Podcast: Partnering with Your Principal for Student Success with Randolph Hull and Joshua Bzovi in MI on Teachers in America

33 Min Read
Assistant Principal Randolph Hull and Reading Intervention Teacher Joshua Bzovi

Photo: Assistant principal Randolph Hull and reading intervention teacher Joshua Bzovi

Welcome back to Teachers in America, where we celebrate teachers and their lasting impact on students' learning journeys and lives.

In today’s episode we are joined by assistant principal Randolph Hull and Read 180 teacher Joshua Bzovi from the South Redford District in Michigan. The admin-teacher duo will share how they’ve teamed up to support their middle school students in reading. Plus, they’ll give insight on programs and tools that have helped their students thrive.

A full transcript of the episode appears below; it has been edited for clarity.

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Noelle Morris: Welcome to Teachers in America, a production of HMH, where we celebrate teachers and recognize their triumphs, challenges, sacrifices, and dedication to students.

I am the Senior Director of Community Engagement, Noelle Morris. Each episode, I meet a new teacher friend to learn about the latest lessons and innovations from the classroom.

Today we are joined a teacher-admin duo from Michigan: Mr. Joshua Bzovi and Mr. Randolph Hull.

Joshua is a reading intervention teacher for grades 6-8. An avid reader himself, Joshua has made it a mission to get students excited about books and enjoy reading by exposing them to different genres and authors that pique their interest. He has a strong desire to see students succeed in reading comprehension. 

Randolph has served in the education field for over 15 years, working in grades K-12 as a teacher, administrator, and educational director. As an educator, he embraces the creativity and innovation that inspires teachers and students to change the world. Randolph currently works work as an administrator in the Ann Arbor Public School District and as clinical Instructional coach for new and inspiring teachers at Wayne State University.  

Noelle Morris: Hey to our Teachers in America audience. I’m so excited today to have not just one guest, but two guests. We have a special partnership here today with assistant principal Randolph Hull and Read 180 teacher Joshua Bzovi. Who wants to start? Who wants to jump in there, Randolph or Joshua? Who wants to first tell us their teacher journey?

Joshua Bzovi: I’d be happy to, Randolph, if that’s okay. Well, let’s see I’m nearing the end of my 22nd year. I’ve been with the same district, South Redford, for all this time. I started out as a fifth-grade teacher for about the first thirteen years, and then I’ve been here at Pierce Middle School for the last nine years.

I came in to apply for a science position and ended up getting the ELA position, which is what I was hoping to have. And that led me to a couple years ago being offered this Read 180 program, trying this out. We had been advocating for a reading program for quite a while in our department and having Randolph and our head principal, Mr. Smith, they were really behind getting this taken care of for us. Randolph had experience in teaching Read 180 in a previous district, so he really advocated for us to have this program. That’s kind of what led us here.

I’ve been on various leadership committees here. I led the ELA department for about seven and a half years coming in here, during my nine-year stint here. I’ve been doing Galileo Leadership Consortium, back in 2013, which kind of helped me understand the value of leadership and being a servant leader, as I like to call it. Just kind of being able to help people where I can and when I can and being able to now service students in this reading journey of theirs.

Noelle: One thing we have in common is—just so y’all are aware—I’m known as teacher one of Read 180. Most of my friends refer to me as the OG, which I actually think is a term of endearment. But Joshua, my first job that eventually became Read 180 I went in to interview for eighth grade English language arts and also then had to teach science. So, it’s so cool that we have that connection.

But Randolph, let’s hear about your journey. And I would love if you would take the approach with your journey [to use] three words that describe the most three pivotal moments in your career.

Randolph Hull: Thank you. I would say inspirational, innovative, enlightening experience.

Noelle: What has been innovative? I want to know more about that.

Randolph: I’m big into creativity and seeing what could benefit us, not just now, but to the future, right? So, trying to find new ways to introduce things, new ways for people to learn, new ways for students to be excited and engaged. I [was] a physical education and health teacher, so excitement and moving was my primary thing when I first came into education. But it leads to why I like Read 180. It was innovative. It was not, we’re going to just read and just keep reading and we’re going to talk about things, but it was a way to introduce some of the concepts that were really fresh to students using computer software, getting feedback immediately. That’s what I loved about the Read 180 program and in my course of my career, just the opportunity to see the uniqueness of where we are as educators.

I think this is a field that is very unique from any other career because we’ve all been in education for pretty much the majority of our lives since five, right? As a student. Then, being a scholar in college to get the degree. And now I had the opportunity to come back and teach. I think we are given the data and feedback from the first day of school, and you learn from the things that you’ve been taught by previous teachers, the things you’ve learned that work for you [in] K–12, and then the lessons that you’re given on how to be a better instructor in college. And now to come back and use all of those things in an innovative way to reach everybody else.That’s how my journey has been. I continuously see opportunities to change and introduce new things that will be beneficial.

Noelle: Mr. Hull, why teaching for you? What brought you into the profession?

Randolph: It’s a great question. I’m going to say, definitely a calling. To share a quick story, my undergrad is exercise physiology and science. And I was not thinking about teaching at K–12. I was volunteering my time at one of the Little League football places in Detroit where I play football at—West Side Cubs. I’ll give a shout out to them on the podcast for anybody in Detroit. And some parents were teachers, and they were like, “You’re pretty good at this. You should be a teacher.” I didn’t think about it, but I loved working with kids, and I have a passion to make change. I didn’t want to just make change in my own life and in my children’s life, but I wanted to make it in the lives of everyone.

That’s why I volunteered with football. I wanted to give back [in] what I knew. And I said I’ll give it a shot. I got the substitute certificate and went ahead and got certified. I was a grad assistant, so I was still subbing even though I was a certified teacher. And I just liked it. I liked going to the kids and seeing the freshness. I’ve been K–12 so I have opportunity to see elementary and what they need, the freshness of that, what you’re able to introduce to them. And then in the middle school, what we’re able to develop. And then in the high school, what we’re able to enhance. I just fell in love with it, and I fell in love with opportunity to grow in these young lives and still be part of them and run into kids that [are] 23 or kids that are just now starting to have kids and are talking about schooling. Going back to what I said earlier the uniqueness of this profession, I’ve been in school my whole life as an educator, as a student, and to be able to see parents that have been educated through me and their children are coming back. It keeps you fresh. It keeps you excited. It’s one of those professions that’s always giving to you if you are willing to open your arms and receive.

Noelle: Totally. Power to the substitutes. That was my first experience was substituting. And I’ve determined when someone comes in and they have that substitute experience, really give them a good look because they’re able to manage a lot often on the fly. What, Mr. Bzovi, brought you into teaching?

Joshua: Well, I went to a small private school growing up and I had the fortunate opportunity to have one of my teachers basically three times. My fifth-grade teacher, I actually ended up having again in eleventh grade as a teacher and then he ended up going back down to fifth grade in my senior year and I was able to assist him that year with his class. That’s probably where it started, because he basically had me helping these elementary kids in fifth grade. I kind of always just looked up to him and I was like, “Wow, this guy, he was such an inspiration to me.” He always wanted the best version of you. That’s what he instilled in his students. He always wanted to see the best version of you. He was very tight with his expectations and rules, and I just thought that was amazing and then actually be able to work with kids.

And then I volunteer at a camp every summer. So, I was kind of cabin leading and staffing and I eventually said to myself, like Mr. Hull here, “I just like working with kids.” And I remember my counselor that year, she saw it. I had been leading some Bible studies and things like that at the school, and they said, “You’re an okay teacher and you like to work with kids. Why don’t you go into teaching?” And I was like, “Yeah, maybe I will.” That’s basically what got me into it. My wife always tells me that whenever there’s a new person in the room, I’m one of the first people to go and welcome them. I don’t know if I recognize that myself, but she does. I think I just have this thing where I want to just make sure that every kid should be seen and should know that they are being seen, “Are you comfortable? Do you feel like your needs are being met?” I think that’s part of the teaching profession. These kids have needs and in particular, Read 180, there is a need. It’s great to be able to work with kids who I know they’re put into this particular class for a reason. They need to become better readers. It’s nice to have that direction of saying, “Okay, I know this and we’re all in this together.” These are the kids that sometimes, they might not have that confidence in the classroom to participate and share, but they can be comfortable in here. I can get to know them and just try to build relationships with them and say, “I see you. I hear you. I want to get to know you and let’s have fun here. We’re going to read. We’re going to struggle. But we’re going to have successes.”

And that’s what I love about this program is that there’s even the most minor success, even if a kid increases in their reading ability, but they still don’t reach proficiency, you know what? They grew. I had kids cheering yesterday in the Reading Inventory test. They weren’t making that proficiency goal, but man, they might have gone up like a hundred points or even fifty points. Just the look on their faces, even finishing a segment, there’s these little confidence boosters.

Those are those wins that you have as a teacher. You see the excitement on their faces that you’re like, this is why I got into this profession. And, it may have been a long road to get there, but you almost forget it when you see just how excited and elated these kids are when they’ve made some kind of gain or success.

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With Read 180, Mr. Bzovi has seen reading growth and newfound confidence in his students.

Noelle: Definitely. Mr. Hull, when Joshua mentioned that he came to leadership really advocating for a reading intervention for striving readers is that just a known empowerment with your teachers to bring needs and advocate for students?

Randolph: We have a phenomenal English department here. But I’ll say yes, I think all of the teachers, we come in with a passion to want to help the next generation. So, you’re always looking to provide the best opportunity for students. As far as it relates to Josh, Mr. Bzovi, you have some people that you could just say are born to do this. I’ll share a short story. When I first got here, because I’ve been here—this would be my fifth year going into the next school year—I had an opportunity to go into one of his classrooms to see how things were going on and he was actually reading. And he engaged me so much in his reading that I forgot that I was in the room doing that. I was so in tune to what he was saying and hanging on every word, and we all were in there. I think, that’s just a trait of his, but I believe we all want to do the best thing possible for kids. He’s just a rockstar at it right now, and it’s benefiting our kids in this district.

Noelle: Nice. So, Mr. Bzovi, we have to know, what were you reading or how do you make any reading that engaging?

Joshua: One of my favorite stories that we read, and I’m not sure if this is the story because this has been a couple years now. But we read a portion of the Odyssey on the Cyclops cave, and just being able to, whenever Polyphemus is doing his dialogue, I would have to change my voice to some kind of monstrous voice. Usually, after doing that five times a day, you get pretty raspy at the end. So, it kind of even sounded more natural by the end of the day. So, it was either that one or it may have been The Watsons Go to Birmingham. Maybe reading sections of that, although we do the audio, whenever we review, because the audio of that book is phenomenal by LeVar Burton. He’s one of the best.

But usually doing a review, I like to read out loud. I think read aloud—I know this is probably not what we’re talking about—I think read aloud is so crucial and important. I still try to do that in Read 180 on my Fridays. I might like a picture book here or there or just a chapter of a book, here and there. I feel it’s very powerful for students. Audio books are good to hear and for kids to listen to for good reading, but I think it’s good to have the adults, [to] actually see someone actually doing the reading and how they use inflections and just getting the voices and having fun with it and that really engages the students in their reading.

Noelle: I’ll tell you the story. I read The Watson’s Go to Birmingham with my class, and it was right when Christopher Paul Curtis had written the book. I knew that he was coming to NCTE, and I was like, “Okay, I am going to meet him.” I reached out to him, and I was like, “Hey, when you’re in the area, would you happen to come by our school and read to my class?”

It was so cool, and my students loved it. He gets there and he reads to them, and they totally sell me out. They’re like, “You read this so much better than Ms. Morris.” I was just like, “Okay, diss me in front of Christopher Paul Curtis. That’s okay.” But I agree hearing stories, giving them the chances to immerse in it, balance with what is in Read 180.

Randolph, what is something that you have found a difference with watching students who have been in Read 180? What are you noticing as far as change with students and even interaction with students who may have had more referrals in the past or you’ve had to have more family conversations about reading scores and so forth?

Randolph: Sure. I’ll give you an example of my own personal experience and then I can kind of tell you how I see things going on in the school which have been beneficial. Well, one of the reasons why when I got here, after the first year, I said, “We need to get this program. We have great teachers. We need to provide a program that’s giving them curriculum instruction so we can get that authentic literacy out of what’s going on.” But my first experience with the Read 180 program, I was actually working in an alternative school setting. And I actually had System 44 and we had Read 180.

And as an educator, we believe sometimes that because someone can talk that they know how to read. But we all know, you talk before you even learn how to read. And I’m talking to kids that are 16, 17, and we’re talking, and I had a student that did not know how to read at all and confide in me that, “I do not know how to read.”

And he took the System 44 program with us and started really enjoying it and enjoying the whole program in which we had at that moment in time and started to ask for books. He said, “Can I get a book to go and read and can I take one of System 44 books home with me so I can practice some of the reading?”

And for those of you who are familiar with the program, System 44 is like, “Nat, sat, cat,” right? “Nat, sat, hat.” And this was a young man that was struggling with that. But towards the end he was deep into the System 44, and he was able to start not only reading the small stories, but [pronouncing] the words, and he got excited about it.

I see that same excitement at this level with some kids. They might not be at the reading level that they should be on at the time they started the program. But the excitement from the program is getting them excited in their other courses because they not only take Read 180. They still are in their other ELA classes.

So, when they go to the other ELA classes, you see another excitement. You see a confidence. And I think that’s one of the first things I noticed. When you asked what I noticed has changed, I see a confidence and a, “I have the ability to do this. So now I’m in the class, I’m not shying away from reading. I am ready to answer questions, raise my hand, ready to read out loud.”

I want to read out loud, which we know creates more of engagement with them in the classroom. As far as having conversations about students not doing well academically with the reading, we’re able to see some small progress. Read 180 gives you the consistent feedback and progress on those segments, and they’re able to see where they’re at and the progression that they’re making. They themselves are able to see they’re progressing, and you can always show that to the parents.

Sometimes it’s the way it’s presented to them. They’re excited. They’re like, “Wow, you are moving well,” versus waiting for a semester grade or answer on a quiz or a test. They’re able to get it faster and more feedback. So, it’s helping out with a lot of the conversations with parents and even with students on how they’re succeeding.

Noelle: That’s amazing to see. I love seeing that confidence boost transfer into core instruction into other classrooms.

Josh, how are you as a Read 180 teacher connecting to the ELA teachers so that strategies that you’re doing can also be implemented in the core classroom?

Joshua: Yeah, Mr. Hull said this earlier, but we just have an amazing ELA department. I love these teachers I work with. I had to give a shout out to Winona, Brie, and Gail, because they were actually the ones that started the Read 180 program here, but it was during the COVID year, so you can imagine how that went.

They’re the ones that officially kicked off the program. I’ve been doing the last two years being back in person. We have a lot of conversations. What’s nice about that is I have at least a couple of teachers now that are familiar with the program, so we can talk a lot about that.

This year was pretty special because the seventh and eighth graders, I ended up doing the dystopian unit in workshop three and seventh grade particularly. They do a dystopian unit and they do it later in the year. And what was wonderful was that those two teachers came up to me, when they started, and they named a couple of the kids who had Read 180, and they just said how confident they were to answer questions. They knew what a dystopia was. Kids that are normally kind of quiet and reserved now have that confidence, you know? And so, I’m able to talk to them a little bit about and connect with [the teachers], “Okay, this is what I’m teaching [the students].”

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Students have been transferring the skills and knowledge learned in Mr. Bzovi’s reading intervention class to their other core subject areas.

We have our department meetings. We have written up a criteria about what students should be recommended for the class. This was the first year that we did actually a full year. The students were in for a full year with the possibility of being exited midyear based on their scores and also having new kids come in at the midpoint of the year. So, we’re in constant communication about how these kids are doing.

Again, having worked directly in the ELA department for so many years, even though I’m considered an elective class, I’m still a part of the ELA department and so I’m meeting with them constantly and updating them on things and talking about their students. I’m getting their NWEA scores. I want to compare their scores, and does it correlate with the NWEA score. And so, we’re in constant communication about that.

Noelle: What do you hear from your students on when they leave eighth grade and they’re going to ninth? What are you hearing them anticipate for high school and what are they talking about for their future?

Joshua: Our goal is to get as close, if not over, proficiency as possible. Because when you go into ninth grade, they will be reading ninth-grade material. That is kind of on their mind a lot about that. So those are the kind of conversations that we have with the kids and what they can expect moving forward.

Randolph: Yeah, and I look at it that we’re a middle school, and I always like to share the uniqueness of the middle school experience, us three years. Elementary is K–5. High school is 9–12. But middle school, we have three years to find out what someone may need, to replace any deficits that someone may have coming in and prepare them when they’re getting out of the eighth grade to high school in a short amount of time.

And I think sometimes if we don’t catch it in the sixth grade, then we’re struggling in seventh, and then we’re trying to hurry up and get them at least on the way by the eighth, which is traditionally how sometimes middle schools operate. But with this program, I think we’re able to catch them early in sixth grade and we’re able to build upon some key building blocks for them.

Our goal is for them not to be in the Read 180 program for three years. The goal is to build that confidence, then to build some other skills that may have been missed, and then by the eighth grade, you’re together, you’re solid. As Mr. Bzovi said, we’re only really in full two years of this program, but we’re seeing the difference in, again, I’m going to say confidence. I’m going to say in aspiration to read and liking to read and realizing that it’s okay to read outside of ELA. That you will read in your social studies class. You will read in your math class. You’ll read in your elective classes. And when they get to high school, it’s not a shock that you’re going to have to read in these other courses, these other core courses. And that’s the goal, to get them liking it again, right? We want by the time you get out of middle school we want you to like school. And if you’re going into high school, excited about school, confident about what you’re going to do in high school, I believe you’re on the right path to be successful. And that’s how I see it.

Noelle: Do you mind sharing what your selection criteria is? Are you using something on your MAP scores to first find the group of students that you want to focus on?

Joshua: Yeah, so the primary test that we use here at Pierce is the NWEA test. And we also have the M-STEP of course, but the NWEA kind of gives us the most usable data. So that’s kind of the first criteria. And we look at it like, “Where do these kids fall in terms of their percentiles?”

We have a range that we’re like, “Okay, if a kid falls in this to this percentile, they should be recommended for the program.” That, of course, is just one. I think I have four to six criteria points, but that’s one of them. How the kids are doing in their classrooms? The tricky one is the incoming sixth graders every fall, because we need to get that information from the fifth-grade teachers who obviously are not in this building. Being able to communicate that, so we’re like, “How do they perform in class? How do they do on the NWEA? How do they do on their M-STEP? Is there a parent component there? Is there a parent that wants their kid [in the program]?” We had a few of those this year, actually. A parent specifically requested that their child be in this class, so we made accommodations for that.

And we also have the Math 180 class as well. Some kids, they’re in both of those classes, maybe due to a parent recommendation or a teacher recommendation. At the end of this year, teachers are looking at their rosters, based on that criteria: NWEA scores, M-STEP scores, perhaps how they’re doing in their classroom on their assessments and things. And they’re generating lists for next year. The sixth-grade teachers are generating the list for the seventh grade, seventh grade is generating the list for the eighth grade, and so on. So, yeah, that’s basically our criteria in a nutshell.

Randolph: And if I could chime in on that too. The program is wonderful, but I’m going to go back with something that we shared earlier. We do have a phenomenal ELA program too, with our teachers. So, we’re constantly still building the students. They’re still getting that deep, enriched, ELA learning in their regular courses and classes too.

And when we look at being in the middle school, what we inherit from elementaries across the board, not necessarily just in our district. Sometimes you might deal with a kid not performing well because of motivation. You might not deal well because of many other factors. And when we get them in there and we use the criteria of the MAP, and we use the criteria of professional recommendations, and then we build it off a relationship with the parents. As Mr. Bzovi just said, having conversations and just bringing that parenting call, like, “This is a program that we have. Are you aware that these are some of the great things that Read 180 has to offer and has performed with students across the nation?” And parents say, “Hey, I think my kid may benefit from that.”

But we also have kids that ask. They see other kids in the program, their friends, and they may have struggled with them in elementary or maybe struggled with them even in middle school, and it wasn’t picked up at that time. They did all right with testing, but they’re still struggling, and they have a friend that is benefiting from it, and they’ll realize it themselves, “I could benefit a little bit. Is it possible I can get this class?” And you’re like, “Yeah, I’m excited for you to realize that you need a little more support, a little more work, and this program will help you.” And as Mr. Bzovi said, one of the greatest feelings that I can have as administrator is when I’m walking down the hallway and kids run up to me and say, “Mr. Hull, Mr. Hull, Mr. Hull, I did really good in my Read 180 session.” And you’re like, “What?” And it builds that relationship. And again, it builds that culture of confidence. Mr. Bzovi hit it on the nose, right? They’re seen. They’re seen not just for being in this building, but for the other things that they’re accomplishing, the work that they’re putting in, and they want to come say something.

They want to be successful, and this is an opportunity to show success. So, that kid that wasn’t that motivated, that didn’t do well [now says] I’m motivated now. Because again, one of the great things that I saw with Read 180 is the feedback, right? You’re able to get that feedback, you’re able to get that through the literacy zone. You’re able to get that in some of your other parts of the program and the kids are able to see, “Okay, wow, this is where I’m at. I only went up a little bit, but I went up, and look where I came from.” And they’re able to see that all day long. Mr. Bzovi does a great job with providing that feedback and that assessments to them and not only to the parents.

And you didn’t ask this question, but it’s beyond the program, right? Mr. Bzovi might have a smaller population of students but add the parents that he interacts with on behalf of those students. He has a full class because he’s talking to the parents daily, giving them information, giving them feedback, encouraging them to do things for the kids at home, and encouraging kids to take the work home.

And we’re a one-on-one Chromebook district. So, the kids have access to some of the programs and things at home, to read, to get on some of the books. And that’s what’s benefiting the kids all in all.

Noelle: Mr. Hull, do y’all have a school vision statement or your mission statement, or overall theme that y’all use across the school for motivation and focus?

Randolph: We are in the process of creating a new one for this new school year, but overall, “We innovate. We learn. We support.” That’s the concept. When I first started, that was what we had across the board, to be innovative. To continue with learning not only with our students, but within ourselves. And to be innovative and cutting edge on the things that we want to present to them. And I think even being on this podcast today is showing that we’re fulfilling those visions right there.

Noelle: Mr. Bzovi, what is something that you have changed in your practice from your first year to where you are now? And I’d like to ask a second, what is something that didn’t exist when you first started teaching that exists now that you’re just amazed by?

Joshua: Oh boy. So, what did not exist before that exists now?

Randolph: Social media.

Joshua: Yeah. Honestly, the technology piece. Mr. Hull just mentioned the one-to-one Chromebooks that we have. What a game changer that has actually been. You know, it’s funny how much technology we have implemented, at least in this school. I mean, everything is done basically through our LMS system and online learning and Google Docs and all these things. Coming into this class, having the workbook, I think the kids kind of are taken aback.

They’re like, “Why can’t we type this paper?” I’m like, “No, we’re going to write it.” So, that’s really made you think about how you teach and how you approach things, in this digital age, that just really wasn’t as accessible back 22 years ago when I started. I mean, we had computers of course, but that was like the computer lab, and you went there maybe once a week. Now it’s just so easily accessible. It’s been kind of interesting where I feel like I’ve almost gone back in time a little bit in this class because we’re using paper and pencil.

But I feel like it’s good for them to do that because they have the computer piece of course in here and the one rotation. But with a small group, they can bring in this old school, paper, pencil, writing skills, things like that.

I guess that’s the first thing that really kind of stands out to me. On a personal level, I would probably say patience. It’s one of those things I’m growing into. I was not very patient in the early goings of my career. Being able to be patient more with these kids and recognize, “Okay, they’re struggling here and I’m here just to help them out.” And that was one of my three words. I know you asked Mr. Hull that, but that was one of my three words. Believe it or not, in my journey was just learning patience as a teacher and really just trying. We need a lot these days, but the kids need it to. They need to see it from us, so they need that model.

Noelle: Thank you for sharing that.

Mr. Hull, bringing that question back to you, what is something that you have seen change within yourself from your first years of teaching to where you are now, and what’s something that you have been excited about that did not exist when you were teaching, that exists now and you can see how much more efficient or a bigger impact it may be making?

Randolph: I think for me, I’ve gotten just more mature, more focused. I do not want to stay where I’m at. I consistently look into what’s coming forth in education, what’s the next thing to help us become a better society. AI. I’m really excited about AI, as the future.

So, when I look back at where I’m at, I think a lot of the things were already existing when I was in school, if I’m looking back, even when I started in education and teaching, but they’ve gotten better, right? Cell phones were there. I had phones. But, to have all of the things that are in phones now. To be able to have an audiobook on your phone, to be able to do a PDF, to be able to podcast, and all of these different things on your phone. I think it just helps us build up to a better society. That’s what I’m looking for. I think that’s going to be the impact. We’re not going backwards in education.

We’re going forward and we’re going forward with more innovation. The internet is not just the internet. The internet is a life tool for many people. We have, again, AI, the future of AI. What is that going to look like? so I’m excited about those things. I’ve consistently in my career have always looked to what’s the future going to hold. Very proactive. And the next thing, the creativity, the innovative, and that’s what’s helped me as an administrator. I’m an innovative person and thinker towards stuff. So, I’m excited to see where we’ll be in the next 10 years. And I jokingly say, I’m waiting for Marty McFly to pop up on graduation and tell us what to expect from the future so we can start it now.

Noelle: So, I ask every guest this question. It’s one of these things where I’m so into the conversation and I hate that the conversations have to end. But I do like to end them in a way where we get to see a little bit more about your personality and your style. I’m a big believer in the walk-up song and the power and the influence that that has on your delivery and your own confidence. So, Josh, let’s start with you. What would be your walk-up song? You’re going in, you have the best lesson planned, and you’re ready to bring it. What song is playing in your headphones?

Joshua: Well, it’s kind of a current song. It’s only been a couple years old and maybe all the lyrics aren’t the best, but it just kind of gets me going. It’s a song by Jack White called “What’s the Trick?” And it’s just the title alone. Sometimes I have to ask myself that question walking in, “Okay, what’s the trick? How am I going to get these kids engaged today?” Because what worked yesterday will probably not work today. It is middle school after all. I just had that kind of song and that lyric kind of going right through my head and the song just has a great riff to it.

It kind of gets me pumped up and jazzed up, ready to go. And there’s even a little bit of a scream at the end because sometimes that’s how we feel. You know, like a little battle cry, going into it. So that’s my current one, “What’s the Trick?” by Jack White.

Noelle: Randolph, what’s playing in your headphones?

Randolph: Oh man, all the time Kool Moe Dee, “I Go to Work.”

Noelle: “I Go to Work.” I love it. And you can tell that y’all go to work to empower each other, empower and give agency to your students, and your families for advocating for their learning. I have so enjoyed this conversation. I always love meeting other Read 180 teachers. Thank y’all for what you do.

Thank you for making it happen and I know that your students appreciate y’all every single day. Thank you for being on Teachers in America.

Noelle: If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on the Teachers in America podcast, please email us at shaped@hmhco.com. Be the first to hear new episodes of Teachers in America by subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you enjoy today's show, please rate, review, and share it with your network. You can find the transcript of this episode on our Shaped blog by visiting hmhco.com/shaped. The link is in the show notes. Teachers in America is produced by HMH. Until next time, your friend, Noelle.

The Teachers in America podcast is a production of HMH. Executive producers are Christine Condon and Tim Lee. Editorial direction is by Christine Condon. It is creatively directed, and audio engineered by Tim Lee. Our producer and editor is Jennifer Corujo. Production designers are Mio Frye and Thomas Velazquez. Shaped blog post editors for the podcast are Christine Condon, Jennifer Corujo, and Alicia Ivory.  

Thanks again for listening!


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Read 180 integrates research around personalized best practices, adaptive technology, instructional strategies based on the science of reading, and scaffolded support for reading independently.

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