Teaching Tomorrow Show

31. Should I send my child to JK?

Schools are set to open in a few weeks, and the plans are not looking promising. Today on the show I talk to my wife and three other people to figure out this new world of school and what it means for my family’s very specific situation.

With this more personal episode, I talk to my wife and three other wonderfully intelligent humans, Leila Makhani, Diane Brown, and Chris McKenna, to sort out my very privileged dilemma of whether I should send my 4 year old to school in the midst of this global pandemic with–shall we say–a less than inspiring back to school plan.

This is not an easy question and the answers are obviously not easy also. I’m curious what you plans are or how you are arriving at your decision. Leave your comments below and let’s discuss what this back to school looks like for you!

30. Pedagogy for a pandemic with Les McBeth, Adam Caplan, Garth Nichols, and Lara Jensen

Here we are on Tuesday March 17th and everything is different. 


We have all found ourselves in a new normal and I feel pretty confident in knowing that we are all united in how COVID-19 is shaping our realities. Some of you haven’t left your houses, some of your children are now at home with you, some of your schools have shut down indefinitely. And with this brings up many questions. 


Before all of this started to happen, I had taken a little hiatus from the podcast. I’m lucky that this isn’t my full time job and if I step back from this lil’ hobby, it doesn’t have a significant impact. I’m 35 weeks pregnant and finishing up the end of my winter term focusing solely on my students and my family felt like the best / most sane use of my dwindling energy. 


And then schools in Ontario were closed–as far as we know until April 6th–and many of our administrations have announced some plan for online or distance learning to help our population practice social distancing. 


The time for podcasting and sharing resources has never been more important. So I dusted off the microphone and sent a call out to a few of the smartest educators I know to talk about best practices in online learning.


Click the Soundcloud file to hear the whole episode.


Show Links Coming Soon!

29. “How might we” with Les McBeth

Have you ever noticed that I start each episode with a question that begins with “How Might We”? Okay, so that comes from Les McBeth who I am so excited to have on the show today.  

Okay so Les McBeth did not invent the “HOW MIGHT WE” structure of questioning. That comes from design thinking…which Les also did not invent. But she did introduce it to me and the rest of the Cohort 21 community.

Today on the show I interview this rock star of a human who is the director of professional development at Future Design School. She will get into the nitty gritty of what she does and how it’s not actually a school per-se, but if you don’t already know her, Les McBeth is a phenomenally interesting educator: She shifted from working in New York City on juicy urban design problems, to a classroom teaching role in Toronto, and now into inspiring countless educators and schools on using design thinking in education. In our conversation we discuss the role that design thinking, empathy, and creativity can play in helping schools improve and student learning flourish. Oh and playgrounds full of knives also make an appearance, so you will want to keep listening to find out what that has to do with education.

If you are as obsessed and inspired by design thinking and Les McBeth as I am, in the show notes you can find links to how to connect with Les on the socials as well as how to find our more about Future Design School and the incredible work that they do.

If you haven’t done so already, please take a few moments to leave a review of the show on iTunes or Apple Podcasts. It takes about 30 seconds and it means that more educators like you can find this show. Speaking of finding this show, you can find me on Instagram as teaching_tomorrow and on Twitter as teach_tomorrow. Leave a message about what content you would like to see in future shows or what has resonated with you so far. Take your headphones off and come chat!

That’s all the time for today folks, keep falling in love with the problem, and remember we are Teaching Tomorrow.


References to things mentioned in the show:

Les McBeth’s Cohort21 blog

Les McBeth on Twitter

Future Design School

Centre for Urban Pedagogy

David Kelly

28. Truth and Reconcili-action with Dr. Angela Nardozi

How might educators overcome our own typically non-existent Indigenous education as young people to teach about first-peoples in a way that is responsible, ethical, and based in action?

Dr. Angela Nardozi describes herself as a guest on Turtle island and she is also an educator, a coach, and a doctor of philosophy. She primarily works with settler educators to help them better teach about Indigenous histories and current communities. In this conversation, Dr. Nardozi blows open for me the concept of truth and reconciliation, what it means to be an effective ally, and how we might move towards action to create a more hopeful future.


If you are a settler on this land we call Canada, if you are at times feeling worried about not “getting it right”, or struggle with wanting to know that what you are doing in the classroom on Indigenous issues is “okay”…you need to listen to this show. Dr. Nardozi’s relatable, passionate, and infectious energy will captivate and inspire you and, while we get into some pretty heavy stuff with this conversation, I hope that you will finish this episode feeling a little more motivated to explore some of these ideas with your students.

I am so grateful for Dr. Nardozi’s perspective, sharp wisdom, and for me, fresh take on these topics. Please send this episode on to someone that you know that might benefit from learning more about Angela and the work that she does.

That’s all the time we have for today, folks, keep putting relationships first, and remember we are teaching tomorrow.

References made in this episode:

27. Teachers who run (a mini-series) with May Lu

How might teachers find that sweet spot between intensity and ease in their own lives, as well as how we program our students? In this third teachers who run episode, we talk to high school science teacher May Lu.

May Lu is a Grade 10 and 12 science teacher at Ashbury college in Ottawa who just so happens to be writing quite a bit on her Cohort 21 blog about the intersection between her practice as a runner and world as a teacher. So naturally I had to steal her for a few minutes to record another instalment of this “Teachers who Run” mini-series. In case you are not a runner, have zero interest in trying to run, and just don’t get why I am devoting three whole episodes so far to this weird hobby involving tight clothes and bright shoes, allow me to cut to the chase: this whole running thing is just a metaphor. If you stick with these episodes, even if you don’t really care about running, listen to them and substitute in whatever your thing is instead of running: knitting, dogs, volunteering, travel, books…whatever.

In this conversation, May and I discuss progression—or slowly getting better at something, a “stress to chill” ratio that prevents burnout, and how safely sharing our identities with our students, builds intimacy and community in our classroom.

Enough intro already, click the link above to listen to the show.

I so loved May’s infectious energy, disarming positivity, and perspective on life. In the show notes, you can find a link to May’s blog as well as how to find her on Twitter. May is an awesome writer and I promise you that going down the rabbit role of reading some of her blog posts will be time well spent.

If you are listening to this show (or reading this post about the show), please take a few minutes to give a rating and review on Apple Podcasts (got to your iTunes app on your computer or Podcasts app on your mobile device). Let me know what is working, share what brings you back, put some feedback to help improve your listening experience, and just let me know you exist out there in internet land. It takes all but a minute or two and it really, honestly, makes a huge difference in how other people can find the show and see if it is a good fit for them.

That’s all the time we have for today, spend some time today doing whatever you love, and remember we are teaching tomorrow.

Things mentioned in the show:

26. Deskless French learning with Richard Smith

How could getting rid of the desks in your classroom, promote deep learning for your students? Today we have Richard Smith on the show to share some of his best practices for inspiring young people to learn French.

My cohort 21 colleague Jen Bairos told me about Richard Smith back when we recorded our episode together—which is episode 13 (part 2) if you haven’t listened to it yet––I didn’t know a lot, but Jen basically said that he was a French teacher who went deskless to promote better classroom conversations in French. I was intrigued. But I honestly don’t know anything about French, so I felt like I wouldn’t be the best person to conduct the interview. So I asked Jen to record a call with Richard and that is what I am sharing with you today.

What I love about this conversation is that it is two passionate French teachers exploring how to engage French language learners, how to actively inspire students to speak in authentic situations, and how to make French class an emotional learning experience. If you don’t know her, Jen Bairos is a middle level French teacher in Toronto and she is also a coach with Cohort 21. A wonderful introduction to Jen is back on episode 13, so do yourself a favour and give that episode a listen to spend some more time with Jen!

I learned so much about teaching in my own context by listening in on and editing this conversation, so even if you are not a French teacher, I am confident that you will have some powerful take-aways for your own practice.

Let’s jump right in to Jen’s conversation with Richard Smith.

A big thank you to Jen for sharing Richard with all of us and conducting her first podcast interview! You were a natural and a pro and I am grateful to have you in my life.

It might not be realistic for all of us to go deskless in our classrooms, but I think a really important question to ask ourselves is what do we just assume we need in our classrooms could we actually do without and perhaps our students might benefit from? Maybe it’s not a physical object, but perhaps it’s another structure that may actually be holding your students back from meaningful learning. What would happen if we dared to experiment for one class? A week? A unit? A year?

If this show resonated with you or you think someone else would like, please share it with a friend. This is a small, grassroots podcast and when it is shared friend to friend, we can grow the show and expand the magic we are creating.

That’s all the time we have for today, folks, keep on experimenting, and remember we are teaching tomorrow.

Resources and Links Mentioned on the Show

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:

22. On being curious with young people with Courtney Harris

How might we create more space for grace, curiosity, and exploration in our work with young people? Today, I am joined by life coach Courtney Harris to tease apart this question.

Courtney Harris is a former educator of 10 years with her masters in Special Education. She lives in Austin Texas and works  in person and online with teens and parents as a life coach, helping young people and their families find their way back towards communication, connection, and trust.

I so loved gathering Courtney’s experience in a coaching role and considering how educators in the school context might benefit from some of her thinking as a coach. We get into the ways that adults can help students move away from black and white thinking, how to help young people who feel stressed about the pressure to have a career plan, and some practical strategies for helping young people open up in conversation.

Courtney’s perspective and wisdom are beyond inspiring, so let’s jump right in to my conversation with Courtney Harris.

Resources and Other Things Mentioned in the Show:

Courtney’s Website

Dear Parents, Your Teenager Doesn’t Need a Career Plan