Podcast: Being Bold and Wishing for Change with Kyle Schwartz

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Photo: Reading interventionist and elementary teacher Kyle Schwartz

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

Today we meet with Kyle Schwartz, an elementary school teacher, interventionist, author, and speaker from Denver, Colorado. You can follow her teacher journey on Twitter.

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

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The views expressed in this podcast are those of the guest and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

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. We see you. We want our listeners to feel not only inspired by the practice, but to also have a renewed sense of community.

I am the senior director of community engagement, Noelle Morris. Each episode, I meet a new teacher friend and learn about the latest lessons and innovations from the classroom.

Today we are joined by Kyle Schwartz, who just finished her 10th year of teaching at Doull Elementary in Denver, Colorado. But it was during Kyle’s first of year teaching where she posed a simple, yet powerful, question to her students…What do you wish your teacher knew? Her students' candid responses inspired the hashtag “IWishMyTeacherKnew” movement and sparked a conversation about the realities students face and how schools can become more supportive, safe, and welcoming.

Kyle earned a BA from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver. A TEDx speaker and author of I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids and I Wish For Change: Unleashing the Power of Kids to Make a Difference, Kyle is a dedicated advocate for students.

Kyle uses Into Reading in her classroom, and I first met her through her co-teacher who happens to be a contributor to Teacher’s Corner, HMH’s trove of PD tools, resources, and videos. It’s a small world in education and I’m so excited to share our conversation with you today. Now, let’s get to the episode.

Hey, Kyle, I'm so excited to have you. I want to start with sharing with everyone how you and I just met by circumstance. I was talking to a teacher that works with you, who works with me as one of our teacher contributors in Teacher's Corner. And she was like, "I want to have this conversation, but I really want to include my interventionist, Kyle Schwartz. You probably read her book,I Wish My Teacher Knew." And I'm like, "Kyle Schwartz is your co-teacher?!" It just seems so cool. So tell us a little bit about you and your teacher journey. As a child, did you want to become a teacher?

Kyle Schwartz: Absolutely not. I think I have a very unique teacher journey that gives me a different perspective on school and on my own classroom, that I grew up just absolutely hating school. And I write about it a little bit in my first book, and just writing about how I hated school. I just could never get it. I knew my teachers disliked me, and I just never thought I would grow up to become my archnemesis, an elementary school teacher. I did. And the way it came about is I took a year off from college, and I joined AmeriCorps. And so, I did a year of national full-time service in Washington, D.C. Mostly, what I was doing was organizing large volunteer events. But part of it was an hour a week, you had to tutor for an hour a week. And as I was doing it, it just became my favorite hour of the week. And I would try to get my regular work done early so I could go into the schools and help out in the classroom.

So, that's kind of where I got bit by the teaching bug. And then, from there, I finished school, and I went to Chile in South America and worked with the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Development Fund there with the program. And came back to Denver, about 15 minutes away from where I grew up, to teach. I've just finished my 10th year of teaching.

Noelle: Wow. When you say you knew you weren't liked, it saddens me because my sister and I talk about this all the time that she knew she did not feel liked by teachers. And can you tell us a little bit more about how you knew that? Were there things that were said or the way they were said that would make you even think as a child or my young adult in high school, "My teachers do not like me?"

Kyle: Oh, my gosh. I think a lot of the strategies teachers were using in the '90s when I was in school had a negative effect on me. I can clearly remember this one teacher, I had her for two years in a row, and her strategy of classroom management was to write someone's name on the whiteboard. So if they weren't doing the right thing, she'd write their name on the whiteboard and put checks next to it. And I tell you this: my name stayed on that whiteboard. It could have been written in Sharpie® because it did not get erased. And I just remember constantly missing recess. And I think really what I was doing was just talking a lot or not being interested or not really knowing what to do and messing around a little bit, or really not having strategies to connect with my peers and being a bit abrasive or pushing back or not being able to solve problems in a productive way.

As a teacher now, I look at it, and it seems like pretty low-level stuff, but at that time it was just really taken seriously. And I just felt like I stayed in the principal's office. My parents were constantly getting calls. And it really affected the way I saw myself. I really truly believed I was a bad kid. There were good kids, and there were bad kids, and I was one of the bad kids. And there are a few of us in public education that are these former bad kids like myself. And I think we bring a really unique perspective because we know what it's like when schools don't work for kids. And we understand that maybe schools can be less rigid and more adaptable to let all those kids in. And then also just for me to know the devastation it causes to feel like you're a bad kid. And so, when I have those kids in my class, as I often do, who are trickier and already have that mindset that they are the bad kid, it is a yearlong project to turn their thinking around and to really uplift them and show them a different side of themselves. So my story in school, unsuccessful as it may be, has helped me be successful in the classroom today.

Noelle: Right. You don't want to repeat that emotional journey for any child. And I think about the difference between what you experienced and my own experience. I got kicked out of class a lot because I talked too much. Sometimes my mother would get called, sometimes not. But I'm so grateful that you found your way to the classroom. We're all meant to be here to find those experiences. What do we need to replicate and refine? Where do we need to put our voice, our foot down, and say, "Hey, this, this really can't work this way anymore?" And that's what I first noticed about you. Where does that boldness come from? It just seems so amazing. Now that you've been in the classroom, you've been there for 10 years, were you just as bold as you are now at year 10 as you were in your first year?

Kyle: I think it really has evolved. I think even that word bold, I remember kind of the way I thought about myself when I was a kid, or what other people would've labeled me as the bad kid, or naughty, or stubborn; maybe I'm trying to rephrase this like strong. And when I can see kids like that, oh, you're not just stubborn or trying to boss me around or trying to make me out, you're just strong-willed. It changes the light that you see kids in.

But was I just the same my first year teaching? No, I think I wasn't. I really was focused on my own classroom. So even the "I Wish My Teacher Knew" lesson that I did in my first year of teaching, and it was really powerful, and I loved it, but I didn't tell anybody about it until years later.

So, I wasn't so bold on maybe a systemic level that I try to be now, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. I write about in my second book—it's called I Wish for Change—and it focuses on how to help kids have that voice and feel empowered and make a difference. And I talk about the strategies I've used that have worked. I'll use a strategy to advocate called "Me, Us, Now." And so, it's, "Okay, this is my story, here's our shared value. Now, will you do this?" And so, I use that to just change some of the language in our school district. We were using parent-teacher conferences, all the official calendars and everything. And so, it took an oddly long time, but I was able to advocate for them to change it to "family conferences" just so that every family, whether or not kids were being cared for and raised by an actual parent felt, "Oh, no, this is for us. We're welcome to this school." Just making that little language change.

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Drawing and book cover from Kyle Schwartz's 2019 book, I Wish for Change.

But yeah, I've also thought about my students in a different way, and it's helped me become more bold to think about what they really need. I remember I had a student, he just jumped out in the middle of a lesson and ran to the window. And I didn't even hear it until later, but he had heard a siren. And so there was a siren going off at our school because the police had come by to maybe meet and greet with another classroom. But that police presence was very upsetting to him and very upsetting to a lot of other students and even to some other teachers. So, to just share that story with the school and say, "Hey, we really need to think about how we're going to interact with law enforcement in a way that's going to be more helpful to our kids than harmful." So, just small things like that. And then also, on a greater level, I've really worked within my school district to just advocate for my students, but also to amplify their voices too and let them be the advocate.

Noelle: Speaking of I Wish for Change, I started listening to part of the audiobook, and I loved how you were talking about my generation waiting for the world to change. This Gen Z, they're like, "Why do I have to wait? I have this voice. Everybody needs access to clean water. And I'm not just thinking of myself here. I'm thinking of the world. I'm thinking of the globe, because I'm so social I know the world in a much different way than my generation, your generation." Tell us a little bit more how you made that connection and what you see the value of that empowerment doing to bring students to the here and now of classroom expectations and instruction.

Kyle: I haven't really thought about it in that way. But I think maybe it just comes from my own past and my own temperament and having all these ideas and being so strong-willed and having really strong opinions about what's fair and what's not fair. I just see that in my students as well. And to nurture that I think is a really important job for teachers. It's funny that you would bring up the water example. I think a few chapters in, I tell the story of the local student here in Denver, Gitanjali Rao, and she was learning about the Flint water crisis. And she said, "It just appalled me. I was just so appalled that would happen, the water would be poisoned for all these kids." And because of that, she actually invented a new lead detection device that's more accurate and faster than what was even on the market.

So, nurturing that, those strong feelings that sometimes adults aren't comfortable with kids having, like anger and confusion and fear even, to nurture that and say, "Okay, what are we going to do about this?" I talk about it in that book, I Wish for Change; there's this old saying that inventors really look for duct tape because where there's duct tape, it means that there's something that's weak or ineffective and needs to be fixed, and that inventor can figure out a better way to do it. So I talk to kids too, "Oh, it looks like you're noticing some duct tape in our school."

Noelle: I love that. That's an essential question. Let's come into the classroom, look around as we're getting acclimated, where's the duct tape? I would love to have that opportunity to go back and ask students to see that.

Kyle: Actually, this year because of Covid, we were eating outside a lot, which is one of those things from Covid that's like, why didn't we do that sooner? So, we'd always eat lunch outside, but there were some fifth-grade girls who were just complaining like, "It's so hot; there's nowhere to sit." And I was talking to them like, "Yeah, it is hot. It is messed up that we don't have any shade around here. There are no benches to sit on." And they ended up writing a grant. Our local school district foundation had a grant, and so they won $2,000 to get benches put into our school. So, they put these benches all along under the trees and along the playground.

And when they wrote their grant, I was really guiding them: "This is an equity issue. Do all people feel comfortable when they come to our school? What if there are people who can't stand on that hot asphalt all time? What if there are people who are waiting to pick up or drop off a sick kid? Do they have a place to sit?" And so, to take that little bit like, "Ugh, I'm hot; this is annoying," and instead of being like, "Okay, all these kids are whining," to be like, "Okay. Yeah. Notice that. Yeah. Let's see. What does that mean that our school doesn't have any benches for our community?" It's that thinking that really like sees this essence in kids and really mirrors it back to them in a way that they can really make a difference with.

Noelle: Now during your 10 years, you started as a third-grade teacher, and I know from previous conversations and reading more of your bio that you have this passion for reading, and you spent now the latter part of your career as an interventionist. Let's transition to talking about that. And first, what's the Kyle definition for interventionist?

Kyle: I know, right? Every school district has its own meaning, its own acronym, all that stuff. So, this year, I was a reading interventionist, and it did mean different things based on the kids I was working with. So for some kids, I was really walking through some pretty intense intervention to either qualify them for special education or to determine that they wouldn't need it. And then, for some kids, I was seeing every single kid in the class in some ability groupings for reading. Basically, all throughout the day was pulling small- to medium-sized groups and really working with literacy on them.

Noelle: When you begin to pull out the students, how do you work with building that camaraderie and that relationship with you as well as the relationship that they have with their core teacher, their homeroom teacher?

Kyle: Yeah, I think I was really lucky, all the teachers that I partnered with really valued relationships in their classroom. And there was one first-grade teacher, every single day when I was coming to pick up her kids, it was at the end of her social and emotional lesson, and so I would sit in with it and answer the questions alongside the kid. One day, it was like how to flip your thinking from frustrated to empowered. And so, to hear that in the general education classroom and then continue that discussion up in my classroom was important too. But being an interventionist, so you've got these tight timelines. And so, I tried to do as much community building in an efficient and consistent way. So, every day, we would have the little question of the day, and we would learn how to say hello in another language. And it evolved into the kids leading the question of the day and the kids being the discussion leaders and just getting to know kids in that way. And then also reaching out to families, talking with families, and introducing yourself.

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Students from Kyle Schwartz's class decorate the letters of "loyalty," "community," and "friendship."

Kyle: On the very last day of school, a mom was dropping off her son, and I was like, "Oh, hey, I've never got to meet you in person, but I'm his lunch teacher. I'm with him at lunch and recess." And she's like, "Oh, I've heard about you. Oh, my son, he loves school. He's a little shy." I'm all, "No, no, no, no. Your son is not shy. He is always joking, always having fun." And just to be able to connect with families in that way to say, "Hey, here are these amazing things I'm seeing about your kids," I think that's really important too. So really, just trying to find ways that it's incorporated and consistent in my classroom to build those relationships with kids. It's just an all-day long thing for me.

Noelle: You're working with your teachers and rating, I know, and your co-teacher Amber, y'all use our program Into Reading. What have you learned from using any program, the importance of connecting with what is happening in the Tier 1 instruction and leveling that when your students come to you for that targeted support as an interventionist?

Kyle: Yeah. That is how we connected. It's a little bit of a funny story. We at our school picked a new reading curriculum. And so I was very much like, "Oh, when are we going to start the committee to pick it? Because I will be on it." I was very interested in the new reading curriculum. And from comparing and contrasting a lot of things and even modeling a few different curriculums in my classroom, the standout for me was Into Reading. So I am just so thrilled that we have gotten to use it the last year and moving forward for our students. So for me as an interventionist, it has been so great because the curriculum really has these beautiful, rich texts that I know that they're going to be working with in their general education classroom. And the texts and the books are just so good, I know I'm not going to step on the general education teacher lesson's toes. There's enough with it that I can really either go deeper with some students or go back and build up some understanding.

So usually, on Mondays, I would preview the main text that kids would be reading that week. And so, depending usually on what they are going to be writing about that week, I would focus a lesson on that and really do some language priming, make sure that they have a really solid, literal understanding of it before they're going into the deeper comprehension lessons, they'll be doing with their general education teacher. But then also with some kids, it was about extending the lesson. And, oh my God, that was, I think, my favorite. We did so many amazing lessons to take that text and extend it.

I know one was a beautiful text they used in third grade called "Upside Down Boy." And it's this beautiful story of a kid who goes to school for the first time in English, and he feels so upside down. And so we talk about that metaphor. We talk about the similes he uses. And then kids wrote their own upside down story of a time in their life when they felt upside down. And they wove similes and metaphors through it, and it just was so beautiful. So, for me, I think the first thing I go to when I'm partnering with that general education teacher as an interventionist is really to look at those beautiful texts and to see where we can support kids' understanding and then also where we can extend it.

Noelle: As someone who really has been studying and thinking about and being focused on the science of reading, how have you balanced that explicit, systematic instruction for K–2, and all the way through, because foundational skills are K–5, with still bringing that joy of text and reading and diversity? Have you noticed a way that you are shifting that balance but still having joy?

Kyle: Yeah, for me, I am just not the teacher that's going to be doing super boring drill-and-kill work with kids. But as a teacher, I also know how important those foundational skills are. And for our district, at least, it really has been a journey. When I started with the school district, there really was no foundational skills curriculum, at least none that we were using in the schools I was working in. So, it's been a journey in that teachers have really done a lot of professional development to understand the science of reading and understand the importance of those building blocks. But man, phonics is fun!

Noelle: Yes, I think so too.

Kyle: Yeah, we've done a few really fun lessons. Oh, we were doing AR, R-controlled vowels, I think with the first graders, and at the end of it, we had a smarty party, and we made little party hats with our AR words. And we wrote all the AR words from the spelling test on there. Just finding cute little ways to do that. But then also, you can't get to those beautiful, joyous, humanity-affirming moments in literature if you can't sound out the words. So to value those beautiful rich moments in literature and in reading that we do as teachers, we have to do that building up work. And the cool thing is if you do it, and you have a systematic curriculum and a way that kids are developing all those language skills, all the phonemic awareness skills, all the phonics skills, when you have that for kids, they will learn to read. And then they start to see themselves as readers. And then they start to look at themselves as someone who can figure these things out and who can explore the world through books and through reading. And there's nothing more joyous than that.

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Relationships are valued and students have a sense of belonging in Kyle Schwartz's classroom.

Noelle: What brought about that lesson, "What I Wish I Knew?" Because I'm thinking you didn't start off by saying, "Hey, I'm going to create a lesson that is meant to go viral."

Kyle: No.

Noelle: Where were you when this idea came to you? How did you structure it? I'm thinking in some of these instances you might not have thought too long about it. You might just have thrown it out there. Tell us how it came to be.

Kyle: Yeah. That's pretty accurate. It was just my first year of teaching, and I just felt like I really wanted to connect with kids. It was quite a way through the school year if I remember, and I just wanted to find out what was happening in their life. And instead of making assumptions about them, I just let them tell me. So, I really did just write on the whiteboard, "I wish my teacher knew blank." And I passed out a bunch of Post-it® Notes. And that was the first time I had done that lesson. And for me, it was really a powerful experience, because whether a kid told me something really serious or really light or maybe saying that they needed some more resources, that was valuable information. What do you want me to know? What do you think is the most important thing?

And so, that was really powerful. But I think honestly, teachers have been doing this type of work for so long. We've all had some way that really works in our classroom that we've really found that we connect with students just based on our own identities as teachers. And for me, I really did find this note from my students. I found an old "I Wish My Teacher Knew" note in my kitchen, and I decided to post it to my brand-new Twitter account with my 10s of followers. And that's where teachers started seeing it. They started trying out the lesson in their classroom and talking about it online. And then, from there, a journalist somehow saw all these teachers talking and wrote an article about it, and that's where it just went nuts. It went crazy. My students were on every major media outlet; they were talking about what it's like to be a kid today and telling adults what they wanted them to know. What is it that adults need to know?

So, it really was this crazy serendipitous moment where social media does what it does. But I think it's been a powerful tool in helping kids amplify their voice and really be heard in a way that I think is able to be accepted by adults. This idea of, "What do you wish for?" It's something that, as an adult, we don't feel threatened by that; we can really receive it. So, that's where the lesson came from. And I am still astounded that it's still being talked about sometimes todayand to get messages from teachers who have used it in their classroom. So, it's been really amazing.

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Digital and physical examples of how Kyle Schwartz ensures students are heard by adults.

Noelle: I find it to be something that is so genuine and was meant to be something, but sometimes it's that moment of, wow, just that one little statement, what you can learn. And you can even learn who needs quieter space or doesn't want you necessarily to know something right now, and they might come back to it. But when I went back into this thinking of, okay, it's 1979 in middle school. Kyle, if you would've asked me what I wish my teacher knew, mine would've been directed to my PE teacher, where you have to physically see I'm, I feel okay saying this word, I hope it's okay, but I'll say overweight, but I refer to myself as I was a chubby girl. I was a chubby kid. And in 1979, material was not stretchable. I didn't like getting dressed in front of everybody. I was never going to look the same in those red shorts with the white lining around the leg. And those would've been the two things, like, "I wish you knew I hate this and how much energy I'm spending getting past this moment of embarrassment." And that my second would've been like, "I'm never going to be able to climb that rope, even get my foot on the first knot. So why do you keep putting me in this situation? Could you just stop?"

And so, I've been thinking about this in the sense of how cathartic it is as a teacher to just go back and write a letter to your former teachers and what you wish they would've known, so it brings it more back into your presence to keep moving and staying focused in the profession and staying focused on what matters because our profession is losing teachers. People are wanting to leave. And when you think about what you're doing as in continuing with writing books and as an author, how are you looking at that in relationship to what's going on today? Where do you want to put your voice? What's the topic that's driving you right now?

Kyle: I remember I was asking someone local here in education, and I was asking her, "With all the good work happening, what industry or what department is really making the biggest difference for kids." I just wanted her to tell me, "Okay, do this," or, "Go work for this organization," or, "Think more about this topic." And unfortunately, she didn't give me that nice, easy answer. She said, "Kyle, what is making the biggest difference for kids is when all of these different ideas and industries and fields are working together, and when everybody is coming and collaborating together. So, maybe it's the policy side, maybe it's the curriculum side, our experts in mental health, when all that is coming together, that's where the difference is being made." That has been on my mind a lot. How do we get people to come together to really make changes that need to be made in education? Like just what you were talking about, school did not fit you. Maybe the school needed to change a little. And so, how can we make school fit everybody and be a welcoming place for everybody? And there needs to be maybe some more coordination between all these different fields and all these different areas of expertise. And having that idea of bringing the people together has really been on my mind a lot, and finding that synergy between all of our different areas of expertise.

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Student example of wishing for change.

Noelle: Where would you see yourself beginning? What would be your first outreach?

Kyle: Oh, gosh, Noelle.

Noelle: I know that's a hard question. You're like, "Noelle, I'm not prepared for that."

Kyle: You know what? I don't have an answer for you.

Noelle: I did not mean to throw you a question where you're like, "Hmm, okay."

Kyle: Oh, girl, I wish I had an answer for that. You know what? I'm spending my summer mulling that over finding where I really want to direct my energy moving forward. I feel like the last few years, everybody in education, our energy has just been hijacked by this pandemic, and we've been putting out fires, and we've been trying to make things work as well as we possibly can. But now, as we move into a new period of time with this pandemic, I think a lot of teachers are having that question, "Moving forward, where do I want to put my efforts? What am I most passionate about right now?" So if you're that teacher out there, I am with you.

Noelle: Right. And I think the other thing I should also say, shame on me, but I feel like if people who are listening to our podcast know this, but I should always say it and lead with it is, let's start here. It's part of our mission and vision at HMH—teachers first. Let's amplify and give teachers that voice. Let's hear from them. They have phenomenal solutions. They have been in there. They're experiencing it, whether it's with our programs, what's happening? Let's just ask. I think it's a fascinating time to be in education, even though it doesn't mean it's not hard. It doesn't mean there's no duct tape. And things need to change. But I think it's a very exciting time to be in education regardless of your rolewhether you're in the classroom, or you're an interventionist, or you've decided to move into [being] a reading specialist or coach for a year. What is your advice for a new teacher who is starting the profession?

Kyle: I actually had some student teachers and some parents at our school that are getting their first classroom and becoming certified teachers. So I've actually had this conversation IRL [in real life] a few times this year. And I think one of the things I told them very concretely was, "You need to have a time that you leave every day. There needs to be a boundary to the amount of time you give to education and to school. And even to your students, there needs to be a boundary on it. Because you need to be way more protective of your own personal life than I, unfortunately, have been." So learn from me, put a limit on it, put a time limit.

And one of my friends actually made me do it this year. She's like, "Okay, you need to leave at five o'clock every day. And I'm going to check in with you, and a month from now, we're going to brunch, and I'm going to see if you left on time every day." So, 10 years in, my friends are even having these interventions with me. So, I'm hoping that some of them learn from my mistakes and put a boundary on it.

Another thing I have told them is how to keep your great ideas in check. I remember as a baby new teacher, I would have all these great ideas and be like, "Oh, I can make this thing. And I can put all these different things in buckets. And then kids can do this." And have all these great imaginative ideas. But I, at some point, needed to learn to put those in check and really focus on the essentials, focus on making sure kids have what they need every day. I was prepared for my lessons. I had read through and thought through their texts, instead of some of the more exciting, fun things that you see online sometimes, really going to those essentials first. And after you have that done, then you can have great ideas. But there needs to be a minimum standard before you get those great ideas. Because what I would do is I would just do everything, and then I would have no time for anything. And then, I would just always feel overworked and stressed out. So, really be choosy about where you put your efforts, I've told them a lot.

And then the other thing I've told them too is don't buy a bunch of stuff. Us teachers, we are hoarders. I'm speaking from a place of knowing. We are hoarders, we see things, and we're like, "Oh, I have an idea for that. I might use it one day." I told them, "Don't do it. Don't buy a bunch of stuff." So, that's my advice. My advice was to put a boundary on your time, really be choosy about where you put your extra effort, and don't buy a bunch of crap at the dollar store.

Noelle: So true. Or pick up things on the side of the road because it looks like a great chair that you need to clean just a little bit.

Kyle: Or the hallway too, man. Teachers are thieves. You leave something in the hallway, somebody's going to take it.

Noelle: Total teacher life. I think the other thing, Kyle, you need that accountability partner. This is a true story, so I got to go to ASCD. It was my first year in a new school, new principal, she loved going to conferences. She did it. She did this random drawing. Five of us got chosen. It's 1998; this is my first time on an airplane, too. And I remember walking down my hotel floor, and I looked down, and I'm like, "I think somebody must have had some sort of party." And I was like, "Is that a crate? You had wine bottles that had been in there. I think that's a wine company burned into the side. I'll just cover that up. That'll make a great bookshelf." I brought those two wine things back from San Francisco all the way back to Orlando, Florida. And I was like, "What was I thinking?"

Kyle: I am sure there are teachers out there that are like, "Yes, me too," including myself.

Noelle: And granted, I don't want anybody to feel guilty. I was proud of that. I'm with you. I could have gotten back a lot of energy had I learned to edit.

Kyle: Edit. That's a great, succinct way to put it.

Noelle: What are you seeing that's driving some of parent or family members, people who are on the PTA, which that's another thing, that's parent teachers. Okay. Well, that goes full circle back to what you were previously saying.

Kyle: Yeah, I have a chapter in the first book, I think it's called "All Families" or "Welcoming All Families," and it talks about the language that we use in schools and gives a few tips for teachers and school districts to use when thinking through that language. But yeah, there's a lot of stuff in teaching that maybe we can just rethink how we phrase it. Maybe it has served its purpose, and we can iterate in a different way.

Noelle: I have so appreciated our conversation and this episode. I do ask every teacher this question, just like if you were a sports star, just as if you were going up to get your Oscar or going up to present, there's a walk-up song. It's meant to be part of that grounding: "I got this. I'm ready to go. I'm your champion. This is going to be the best lesson you've ever experienced." If we were to think about what's on your playlist, what would be your walk-up song as you're going into school, into your classroom?

Kyle: Well, I've actually been thinking about this because I know you ask it to everybody. So, I was like, "Okay, let me think about it." And I was trying to think of some good, deep answer, but really the song that just kept coming into my mind is a song from maybe 10 or 15 years ago, and it's called, "This Is Why I'm Hot." And it's, "This is why I'm hot. This is why I'm hot." And the reason why it just kept coming into my brain was kind of literal. We would take the kids on field trips every year to see the Rockies, our baseball team here in Denver, play. Every single batter had that song one year. And so, just having that memory of being in the nosebleed section with my whole class and all of them dancing around, I think that's the energy that I would want to bring to my walk-up song.

Noelle: I love that advice. And I'm going to be walking around today in my house like, "This is why I'm hot." Forget about not being able to climb the rope in 1979. Let that go. I so connected with you the first time we met; this conversation only cemented that. I wish you so much luck with your third book. And I'm going to reach out to you with some more ideas about how we can keep making that connection on bringing different people, different industries together to have those crucial conversations so that we can help fix where there's duct tape.

Kyle: Yes, absolutely. Don't be afraid of the duct tape. Don't ignore the duct tape. Use it as an arrow that's pointing you in a different direction. I love that.

Noelle: Thank you so much.

Kyle: Thank you.


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