I understand the challenge of finding just the right speaker. As a teacher of more than 15 years, I’ve attended hundreds of trainings, in-services, professional development days, and multi-day specialty conferences.
I quickly realized that the success of an event or training came down to the quality of its speakers. If they did their job and I left with a few solid, actionable takeaways, it felt like it was time and money well spent. If they didn’t, I’d leave feeling frustrated and short-changed, both in terms of hours and dollars spent.
I’m still in the classroom full time, and I still attend a dozen or so of these events each year. I find myself hoping the folks who organize conferences and trainings take the responsibility of researching speakers seriously, to make sure that every attendee leaves with the feeling that the event actually added value to their life. My hope is that this page will make it easy for you to get the information you need to make the best decision possible.
So thanks for stopping by, and thanks also for considering me. I’m honored.
An Overview of this Page
This page provides an overview of what I have to offer, along with a taste of what you can expect. You can click on the links below to take you directly to the relevant sections.
- What You Can Expect
- A Little Bit About Me
- My Video Clips
- My Most Requested Topics
- What Others Are Saying
- The Next Step
What You Can Expect
Here’s what you can expect from me: [This text needs updating]
- Prompt, professional replies to your phone calls and email messages.
- A personal phone consultation with me prior to your event, so I can better understand how I can best serve you and your audience.
- An announcement about your event on my blog and social media channels. (This assumes that your event is open to the public and you want additional visibility for it.)
- A professionally prepared, dynamically delivered presentation focused on achieving the outcomes you want with your audience.
- A custom resource page, exclusively created for your attendees. It will include the slides I used in the presentation, along with links to books, articles, and other resources I believe will be helpful.
- A quick follow-up communication after the event with me to make sure I met your expectations. (I also want to know how you think I can improve.)
A Little Bit About Me
[Insert brief bio]
[I have been speaking publicly for more than XX years, including appearances on web shows, radio shows and podcasts.] [Include links to those streams if they’re available]
[Insert anecdote about why you decided to study English] That took me to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for my Bachelors, followed by the University of Colorado for my Masters (go Buffs!). I have spent most of my career teaching 10th-12th grade English in San Luis Obispo Coastal Unified School District, and while I’m still in the classroom full time, I’m also a contributing writer at The Atlantic.
I have been happily married to my wife, Melissa, for six years. We have one daughter, and another child (gender TBD) due in June of 2016. We live in of San Luis Obispo, California. In my free time, I enjoy reading, [xx], and [xx].
My Video Clips
Here are a few examples of events I’ve spoken at in the past. [Insert link to GMSLO, others?]
My Most Requested Topics
I speak on topics as general as accommodating diverse personality types in the classroom, and the “wisdom gap” in schools, to as specific as creating interdisciplinary collaborative STEM projects, and the benefits of contemporary grading paradigms. I will customize my presentation to meet your organization’s specific needs. My goal is to facilitate the outcome you want to create.
My most requested topics include the following. Keep in mind that I can present these as a keynote or a workshop.
- The introverted student in the modern classroom. [Based on my studies, interviews, and publication in The Atlantic]
A cursory look at modern trends in education that favor extraverted personalities, along with some corresponding attitudes that are biased against introverts, particularly in this era of collaborative learning. I could speak to the need for awareness to a great extent, but ultimately I promote a balance of attitudes and a respect for all personalities. There are ways to respect introverted thinkers and offer alternatives to excessive social projects; but in addition to this, I show ways to continue with the social activities that everyone loves while accommodating for the introverted students in a way that’s not making them feel “accommodated for.” For just one example, there’s a great protocol system for PBL design that allows for different roles for different types of students.
- The introverted teacher in the modern classroom. [Based on my studies, interviews, and publication in The Atlantic]
A look at what is demanded of the contemporary teacher, especially the new teacher, and what is implicitly expected and requested beyond those demands. Then I discuss how this can negatively affect introverted teachers, who are often our most reflective, thoughtful leaders. Ultimately, we would consider ways to not just accommodate those teachers (as if it were a handicap) but use their strengths for the good of the school. Sometimes awareness and thoughtful communication is good enough, but it’s also worthwhile to consider alternative means of professional development for these teachers.
- Standards-based grading. [Presented at district meetings for SLCUSD and AUSD]
I present the many benefits (for both teachers and students) of prioritizing authentic assessment instead of letter grades. Specifically, I’ll share “The Checklist” I use in my own classroom, where each of the Common Core anchor standards are scaffolded and written in a student-friendly way. Each student then has the freedom to navigate their own educational journey, and improve at skills of their choosing. The teachers are also allowed an amazing amount of freedom in choosing texts, since they’re focused on standards instead of common literature. For example, I had the freedom to teach “Serial” instead of a second play by Shakespeare; and the students could choose their own assignments — one student could analyze the formal structure of the first episode of Serial, while another tried to write their own podcast. I piloted “The Checklist” two years ago, and my students loved it (I took a poll), and I really liked it. But in this presentation, I would also be honest about a few of the minor concerns and drawbacks (and potential remedies).
- Creating Integrated [interdisciplinary?] STEM Pathway Projects and Lessons.
Facilitated by CTE Online, I create lesson plans that are based on the CTE pathways (Career and Technical Education) designed for career and industry-related coursework. They stand alone, but are best in collaboration across the curriculum. For example, I wrote ELA plans for analyzing “Serial” and writing our own Serial-like story; another teacher wrote plans on how to actually produce and edit a podcast; the criminal justice teacher wrote plans on how to stage and solve a crime; and the science teacher wrote four lesson plans concerned with forensics. My second team is currently engaged in a project in which the science teacher writes four NGSS-aligned plans to teach her students how to build an operate an underwater drone, I’m writing four plans on how to engage in technical writing to read and create their own instruction manuals, the graphic arts teacher is helping with incorporating photos in the manual (and the publication of the manual), and the EL teacher is supplementing the lessons with his own EL scaffolding and maybe even translating the instructions into Spanish (with the help of the Spanish teacher). At the end, the students will have created underwater drones, and some corresponding instruction manuals to go with them, in both English and Spanish, with color photos. This is STEM, STEAM, PBL, and CTE all in one, and it’s something we’re actually doing on our campus. By October, I can give an update on our first year officially diving into being a PBL-based school (we just finished a preliminary year).
- How to Network, Publish, and Be Heard in Meaningful Ways.
This is for teachers (or anybody) who might want to publish their ideas to a wider audience. I tell my story about how my Twitter account (with 6 followers) led to a job with The Atlantic. It’s a pretty great story. Then I talk about the reasons why anybody should (or should not) try to publish their ideas. I want to update this to include how to advise students who may want to join the adult world of publishing, which won’t be hard since the advice and warnings are pretty much the same for everyone. I can send you the slide show if you want, but most of it is verbal (and hands-on — the teachers have time and guidance in brainstorming their own articles that should be shared across the nation/world).
- The Wisdom Gap Between the Common Core and a Classical Education.
This talk focuses on the shift away from classic texts and towards modern skills (see #5). I begin with several examples of administrators and consultants disregarding the potential value of classic literature. They want to teach college and career readiness, and this often correlates with the notion of “teachers as facilitator.” Meanwhile, my daughter’s school is a “Classical Academy” that takes great pride in teaching the fundaments of literature and history. It’s a dramatic difference with observably different results. I have the unique perspective of writing the popular article “Why I’m teaching Serial instead of Shakespeare” while sending my own daughter to a school where they are certainly teaching Shakespeare instead of Serial. This has always been a speech no more than 30 minutes (best at about 10-15 minutes) but is easily adapted into something more interactive — maybe combining it with my observations of standards-based grading (#4 above), which is my own personal compromise.
What Others Are Saying
[Insert any quotes or feedback you’ve received from anyone who’s heard one of your talks. Verbal, email, social media, etc. all of it counts.]
The Next Step
Thanks again for considering me for your event. You can take the next step by emailing me directly.