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62 minutes | Feb 22, 2020
Parent Perspective - Challenges Then & Now
Today is a first for MM, as we are joined by two parents of different families. With interviewing parents, the goal was to cut as wide a swathe as possible with the amount of experiences that they and their students have experienced. We are not searching out one issue or even several, but looking to explore the differences, similarities, and of course challenges that education faces from a parent perspectiveI think we as teachers and administrators, even though many of us are parents ourselves, can benefit from hearing from these parents while not having “ a dog in the fight” when it comes to our particular institution or school systemTo that end, I would like to welcome Sydra Thatch, and Pennie Buffington - two extraordinary moms that absolutely changed the way I view education early on in my career. Welcome Pennie and Sydra!So ladies, since I think it’s important for our listeners to have some perspective, Tell us a little about you, your family, and where you are now.Pennie, your daughter graduated in 2014 - and you are now in an entirely different profession and you are definitely in a different environment than that of Wyoming. Have any changes stuck out to you?Sydra, you still have a freshman and a senior in HS, with 1 in college and one in the workforce. What do you remember of the difference, if any, from 10 years ago when you had your first high school student?Aside from the occasional teacher you weren’t fond of, Do either of you feel like there were certain elements missing when your eldest children went through school? Are those elements still missing? Have they gotten better? Worse?Has education lost anything, or perhaps gained anything since then? Sydra, you may be able to speak to this a little more clearly as you have several children years apart.Again, a question for each of you…. What lessons or skills did you instill in your child/children that you think made them the most successful?Both of your eldest daughers, and your second child sydra, went through fantastic schools. Montana (pennies daughter) went to Cal Tech, and both of Sydras eldest daughters went to Michigan State on the STARR scholarship. What skills or attributes do they have that make them successful where other students may not be? I know that last weeks guest, Dr. Larragoity and I - talked alot about apathy and trauma. Knowing all of your daughters - I would say they had “Grit”.... Did you teach them that? Did the school? Should the schools be teaching that?What is one skill/lesson/technique that was used in your high school that you are glad is still around, or that you wished they would bring back. Something that really made an impact on you.
53 minutes | Feb 14, 2020
Trauma and Apathy with Dr. Ingrid Larragoity Martin
Episode 4Week of February 10 - Episode 4: An Interview With Dr. Ingrid Larragoity-MartinWelcome:Episode 4Excited to be joined by Dr. Ingrid Larragoity-Martin todayWe are going to be looking at two large challenges for teachers today, Apathy and TraumaTeachers are encountering both of these issues more often as each year goes by. The vast majority of us are not equipped to deal with Trauma, while apathy is one of those issues every generation lays at the feet of the one before it…. But teachers are especially concerned about it now. For help with tackling both of these subjects, I am excited to welcome Dr. Ingrid Larragoity-Martin.Dr. Larragoity holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree is instrumental conducting from CU Boulder, and is currently the Director of Bands at the Skyline High School Visual and Performing Arts Academy where I was fortunate to work with her for a time. She is a former faculty member of and Director of Bands at New Mexico State University and Henderson State University. Additionally, she came to Skyline from the South Florida Cares Mentoring Movement. She is one of the most intelligent and capable women I have ever met, and most importantly, she is a dear friend. Welcome Dr. Larragoity!A big subject for us today is trauma, and it seems to me that your work as a Program Director in the CARES movement would give you some expertise in that field. Can you talk to us a little about that?From your perspective as a college director, high school, and community educator… is Trauma itself on the rise? Why are we seeing it more now as public school teachers?Is there more trauma now than when you or I was in public school?ACE is an adverse childhood experience, and we know from research that at least 47% of the student population has experienced at least one of these events. Nearly 22% have experienced more than one. Where are these coming from?35% of children experience an ACE before they reach kindergarten, and the research also tells us that there are no barriers for this statistic with regard to race, income, or education level. Does that statistic surprise you? Not everyone of us has quick access to trauma-informed teaching strategies that really go in depth. Of course we can jump into about anything we find online, but that doesn’t compare to real training like I’m sure you have experienced first hand. What would you recommend for educators who want to stem this tide? What can we do as one person, or even a small group of people?APATHYThere are very few educators I have not heard at one point or another speak about the Apathy in our students. Teachers complain about it, and parents complain about it. The most common response I get from students when we talk about it is, “Well every generation thinks that the one before them was worse”. I would love to get your take on our kids… are they really just apathetic? Do they not care?You have taught in multiple institutions that were all extremely diverse both within, and without. What did you see that was different or similar from Florida, New Mexico, or Colorado?I recently read an article by a journalist named Chris Holmes, and after talking with students in 14 states, he came to the conclusion that students aren’t disengaged… it’s really us, the adults. Is it really us? Are we not adapting fast enough?I have been a teacher for 10 years, and even since I have joined the ranks, I feel like we have implemented a plethora of programs that were not here 10 years ago. Is it that these programs are not implemented well? Is it the programs themselves?We as teachers and teacher-leaders are still extremely limited in what we can do as far as organizational change. What have you found, if anything, that is working for you in the classroom every day?More questions?Any closing thoughts?
46 minutes | Jan 30, 2020
Teacher Retention with Bradlee W. Skinner
Episode 3 Week of January 27 - Episode 3: An Interview With Bradlee W. SkinnerWelcome:Episode 3Excited to be joined by Bradlee Skinner todayLooking at a couple aspects around the “so-called” teacher shortageExploring what that looks like from a teaching perspectiveAnd maybe looking at how we can change it from the insideBut first let me introduce our guest. Brad is a former administrator, and a theatre teacher and director by trade. He was the Wyoming Theatre Teacher of the Year for 2018, and is the current Teacher of the Year for his District. Just this past summer he was selected by the Jostens Company as their National Educator of the Year. Brad is a man of many hat’s… on the weekends he goes by the name Phony Stark--I’ll let you go to his website to discover why that is, if he doesn’t let the cat out of the bag today. Brad is an amazing teacher, as I have seen firsthand; he is an expert in school culture, he’s an author, a playwright, and educational speaker, motivator, and thought-leader….and really an all around great guy to know, so welcome Brad!Before we jump in…Tell us a little about you and your background from your perspectiveSummation of what brought you to today in your career Let’s Jump right in:It’s possible that we might meander a bit because both Brad and I through our conversations have discovered that we really share a lot of the same views, and pursue the same passionsMost of those have to do with educational leadership, improving school, and changing the lives of kidsOur subject as we said before is the teacher shortage What we can do as teachersWhat we maybe ought to encourage our leaders to doLook at changing the perspective of students who might consider teaching-- The teacher shortage and the cause - What do you see, or hear about as, the main reasons that teachers are leaving the profession?- You taught in other states (Utah, Nevada,) before coming to Wyoming like me as well, what was the dynamic shift from state to state? -More opportunities to branch out from education in larger population areas -Did student perception/school climate differ, and did that have any effect that you saw?Article “We Can Prevent Good Teachers from Leaving the Classroom, and It Starts with Respect” “https://www.boredteachers.com/inspiring/prevent-good-teachers-from-leaving-classroom-respect?fbclid=IwAR3O-OEYlU8MVnrLRGowNQKoYzu6YhgAQAD02Fuwp78LDwGeLmK2eFXYJek--As teachers watching this happen, I know I have read and heard stories that I can relate with. A new story circulates every month or so about a teacher who felt the last straw. Many teachers are aware or have at least experienced some form of it. One of the big issues is pay, and we happen to be lucky to live in a state with low cost of living and fairly high teacher salaries comparatively. I’m curious, and since you have been here in Wyoming longer… do you see the problem as evident here? --What are the large governmental, societal, economic, or big picture issues that are pushing teachers out?--What are the challenges in schools and districts themselves that are contributing to career changes or avoidance for teachers?--Do you see any generational influences in students that are contributing to the shortage?--I think as educational leaders; teacher leaders, department heads, veteran teachers, and administrators - it’s becoming more critical that we jump in and help. I know when I look at the teacher shortage, the number of jobs open every year versus those that were available 10 years ago… I often think “Our leaders (meaning state and federal agencies) aren’t doing enough to change the culture” and then I look at some districts around the US, and leaders in those districts, and wonder how they can enact the policies that they do. But until recently I didn’t view it as my problem because unless I have a direct link to district or state leadership, I can’t change a lot of minds. I think teachers who are working everyday in the classroom have plenty to worry about. But we may need to pull some extra weight … and those of us who can work toward this end and speak out need too. What do you think?--Where do we start if we aren’t in a position to directly change policy, or affect some of the causes?--Do we try to counsel colleagues out of this decision? My decision to teach is based on my passion for improving and changing lives. I know for a lot of our colleagues, this isn’t enough - and I would never belittle the decision to go. But what can we offer our colleagues? -It’s easy for us to say when we have a better situation than a lot of other teachers.--I haven’t worked much toward this end, but I certainly have noticed that there are less students in a classroom than there were 10 years ago who say, “I want to be a teacher”. Teaching was one of the more common professions chosen by students who loved learning. Have you noticed this trend?--Can we and should we encourage students to take up the mantle?--What does that look like in our classroom?--When I take a look at my educational process; the planning I do, the lessons I create, and the activities that I focus on… I can say confidently that those things I choose to share with students are always meant to contain some form of inspiration for them. In college, I can remember the director of my department telling us that “You are all here because you loved your music teacher…. Some of you are really resting on that love and nothing else.” What she meant was that we had found something we loved to do in school that became a large part of who we were. What she also meant was that though we may love it…. It didn’t mean we could or should spend our life teaching it. How do we encourage kids along this path but for the right reason?CLOSING THOUGHTS and SUMMATION
49 minutes | Jan 24, 2020
Take Only Memories, Leave Only Footprints
More Than Just FunIf you have ever had an indepth conversation with a music teacher like me, specifically about the view of the classroom from the outside - you might know that music teachers especially look down on the view that “Our classes are meant to be fun”Of course our classes are and should be fun - but that is far beyond the point of what we teach. We would ensure that you were thoroughly educated on the finer points of music education as an academic discipline… not just fun. The same should be said for travel - and I would like to introduce you to some of the more scholarly work in this area. Everyone loves a vacation, and that is possibly one hurdle you will have to jump (and be sure you clear) when selling a travel idea to a school board or an administrator. But there is some incredible research on travel benefits for you and for your students, beyond the experiences talked about here. I have a whole file on my computer filled with travel studies, reports, and predictions… but for the sake of not creating a 2 hour long podcast episode - i’ve kept my sources and my points to my favorite. The Yale Tribune article “The Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of International Travel” really grasps many of them that I like to taut. The first idea is that of the consequences of traveling itself. Our environment. Exposing the human body to completely new environments creates antibodies that build up our immune system. We are exposed to millions of micro-organisms that we are not normally around… and studies show that actually exposing ourselves to minor illnesses foreign to us are quite beneficial. Further, we should look at some historical figures. 200 years ago, 300 years ago - humans were a little more worldly… pun intended. Today we live in pristine, sterilized, mostly-germ-free environments compared to the people of previous centuries. Our travel to new locations actually assists us in staying healthier.Adam Galinsky, a Columbia Business School professor who has authored several studies investigating the connection between international travel and creativity says, “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.” However, travelling alone, without being purposeful about engaging, isn’t enough. “The key, critical process is multicultural engagement, immersion and adaptation,” he explains further, “Someone who lives abroad and doesn’t engage with the local culture will likely get less of a creative boost than someone who travels abroad and really engages in the local environment.” The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology clearly states that people who travel abroad are more open, emotionally stable, culturally aware, and experience an increase in cognitive flexibility.While people tend to avoid the subject in our society, depression is unfortunately a major problem. Millions of Americans struggle with depression on a regular basis and it’s not uncommon for doctors to overprescribe medication for depression.Luckily, healthier alternatives are available for escaping the hopelessness of a depressed state. According to research, travel may be one of them.A study from the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin found that women who vacation at least twice a year are less likely to suffer from depression and chronic stress than women who vacation less than once every two years. Students in our high school are, year after year… showing an increased level of trauma, stress, and anxiety. What a way to chip away! The hardest part of this first step is to take it. If you are new to this - I am going to take you through some of the first steps you will want to takeSchool district/school policies:What is and isn’t allowedWhether or not to get around themWhat Subject Do You Teach - What country/location seems most relevant?Good reputation/relationship with parents and students you can askPerforming Arts booster parents have a good idea of this as wellBooster clubs and PTAWhat Kind of Trip?TourFestivalEventSpecific SiteGive Lots of ExamplesTheatreMusicHistoryGovernmentArtLanguage ArtsTimeline - When can or should you go?I would give your domestic trips well over a yearGive your international trips at minimum a year and a half… if not 2I did not do this because I took over a small but growing program and want to get parents and students accustomed to expecting a trip every two yearsWhat time of year can you go?School policySpring BreakCostFreedomSummerCostDuring School?Who Will Take You There?Gigantic number of options when looking at school toursMany are specialty companies - others not at allEd Discovery Tours (All)Bob Rogers (Most)Tour Resource Consultants (mostly Music but has Liesure)Tons of boutique AgenciesGuardian Music and Group Travel in IcelandYou have a LOT of optionsMake sure to shop aroundGet as many tour proposals as you canHave 3-5 destinations in mind and let them send you samplesMake SURE that they are willing to accomodate you - if they don’t someone willWhat is important to you?SitesActivitiesEnrichmentCultural exchangesHow are you going to pay?Student payFundraisingYou go freeDo you need additional free spotsAsk the company: Direct or school/outside budgetGreen River ExampleDirect out of pocket?Small groups - language classes happenPrepare and Present ProposalSchool District ProtocolAnnounce, Advertise, Parent MeetingFunnest part for you!Set a night that you KNOW is free Bring up the hype in classes, school announcements, and through advertisingBuild a presentation WITH picturesCheck with your tour company - some of them will send a representative - I always wave this!Fundraising (optional)What is unique and new?Are you in or out of the school district?Example: We are holding a benefit golf tournament this summerExample: We also increased our price by $50 per person and sent someone free!The Reasons to Stay are Reasons to GoIf you are an educator or administrator who has, up until this point, never explored or encouraged international travel… you may be saying: “Jake… those trips are great for areas with high socio-economic levels” or “It’s easy to plan a tour when you know where you want to go and what you want to do”. In both of those instances you might be correct… but if there is one thing I’ve learned along the way… it’s that “The Reasons to Stay are the Reasons to Go”.
33 minutes | Jan 16, 2020
Teach Like They Don't Have to Come Back Tomorrow
Episode 1 Show NotesWeek of January 13 - Episode 1: Teach Like They Don’t Have to Come Back Tomorrow-So right off the bat I’m going to let you know that, I am definitely hitting on the subject of vulnerability later in this episode… and I think it’s incredibly appropriate because I’m going to be a good teacher and model that for you now: This is my first podcast...and I’m nervous! Hopefully that doesn’t show through too overly much… and you get some good nuggets of encouragement as we move through some of our topic todayPodcast Aims 1) Inspiring more students to accept the calling of "Teacher"2) Generational roadblocks between educators from the Boomer, X, and Millennial Generations... and students in GenZ3) Reinvigorating and reassessing how teachers of every subject and grade level transform their classroom and those in it4) Bridging the divide between average teacher and inspiring MentorExploring the topic and our subject today: Teach Like They Don’t Have to Come Back TomorrowWe have all had that old school teacherWon’t reveal names… but my JH/HS science teacher always used the Mac Classic - 1 megabyte of Ram…. he put all of his grades on itHe gave assignments monthly for no credit… unless you didn’t do themWhatever it may be, teachers and administrators certainly know those among us who are slow to get with the timesWe even see this as younger teachers - remembering how we were taught… which often worked for us, and therefore we are reluctant to change our mindsetWhat struck me was this article that was published on edsurge.com… and it is entitled The Answer for Schools is Not More Technology. It’s Teachers and Human Connection, and it’s written by Danielle Arnold-Schwartz. Boom. There it was…. Thousands of teachers have been yelling it from the rooftops for years.While I certainly agree with the sentiment about technology - the second half of the title struck me most. Human Connection.A friend and colleague of mine, Bradlee Skinner, has had this quote on his website for a while - and I want to share it because 1) It’s fantastically true, and 2) he is a future guest on Millennial Mythos and it can’t hurt for you to get to know him a little. Phenomenal educator, former administrator… all around class act. This quote is over on bradlee (2 e’s) w skinner.com and if you have time you should check it out. But He says, “Great schools do not happen by accident. They are the result of a consistent investment of time, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, mutual respect between teachers and administrators, and a rock-solid commitment to do what is best for kids.A consistent investment of time… something teachers like us feel as though we never have enough of. We are more than thoughtful… we think every evening and over every weekend… every summer break about what we can do to improve our classrooms and reach kids. After this many years in the classroom, I do know this. There is never truly enough. That’s the answer. That’s it. There isn’t enough time - therefore you should use it in the way that best supports your students… curriculum and testing be darned. You are an expert, and you know and feel, just from walking into a room, how your students are doing that day. So take the time. I read a great snippet recently about a teacher who walked by one student every period, and said “I need to see you in the hallway”... after the initial shock and awe, that teacher spent the next 5-10 minutes exploring that students life. How is everything going? What are you loving about life right now? What challenges are you facing? How can I help?I’m here to tell you that today, and we know that this is true… many of our students need us much more as a lifeline and emotional bulwark than as a choir director, English instructor, or math wizard. On your first day with a new group of students, you may spend a half hour telling them that your classroom is a “safe space”. You can regale them with stories of the many alumni who love you and still come back to visit. But it means little if you don’t have the time for them, the empathy, the compassion, and the will to give them a part of yourself so that they can take hold of that elusive feeling of trust.If we were interviewing Brene Brown right now, which by the way Dr. Brown… you have an open invitation if you ever happen across this show… I think she would hone in on vulnerability.If you have read her work, which I highly recommend - “Dare to Lead” is out of this worldBut this connects back to that very first story I told you, about fledgling “me” in a choir classroom in smalltown wyoming. I’m a pretty open person, and I believe that I am genuinely pretty decent at being vulnerable. That translated well with students, and still does. It doesn’t translate sometimes with supervisors, which is why some of us still have a hard time doing it. That’s ok - baby steps… but please… take those steps. Have you ever apologized to a classroom of students? IF you have… how did that go? Can you remember their response? I’m pretty sure it has to be in some old teachers manual somewhere that for us to maintain decorum and a sense of decency in education, a teacher must never apologize. I think I probably apologize once a month… because I am a human being and I get stuff wrong. A lot. Even after years and years in the classroom teaching every kind of student under the sun.But a sincere apology immediately and irrevocably changes a classroom dynamic, and it’s not for the worst. I could devote an entire podcast series on this subject, probaly because I’m so passionate about it… and it speaks directly to the philosophy with which I teach. But also because there are so many unique things that make us, yes even teachers… human. And we should be exploring that with our students. It’s ok to tell them that you took an extra year of college because you had some growing up to do - they will see you as fallible - which we all are. It is ok to be vulnerable and let them know why you became a teacher, and not mull-over your reasoning with a canned response. They will see you as honest.It is ok let them know that you worry for them, plan for them, consider them sometimes to the detriment of your personal time…. They will see you as loving and empathetic.It is ok to let them know that your first priority is making sure that they are beautiful people, thoughtful citizens, and empathetic neighbors… they will see you as a role model.It’s ok to let them know that you love them as unique individuals and the people they are, and want only the best for them. They will return that love, and pass it on…. And they will be back again tomorrow.
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