Exploring the Core Podcast

Season Two Introduction

Episode Summary

Hi, my name's Greg Mullen, the host of The Exploring the Core Podcast. In this introduction, I present the ideas behind the second season's episodes and how they connect to the first season's episodes. Season One episodes are now streaming on most podcast streaming services. Season Two episodes begin streaming April 10th, 2021. Learn more about The Exploring the Core Podcast, Hosted by Greg Mullen, Educational Innovation Consultant, at www.ExploringTheCore.com #ExploringTheCore #SelfDirectedSchooling

Episode Notes

In this episode:

Host Greg Mullen introduces the ideas and and topics behind the second season of The Exploring the Core Podcast. 

Guests in Season Two include: 

- David Levis, Principal @ Meraki High (Fair Oaks, CA)

- Catherine Gobron, Co-Founder @ Lighthouse (Holyoke, MA)

- Ken Danford, Co-Founder @ North Star SDL (Sunderland, MA)

- Alexis Burgess, Co-Founder @ Alcove SDL (Los Angeles, CA)

- Megan Grieco, Lead Mentor @ PETALS (Topanga, CA)

- Cassi Clausen, Founder @ The Open School (Santa Ana, CA)

- Amanda Presutto, Classroom Teachers (Santa Ana, CA)

- Brian Morris, Learning Support Teacher (Tokyo, Japan)

- Allison Dillar, Math Professor & Author (Irvine, CA)

- Doug Thompson, Doctor of Physical Therapy Candidate (Azusa, CA)

- Liz Keable, Success Coach (Greater Norwich Area, UK)

- Anton Tolman, Psychology Professor (Orem, UT)

- Doni Iraheta, Behavioral Therapist (Torrance, CA)

- Heather Abreu, Visual Arts Teachers (Denver, CO)

- Fanny Passeport, Education Consultant (Tarn, France)

- Heather Cowap, Education Consultant (Lincoln, MA)

*Music: Greg Mullen

*Pre-Production Advisor: Will Slocum.

Podcast Link --> https://exploring-the-core-podcast.simplecast.com/

#ExploringTheCore #SelfDirectedSchooling 

Episode Transcription

Season Two Introduction (April 3, 2021)

Welcome to the Second Season of the Exploring the Core Podcast. My name’s Greg Mullen and I’ll be hosting this new series of episodes, digging deeper into the ideas I introduced in the first season, ideas like standards-based grading, social and emotional learning, and a developmental mindset for an inclusive learning environment. When that first came out, I was highlighting how those three ideas overlap to create a self-directed learning environment in a school setting. The book is actually called Creating a Self-Directed Learning Environment: Standards-Based and Social-Emotional Learning, and is available through Corwin Publishing but, in that first season of this podcast, I was able to connect with and share insights from a number of education experts who have long been promoting these ideas in schools all over the United States.

And so I’m excited for this second season where I’ll be speaking to another group of innovative educators, including school leaders, university professors, classroom teachers and education consultants who are all involved in public, private, and democratic school settings. It’s a big season, and for those who have listened to the first season’s episodes, I want to point out a change in the format, because I will be focusing more on the insights from my conversations with all of the guests in this season; and each episode will be highlighting layers of underlying concepts and principles, all of which do connect in support of self-directed learning in a school setting; and it's how they all connect that I want to talk about in this introduction.

Essentially, what I’m exploring, is the *core* of who we are, and how we learn, and yes I know that sounds heavy but each episode is going to be digging deeper into specific layers of a model I designed that ties together concepts and principles long researched by all kinds of really smart people that are all working in the same direction, if not by the same path. And what I want is to get us to this larger point that who we are, and how we learn, needs to be the focus of how we approach change in our education system. And  because I know this is big conversation, I want to give you a way to visualize how all of these topics might fit together; it's a metaphor, but it's the best way I can think of to do this is to ask you to visualize a rainbow, something you might draw and color at first with basic colors - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet; and from there, imagine those colors blending into red-orange, yellow-green, blue-violet... now let's go deeper and visualize a clear or stormy sky behind that rainbow, maybe it's raining, or has just stopped raining, or maybe is still raining off in the distance, and now consider the time of day when there's just that right angle of sunlight refracting off the moisture in the air that you're able to clearly see the colors in the sky. Now if you can visualize yourself where that rainbow is, standing in the sun and the mist, and think about how the weather patterns elsewhere are responsible for the weather conditions that you’re experiencing as you stand amidst the colors of that rainbow, and maybe we think about the elevation, or the ecological diversity of the trees, the grass, the wildlife - because all of these elements play into where that rainbow came from - but they are not the rainbow itself. In fact, if I were to ask you to hold even a piece of that rainbow in your hand, you couldn't, because a rainbow isn't real, it only exists through the combination of all these elements, and it’s only through a picture that we draw or take with a camera that we can look at and discuss the elements responsible for what we perceive is that rainbow.

And that's what I mean when I say I'm exploring the core of who we are and how we learn. We can imagine a fictional person - we can imagine ourselves - but it's in the layers of elements that make up not just our physical self, but the elements responsible for our expressions, that cause our reactions and responses to decisions and the decisions of others - it all plays a role in who we are and how we learn. By exploring this core, I get underneath the larger overlapping domains of standards-based grading, social-emotional learning, and a developmental mindset for an inclusive learning environment.

And that’s why, to help explore these ideas, I’m really excited to share conversations with so many innovative leaders in education. I’ll be sharing their experiences and insights, to give real-life meaning and purpose to the value of what I’ll be referring to as a Self-Directed Schooling environment, because there are public school districts who have realized the traditional model isn't working for all students. And like one alternative school leader described it: a district is like a very large ship that can be very hard to turn, and some districts are finding ways to work with, and alongside, smaller more personalized self-directed learning communities; like a fleet of smaller ships that can more easily shift course to personalize education for their community of families. Now this approach does require bottom-up implementation, so students, parents, and teachers will need to be willing and able to get involved, and it does need to also have top-down support to create this shift in authority and responsible for learning, from strict top-down hierarchical structures to a more - a more - egalitarian structure, and I address this idea in an episode but remember, each idea, by itself, won’t be the thing that fixes education, because education isn't a thing to be fixed. It's a living, breathing function of all of our efforts, conversations, and decisions. And by exploring the interdependence of ideas in these different episodes of who we are and how we learn, taking the time to create a shared language of understanding for how these elements influence each other, we can actually celebrate what we might already be doing to personalize education in some ways, while still find inspiration to adopt and adapt new ways that help personalize learning even more for the families and communities our schools are already serving. And it all comes back to this idea that a standards-based and social-emotional approach to learning can create a Self-Directed Learning environment, but that it isn't going to be a standardized or franchise model that will work for all students. And you might be thinking that the word standard is literally in the word standardized, but I argue that they are two different words with two different meanings, different purposes, and it's about finding that balance of effectiveness over efficiency, of growth over proficiency, in academic, social, and emotional competencies, which we must separate from the oversight and accountability of physical and mental health and safety - in adults as well as children.

I believe that this season, by exploring who we are, and how we learn, will support the larger movements in education like standards-based grading, social-emotional learning, and a developmental mindset for an inclusive learning environment. And I'm excited for you to listen to the many innovative leaders in education highlighted in these episodes.

So with that, I want to thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoy this second season of The Exploring the Core Podcast. Talk to you next time.