Education Evolution, where we talk about today’s education: what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. We need to holistically serve a wide variety of learners and address academic, social, and emotional needs and we do that by making change happen today. Founded by Maureen O’Shaughnessy of Micro-Schools Coalition and Leadership Preparatory Academy in Seattle, Education Evolution is designed to start the conversation to transform the education system of today. Alternative education strategies including working with parents and colleagues, classroom management, lesson planning, activities, games, and more. Along with helping challenged students and those facing difficulty to find success.
What if we harnessed alternative and conventional resources and each child was seen, heard, valued, and met where they were academically, socially, and emotionally, with the goals of thriving NOW and being prepared for a productive, happy, and healthy adulthood?
Sadly, this isn’t what’s happening today. But that doesn’t mean those of us who know better have to stick with the status quo.
You’ll hear regularly from Maureen and guests from all corners of the educational landscape–from micro-school founders to concerned parents to journalists to lawmakers and decision-makers. Join the conversation today, we’re all in this together.
116. Teaching Executive Function for School (and Life!) Success with Sean McCormick
We assume our children will organically learn how to organize their thoughts and belongings, be able to manage their time, and more. Not true. In fact, if you thought about it, you’d realize that you struggle with this too.
We must teach these executive functioning (EF) skills to our children. In doing so, we can transform their family and school experience.
This week on the podcast, I’m joined by Sean McCormick, who was inspired to teach and coach executive functioning to empower parents and teens to be more organized, thoughtful, and goal-oriented. He shares how receiving executive functioning support impacts learners and families, why students with EF skills are more successful, how to have a family meeting about goals, and what educators can do when a student has a language barrier.
Every human needs to have EF skills, and if we as parents and educators struggle with it ourselves (as we often do), bringing in a professional is key. Listen in!
About Sean McCormick: Sean McCormick is a parent, husband and international executive function coach. He founded Executive Function Specialists, a remote coaching business that empowers parents and teens to be more organized, thoughtful and goal-orientated.
He also hosts the Earn More Tutoring Podcast, which helps educators world-wide build better practices to help more students and families with their educational needs.
You can learn more about Sean’s work by Googling Executive Function Specialists or Earn More Tutoring.
Jump in the Conversation: [1:20] - How I learned about executive functioning [3:13] - How executive function impacts learners [3:33] - Sean’s story [5:12] - The impact communication and organization skills have on school [6:12] - How support impacts learners [6:57] - Research behind what’s most impactful for students [9:30] - Helping others become EF specialists [10:39] - Scott’s big mission - Ensure every student has access to EF and teachers are trained in it [11:08] - What everyone needs to know about EF [11:53] - EF skills have higher predictor of school readiness and outcomes [12:59] - What parents can do to ensure kids have EF skills [16:33] - Family meetings: start with gratitude [18:58] - Remember: there’s an unequal power dynamic in families [20:01] - EF when kids have language barriers [22:05] - Suggestions for parents/teachers to integrate EF into work [23:10] - Reticular activation system [25:20] - Turbo Time [27:59] - Sean’s Magic Wand [30:28] - Maureen’s Takeaways
Links & Resources Executive Function Specialists Dr. Adele Diamond Dominican University goals study Dr. Stephen Krashen Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seanelliotmccormick LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanemccormick/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/efspecialists/ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGGiMfT7eZVDn2LYkb1kmgQ Email Maureen Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools The Education Evolution Facebook: Follow Education Evolution Twitter: Follow Education Evolution LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution EdActive Collective Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids Micro-school feature on Good Morning America The Micro-School Coalition Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition LEADPrep
115. Using Acting to Support Neurodivergency with Theater of Possibility
Neurodivergent students often get pulled out of classrooms and taught separately because they are “different.” Well, we’re all a little bit different. Does that mean we should all be taught in silos? Not a chance.
There’s an inclusive program in the Seattle area that’s supporting our colorful, mismatched students in a unique way that can help them on and off the stage. Youth are learning through theater and improvisation.
This week on the podcast, I’m talking with Lauren Marshall, director of Theater of Possibility, about the organization’s unique take on theater and learning. And joining Lauren is Jackie Moffit, one of the school’s former students and current teachers.
Together we explore the role the current education system has had on neurodivergent youth, why pull-out programs might work in some instances (but generally don’t), the problem with special education, and why acting is a valuable tool for students with autism.
About Lauren Marshall: Lauren Marshall is the founding director of Theater of Possibility, serving neurodiverse youth, since 2010. A produced and published playwright, she has an MFA in Music Theater writing from NYU, and BA and JD from Stanford.
About Jackie Moffit: Jackie Moffit is an actor, writer, and musician on the autism spectrum who goes by any pronouns. They first started participating in Theater of Possibility in 2012 as a student and became an assistant teacher for the kids’ class several years later. They are passionate about neurodiversity representation in education and the arts, and are excited for thier first session as lead teacher. In addition to his work with Theater of Possibility, Jackie also volunteers at Books to Prisoners and writes media reviews for the Northwest Film Forum and Redefine Magazine. Some of their interests include synthesizers, linguistics, and tabletop games.
Jump in the Conversation: [1:55] - Creating community for neurodiverse youth to come together [3:15] - The commitment to Theater of Possibility [3:56] - “We can succeed in life not by repressing autistic attributes but by embracing them as much as possible” [5:07] - Lauren’s journey with theater [7:04] - Why acting is valuable for people with autism [10:03] - The positive results that TOP is seeing [11:50] - Theater of the Oppressed [13:25] - It starts with community [14:20] - The present classroom model moves neurodivergent youth into another room; it’s beneficial to bring youth together [15:25] - Neurodivergent need space to be around people the same as them [17:57] - Activities need to be rewarding in and of themselves [20:01] - Turbo Time [25:05] - Magic Wand [29:16] - Maureen’s Takeaways
Links & Resources Theater of Possibility Underestimated: An Autism Miracle by J.B. Handley and Jamison Handley Theatre of the Oppressed Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Brizant, PhD Email Maureen Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools The Education Evolution Facebook: Follow Education Evolution Twitter: Follow Education Evolution LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution EdActive Collective Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids Micro-school feature on Good Morning America The Micro-School Coalition Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition LEADPrep
114. Why Traditional Assessment Methods Don’t Work (and what to do instead)
How do we know if our children are digesting what we’re teaching? We give them assessments! And if you’ve ever stepped into a traditional classroom in the U.S., this could mean many things. Often it means large, summative assessments at the end of a unit or school year to determine what the students have retained.
Sadly, this type of assessment is ineffective, for more reasons than I can begin to explain. But I sure try in this episode!
There are many ways to assess student learning, aside from the traditional test. And traditional summative assessments only test a student’s ability to memorize information for the short term. What happens when they need to remember information long-term and apply it in different scenarios?
I’m sharing my thoughts and more. Listen in!
Be sure to join me at the Beyond Multiple Choice virtual seminar. Find out more and sign up for free!
Jump in the Conversation: [1:26] - Beyond Multiple Choice Conference [1:41] - Where to begin with assessment [2:18] - The open-ended essential question [3:11] - Inquiry-based learning isn’t enough [3:39] - The questions teachers need to ask [4:13] - Model U.S. structure and how bills become laws [5:20] - Getting students to own their learning and apply them in real life [5:58] - Engaging and relevancy is non-negotiable [6:52] - Determine what you’ll assess and how [8:01] - The big problems with summative assessments [8:51] - Summative assessments aren’t the only way to assess learning [10:26] - Quality rubrics are created in partnership with students [11:00] - The existential question: What is important? [12:26] - Who takes responsibility to empower students to reach goals [12:50] - Maureen’s magic wand [14:25] - Students can see when teachers are invested in learning Links & Resources Episode 73: Breaking Barriers for Our Students and Our Future Episode 39: Creating Human-Centered Learning https://summit.edactivecollective.org/schedule Email Maureen Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools The Education Evolution Facebook: Follow Education Evolution Twitter: Follow Education Evolution LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution EdActive Collective Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids Micro-school feature on Good Morning America The Micro-School Coalition Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition LEADPrep
113. Supporting Neurodivergent Youth in Schools with Vanessa Castañeda Gill
Many of us go into our fields because we’re inspired by someone who supported us as youth or we see something that we want to fix. For Vanessa Castañeda Gill, this week’s guest, it was something else. She wanted to fix herself.
After a neurodivergent diagnosis at 14, then hiding that diagnosis from everyone but her family for more than six years, Vanessa was looking for a way to be successful. She had heard so many stories about those with a similar diagnosis that she tried to fit that mold. Through studying neuroscience, Vanessa hoped to fix herself. What she discovered instead was that she wasn’t broken at all but rather could have used some additional resources and support as a teen so she wouldn’t feel so alone.
That’s where Social Cipher came from. And this week on the podcast, Vanessa is sharing more about how her platform supports neurodivergent youth and their parents and community.
The structure of Vanessa’s team is incredibly unique and it’s just what an organization that supports differently wired kids needs to be successful.
Listen in this week and learn more about how to step up and support those with neurodivergence.
About Vanessa Castañeda Gill: It's Vanessa Castañeda Gill's mission to unite her passions for art and stories in innovative ways that help people. Learning from her experiences growing up on the autism spectrum, she founded Social Cipher: a game-based social-emotional learning platform for neurodiverse youth and the professionals who work with them. Her 50% neurodivergent team recently released their game series, Ava: a space-pirate adventure that explores social challenges through the eyes of an autistic protagonist. Vanessa and her team have earned recognition as Forbes 30 Under 30s, AT&T Aspire Fellows, and Facebook Global Gaming Citizens.
Jump in the Conversation: [1:50] - Why Vanessa is interested in neurodiverse youth [5:26] - Social Cipher Platform [7:15] - Parents can use the system too [8:08] - Collaboration with big organizations [9:22] - A neurodivergent team [10:43] - Adding to the platform [12:24] - How to support neurodivergent kids to the fullest [15:12] - Turbo Time [18:17] - What people need to know about neurodivergence [21:13] - How to be an activist in supporting neurodivergence in schools [23:23] - Vanessa’s Magic Wand [24:37] - Maureen’s Takeaways Links & Resources Social Cipher Learn Play Thrive podcast episode Email Maureen Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools The Education Evolution Facebook: Follow Education Evolution Twitter: Follow Education Evolution LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution EdActive Collective Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids Micro-school feature on Good Morning America The Micro-School Coalition Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition LEADPrep
112. Change Takes Action from Everyone
We recently hosted our second annual EdActive Collective summit to help support a learner-centered, equitable learning environment for all children. With the help of a fantastic list of trailblazing educational and industry leaders, attendees heard from experts on topics that helped to reimagine education models, apply neuroscience to learning, raise youth activists, support leaders through this challenging time, and so much more.
This week on the podcast, I’m sharing some of my own biggest takeaways from the summit and giving you access to all the presentations, even if you didn’t sign up ahead of time.
If we want to change the face of education, we have to keep talking about it and we need to take what we’ve learned and take action. I hope this episode is the catalyst for such action on your part.
Jump in the Conversation: [1:14] - Commitment to learner-centered models [1:53] - EdActive Collective to pull together educational trailblazers [3:44] - Shift in collective from activism to having inspirational speakers keep hopes and dreams alive [4:21] - Highlights of our summit [6:47] - Models that tap into resources in the community and business world [8:21] -We don’t have an updated school system that can apply neuroscience to learning [9:42] - We need more youth empowerment and youth activism [11:02] - Relational learning models [12:15] - Our school leaders need more support and less isolation [14:16] - We need to look to others to help us unpack diversity [16:06] - Access the summit presentations for everyone Links & Resources EdActive Collective Access the summit presentations here Access the past episodes of the podcast Email Maureen Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools The Education Evolution Facebook: Follow Education Evolution Twitter: Follow Education Evolution LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution EdActive Collective Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids Micro-school feature on Good Morning America The Micro-School Coalition Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition LEADPrep
111. Creating an Inquiry-Based Inclusion School
We know that kids learn best when they’re interested in the curriculum. But our traditional model leaves a lot to be desired. Prescribed curriculum regurgitated in front of a classroom full of quietly sitting children is not the way to interest those children.
Instead, we need kids to be involved. We need them to forge their own paths and learn through inquiry. That’s exactly how School Lane Charter School in Bensalem, Pennsylvania operates. And the school is on the cutting edge of finding new ways for teaching and learning with inclusion in mind.
This week, I’m talking to Karen Schade, leader of that school for the last 20+ years. She shares my beliefs that not every child is destined for a four-year university, and yet we can still support them to academic excellence. That achievement looks different for every child and we must educate our communities that yesterday’s style isn’t what today should look like.
Listen in to how School Lane Charter School is making waves with its teaching model, grading system, and inclusion opportunities for all students, no matter their path.
Jump in the Conversation: [1:46] - Creating a learner-centered school [3:32] - Find a place where your values can come to fruition [4:42] - Using a co-teaching model [6:09] - It wasn’t just inclusion; it was about figuring out what they wanted to do in future [7:18] - Pick the best when you start a school [9:01] - Other key features to School Lane [11:09] - Unique grading system [13:40] - Unique school day and school year [15:22] - Biggest struggles to creating a new model for community [18:00] - Every student is an individual [18:48] - Creating opportunities based on something different from others [20:22] - Kids don’t have to go off to 4-year college [22:19] - Limiting gatekeepers [23:43] - Rigor isn’t a bar that everyone reaches; they all have their own bar [25:31] - What leaders and parents can do to create a school like this [28:07] - Turbo Time [29:25] - What you need to know about student-driven learning [32:09] - Karen’s Magic Wand [34:02] - Maureen’s takeaways
Link School Lane Charter School International Baccalaureate Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink Three Rules to Spark Learning - TED Talk with Ramsey Musallum Email Maureen Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools The Education Evolution Facebook: Follow Education Evolution Twitter: Follow Education Evolution LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution EdActive Collective Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids Micro-school feature on Good Morning America The Micro-School Coalition Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition LEADPrep
Maureen does such a good job covering a variety of topics. The guests offer valuable insight as well. I would recommend this podcast to anyone looking to be inspired and informed!
Much Needed Help
Many traditional schools are failing students. I know teachers and leaders in these schools want to help- I was one of them- but the system is broken is many ways, leaving reform hard to hope for within the traditional mindset. Here, on this podcast, I have gotten ideas, help, and practical advice on how to create the kind of school I know many of my students desperately need. I’m often reaching for a journal to take notes during each episode.
Hitting all the highlights
Maureen is great at bringing together innovative educators to rethink traditional educational environments. I really enjoyed her the episodes looking at chunking work and the needs of students during COVID and remote learning. More recently, I love how Maureen 'debriefs' the audience at the end of each episode and tires together the themes from previous episodes to build a narrative across the show. Thanks Maureen!