Episode 008: Interview with April Mickelson

Education, Education Podcast, Instructional

449px-BalancedLiteracy

April Mickelson is a remedial specialist at Jackson Enterprise in Oklahoma City Public Schools. She started out as a kindergarten teacher (which is my favorite grade too) and now as a remedial specialist she serves her school as a reading interventions, lead professional development facilitator and a literacy coach.

The Balanced Literacy approach has 8 components: read aloud, guided reading, shared reading, interactive writing, shared writing, Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop and Word study. Balanced Literacy combines the ideas behind whole language and phonics programs. This approach to literacy allows the ELA teacher to look at the big picture of teaching reading and language arts.

Below are the questions I prepared to ask April (there were some follow up questions in the podcast that are not included below):

  1. Share about your education background/experience.
  2. What is the Balanced Literacy approach?
  3. What are the main components of Balanced Literacy?
  4. Why is the Balanced Literacy approach superior to other literacy programs?
  5. Describe a Balanced Literacy lesson.
  6. What would the lesson plan need to have in it? i.e., what would need to be different about lesson planning for a Balanced Literacy approach has opposed to other lesson plans?
  7. What are mini-lessons? What should be included in a mini-lesson?
  8. When you enter into a classroom, what do you look for in a classroom using a Balanced Literacy approach?
  9. What are the practical steps for teachers who need to being implementing a Balanced Literacy approach?
  10. What advice would you give teachers who are on the fence about implementing a Balanced Literacy approach?
  11. What are your go to resources for Balanced Literacy?

Episode 007: Interview with Brandi Sickler

Education, Education Podcast

Brandi Sickler is one of my favorite people. I could have interviewed her about anything! She is a kindergarten teacher at Tulakes Elementary in Putnam City Schools. Brandi has taught in early childhood classrooms for 11 years, has her masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and runs a blog called Teach.Empower.Kinder. You can find her on Twitter @brandi_sickler and on Facebook.

For this interview we focused on Brandi’s passion for Flexible Seating (linked is her blog post that includes pictures of her classroom). Flexible Seating has recently taken off in classrooms from PK to twelfth grade. I love the idea of having a relaxing and open classroom. In this episode, Brandi talks me through how she finally took the plunge and gives her practical advice to teachers considering a change in their classroom set-up.

Below are the questions I prepared to ask Brandi (there were some follow up questions in the podcast that are not included below):

  1. Tell us about your teaching history/ educational experience.
  2. What gave you the idea to start flexible seating in your classroom?
  3. How did you get started?
  4. What types of flexible seating do you provide in your classroom?
  5. What materials and supplies do you provide to your students that support flexible seating?
  6. How have your parents responded to flexible seating in your classroom? Students?
  7. Have you noticed changes in student engagement? Achievement?
  8. What advice would you give other teachers interested in making the change to flexible seating?

Episode 006: OklaSaid Collaboration

Education Podcast, Relationships

This week’s episode has a bit of a different format. OklaSaid is a weekly podcast that reviews and discusses the #oklaed twitter chat. Each week the hosts, Erin Barnes @ebarnes73 and Scott Haselwood @TeachFromHere, interview the moderators of the #oklaed chat and then break down the conversation surrounding each question. You can find out more information about OklaSaid at their website or on Twitter @OklaSaid.

April 15, Kristin Atchley and I moderated the #oklaed chat and so today we are combining our podcasts which will include an interview with me and Kristin about our topic for the #oklaed chat.

Kristin is the executive director of counseling at the Oklahoma State Department of Education. I have followed her on twitter for some time now and we recently met when we figured out we were at the same conference. The Raising Resilient Oklahomans conference was put on by Ok 25 by 25 and discussed the capacity of building resilience to counteract the impact childhood trauma.

Below are the questions Kristin and I prepared for the #oklaed chat on April 15, 2018:

  1. What is your professional experience with ACEs?
  2. What behaviors do you see from children who have high ACE scores? How can you tell a students is in “fight, flight, or freeze” and is unable to process new concepts/learn?
  3. What classroom/school practices do you have in place to develop your students’ prefrontal cortex?
  4. What classroom school practices do you have in place to build connection with and between your students?
  5. What strategies are you using that involve the whole family? Does your school provide any wrap-around services to families?
  6. What would happen to the overall mission of your work if ACEs were radically reduced in the population as a whole? What does a low-ACEs culture look like?
  7. What makes you a resilient person? How can that help your students?
  8. What classroom/school practices are you using or would like to use to build student resilience?
  9. What training/PD do you need in your teaching practice to effectively respond to students in a trauma sensitive manner?
  10. Retweet a post from this chat to share a trauma-informed practice you would like to implement in your classroom/school?

Episode 005: Interview with Carri Hicks

Education Podcast, Politics

Carri Hicks is an Oklahoma educator that is running for office. She started her campaign almost a year ago by promoting awareness for the issues most important to her and door-to-door campaigning. I met Carri when she began her teaching career atCH 1 Tulakes Elementary, she now teaches at Grove Valley in Deer Creek Public Schools. You can find more information about Carri and her campaign for Senate District here or on Facebook.

I wanted to interview Carri about her experiences as a teacher and a candidate for office, especially when considering our current political climate and the fact that we are in the midst of a teacher walkout in the state of Oklahoma. Yesterday, the first day of candidate filing, saw record numbers of individual filling for office. Our state may be at a tipping point for change or it may maintain the status quo. It is an exciting time to be in Oklahoma.

Below are the questions I prepared to ask Carri (there were some follow up questions in the podcast that are not included below):

  1. Tell us about your experience in education?
  2. What made you decide to run for office?
  3. What is the platform you are running on?
  4. How has your experiences as an education and as a mom helped you to define your platform?
  5. Why is it important for educators to run for office? Why is it important for more women to run for office?
  6. What do you think prohibits educators/women from running for office?
  7. What has been your biggest struggles/hurdles to running for office?
  8. How has the Oklahoma teacher walkout impacted your campaign?
  9. What steps do you think our legislators need to take to move our state forward? With what has happened in the month of April, what are your thoughts on change in our state?
  10. What advice do you have for people considering running for office?

Episode 004: Interview with Jamie Gibbons

Education, Education Podcast, Policy

The Teacher Walkout! April 2, 2018 has come and gone and educators across the state of Oklahoma are in Day 5 of the teacher walkout. So much has happened and while I wasn’t planning on releasing an episode of Passing Notes this week, I felt like I needed to. So, I sat down and interviewed Jamie Gibbons, an OKCPS teacher about her reflections on what has happened and the work that still needs to be done.

Share your thoughts and reflections from this week in the comments section.

Episode 003: Interview with Claudia Swisher, Part B

Education, Education Podcast, Policy

Interview with Claudia Swisher continued.

Episode 002: Interview with Claudia Swisher, Part A

Education, Education Podcast, Policy

I have followed Claudia Swisher on Twitter @ClaudiaSwisher and on her blog Fourth Generation Teacher for years. She has truly been an advocate for education throughout her 39-year teaching career and now into retirement. Over the years I have learned from Claudia the importance of advocacy and persistence in the face of seeming defeat.  Claudia has taught students at every grade-level in the K-12 system as an elementary classroom teacher, a school media specialist, a multi-categorical resource special education teacher, a title 1 remedial reading teacher, and a high school English teacher. She is certified in English Language Arts, library media, and reading specialist with a graduate degree and 20 hours past a masters in special education. Oh and she is a National Board Certified Teacher.

However, this quote by Marjory Stoneman Douglas, which she proudly displays on both her Facebook and Twitter pages, sums her up and her life mission: “Be a nuisance where it counts; do you part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics – but never give up!”

The Teacher Walkout in the state of Oklahoma has been a true grassroots movement, spring boarded by the 9-day teacher walkout in West Virginia, where teacher pay was ranked at 47th. Oklahoma teachers banned together through the use of social media to plan, strategize, and get union leaders on board. The potential walkout in Oklahoma is remarkable, as it is not been pulled together by teachers rallying around a bill, was not union started, and is coming on the heels of two failed special sessions that failed to fund core services in our state. Further, this upcoming walkout is inclusive and is calling for state employees to join the cause. It is not just about teachers but our legislators failure to increase revenue and fund the government. The OEA has demanded that the legislator fund a teacher and support staff pay raise, increase funds to education, and fund a raise for state employees.

It is truly amazing what a group of dedicated, civically involved individuals can do to better our society. Further our students and children are watching. We are modeling for them democracy in action.