Staying Grounded

My dear friend, Brian Aspinall (author of multiple books including two I’ve written about – Code Breaker & Block Breaker – and now CEO of Code Breaker, Inc which is rocking the world of education in Canada and beyond) sent a couple of books that his company has published to me. I always love reading and growing as an educator, so I was excited to check these out! Besides, Brian never steers me wrong. I’ve always been inspired by him.

As I opened Staying Grounded by Michael J Hynes, I was excited to see familiar names – Sir Ken Robinson, Abraham Maslow, Carol Dweck, and more – and knew immediately Mike was going to be one of “my people”. Within his book there are 12 principles broken down into three parts.

Part 1 about the “inside work” features principles like taking care of yourself and keeping a check on your attitude. Oops. Not even 50 pages into the book and I’ve already messed up on the first two principles. Clearly I needed to read this book, and I needed it now (as in yesterday). If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen that I spent a whopping 17 hours asleep this past weekend… you didn’t see however that, after posting that picture, I didn’t even last 3 hours, then I went right back to bed. I slept for over 20 hours in a 24-hour period. I’m not sick; I’m just not sleeping well. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Are you an educator? Are you sleeping well these days? I bet the last “good” night of sleep I had was pre-COVID. You?

As I read Mike’s words, I know that I need to prioritize taking better care of myself. Then he comes right after “take care of yourself” and hits me with “attitude diseases”. I’m thinking… is this guy watching my life play out?! I think I am a pessimist by nature, believe it or not… well, maybe not a “pessimist” – I prefer to see it as being a “realist”. This may truly come as a surprise to some, but I work hard to finding the good in people and experiences. It’s intentional. Every single time. It doesn’t come natural to me. In fact, when I’m traveling and have the opportunity (especially when I’m alone) I’ll find the nearest Hobby Lobby and spend some time walking around the wooden wall decor. The uplifting words all around me puts me in a positive mindset! It also means I’m putting another item in my cart online! What Mike says here is true; “Attitudes determine who we are and what we can do.”

Moving into Part 2 – the “outside work” – I was challenged by the power of routines. I am not a morning person. at. all. In my #DBCBookBlogs post The EduNinja Mindset, Creatively Productive, and Sanctuaries, I speak in some way to creating a new routine or habit in which I wake up earlier in the mornings. The first of those blogs was over two years ago… here I am saying (yet again) that I am going to create a new routine and stick to it. I am a believer that our routines lead to success. I just need to make myself live out my belief in this. Later in Part 2, Mike speaks about student shadowing. If you’ve never done this, and you’re an educator – especially an educator outside of the classroom – make shadowing a student a priority. I realize that COVID throws a wrench into many plans this year, however it’s worth the time if you’ll make it happen. (Read about my experiences shadowing students here.)

Further cementing that Michael J. Hynes is one of “my people” is his principle about educational philosophy.

What is our plan, vision and core values, and how do we operationalize them?

Michael J Hynes, Staying Grounded

Without knowing our vision we are doomed to become lesser versions of ourselves. We’ll follow anyone and agree with anything because we don’t have our own vision clearly mapped before us. I have many things to say on this particular topic. Shameless plug… when you’ve read Mike’s 10th principle in Staying Grounded and want more (because it is THAT important & he does an amazing job speaking to its importance), check out a personal favorite of mine, Educational Eye Exam. (hehehe… end shameless plug)

Finally, part 3 speaks to our “future” work and oh, how I wish I had this section of the book during my undergraduate program! It’s the perfect collection of all the major child development theorists in education and is written in easy-to-understand verbiage. We can’t even begin to understand our students and how to best serve them without knowing the information in principle 11! I needed the refresher course myself, even with this being my 15th year in education! It’s good stuff, y’all.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to read Staying Grounded. I love the John Maxwell (for educators) vibes I get from this book and the ease with which Mike shares his story, and the stories of others in the “Leadership Stories” portions of his book. The organization of the book is well-done. It’s certainly a book I’d gift to educators – including my own children’s teachers. Check it out for yourself! You’ll be delighted that you did!

#DBCBookBlogs: Boredom Busters

Worksheet… we can all picture one, right?

A place for your name, date, and class period along the top. A topic written in bold letters followed by a line or two of directions. Space on the page to show work. I typically think of math. I taught math. I used worksheets. I hated it. The monotony of worksheets was sucking the fun right out of my class. In fact, we one-upped the standard worksheet by spending who-knows-how-much money on purchasing worksheets bound together in a consumable workbook for every student every year. Ugh.

I asked my daughters what they think about when I say the word worksheet. My 11 year old’s response was “It’s a sheet with a WHOLE lot of problems on it. Or in reading it has a passage with questions. Basically they’re not very fun.” My seven year old says, “Boring. It’s lots of work. They can help me learn, but it’s very boring (complete with an eye roll).”

For the record, no one saved any of the “awesome” worksheets I did in school.

Katie Powell wrote a book that addresses these very concerns of students and teachers alike! Her ideas in Boredom Busters will certainly turn the average worksheet into a memorable & meaningful experience for everyone involved!


Katie has written such a unique book in that it has a great message that will get you excited to be a teacher, and it’s also practical. Readers can literally pick up this book today and implement the ideas tomorrow. The paper airplane on the cover showcases the first, and easiest, of her Worksheet Busters – simply allow students to fold their worksheet into a paper airplane, give them a good toss across the room, pick up the one closest to them, and complete a problem.

Fun is a tool we leverage. It’s effective. But it’s not the end goal.”
-Katie Powell, Boredom Busters

These Busters are not just fluff. She says to “consider what would happen if you surprised those [hard to manage] very students with novelty”. She continues with “we have to plan for what comes after the curiosity”. Katie talks about Depth of Knowledge (DOK) and higher order thinking skills embedded within Worksheet, Lecture, and Homework Busters.

I have already shared several of the Busters with the teachers I serve and have them wanting to implement as soon as possible. We’re especially excited to implement the Busters using painter’s plastic. The Bulls-Eye, Curling, and Monopoly Games have me so excited! As soon as students are back on campus, I plan to get those teachers on my calendar in the media center! In the meantime, I’ll be buying some plastic sheeting and getting the materials ready!


Like many schools, we will begin the school year with students learning remotely and then bringing back small groups of students using social distancing after a couple months. With that hanging in the back of my mind the entire time I was reading Boredom Busters, I found myself wishing again and again that I had found the time to read this book last year when things were “normal”. No worries though! After a quick peek at Katie’s website I was relieved to see that she has already created a list of socially distant and/or virtual Busters in a recent blog! Check that out here! Thank you, Katie!

Definitely be sure to check out this 84th book in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line! Katie Powell’s Boredom Busters is absolutely a book you’ll use again and again. And BONUS: Katie walks you through her process when she creates a Buster, so you can create your own! While you wait for your book to come in, check out these epic YouTube videos featuring the author and THIS video that makes me smile every time because our friend and fellow DBC author Adam Welcome shares his thoughts on Boredom Busters and the next book in the line-up… if you’ve been following #DBCBookBlogs, you may find that you know that author. HA!

#DBCBookBlogs: The EduProtocol Field Guide Book 2

After reading the first EduProtocols book (blog here) by Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo which led to revamping entire lessons, I was secretly hoping they’d come out with a sequel. Last year, they did just that! The 83rd book in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line of awesomeness is The EduProtocol Field Guide Book 2!


While reading through this guide book, I found myself needing Book 1 nearby because several of the protocols are remixes and smashes of the lesson frames from the first book. With that in mind, just go ahead and purchase both if you’re considering putting this one in your cart.

In chapter 1, I was intrigued by the history lesson of industrial revolutions and the Fifth Industrial Revolution which includes the use of robots and artificial intelligence. Marlena mentions a website called Will Robots Take My Job & I spent way too much time looking up different jobs. My husband is a financial loan representative at a local bank. There is a 98% risk of Artificial Intelligence replacing him, while there’s only a 17% chance of teachers being replaced. I think this is even more obvious after our experiences with COVID-19 and the need for face-to-face interactions in the classroom.

I love the 12 new lesson frames presented in Book 2! Among my absolute favorites are Thin Slides, Emoji Power Paragraph, and Number Mania. Several of the teachers I serve have students create infographics, and the Number Mania EduProtocol is a perfect way for students to put research in a collaborative document. This can easily lead to a conversation about best practices in research when they find conflicting information.

The protocol that immediately grabbed my attention and caused me to jump for joy (quite literally, y’all) was the Game of Quotes. Based on the game Bring Your Own Book – which I immediately purchased – this game gets students looking for evidence from text in a highly engaging way. I can’t wait to use this protocol during our Google Meet conferences as we return to school.

Many of the protocols are perfect for remote learning! Check out the eduprotocols website at for more information, free templates, and more! If you’re wondering how to incorporate these EduProtocols for the younger children, check out this interview with the Cool Cat Teacher, Vicki Davis.

EduProtocols are a terrific way to give students security by allowing them to use the same structure across grade levels and curricular areas. Seriously check them out and determine which you think will serve your students best! As a quick tip, I’d recommend buying the physical copy rather than the digital copy. I made so many notes in the margins that Marlena & Jon give us in the physical copy! This is a definitely a book you’ll come back to again and again as you’re planning this year. EduProtocols are easy to use in virtual environments and during face-to-face instruction, so it’s a win-win for the unknown this school year.

I sure do hope they’re already working on Book 3! In the meantime, follow along with the conversation and be sure to share your own remixes using the hashtag #EduProtocols.