Don't prepare students for something, prepare them for anything @E_Sheninger

Transform Learning this School Year with Eric Sheninger

Eric Sheninger @E_Sheninger motivates us to transform learning this school year. We're starting Season 2 with a bang and a big book Giveaway, Learning Transformed by Eric Sheninger and Thomas C. Murray! Enjoy!

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This episode is sponsored by Staples. Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out for my 10 Ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staples Teacher rewards for free shipping on orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staples has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to for more information and great deals!

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Below is a transcript modified for your reading pleasure. For information on the guests and items mentioned in this show, scroll down to the bottom of this post.


Transcript of Episode 111: Transform Learning this School Year with Eric Sheninger

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[Recording starts 0:00:00]

Today’s show is sponsored by Staples, my back to school shopping location for my classroom. Stay tuned at the end of the show and I’ll tell you how to get my tips and trips for back to school.

Get motivated to transform learning this school year. This is episode 111 and the start of Season 2.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

Eric Sheninger and Tom Murray have a new book, Learning Transformed. We're hosting a giveaway. Click here to see how to enter.

VICKI:   Welcome to Season 2 of the 10-Minute Teacher. Today we have one of the most motivational people I know for our Motivation Monday, Eric Sheninger @E_Sheninger has a new book that he has co-authored with Tom Murray @thomascmurray called Learning Transformed.

So, Eric, how can you get us pumped up to transform learning this school year?

ERIC:           When we think about transforming learning I think we have to look first and foremost at why we do what we do and ask our kids. All kids have greatness hidden inside them, it is the job of an educator to help them find and unleash it.

An essential mindset for starting the school year

Our mindset is perhaps one of the most important things we have as we start the school year. If we look at students as having greatness inside and view our job as unleashing greatness. It makes a big difference!

ERIC: How do we help them unleash it? You know what, first off, we got to focus on the ‘what ifs’ instead of the ‘yeah buts’. We have to look at the opportunities and the potential of the tools, the ideas, the pathways, the strategy that we have now to unlock creativity and limitless potential of our kids.

I think as we begin the year it really comes down to this, don’t prepare students for something, prepare them for anything. So as we reflect on our practice, how do we prepare kids for anything, how do we move past the status quo, how do we change our thinking? Because if we utilize the same old thinking we’re going to get the same old results. And when we think about transforming learning, Tom Murray and I spent well over a year looking at the research.


                    We unearthed over 180 research citations to focus on the why. I love the work of Simon Sinek @simonsinek, and if you have not watched his TED Talk on leadership  and focusing on the why. It is a great way to start the year.

Motivate and Inspire Yourself to Be Remarkable

Start the school year with your colleagues by showing a video get in the right mindset. The Simon Sinek TED talk is a great one. If your principal doesn't show you videos, watch it yourself to get in the right frame of mind. Don't let the doing keep you from being the kind of teacher you need to be!

ERIC: But if we don’t articulate the why, our vision, our mission, our values it is kind of fuzzy. My message, Vicki, to everyone listening is as we think about out beginning of the year, celebrate our success, celebrate what we do well, but keep an eye – where do you want to be? And what are those areas of our roles that we can do what we do better?

VICKI:          The why is so important and I hate say this – and my mom won’t be listening to this particular podcast, I hope, but sometimes our big ‘buts’ get in the way, they really do because so many times you talk about something transformational and then somebody look at you and here you see, and it’s coming and it’s coming and they say, ‘but’ and you’re like, “Please, let’s just focus on these students.”

We start building a culture of trust with our colleagues and students on the first day.

ERIC:           Yeah it’s interesting. ‘Buts’ really put up a barrier, a roadblock. And that road block inhibits us from building a culture of trust. We need to build a culture of trust with our kids, with each other. When we think about our work, when we think about learning, it all comes down to relationships. Without trust, there is no relationship, without relationships, no real learning occurs. And those ‘buts’ just enable us to, again, revert back to a fixed mindset, status quo, this is the way we’ve always done things and yeah, I guess it’s worked.

But when we think about kids the world is different. Kids are learning differently, the environment in which they learn is different. So we need to think, learn and act differently.

VICKI:          Yes, you have to relate before you educate.

Yes, you will hear me say this a lot. You have to relate before you educate. Before you create. Before you innovate. You relate first. I believe I'm a better teacher now because I'm better at relating and building those relationships. On Wednesday in episode 113, Nancy Blair will talk about a genius idea to help a whole staff relate better to students.

VICKI: Now, Eric, I want you to travel back to the time when you were principal and you’re looking at those teachers and you’re thinking about the first day and you’re about to give the a pump-up speech to really reach those kids and leave the past behind and move behind, what do you say?


Eric Sheninger's essential reading list

Leaders are readers and readers are leaders as John Maxwell says. (I paraphrased a bit.) I keep a list of books I might want to read in my to-do app. Many years a go, I read that Brian Tracey says to be in the top of your field, you need to only read an hour a day. That has been my habit for at least eight years now and it does make a difference. Here are some great books to start reading.

ERIC:           Well, I can tell you what I did many, many years ago. Part of my mindset shift was reading a lot of books. I read Drive  by Dan Pink, Linchpin by Seth Godin, Outliers   by Malcom Gladwell, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and I read another book, it was called the No Complaining Rule  by Jon Gordon and the rule was simple. Let’s not complain, we don’t want our kids to complain but complaining helps to create an environment that’s not conducive to change innovation. So when we think about our complaints and we think about our challenges which we have, we have realistic challenges. I would encourage everyone to think about solutions. If we focus on solutions as opposed to excuses and challenges we can truly begin the process of implementing the type of changes that our kids will appreciate.

And the other thing I would say is put yourself in the shoes of your students. Would you want to learn under the same conditions as your kids? Would you want to learn in the same environments as your students? And I think that gives us a lot of motivation to begin to change our practice, help our kids see value by modeling and implementing a better way.

The Biggest Mistake Educators Make Starting the School Year

We need to lear from our mistakes. But if we learn from the mistakes of others, we can get better, faster.

VICKI:          So Eric, what’s the biggest mistake educators make when they start the year?

ERIC:           I think the biggest mistake is we’re so focus on getting the schedule set up, going through our syllabus, going through the rules the expectations, going through them monotony of school. Basically, we’re prepping the kids for another year of school. And I think we have to flip it. I think instead of going through the monotony of the job and what we think we have to do because that’s the way it’s always been done, what about thinking about asking kids, engaging them, why are they here? Why is learning important? How can we together create an amazing learning experience for you? What do you need to be successful?


                    And I think taking Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle , the why, the how, ‘the what’ to sort of flip that first experience we have with our kids can really jumpstart learning and begin to set the stage for a pretty exciting things as the year goes on.

VICKI:          So Eric, how do you have that conversation? Because honestly, some kids, if you say why are you here, it will be “because mama dropped me off”?

ERIC:           And that’s the challenge. If kids don’t see the ‘why’, we don’t engage kids enough at understanding the significance of learning. And I think we have to have those more conversations, we can’t be afraid of having difficult conversations because if we let that mentality go on, as the year goes on we just run the risk of losing kids more and more. And I think that ‘why’ is tying into the bigger picture, the bold new world of work, the exciting world and thinking about our interest of our kids, aligning that in the beginning days to the work at hand. It’s a difficult conversation, Vicki, but I think it’s a conversation we shy away from much too often.

A remarkable school year starts by captivating kids on the first day. How will you do it? Sure, we need to cover procedures but think about what students will SAY about your class on the first day when they go home to their parents. The first day is an important first impression. Use it well!

VICKI:          Well, and I believe that a remarkable school year starts by captivating students on the first day and I don’t know if anybody’s syllabus is exciting enough to captivate someone’s mind and capture their heart.

ERIC:           I don’t think so. And I think in our book, Learning Transformed, Tom and I talked about redesigning learning experience and we really don’t focus as much on personalized learning as we do personal learning. Get to know your kids, find out how their summers went no matter how old they are. Find out what books they read, what did they do with their free time and use that as a catalyst to plan future lessons, future units, future projects. Get kids excited about why they’re in your classroom and what they’re going to gain from that experience.

VICKI:          So Eric, we’re going to do a giveaway of your book, the information will be in the show notes. Tell us quickly about it.


About their book Learning Transformed

Enter the book giveaway competition.

ERIC:           Learning Transformed was Tom Murray and my attempt to bring all of the research together to, again, emphasize the ‘why’ but the showcase innovate practices in action. We don’t just present a ton of research, we present educators across every position that are implementing change, that are getting results. Sir Ken Robinson @SirKenRobinson said in his words, “This is a manifesto for the change that we need in schools.” And that’s a lot coming from Sir Ken who’s work on creativity we all appreciate.

So I think educators will find it research-driven, evidence rich and sort of it showing how we can bring efficacy to all the amazing ideas that we’re talking about.

VICKI:          So educators, let’s get out there and have a remarkable year. And Eric is giving us so many wonderful ideas. So let’s get motivated.

Thank you Staples for sponsoring this episode.

Our sponsors help keep this show going. I've been sharing my favorite products for makerspaces and other tips for back to school shopping for this year. Thank you for supporting our sponsors.

Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out for my ten ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staple’s Teacher Rewards for free shipping orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staple has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to for more information and great deals. Good luck with back to school

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at Never stop learning.

[End of Audio 0:09:49]

[Transcription created by Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email]

Bio as Submitted

 Eric is a Senior Fellow and Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Eric SheningerEducation (ICLE). Prior to this, he was the award-winning Principal at New Milford High School. Under his leadership, his school became a globally recognized model for innovative practices. Eric oversaw the successful implementation of several sustainable change initiatives that radically transformed the learning culture at his school while increasing achievement. He has emerged as an innovative leader, best selling author, and sought after speaker

Competition to Win the Book

Learning Transformed Book by Eric Sheninger and Thomas C Murray

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Kara Guiff July 24, 2017 - 8:45 am

Great message! My first day with students includes making, moving, and sharing.

Vicki Davis July 24, 2017 - 9:14 am

Awesome Kara!! Love that!

Kimberly A Onak July 24, 2017 - 6:49 pm

This is the type of podcast all educators should be listening too! Great professionals in the field talking with Vicki about current issues! It’s wonderful to listen, learn and reflect!

Vicki Davis July 24, 2017 - 9:38 pm

Thank you Kimberly! It amazes me how generous all the guests are in sharing with us! Thank you for your kind remarks!

Frank Ferrara July 26, 2017 - 5:19 pm

Enjoy your podcast. This episode was a good one. Love what @E_Sheninger has to say.

Tara Brown August 1, 2017 - 12:21 am

Such great advice! I think we need to listen to this at our first staff meeting before school begins! Getting everyone in a positive, growth mindset and ready to build relationships is key to a successful school year! If you want the kids to care about what you are teaching them, show them that you care about them…if you build it, they will come! Right!?!! Thank you so much for an awesome and very motivating #10MT Podcast!! Have a great year, everyone! :-)

Vicki Davis August 1, 2017 - 12:46 pm

Thank you Tara! Eric is so inspiring and a great way to start the year! Thanks for the kind words and for always encouraging me!

Shannon Steimel August 6, 2017 - 7:48 am

I am hoping to use this book as a book study for our Future Ready Schools leadership team.

Stephanie D August 7, 2017 - 3:43 pm

Always looking for great resources aa a tech integrationist to get my school and colleagues to make a shift! Thanks!


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