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Podcast: Make Learning MAGICAL with Tisha Richmond

/ Jason Sholl

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Welcome to the Deeper Learning with WeVideo Podcast. I'm Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad and I am super excited to have a friend, Tisha Richmond, on the show today. Tisha is a passionate and innovative tech instructional coach and family and consumer science teacher from southern Oregon. She's passionate about infusing joy, passion, play, and gamified strategies into classrooms to make learning magical. Tisha is the author of the book Make Learning Magical. Tisha, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Tisha Richmond: Thank you so much for having me, Nathan. I'm so excited to be here. Honored.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: So am I. So I would love to learn more about what inspired you to write this book and then a little bit about your book.

Tisha Richmond: Absolutely. It was about five years ago that I was kind of at a low place in education where I was feeling really burned out and I actually was contemplating what are some other things that I could do, maybe I can become a barista and perfect the art of coffee. That was really where my mindset was at the time for a lot of different reasons. I was just a little bit disenchanted with education and kind of a strange occurrence happened that year in that all of the culinary teachers in our region decided to go in on a grant together because we're funded through Carl Perkins for iPads. I was kind of excited but really quite frankly I was real scared and I was not really sure that I wanted these iPads in my classroom because I didn't know what to do with them.

I had never really brought technology into my classroom before. We received the grant. In fact, I received an additional grant through Century Link and I was able to go one-to-one iPads in my classroom and it was really before anybody else in my school had devices in their classroom one-to-one. I was just venturing into completely new territory. That grant also allowed me to get some professional development. And so that year I went to my very first ed tech conference, which was ipadpalooza in Austin, Texas. And I really was pretty blown away because there were all these things that people were sharing and doing with technology that I didn't even know existed. I felt like I had been living in this bubble, in this silo in southern Oregon, and that's where I discovered Twitter as well. And that really was the catalyst for me that launched me in to this magical adventure of learning.

I started becoming inspired as a spark of joy had finally been relit within me and I started to become courageous and start trying new things in my classroom. And it was those small leaps or as my friend Tara would say, cannonball ins, that I took that just one after another after another that finally really unlocked magical learning in my classroom. My book is called Make Learning Magical. It's about transforming your teaching and creating unforgettable experiences in your classroom. Really the magical is an acronym. And so M is for meaningful beginnings, A is for authenticity and agency, G is gamified experiences, I is innovation. C is curiosity, creativity and collaboration, A is authentic audience, and L is legacy. I really found that in the process of really transforming what it looked like in my classroom, those were seven major components that really made that transformation happen.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Oh, that's phenomenal to think about how you went from this experience where you were in this professional development opportunity and you're really excited. And any time to see teachers get passionate and excited about something. Some times we then question where do we go next? And I love how you determined exactly what your purpose was, what your why is, and then went ahead and created this wonderful book but also created these experiences for your students. Also I know that you're a technology integration coach, so I'm really interested to hear about how you help teachers to create these magical learning experiences because it's one thing to do it with your own classroom, but then to also help teachers and support teachers doing it is a whole different set of strategies and processes.

Tisha Richmond: Absolutely. So this is my second year as a tech integration specialist in our district. And it was really the first time they had a tech integration specialist that was working in this capacity. We have a large district of 19 schools and I'm the only one currently. It's daunting. It was a daunting task, but super exciting. When I left teaching, I really loved teaching, but now I feel, I was really a little bit tentative about leaving my classroom but now I feel like I get to teach in this new capacity where I can help empower educators and really bring joy into teaching and learning. And I joke with my administrator all the time that my secret title is joy specialist because that's really what it's about for me is bringing joy into teaching and learning.

And one of the very first things that I did in my new role is I developed an innovation team because I knew with 19 schools that was going to be really difficult to be able to support teachers in the way that I truly wanted to. And so I asked our administrators in our district, all of our principals, if they could identify some teachers in their buildings that they would consider spark starters. And what I meant by spark starters are teachers that are enthusiastic, positive, sunshine spreaders are willing to take risks and are innovative because I knew that it didn't really matter if teachers were super tech savvy. It was the attitude that they had about teaching and learning that really was going to make a big impact. And so I have at least one representative from every school and we're expanding the team this year and bringing on a whole new team of spark starters.

I have a meeting with them once a month, which is, I don't even like to use the word meeting because it's really a get-together of just ideas and inspiration and collaboration and creativity where we can inspire and challenge each other to go back into our classrooms and to create magical experiences. Last month for example, we had an ed count style where eight different teachers had roundtable discussions about things that they were jumping into and trying in their classroom and everybody just learned together and shared. It was awesome. And then I go into classes and I just spend time in classrooms because I tell teachers, I was a culinary teacher for 23 years and so I know what learning looks like in a culinary classroom, but I haven't had time in elementary classrooms or middle school or other content areas much.

To be able to go into those classrooms and just watch and observe and see what learning looks like, that allows me to understand how I can best support the teachers and meet them where they're at and really establish those relationships because the relationships are so important. And so it's been really fun just to see these teachers try new things. And we started, which part of my magical acronym is gamified experiences and I gamified all of my classes when I taught culinary. And so I brought that gamification flavor to our innovation team this year. And so we have been on this kind of adventure together where I'm unlocking quests for them to go on and it's all kind of geared around professional development, but really helping empower them to take leaps, tiny things and then to be able to share out through professional development in their own schools or through the district in a variety of ways.

I'm a rookie still, brand new in this role, so I'm learning all the time, but I really, really love it and I just am so proud of the teachers in our district and the amazing things that they're doing in their classrooms to truly make learning magical.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: I love also that the strategies that you are employing for the classroom to increase engagement for students, you're also modeling that for your teachers. So when you were speaking earlier about having meetings but they're not really meetings, it's these get-togethers, these ed camps, these basically gatherings for teachers to be creative and spark new ideas. Also how you talked about gamification not only for students, but you're discussing how to do that within the collaborative opportunities for teachers. And I think that's exactly how we start to transform education is that we talk about all these practices for the classroom, but then whenever we're planning as teachers, we go back to these traditional or banal moments where we're in these like, okay, it's time for unit planning and, and, yes, we should unit plan, but we also have to make our practices as teachers magical as well. And it sounds like that's exactly what you're doing.

Tisha Richmond: Absolutely. I hope so. That is what I'm trying to do. But what's really exciting for me is just to see that joy start to build within the teachers because it's going to... When our teachers are joyful, when we're joyful in what we're doing, then that is going to be contagious and our students are going to catch that joy as well. And so I have really enjoyed seeing our teachers do amazing things and become joyful educators because that's what it's about.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Absolutely. You're exactly right. So as our listeners, as we are planning for creating more of these magical learning experiences, we are definitely going to need to tap into your experience and all of the things that you share. So how can we best stay connected with you on social media and also on your website?

Tisha Richmond: Absolutely. I would love to connect. I'm at Tishrich on Twitter where I live most of the time. I also have a website, tisharichmond.com where I share blog posts. I have links to a podcast that I just started. I have lots of resources to help you make learning magical in your classrooms, so I'd love for you to check that out. I'm also on Facebook at Tisha Norton Richmond and I have a Facebook page right now for family and consumer science teachers called Gamifying Family and Consumer Science and you can find it on Facebook as well.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Tisha, this was such a lovely conversation and I'm excited about continuing to be engaged with you and just to see the exciting things that you're doing in education and I hope more and more that the joy that you're spreading continues to make a positive ripple amongst schools everywhere. So thank you so much for the work you're doing.

Tisha Richmond: Thank you so much. It was an honor to be on your show.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Thanks for joining me on the Deeper Learning With WeVideo podcast. If you liked this topic, recommend this to your friends, give us a five-star review, and check out our other episodes on this platform.

Be sure to get a copy of my latest book, WeVideo Every Day: 40 Strategies to Deepen Learning in Any Class, available now on Amazon. You can interact with me on Twitter and Instagram at @drlangraad. You can also check out more media content on YouTube at youtube.com/wevideo.

WeVideo empowers all students to express their ideas authentically and creatively. To illustrate these ideas of sharing stories, broadening perspectives, and promoting student confidence, check out WeVideo on Twitter @WeVideo, or also check out the website wevideo.com/education. See you next time. Bye.

About the Podcast

Deeper Learning with WeVideo explores ways to inspire creativity in the classroom, activities that ignite deeper learning for students, and interviews with thought leaders in education that motivate teachers and influencers in education technology. Listen to us on your favorite podcast apps: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, SoundcloudSpotifyStitcher and TuneIn!

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