Thursday, July 21, 2011


** Last week, I attended the Differentiated Instruction Conference in Las Vegas. This week, I will be sharing what I learned from the conference. Although the conference is for educators, the ideas that I will share can be applied to life. **

Today is my final blog entry sharing information from the DI conference. I’ve mentioned three great sessions that I attended. Today, I talk about a fourth.

Have you ever heard of Monte Selby? If not, you need to learn more about him. I was in his 75-minute session and he just dripped coolness. He’s the musician dude that you wish you could be!

Dr. Monte Selby is an educator, author, and speaker. He is known as education’s songwriter. Monte has written numerous songs for teachers and students. By visiting his website, you can learn more about what he does.

Below are a couple of great ideas that he shared for administrators and teachers:

  • Great quote by Pedro A. Noguera: “The problem is not the children. The problem is our ability to create the environment where children can learn.” 
  •  Monte suggested starting all faculty meetings with five minutes of successes. To do this, ask teachers this question: “Tell us about a kid that you would stand up for.” I think that is a powerful and subtle question to set a positive focus for a faculty meeting. 
  • Another suggestion was to autopilot the first five minutes of meetings and class. He accomplishes this by beginning a song (i.e. Lean on Me) a few minutes before the start of the meeting. His faculty knew that by the time the song was over that the meeting would begin. This gave everyone a moment to finish conversations and be ready to start. He also suggested using this in your classroom at the beginning as students are taking out materials and preparing for class. 
  • Monte suggested ending any meeting by clarifying WHO does WHAT by WHEN. This makes sure everyone is on the same page moving forward.
The amazing aspect of this workshop was the presence that Monte possessed. In the middle of a topic, he would take out his guitar and play his original songs which always have a great meaning for educators. And these are not cheesy, “edu-songs.” The songs I heard were hip, cool, and very non-cheesy.

I have embedded a performance of his at the National Middle School Association conference several years ago. The song is entitled “Peer Pressure” and has a great message. Also, Monte has an awesome book (with accompanying music CD) that is great for professional development (Because You Teach). 

I was super-impressed with Monte because of his heart for kids and his heart for educators. You should definitely visit his website at

QUESTION: Have you ever had an "off-the-beaten-track" teacher who made a great impression on your life? Please leave comments below.


Paige said...

Yes I did. I had a chorus teacher who started class with a song & taught us a few dance steps to go along with it. I felt energized & ready to learn. She also had an open door policy. It was so comforting to know that an adult truly cared & was willing to listen to us teenagers. It didn't matter if it was problems at school, home, with friends, with a boyfriend, she was always there to listen & offer great advice. She would even invite us out to eat with her family. She would say, 'we're going to Steak & Shake tonight if anyone wants to meet us there.' We got to know her family, too. I looked forward to those meal times because I enjoyed watching her & her husband together. They set a great example for us. What an impact she had on my life both inside & outside the classroom!

Jason said...

A great teacher can make a tremendous impact on our life. Sounds like your chorus teacher was a very special person! Thanks for the comment.