Episode 067: Let’s Fix This

For this episode of Passing Notes, I visited with Andy Moore and Scott Melson with Let’s Fix This. Let’s Fix this is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to educating Oklahomans on politics and policy while providing opportunities for citizens to engage with their representatives. The produce a weekly podcast, Let’s Pod This, and provide resources and, when able to be in person, engagement opportunities for Oklahomans.

I asked them on the podcast to talk about what advocacy will look like in the time of Covid and why it is just as important as ever, though it might be more difficult, to engage with your local and state legislators. You can learn more about Let’s Fix This on their website, Facebook page, or on Twitter @LetsFixThisOK. I recommend check out Let’s Pod This too!

Reflection Questions:

  1. How do you plan on advocating on behalf of public education this year?
  2. Do you know the names of your state and local representatives?

Episode 066: State Superintendent

EDIT: I previously posted this episode with a previous interview with Superintendent Hofmeister, it has since been updated.

Every year I am incredibly fortunate to be able to connect with Oklahoma’s State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. This past year, and no doubt looking forward, was quite an unusual year for #oklaed. A pandemic not only devastated our country it also hi-lighted and exasperated many of the systemic issues of racism and inequities that exist throughout our country and our beloved system of education. New Year’s Day is one of my favorite times of year, I love reflecting and dreaming! I want to challenge you to lean in, reflect, and purposefully plan how you will be a part of the conversation of change.

I want to thank Superintendent Hofmeister for always taking the time to meet with me and reflect on the past year while thinking to the year ahead. You can follow the Superintendent on Facebook or on Twitter @joy4ok.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What were the highlights from the last semester of this school year?
  2. How did you grow as an education?
  3. What were some of the lowlights from the last semester of this school year?
  4. What kind of lessons did you learn from them?

Episode 065: Systemic Racism in Our Communities

Councilperson James Cooper has represented Ward 2 of Oklahoma City since April of 2019. Before that he was an AVID middle school teacher in Oklahoma City Public Schools. I met Councilperson Cooper during the Oklahoma Teacher Walkout of 2018, holding up a really cool sign!

Councilperson Cooper is also a writer and an adjunct professor who got his start in public service as a trustee on OKC’s transportation board. Upon being sworn in, Councilperson Cooper became the first Person of Color to serve Ward 2 and the first openly LBGTQ+ individual to serve as a councilperson in our city.

In this episode, Councilperson Cooper and I discuss how systemic racism and discrimination outside of the school community dramatically impact what happens within the school.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Make a list of the systems that are in place within your classroom or school that negatively impact student groups/populations.
  2. Make a list of policies that are in place within your classroom or school that negatively impact student groups/populations.
  3. What next steps can you take to remove those systems or policies?
  4. What hard conversations do you need to have with administration, teachers, parents?
  5. What practical steps can you make daily to hear and see your students?

Episode 064: Dyslexia

Let’s talk about dyslexia. Dyslexia is a specific learning disability characterized by having difficulties relating to language, particularly reading. It runs in families and is estimated that around 20% of the population. Payne Education Center, located in Oklahoma City, trains teachers to prevent reading difficulties in children and to remediate dyslexia while serving as a resource and a referral center for teachers and parents. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma has updated laws and policies around teaching children with dyslexia. You can learn more about them and the work that they do on Facebook or their website: www.payneeducationcenter.org. For this episode I interviewed Heather Johnson, the Executive Director of Oklahoma’s Payne Education Center.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What practical steps can you take to meet the needs of your students who are demonstrating reading difficulties?
  2. How does your school/district plan to prepare your staff for meeting the needs of students with dyslexia?
  3. What resources do you have available that support your understanding of reading difficulties?

Episode 063: Teaching for Purpose

I have been holding on to this episode for too long. Truth time between having a new position in the district last year to a pandemic to just the regular day-to-day, I have found my self constantly behind. I am so thankful a historic ice storm gave me time to sit with some excellent recordings and prepare them for release.

So meet Heather Malin, Ph.D. Dr. Malin is director of research at the Center on Adolescence. Her book is Teaching for Purpose: Preparing Students for Lives of Meaning. Dr. Malin focuses her work on applying research to education practice (YAY!) and exploring how schools can support students in developing purpose. This excellent conversation explores her research on developing purpose and how it can be applied in practice.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. How do you embed purpose in your teaching?
  2. How do you help and support your students to find their purpose and weave that purpose into your teaching?
  3. Do you provide opportunities for your students to find their purpose?
  4. What atmosphere do you create in your classroom or school?

Episode 062: Back to School

For this episode of Passing Notes, I decided to do something a little different… I’ve been wanting to do a Back to School episode for awhile now (well since the beginning of last year) where I could talk through the things I’m most excited about for the school year, resources, and books teachers should look into to start the year. Well, there is no time like the present and let’s be honest there is going to be no year like this year! 

To start out, I’m going to do introductions like I always do because I realize I may have never introduced myself. I’m Stephanie Hinton, I’m the Director of Early Childhood for Oklahoma City Public Schools and the Passing Notes with Stephanie Hinton Podcaster. I started my teaching career in Tulsa Public Schools but spent most of my career in Putnam City Schools at Tulakes Elementary. I have taught kindergarten, 2nd grade, was an assistant principal, and a curriculum coordinator. The 2020-2021 school year will mark my 13th year in public education. You can connect with me here at Passing Notes with Stephanie Hinton, Twitter @thestephhinton or Facebook.

Here are the resources and books I recommend you checking out for the 2020-2021 school year:

We are going into the 2020-2021 school year with so much possibility for change and growth, this can be overwhelming so it’s important to start by mapping out and committing to your own growth as an educator. What steps do you want to take to more effectively and efficiently use the new resources and technology in your classroom? How will you consciously identify your biases and be proactively anti-racists? What are your next steps? 

I think it’s also important to acknowledge the fear and stress going into this next school year, it will be unlike any we have had to date, This year will not be easy but I do think we can learn from the task that is ahead of us (whatever that looks like) and forge a better tomorrow for our amazing students!

Episode 061: Social Emotional Learning

For this episode I interviewed Dr. Giordana Cote. Dr. Cote currently works for Tools of the Mind as the Director of Partnership Development. She has a long career in teaching early childhood and coaching teachers. She completed her dissertation in Social Emotional Learning and uses her expertise in the area to consult for local and regional school districts in Massachusetts. Social Emotional Learning or SEL has become an important part of our professional development and regular discourse around the current climate of education. How we connect with students and develop their SEL skills are an important part of the daily classroom experience and Dr. Cote provides us with some practical tools and reflections for meeting students’ and teachers’ needs.

Reflection Questions:

  • What are the SEL skills that you want to develop in your students? Make a list.
  • How can you purposefully embed those skills throughout the school day?
  • Which of your own experiences can you share with students to develop SEL conversations?
  • What are some practical ways that you can involve families and the larger community to develop SEL skills in your classroom
  • What supports do you need from administration at your site? Make a list.

Episode 060: Advocacy & Covid 19

Whew! This last month has been… so many things but normal. As I’m sitting in my home office thinking about everything that has happened, I’m truly overwhelmed. Like many educators, I’m concerned about our families and their children. I’m worried about my teachers and how they are adjusting. I’m thinking about week 3 of our Continuous Learning Plan, when week 1 came out yesterday. I’m amazed by our SNS team who continues to serve more meals everyday and our instructional staff who handed out thousands of learning packets to families. This. This has truly been adjustment but I have seen the best in others and a community of people come together.

I had been planning an episode about advocacy for awhile. I had wanted to release it in February with the new legislative season occurring but life happened and it hit the list of things I was going to get to eventually. A few weeks ago Dr. April Grace, Shari Gateley, and I were reflecting on all that had been happening when Dr. Grace announced we should podcast about this and so we did. If you don’t know Dr. April Grace, she is the Superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools and you can find her on Twitter @ShawneeSup. Shari Gateley, currently an Assistant Principal at Irving Middle School in Norman and 2019 OK TOY Finalist, is also a parent to a PreK and K student, and you can find her on Twitter @ShariGateley.

Hope you enjoy our conversation and that you are staying safe and healthy!

Episode 059: An Update from the State Superintendent

Another year, another legislative session which means the OSDE and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister are gearing up for another season of new bills and finalized budgets. I sat down with Superintendent Hofmeister to reflect on the past year of her superintendency and look ahead to the coming year. You can find Superintendent Hofmeister on Twitter @joy4ok.

058: School TurnAround

For this episode of Passing Notes I had the opportunity to interview my previous principal, Mr. Lee Roland. Lee Roland is a former teacher, principal, district-level administrator, and the author of the book Fantastic Voyage: a Story of School Turnaround and Achievement by Overcoming Poverty and Addressing Race. Lee Roland is known for his work at Tulakes Elementary in Putnam City Schools. In this episode we explored the topics he covers in his book and his experiences of school turnaround at Tulakes Elementary.

Reflective Questions:

  • What does your current culture/climate look like?
  • What areas of growth are needed in your current sphere (school or district)? Suspension rates? Academic? Attendance?
  • What are your plans to engage parents and students throughout the school year?
  • What support do you currently need to grow your school? Who do you need to support you? What do you need from your team?
  • What metrics will you look at to measure your school’s growth this year?
  • What are you most proud of that is happening in your school community?