Chasing Squirrels

I don’t blog twice in one day very often, but these posts are almost writing themselves today.   I could subtitle this post ‘teacher talk…recorded!’.  I had the great pleasure of speaking with Chris Cluff, master EDU conversation facilitator and creator of the Chasing Squirrels podcast.

Rewind 10 months. Podcast? Summit and conference presenter? Blogger? Networking? Online Youtube session? Really? How?

Life is funny like that.  Saying ‘yes’ has had a bit of a chain reaction this year.  It’s been the busiest teaching year of my life because I’ve decided to say yes to opportunities.  It has been so rewarding, largely because I’ve be-friended so many amazing teachers both in and out of my Board.

Educators can empower each other. A quick tweet or DM to make a connection or ask a question on behalf of a new member of your PLN can change your trajectory.  Teachers we meet help shape our edu interests and their passions are often contagious.  I always want to try something new after meeting an energized teacher.

The new, this time, came from a quick Twitter DM sent from a new friend that said something like “Chris, you’ve got to talk to this guy”.  A few weeks later and I have a podcast in the can!

It was a blast.  First of all, Chris researches his podcast guests and checks out their digital footprint. He then creates an amazing sketchnote that serves as a conversation roadmap. So cool.


Next we just chatted, off air. We geeked out on teacher talk.  Eventually Chris asked if we should hit record and officially start the podcast.  He warned the hour would fly by, and it literally felt like ten minutes.

I ramble, I talk too fast, I clearly say ‘um’ too often, but I must admit that sharing my views and motivations on record was somewhat liberating.  I reflect personally all the time.  Reflecting along with someone else took it to another level.

I told Chris afterwards that there is something special about a podcast.  As the listener you are not distracted with visuals and you end up tuning very carefully into the nuances of conversation.

Tuning in.  Active listening skills.  I see opportunity here in my classroom.  Another medium to adapt, explore and add to the digital toolbelt? Hopefully my students take my lead and say ‘yes’.

A night of teacher talk left me with a new pal, a growing network and a very cool experience to reflect upon. Chris’ inquisitive nature is indeed contagious.  He’s chasing squirrels.  I think I know why.



Talking Shop


Ah, teacher talk.  A beautiful thing for an inquiring educator. Not so good for spouses of said educators (haha!).  Connecting with others can be so fruitful, especially if it is a true give and take of ideas.

How does a whole day (and then some) of teacher talk sound?  Motivating? Encouraging? Challenging? Celebratory? Exhausting?  All of the above?

Yesterday our #tllp2017 #listenlouderlttp team met for our first official day of planning. The fall kickoff of our Listen Louder: Amplifying Student Voice in Math Self-Assessment through Technology Teacher Leadership and Learning Program project is fast approaching and we wanted a day to meet face-to-face to ensure that we are ready for the first day of school in the fall. We don’t want to waste a day.  We invited teachers currently in the project trenches, research folks and even a colleague representing the academia world to ensure that our teacher talk was on point. We feel that we have so much to learn (as teachers) and see value in our inquiry. We’re confident that putting the energy into creating reflective, self-assessing students will be worth the energy. Big time.

We feel that students who amplify their voice by having choice in the tools they use to share their thinking will be empowered with the agency provided to them.  Will they engage in self-directing activities? Will they be motivated by having their voice honoured? Will we see a difference across ages and divisions?  Can we recognize that learning is a long-game and we should focus on scaffolding the how-to-learn skill-set? Will there be an audience for what we uncover through this process?

Teacher talk – teacher talk – teacher talk…or teacher asks?  Has someone ever studied the ratio of statements to questions in a ‘teacher talk’? Hey, researchers, might be onto something here (ha, ha).  Sharing, telling, asking, refining, questioning, reanalyzing, changing mindsets, more talking.  What elements come together to make the best kind of shop talk in the EDU world?

It was a busy, and at times heavy, day.  When you are funding your own release time with project budget, time is money.

In terms of focused ‘shop talk’, I think our TLLP Team got their money’s worth yesterday.


Here’s our not-so-concise elevator pitch:

We are exploring self-assessment as a learning tool…and we have questions:

  • How does the use of reflection frameworks (e.g., single-point rubrics) affect student meta-cognition and teacher practice?
  • What is the relationship between technology and student choice and voice?
  • What are some promising practices for teacher reflection?

We are exploring how teachers can amplify student voice in classrooms by providing students with choice in the digital tools they use to ‘show what they know’.

Follow the story at #ListenLouderTLLP