100 – Celebrating 100 Episodes!

TOF100

Marking the Centennial Edition

In this special episode of the pod, long-time supporter of the podcast Bryon Carpenter (@BryonCar) takes over the microphone and interviews me, Tim Cavey, using the same questions I’ve used to interview my 99 previous guests. It’s a fun conversation and a great opportunity for me to reflect back on the Teachers on Fire journey.

My Current Role in Education

I am an 8th grade homeroom teacher at a middle school in Surrey, BC, Canada. I teach most subjects, including elective courses in Entrepreneurship and Media Arts – elective courses that allow me to share my passion for content creation.

House on Fire

Back in December of 2012 I found myself in a very challenging set of personal circumstances. I was renting a basement suite in Vancouver and going through a divorce when I received a text message one day while teaching. My landlord’s instruction simply said “Come home quick – the house is on fire!”

I came home to a burned out house and found myself temporarily homeless, with no family in the area. My colleagues were incredibly supportive during this time and a huge reason why I am where I am today, but I’ll never forget the experience of teaching a class of middle schoolers in the days and weeks that followed with so much emotional turmoil and personal chaos in the background. Teaching felt robotic, and it was hard to conjure up genuine emotion in the classroom.

As much as authenticity and transparency are important in our practice, we also need to be that source of warmth, love, and encouragement for our learners. That isn’t always easy – especially when chaos, pain, or upheaval reigns in our personal lives. The support of my colleagues during this period is a reminder that I need to check in regularly with the people around me, mindful of the fact that my colleagues are fighting battles that I know nothing about.

What Sets Me on 🔥 in Education Today

What really sets me on fire in education today is the opportunity of passing on my passion for content creation with my students. Whether it’s blogging, podcasting, photography, video production, or other forms of expression and communication, the age of the internet gives us all tremendous opportunities to represent our values and share what we are all about.

Our learners are all comfortable consumers, but what are they creating and contributing? How are they adding beauty and utility to the world? How are they launching their projects and learning in authentic ways? These are the questions that motivate me and guide my practice today.

The Teachers on Fire Origin Story

My journey with podcasting began over a decade ago. Some of my first podcasts included The Dave Ramsey Show, The Real Estate Guys, Stuff You Should Know, and Hockey Central at Noon. In more recent years, I also started to listen to business and entrepreneurship podcasts, including figures like Gary Vaynerchuk, Pat Flynn, and John Lee Dumas. These figures spoke regularly about the possibilities for creation and communication afforded by the internet, and as I listened to their conversations with entrepreneurs and business pioneers, I thought about how amazing it would be to feature educators in the same way.

Back in early 2018, I wasn’t seeing a whole lot of education podcasts in the iTunes store, so I decided to give this podcasting thing a try. Inspired by John Lee Dumas’s Entrepreneurs on Fire, I launched Teachers on Fire in the spring of 2018. My mission was and continues to be the exposure of tremendous educators who are leading and transforming K-12 education. This passion project is a sweet spot for me, because my passion is at least as strong now as it was when I first launched the podcast.

My Professional Goals

I recently finished my MEdL thesis, bringing a 2-year degree program to a close. That was a huge relief, and now I’m excited to shift my energy into other creative passions, including blogging and eventually vlogging. In my practice, I’m excited to push my 8th grade entrepreneurship students to interview entrepreneurs and business leaders in our community and share their recordings on our Gr8 Expectations student podcast.

Personal Passions Away from Education

Outside of educational settings, I’m passionate about getting out on the ocean on paddleboards and hiking new mountain trails with my beautiful wife. I dream about one day getting a drone that will allow me to document both passions in beautiful ways as well.

My Biggest Productivity Hack

I love productivity hacks of all kinds, but one of my biggest and best is the habit of waking up at 4:30 on school day mornings so that I can get to my neighborhood Starbucks. When I’m on my game and this is happening, it allows me to get after the day before the day gets after me. I do some journaling work, review my calendar, set some goals, complete some prayer and meditation, and then get some work done. It’s an incredible feeling to get to school knowing that the day is already a win because of what I’ve accomplished before 7:00 a.m.

Voices & Resources That Shape My Thinking & Inspire My Practice

Over on Twitter, I recommend following the dynamic Nina Pak Lui, my guest on episode 97 of the podcast. You’ll find her @NPakLui. A former middle school teacher, Nina now teaches pre-service teachers at the university level. She’s a whirlwind of intensity when it comes to the issues that matter in education today, including equity, diversity, and assessment for learning. She’s also just launched a blog and is beginning her own graduate level research, and I know big things are ahead for her.

My pick for edtech tools is WeVideo, simply the best cloud-based video editing solution available today. Get to know this company on Twitter @WeVideo

Big Magic by Elizabeth GilbertI’ve always got a bunch of books on the go, but one that has kept me laughing and inspired lately is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. As the title says, this book is essential reading for those looking to flex their creativity, particularly in the writing and blogging spaces.

My podcast pick has to be the one hosted by the delightful Jeff Gargas and Rae Hughart, Teach Better Talk. These two have a passion for education and a playful back and forth that is simply unmatched in the podcast space. Follow them on Twitter @TeachBetterTeam

On YouTube, you need to subscribe to C. J. Reynolds at his channel, Real Rap with Reynolds. There’s not much rap involved, but C. J. brings it every episode, tackling the very real challenges that teachers face in their classrooms. He’s inspiring. Get to know him on Twitter @RealRapReynolds

My family enjoyed The Office and Brooklyn 99 on Netflix, but lately we’ve been checking out Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime (although we’ve had to skip a few scenes when our boys are watching). If you like spy flicks and can handle John Krasinski in a serious role, this might be a series to check out. 

We sign off on this milestone conversation, and I thank Bryon for hosting this centennial edition. If you’re new to the podcast, make sure you connect with me on the platforms below!

Connect with the Teachers on Fire podcast on social media!

Song Track Credits

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

Episode 43 – David McFarland

43 - David McFarland

DAVID McFARLAND is a high school IB humanities teacher at Pacific Academy in Surrey, BC, Canada. Follow him on Twitter @MrMcFTeaches.

In our conversation, David talks about how “We don’t even know you!” challenged him to rethink the importance of building relationships with his students. He describes some of his passions in education today: helping students navigate knowledge critically instead of merely absorbing content, using digital tools to customize learning experiences, and continuing to advocate for some reading on paper. David also shares some of his lifelong learning outside of the classroom, a daily ritual that builds relationships, and his top picks in books, Twitter, Youtube, and more.

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 0:49 – David describes his current teaching situation as a high school humanities teacher at Pacific Academy in Surrey, BC, Canada.
  • 1:18 – Three or four classes into the school year at a new school, he recalls a student bursting out with “We don’t even know you!” That experience challenged him in a positive way and helped him think more deeply about the relational component of teaching. Today, he takes more time and makes more intentional investments in building relationships with his learners.
  • 6:05 – There’s a lot that gets David excited about education today: a new curriculum in BC, better options for course customization, helping students think critically and navigate knowledge instead of dumping content on them, interpreting content in a world that is becoming entirely digital, and still advocating for some reading on paper.
  • 11:25 – One area of learning for David outside of his teaching is the art of cooking. He’s had fun this summer playing around with different cuisines while working his way through the New York Times cooking app. It’s a hobby his family appreciates, because there is always a product everyone can enjoy at the end of every experiment!
  • 13:02 – A personal habit that contributes to his success is based on a fine taste for coffee. He explains how this can be a “ritual that is relational” – an activity that invites others into the creation and enjoyment of the teacher’s go-to beverage. Another habit that feeds him is regularly reading books while at school.
  • 15:53 – David recommends following high school social studies teacher Glen Thielman (@GThielmann).
  • 17:06 – The edtech tool that has made the biggest impression recently is Google Classroom.
  • 21:04 – David’s pick for books is You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith (@James_KA_Smith).
  • 24:01 – A podcast to add to your podcast line-up is The Way of Improvement Leads Home by (@JohnFea1).
  • 25:40 – If you’re a Social Studies teacher, you need to subscribe to John Green’s Crash Course on YouTube. Follow @TheCrashCourse on Twitter as well.
  • 27:35 – When he’s got time in the summer to enjoy the pleasures of Netflix, David’s watching the The Office and Better Call Saul.
  • 28:42 – David reminds us of where to find him on Twitter @MrMcFTeaches.

Subscribe to the Teachers on Fire podcast on your mobile device: iTunes | Google Podcasts | YouTube

Follow the podcast on Twitter @TeachersOnFire and on Instagram @TeachersOnFire.

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 22 – Diana Williams

22 - Diana Williams

DIANA WILLIAMS is an elementary teacher at Bayridge Elementary School in Surrey, BC, Canada. She is also a speaker, a consultant for her school district, a student of PBL, award winner, and constant innovator.

In our conversation, Diana speaks candidly about the challenges teachers face during labor disruptions and shares some frank advice for up-and-coming teachers. She talks about some of the initiatives that really excite her about education today, describes some key habits that contribute to her success, and offers some awesome recommendations regarding books to read, Twitter personalities to follow, YouTube channels to subscribe to, and more.

Follow Diana on Twitter @TeacherDiana1 and on her blog at teacherdiana.com.

In this episode, Diana 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!

Episode 19 – Gallit Zvi

19 - Gallit Zvi.png

GALLIT ZVI is currently a principal intern in Surrey, BC, Canada, and a co-author of The Genius Hour Guidebook.

In this conversation Gallit describes how she overcame the challenges of transitioning into a new grade level earlier in her teaching career. She talks about the things that really ignite her passion in education today, including the magic of Genius Hour and how it supports the shift toward inquiry-based learning. Gallit also shares about an area of interest outside of education and gives us some great recommendations for Twitter personalities to follow, a book to read, a funny YouTube channel to subscribe to, and more.

Follow Gallit on Twitter @Gallit_Z and check out her blog at GallitZvi.com.

In this episode, Gallit discusses …

  • 0:49 – her current education situation
  • 1:38 – how she navigated the challenge of transitioning to a new grade level
  • 4:07 – her passions in education: new curriculum, inquiry, the 4 Cs, genius hour
  • 6:08 – an area of interest and learning outside of education: travelling the world
  • 7:13 – a habit that contributes to her success: learning, reading, researching
  • 8:28 – amazing educators to follow on Twitter: Denise KrebsJoy Kirr, and Hugh MacDonald
  • 9:25 – her edtech tool recommendations: iMovie, Explain Everything, Puppet Pals
  • 10:12 – a book recommendation: Drive by Daniel Pink
  • 10:50 – a fun YouTube channel to subscribe to: Simon’s Cat
  • 11:32 – what she’s watching on Netflix right now: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
  • 12:09 – the best way to follow her: @Gallit_Z

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 14 – Antonio Vendramin

14 - Antonio Vendramin.png

ANTONIO VENDRAMIN is the District Principal of Communicating Student Learning in the Surrey School District of BC, Canada.

In this conversation, Antonio discusses the exciting opportunities made possible by the recent shift toward a competency-based curriculum in British Columbia. He describes the power of good digital storytelling, and explains how the habit of running has transformed his mental and physical health in recent years. He also shares a number of great recommendations for books to read, edtech tools to consider using in the classroom, hashtags to follow on Twitter, and more.

Some highlights and takeaways from this interview:

  • Whatever your passion is, spend a lot of time living there because that passion will rub off on your students.
  • The most successful learners are the ones who know how to learn.
  • At the end of the day our job is not to teach curricular content. Our job is to teach children and build the competencies that we know they will need today and in the future.
  • Transformative uses of technology do not include using technology to replicate things that could be done without technology. Transformative technology creates unique learning experiences that could not happen without technology.

Follow Antonio on Twitter @Vendram1n and visit his blog at https://abvendramin.com/.

In this episode, Antonio discusses …

  • 1:07 – his current context in education
  • 2:50 – a challenging year he experienced early in his teaching career
  • 6:38 – why he’s excited about the new BC curriculum
  • 9:14 – an area of passion and learning: digital storytelling
  • 11:14 – a personal habit that contributes to his success: running
  • 13:52 – hashtags he recommends following on Twitter (#SD36 and #SD36Learn)
  • 16:08 – edtech tools to consider using in your teaching practice (Skype or other video conferencing applications)
  • 18:40 – book recommendations: The Invisible Classroom by Kirke Olson, Mindset by Carol Dweck, and The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  • 21:05 – a podcast recommendation: Radiolab
  • 22:05 – a YouTube channel recommendation: Poke My Heart
  • 23:22 – what he’s currently watching on Netflix: Riverdale, Peaky Blinders
  • 25:04 – the best ways to follow him online: @Vendram1n and https://abvendramin.com/.

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!