Tuesday, January 22, 2019

'Lighting of a Fire'

In 1963, a man from the north side of town bought a brand new Wheelhorse garden tractor. He would use the tractor every summer to mow his lawn and every winter to plow his driveway until he passed away. At that point, the man’s son took ownership of the property and continued using the garden tractor until the summer of 2013. The sunny day was a great day for mowing until the tractor caught fire in the middle of the yard. The owner was able to subdue the flames without much damage. However, the mechanical issues were too much for the owner to repair. The tractor was parked under the back porch as the newly purchased mower zipped around the yard cutting grass. Randomly the owner and I had a conversation about antique tractors and he informed me of this old Wheelhorse he had parked a few years ago. I bought the tractor and replaced a few parts to get it up and running. There is not much grass to mow around my house in the woods, but there is plenty of snow to plow from the Ohio winters. Early last spring, I covered the tractor with a tarp and connected a solar trickle charger to the battery as I parked it until it snowed again. As the flakes fell last weekend, I opened the choke, turned the key and listened as the engine chugged until it fired up. I maneuvered the plow up and down my driveway until I had cleared away the snow.

When I think about leading a successful school or classroom, I believe that some of the tried and true practices from long ago still have a place in the schools of today. I do not believe all practices from the past are still relevant, however, being connected with and listening to professionals in our field is a practice that has allowed many educators to become better at teaching and administrators become better at leading. During my first year as an assistant principal, I sent Matthew Willis, principal of Hinkley High School, an email to discuss his experiences and implementation with restorative practices. I wrote almost five pages of notes from that conversation.

I started the SparkCast podcast to share the conversations that I had with professionals in the field of education. I wanted others to hear the knowledge of the guests instead of leaving the wisdom on a sheet of paper in a notebook or an idea in my head. I have produced an introduction message and four interviews for the ‘Lighting of a Fire’ episodes of the podcast. Episode 2 is with Associate Professor Katie Hooper discussing a hands-on Tropical Field Biology course that she teaches. Episode 3 is with Dr. Jim Harris discussing Anti-Social Discipline and the Alternatives. Episode 4 is with Trevor Muir talking about how he is using project-based learning for the real world in his classroom. And Episode 5 is with Superintendent Travis Jordan discussing social emotional learning from his current and past experiences.

I have been able to learn a great deal from the first guests of the podcast on topics that I find to be helpful for being a teacher and school leader. After reflection of the technical mishaps from the first four episodes, I have learned how to refine the process for producing better episodes in the future. I am looking forward to this journey and I hope you are able to come along.

The Spark Educational Services podcast can be found on Apple iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify. The video version of the podcast can be found as a playlist on YouTube. Webinars for aspiring school leaders can also be found on the podcast channels. Those webinars were produced in collaboration with Jodie Pierpoint of Dream Big Mentorship. The second year of the Aspiring Leaders webinars can be located on the website for Dream Big Mentorship.


I am greatly appreciative of the time that the guests of the podcast have given. I have posted the contact information of each guest in the show notes for any person interested in connecting with them. I am planning and will be posting future episodes on the channels as each is finished. 

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