Category Archives: Podcast

PMP:062 Setting the Record Straight & School Advocacy

A few years ago, I had the privilege to participate in a ten-day tour of four cities in China.

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On one leg of the trip, I sat by a Mongolian woman who was fluent in English and on her way home after completing graduate studies at Boston University. We enjoyed trading stories about our families, home, schools, and studies. Toward the end of our conversation, she turned to me and asked poignantly, “Why do U.S. schools not measure up to other nations on standardized tests?”

This was a fair question. After all, I’m sure she had seen the statistics commonly discussed in higher education about the comparison of U.S. public school scores to students in other industrialized nations. I also knew she came from a situation and background that allowed her access to higher education, so she had seen first-hand how helpful her own education had been.

As a good teacher tries to do, however, I answered her question with some questions of my own. Continue reading

PMP:060 How Mindfulness Influences Leadership

A few nights ago, I was sitting on the couch with my wife, Missy, when our four children slowly made their way into the living room.

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Our lives are so busy with three teenage girls and an eleven-year-old boy that we rarely find time to all be together these days. Emily, our oldest, came and sat on the floor so she could get “mommy scratches” while she played on her iPhone. Mattie, our second oldest, was across the room. She had placed her laptop on the piano bench with a video of dancers from the musical Beauty and the Beast, and she danced along practicing moves.

Katie, our third girl, was on the opposite couch with her guitar. She was playing a version of Hello from the Other Side while Emily was humming harmonies along with her. And then there was Jack with a snack of cheese crackers on the table. With a cracker in his mouth, he was everywhere: sometimes carrying his basketball, moving it between his legs or bouncing it. Or he’d sit on the couch and hum along with the music and then jump back up for another cracker. Continue reading

PMP:058 Triggering the Brain with Wonder

The other day I was talking to our high school choir teacher, when she told me about a fascinating brain study involving music.

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MIT neuroscientists have discovered that music triggers an auditory cortex of the brain that doesn’t appear to respond to other basic auditory sounds like speech.

If our brains have portions that only react to sounds recognized as music, this leads to an important question: Are we really engaging the brain most effectively if we aren’t exposing it to both left brain (facts, patterns, figures, and information) and right brain activities (creative, imaginative, inspiring ideas)? Continue reading

PMP 056: Reaching Generation iY and iGen Students

A few years ago, I was talking to a senior student, Jesse, who was publishing his first book.

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He shared with me that he had a great opportunity to speak at a gathering of authors at a book conference. Later, he was invited to a number of middle schools to share with younger students his passion for writing. I asked him if I could attend one of his presentations, and it was amazing to watch him communicating ideas and inspiration to groups of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.

Over the next few months, Jesse would stop by my office, and we would talk about his dreams and plans. Because he was so teachable, I pointed him toward resources to help him start blogging, creating an email subscription list, and leveraging his social media options. We explored ways he might maximize opportunities before starting college.

As a result, Jesse began building a platform for his writing, ideas, and creative projects before he even graduated high school. He stayed in contact with readers and students he had met through his content and events. He is in college now, has published his second book, and is hosting his own podcast. (Check out his website jessehaynesauthor.com to see his profile, books, and podcast links!)

Jesse has exceptional gifts, drive, and opportunities for someone his age. And as I watch other students like him pursuing their futures, I realize that this generation faces options for careers that my generation never knew. Today’s students no longer have to wait for permission or continuing education to begin connecting, designing, creating or sharing ideas.

When I think about my own children entering the adult world and the students in my school, I realize they have amazing options: Continue reading

PMP 055: Spring Semester & Beta-Testing

When I was boy, my parents would often stop by a decrepit farmhouse where they had first lived after being married.

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My great-grandfather had built it in the early 1900’s with a big front porch, two chimneys, and a tin roof. A large pear tree grew in the front yard, and in the spring, yellow jonquils (or buttercups as we called them) would cover the hillside there. The Old House was no longer inhabitable, but it had become a place where family members stored old furniture or other odds and ends.

I still remember wandering through the sunlit rooms filled with scattered furniture and trunks and imagining what life was like for my ancestors who once lived there without cars or indoor plumbing. One spring when my dad butchered a hog, he wrapped up the hams and carried them to The Old House where he stored the meat in a large wooden box filled with salt. Weeks later, we retrieved the hams from the saltbox and had salted pork for weeks to come.

When I see buttercups, I often think of The Old House. And this is normally the time of year for blooms to emerge. At the same time, spring time brings up other questions about what is in store for our school. For instance, what steps are we taking now that might leave impressions or blooms for the coming school year? Continue reading

PMP 052: Starting a Movement of Kindness

Although I grew up in West Tennessee, I was born in San Diego, California when my dad was stationed there in the Navy.

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Some of my earliest toddler memories include playing on the beach while my dad and older brothers swam in the waves. Even though I was three or four years old, I still remember seeing my first jellyfish, finding starfish, and playing in the sand.

My dad had a unique way of building sandcastles. He would begin by gathering a mound of wet sand into a pile. Then he would scoop handfuls of sand and water. He would slowly drip the sand-water onto the mound until a small hill began to form. Drip, drip, drip… Each little drop of water would evaporate in the sun, leaving the sand behind in whatever shape it had formed. Eventually, the mound would build until it looked like a tall volcano with rippling spires.

When I think about creating and building, I’m fascinated by the small, steady actions that overtime can create something awesome.

Building a Momentum of Positive Culture

Last week one of my teachers told me she was having a bad day. Some of her students had been challenging, and she was having a hard time keeping a positive outlook. After classes that day, she visited the girl’s bathroom.

She was surprised to see someone had a left a post-it note on the mirror that said, “You are enough.” Another note said, “You are loved.” Suddenly, she felt better and smiled at the kind sentiments. Continue reading

PMP 050: The 5 Marks of a Learning Culture

After living in Oklahoma for more than twenty years, I’ve become keenly aware that our state’s economy is intricately related to oil and gas.

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In addition to our rich Native American heritage, almost every major city or town in our state has its roots in the oil fields and exploration that brought workers who in turn brought their families and built communities.

A lot has changed over the decades, but for those who work the rigs and fields today, they can tell you that drilling and production can still be very dangerous work. When managing parts and machines under tremendous pressure, one mistake can be fatal.

Recently I was listening to The New Norm, an episode of Invisibilia, a podcast on the invisible forces, emotions, or psychological influences that affect the way we think or behave.

This episode focused on a story from 1997 when Shell Oil had commissioned Ursa, the largest offshore drilling rig in history. One man, Rick Fox, was assigned the task of assembling and training a crew who would manage a floating multi-story complex the size of two football fields. His biggest fears? He worried a lot about the inevitable injuries or deaths that could take place in metropolis of such high-pressure engineering—where a misread gauge or a wrong turn could be unimaginably catastrophic. Continue reading

PMP 047: Interview with Adam Beauchamp, Oklahoma Digital Principal

This is a dual-post including a podcast interview with Principal Adam Beauchamp who shares the digital tools his school is using for enhancing communication.

“Principal Adam Beauchamp presents student award–Enid News: Staff Photo by BONNIE VCULEK”


Adam shared with me via a recent webinar on Communication Strategies that Work. If you want to see the Webinar, you can watch it here.

I’m also including a companion blog post below of an additional Q & A exchange between Adam and me. I am thrilled to share his insights! If you’re interested in interviews with previous guests, you can check them out here.

Adam Beauchamp is principal of Waller Middle School in Enid, OK. He graduated from Tahlequah High School and Northeastern State University. He has had teaching, coaching, and admin experience in Allen, Texas; Coalgate, Oklahoma; Rice University, Houston, Texas; University of Tennessee – Martin, TN; and Bixby, Oklahoma, and Enid, Oklahoma. He is husband to Robyn who is an elementary special education teacher and, they have three little girls.

WDP: Congrats on being Oklahoma’s Digital Principal of the Year! Can you share some of the innovative ways you are using technology at your school?

Adam: We received the OETT Grant my first year at Waller and created a video productions studio. In our studio, we create a variety of movies, broadcasts, and short films to highlight our school and students. We also added clubs to our schedule where students get an additional elective course. Students created clubs and several have had a technology focus. Continue reading

PMP 046: 5 Tips for Responding to Resistance

One of my favorite college education professors would often start class with a provoking question.

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As we would grapple with how to answer and/or support our positions, he would stand there with his large hands lifted in the air, his voice booming, “Disequilibrium is the beginning of education!”

It took me a while to figure out that he was teaching us by example. He was trying to help a room full of future teachers see that the greatest learning opportunities in life first start with challenges that “shake” our normal way of thinking about problem solving. Continue reading

PMP:045 Shawn Sheehan “Teach Like Me” (Lessons in Risk, Failure and Wow)

In this episode, I sit down with Shawn Sheehan and talk about the lessons from his life, teaching, and advocacy for education.

Oklahoma Department of Education


Shawn is the 2016 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for National Teacher of the Year. He is an Algebra I teacher from Norman High School in Norman, Oklahoma.

He is also the founder of the Teach Like Me Campaign, a national movement focused on counteracting negative public perception of teachers and redefining those assumptions through social media campaigns to boost morale among current and future educators.

Questions we explore

In this interview, Shawn answers four questions:
1. How has failure pushed you to re-focus on your priorities as an educator and a person?
2. Why “Teach Like Me”? Why are you so passionate about redefining the public perception of teaching?
3. What advice do you have for educators who are struggling during “tougher” political days ahead for schools?
4. What advice do you have for school leaders to better serve their teachers, schools and communities? Continue reading