Time for Teachership

103 of 174 episodes indexed
Back to Search - All Episodes

111. Student Agency for Unique "Tomorrows" with Dr. PJ Caposey

by Lindsay Lyons
April 18th 2023
In today's episode with special guest, superintendent, and author Dr. PJ Caposey, Lindsay discusses his books, specifi... More
Hey, everyone. Welcome to episode 1 11 of the Time for Teacher Shit Podcast. Today, we get to hear from Dr P J Capo who is the Illinois State superintendent of the year and a finalist for the national superintendent of the year through the American Association of School administrators. P J is a best selling author, dynamic speaker and a transformational leader and educator with the incredible track record of success. Let me tell you this conversation went in a direction that I typically don't go. We went a little off script with the different questions that we had, but we hit all of the same themes and it was a joy to go down that rabbit hole. So I can't wait for you to hear from Dr Capozzi. Here we go. Educational justice coach Lindsay Lyons. And here on the time for teacher podcast, we learn how to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice design curricula grounded in student voice and build capacity for shared leadership. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach. I'm striving to live a life full of learning, running, baking, traveling and parenting because we can be rockstar educators and be full human beings. If you're a principal, assistant superintendent, curriculum director, instructional coach or teacher who enjoys nerdy out about co creating curriculum with students.

I made this show for you. Here we go P J. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being on the time for teacher shit podcast today. I'm very excited to be here. Thanks Lindsay. Yeah, of course. And, and you are here through sickness and all of it. So it's dedication right there. And I feel like everyone's been fighting that battle for the last 30 months or whatever it is. So, um it's ok to play her once in a while. Yeah. So today I, I think we're gonna get into some really cool conversations and at the front end of this episode, I will have just read all of your like professional bio stuff. Is there anything that you want to say beyond the professional bio or anything that you want to contextualize today's conversation? Anything that's on your mind or things that will frame our, our talk today. It's interesting because um like one of the best and worst things about having a bio is that people read it particularly before you speak. And then it feels really weird getting on stage after you hear someone like essentially give you like living eulogy before you get on, on a stage. So, I don't know, I, I think the context for any of that is just that um my primary job.

And the thing that I value the most is still doing the work, right? So a lot of times people get into the speaker consultant, write author, um world and then that becomes their world and I love that space and uh that's not to mention anyone that's in it. Um But I'm still in the, the grind with the rest of the educators in the in the country trying to, to make things better. So um that's the one thing is that I just try to remind people because a lot of times people feel like, oh you wrote all these books, you talk all over and um I'm, I'm still in it. Um The same way that we, we all are. Yeah, that's a wonderful uh context for this conversation too because I think it's, it's helpful to be both out of it and in it at the same time to be able to like see all the things. So you bring some really unique perspectives to this conversation. So I'm excited we'll dive right in. I always start with Dr Pea Loves quote about freedom dreaming and she talks about it like dreams grounded in the critique of injustice which I love as a framing. So like we can dream all these dreams, but we ground them in the critique of injustice. There, it gives a little bit of bite to like the dreams that we have for education.

And so I'm curious to know what your dream is in that context when we're thinking about critiquing injustice for like designing curriculum instruction, leading leading people to do that work um that advances justice in the classroom. Yeah, I mean, I'd say one step kind of be before the, the design of instruction is the design and functionality and of school, right? I mean, so if we, if we even take it one step further and think about the purpose is our purpose to design a system that absolutely best serves kids and gets them ready for um to be, you know, critical thinkers and contributors to uh ever changing society and democracy or are we designing schools to a be a service to society in the community and to support parents and to prepare kids for the best that we can for their tomorrow? Given the confines of that as society continues to change, kind of logarithmically or exponentially, we're changing on a linear scale.

And like I do think schools are changing quicker than they've ever changed. So like kudos to us, but like still not close to where society is changing. And so um I think you have to answer that question first before you can get into what it is because you could argue that it's an injustice that schools are designed as a mechanism to allow society to run smoother as opposed to in order to maximize the actual critical thinking ability to um curate information, analyze it, connect um synthesize it and then communicate it to others, right? Because if we were just doing that, it would look different. Um So like you hear arguments about the four day work week, you hear arguments about well, schools should start later because all the science, especially at the high school level support that. Well, that's great. But when we are a function of society funded by taxpayers that like essentially become and I, I don't mean this disparaging it at all but like a function of what we do is child care so parents can work and then so they can contribute to society. So I think there's like peeling that apart.

I think you can get to it at the really macro level or you can get to a really micro level. Um and I'm happy to get into both or go further. But that's, that's just where my reaction is when, when you bring up that question. Yeah. Oh my gosh. So many things because I, I absolutely, I, I mean, I, we were just talking before we hit record like I have a parent of a very young child and like that child care is so expensive. We as a, as a society do not value child care workers. We do not value education as separate from child care because we don't fund child care systemically for everyone. Um And oh my God, we could go down, we could go down that path for a long time. But I think that's such an interesting point about like what we want school to be and, and I, for me, I see this idea of school being this opportunity to better society in ways, right? Where we have students as like change agents, we offer them opportunities to be change agents to make it to the society isn't treating education as childcare or, you know, whatever the the issue is. So I'm curious to know like, how, how that conversation that we're having that maybe adults have right about like what school could be or what do we want the purpose of school to be?

Like, how does that translate into like conversations with students about what school can be or, or does it, does that make sense? I think it does in terms of trying to figure out how do we offer courses and how do we design things for that? Right. So um like where I live, I give this example frequently is like we have a state of the art Welding lab in our school because that's what is very employable in our region, right? So if I were designing a school, would I have the state of the art thing in our building? Be welding? Well, maybe, maybe not, but it is because we have, you know, students that are leaving the day after graduation, making more than the teacher teaching them how to weld um immediately. So like then it becomes ok, a school designed to create employees or a school designed to create people that are going to improve society and, and help us think differently? Or is it the same thing? Can we do both or can we not? And if we, if we're, we're focused on not doing both, then essentially getting to in a much more European model, right? Like where we're kind of tracking kids and going to different places and if we're designed on like everyone has to become this critical thinker that's creating, then we might be doing a disservice to other kids, right?

So it's very interesting because if you asked me that 10 years ago, I would have had much less pragmatic thoughts about it. I'd had much more idealistic thoughts. But as I've gotten in and understood, like, hey, you know, the kid that's leaving here and making $87,000 at 18 and has incredible work ethic and is going to support his family forever and not move and be a contributor to this community forever being in small rural. That's a really awesome thing. Like we've done a really nice job by that kid. Um Now do, does that mean that that kid is going to change the world in some way? Like maybe because maybe the fact that he is going to raise a great kid, that kid might, right? Like, so you just don't know. Um whereas I would have told you 10 years ago, like, I would have thought much more in platitudes of like we all have to do this for all kids. I just don't think that that necessarily is true. So it's this very weird dynamic of trying to figure out what is pragmatic in terms of what we can actually do versus how do we not lose the idealism which is necessary for leaders to have to encompass a vision and to create a y for people to stretch and try harder.

Oh My gosh, I want to go like completely off guard for what I have planned to ask you because this is such an interesting like conversation. I'm curious to know a couple of things. One, I'm wondering how conversations with individual students can shape like that decision. You know what I mean? Like does it have to be that teachers decide one way or the other or like you're saying, like, can it be both and like, can it be both for specific students in different ways and like, how do we involve students in that conversation of what they want and what they would benefit from? Like, do they want to just go get the job and also can they go get the job and then also be a part of their community? Like without being like a civil rights leader or something as like their job title. Can they participate civically, you know, in, in local elections or um changing like a small law in their local community or something? Right. So I'm curious to know like the specific student experience, like how that's brought to light in some of the decisions about what courses you offer or things like that. What do you think? Yes. So I think it's like there's three elements to that one.

I would just to say the one like the aspect of because when I first became a principal that I was 27 very idealistic, like I was college for all. Like that was my mentality. I remember really struggling because I knew some kids weren't going to get there. And now I see some of those kids like that live in the biggest houses in our communities and are, are getting ready to serve on the local school boards. And so they're doing exactly kind of what you're talking about. They're, they're incredible community contributors, they're great, you know, uh husbands and wives, mothers and fathers and all of those things are happening without, you know, having to be college for all. So I think that it certainly can happen in, in different realms and avenues, I would say for me, the most um influential thing and this just started over the last couple of years, kind of started with COVID as I do a senior exit interview with every graduate that we have in the district um where they tell me what's good, what's bad, what's not. And so some of it is again, like incredibly poignant and deep and then some of it is like, we need bigger portions at lunch, which is also like, um, like meaningful. Right? So, like, we've replaced every water fountain less in, in the last year because they told us our water was terrible and I didn't really realize our water was terrible because I drink out of a different one.

Right? Like, um, so some of those things have been, like, very practical but then others, you know, we, um in some cases misguided and there's a lot of assumptions that took place, for instance, like, well, we fund football at like this level that we don't fund other things. Like, we don't really fund football, it self sustaining. Um other than like helmets, right? Like so like, and, and so helping to explain and dispel some of those things were really good, but then some of the cases were like, well, why don't we have this? Um And for us in small rural, like those choices as to what we offer are painstaking because we can't offer everything, right? So it's one of like my fundamental things that I'd like to fight for, again to go back to the theme of injustice is the fact that geography shouldn't indicate or determine the quality of your education or your access to high quality education. Um And so I think a lot of times like it's talked about urban, right? Like that, but I think it's more pronounced rural, having worked both, um I, and I think there's many, many things that make urban, incredibly difficult and tough, but I don't think access to high quality necessarily is wonderful.

I, I should say that is pronounced as it is in rural. So, like for us, um right before the school year, we lost our physics teacher. Like it's like impossible to find one. Right. Um And so we were able to like, create a uh very unique partnership with a neighboring district where we shared theirs in order to give our kids access. Um But if we weren't kind of thinking outside of the typical, you know, box that serves education, our kids would just lose access to that, which is dramatically different than many other places of means and um that create different opportunities for kids. And so for us, as you know, I kind of explore these things and as a kid try to give students as much voice as they can into what they want, it's never what they want, it's what they want and then are willing to give up, right? Like, so it's almost like doing your household budget, right? Like I would love to do this great, but that if we don't change the, the revenue, then the out.

So then we just have to change how we're spending it. Um And so for us, like, like one of the things that comes up a lot, which is family consumer science, it's the our kids want it and I always say like if we are going to do it, I am fine if we do it. Well, like if we lead to a culinary arts program or due to a childcare certificate, like if we go somewhere with a witch, not having these random electives, but then my follow up question is great. So, are we getting rid of egg? Are we getting rid of industrial arts? Are we getting rid of business? Are we getting rid of graphics? Which one do you want to get rid of? Like we don't want to get rid of any of them? I'm like, ok, well, me either. I'm like, so this is, this is the, this is the rub, right? Is for us to, to figure that out. And that is again just fundamentally different from district to district state to state, region to region. Um And I think that's part of what ails public education, right? Is that the fact that kids in our zip code 61084 have a different opportunity than kids that are 40 miles east of them. Um Despite the fact that we've worked our butts off to try to provide more opportunity. Yeah, absolutely. So many directions we can go with this. I I I love the Student Exit interviews.

Like I, I think that's, that's a brilliant idea to just like get and, and the fact that you're taking action on them too. I just want to highlight that for listeners too who are like, yeah, I'm gonna do this, like, I'm gonna survey students and see what they need. The the key is the action because otherwise students are going to take it seriously and they're not gonna like, great, like, share honestly. Um But also I love that you're bringing students into the conversation of like, we have a finite amount of resources, decisions have to be made. And so bringing them into those conversations, helping them see behind the curtain of how those decisions are made and and bringing them into making the actual decision is like a huge win for systemic like student involvement in and talk about civically engaged in their school community. Like that's it. Right? And I think from, from my perspective, just as a, I was a student of a very rural district and then as a teacher, I was in a very urban district. So it was like upstate New York to New York City kind of like differences. Um So I I'm totally hearing also what you're saying about like the unique challenges of that. And one of the things I learned from my research and surveying a lot of students from a, a very rural district was that there was this um lack of like voicelessness.

Uh This idea of like, um I remember some of the comments were like, why did my, why did my family move me here or something like that where it was just like, I feel completely divorced from all decisions being made about my life. And so I'm wondering, have you seen any teachers in, in their curriculum or, um, departments who have kind of tackled that voicelessness feeling or tried to address in, like, how they've designed instruction, like to amplify that and give them a sense of that bigger voice. Yeah. I mean, I think we have a handful of teachers that do an amazing job of that and I think systemically we're trying to become more. Um I think what a row round it would be the, the word that we typically use because we don't see a ton of diversity um in our, in our district, we try to meet it where we, we can but we just, there's not a ton of it. Um doesn't mean there, isn't it? I just wanna be clear but it's not an overwhelming, I would say the thing that has had the most profound impact is um one of the things that we found is that, you know, like, you know, the I, I don't, I forget what the title of the association is, but essentially the National Association for School Counselors.

So, whatever the acronym you know of that is, um they have a recommendation of how many students per counselor. And so we worked hard to, to meet that. But what we found is even in doing that, the majority of those school counselors work isn't in the college and career prep area. It's just in social, emotional and dealing with the crisis. Um So we added a department for college and career readiness and, and making sure that we had individual people set up for internships, internships um to get kids to school visits to have people come to us because again, um it's kind of bang for your buck. Right. Like if you're in university, you're gonna go to a school that has 1000 potential seniors as opposed to one that is 100 and 10. Um So we're kind of fighting for that and getting the people into our buildings and in doing that, I think we've given our, our kids just a, a glimpse as to what is possible, right? Like, so that's the, the air avenue that, that I like in, in and in the exit interviews. That's kind of what they said it was like, that was the best decision they ever made. Um And a lot of them are like we had no idea why you were doing. It just felt like you were just add another, you know, kind of pseudo administrator until and then, and now, you know, we have somewhere to go to help with our essays, someone that hounds us down for scholarships, someone that like in all of those things that in your head, like a school counselor could do.

But like anyone that's been in a school in the last five years, like our school counselors are plenty busy with stuff other than that. Um, and so that taking that, so that has given, I think our students, they've, I think agency, right. Like, so I don't know if voice is the right word or whatever, but I think it's given them agency in their future because they have somebody outside of their parents, um, outside of a singular teacher that is hounding them about what is their tomorrow, right? Like whatever your tomorrow is, is fine. I can find you an internship at a dairy farm. I can get you in, at a nuclear physicist place, um an aerospace place or we can just think about getting you into, you know, teacher prep, like whatever it is, that's our job to figure that out to help plan it with you. So I think that our kids have much more agency in their future right now than they had five years ago. I don't know that they would tell you they have more voice, right? Like I, I think they see those two things as different. Um And that, and they may be right and seeing it different, right? Like I think that they feel like they have voice on less consequential organizational decisions. Um like water foams, right?

Like, um but I think that they feel like they have more agency in their own future than they did five years ago. Hey, everybody, it's Lindsey just popping in here quick to tell you that. At Lindsey Betances dot com slash blog slash 111, you'll find the free beat for this episode, which is Doctor Qu's amazing TED talk. You gotta listen to it. Everybody back to the conversation. That's a super interesting distinction too because I've never, I've never heard of it broken down in that way. But that's absolutely like, they're, they're different and equally important components. So that's super helpful to like to see that breakdown. I'm, I'm curious too, like you mentioned the lack of diversity. I imagine like racial religious, like all the diversities that you, that you could typically imagine in small rural communities. But I'll, I'll let you respond. Yeah. So, I mean, I'd say that, you know, I mean, I would just think that the majority of studies would show that, you know, in terms of LGBT Q stuff like that's pretty evenly spread, right? Like, so I think we have an equal distribution of that. Um Outside of that, we're about 90% white um with the majority of the 10% being our um E S L uh Hispanic Latino students.

Um And then we just have uh a small handful of uh African American students. OK. That's really helpful to know. I, I was just thinking about like, yeah, so, so then linguistically, to an extent, racially religiously, probably um you know, like, how, how do you feel like your, your teachers have been or your departments have been having conversations about like the mirrors in a Currie or, or bringing current events around religious uh linguistic, racial injustices or justice to the table for your predominantly white students. Because I know that just being a student in one of those schools, um, was something that was, wasn't just touched on very much. Yeah, it's interesting. I would say, I would say it's really different. K 12. Um, and I would say that our K five teachers are much more open. Um, I should say it's not our teachers, I'd say our K five teachers are less fearful. So I, I think our community is perceived and I don't even know if it's accurate, right? Like in terms of its unwillingness to engage in these types of conversations. Um, meaning when we have it, I think there's a large difference in how we react collectively to individual students who, um, are open about whatever their sexuality or the, I think we react much differently to a kid than we do the concept as a, as a community.

Um Because then when it's a kid, so then just do what you need to do for the kid and whatever. But when it's conceptual, it's this like, well, why would we do that? Right. Like, so it's when it's humanized, I think our community has been pretty awesome. Um, especially for small town Christian conservative, um, you know, uh, area that doesn't mean that when we tiptoe into those areas that we aren't tiptoeing Right. Like, we're like, people aren't taking a jump into whatever. Now that said, um like our probably most revered teacher at the high school level is social studies and he can talk about anything he wants to because he's been there forever and people understand and respect and, and kind of get who he is. So, um he is able to bridge lots of um different areas and he's our sociology teacher. So it kind of lends naturally to some of that curriculum. So, um there's like some natural benefits in that and then in terms of like selecting books or curriculum materials that where kids are feeling more represented, um like, again, no one has a problem with that, right?

Like it's just um it's so, I i it's a very interesting, it's just a tip toe. Like it's a, it's, it's a like, um but it hasn't been um like when we talk about openly trying to do D E I work, there's resistance. Uh I mean, there, there just is resistance, there was no other way to say it. But when I talk about gatekeeper policies that accentuate gaps, people are fine with me trying to fix them. Right. So it's, it's one or the other, right? So, um it's been an interesting way to try to figure out how to get things done because there's then as the leader, it becomes a two part conversation, I can get things done by calling it gatekeeper. I can get things done by saying that we have some gaps, we need to close. But I also, then I'm not calling out the the elephant in the room. And so it becomes this kind of a two front war in a way of like, hey, we got to get these things done.

But at some point, we have to have the conversation too, right? Because what my senior Act interviews would tell me is that um many times our students of color in particular feel that they have a different existence, then our students that aren't right. Like, and um a lot of times they won't say it's terrible. It's not horrible. It's not, they're not going to like we're not gonna be on the news, right? But it's different. And so therefore, to me, like, we should have a moral and ethical imperative to potentially act on that. Um And, but different isn't enough to necessarily cue different things, right? Like now if it's a, a policy thing that I can fix or recommend, then that's different. Um So it's just this really interesting dance. Yeah, super, super interesting. All of the, the different kind of like categories of the, the idea of like the language piece and like, you know, we, we're gonna try to get things done that we can by just shifting the language and getting the buy in that way. And then there's also the that idea of difference of, of all the pieces that make up that feeling, right? Of difference. So probably policies are like an an element, like, like you said, you have a bit more control over so you can kind of adjust those then, like, do I see myself in the curriculum?

Are we talking about the things that are current events that are important to me? Right. Are my peers talking about those things? Like, are they not talking about them because they don't have an opportunity to talk about them in the curriculum? Like there's so many different pieces and then there's just a matter of like when I look around, who do I see and as a function of being the community that it is with the demographics that it is, it's like, ok, well, that's also influencing, you know, my experience. So I think there are some things that we have more control over and some things we have less control over. Yeah. And I think one of the things that from the superintendent lens that isn't talked about enough is how, um I think our country is as divided politically as it's ever been. Right? Like, I think that or at least in my lifetime, right? I can't say it's bad. Um, like we forget that that's our school too. Like our, so not just like, and I'm not talking about the kids in the community, I'm talking about our staff, right? I mean, the day after election day was the, the last two presidential election days were like, days of mourning for half of our staff just a different half each time. Right? Like, and so the, like, that's a massive issue. Like when you're sitting across a P L C from somebody that you wear your political ideology very strongly and they wear theirs.

And now all of a sudden the conversation is different. You're not talking about calculus, right? Like, or you are, but you're in the back of your mind thinking one way or the other about this other person like that, that's been a real challenge as well. That is, wow, I'm so glad you brought that up because that is a huge challenge that I think many districts are facing, particularly in with similar like geographies to what you're describing in demographics, to what you're describing psycho graphics to what you're describing. Uh That is, is I'm curious to know like as a leader, are, are you what feels like a step that you wish that you could take that? That maybe feels like you're in the kind of tip toe space that you described? They're like, it would be really cool if we could do this thing as a staff to be able to address this? Like, are there some like possibilities you've dreamed up of like, oh, I'd love to try this, but I'm not sure about this kind of thing. Yeah. So I think that and this might be Pollyanna, but I still think that there's more unites us than divides us. But in order to have that conversation, you have to have the conversation, right? And so that conversation is probably not a 40 minute conversation, right?

So then it becomes, hey, we've got four P D days a year. Are we gonna have one day where we just rip off the scab and get to it? Um And maybe open up this gaping wound instead of resolve it or like, so it's, it's not like there's this thing that I want to do that. I feel like I can't do. I think my board would be supportive and I think my community would probably shake their head at me and roll their eyes, but trust me in, in letting me do it. Um But again, it's like, I don't know that six hours is gonna make it better, right? Like, so it's one of those things where then it's like, and then the return on investment, like we're doing well as a district and I'm proud of it and I can talk about our accomplishments, but like we've got a long way to go to. So it's always like, it's not like, hey, we're gonna spend this time because we just have nothing to do, right? Like we've still got plenty of other stuff to do. My dog is about to lose her mind because the the mail lady is coming up. So I apologize if you hear. No worries. I hear that ok. I have a dog that does the same thing. Mortal enemies. Yes. All right. I think we're, I think we're past it. Yeah. I think that's absolutely. I, I love, um, the, you know, that framing, I love that idea of like, it is something that you don't want to just dive into and then open the gaping wounds with no plan moving forward.

Right. You have to kind of like, make it a priority and like it has to be this like long term thing. And then people also need to, like you were saying you have to buy it from the board and there's kind of the eye rolling, like navigate that piece of this is a commitment. We are committed to this. It's going to serve all of our students and it's also going to be really hard, like it's gonna be hard work well. And the the other part of it is like, and I, so we outsource much of our P D but I am, I feel very like what I, I go travel and do P D all the time, right? So I do culture stuff, I do evaluation stuff. I do social media, like you name it all right. I've done the P D on it. This is not it for me, right? Like so I, I I can, I am not qualified. I don't know, I'm gonna go into a teaching strategy here, but like with the people that I have found that are the very best at Socratic seminar, right, which is an old school, but everyone still reveals it are the people that have enough confidence and swagger about their content knowledge that they know, no matter how far off the conversation goes, that they can ask the two questions to get it back and about everything in P D I kind of feel that way.

I don't necessarily feel that way if we get off on a, on ad E I or a social justice issue that I can do that. Um And so therefore it makes it even scarier to, to touch. Yeah. And thank you, thank you for saying that because I think a lot of listeners are probably in the same exact kind of experience where they're like, I know this is important. I know these are the things that would take, it would take a lot of time, it would take a lot, you know, and like, I'm not quite sure like that, I'm the person to lead that conversation, you know. So I, I think that that's just like huge for people to hear that. Like it's ok to be in that space, you know. And so I just appreciate your, your honesty there. That's really awesome. Well, and the other thing is like, it just like everything in education. Whenever it becomes the trendy P D thing, the market then becomes flooded with people that are now experts on it. And then it becomes really hard to sort siphon through and be like, OK, who is actually the expert? And then I think with D E I stuff and, and social justice stuff in particular, it's not just who is the expert, but who is the expert that could work given my unique context. Um Because like, I'll just say one of my favorite presenters in the area is Sonia Whitaker.

So just, I don't know if I'm allowed to give her a shout up. I'm going to and I adore her and I think she's brilliant, could not work in my district. She just couldn't, right? Like, so like knowing the presenters and knowing who they are, knowing your district, I think is really important in that thing too. Yeah, such important advice. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much for that. And I, I realize we're kind of closing in on the 30 minute mark here. So I won't, I won't take up too much of your time. But I'm curious, it's like a kind of wrap up. We talked about a lot of different things and we went, I think towards a different path than I typically ask guests, which is super cool. So as people are kind of like stopping the, the episode and going about their day in leadership or even a teacher listening in their classrooms, what would you advise them to like, think about to, to do next to maybe get the ball moving a a mindset shift and action stuff they could take um as they end the episode. And so for me, the, and the thing which changed my behavior, right. So, like, I, I don't know that my beliefs or ideology have shifted in the last decade. Like I think I've believed what I've believed. But the thing that made me take action was when I finally talked to students and they expressed to me that they had a fundamentally different experience.

Now, fundamentally different experience is my words because that means I had to talk to other students to understand their experience, right? But when you have students come across and say like, you know, in junior high kids start saying inappropriate things to students of color. Ok. And so I'm like, all right. Well, did you let the the school know? Well, yeah, what did the school do they react? They did everything it says in the disco. OK. Good. So we're not ignoring it. What happens? It gets worse. OK. So then what happens? We'd say again, then they get punished again. Then we realize it's just easier not to say anything. So almost by proxy, then we were creating, you know, like if we say to go back to the beginning of the episode and talk about like we want kids to be community contributors if by our action or inaction, we're creating kids that are like silenced and almost disenfranchised in their schooling experience because it's just easier to keep your head down and keep moving to me as an educator when you hear that, that gives you the moral imperative to act. And so if you are like, if you are listening to like, yeah, but, or maybe not here or it doesn't seem like that for then maybe it's not like, awesome, but maybe it is.

And so if I were you, I'd just say like, hey, just talk to kids and, and figure out what their experience is and if it's fundamentally different, then we, we have to act and like the way that I would say like our kids would describe their fundamental difference is like there are teachable moments where they find that some of the adults in the room are selectively deaf and then they'll tell me that those same adults go bend over backwards to support them and do everything they can. But when in those, so they, they don't think those adults are racist or mal intentioned. But when there's that moment, they tend to back away from it. And so for me, that's the thing, like, how do we get those adults to, to understand they can intervene in that moment in a community like ours and still be protected, supported and still move kids forward in the right direction. Like that's where that rub is. And I think that's probably where a lot of teachers are right now. I was like, yeah, I know. And I love these kids and I'm doing what I can for them. But in that moment, do you know who that person's dad is? And if I correct that, then what's this going? And there's all this calculus going on in their head. And at some point, we just have to be ready to have that conversation so powerful.

And I, and actually I'll just make a quick connection to you. I just a couple of hours ago, interviewed Doctor Neil Gupta who told me that uh one of his students in this pivotal like conversation where they were asking students there for feedback. Uh He, she was like, we need more conversations in the classroom about issues that are important to us. And he had said something this was years ago, like, you know, well, our teachers don't have the training necessarily to feel comfortable responding always in the moment. And she said, Neil, you need to train your teachers highlighting just like the relationship, like you, you mentioned a lot throughout this episode. I think the trust and the relationship that enables you and, and the community to like do work or, or work with students that may have had these like difficult experiences, but like that trust is so foundational to any sort of change that we can make. And, and just that use of the first name to like an administrator and to say it so directly like that trust was foundational to being able to invite that student honesty, I think, which is really critical as well. Yeah, and so amazing. I have loved this conversation.

Thank you so much for coming on. I usually ask two final questions just as a, as a quick wrap up. The first one is for fun. So everyone who comes on the podcast usually identifies as a lifelong learner. They're constantly learning something new. It could be anything from like piano to a new book you read. What is something that you have been learning about lately? So I reject the term lifelong learner. Not that I, so I like. So here's the deal. Um I prefer unfinished just simply be like, like I, I feel like a lot of people continue to say they are learning but then they're not acting on it. I think unfinished means that you still have to continue to act. So, um that would be, I guess that uh one of the things that I am trying to do is so this um and learn right now is I have um never in my life marketed myself. So he like, I feel like I've done a really good job and a lot of the recognition our district gets is because I've branded and marketed district, which I have zero problems about, I'll make a zillion calls for that. But if it's about me, it is terrifying. Um And because especially everyone in the space that I typically market to our peers as well, I think it makes it even worse.

Um So that is kind of the New Year's resolution for me. Um, which I don't really love New Year resolutions either, but like it, like, I'm going to try to reach out and market myself in a more strategic manner and learn how to do it, um, in a way that, uh forces me into being uncomfortable. Um Just to see again, I think it's been a really good year for me accolades and recognition wise, I'm trying to parlay that to see where it goes. Um And so trying to, to figure out how to do that has, has been interesting. So I love that. That's what you said because I'm gonna give you an opportunity to do that now if you're comfortable or maybe even if you're uncomfortable to say like, what can listeners like first, how do they connect with you? But like if a listener is like, oh wow, this guy sounds awesome. I really want to invite him to do a keynote or whatever, like, what are some of the things that you want people to know about you and the things you do and, and how they can reach out? Sure. Um So I, you can connect me on uh pretty much every social media at MC US D soup. I'm an S U pe soup guy, not S U P T.

Um But even my name is pretty unique. So even if you just Google my name, it comes up everywhere. Um, and my website, it's pretty comprehensive in, in terms of what it looks like in terms of like, things that I, I do outside of the typical, you know, 9 to 5, which is really more like, like 6 to 6. Um, job. Um, I always laugh. I got like, four or five full time jobs. So, um, I, I have eight books out in the last 10 years and I've got three more coming out this year. So it'll be 11 in 11 years, I think at the end of, of this year. So, so look for those. I'm really excited about like, I like all the books that I've written but, um, have one coming out that is intended for high school athletic coaches. I think there's a really unique space where if you talk to a bunch of kids, like, obviously, the theme of this conversation has been, they'll tell you a lot of them will tell you that the most impactful person they've had in their educational career has been a coach and that's not always a positive thing, right? Like it's not always like, oh my God, it's like, oh, this person ruined my life or I used to love baseball and now I hate it. Um And so we know this and then we pay them very little as a school system and give them no training. They like, hey, good. You passed the background check, go.

Um, or like you played college baseball. So now you must know how to interact with 18 year olds, right? Like it doesn't work that way. Um So I think it's unique in that space. So I'm excited about that. Um I coach a lot of people like from the executive leadership coaching, both inside education and outside education. Um I think coaching is much different than mentoring. So people will be like, how do you coach CEO S because I can help them learn about themselves and leadership is leadership. Um And so that, that is probably my favorite thing that I do. Um I teach at a handful of universities um wearing a Columbia shirt now. So, um that's, that's one of them. And then the speaking keynote in consulting thing is, is very interesting, right? Because um there's no feeling like getting a standing ovation after a keto like there, that's the best feeling in the world and do it and it's great and travel and do all those things. Um But I like consulting way more. Um So two of the things that I come in and do is kind of this unique um culture assessment that I've worked up and kind of go through and, and give people real feedback as to what their culture is because I think far, far, far, far too often people think climate is culture, which are dramatically different things.

So, right now, I don't know when this is going to air. Um But say it airs in February. Um That's when everyone says their culture dips, your culture doesn't dip, your climate dips. Your culture is like cement, it's really hard to change. Um And so to get in and actually do a culture assessment is, is a unique thing. Um And then the second one is uh evaluation to me is the lowest return on investment um thing we do in education. We spent thousands of hours in almost every district on it. Every year. Every everyone you would talk to says it actually is a negative R O. I doesn't improve teaching practices, decreases climate. Um And so I go in and, and help to reformat and re envision that process um for people agnostic of tool, whether you're Marzano Marshall Danielson, whatever. Amazing. Wow, that was so great. I'm really glad that you did that because I think a lot of people will reach out after this. So I hope that's ok with you with your four jobs. But thank you so much P J for being on the podcast. I really appreciate your time. It was awesome. I appreciate the opportunity. If you're leaving this episode, wanting more. You're going to love my life, coaching intensive curriculum, boot camp. I help one department or grade team create feminist anti racist curricula that challenges affirms and inspires all students.

We weave current events into course content and amplify student voices which skyrockets engagement and academic achievement. It energizes educators feeling burns out and it's just two days. Plus you can reuse the same process any time you create a new unit, which saves time and money. If you can't wait to bring this to your staff, I'm inviting you to sign up for a 20 minute call with me. Grab a spot on my calendar at w w w dot Lindsay beth lions dot com slash contact. Until next time leaders continue to think big act brave and be your best self. This podcast is a proud member of the Teach Better Podcast Network better today, better tomorrow and the podcast to get you there, explore more podcasts at teach better dot com slash podcasts and we'll see you at the next episode.

111. Student Agency for Unique "Tomorrows" with Dr. PJ Caposey
111. Student Agency for Unique "Tomorrows" with Dr. PJ Caposey
replay_10 forward_10