Month: October 2019

25. Growing up trans with Kai Cheng Thom

How might schools support trans students to ensure that all young people can reach their fullest potential? Today Kai Cheng Thom sits down to discuss her work, journey through school, and hope—among other things.

Kai Cheng Thom is a writer, performer, cultural worker, and speaker. She also just happened to work with my wife for several years, so I am lucky enough to have the privilege of knowing her as a friend and not only as a celebrated public figure. I asked Kai Cheng to join me on the podcast today because when she was young, she attended an all boys school where she was sent by her parents in an attempt to help her conform more her gender assigned at birth.

What you will quickly discover when listening to Kai Cheng speak is that she whip smart, she is a fierce advocate for young people, and she gives us all reasons to be brave for our students in our schools.

You might want to get a notebook out, as there are so many quotable sound bites in this episode that I’m sure will end up living on a sticky note and inspiring you in your practice.

One more thing before we jump in: we recorded this episode around my dinner table and my wife Leslie was with us while we recorded. While she never says anything and was not mic’d, you can hear her coughing and laughing a little in the background. I have made fun of her already for this and she apologizes—but just thought I’d clear that up in case it confused you.

A big thank you to Kai Cheng for opening up, sharing so thoughtfully, and providing so many resources and ideas that I know will benefit all teachers everywhere. This episode’s show notes (below) are chalked full of links, articles, and references for things mentioned in the show. We didn’t talk about it but my wife wants me to be sure that I include a link to Kai Cheng’s young adult novel Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars that, you know, Emma Watson warmly endorsed…so no big deal. What is a big deal is Kai Cheng’s current book tour. If she is coming to a city near you, you can find out through the link below and definitely go buy her latest book I Hope We Chose Love and watch her read. You do not want to miss getting to hang out with Kai Cheng in person.

Show Notes:

Kai Cheng Thom’s website
Kai Cheng on Twitter
Upcoming book readings on Kai Cheng’s book tour
Kai Cheng’s Winnipeg Stop
“Why are queer people so mean to each other” by Kai Cheng Thom
The Boy in the Bindi by Vivek Shraya
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
BCTF LGBTQS+ Posters and resources
Gender Based Violence Prevention Office
Janet Mock


24. Teachers who run (a mini-series) with Tim Somerville

Welcome to the second episode in the teachers who run mini-series. Today I talk to Tim Somerville about  the many surprising overlaps in his practice as both a teacher and long distance runner.

Tim Somerville is a grade 8 science teacher, an accomplished marathoner, and a very witty person to get to talk to about both education and running. In this conversation, Tim opens up about so much more than just how he trains and his teaching philosophy: we dig into the nitty gritty of how important it is to go easy, sharing goals with our students, using data intentionally, and the benefits of finding your tribe…in both the classroom and on the road. If you are not a runner, after listening to Tim talk about his two passions, you just might find yourself lacing up and heading out the door for some sweaty inspiration before you teach next.

Let’s get to the starting line of my conversation with Tim Somerville.

My hope with this mini-series of teachers who run episodes is not that you will become a hardcore marathoner or even go for a jog around the block, but that you might see how important it is for you as a teacher to do something that you love that fulfills you outside of the classroom. Teaching is all consuming and at times relentless. When you have that thing that keeps you existing outside of your marking, to do lists, and lesson planning, I believe that we all become better humans and our students benefit immensely.

There were many quotable moments from this show today, but what stands out to me right now is the idea that you can’t keep running alone and we can’t keep working alone. So open up your door, find others to invite in, find your fellow teaching nerds, and let’s get better together. You can find me on the socials on Twitter @teach_tomorrow and on Instagram @teaching_tomorrow. That’s all the time we have for today folks, enjoy the process by going easy and remember we are teaching tomorrow. 

SHOW NOTES from this Episode:

23. Intuitive classroom management strategies with Chris Russell

It’s kind of like a hockey arena: you have the boards set up so they can skate around the rink and they can’t go beyond. Today I talk to master teacher, Chris Russell, on some of his best Classroom Management strategies. 

I met Chris Russell in my first year of teaching. I had the best first job ever as a teacher: essentially a paid internship where I could continue practice teaching and learn from 4 veteran teachers. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get to watch and observe Chris in action: he embodied all the best classroom management strategies that I had heard about in teacher’s college, but even better than I could ever imagine because he just did it authentically like an extension from himself. Students who were distracted and difficult with other teachers, were the academic equivalent of focused samurai warriors in his care. 

Many of my best classroom management strategies I adopted from watching Chris teach. The best possible way to get what he does is to watch him in action. The next best thing is to listen to him describing some of his norms and routines in this conversation. In this episode we talk about simple, low intervention strategies that you can literally start experimenting with tomorrow in your classroom. 

I’m going to hand it off to Chris, as he is an amazing teacher that you don’t want to miss out on learning from. 

I am so grateful to Chris for bringing me into his classroom to talk about what he does so well as an educator. Below are some videos of a quick walk through Chris’s teaching space to get a visual reference for some of the things he mentioned in this episode. 

That’s all the time we have for today folks, go build your hockey rink, and remember we are teaching tomorrow. 

Show Notes: