And Now for Something Completely Different Part 2

Eight years ago I wrote this. Starting today, I’ll be on to something different as my time with Discovery Education comes to a close.

I recall eight years ago people questioning if I should leave a great job in a school district to give up a pension to work for a for-profit company that is certainly much less secure. I don’t regret it for a minute. It has been eight years full of joy and learning and so much more.

My duties were many and varied. I hated being asked “what do you do” as it didn’t fit in any box. When I said I helped build community, it usually required lengthy follow-up and context. The easiest thing to explain to people was that I did a lot of speaking. My rough estimates would suggest I presented at over 120 conferences and events to well over 50,000 people. But beyond that, I spent time in districts and classrooms supporting them in their daily work. I helped create content and even helped with sales. All these experiences have helped me understand the complexities and challenges of running a business as well as running a school district. I spent time with … Read the rest

Be Less Helpful or Be More Grandparent

Dan Meyer talked about “being less helpful” in his 2010 Ted Talk and has resonated with many since. Essentially the idea of allowing students to learn and struggle within interesting, useful problems. On the surface, this sounds simple but the reality is most of us, whether we’re teachers or parents or leaders of any kind often resort to providing answers, or highly structured supports in order to see children and learners succeed. In many respects, this is the greatest challenge we face as educators. 


While I don’t think I’ve ever written about it here (confession: I honestly have written much about anything lately) becoming a grandfather has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I’ve said many times since that if you can bypass the children part and go right to grandparenting, I would highly recommend that! While the benefits are many, one of them is that I have fresh eyes when it comes to how humans learn. As a parent, I probably missed much of this because of the overwhelming feeling of responsibility you have. As a grandparent, I reap all the benefits of parenting but very few of the challenges. 

This quote by Urie … Read the rest

What Am I Reading?

In my previous post, I offered some thoughts on why I don’t read educational books. Again, it wasn’t to boast but given the prolific rate of educational books, many by people I know well, it might seem odd that I’m not reading them. The thing is I do read and I don’t read fiction so most of my reading is connected to my work but not directly education.

I often begin my presentations asking participants what they are currently reading, listening to or watching. It’s a great way to both get to know participants and perhaps share some new possibilities to explore. Brad Gustafson has a nice way to implement and organize this into your own situation.

When I think about the books I’ve read most recently, a theme emerges- healthy work environments. My own book deals with this and it continues to be a passion of mine. Schools and districts are paying more attention to this but I believe there remains a lack of focus and intention in creating healthy work environments. As someone who spent 23 years in public education to 8 years in the private sector, the differences were glaring. That’s not to say that private … Read the rest

I Don’t Read Educational Books

My good friend George Couros gives me a hard time about this. He gives me a hard time about a lot of things. I like that. The truth is, it’s been a long time since I’ve read an educational book and in particular an educational book written in the last 5 years.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit and yet I hadn’t been able to fully articulate my own thinking on this until a recent conversation with Kristina Ishmael. (Disclaimer: We didn’t actually jump after we talked but we should have)

It’s not likely that it is because of a single reason so I’ll list a few. I’m not writing this to convince anyone of anything but perhaps this might alleviate some guilt folks about who for their own reasons, don’t find educational books particularly compelling. Keep in mind, I wrote a book and am grateful for those that have read it.

  1. I’m immersed in this work. Particularly in the last 10-15 years I’ve spent my work life not just as an educator, which I had for the previous 15 years, but immersed in conversation and thought around the topic. Unlike a classroom teacher, I’ve had the luxury
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Nine Lies About Work (and maybe school)

This post was last updated on May 28th, 2019 at 10:43 am

I’ve been using this quote fairly often in presentations because it’s a good reminder to myself and educators that embracing ideas, even ones that seem to contradict our beliefs or thinking can be joyful. As educators, modelling this might be one of the essential gifts we can share with students

I’ve been a fan of Marcus Buckingham and his work around strengths and the title of this book intrigued me. I’ve been told on a few occasions that I”m a bit of a s*&T disturber. Depending on the person or the context it’s unclear whether this is a compliment or not but under the guise of “strengths” that’s what I take it as. This book aligns well with that character trait.

The chapter titles alone might intrigue you:

The book is based on a large research sample of thousands of employees in hundreds of companies. Lie #1 hits you pretty hard. Swap out “company” for “school district” and you have a very interesting conversation. The message is pretty simple. People’s experience at work is not based on a companies values or mission but on the individual teams they … Read the rest