Thoughts, links & ideas from the 2008 National Teacher of the Year

Each time I've taken off in a plane since May (which is a lot), I've been writing in my journal, then adding these journal entries on this blog.

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(Note: the blue posted dates are actually the dates I wrote the journal entries, not when I posted them online.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Small crowds make me nervous

Washington, DC

Jen made me practice my speech for the National Education Association Representative Assembly for her before I left home.  I got really nervous.  But when it came time to address the 10,000 delegates in D.C., it felt pretty natural.  Reg Weaver softened 'em up for me.

(The video has about 4 minutes of introduction by Reg Weaver, the NEA president, then my remarks for about 20 minutes.  Make some popcorn and smoothies, sit back, and enjoy.)

(Editor's note: My 9 year old daughter just watched this video and commented that, although she really liked Reg, he didn't make very good eye contact during his speech.  Those required Oregon speaking samples are doing some good!)


  1. Hi Mike -

    First of ALL let me tell you that your speech was among the best I've ever heard in terms of the message, delivery (creates long term memory), and value in the message. Great work! Second, if you have not considered, please consider something called Total Quality Education. In a chain of command total quality management dictates that the person in charge looks at the level below for how he can assist their function. That person looks DOWN the chain and asks, "How can I assist that person?". This continues until we reach where the productive function is being done. You mentioned how do we "take this to scale?" "Let's meet somewhere between 30,00 feet and ground level to communicate." Agreed! But let's consider that the Secretary of Eduvation SERVES the needs of the commissioners, the commissioners SERVE the needs of the Superintendents. They serve the principals. Principals serve the department heads. Department heads serve the teachers. And the teachers serve the STUDENTS. This approach increases communications, gives ownership to those in the trenches, and ultimately produces success where we want it ... in the minds and heart of students!

    Great work Mike. Best of luck going foward.

    George Goodfellow
    Rhode Island Teacher of the Year 2008

  2. Thanks for your always-inspiring and always-inspired words, George. I look up to you, even though I might have you by an inch or two.

    I tried out this approach at a school boards convention speech this summer. I asked the audience to do a little word association exercise. The word I gave them was "support staff" (actually two words, I know...)

    They all came up with great responses like "essential," "secretaries," "undervalued," and "teacher's aides." But not one of them said "school board." When I asked them why not, many of them realized that they were looking in the wrong direction for who should support who! I totally agree with you, George. We should all be in the business of supporting students! Isn't that the primary purpose of schools?

    Take care, friend.


  3. Wouldn't it be fun to take Reg out for drinks?

  4. Hey, I've been reviewing your blog and videos. Seems that you're doing a fine job prmoting the message. Keep up the good work.

    Last year I sat in on your classes and later responded that students were above all else, involved. I took that with me just as I'm sure your scooping up ideas that you cross.
    I like that you contiue to state that good teachers are good learners (or at least constantly learning better ways). I do agree. When we stop looking for better ways, don't we simply become employees?

    Anyway, I have a website to update with student pics--Parents will love it at next weeks conferences!

    In the immortal words of Joe Dirt: "Keep on Keepin' on!"


Feel free to question, disagree, challenge, or make suggestions! I'm a big boy. I can take it.