79-Inspire your Kids to Embrace the 6 Degrees of Separation…Starring Russell Doup


Russell Doup is my nephew. Russell Doup is a 25-year-old stockbroker and former Ohio State football player. Russell Doup is living with his uncle…yours truly…while he builds his client base. Consequently, we hang out a lot. About a month ago, we watched The Founder the story of Ray Kroc who was the force behind McDonald’s. We both loved the movie. Ray, played by Michael Keaton, was a champion networker. He used this skill to transform a small hamburger stand in California into a dominant multinational corporation. Russell is a 24/7 networker. We agreed that the movie was inspirational and it inspired a passionate conversation about networking.

Watching the movie challenged me to inventory all the times I’ve benefited from networking. I met my lovely wife through social networking (this was old school social networking prior to the internet…I’m talking 1988). Every teaching interview I’ve landing was the result of personal and direct networking. As Russell and I sat on the couch and discussed the implications of The Founder, a thought struck me, Networking is darned important, but schools don’t teach kids how to do it. I turned to my nephew and asked if he ever learned about networking in school. He responded negatively. My experience as a student was the same. In the midst of this Eureka moment, I knew I had to do an episode on networking featuring my networking nephew!

Episode Template

The Problem:

Kids don’t know how to network.

The Solution:

Ostentatiously introduce networking activities to students.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Do an icebreaker. If you need ideas, check out Episode 43.
  • Debrief students on what they learned about their classmates during the icebreaker.
  • Challenge students to seek an answer outside of class in a face-to-face fashion and then encourage them to solicit another resource from their interviewee.
  • After students have practiced networking, perhaps in a few days…challenge them to go virtual. Locate an expert online who might be well equipped to answer a difficult question. Direct kids to email this expert. And like before, challenge them to ask the expert for another resource they could contact.

When students practice this essential skill, they’ll get better at it. When they get better at networking, social and professional opportunities will saturate their futures.

Listen to “79-Inspire your Kids to Embrace the 6 Degrees of Separation…Starring Russell Doup” on Spreaker.

78-DEINSTITUTIONALIZE your Classroom…Starring Casey Ewy, Heather Smith, Haley Smith, and Richard Hancock

On a brilliant October afternoon a couple of decades ago, the fire alarm shattered the tranquility. Our school was experiencing a gas leak. The students and staff hurriedly spilled out of the building and marched on to the practice football field. We were told to stay put and wait till the all clear signal could be issued. You’ve probably experienced such situations…1,000 adolescents herded outside and told to wait patiently. It was bedlam!

What I found so interesting was the reactions of the kids. They exited their institutionalized classrooms into a beautiful day and immediately came to life. As they frolicked in the afternoon sun, one droll young man approached me and said the following, Mr. Sturtevant…our staff much looks better in artificial lighting. I laughed uproariously, but the comment struck me. Just maybe it takes removing kids from a bland, sterile, uniform, institutionalized setting to stoke their creative juices and find joy.

And here dear reader, is where Dr. Casey Ewy makes a dramatic appearance. Dr. Casey teaches at Susan B. Anthony Middle School in Manhattan Kansas. Dr. Casey is all about DEINSTITUTIONALIZING classrooms. Her objective is to build a family atmosphere in her room which will bolster relationships, ignite creativity, and stoke engagement. Joining her on today’s episode is her team of like-minded colleagues:

Richard Hancock, Haley Smith, Heather Smith, and Casey Ewy

Throughout the episode, you’ll hear my enthusiastic guests reference their core values. The following image is prominently displayed in Dr. Casey’s classroom:

This final image demonstrates not only a family atmosphere, but also student-led decor:

How about transforming your room?

Episode Template:

The Problem:

Many classrooms are bland, sterile, uniform, and institutional.

The Solution:

You have it in your power to alter this depressing dynamic.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Walk in to your room and objectively evaluate what you see
  • Consider improving fluorescent lighting
  • Ask your kids how they would improve your room
  • Challenge kids to bring in a room decoration

Transform your room into a welcoming space. Perhaps, a family atmosphere will take route in your class!

Listen to “78-DEINSTITUTIONALIZE your Classroom…Starring Casey Ewy, Heather Smith, Haley Smith, and Richard Hancock” on Spreaker.

77-Flipgrid is a Powerful Little Tool that’s a Blast…Starring Aharon Rockwell

When evaluating a new tech tool, I must be able to use it within 5 minutes…or I just bag it. If I can’t figure it out by then, my students will be lost. I was conducting a PD session in Ft. Worth this past summer. A young lady called me over and said, Have you heard of Flipgrid and if so, have you used it? My answer was, No and no. I made a mental note to try it when the school year started, but I remember thinking…It has to pass my ease of use test. Last week was 8 weeks in and I finally got around to it. I’m glad I did!

Flipgrid is a cool way to encourage student’s voice. You record a video question and then kids record a 1 to 90-second video on their smartphones or Chromebooks in response. I mastered Flipgrid in about 3 minutes. My students figured it out in 2. This tool is great in terms of providing a creative vehicle for student expression. In last week’s episode, Chrissy Romano warned that ostentatious presentation tools like Flipgrid might unravel introverted kids. My response, which Chrissy liked, by the way, was to take anxiety away by permitting students who were uncomfortable to interview someone.

My first Flipgrid was pure practice. The students were prompted to ask Mr. Sturtevant a question. This accomplished 2 objectives. It got them accustomed to the platform and they learned a lot about their teacher, which makes me more approachable. My second Flipgrid was powerful. I challenged students to interview a friend, family member, coworker, or classmate. They asked their subject if they knew a Muslim and is Islam a religion of peace.

To help me in my Flipgrid explanation quest is an awesome original source. Aharon Rockwell is a freshman and in my Global Studies class. Aharon knew I had a podcast and approached me about being a guest. I jumped at his offer and I’m glad I did. He’s a great guest!

Aharon Rockwell

Episode Template

The Problem:

Student are limited in terms of expression.

The Solution:

Flipgrid will give your kids a new expressive canvas to paint upon…and it’s a lot of fun.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Watch this brief tutorial.
  • To become familiar with this tool, create your own Flipgrid and coerce your family and friends into posting.
  • Prompt your students to use Flipgrid in a trial by challenging them to ask you a basic question…see my first Flipgrid.
  • Prompt students with a question that gauges community attitudes. This will be an interview where introverted students can breathe a sigh of relief. Check out this Flipgrid for ideas.

Flipgrid is a cool tool that’s easy for kids to master. It’s also a lot of fun!

Listen to “77-Flipgrid is a Powerful Little Tool that’s a Blast…Starring Aharon Rockwell.output” on Spreaker.




76-Quit Trying to Turn your Introverts into Extroverts…Starring Chrissy Romano

A number of years ago, I took the Myers & Briggs personality assessment. I was tabbed an ENFP. When I read the description of my type, I was thrilled. I thought, Yup that’s me and I’m glad it’s me. 

My enthusiasm, particularly for the E classification which stands for extrovert, was well-founded. Being an extrovert is the gold standard in America, particularly in our schools. As students, extroverts are the volunteers, the kids who make cheesy videos, the guys who march up to the homecoming queen and ask them out (my wife was a homecoming queen), and the students who inject levity into drab academic settings. As teachers, extroverts are the hams. Even worse, many extroverts seem determined to transform quiet contemplative students into mini versions of themselves. Extroverts say things like, I’m going to pull you out of your shell, or… Put yourself out there. I’ve done this! I must change!

And here’s where my stunning guest, Chrissy Romano from the Garden State, makes her grand entrance.


Chrissy is a veteran teacher with over 25 years experience with students in elementary and middle school. She has spent the bulk of her career teaching in Hackensack where she was born and raised. She graduated from Rutgers University with a double major in Sociology and Psychology and went on to complete the Teacher Certification program and earned a Masters in Counseling from William Paterson University.

She is dedicated to teaching the whole child as well as stimulating and supporting innovation in classrooms. Chrissy continues to be passionate about teaching and infusing technology to engage and motivate students.

Her specialty is G-Suite for Education, effectively integrating technology into the classroom, and PBL/Inquiry-based instruction. She is a Google for Education Certified Trainer and provides professional development and consulting services to educators.

She is a co-host of #CoffeeEdu, an informal monthly gathering of educators,  in Westwood, New Jersey, co-director of NJASCD North, a lead organizer of EdCampNJ and overall EdCamp enthusiast!

As impressive as Chrissy truly is, I invited her on this episode because she’s a proud introvert. She’s going to help blowhards like me help the 1/3rd of my students that are introverted.

Chrissy also recommended that those interested should watch the TedTalk by Sarah Cline on the Power of Introverts.

The Problem:

Teachers have a hard time accepting students that process the world differently.

The Solution:

Accept all of your students!

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Build-in some quiet contemplative time in tomorrow’s lesson.
  • Present with a tech tool that encourages anonymous participation. Great choices include Pear Deck, Padlet, and Today’s Meet.
  • If you’re going to employ a more ostentatious tool like Flipgrid, be certain to provide the option for kids to interview someone instead of starring in the video clip.
  • Make a point of interacting regularly with reserved students about non-school issues.

Please accept all students for exactly who they are. Isn’t that what you’d like someone to do for you, or your children?

Listen to “76-Quit Trying to Turn your Introverts into Extroverts…Starring Crissy Romano” on Spreaker.


75-The National Anthem, Code Switching, and an EPIC Teachable Moment…Starring Marlena Gross-Taylor

I became politically aware in 1968…my 7th year of existence. The world seemed on fire. The young Jimmy Sturtevant was busy being a kid, but events kept invading my innocence. In April of that year, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Just weeks later, Robert Kennedy suffered the same fate. The insanity of the Democratic convention in Chicago monopolized TV coverage, but what really captivated the young me was the Mexico City Olympic Games. I watched in wonder as one African-American athlete after another shattered world records in the high altitude of Central Mexico. One black American gold medal winner climbed the podium, donned a black glove, raised his fist in the air, and then bowed his head during the National Anthem. 

This moment came back to me this past week when the NFL/National Anthem controversy descended. I knew that I had to do an episode on this topic. My objective is not to promote my views, but rather to help brother and sister educators navigate the rhetorical minefield that is this issue. I also knew that I needed help. I decided to share my mic with someone who doesn’t look like me…someone who has had a different life experience. And that my dear listener…is where my good buddy Marlena Gross Taylor makes a dramatic entrance. 

Marlena Gross-Taylor @EduGladiators

Marlena Gross-Taylor is the founder of #EduGladiators as well as a district leader in Tennessee. She has a proven track record of improving educational and operational performance through vision, strategic planning, leadership, and team building. A Nashville transplant originally from southern Louisiana, Marlena’s educational experience spans several states allowing her to have served K-12 students in both rural and urban districts including Atlanta, Georgia and Hickory, North Carolina. She has been recognized as a middle school master teacher and innovative administrator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. 

As a proud Louisiana State University alumni, she is committed to excellence and believes all students can achieve. Follow Marlena on Twitter @mgrosstaylor or visit her websites www.marlenagrosstaylor.com and www.edugladiators.com.

In this episode, Marlena and I will break down this issue and build you up in the process. We’ll give you courage to tackle your fears and take on this controversy confidently.

Ideas for Activities:

  • Practice discussing contentious subjects
  • Encourage students to objectively study all sides of controversial topics
  • Have kids assume roles in simulations that may differ than their personal views
  • Challenge students to back up their statements and convictions with objective sources
  • Teach about code switching (see resources)


Inviting controversial topics like the National Anthem controversy into your curriculum takes courage. Be an EduGladiator and sponsor societal evolution in your class! 

Listen to “75-The National Anthem, Code Switching, and an EPIC Teachable Moment…Starring Marlena Gross-Taylor” on Spreaker.