Amanda (MA - Episode 2) is a former early childhood teacher who took her talents overseas to work internationally where she worked with diverse students and refugees. Amanda has left the classroom and is now studying education policy and analysis at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is passionate about equitable early education opportunities, policy and programmatic decisions to support families with young children, and the education of displaced and refugee children. Tune in to this episode to learn about Amanda’s journey, the impact she is making on education, and her funniest classroom moment that may or may not involve poop...
Meghan (MA - Episode 5) is a 1st grade teacher who has been teaching for 10 years, and also happens to be Georgia's cousin! This episode really gets into it - as passionate as Meg is about what she does, she also gives her hot takes on the struggles she & other educators are facing as an educator, mom & individual. This one is full of authentic moments: from Georgia’s family memories, standardized testing, & the little moments that keep Meghan in the classroom doing what she loves. This episode brings up topics ranging from finding support with coworkers, how the pandemic changed society’s perspectives on teachers (for better then worse), & finding your Disney moments as a teacher. If you are in the field & looking for a refreshing & real account from a fellow teacher, you don’t want to miss this one!
Ethan (TX - Episode 8) is Making the Grade’s podcast launch manager & a fellow former educator. Ethan truly embodies the essence of a teacher - encouraging, knowledgeable, and always honing his skills. A self-described lifelong learner, Ethan has transitioned out of his role as a middle school teacher and now works in learning and development as well as podcast management. He is still connecting with the education community through raising teachers’ voices in spreading their messages via podcasting. Calling it “one of the hardest decisions he has ever had to make”, Ethan describes his transition leaving the classroom and the realities teachers face in finding a balance of livelihood and passion. This episode covers the financial realities of side hustles, his own journey to podcast management (which began in his OWN classroom!), and recommendations for education reform. Ethan speaks about the importance of bringing passions into the classroom as a source of motivation. A huge influence in Making the Grade coming to life, Ethan shares the behind the scenes of how 2 teachers in Boston connected with a podcast manager in TX to bring an idea to life. “Is our millennial showing?” - Ethan dishes about his preferred methods of contact (hint: it’s not a phone call) & you will definitely want to hear his favorite movies and show from the 90’s. Ethan’s wisdom and one-liners will leave you feeling inspired to spend time on what sets your soul on fire - and if you’re like Christine and Georgia, maybe SO inspired that you just start your own podcast... Connect with Ethan: @thepodguild www.thepodguild.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea (MA - Episode 3), a fellow educator, joins the conversation with Christine and Georgia about her history in education and how her personal experiences have shaped her career (as many of us can relate). This episode brings up topics ranging from the ESL classroom, Sunday School, and how to balance it all while still being a busy mom. "I teach, what's your superpower?" This is a phrase that many of us have heard, or have maybe even seen on teacher-themed decor or a gift one of our students gives us during the holidays. When you hear it so often, it loses its meaning-- but on this episode, Georgia and Christine are talking to someone who truly embodies the phrase!
Matt (FL - Episode 6) is a former teacher and principal and current learning and development consultant. This conversation is candid and inspirational - It’s clear why Matt was an effective educator & principal. His story feels like listening to a really motivating TED Talk! Matt shares how leaving the classroom allowed him the ability to care for himself - he found time to get back into swimming, bake & even lost 50 pounds in the process. This episode brings up topics ranging from taking care of yourself “there’s only ONE you!”, how our soft skills as educators are our biggest asset, & some favorite memories from his classroom days. If you are curious about curriculum design & wanting to learn more about the impressive clients Matt has worked with, make sure to tune in!
Li (IN - Episode 9) has taught from the UK to Indiana. Li taught high school health and social care in London for 8 years in a prestigious cosmopolitan school. She has spent the last decade teaching culinary classes in inner city -> rural districts in the US for the last few years. In addition to her work in the classroom, she has also established an international travel chapter with over 150 students and families to venture abroad. Li discusses the separation of personal & professional life in Europe vs America, taking care of your mental health (see: Sunday Scaries), and transparency around the financial realities of a 2 teacher household. Li speaks to her absolute joy she has found in the classroom, shares stories of mixing her passion of travel and teaching, and her desire for more growth opportunities within education. This episode brings up topics ranging from traveling with educational tours, balancing postpartum depression and going back to the classroom, & why she has decided to leave the classroom. Li is a remarkable individual - 1st generation college student inspiring her students and families in the classroom & abroad (her inspirational student memory will give you chills). Her stories will definitely leave you more enlightened on the realities many teachers are facing, and much more inspired about the future realities of educators.
Kristen (NY - Episode 4), a former educator turned interior designer, chats with Christine and Georgia about her career in education and how her experiences at home and in the classroom coincided to show her the next steps. This episode brings up topics ranging from compassion fatigue, the draw of the classroom community, & how experimenting with your passion in the classroom can help you find your next big thing. Kristen gives her unique perspectives as a mom & educator who knows the importance of taking a step back (twice!) from the classroom to reflect & explore. Kristen’s journey is “bumpy” or not linear, and it’s a good reminder for all educators (& individuals) to remember that sometimes our heart can get there before our head does. This conversation covers it all: from Lizzo’s advice on perfectionism, navigating the barriers many teachers & parents face getting students service they need, to why classroom environment is so important.
Locha (TX - Episode 7) is a former teacher and founder of 1st Class Educator, LLC. From the moment we connected with Locha, we could just feel her passion. After a decade in the classroom as an English Language Arts teacher, Locha realized that her goals for herself and how she wanted to impact the education world needed to shift. And she is now doing the work…bringing school communities together by having critical conversations about the diverse history of all people, sharing their stories & uncovering how this affects the current ways we relate to each other. Calling it “the largest class project that I have ever participated in”, Locha created the internationally recognized consulting organization, 1st Class Educators LLC. She specializes in staff development and enjoys assisting organizations and educators with providing strategically aligned culturally responsive practices. From Starbucks hacks to dissecting generational ideas of race, Locha is truly making waves in not only the education community, but also the larger networks of those being impacted from this profound work. This episode covers diversity and equity practices, tangible resources for staff development & the importance of loving what you do (“you gotta be happy!”) . If you are looking for a fresh perspective from a fellow (homeschool) teacher & renowned consultant, look no further! Locha's Education Consulting Course (10% off!): https://bit.ly/3HRSYJA Locha's Instagram: instagram.com/lochapowermoves
Greg (Saudi Arabia - Episode 10), is an international teacher with has over 20 years of experience. Avid scuba diver, technology guru, author…& most importantly, a teacher at heart. A fellow podcaster from Wisconsin, Greg is passionate in telling others about “the best kept secret in education”: international teaching. Greg is well-traveled - he has visited over 70 countries, and taught in 7 different countries across 5 continents. Given his unique perspective, he speaks to the similarities rather than the differences in teaching children all around the world. An animated storyteller, Greg has some really incredible (& wild) stories to share from his journeys; some of which may or may not involve scuba diving with great white sharks. Greg speaks to the joy he has found in mixing traveling & teaching, and his desire to “be a tourist, not a traveler”. He recognizes the privilege in being able to have these experiences & has become so passionate about others doing the same that he wrote a book about it (see notes below)! This episode covers a lot: technology in education, the importance of autonomy in the classroom, & how administration buy-in is integral in practicing makerspace. Greg is a laugh a minute - he keeps Christine & Georgia on their toes with his own “this or that '' & you definitely don’t want to miss why his students call him “Mr. Chicken!” His lighthearted approach to teaching & life will help remind you “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”.
Mona (Chicago - Episode 11) is a teacher and math specialist here to share how she went from being a math avoider -> math master! “I’m just not a math person” is a common expression, but have you ever wondered why? With 15 years of experience as a classroom teacher, Mona shares some insights from allowing her students to struggle & apply problem solving strategies “thinking like mathematicians”. A fellow podcaster, Mona’s passion in sharing her joy of math literacy with her students and other teachers has evolved since she made her own math discoveries as an educator (who knew multiplication as repeated addition could spark so much creativity!). As Mona says, “Teachers’ most powerful tool is themselves”. This episode covers fostering a growth mindset around math in the classroom, transitioning into her new role as a coach, and some helpful tourist hacks on fun foods to try if you visit Chicago (hint: it’s not the deep dish pizza!). Mona’s can-do attitude in tackling math is contagious & will make you want to really dive into your math talks as a classroom teacher. Tune in if you are looking for some new ideas around approaching math literacy, & stay for the fun tattoo stories ;)
Kelly (New Hampshire - Episode 14) is an educator from with 28 years of experience. An entrepreneurial spirit, Kelly is thinking outside the box in supporting educators’ mental health in workshops, professional development series & 1:1 coaching. She’s really rolling up her sleeves to get into it - can you imagine walking into a room full of stressed teachers to talk to them about self-care? We can’t, but Kelly makes it sound like a walk in the park. “I have this crazy idea!” is a sentence that Kelly loved hearing as a former director, and Kelly shares how her different roles have shaped her story and brought her to her current work - she has been in special education, a school guidance counselor, & assistant principal. It’s a good reminder that it’s never too late to try something new, & as we grow and change, so can our passions. This episode covers supporting educators, advocating for systemic change, & encouraging an entrepreneurial attitude in problem solving. In addition to being a mental health mastermind, she also was able to give Georgia some astrological insights in her recent birthday (she may or may not also be able to read your charts)! And she’s truly practicing what she preaches in working with educators to prioritize themselves - as Kelly says, “the best way to support kids is to support the adults”. If you’re interested in practical ways to open difficult dialogue, celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit, & setting boundaries to protect your mental health, you don’t want to miss this one!
Kareem (Washington DC - Episode 17) is the CEO and co-founder of the Modern Classrooms Project. Kareem spent his teaching career as a math educator in Hawaii and Washington, DC. Instead of using a traditional lecture model, Kareem taught math through a blended model where students accessed content through his self-made videos. The cornerstone of his classroom was the ability for students to work at their own pace and Kareem’s ability to assess students on mastery. Modern Classrooms Project is a non-profit organization that empowers teachers worldwide to redesign their classrooms around blended, self-paced, mastery-based learning. Kareem believes that this concept of competency based learning is “evolutionary, not revolutionary” & that educators creating content adds the personalized piece of learning & connection that drives student engagement. This episode covers competency based learning, the benefits of self-paced instruction (good bye writing sub plans!), & differentiation for learners with diverse needs. Kareem is passionate about keeping effective educators in the classroom and he believes in highlighting this in his program through his mentorship of exemplary educators (see link below). His opt-in program has been adopted by over 60,000 educators worldwide and check out how you join in the links below!
Mentorship Program: www.modernclassrooms.org/partnerships
Amaris (Baltimore - Episode 12) is an ESOL teacher turned early literacy coach. If you have ever felt like your heart belongs in the classroom but you’re itching to try something new Amaris will inspire you with her motivator to stay in education but how she took a chance in a new role. With over a decade of experience in the classroom, Amaris shares her 2 passions, early literacy and ESOL, and how these overlap in meaningful ways. In addition to shifting into a coaching role and starting her own business, Amaris also has traveled all over the world teaching English! A semester abroad turned into a lifestyle where she met her husband & had 2 children in Egypt, and since relocated back to the US. Amaris’ easy breezy attitude about teaching English to students in another country will make you want to pack your bag and book the next flight out! This episode covers shifting your role in education, teaching abroad and ESOL in the classroom, and an important reminder that it’s always okay to change your mind. Amaris reminds you that everyone has something that is “their thing”, and using social media to monetize those skills is the next big thing for educators.
Instagram + TikTok: TheMerge_Consulting
Ben (California - Episode 15) is a BCBA here to talk about how his journey in studying behavior analysis led him across the country and finding his passion. We hear so frequently about student behaviors interfering with learning in the classroom, but what can you do to help stop this growing problem? After finishing his graduate degree in Boston, Ben moved to California and has held many different roles in schools, home settings and 1:1 sessions. This conversation covers it all: from Ben’s practical advice for navigating students with challenging behaviors to some wild classroom stories and the correct acronyms to describe neurodiverse learners. He makes diffusing physical altercations sound like a piece of cake & reminds us all to have a sense of humor in our jobs and day to day! Ben leads with empathy in all areas: for his students, his families, and the educators working with his students implementing plans. This episode brings up topics ranging from using humor to diffuse high stress situations, the principles of ABA, & how finding something that “you could talk about all day long” is the true indicator of finding happiness in your daily life. Listen in for more!
Christina (Texas - Episode 13) is an education consultant and former teacher/administrator. A self-described “edupreneur”, Christina has transitioned out of her roles as teacher & administrator and now works in many different roles as a consultant. She is still serving the education community through her consulting business, Hart for Children, & specializes in helping educators “see their worth”. After seeing the inequities in 2 different schools in the same zip code, Christina was inspired to apply for Teach for America to work with underserved communities. This episode covers how to market yourself as an educator making sales, why she thinks teachers have trouble seeing their worth, and how to take a safe risk. Christina is passionate about the arts, pouring into teachers to serve students, & creating systemic change for educators. Her encouragement will leave you feeling inspired to put yourself out there - and price yourself accordingly!
Dr. Lisa Kuh (Washington - Episode 16) is an educator with over 40 years of experience with young children as an instructional coach, classroom teacher, teacher educator, university professor and researcher, and professional developer. Lisa & Georgia worked together in the classroom (Lisa was Georgia’s mentor!) and they chat about their love and importance of early childhood education. Lisa is incredibly accomplished: she has published and presented on the importance of outdoor play and classroom environments for young children, teacher professional development, documentation, Montessori education, anti‐bias education, as well as literacy and math content. She attributes part of her long & successful career in education to the most critical time in a teacher’s journey: her 1st year. You don’t want to miss what Lisa considers the recipe for success on how you CAN have a great year even as a 1st year teacher! This episode covers the history of Montessori education, teacher mentoring & “the apprenticeship of observation”, and how educators’ careers are frequently diminished. Also, make sure to hear about how Lisa & her colleague collaborated to write a book - “Thinking Critically About Environments for Young Children and Complementary Curriculum Approach: Transform Your Practice Through Intentional Teaching!”
Kamar (MA - Episode 18) is a former high school teacher and school principal who took his passion for education and translated it into KaiPod Learning. “I want to try something different” is the sentiment that began a new classroom model & organization for educators. With experience teaching in the US & India, Amar has spent many years in many different classroom models and roles. A fellow Boston-based founder, Amar Kumar, shares how he went from trying to meet all students’ needs to creating a space where students lead their learning through goal setting and coaches support their pathways in a classroom community. KaiPod now empowers more parents to choose microschools for their children and supports teachers in launching their own microschools across the country. This episode covers: entrepreneurship, microschools, & teachers looking to try something different. Amar’s approachable demeanor in creating an intrinsically motivated classroom & empowering students to take control of their learning has yielded some impressive results. Listen up if you are itching to try something new this school year!
Krystal (Canada - Episode 19) is a middle school teacher & life coach who has over 18 years of experience in the classroom. A fellow educator from Canada, Krystal is passionate about supporting educators to avoid burnout through intentional practices. Krystal candidly shares her own personal story of feeling burnt out, which just so happens to coincide with the year she won an award for teaching. As relatable and funny as Krystal is, she’s also pointedly honest in unpacking the feeling of overwhelm (hint: maybe it is all the sports your kids do!). She has some great wisdom from balancing teaching full time, being a mom, and coaching teachers. She highlights some of the differences between being a teacher in Canada vs the US, and you don’t want to miss her incredible idea for a book! This episode covers a lot: time management, letting go of unreasonable expectations (that we put on ourselves), & helping to identify “struggle strategies”, like procrastination. Krystal’s realistic approach to finding balance will inspire you to get brutally honest about taking something off your plate. Tune in if you want to hear a “Golden Apple” worthy educator!
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