2019 Kevy Awards Part 2

Post date: Jun 7, 2019 10:52:21 PM

Welcome to part 2 of the 2019 Kevy Awards. If you missed part 1, check it out now!

Today's awards include:

Best Song

Biggest Frustration

Best Event

Best Book

Class of the Year

Best Song

Space Mountain Theme - When you need to get up and moving there is simply no better song than this. It became my Monday morning get hyped for work song. You know a song is good when I am disappointed to have it replaced by Star Wars music as is currently happening in HyperSpace Mountain at Disneyland.

Hamilton - You’ll Be Back - Despite not being very old Hamilton was almost completely unknown to my recent 8th graders. Two years prior, my last 8th grade class knew all about it. I use quite a bit of it in my early America unit and they seemed to enjoy it but when I got to You’ll Be Back they got waaaay into it. They loved the sort of creepy, stalker lyrics and the sing-songy da da da da chorus section. They asked for it all year long.

How Far I’ll Go - We listened to a ton of the Moana soundtrack this year. I was using it primarily to get them to better appreciate Hamilton. Students loved You’re Welcome and Shiny. I loved We Know the Way. We all loved How Far I’ll Go. It became our anthem for being more than what was expected which is our ongoing theme for our Elective kids every year.

And the winner is… How Far I’ll Go. All three songs were heavily played in class. The Space Mountain theme almost certainly was played the most. What puts this one over the top was our visit to our local highschool. They did a skit about Moana and when How Far I’ll Go came on a bunch of my kids turned to me and said “it’s your song!” Well, I guess that settles it.

Biggest Frustration

The Teacher Hiring Process - For this first time this year I actively looked to move schools. I want to move to a nicer city and I hate commutes. I put out a few applications and got one, yes one, call back. My resume really should speak for itself at this point but it doesn’t matter. Schools can’t often hire the person they actually want, they are stuck with whatever district transfer applied first. I then watched two prospective teachers go through their nightmare of trying to find a position. One of them even has a math credential! There are many problems in public education and putting the right teacher in the right place is one of them. I experienced it first hand this year and it was incredibly frustrating. (Now, that said, I am more glad than ever to be at my site. I’m ready to push some new things next year!)

Low Expectations - About midway through this year I was watching my Elective kids to math tutorials. They were making really low level mistakes. I thought they were just being lazy but the most I watched the more I realized they just didn’t know what they were doing. They were unable to complete basic calculations they should have learned in 6th grade. What really bugged me was that all of these kids has As and Bs in their math classes at that time. How could they not know the basics and still have an A? I’ve got kids who have over 150% in some of their classes. Others who earn extra credit by completing coloring sheets. These low expectations are gross and very frustrating for someone trying to prepare his students for college in the future.

Elective Certification - I finally stepped down as Elective Coordinator at my site after 14 years. Elective’s new(est) certification process was the final straw. Elective used to be such a pure, wonderful thing. Now it exists to make money and sell products. They keep creating new requirements that, of course, require sending more money to them. This latest process is, no joke, 39 pages of checklists - each of which was supposed to come with a piece of evidence from at least our 7 Elective teachers. We did the math, they wanted over 4,000 (not a typo) pieces of evidence. I didn’t play the game. I did what I was felt was sufficient and we passed but it was a ceaseless frustration all year long.

And the "winner" is… Low expectations. They more I dug into this problem the more frustrated, and disgusted I became. It really locked in when later in the year I had another teacher tell a student he didn’t understand why I won so many awards when so many of my kids fail my class. Apparently I should award them all A’s regardless of what they learn or achieve. Maybe if I let them play online games for extra credit and ignored their test performance I’d be more deserving. Our kids are amazing when challenged. Let’s not sell them short with low expectations, please.

Best Event

IECSS Jamboree - In February I got to present the sequel to Design Like Disney at the IECSS Jamboree at the beautiful (and local!) Ramirez Intermediate School. I had a great time presenting and seeing as my Twitter colleagues in the real world. I wasn’t sure I could make another presentation with the same theme but it came together beautifully leading me to believe I just might be able to keep it going.

Elective Family Night - For the third time (maybe fourth, time flies…) I held my end of Elective family event at our local movie theater. I rented a theater and invited the kids and families to a special movie screening. They didn’t know what we were going to watch. They were convinced we’d be watching my favorite movie, Inside Out. Instead, they watched themselves! I put together an hour long memory video of all of our Elective events and activities. We then did class awards and left uplifted. Two years of preparation and effort culminated in that incredible event. It was special - again.

Courageous Creativity - Three days at Disneyland with incredible speakers, backstage tours and incredible food? Sign me up! (And sign up I did, I’ll be going again in just about two weeks!) This conference focused on arts in education featured a keynote speech that floored me multiple times but none moreso than when the speaker noted that for Disney “no experience is too small to be excellent.” I got to ride and go backstage on Soarin’ with the chief Imagineer who designed it. It closed with a panel discussion with 5 current Imagineers. I left inspired, excited and filled with joy. It showed me what not just a conference but an educational experience could really be. It was pure Disney magic through and through.

And the winner is… Elective Family Night. Believe me, Courageous Creativity was incredible and presenting at IECSS was an honor but that Family Night reminded me of why I do what I do. I got to provide my students and their families with an experience they will never forget.

Best Book

Be Our Guest - This book focuses on how Disney does customer service and how it can be applied to other businesses. While it isn’t directly about education I picked up some great nuggets. I especially like the idea of “guestology” meaning getting to know your audience through regular surveys. I always wondered why they bugged me about surveys nearly every time I went to the park - now I see the value! This was a very easy read and one I’d definitely recommend.

Anthem - My 8th graders have read Anthem by Ayn Rand for the last handful of years. It goes along very well with their ELA curriculum where they read The Giver. Anthem, written in the late 1930s, hit me harder reading it this year than any time before. It seems shockingly prescient in describing the world we’re in today where anyone’s offense is reason not to do something. The kids love the story of an individual looking to do good for others and they really got into the philosophy behind the story. As a bonus you can get a class set with lesson plans for free from the Ayn Rand institute!

Disney U - I’ve read so many books about Disney in the last two years that I literally had to go back to my notes to remember if I had even read this one. I’m glad I did as it reminded me that A. I had in fact read it this year, and B. it was really good. The book outlines how Disney trains their employees through a program called Traditions. It is chock full of good ideas on how to engage an audience in instruction. It isn’t designed for traditional teachers (someone else will need to write that book… someone.) but there’s plenty here for us to borrow such as "Training cannot be limited to 'Here's what you need to do now go do it. That's not good enough. Training needs to instill a spirit, a feeling, an emotional connection. Training means creating an environment of thinking and feeling." Nice.

And the winner is... Disney U. I can't stress enough how much I forgot about reading this book. I had to recharge my Kindle just to verify that I had and this was after I looked all around my house thinking I had read it and had to have it on a shelf somewhere. Re-reading the countless notes I kept on it through makes me ready to read it again this Summer. I mean, look at this.

"When it is offered consistently and with creativity, education is an indispensable commodity, one that is held in high esteem in the history and culture of the Walt Disney Company."


"Laughter is no enemy to education."

If someone were thinking about writing a book about using Disney techniques in education there couldn't be a better place to start!

Class of the Year

Mrs. Shaffer (ELA) - Once again many students noted Mrs. Shaffer’s class as their favorite. In every case they mentioned how she was real with her students and clearly showed how much she cared about them. Her students make such huge strides in their reading that I wish I could spend a week in her classroom learning her secrets. She’s awesome.

Mrs. Woolston (Science) - Lots of kids mentioned their enjoyment of their science class this year. They said it was fun (“and we could easily earn parties!”) and they enjoyed the labs. I was surprised by how many kids said “I just really like science.” Good, keep it up Mrs. Woolston!

Mine (Social Studies) - I felt far more engaged with my students this year compared to last. That said, their grades were overall worse. Getting kids to complete their work was tough. Yet, I had multiple kids with Fs who still said my class was their favorite. I’m glad they understand that their grades do not have to define their experience. They recognized their grades were their own responsibility no matter how interesting I made things - they still had to do their part. I pushed that hard this year. I’d rather they get those Fs now from a teacher they know is “nice” so they can’t keep going on with the excuse that “my teachers just don’t like me.” I do like them and they know it.

And the winner is… mine! With the caveat that the survey they completed was done in my class so they results may be swayed a bit my class was again overwhelming the favorite of my students. Most of them mentioned how they either appreciated how much I cared about them or how unique the class was. Some very wise ones recognized that those two things are tied together. I work to make my class unique and engaging because I care about them. If I can have other teachers flummoxed by how difficult my class appears to be and still have my students loving it I know I’m doing things the right way. This was a significantly better year for me than my last and I’m committed to putting everything I’ve got into next year. I think there’s still plenty of room for me to push my kids even further.

Now I get to spend two months figuring out how! Enjoy your summers everyone.