Jeff Utecht – Host of the Shifting Our Schools Podcast


Hi and welcome back to the Connect FCS Ed podcast. I’m your host Barbara Scully and I am thrilled to introduce my special guest today, Jeff Utecht. Jeff is shifting schools across Washington State, and soon a district near you. This awesome individual loves to partner with organizations, helping them to understand the changing nature of learning by working together in long-term embedded professional development that prepares us all for the future. Not our past.

Jeff is a keynote speaker, conference master, and has been a podcaster since 2008. His podcast is called Shifting Our Schools.

I invite you to listen in…


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• The state of Washington reached out and said, Hey, can you support us? And long story short, we’re just settling into September here where we’ve taken over 10000 teachers across the state of Washington through our trainings, not including districts, like your district and other districts across the state who I’ve worked individually with. I’m hoping that in the conversation today we’ve got a lot of data around what works in 2020. A year now, where we have this thing called Zoom, we’ve got Schoology or Google classroom, I mean just the incredibleness of what we have to be able to do this really, really well. And do it with the passion that is needed for families and kids, and I think that’s really where it’s at, so yeah, so we’ve got a lot of data. (5:08)

• Let’s start with the synchronous side of things, right? And first of all, I think the first thing to understand, and this is research-based, that there is no research around synchronous content delivery with K-12 kids, and one of the worst things that we can do is believe and understand that when we are in our synchronous, and when I’m talking synchronous, I’m talking, right, this is where our time and space continuum match. And so, we’ve got 35 kids in front of us or 150 kids in front of you, whatever your class size is. We need to understand that we have to use that time to the best of its ability. (7:52)

• They take the poll and I give them like, I wait a good five minutes, honestly before I even start a lecture, which I wouldn’t even classify as a lecture at all. I’m just kind of going over what is in our teams, because my district, we are one of the 15% here in Washington and Microsoft district. And it is painful, but they take the poll and then we just kind of have casual conversations and welcoming everybody as everybody’s coming in, and then we kind of carry on, and then in the middle of my 45-minute or now it’s actually even reduced to a 35-minute class time with my students. I do attendance, and I did attendance in the middle of my class today because I’m like, I want to bounce all over the place. I don’t want them to ever feel like… I want to keep them on their toes. (13:10)

• We’d have been taking time to get to know our kids, and I think there’s a lot of different frames, I like to call them frames, right? There are different frames that you can use, and if you are in a situation where kids are in a lot of Zoom meetings, and one of the things, and I can’t say this enough about your school district is you only have 30 minutes with your kids, that’s all you need… You can’t do an hour. Nobody likes an hour zoom, everybody’s going to have Zoom fatigue. So, we want shorter time periods inside our zoom, and then within that, especially at the beginning the year, what we’re doing is, we’re building routines. (14:47)

• You can go back and you can start reading our articles about this disruption, I mean, I’ve been writing about this since 2005, that this disruption was coming to education, I didn’t know it was going to take a pandemic to actually get us there, but we saw this coming in. The fact that what was happening, and we were seeing this, what was happening is their view was coming a larger and larger disconnect between the way that schools ran, and the skills, attitudes and dispositions kids needed. Our job is to prepare kids for college, career and life. (21:16)

September 16, 2020

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