Shine Bright | Luis Cruz | Don‘t Overthink It

In Don’t @ Me (2:46), Tom opens with a quick story from last week about how the small things in life – even if they are manufactured – can make a big difference in how we are feeling. Then, Tom is joined by friend and colleague Luis Cruz (11:19) to explore what it means to fulfill society’s new, more modern definition of ALL, as in all-means-all. Finally, in Assessment Corner (58:48), Tom talks briefly about rubrics and criteria. Not so much about the content and structure but about the creation of rubrics themselves and why we have to stop overthinking them.




Disproving the Theory | Phyllis Fagell | The Allure of Quick

In Don’t @ Me (1:36), Tom opens with a rant about student accountability and how so many, on a daily basis, disprove the theories they assert. Then, Tom is joined by LCPC, psychotherapist, and author Phyllis Fagell (12:57) for a discussion about the teacher-family dynamic and the uniqueness of middle-level learners. Finally, in Assessment Corner (45:07), Tom addresses a particular mindset around assessment that seems to be fairly pervasive but is one we need to be cautious of.



Second Opinions | Cathy Vatterott | Peer Assessment

In Don’t @ Me (1:54), Tom opens with an assertion that educators should seek “second opinions” about the degree to which students have met learning goals. Then, Tom is joined by author, speaker, and expert Dr. Cathy Vatterott (15:23) for a discussion about homework and the larger issue of student stress and anxiety. Finally, in Assessment Corner (52:59), Tom focuses on peer assessment and the many iterations and potential outcomes of this powerful, yet often under-utilized practice.



Present as Epilogue | Rachel Carrillo Fairchild | No Point-Fives

In Don’t @ Me (1:48), Tom shares a daily habit that has contributed to both his personal and professional success. Then, Tom is joined by author, speaker, and expert Rachel Carrillo Fairchild (10:29) for a discussion on how we effectively and efficiently support Multilingual Learners. Finally, in Assessment Corner (56:36), Tom focuses on why we should not include point-fives (.5) in our grading scales.



Are We Too Serious? | Greg Wolcott | Willing & Able

In Don’t @ Me (2:58), Tom wonders if we (as a society) have become too serious and makes the distinction between taking things seriously and taking ourselves too seriously. Then, Tom is joined by Greg Wolcott (10:54), author of SIGNIFICANT 72: UNLEASHING THE POWER OF RELATIONSHIPS IN TODAY’S SCHOOLS to discuss the critical role student-teacher relationships play in both the academic and social success of students. Finally, in Assessment Corner (43:11), Tom focuses on assessment and grading reform and breaks it down in terms of the specific mindset or approaches when colleagues are along the continuums of “willing” & “able” to manifest the change both individually and collectively.



Summer Series: Trauma-Informed Education

The 2021 Summer Series continues with a roundtable discussion on Trauma-Informed Education. Joining Tom for this discussion are Jill Reedy, Joshua Stamper, & John Eller.


Jill Reedy is currently Assistant Regional Superintendent for the Macon/Piatt Regional Office of Education #39 located in Decatur, IL (24 yrs in education). She is a former elementary and middle school teacher and principal, as well as a district-level curriculum director. Jill led the work of the TIP (Trauma-Informed Partnership) consisting of the Macon/Piatt Regional Office, the Education Coalition of Macon County (community organization), the IEA (Illinois Education Association teacher union), and SIU School of Medicine Department of Population Science and Policy (Dr. Sameer Vohra,  Dr. Jeanne Koehler, Dr. Anne Scheer). Jill presents to administrators and teachers throughout Illinois with Dr. Nancy Brodbeck on “Implementing Trauma-Informed Practices in Schools” and “Creating a Culture of Care Through Mindful Leadership.” She was recently invited to participate in the development of a new Children’s Mental Health Plan for Illinois with the ICMHP (Illinois Children’ Mental Health Partnership) and is currently working with the IL Governor’s R3 (Restore, Renew, Reinvest) grant to foster positive relationships between youth and law enforcement and build capacity within community leaders to implement restorative practices


Joshua Stamper is a middle school Assistant Principal for a North Texas School District, where he’s had the amazing opportunity to serve at four campuses and in two school districts. Prior to Joshua’s current position, he was a classroom art educator and athletic coach for 6 years working with students in grades 6-8. In addition to his administrative position, Joshua is a podcaster, author, leadership coach, education presenter, and Podcast Network Manager for the Teach Better Team.


John Eller has served in many roles in education. He has been an elementary and secondary school teacher, a principal at several schools, a National Distinguished Principal with the US Department of Education, a principal center director, and a college professor. John consults with schools and districts across the United States, Canada, and Australia and in South America, Europe, and Asia. John has authored or co-authored over a dozen books for Solution Tree and Corwin Press. His newest publication, Trauma-Sensitive Instruction, is designed to help teachers, leaders, and schools to work more effectively with trauma-impacted students.


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Summer Series: Women in Leadership

The 2021 Summer Series continues with a roundtable discussion on Wome in Leadership. Joining Tom for this discussion are Zandra Jo Galván, Anisa Baker-Busby, & Brittany Rincón


Zandra Jo Galvan has been serving as Superintendent of the Greenfield Union School District since August 10, 2017. Zandra has worked in public education for the past 28 years. Prior to joining GUSD, she served as the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for Gonzales Unified School District where she coordinated all educational programs, the LCAP process and budgets, and managed all state and federal programs. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies and Teaching Credential from the California State University of Fresno in 1993, her Master of Arts Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from CSU Monterey Bay in 2002, and her Master of Arts Degree and Administrative Credential in Educational Leadership from San Jose State University in 2008. She will begin at the University of Southern California in August 2021. She has also successfully completed the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Superintendent Academy, served on the ACSA 2020 Superintendent Planning Committee, is a member of the National Superintendents Roundtable, is on the ACSA Region 10 Board of Directors, and is the president of California Association of Latino/a/x Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA). Superintendent Galvan is passionate about preparing students to be social-emotionally and academically prepared for college and career and ensures that every GUSD team member knows they are an ELITE team member dedicated to the arduous task of saving students from the cycle of poverty. She proudly is committed to “ALL Means ALL”: Fulfilling the Greenfield Guarantee for ALL students in the Greenfield Union School District. 


Dr. Anisa Baker-Busby, EdD, is an elementary school principal at Lindsey Elementary School in middle Georgia. In 2020, Solution Tree named Lindsey Elementary a national model PLC school. With more than 18 years of experience in high-poverty schools as an elementary teacher and administrator, Dr. Baker-Busby enjoys helping teachers and leaders use assessments to improve learning outcomes. She works with educators to create collaborative teams focused on using assessment data to make real-time instructional decisions. As an elementary principal, Dr. Baker-Busby helped high-performing collaborative teams embrace the PLC at Work process by focusing on the three big ideas—collaboration, learning, and results. As a result, teams created common formative assessments and used the results to improve their practices and determine students who need additional time and support. Dr. Baker-Busby was named the 2008–2009 Teacher of the Year at Miller Elementary School in Georgia.


Dr. Brittany Rincón is a teacher, curriculum coordinator, and the host of The Teacher Leader Podcast. She helps teachers become leaders by finding their voice through podcasting and leadership mindset work. Brittany believes that every teacher is a teacher leader who has a story and a message worth sharing with the world. As a podcast coach, she helps teachers start, launch, and grow their podcasts through 1:1 coaching and her courses. She graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Anthropology and from Johns Hopkins University with an M.A. in Educational Studies. She recently completed her Ed.D. at the University of Florida with a concentration in Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education. She is always learning something new and eager to grow as a leader, educator, and person.


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Summer Series: Standards-Based Grading

The 2021 Summer Series continues with a roundtable discussion on Standards-Based Grading. Joining Tom for this discussion are TElaine Klauer, Megan Knight, & Katelynn Giordano


Elaine Klauer is the Director of Academics and Instructional Programs at San Benito High School in Hollister, CA. She works closely with secondary teachers on teaching, learning, grading, and assessment; specifically on embracing a standards-based mindset. Elaine has led the district initiative on grading practices for the past 4 years, which will result in full implementation by all teachers by the 2022-23 school year.


Dr. Megan Knight is an adjunct instructor at Upper Iowa University and an instructional coach at North Scott Schools in Eldridge, Iowa. Megan has taught secondary special education and English, as well as undergraduate and graduate-level education courses. Megan received three distinguished research awards from the Iowa Educational Research & Evaluation Association for her work in the area of standards-based grading, and her publications have appeared in the NASSP Bulletin, ASCD Express, and the Journal of Educational Leadership in Action. In the classroom, Megan continually refines her assessment and grading practices to make them more accurate and supportive of learning, and she enjoys helping others do the same.


Katelynn Giordano is a Middle-Level Language Arts Educator and Director of Curriculum & Instruction for the Teach Better Team.  Katelynn is a dynamic educator who is passionate about student voice and empowerment, promoting equity, and valuing teachers as professionals. Katelynn has presented at various state and national conferences on assessment & grading practices, language arts instruction, social-emotional learning, and equitable teaching practices. She has contributed chapters to innovative books on educational practice, including The New Teacher’s Guide to Overcoming Common Challenges and 100 No-Nonsense Things that ALL Teachers Should STOP Doing.


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Summer Series: Social-Emotional Learning

The 2021 Summer Series continues with a roundtable discussion on Social-Emotional Learning. Joining Tom for this discussion are Tre’ Gammage, Jessica Hannigan, & John Hannigan.


Tre’ Gammage is a Dean of Students & SEL Consultant from South Carolina. Tre’ has always had a passion for helping others. With a vast background in speaking, podcasting, and consulting, Tre’ was once told “when you see someone living their dream, it makes you want to be a part of that dream” and he’s been living by that motto ever since. He is the author of “EVERY DECISION COUNTS: 8 LESSON’S I WISH THEY TAUGHT ME IN SCHOOL” and the host of The Dash Podcast.


Dr. Jessica Djabrayan Hannigan is an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership Department at California State University, Fresno. She works with schools and districts across the nation on designing and implementing effective behavior systems. Her expertise includes response-to-intervention (RTI) behavior, multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS), positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS), social and emotional learning (SEL), and more.


Dr. John Hannigan is an executive leadership coach for Fresno County Superintendent of Schools in California. He has served in education for over 20 years as a principal, assistant principal, instructional coach, and teacher. Under his leadership, his school has received numerous awards and recognitions, including California State Distinguished School, Gold Ribbon School, Title I Academic School, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (Platinum Level).


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Summer Series: UDL

The 2021 Summer Series opens with a roundtable discussion on Universal Design for Learning. Joining Tom for this discussion are Fatima Sammy, Jackie Duncan, & Alisha Poling.


Fatima Sammy (M.Ed, MPH) is the 8th-grade science teacher and teacher leader at the Putnam Avenue Upper School in Cambridge, MA. Her teaching focuses on instructional practices and routines that enable students to develop into independent learners. She leads a Professional Learning Community (PLC) that fosters collaboration, values student’s voice, and places an emphasis on the importance of learner visibility in the classroom. Fatima also serves as an education consultant for the Diversity, Education and Outreach Office of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. In this role, she trains scientists to engage with students and collaborates on an out-of-school-time interactive bio-coding curriculum.


Jackie Duncan (M.A.) is the UDL district coordinator, is a high school English teacher within Shelby City Schools in Shelby, OH. Jackie has a non-traditional path into education that started with a tour in the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, and a few other endeavors before she finally set her sights on earning her teaching degree. She has been teaching for the better part of the past decade and was introduced to UDL practices fairly early on in her practice. UDL’s focus on breaking traditional norms within education and creating multiple pathways to learning was the perfect pairing to her own philosophy of education. She has recently completed her graduate certificate from the University of Pennsylvania Literacy Network in UDL.


Alisha Poling (B.S., M.Ed., M.A.S.E) is a Special Education Teacher and 504 Monitor at Mark Twain Elementary in Kirkland, WA. Alisha has taught in both self-contained and resource room programs and was introduced to UDL by education consultant, Dr. Cassie Martin who is affiliated with the University of WA Haring Center. Prior to teaching in WA, she taught art for 5 years and special education for 1 year in TN. She has worked in several districts and schools and believes that leadership is the key to making systemic changes in education. However, she believes that teachers who are trained in UDL can make THE difference in kids’ lives when the paradigm shift occurs. Currently, the school that Alisha works at (Mark Twain Elementary) is collaborating with the University of WA Haring Center and the TIES center as a model school for inclusionary practices. 


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