James Sturtevant Hacking Engagement
Summary: It is my great pleasure to publish this weekly podcast that supplements my book "Hacking Engagement". Listen and get creative ideas on how to engage students tomorrow! Please visit my website: http://jamesalansturtevant.com/ And...for a cornucopia of teacher empowerment resources, visit: http://hacklearning.org/
Formative assessment is not done enough. I believe that part of the problem is that teachers simply don’t know enough about it, or how to do it. I was unclear on both of these counts a decade ago. It makes me sad to think of all the students who matriculated through my class before I became aware of this powerful tactic. Hopefully, this episode will inspire and enlighten you. I finally have students joining me once again. Aurora Dollins, Brianna Pasco, and Alex Staton are students in my Assessment class at Muskingum University. I love interviewing Education majors because they have a unique perspective. They get what it’s like to be a student, but they are constantly evaluating how they will utilize approaches and tools once they become instructors.
Dr. Dorothy VanderJact and I have recently become friends. Dorothy is veteran educator from the great state of Michigan. She’s been a middle school teacher, an elementary principal, a central office administrator, and a college professor. That’s, a lot of perspective. Two months ago, her brand new book Permission to Pause was released. Her timing was perfect. This book will help discombobulated teachers get their bearings and evolve into a state of well-being. While her timing on releasing this book is perfect, it’s worthy COVID or not. Dr. Dorothy wants teachers to pause and reflect. I’m a big fan. In this episode, she’ll tell you why it’s important to pause and reflect and how you can do it!
Path 9 in my new book Teaching in Magenta is about Venerating a Veteran. I’m going to read Path 9:One negative aspect of aging is the feeling that you’re losing relevance. I’m fortunate in that younger teachers sometimes reach out to me for guidance. When they do, it makes me feel awesome. I try to give them solid advice, and many are grateful. What they don’t realize is how energizing it is for me when they ask. Today, seek out an older colleague and pay them a compliment or ask for advice. You’ll be doing them (and you) a great service, and they just may give you a wonderful suggestion. Today’s episode is in the spirit of Path 9. Recent episodes that I’ve produced about specific paths in my book have been short. This one, is an exception. This is an extensive conversation with Pennsylvania teaching and coaching legend David Crowell. So–while I’m certainly venerating a veteran, we delve into the provocative topic of motivation. How can educators motivate students? Because this topic is so rich and important, we went on for a bit. I learned about Coach Crowell from my friend the innovative instructional coach Michael Brilla. Michael has been a guest on this podcast twice and like a lot of my guests, we’ve become friends. Michael predicted that Coach Crowell and I would hit it off. He was right! There was only one divergence, however. Coach is more nostalgic than me. But other than that, I found myself doing a lot of head-nodding as I listened to David stress the transformational potential of relationships. While David has retired from the classroom, he’s still coaching wrestling, and is a frequent presenter with the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
Well–ready or not, school will be starting soon, For some of us, it's already started. My first day is next Wednesday. Many colleges, like mine, are in session for 3 months, they then adjourn at Thanksgiving, and then don't resume till January. It'll be the longest winter break that I've ever experienced. That actually sounds pretty awesome. If you're like me, the idea of jumping back in the saddle comes with joy, but a few mixed feelings. There have been aspects of my life over the last few months which have been positive. I'll touch on some of those in this episode. Last spring, I taught virtually like everyone else. This fall, I'll be teaching a blended class. It's a new challenge for me and I'm excited about it. Without a doubt, I'm mostly glad I'm returning next week. But, I haven't been physically in front of students for months. While I'm looking forward to it, there's a small tinge of, Can I still do this? I imagine I'm not alone in this emotion. My prediction is that the vast majority of us will feel totally at home and thrilled to be back in our natural habitat. This program might stoke some ideas for that first week with students. Are you going to talk about the long absence from school? Are you going to address virtual learning last spring? On a TYPICAL first week of school, educators often incorporate some type of prompt which challenges students to reflect on their summer vacation. This first week of school year won't be a typical.
For the next five weeks, I'm going to try an experiment. My new book Teaching in Magenta was inspired by Niki's gift. My book is divided into 5 sections based on qualities of magenta:CompassionOptimismBalanceAdaptabilityContentmentI'm going to read 1 path from a different section each week. Today, I'll focus on Path 57, which can be found in the section on Balance.
Imagine that you and I step into an elevator together. Secured under my arm is a copy of my new book Teaching in Magenta. You notice the book and ask me about it. Your question instantly makes me realize a couple of things:This is a classic scenario for an elevator pitch.I better make these next few seconds count before the doors open and you disappear. So–I lay on you my elevator pitch for Teaching in Magenta: This book provides 100 ways to CREATE a magnificent day in the classroom. Once you start stringing some Magenta Days together, you and your students will experience profound well-being and deep joy. Thankfully, you receive my pitch positively and then inquire, “That sounds interesting. Why did you write it? Why is Magenta in the title? How does one teach in magenta?” This podcast answers those questions. I’m so excited to bring you this new book Teaching in Magenta. Over the next few weeks, I’ll do 5 short podcasts which detail paths directly from the book. I’m going to help you create 5 magnificent days in your classroom. But today, I’m going to lay some groundwork. Today’s episode will: Explain why I started writing books a decade ago.How I got that book published. Explain why I wrote Teaching in Magenta.Describe Teaching in Magenta.Please check out my book Teaching in Magenta. And if you’re not ready to hit the buy now button on Amazon, but you’re intrigued and you’re willing to listen more as we ride the elevator up a few more floors, check back soon and I’ll describe one path to create a magnificent day for you and your students.
I was a Poli-Sci and History major in college. My senior year, I made the decision to obtain a teaching certificate. I wasn’t certain what I was going to do, so I decided that I could teach a few years while I sorted it out. One of my first Education classes was Audio Visual Resources. We learned such mystical skills as using a laminator, threading a movie projector, producing copies on a mimeograph machine, and manipulating a film strip. Even at the time, these technologies seemed dated. I couldn’t believe that I was paying tuition for this. That was an easy A. I had other Education classes that were relevant and challenging, but I secured my teaching certificate without too much sweat and promptly forgot about my preparation experiences once I got my first teaching job. Many educators have similar stories. I’ve heard many a colleague describe their teacher preparation majors as a series of irrelevant hopes that they had to jump through. And this, dear reader, is where Dr. Traci Tuttle makes a dramatic entrance. Traci is the Education Department Chair at Muskingum University. Traci totally understands frustrations with educator preparation programs. She experienced them too. Consequently, she's highly motivated to create a different experience for the Education majors at Muskingum. In this episode she talks about this some, but what really motivates her is her objective to foster partnerships with K-12 educators. I believe she gets this because she spent many years as a K-12 teacher.You’re going to enjoy this convo and hopefully it will inspire you to seek out a partnership with an institution of higher learning.
I enjoy conducting professional development, particularly when I’m commissioned to present on teacher wellbeing. I take the audience on a journey of various challenges a teacher faces during different stages of a 30 year career. Because I logged 34 years in a public school classroom, I have plenty of material. I enjoy describing my struggles at various junctures. Generally, I recreate a challenge that was unique to a phase I was navigating. Rarely in these stories, am I the hero. I love to talk about learning valuable lessons–that I often learned the hard way. One such lesson happened 7 years into teaching. I call it my 7-year-itch lesson. I was 32, and I felt stymied. All the incentives in education were internal. Your compensation was based on experience and education level. There were darned few avenues of advancement. You could become an administrator, or a head coach, but neither of those options appealed to me. I felt trapped. So I left teaching and went into the private sector where I’d be compensated based on what I did, not who I was. I have a good skill set for being successful in sales. But just because one has potential, does not mean one should select a certain career path. I had no idea how much I’d miss my students. The interactions I had with sales clients could not compare. These interactions were highly transactional and sometimes confrontational. I desperately missed my students and went hightailing it back. This experience was immensely valuable, because I learned that my love for the relationships that blossomed between students and me far out shadowed frustrations I had with the job. My sabbatical, consequently, was hugely beneficial to my wellbeing. I bring this up, because today I’ll interview a teacher that took such a similar hyattus. This episode is also special because Dora Riggs used to be my student. She not only left a cushy teaching gig in an affluent suburban high school, but she returned to an urban district. Her students and the community where she now teaches, while only 10 miles from her previous school, could not be more different. Dora will talk about her teacher gap year–and more interestingly how it and her new surroundings have impacted her. She loves her new school. She’s become a trauma informed teacher and a disciple of restorative practices. She’s a different teacher–a more empathetic teacher. Dora is going to explain why and how.
When I retired from teaching high school last year, I worried about losing all of the social interaction that I got from teaching 150 students daily. So, I secured an adjunct position teaching aspiring educators at Muskingum University. I also teach refugees how to speak English. These teaching gigs have been a joy, but it’s a different life because I’m only teaching 3 days a week–which is also a joy. My new-found freedom affords me the opportunity to explore, grow, and take risks. I also want to keep expanding my human capital. Relationships make life worth living and I love forging new ones. One area of growth that I’ve been exploring this year is fitness. I have so much more time to workout now and I love it. I researched ways that I could challenge myself physically and grow myself socially. At the end of my exploration, I concluded that I should join a Crossfit gym. Crossfit significantly challenges you physically and promotes community. Crossfit gyms are highly social places. That was exactly what I was looking for. I found an excellent local gym–Crossfit Polaris . Kristi Eramo is the owner and a prominent games athlete. I love her teaching style and was excited to learn from her and the other coaches at Polaris. Unfortunately, the Covid 19 Pandemic short-circuited my plans. After just 3 introductory classes, the gym was forced to close. I was left high and dry. So, I got busy coaching myself. I pulled the workout of the day (WOD) off the Crossfit site and started doing them. I watched training videos and listened to podcasts hoping to improve my olympic lifting form. Lifting is a key part to Crossfit. I decided that I was going to take one of the most challenging olympic lifts–the snatch, and learn how to do it. Here’s a description of a snatch:The snatch can be described as jumping a barbell through a range of motion and receiving it into an overhead squat. And here’s a brief video if you’d like to see a young woman perform one expertly. You have to be strong, mobile, explosive, coordinated, and courageous to perform this lift. I’m starting from ground zero, but I’m determined to learn this lift. When I searched for Olympic lifting techniques on Google, YouTube, and podcasts, one name kept materializing–Mike Burgener. Now all of you who’re inclined to exit this podcast because you’re not interested in learning about performing an olympic snatch, stop yourself. This program is not about lifting, it’s about teaching. And Mike Burgener is one of this nation’s premier educators. Here’s a bit about Coach Burgener:He has a BA from Notre Dame and played on their 1966 National Championship Football Team.He has an MS from the University of Kentucky in Exercise Physiology, where he was also the strength coach.He was a captain in the Marine Corps.He’s a Senior International Weightlifting Coach for the United States.He’s considered the Godfather of Olympic Lifting for Crossfit.And for decades, Coach Burgener was a proud public educator–teaching high school physical education in California.I got to know Coach Burgener because I sent him an email asking a question. The next thing I knew, I was in his Level 1 weightlifting class. This is a special man and he’s going to talk about his mentors and challenge you to not only listen to the ones you already have but to be open to new ones.
I just checked the human toll of Coronavirus before I wrote this sentence. The US is on the verge of 20,000 deaths and the world has surpassed 100,000. It’s been awful to watch these numbers climb. And I, like hopefully you, remain isolated in my home reading way too many news stories about what’s going on in largely isolated cities and towns and overcrowded hospitals. The whole thing is sad, weird, and unsettling. I will say, however that during this dark time, I’ve gotten myself into a routine with some positives. I’m getting more sleep because I don’t have to set an alarm. I’m eating healthy because my wife and I prepare every meal, with the exception of our once a week pizza night. I workout for 90 minutes most days. And my wife and I enjoy sitting down and watching a program together each night before bed.But those are the only positives I can muster. Man do I miss interacting with people. I get really sick of interacting on my computer or phone and also sitting at my desk. I’m seriously thinking about purchasing a standing desk just to keep moving. Now if you’re getting sick of social distancing–think how sick your students are of navigating online lessons. Sadly, they have a ways to go till school is out. This situation reminds me of a January in the late 1970s. I was in high school and the Midwest got clobbered by a catastrophic blizzard. We were out of school for a month. There was no interaction between the school and students at home. There was no internet and no social media. My friends were able to walk to one another’s houses. There was no social distancing, but the snowy environment did lead to a lot of cabin fever. My friends and I treated the entire time like summer vacation. We played in the snow for a month and forgot about school work. We desperately missed seeing our friends and going to basketball games and school dances, but otherwise we just rolled with it. Please remember that although your students are probably bored, given the option between watching Netflix or doing school work, for many, would be an easy choice. When crafting lessons, starting from that understanding will help. I recently participated in a Times 10 Roundtable Webinar offering ideas for teachers on how they could instruct their students remotely during this bizarre time. I was joined on the panel by Joe Sanfelippo a superintendent from Wisconsin and Chrissy Romano-Arrabito an elementary teacher from New Jersey. The panel was moderated by Mark Barnes who’s the founder of Times 10 Publications. The discussion was well balanced because we got a broad perspective from Joe, and a younger student and economically disadvantaged perspective from Chrissy. I focused on specific ways you could stay connected with students. I’ll expand on those ideas in this episode. I’ll focus on 3 tools that can maintain and perhaps facilitate deeper relationships with your kids during this challenge. These platforms will also help you teach your classes. I’ll offer these tools as suggestions, if you have something you’ve utilized that works better for you, go for it. I’m more interested in ends and not means.
Well, for at least the next 2 weeks, I’m forced to teach my class in a virtual fashion. All teachers in the great state of Ohio are in the same boat. A few years back, Columbus State Community College commissioned me to create an online version of one of their history classes. It was a tremendous learning experience. When I embarked on that journey, I kept reciting a mantra, Make lessons impactful and engaging. I was able to achieve this throughout the creation process and it’s guiding my efforts over the next few weeks. I learned last week that Muskingum, like all higher ed institutions in Ohio, would be closed until the end of March. My experience creating online content gave me a dose of confidence that I could weather this storm. In this episode, I’ll share my template. This template is grounded in Bloom’s Taxonomy and you can use it every week until the crisis eases and we get back to normal.
I always referred to February as the Dog Days of Education. The weather, at least for those of us who reside in the northeastern quadrant of these here United States, is pretty bleak. Any newness of the second semester is long gone. As the weather warms, at least just a bit, your opportunities for snow days diminishes and even if it’s still frigid and snowy, perhaps you’ve already used your allotted quota. Spring break, that magical academic elixir, is still a ways off. Students, teachers, and even administrators are starting to get, as my mom used to say, a bit bucky. All of these factors make the topic of this episode a perfect antidote for the February blahs.About a month ago, my publisher Mark Barnes tasked me to evaluate some of x10 Publishing’s books. One of my assignments was to assess Quit Point. As part of the review process, I first checked out the Amazon author’s page. I was floored to learn that Adam Chamberlin and Svetoslav Metijic live only 20 miles from me. My old school competes against theirs in sports frequently. Because of our proximity, I was immediately intrigued by these guys. I was further intrigued as I reviewed their book. Quit Point is all about how teachers can spot when students are about to give up and then what teachers can do about it. I cannot imagine any educator who possesses an ounce of empathy not being fascinated with this topic. And isn’t mid February a perfect time to take action when the symptoms of apathy are often acute? If you feel that way...and hopefully you do, please give this episode a try and then check out these guy’s book. As you listen to them articulate their ideas, I’m certain you’ll find them engaging, funny, and totally on point.
The State of Ohio, where I’ve taught my entire career, is not unique. Students in certain classes that the state considers essential are subject to end of course exams. Student performance on these standardized assessments are a key ingredient in their instructor’s evaluation. If you teach one of those classes, you’re hopefully all about progress monitoring. The last thing you want is to get a terrible surprise when your student’s performances materialize. Throughout the semester, you want to make darned sure your kids are on track. I was one of those teachers, however, that did not have a state-mandated end of course exam. I taught electives. In Ohio, the alternative for teachers who teach electives is for them to complete an SLO–which stands for Student Learning Objective. You were asked to demonstrate with data that your students grew during your class. Sadly, and I feel badly confessing this, this requirement was a bit of a joke. All you had to do was to give a really hard preassessment. The students would struggle on this benchmark and then do much better on their finals. It was therefore easy to demonstrate with data student growth. As a consequence, and once again I’m not proud to admit this, I didn’t do much progress monitoring in my elective classes. I felt really guilty about my past efforts when I began teaching assessment to college students. I was upfront about my slacker efforts in the past and I then became passionate about encouraging my future educators to frequently monitor student progress regardless of their curriculum. To help in this endeavor, I brought in a guru. Ryan McLane was a high school social studies teacher, the principal at a middle school, the principal of an intermediate building, and now he’s an elementary principal and the district director of special education. He’s also the author of Your School Rocks. He’s observed, managed, and conducted progress monitoring at various levels and in diverse subjects. He also does a magnificent PD on progress monitoring. My students loved his presentation, but more importantly, they felt empowered. They’re now anxious to answer the following questions in their upcoming job interviews: How do you know if students are learning?What are you going to do for those who struggle?These are important questions for any teacher–particularly if you teach an elective. Ryan will talk in this episode about how elective teachers can become progress monitoring officinados. And before you start wondering, This is a podcast on engagement. What does progress monitoring have to do with that? Stay tuned. Ryan is all about engagement. He’s going to explain how you can take a concept that seems dry and clinical–progress monitoring, and make it engaging and empowering for students and teachers.
When I was in my early 30's, I got the 7-year-itch. NO, NO, NO...not to split from the lovely Mrs. Sturtevant, far from it. I was questioning my commitment to education. I was an ambitious competitive young guy. My college peers were climbing corporate ladders. They were wearing suits to work and bringing in some serious bank. They seemed so much more adult.I've always been goal-oriented, which was fine for the first few years in teaching when I was still figuring out the job. But my early 30's I found myself wondering, Can I be satisfied doing this till my mid-50's?I've always been a person of action and so I determined it was time to take some. I left Education to become a salesperson in the private sector. I reasoned that I possessed a good skill set for sales. I was right, but guess what? I was miserable in my new role. On my hasty exit from my classroom, I totally failed to inventory the wondrous positives of being teacher. I was a popular guy in my school and I loved my students. The first 5 minutes of every class was always devoted to bonding. I would describe what was going on in my life and the students would share about their existences. I totally took this magnificent bond with my students for granted. In the private sector, no one cared what I was reading, what workout I was doing, or what I made Mrs. Sturtevant for dinner the previous night. Instead my interactions were highly transactional. After a 1-year sales gig, I hightailed it back to the classroom. It was so good to be home. It was a magnificent learning experience that I still value and it helped me become a much better and more content educator. But my early frustrations with teaching were certainly not unique. Let's face it, teaching doesn't possess many extrinsic motivators. I don't know that that is necessarily a bad thing. Merit pay has never really delivered on its mythical promises. But there are darned few career advancement opportunities. You could become an administrator, a head coach, a department head, or a guidance counselor. If you're ambitious, you must content yourself with creating the best classroom experience for your students. That's wonderful objective, but perhaps, we need some more options. And this dear listener is where my buddy Michael Brilla walks on the Hacking Engagement stage. Michael is a passionate social studies teacher who's been on this program before. He starred on Episode 105 promoting StoryMaps as a marvelous platform. I loved his energy and I utilize StoryMaps every semester, even with my college students. Michael is creative and ultra-approachable. His students just love him. So why in the world would he leave his magical classroom and assume a new role? Please stay put dear listener and learn the what, the why, and the how. Who knows you might come up with an idea to explore this new year.
I once had a veteran colleague lament about the state of teaching. He meditated, WIth all the that they're making us do, if I was in college today, there's no way I'd major in Education. Apparently, he's not alone in this sentiment. If one searches "Decline in Education Majors", one will find plenty of evidence that many undergrads feel exactly as my colleague expressed. Here's a link to 2019 Forbes article which relies heavily on data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Over the past decade, Education has suffered the largest exodus compared with other majors–a decline of 19%. While I'm sad that declining numbers of young Americans consider teaching a wonderful career path, this phenomenon does create wonderful opportunities for potential teachers. In the future, jobs may be easier to secure. Teacher pay may have to increase because of supply. This episode will feature one of these aspiring teachers–Joce McBurney-Buell.Last summer, I traveled to Muskingum University to meet with the my dear friend the outgoing Department Chair Rae White. In the midst of our day, she invited me to lunch in the gymnasium which was hosting freshmen students who were also being oriented to campus. Rae and I plopped down at a table full of young people to break bread. Seated beside me was a young woman who seemed to know a lot more about Muskingum than an incoming freshman. As you probably guessed, Joce was my table neighbor and was about to embark on her junior year. She was on campus that day to help ease freshmen with their significant transition from home and high school. As we interacted, I was thrilled to learn that Joce is an Education major. As I observed her and interacted with her, it became quickly apparent that this young women had it going on. I just knew–and it's been confirmed by future interactions, that she was destined to present to my Intro to Education students, which she did last week, and appear on my podcast, which is this episode.We'll discuss her goals and motivations, but what really excites me is what Joce represents. Students such as her point to a bright future in American education. The young people that I interact with in the Education major are excited, driven, and passionate about the calling. Don't get too discouraged about the Forbes article. There are some magnificent young teachers on the horizon.