a model for personalized professional development in front of a Shark Tank-style panel of judges, and he followed acts like Sir Ken Robinsons and Dave Burgess.

Even though his pitch wasn’t selected as the winner, something very special came from the experience – he was invited to participate in an exclusive gathering of educators and intellectuals from all levels and contexts of education across America. The purpose of the gathering, held recently in New York City, was to support important conversations around some of the most pervasive problems and challenges that we face in education today. Andrew left the event completely invigorated and inspired by the expertise and vision shared by the other attendees. What he thought was a loss became a huge win.

What’s Setting Andrew on 🔥 in Education Today

Many of Andrew’s dearest passions continue to come directly from his own teaching practice and the activities happening right there in his classroom. Lately, his fourth graders have been developing future job titles and descriptions, university courses that will support these future jobs, buildings that will house and facilitate these future courses, and city infrastructures that could support the university campus with the sustainable development goals in mind.

Students are using cardboard and LEGO to build structure prototypes, and Andrew plans to record short day-in-the-life-of video presentations for each project that will be linked to unique QR codes, connecting parents with their child’s ideas and work.

A Professional Goal: More Reflection

One of the aspects that Andrew would like to strengthen in his professional practice is the reflective process. We’re all busy, we’re all moving fast, and too often we find it hard to find the time to give our professional projects and work the thoughtful analysis they deserve. Just as reflection and metacognition is valuable for our learners, these activities can’t help but make us better educators when we actually make the time to reflect. As he collects thoughts and impressions in a journal, they continue to inform and inspire his first book, another project that he can’t wait to share.

Personal Passions Away From Education

Andrew loves playing mobile games like Clash Royale, partly because they disconnect him and help him relax. Lately, he’s also enjoyed seeing an emerging trend of educators who game with their own children — a way that games can be used to strengthen family relationships.

A Productivity Habit: How can I make it better?

A go-to mindset that works for Andrew is to finish every project with the question of “How can I make it better?” Just as we discussed in the professional space, sound processes of reflection can make sure that we are constantly growing, evolving, and improving. Of course, the flip side of this question is “When is enough enough?” We have to balance that commitment of constant innovation with the need to let things go and simply move on.

Voices & Resources That Inspire Andrew’s Thinking

Over on Twitter, Andrew says you are simply missing out on life if you are not following @AnnKozma723. Ann is the Educator Innovation Lead at Flipgrid, and she brought nonstop ideas and inspiration when her Flipgrid team visited Andrew’s district recently.

For his edtech tool pick, Andrew is pointing out the Oculus Quest, an industry-leading VR set that is changing our understanding of what is possible in education.

Amina's Voice by Hena KhanIf a school day goes by and Andrew hasn’t read some of Amina’s Voice to his fourth graders, he hears about it! This book by Hena Khan unpacks identity, belonging, and purpose in clever and kid-friendly ways – a great addition to your classroom library.

Another education podcast that Andrew is digging is OnEducation, hosted by Mike Washburn and Glen Irvin – two educators who are passionate about changing the game and giving air time to real conversations in the education space. Follow the podcast on Twitter @OnEducationPod

For his YouTube channel recommendation, Andrew shouts out someone who he just happened to connect with at a coffee shop earlier this year. The channel is called Bernadette Teaches Music, and it’s hosted by a music teacher with international teaching experience. Follow her on Twitter @Ukuleleplazi

The last great content that Andrew watched on Netflix was The Game Changers, a documentary about vegans who have transformed their mindsets and their bodies to achieve seemingly impossible feats. As a former vegan himself, Andrew found their message interesting and inspiring.

We sign off on this fun conversation, and Andrew gives us the best ways to follow him and connect online. See below for details!

You can connect with Andrew …

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7 Ways to Use YouTube Better

Leverage these simple strategies to optimize this platform in your professional practice.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Even as the quality of content and variety of resources on YouTube continues to grow, many educators continue to under-utilize this platform. Here are seven strategies that just may rock your YouTube experience and help you receive more value there than ever before.

1. Sign in.

Signing into your Google account allows you to subscribe to channels, comment, share videos with friends within the platform, upload, track your viewing history (this can be super helpful), get better video recommendations, and basically do anything else that matters on the platform. Not signing in removes all of those options, and you’ll be stuck with trending video nonsense in your feed. Not helpful.

2. Subscribe.

Whenever I find a valuable video, I subscribe to the channel. It’s just a quick click, and it’s an easy way to follow the creator. As I continue to subscribe to channels over time, my feed gets smarter and the videos recommended to me are better tailored to my needs and interests. If you’re looking for some great education channels to subscribe to, check out this list, compiled by guests of the Teachers on Fire podcast.

3. Add to playlists.

No matter what your professional practice looks like, this is a valuable habit to get into. Whenever you find a video that’s helpful, add it to a playlist. Whether you choose to make each playlist public or private, creating a playlist is a great way to save and curate helpful content. Playlists also become a great way to share a series of videos with students or colleagues. If it’s the kind of video you might want to use again, add it to a playlist.

4. Add to the Watch Later list.

Watch Later is a built-in playlist that everyone has in their account. Any time you notice a video suggested in your main feed or sidebar and you think “I’d like to watch that at some point — but I have no time right now,” don’t let it get away. Select ‘Watch Later’ by clicking the clock icon that pops up in the top right corner of the video. There’s also a +Save button right below every playing video that allows you to save to the same list.

5. Like, comment, and engage with creators.

There are so many brave creators and educators out there who are working so hard to share their ideas and make inspiring content. Likes and comments are their oxygen, so if you have ten seconds to encourage a creator whose work you really enjoyed, do it. It’s also a great way to build new relationships with industry leaders and expand your PLN.

6. Use picture-in-picture.

Right-clicking any YouTube video opens up some snazzy options, including the ability to screencast to a projector or TV, loop, and shift to picture-in-picture. This lets you work away in Gmail, Docs, Classroom and the like while still keeping an eye on your content via a small window in the corner of your screen.

7. Sign in on your TV’s YouTube app.

This will give you access to all the same history, subscriptions, and playlists that you’ve carefully curated over time on your laptop, tablet, and phone. This is one more reason why my family recently ditched our cable subscription. YouTube (and Netflix, of course) have become our go-to sources for learning and entertainment. If the feed on your YouTube app is filled with trending nonsense, it isn’t YouTube’s fault. Once you sign in with your Google account, your curated subscriptions and playlists will show up right away.

It’s Time to Rock Your YouTube

YouTube is an awesome platform, and there’s no limit to the varieties and quality of content being added to the platform daily. Do yourself the favor of taking full advantage.
By leveraging these seven strategies, you’ll get more value from YouTube than you ever thought possible.