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 054: The Power of PLC

For this episode of Passing Notes I interviewed Dr. Keely Frayser. Keely is the Executive Director of Curriculum in the Putnam City School District. Keely and I discussed in depth the power of a PLC community within a school and a district and how PLCs can help change the narrative and community of a school.

Reflection Questions:

  • What does your curtain PLC practice looks like?
  • What are the expectations for PLC and collaboration in your school?
  • What drives your school’s PLC conversation?
  • What data is important for your teachers to discuss during PLC meetings?
  • How does PLC and regular collaboration impact your school environment?
  • Who has ownership of PLCs?

Episode 053: Developing School Community

For this episode of Passing Notes I interviewed Greg Frederick. Greg is the principal of the U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City Public Schools. In this role he and his staff have worked hard to develop a place where students can come learn, grow, explore their passions, and make connections.

Reflection Questions:

  • What programs/partnerships do you currently have in your school?
  • What gaps do you see that need to be filled to support students in your school? How might partnerships help?
  • How does your school build community for your students?
  • What values/priorities does the staff at your school have that guide your decision making?
  • What plans do you have to create a stronger school community for your students?

Episode 052: Building Relationships

For this episode of Passing Notes, in the Leadership Series, I visited with retired educator Pam Hibbs on building relationships. Pam Hibbs is the former Director of Early Childhood and my old boss in OKCPS. During her time with OKCPS she developed relationships with community partners, families, and students in order to build opportunities for families.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you build relationships with your students and parents?
  • How do you build relationships with partners to provide opportunities for your students?
  • How does your school engage the community/parents to participate in instruction?
  • What strategies do you use to encourage family participation?
  • What impact does engaging partners/families in the classroom have on instruction? Building community?

Episode 050: The Partner Effect

For this episode of Passing Notes I interviewed Principal of Shidler Elementary in Oklahoma City, Armando Ayala. Mr. Ayala is known for his ability to connect the community to his school, providing numerous resources and opportunities for his students and their families. Mr. Ayala shared with Passing Notes the importance of relationships and how to build a community.

Reflection Questions:

  • What are the needs at your school that are not being met? What are the student needs?
  • Who are the community members or stakeholders that your school could be partnering with?
  • What steps do you need to take to connect with a partner to fill a need that is present in your school/classroom?
  • If currently connected to the community, what are your successes? Areas for growth?

Episode 049: Partners in Education

This episode of Passing Notes is focused on how partners support education and instructional practices in the classroom! I interviewed members of OKC Midtown Rotary Club Laura Nauman, Emily Duncan, and Matt Murphy about the projects they have completed in partnership with a variety of schools across the metro and how educators can engage with them in the process.

OKC Midtown Rotary Club was chartered in 2009 with the goal of involving young professionals in in the service and ideals of Rotary International with a focus on Arts and Education in Oklahoma City. You can find out more information about OKC Midtown Rotary Club by visiting their Facebook page, Twitter, or their website.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is a need in your classroom or school that could be fulfilled by connecting with a partner?
  • What is a major project that you would like to work on during this school year?
  • What organizations could you partner with to see this project completed?
  • What first steps do you need to take?
  • In what ways can you engage partners throughout the coming school year in your classroom?

Episode 047: OPSRC

This episode of Passing Notes is a cross over with the OPSRC podcast School ZonED. I sat down with Executive Director Brent Bushey and talked all things education and podcasting. You can find out more information about OPSRC -Oklahoma Public School Resource Center – on their website, Twitter, or Facebook.

Reflection Questions:

  • Reflecting on the 2018-2019 school year, what areas of growth have you identified for the coming school year?
  • What resources are you looking to for growing your practice in the 2019-2020 school year?
  • What podcasts/books are you listening to and learning from this school year?
  • How can you be a resource to other teachers and to parents in the coming school year?
  • What do you need from your school leader or other teachers this school year? How are you advocating for those resources?

Episode 038: Kids First

This is part 2 of my interview with Kristi Mraz. This episode will focus more on learning environments and creating a mindset for learning You can find Kristi on Twitter @MrazKristi or on her blog www.kristimraz.com.

Reflection Guide:

  • What values does your classroom environment portray about your teaching philosophy? What do you want it to say?
  • What current classroom practices do you have in place that doesn’t match up with your values? How do you plan to change that?
  • Have you audited your schedule lately? Is your schedule designed with child development and current research on how children learn in mind?
  • Do you feel like a manger of students or a curator of community? Why?
  • Take a moment to write down your beliefs about students and learning. What evidence exists in your classroom of those beliefs? What steps do you need to take to demonstrate your beliefs in practice?

Episode 036: Purposeful Play

For this episode of Passing Notes, I interviewed Kristi Mraz. Kristi is a prolific writer and teacher researcher. She has co-authored a number of books; including, Purposeful Play, A Mindset for Learning, and Kids 1st from Day 1. Kristi teaches in New York City Public Schools and supports teachers across the nation. You can find Kristi on Twitter @MrazKristi or on her blog www.kristimraz.com.

Reflection Guide:

  • What questions/problem of practice do you have about the work you do with students?
  • What struggles/barriers exist for implementation of purposeful play in your classroom/school?
  • Do you view play as an important part of your educational practice? How does your planning provide evidence of this value?
  • How do you avoid the trap of cute?
  • Do you view play as a right or a privilege?
  • How are you bringing the energy of play to academics?
  • How do you use your play personality in your teaching/classroom environment?

Episode 031: Systems of Care and the Power of Hope

For this episode of Passing Notes, I met with Casey Gwinn and Dr. Rick Cobb. Casey Gwinn is an attorney who led the nation in the creating the concept for Family Justice Centers. He is the current president of the Alliance of Hope, developed the model for Camp HOPE, and is the recent co-author of the book Hope Rising. Dr. Rick Cobb is the superintendent of Mid-Del Public Schools and is working to shift they dynamics within the school district and the larger community to support families through a trauma-informed lens.

On January 7, 2019, Dr. Cobb and his leadership team brought Casey Gwinn to speak to the entire district in the morning and community members in the afternoon. Dr. Cobb invited me to join the afternoon session and I wasn’t prepared for such an incredible afternoon of learning. Very thankful that both took them time to visit with me afterwards for this interview!

Below are the questions I prepared for the interview:

  • Introduce yourself
  • What work do you and the Alliance for Hope International do?
  • Why is being trauma-informed an important community-wide endeavor?
  • What role does hope play in trauma-informed care?
  • What resources exist for teachers, principals? Communities?
  • What is happening today in your district?
  • What do you hope to accomplish with this work?
  • Where did the idea start? What preparation took place? What data was collected?
  • Why do you believe that this work is important for your district?
  • How has trauma impacted your district? Individual schools?
  • What strategies have you put in place throughout the district to ensure that trauma-informed care is taking place in individual classrooms?
  • In what other ways do you plan to include the community on your work focused around trauma?
  • What would happen to the overall mission of our work if ACEs were radically reduced in the population as a whole? What does a low-ACEs culture look like?
  • Resources that have impacted the work that you are doing in the Mid-Del District?