George Times 5

Five Couros Connected Updates!

The Pitch! Epic moment in DBC Inc history caught by Yau-Jau Ku

You can consider this a special George Couros edition of the blog today!! I have 5 updates and ALL FIVE just happen to have one thing in common…that Canadian guy who wrote The Innovator’s Mindset.

Let’s get started!

  1. I met George at the 2013 ASCD conference in Chicago. (Read a post about that conference HERE) If you told me we would become friends, I would publish his book, and that we would eventually go into business together, I would have told you were crazy (and yes there is a story behind that comment)…but now ALL THREE are true! Shelley and I are
    unbelievably excited to join forces with George and Paige Couros to form a division of DBC Inc. called IMpress. We will be hand-selecting and publishing a small number of special projects to create a book line with many of them closely aligned with The Innovator’s Mindset message. George and Paige will take on an active role in connecting with authors, curating, and developing these books and then Shelley and I will be using our production team to bring these books to the world. Look for AMAZING stuff from IMpress!!
  2. The first book in the new line came out this past June and it is INCREDIBLE!!! I don’t say that lightly…this one is off-the-charts. It is EMPOWER: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning by A.J. Juliani and John Spencer. A.J. and John worked with us on their first joint book called, Launch, which is a smash hit on design thinking. That book has received much critical acclaim and is being used literally all over the world…and this one does not disappoint, either. I’m not sure I have ever seen people fall in love with a book faster than what what happens when they pick up EMPOWER. It draws you in like a magnet…it has a hypnotic effect. You will not be able to put it down. The layout…OMG. It is STUNNING. It is unlike anything you have ever seen in a book for the educational market. You are pulled right along with it by the combination of the design features, sketches, and the compelling vision for what school can and SHOULD be. I saw a tweet that summed up exactly how I feel about this book, “This is exactly what I want for MY kids in school.” There can be no stronger endorsement than that! George wrote the foreword for EMPOWER and you can read it right here.
  3. I am SO tired of when social media is discussed with kids…it is often a message filled with scare tactics, fear, and a laundry list of what they CAN’T do. How about we show students what they CAN do!! They can start movements, build awareness around critical issues, uplift people’s spirits, and be a force for positivity. Simply put…they can change the world. It’s time we completely rethink how we approach the use of social media in our schools and classrooms. Let’s move beyond digital footprint lectures and traditional digital citizenship lessons and move into true digital leadership. We have published the manifesto to do just that. Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership by Jennifer Casa-Todd is a game-changing message that will inspire you and shift your thinking. It is eminently practical and has real-world examples of educators DOING this stuff. It includes student profiles so you can see how transformative this message can be. So what’s the George connection? George assisted with feedback throughout this project, his work is cited many times, and he wrote the foreword. You can read his powerful foreword RIGHT HERE!
  4. #IMMOOC is back!! The FREE, open, online course that centers on The Innovator’s Mindset is starting another round on September 25th. The guest list is impressive and it all starts with the amazing Jo Boaler. We at DBC Inc. are sponsoring an #IMMOOC Selfie Contest and giving away free books!! Find all the details about the guests, the format, and the contest RIGHT HERE!
  5. Last one!! George was just here in San Diego this past week to record the audiobook for The Innovator’s Mindset. I joined him in the studio to record my foreword and then he got after it for 3 days to record the entire thing. We are excited to have his book be the very first audiobook project in our line and we expect it to be available at some point in October. I’ll let you know!

Thanks for your support!!!



Who Do You Need to Thank?

A #TLAP #Gratitude Challenge

One of my favorite lines from The Zen Teacher by Dan Tricarico is, “When our minds are focused on what we are grateful for, it is almost impossible to feel unhappy.” I believe this to be absolutely true. There are lots of tragic stories, horrific news cycles, and flat out poisonous negativity that bombards us everyday. It can become all-consuming if you let it. It can kill you.

Or…you can draw energy from it. I am drawn to amazing and uplifting stories filled with hope, forceful resistance against oppression, people rallying around those in need, and humanity rising above their circumstances to persevere and conquer obstacles and challenges.

Sometimes our brightest hours and our mightiest victories are born out of darkness and despair.

I’m not depressed by the world I see around me. I’m disappointed. I’m frustrated. I’m angry. But, more significantly, I’m also engaged and energized. I’m more inspired to fight the good fight. I’m pacing like a caged tiger waiting for the gate to open…but nobody is there to open it so I’m going to have to knock it down.

Wallowing in negativity leads to inaction. It saps our strength. It makes us want to mentally and physically “check out.” We can’t allow that to happen. Good people need to get to stepping! We need to overwhelm all this virulent venom around us with a tsunami of superlatives and an avalanche of advocacy.

So where can we start?


Why? Because it not only gives us energy, it gives energy to those around us, too. It is a multiplier. You feel better when I authentically thank you for your contribution…and I feel better, too. It’s a win-win in every way imaginable. Gratitude focuses our mind on that which is empowering to us and each other.

Starting with an appreciation for what we have is always the best place to begin to strive for more. Furthermore, a humble recognition that others have helped us to achieve our present level of success is a critical step in the process. It allows us to see that we didn’t sail here alone. It makes us not only willing to seek and accept help from others in the future, but also more willing to lend a hand to the people traveling down these treacherous paths with us.

Life is tough. Look around…who can you help? Who needs a kind word today? (I’ll give you a hint…the answer is EVERYBODY)

And who do you need to thank?

I made a video to be played at the June, 2017 retirement luncheon for a woman who changed my life. I team-taught a first period class for 17 consecutive years with an amazing special education teacher named Billie Fogle. I never intended to share it outside of that setting but a couple of people have run across it on YouTube and mentioned they enjoyed it…so here it is. It is just filmed in one take in a hotel room, has a few inside jokes that might not make sense, and there is no pirate bandana (shocker!), but I hope you enjoy it. (I’m also upset that it sounds like I said, “Penn & Taylor” instead of Teller…but whatever! One take is one take!)

I also wrote a post back in 2011 thanking one of my master/mentor teachers, Melinda Oliver. She is another incredible woman and part of my story as an educator. You can find that post by clicking RIGHT HERE!

Now it is your turn!! Who do you need to thank? Blog about it! Make a video! Call them on the phone! Text them! Set up a time to meet! Tweet them! Hit them up on Facebook! It only matters that you do it! I would love if you would share your gratitude by including #tlap and #gratitude into your tweet on Twitter. Feel free to comment below, as well. You’ll immediately feel better…and you will be uplifting and making someone else’s day at the same time. Look around. We could all use that right now.


You’re Not Just Getting New Students:

You're Getting Their Families, Too!

The new year is here!! Don’t forget you are getting a new set of parents, too. They have just entrusted you with the most valuable thing in their life…their child. This is a special guest post from The Classroom Chef co-author and Table Talk Math author, John Stevens. Enjoy!

Here’s John:


You’ve decorated the walls.

You’ve organized the desks.

You’ve researched new teaching methods.

You’ve planned out every detail of that coveted first day.

You’ve thought through every detail of how you’re going to welcome your new roster of students.

…or have you?

We know that the first few days of school are crucial to develop relationships with your students, build trust with them, and lay out the expectations you all have for each other. We also know that a tone is set from the moment those clumsy feet cross through your doorway and into the place you will spend at least 180 hours with them over the next 10 months. You will get to know them, go through successes and struggles with them, and become a family in many ways.

Speaking of family, what about the family?

When I drop my children off for their first day of school, I am passing them on to a complete stranger, someone I am entrusting to keep my children safe, make them feel like they matter, and to improve upon the people we have helped them become. I understand that there are going to be some rough patches and that they aren’t going to be perfect, but I expect that the discipline model you implement is fair and understood, and that you would keep me informed when something needs to be addressed. After all, even when these 180 days are over, I will always remember the way you made my children feel about education.

So, with that, welcome me to your class in some way.

Send me a letter, thanking me for the opportunity to teach my children.

Email me a video showing how excited you are for the upcoming school year.

Ask me to write about my children so we can have some sort of connection.

Help my child write a welcome letter from your class to me.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, and don’t save it for Parent Night.

Invite me to join a Remind text message group of Class Dojo account.

Share more than the syllabus as a welcome mat to your class.

Or more…

Ever since writing Table Talk Math, I have thought increasingly more about what we are doing to support the parents of our students. After all, they want to help, but oftentimes don’t know how or don’t know where to look for ideas. In the book, I share a lot of ideas on how parents can support math-based conversations at home, which is a far cry from the standard “Friday Folder” or packet of homework that parents are encourage to help their kids complete–or not. It may sound like this is geared toward teachers of K-5 students, but that’s far from the truth. In fact, the older the student, the more imperative it is to keep the parents engaged and interested in their child’s learning.


Recently, I saw a tweet that was attempting to capture high school students’ goals for the year. What a great idea! The unfortunate side effect of 10+ years of schooling showed in the responses, seeing that all but one of the three dozen notes had a direct tie-in to grades. I get that there is a major push to focus on grades as a gateway to college, better jobs, and more, but I fear that a sole goal of getting an A will reduce a child’s education to the letter that shows up on a transcript. Kids are more than an accumulation of letters over 12+ years, and we can all do a better job of reinforcing that.

My conjecture is that supporting parents throughout the academic journey of their children will yield positive results in ways that we have never before seen.

When your room is ready, and you are set to welcome that new group of students, remember that you’re not just getting new students; you’re also getting their families.

John Stevens


Thanks to John for this guest post!! His two DBC Inc books have sparked amazing discussions about teaching in general and math instruction in particular. You can find the Classroom Chef co-written by Matt Vaudrey right here and Table Talk Math right here. I wrote a blog called  Rejecting Fast Food Education on The Classroom Chef and check out the 7 Reasons to Judge #TableTalkMath by its Cover post, too!
Thanks! Have a great start to the year.


PS: His Table Talk Math site and email list is FREE!! Sign up RIGHT HERE!