It’s like a family reunion!

This is a great book!

About a month ago, Dave Burgess send me a message letting me know that I had been selected to get a free book from DBC! The person who would be taking care of me was Tara Martin. I had the awesome good fortune to listen to and learn from Tara at ISTE last summer in Chicago.

The Tara Martin at ISTE with one of her many fans!

I let Tara know that I was excited to read one of DBC’s newest titles, Lead Beyond Your Title by Nili Bartley. I loved the title and had great hopes for another fabulous pirate experience. Tara let me know that this book was SO new, it wasn’t even released yet, but as soon as it was, I was in business. And, of course, she was good to her word. The book arrived, along with some cool pirate swag (I love DBC!)

So I’m well into Nili’s book. It’s fantastic. It’s like sitting next to a trusted colleague, sharing fears, hopes, dreams, aspirations. It’s so clearly written from a great teacher’s heart, it’s amazing. One of the thing that struck me most powerfully was her use of quotes. Since I changed jobs, moving from being a junior high principal, to the executive director of Teaching-Learning-Innovation, I’ve had the opportunity to figure out that twitter is the best professional learning tool on earth for educators. And because of twitter and my PLN, I know every single person she quotes…and even cooler, have met almost all of the educators. That would NOT have happened if I hadn’t opened my mind to the possibilities available through twitter.

Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from Nili’s book from some of my favorite learning influences. Thanks to all for growing, sharing, and learning with me!

“When students put their phones in their lockers for the day and are asked to learn what we tell them they must learn, engagement immediately drops, no matter how good a teacher we think we are.” –Joy Kirr, Shift This


“People are less likely to tear down systems they help build.” –Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf, Lead Like a PIRATE

“It’s not supposed to be easy–it’s supposed to be worth it.” -Dave Burgess, Teach Like a PIRATE

“If you are going to crush apathy in our schools and create learning that’s irresistible, it won’t happen doubling down our efforts to reach proficiency. We have to start by developing environments where students can rekindle what it means to be a passionate learner. After all, they came to us this way, right?” –David Geurin, Future Driven

“Twitter is not going to change your life. But the educators you meet there will.” –Aaron Hogan, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth

These are just a few of the quotes from the author educators. Reading them again, having read all their books, interacted with them on twitter, talked with them via Google Hangouts, or met them in person, makes this book, in addition to being a powerful, supportive well of inspiration and ideas for educators, a family reunion. A celebration.

Great job Nili and thank you!

Where were these questions when I started teaching?

Sometimes I feel like I whale on my beloved university unfairly. But the further along I go in my career, I honestly wonder what in the heck we learned in the undergrad teacher preparation process. I specifically remember a solid week’s focus being on bulletin board preparation. Seriously.

Joe Feldman has written an excellent book shown above. He is flat calling me out as a teacher who gave no thought to grading practices. I made ’em up as I went, based on how I thought grades were supposed to work. I remember something about a bell curve, from teacher prep days in college.

And that was literally the extent of the thought to which I gave my grading practices.

I wonder sometimes if we’ve moved the needle at all with this topic. Here are some pretty hardcore questions/statements about the punitive nature of grading from Mr. Feldman.

  • Does traditional grading stifle risk-taking and trust between the student and teacher?
  • Are mistakes punished? Or encouraged? (Jo Boaler has an entire book about the brain growth nature associated with making mistakes.)
  • Simple question for teachers. Do the kids’ grades at the beginning of learning carry the same weight as at the end of learning? When they don’t know anything about the subject matter, do their mistakes as they learn punish them? Wow. That one kills me because it makes SO MUCH SENSE.
  • Do kids’ grades include things associated with behavior? Noisy class? Brining tissue for extra credit? How about wrong heading? Late work? Skipping problems they don’t understand?
  • The entire riff on grades being sought for the sole purpose of a grade—not learning. Does a teacher’s grading practices incentivize cheating? Getting the right answer, to get the right grade is the point. Not the learning.

I could kind of go on and on. I’ve just started this book. The above is captured over 3 pages(30-32). I’d dare any educator to read them and honestly ponder grading practices.

I did. I wish I could go back in time.