PMP:Encore045 “Teach Like Me” Interview with Shawn Sheehan

On November 30, 2016, I sat down for a conversation with Oklahoma’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, Shawn Sheehan.

Photo by pipcleaves – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

That conversation became episode 045 of Principal Matters. In today’s post, I want to replay that conversation.

At the time, Shawn had just ended a campaign season in a failed attempt to win a state Senate seat. We talked about lessons in failure, the nobility of teaching, and empowering teachers. This school year, Shawn is a teacher in Lewisville, Texas. The story of his departure for higher pay has been shared on a state and national stage.

On March 20, 2018, the New York Times ran the article: Their Pay Has Stood Still. Now Oklahoma Teachers Could Be the Next to Walk.

As the nation watches Oklahoma’s response to an impending teacher work-stoppage, I thought it would be helpful to listen to a conversation from the past. Very few people have advocated as much as Shawn Sheehan for support of Oklahoma teachers, and his conversation will remind you of some important takeaways:

1. You cannot let failure define you, and you cannot give up hope on a better tomorrow.
2. You cannot let lack of support keep you from encouraging others to love teaching.
3. You must wear two hats: the hat of the educator and the hat of the advocate.
4. School leaders must empower their teachers by allowing them to take risks and dream big.

I hope you enjoy the replay of the conversation. I hope it reminds us all why we must keep fighting to attract and retain quality teachers for our schools.

Interview with Shawn Sheehan

Oklahoma Department of Education

Shawn is the 2016 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for National Teacher of the Year. He is an Algebra I teacher from Norman High School in Norman, Oklahoma.

He is also the founder of the Teach Like Me Campaign, a national movement focused on counteracting negative public perception of teachers and redefining those assumptions through social media campaigns to boost morale among current and future educators.

4 Questions Shawn Answers

1. How has failure pushed you to re-focus on your priorities as an educator and a person?
2. Why “Teach Like Me”? Why are you so passionate about redefining the public perception of teaching?
3. What advice do you have for educators who are struggling during “tougher” political days ahead for schools?
4. What advice do you have for school leaders to better serve their teachers, schools and communities?

Teach Like Me Links

Teach Like Me –A website celebrating the positives of what teachers do everyday.
Teacher Like Me Teacher Showcase Videos
Teach Like Me –Shawn’s Intro Video
Teach Like Me Video Series 1
Teach Like Me Video Promo
Teach Like Me Video Showcase 1
Teach Like Me Video Showcase 2
Shawn’s website and blog

Contact: You can find Shawn Sheehan via Twitter at his handle @SPSheehan

Now It’s Your Turn

As you wear the hat of instructor and advocate, what is one way you can inspire great learning within your school community this week? Great challenges always require great risk and innovation. What is something you need to move toward now instead of waiting for someone’s permission to achieve? What is one step you can take today to be the kind of leader you want your teachers and students to emulate?

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Messaging Matters

Harness the power of messaging to create a culture of acknowledgment, respect, and celebration. Written specially for leaders, this title is divided into three parts, helping readers to maximize their role as chief communicators with students, teachers, and parents and community. Each chapter includes suggestions for using digital tools to enhance messaging and ends with reflection questions and practical next steps.

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker
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