Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Dr. Will Show - So You Wanna be a Dr.? with Dr. Nicol Howard

I chat with Dr. How about her motivation, her experiences, and her recommendation for anyone interested in pursuing a doctorate.

Nicol Howard, PhD has had the pleasure of serving as an educator in various capacities over the past years 12 years. She has taught at the high school level (9th - 12th grades and Special Education) in the Compton Unified School District and grades K through 4 in the Corona-Norco Unified District and the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD). She is currently adjunct faculty at Chapman University, where she recently received the university's highest honor - the 2015 James L. Doti Outstanding Graduate Student Award (doctoral recipient) and the 2015 Joel Colbert Distinguished PhD in Education Outstanding Student Award from the College of Educational Studies. In higher education, she has facilitated multiple courses in teacher education related to technology, learning theories, and research methods. Her personal research interests are in the effective use of technology in K12 education and equity issues in STEM Education. Nicol recently taught elementary STEM education and served as a Learning Innovation Technology Leader in SAUSD, where she is now a Program Specialist (Personalized/Blended Learning).  

Nicol earned her B.A. at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), her M.A. in Educational Technology at Azusa Pacific University, and her Ph.D. in Education at Chapman University. Her past and present experiences, along with the notion of equity in education (specifically achievement), influence her commitment as an educator, researcher, tech enthusiast, learner, and educational writer. Nicol's concern for certain inequities in education and her research projects have led to publications in educational journals, such as the EDUCAUSE Review and the Urban Education Journal. Additionally, she has written for Edutopia and the Corwin Connect.

Nicol's overall commitment to the field of education has led her to speak at various national and international conferences, such as the Annual Conferences for the American Educational Research Association (AERA), California Council on Teacher Education (CCTE), Emerging Scholars Conference (ESC), the International Diversity Conference, Computer Using Educators (CUE), and San Diego Computer Using Educators (SDCUE). Nicol is also a co-organizer for EdCampLA, and an invited guest moderator for #teacheredchat and #profchat on Twitter (@nicolrhoward). To learn more about Dr. Nicol R. Howard, please visit

Sunday, May 10, 2015

#beyouEDU 12 Month Challenge

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Fellow Educators:

#beyouEDU started out as a challenge to educators to discover and reclaim the best within themselves. More than a series of vlogs and blog posts, it has now become a call to educators to be diligent and steadfast in living their best lives. 

Please review the list and choose the month(s) you want to contribute. You can send me your post, post it on your blog, or simply tweet it out using the hashtag #beyouEDU. 

To learn more, feel free to contact me on Twitter: @iamDrWill.

As always, I look forward to you joining the movement.


Dr. Will

12 Month Topics -
  1. March - Ownership of whom you are
  2. April - Finding your voice
  3. May - Finding your niche
  4. June - Finding your tribe
  5. July - Finding your swagger
  6. August - Finding your signature look
  7. September - Finding your bliss
  8. October - Finding your purpose
  9. November - Finding your superpower
  10. December - Finding your success
  11. January - Finding your story
  12. February - Defining your brand

#beyouEDU. The Revolution will be streamed.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Dr. Will Show - Your Voice in Digital with ChaChanna Simpson

I chat with ChaChanna Simpson about discovering one's voice and how to leverage one's voice in social media.

ChaChanna Simpson aka Empress is a Body Acceptance & Confidence Coach for Women, Storyteller & Host of the YouTube show A Stellar Day with ChaChanna LIVE! She’s made it her personal mission to help women intensify their confidence so they can boldly design & go after the stellar career, love and life they deserve with vivacity.

Her workshops, coaching programs, and products are all designed to empower women to look in the mirror, see the stellar women they are and to love themselves just as they are.

She is also a strong believer of helping out in the community and spends her “free time”  preparing meals for Inspirica once a month. She has been known to say: “I believe that we are all on this planet for a purpose: to help others. I refuse to believe we are on this planet to just wander around and only care about ourselves. Yes, we are born alone but we don’t exist alone.” Because of her belief that we are meant to help each other, ChaChanna is dedicated to making a difference one person at time and seeing her clients achieve the happiness they are after.

A graduate of The College of New Rochelle, she received her coaching certification from IPEC, and is on the executive board of Greater Stamford Toastmasters.

To get a dose of stellar everyday, catch up on past episodes of A Stellar Day with ChaChanna LIVE! and you can stalk ChaChanna on Instagram.

Friday, May 8, 2015

#beyouEDU Finding Your Niche with Kerry Gallager

Remember that a niche, by definition, is small

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Dr. Will and I have talked about how all educators have different strengths, needs, and styles just as our students do.  Every person has a different niche in this world.  When I typed the word into Google, this is the definition I got:
So when I hear about an educator trying to find her niche, I imagine most would assume that means she must find the right content, the right school, the right colleagues, and the right community.  Once she’s there, life is good.

I don’t think of niche this way, as a noun or a destination where an educator arrives.  I don’t see the niche as an endgame.  For an educator, the niche is a short pause in the journey.  She is seeking a better way, a new approach, a way to contribute something original.

Maybe she finds her niche.  But the thing about a niche, according to the definition, is that it is small.  It’s a nook, cranny, or cubbyhole.  No one could be expected to stay in place that restricted for long.  On to the next niche.  That’s why it’s about the journey.

Middle or High?

My journey starts as a game of ping pong.  As a result of multiple forces (changes of my own choosing and requests from my employers) I’ve gone back and forth a bit between teaching history at the middle and high school levels.  It all adds up to 7 years in middle school and 6 years in high school.  Right now I teach high school, 2 years ago I was in a middle school, and a year before that I was in a high school.  I used to struggle with my identity as an educator.  Am I a middle school teacher or a high school teacher?  Now I’m proud of this first niche.  I’m a history teacher with experience at the middle and high school levels.  For example, I understand the middle schooler needs a lot of reassurance and room to experiment with personality in their writing.  But at the same time I understand that the high schooler needs to feel as though they’re being treated as an adult when receiving feedback on their writing.  The difference between the two is a fine line.


Once I was comfortable with the middle/high school history niche, I pushed myself to continue the journey. Over the course of a two years, my students and I eliminated textbooks and the use of paper in general from our classroom.  Two years ago we went completely paperless and I even labeled myself a “paperless history teacher” on my Twitter profile.  Edtech news sources asked me to write about my paperless workflow and the philosophy behind it.  Education enthusiasts reached out to me as an “expert” on going paperless.  It became my niche.  For a few months I loved it.  Then a new school year started.

Student Help Desk

A few students who enjoyed the paperless model in my history class worked with me to pilot a student help desk at our BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) school.  Our mission was to help more teachers in our school integrate the technology their students were already using to engage them and allow them to be more creative.  We called it Rockets Help Desk. Although it was only a pilot and it was during my lunch and my prep period, I dove in head first.  We immediately started producing tutorials, networking with experts in the edtech industry, and publishing our ideas.  Soon we were being invited to present to a district cohort of teachers, school committee, and local conferences.  We were awarded a technology grant and were able to grow our little pilot program into a credited business technology elective.  There are even plans to take it beyond our high school so that students in younger grades can have more interaction with high school students and maybe even develop their own student help desk programs appropriate to their schools.  So, I became known as the student help desk teacher.  I wrote about it for ed tech blogs and consulted with schools looking to start up their own programs.  There is still room to grow in this niche, but I’m also looking toward the next one.

I still fit neatly in these three niches.  I’m a paperless middle and high school history teacher with a passion for student-driven technology integration.  I don’t know what to call the next niche, but I know I’m still on the journey.

P.S. If you are still looking for your first true niche in your professional journey, I recommend reading Sir Ken Robinson’s Finding Your Element. It is a thought-provoking book about finding happiness and being true to yourself while living a realistic and successful life.

About the author: Kerry uses her varied experiences as an educator, attorney, and coach to maximize effective instructional practices in the classroom. Students in her classes experience a paperless learning process that allows them to collaborate, create, and publish their ideas. Her blog, KerryHawk02: Teaching HistoryTech, reflects her intense interest in world and U.S. history along with the benefits of using technology to create innovative experiences for her students. She is the founding teacher of Rockets Help Desk, a student driven technology integration support service for her school and district.  

Kerry is the 2014 recipient of the Yale-Lynn Hall Teacher Action Research Prize for her submission "Mobile Devices and Student Innovators: BYOD and the Paperless Classroom Model."  She was recognized as a 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator.  Her video submission can be viewed here.  Kerry is a contributing writer for EdSurge and the Smarter Schools Project.  Kerry earned her B.A. in Politics from Saint Anselm College and her J.D. from Massachusetts School of Law. She is also a Level II certified Professional Ski Instructor of America.  Follow her on Twitter at @KerryHawk02.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

#beyouEDU - Finding Your Niche

This month's topic for #beyouEDU is Finding Your Niche. Check out my vlog, and please feel free to contribute your own blog post, vlog, video, infographic, presentation, or whatever means speaks to you. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Dr. Will Show - Finding Your Voice with "The Scholar Vlogger" Dr. Mary Hemphill

On this episode of The Dr. Will Show, I chat with "The Scholar Vlogger" Dr. Mary Hemphill about finding one's voice.

In her own words:

I m Dr. Mary Hemphill – an educator, scholar, thinker, innovator, collaborator, & most importantly, a mold maker!
I am a NC native who attended Meredith College as a NC Teaching Fellow. During my sophomore year, I studied abroad in Puerto Rico as an exchange student at the University of the Sacred Heart in San Juan. It was without a doubt one of the most defining times of my life, & I am grateful for the experiences I had and people I met on that breathtaking island. ¡Boriqua de corazon!
Following my tenure at Meredith, I returned to my hometown & spent five years teaching 3rd & 4th grade. Being able to tell my students, “I sat where you sat,” was a powerful opportunity because it allowed me to help my students discover a world they may not have otherwise explored. During this time, I completed the Masters of School Administration program through Western Carolina University & I was introduced to the concept of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). The term Big Hairy Audacious Goal was coined by James Collins & Jerry Porras in their book entitled Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (1994)Ever since then I have tackled at least one BHAG a year! Soon after graduation, I became the Assistant Principal of Curriculum & Instruction at a local high school and was thrilled to be able to work with a brand new age group of students. I also was accepted into the PhD program for Leadership Studies at NC A&T State University, and three years later I was named principal of an elementary school not too far from my hometown at the age of 29.
This past December, I completed the PhD program at NC A&T State University and successfully defended my dissertation entitled, “Teacher Perceptions of Teacher Leadership and Shared Vision: A Correlational Study using the NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey”. There is something powerful about a vision actualized. The vision of my parents witnessing their daughter become a doctor (the first on either side of the family) had propelled me through years of formal education, professional and personal challenges, & moments of triumph.
The story is still being written, & there are many more BHAGs to tackle, visions to materialize, & molds to make. I look forward to the journey…

Monday, April 27, 2015

GEG Mississippi and GEG Massachusetts LIVE GHO Event - Student Help Desk Teams and Google Apps

I co-host this GEG Mississippi Live GHO Event with GEG Massachusetts. I chat with two students from the Burlington Student Help Desk team and GEG Mass leader, Jenn Scheffer, about the work and experiences of a Student Help Desk Team and their work with Google Apps.

To learn more about developing your own Student Help Desk Team, please check out the following blogs written by Jenn Sheffer: Student Tech Teams 101 and Support your 1:1 Program.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Dr. Will Show - Voxing it up for Professional Development with Tammy Neil and Carlie Stigler

I chat with Tammy and Carlie about tips and best practices for using Voxer to develop a PLN.

Carlie Stigler is a 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade multiage teacher at Fond du Lac STEM Academy in Fond du Lac Wisconsin.  She attended Carroll University and received her bachelors degree in Elementary Education and Special Education with a minor in Early Childhood. During her student teaching experience, Carlie participated in a yearlong residency program within the Hartland Lakeside School District.  This opportunity allowed her to engage and grow in working with teachers and students, developing habits of a reflective and collaborative educator.  As a first year teacher Carlie is on a mission to facilitate learning spaces that embody community, inclusion, collaboration, and personalizing learning amongst and between educators and students.  As Carlie continues to grow as an educator and learner, she is excited to be a part of the changes in our education system that need to occur to meet the interests and demands of our world.   

Connect with Carlie on Twitter: @cstigler28. Her school Twitter is @FDLSTEMAcademy, Carlie also has an awesome

Tammy Neil teaches Computer Applications and Game Design at Branford High School in Branford, FL. This is her 24th year in education. She's taught every grade from 4th to 12th. I also spent 8 years as a School Media Specialist. 

Tammy co-moderates the #FLedChat on Wednesdays at 8 pm edt, and #RuralEdChat at 8:30 pm edt on Tuesdays. She is a founding member of the team and actively participates in their round table discussions through GHOs and Twitter. She is also a semi-regular blogger on

This year Tammy was named Branford High School's 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year. She's been nominated for a Bammy (High School Teacher of the Year) as well as, Edsurge's Caring is Sharing Award. Tammy recently led the organization team for #EdcampBranford, the first Edcamp not only in her district but also in the surrounding 50 mile radius.

You can connect with Tammy on Twitter: @MathNeil

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Dr. Will Show - The Connected Educator with Kerry Gallagher

I chat with Kerry Gallagher about being a connected educator, and her thoughts on how being connected impacts one's teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom.

Kerry has taught 8-12 grade social studies in public schools in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for 12 years.  She has presented at conferences including MassCUE and the Blueprint for Excellence National Conference. Kerry’s classroom is paperless. Her students use mobile devices to research, create, and submit what they have learned.  She won the 2014 Yale-Lynn Hall Teacher Action Research Prize (See her submission here) and was a speaker at the 2014 Yale Education Leadership Conference.  She teachers and is also the Mock Trial Team Coach at Reading Memorial High School in Reading, Massachusetts.  Kerry is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts, has a BA in Politics and Secondary Education from Saint Anselm College, and is a Level II Professional Ski Instructor of America.

Check out Kerry's blog: Teaching HistoryTech and connect with her on Twitter @KerryHawk02And don't forget to give a peek to The Paperless Classroom (Recent institute Kerry's students and her presented to share their practice.)

Kerry is a recently named 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators award winner. 

#beyouEDU - Finding Your Voice