About Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly (@729Kelly) currently teaches at Michael Power St. Joseph at the TCDSB. Michael is a highly motivated, passionate, inclusive Catholic educator, coach, world traveller, hockey fan and student leadership advisor interested in expanding his professional network and collaborating with like-minded teachers.
He is a passionate and dynamic young educator and life-long learner who works in west end of Toronto. He is very interested in issues of special education, history, politics, experiential learning, community service and civic engagement.
Michael is an Ontario Certified teacher who works for the Toronto Catholic District School Board in the secondary panel. He is a proud graduate of the University of Toronto – St. Michaels College and OISE.
Michael has worked in several placements in both elementary and secondary school settings, and community service organizations in local communities as well as overseas. Experiential learning, inclusivity and community service form his core beliefs and philosophy on education.
Michael is also a dedicated volunteer and board member of a number of community organizations serving in a variety of roles and capacities, and he has played a key role in recruiting young people to vote and become engaged in the democratic process in Toronto.
He is a passionate advocate for Catholic education, Special Education, Cooperative education, athletics and creating inclusive high-quality learning environments and experiences for his students.
He is involved as a Student Council Teacher Moderator, Coach, and Chaplaincy team member at every school community he has the opportunity to serve. He believes in the tremendous potential educators have to shape and mold the minds and character of the next generation of young leaders.
Michael also collaborates and supports English teacher and podcast host, Adrian Del Monte on The Whole Hearted Teaching Podcast.
Follow on Twitter at @podcastforheart.
Connect with Michael: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter
Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.
Gen School Italian Heritage Foundation
Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.
Sam Demma (00:00):
Do you want access to all the past guests on this show? Do you want a network with like-minded individuals and meet other high performing educators from around the world? If so, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Sign up to join the exclusive network and you’ll get access to live virtual networking events and other spec opportunities that will come out throughout 2021. I promise you I will not fill your inbox. You might get one email a month. If that sounds interesting, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today’s guest is Michael Kelly. Michael is someone who reached out to me after listening to another podcast and inquired about coming on the show. And he’s a very passionate educator. Michael Kelly, currently teachers at Michael power St. Joseph at the Toronto Catholic District School Board. He is highly motivated, passionate, and in an inclusive Catholic educator coach, world traveler hockey fan and student leadership advisor, interested in expanding his professional network and collaborating with like-minded individuals.
Sam Demma (01:13):
He is passionate and dynamic and a lifelong learner who works in the west and of Toronto. He’s very interested in issues of special education, history, politics, experiential learning, community service, and civic engagement. He is also involved in as a student council teacher, moderator coach and chaplaincy team member at every school community. He has the opportunity to serve. He believes in the tremendous potential educators have to shape and mold the minds and character of the next generation of young leaders. He also supports his good friend and a past guest on this show, Adrian Del-Monte with the whole hearted teaching podcast. I’m super excited for you to hear today’s interview with Michael. It was packed with so much great information enjoy. I will see you on the other side, Michael, thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the, the show after we connected a few months ago. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit behind the story about why you got into education.
Michael Kelly (02:14):
Okay. Well thank you. Thanks Sam, for having me on the show, big fan of your podcast. You’ve got some great, great interviews, great educators, so really happy to be here. So I will work for the Toronto Catholic district school board. Currently I teach on a contract right now at Michael power St. Joseph teaching history and religion. So I’m teaching grade 10 right now. And yeah, I’m, I’m really interested in kind of moving into this this space of podcasts. I think it’s a great kind of professional development resource for teachers and I think it’s a great opportunity to share ideas, share resources. So why I was interested in coming on the podcast and kind of sharing a little bit of my own, my own story. So I, I studied undergrad at the university of Toronto and graduated from and I was actually in the concurrent education program at the time at St. Mike’s college. So you know, we, we did kind of a very like he program where you’re taking undergrad courses at the same time as as your teacher’s college. So it was kind of for folks who knew that they wanted to go into teaching and it was a great, great, great experience. And the last couple years working for the TCDSB has been fantastic, some really great personal and professional highlights which I’m sure we’ll yeah, we’ll get into.
Sam Demma (03:45):
That’s awesome. And how did you actually find the podcast? I know there’s a, it came through an interesting turn of events. I’m curious to know how you landed on it, cuz you, you know, you sent me an email and I was like, oh, this is so cool. And we connected whereabouts to, did you find it?
Michael Kelly (04:01):
So I there were actually two kind of sources initially, I believe it was Mike Michael con who’s the student leadership coordinator and teacher at the board level does tremendous work. And I think he was featured on one of your earlier shows and he’s shares a lot and I connect with him online and on social media, on Twitter. And I believe I saw it there as well as a colleague and friend of mine, Adrian Delmonte, who you may know who we partner with on the wholehearted teaching podcast. He kind of mentioned that he was in conversation with you. So that’s kind of how I more checked out a few episodes on the podcast, really like the kind of theme and direction. So yeah, that’s how I found found the podcast.
Sam Demma (04:50):
So cool. Shout out to both Mike and Adrian. Yeah. If, if you’re tuning in, they have their own episodes as well. You can check ’em out.
Michael Kelly (04:57):
Oh, they’re great guys. Great teachers.
Sam Demma (04:59):
Cool. You mentioned that had some serious highlights in education. Why don’t we just dive into those right now? I’m assuming you’re gonna talk about the Coliseum and Rome and taking some experiential learning trips abroad. And, and you know, when we talked before this podcast, you mentioned that those experience really reignited your passion for learning and teaching. And I’m curious to know more about how those impacted you and why you think it’s important to learn also experientially.
Michael Kelly (05:26):
Well, I think the, yeah, that’s a great point. Like I think my initial kind of connection I, I made between kind of teaching and experiential learning came through my own travel. So when I was in university, I actually you know, taught or actually had a chance to volunteer in a couple of different placements in my program through going over to places like South Africa and Bosnia actually to do some volunteer work. So that’s really where kind of the, the seed was planted. So to speak in terms of connecting how powerful service learning and experiential learning can be for, for myself as an undergrad student. And then by extension, a couple years later, I had the opportunity to, as you mentioned, go, go over to Italy in for a few summers in a row to go to labia and Naru. So the Northern and Southern regions of IItaly with groups, hundreds of students big stellar staff team.
Michael Kelly (06:29):
And we essentially spent the summer teaching grade 12 ancient Civ course. The kids got a credit. They were able to obviously experience the culture, the partnership between our board and the York Catholic Board and the Gen School Italian Heritage Organization. So I had initially connected with that organization through an my own high school trip when I was at student at the Asia Bowen. And yeah, years later I was invited to go on as a staff member. It was a tremendous experience, right? The, the students had, you know, besides the academic immersion and, you know you know, being able to go out to the PIAs and the markets and the restaurants and the site seeing and all the historical sites, they also got some life skill training, which I thought was really like an added bonus to the program where for many of the students on the trip, it was their first time, you know, away from mom and dad away from their family.
Michael Kelly (07:32):
And it was also kind of a, a test run to see whether, you know, they were thinking at applying a post-secondary, they could see whether they could handle the dorm life, so to speak, right? Like they, they had a chance to kind of see whether that was something that was well suited to them or not. And you know, they had to do, you know, in some cases do their own laundry, like, you know, kind of keep track of their assignments on their own right time management you know, learning direction, right. Trying to navigate around places like Rome and Pompe and Florence Positano the multi coast. Right. So it was a really, really great immersive experience. And I think for, for a lot of the students, they found that they actually grew over the course of that trip, even though it was like 3, 3, 4 weeks or so, they actually grew a lot after the experience.
Sam Demma (08:31):
And I’m sure going from traveling through Europe to coming back and hoping to go this summer again, and COVID hitting, you know, every thing kinda, you know, blew up and it, it sucks to a degree, but what does education look like now for you? I know, you know, unfortunately you can’t go back to Rome, but what does it, what does it look like now and what do you think are the opportunities just like they existed in Rome? What do you think are the opportunities that exist today now in this environment for young people?
Michael Kelly (09:05):
Okay. So I think it’s a great question. So the first part, in terms of the challenges, I think that you’re, you’re asking about the major challenge, one of the major challenges I’m finding is just us student engagement and definitely concerns about student mental health would be kind of first and foremost and at the forefront of my mind. And I think I can speak for a lot of colleagues as well to say that they, they would probably say the same thing. You know, there’s a little bit of a learning for even as a younger teacher, there’s a little bit of warning curve adapting to the new technology, getting used to, you know, being on zoom and Google meets all the time and, you know, really multitasking on, on a regular basis. For example, like right now we, we have some students who in the morning we’re are teaching in person in the building, but we’re also live streaming our classes simultaneously at the same time that that has been definitely a new experience in the last few months.
Michael Kelly (10:11):
And you know, just, you know, trying to form those positive student relationships can be a little bit challenging when everyone’s covered with a mask. And you’re, you know, you’re trying to teach, you’re trying to tell a joke, a story to your class, and you’re looking for some kind of facial recognition for them to actually, you know, affirm what you’re saying or, you know whatever it might be. So I think those are some of the challenges that teachers are facing right now. Now I know some, those are some that have come to mind and just the workload. I think definitely teachers find that they’re spending more time trying to convert their lessons into an online format because remote learning is so, so different. And the hybrid learning we’re doing is so different from a traditional classroom model. So being able to adapt and be flexible has been really key.
Michael Kelly (11:07):
But the great to get to your next point about like, what are some of the opportunities? I think one of the kind of silver linings or opportunities here has been the great degree of just like innovation that you see your teacher colleagues are doing, whether it’s in your department or in your school. And we actually had a staff meeting a couple weeks ago where it was great to, you know, see and hear teachers sharing what they’re doing in their virtual learning environments. And it just blows my mind some of the, the innovative practices. Like we didn’t even know that some of these techniques were possible a year ago. Right. so I, I do think, you know, obviously there’s a lot of realistic challenges but then there’s also the opportunities to innovate and use things like Google Jam board or for myself, I’ve been trying to utilize a lot of virtual guest speakers and partner with other outside organizations like that.
Michael Kelly (12:07):
That has been tremendous. Like just one example was when I was teaching my a 10 history course for Canadian history, I was able to bring in a world war II veteran who was living in BC. And we were able to have kind of a live interactive discussion with him and just to enrich the curriculum, enrich the learning experience for the students. So I think that there, you know, there are kind of some, and, you know, as we always tell our own students, we kinda have to take our own advice and adopt a bit of a growth mindset in this environment. For sure.
Sam Demma (12:47):
I think that’s so true now more than it ever has been, you mentioned before we started recording that right before the school board tried transitioned back into in person, it seemed like teachers and yourself were just getting the hang of teaching online and teaching virtually. And I’m curious to know when you say getting the hang of it, what did that look like? Like what did your average day look like? What do you think was helping you teach virtually if someone else is listening right now and still teaching in a, a virtual scenario?
Michael Kelly (13:19):
That’s a great question. So in terms of some of the tips that helped kind of teaching from home and being fully virtual all day, I think, you know, scheduling your day almost to the hour to the minute is extremely important. I think in an online environment, even more so than I would say in person you know, just scheduling your breaks, making sure that you’re, you know, you, you can never pour from an empty cup, right? So taking care of your own your own wellbeing as the teacher in the class is obviously paramount to your student success and to their own health and wellbeing, but making sure that you’re pacing things for yourself and your students. You know, in terms of we had a great teacher on staff at the beginning of the year, and he’s been providing support Jeff bobs here at Michael power, great guy, great teacher who gave us some great tips in terms of scheduling, giving our students an activity in the morning, let’s say in our morning online class, and then giving them time to sit with that, with that virtual work, using Google or zoom breakout rooms to give the kids some time to interact and make sure that you’re not lecturing them for three hours straight or, you know, in the morning in the afternoon.
Michael Kelly (14:42):
So definitely breaking up the variety of activities is really important and provide that kind of differentiated instruction. And that just helps with the general classroom management. I found that you’re not gonna have kids goofing off as much if they know what the schedule is in advance, they know the exact time that they’re gonna be doing certain activities or tests. I found that that was really helpful. And then for sure, like just once again, some personal self care, like going for a run, right. Going for walks hikes you know, during the spring last year, I had a chance to get back more into mountain biking, which I had in cycling, like, which I hadn’t done in years. And that really helped. I, I, I felt with my own productivity right in the downtime and, and then reading and you know podcasts and a big film B and always checking out new things on Netflix and Amazon. So kind of tho those things really helped to kind of refuel the tank so to speak once, once the day was over cuz you know, burnout and kind of taking care of your own wellbeing is definitely critical in, in, in this environment more than ever.
Sam Demma (15:58):
There’s a new movie that just came out and Denzel Washington plays one of the main characters and he’s cracking, he’s cracking a criminal and trying to figure out what this guy did and the movie’s titled the little things. And there’s multiple times throughout the movie where Denzel stops and looks at his co police officer investigator and says, it’s the little things that gets you caught. And I, I made the connection between education and thought, you know, from a teacher’s perspective, it’s also the little things, not that you catch your kids doing, it’s the little things you do that make the biggest difference. And I’m so glad you mentioned being a perpetual learner because I think it’s so important leading by example, and showing your students that you’re doing everything in your power to educate yourself, encourages them to have a desire, to continue learning and, and want to read books. I mean, people can’t see this, but while we’re filming this behind you on your ledge of your chalkboard is a dozen books there. And I’m curious to know what, what are some of the books that you have read, or maybe some of the podcasts you tune into, give yourself a shout out and that you think teachers could check out and, and benefit from, from consuming. I I’d love to, I’d, I’d love for you to share.
Michael Kelly (17:11):
Sure. So some of the content I’ve been consuming lately, that’s been helpful. I, I would say would be first and foremost Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead her audio book. That, that was really helpful for me back in the spring and even teaching summer summer school over the summer that was really instructive, really great book. And she has kind of accompanying podcast that goes along with it, which she’s continually updating with great guests. And it talks a lot about leadership. It talks a lot about kind of organizational culture talks about resilience and empathy and vulnerability. I was introduced Brene Brown initially through her Ted talk on the power of vulnerability, which is also really worth checking out. And you know, a lot of the messages she has doesn’t necessarily speak directly to education, but it speaks to the workplace.
Michael Kelly (18:13):
And I found that her, her writing her books, her podcast were really instructive as well as gentleman from the United States named Tim Elmore, Dr. Tim Elmore. He’s done some work with John Maxwell. Who’s kind of a leadership expert and Tim Elmore has a podcast in an organization called growing leaders. And he talks a lot about different issues that are going on in the education world and that podcast, you know, during my runs or hikes or bike rides, that’s, that’s been a really great resource for me in terms of just giving me some in additional creativity and inspiration. And then, yeah, a, as you mentioned bit of a plug here, but I have to give credit where it’s due. I’ve been working with Adrian Del Monte an English teacher from Bishop Allen.
Michael Kelly (19:15):
We used to work together more directly, but yeah, he started a podcast earlier in the in the fall around November called the wholehearted teaching podcast, which a lot of the inspiration for, from that came from Brianne brown and her kind of discussion of wholehearted living. So the idea of the podcast on wholehearted teaching is really we invite educators people in the education space, whether they be teachers principals people in administration, directors writers, authors we’ve had on people in the educational psychology space different topics to talk about the current issues in education. And I, we have a really great podcast coming out new episode on this Tuesday, March 2nd with an individual named Desante hotten, and he’s gonna be talking all about mental health as well as how that affects black mental health in, in particular and how that connects to our role as educators, as we focus on combating racism in, in our society. So really kind of top of mind since we’ve just finished black history month and, you know, engaging in that kind of work along with Adrian and collaborating and helping out in any way I can and promoting has been really helpful for me, you know, just learning about the stories and the different personal journeys and narratives of other teachers who’ve come come before you has been really inspiring for me and has helped kind of push me along through the challenges of this pandemic.
Sam Demma (21:04):
I love that. That’s so awesome. And I’ve tuned into a couple of the episodes, and I know you’ve been, you and Adrian have been doing a anti-racism like series. I would say there’s a ton of great info on the podcast and the Twitter, by the way, shout out at wholehearted teaching podcast. That that’s awesome. So, so good. If you could go back to your first year as an educator and give yourself feedback like, and, and give yourself advice, what is the main thing you would, what is the main sort of things you would say to yourself, or tell yourself to almost get started in this profession again? If, if you could go back and feel free to just unmute yourself as well.
Michael Kelly (21:49):
Yeah, it’s a good question. So in terms of the advice I would give to kind of a first year educator right now would be really to, you know, first and foremost, just be humble and understand that there’s a lot to learn. And you know, you’re going to need in, in my experience, learn how to identify support systems, identify colleagues who, you know, are gonna be supportive, who are gonna act as mentors to you. Because I think that’s what initially for me anyways, that got me into teaching in the first place is having those really great high school teachers. You back at Bishop Allen, who tacked you on the shoulder and realized, you know, okay recognize there was a talent or an interest or a passion. And that was really for me, what was helpful. So for a first year educator, I would see be, be humble try to be resourceful spend time listening.
Michael Kelly (22:50):
Right. we often listen in order to respond you know, rather than listening to really just understand. And I think that that’s a really important concept to understand as you enter into a new profession. And just be very curious in quiz, ask a lot of questions, right? There’s no such thing as, as a dumb question and really seek out the support from your mentors. And I think that that, that will serve a first year educator. Well, whether it’s in this environment or any other environment and allowing yourself to, you know, understand that it’s a long journey in education and you don’t have to expect to be perfect or have all the answers right out of the gate. Right. and, you know, just pursue an attitude of lifelong learning, I think is really, really, really, really important. Your education doesn’t end after teachers college or after graduation. It actually, for me, it just, it just began like it’s just getting started. Right. And even a couple years in now, like, I feel like I’m just learning so much, so yeah. Just stay curious, stay stay humble and ask a lot of questions.
Sam Demma (24:14):
That’s such good advice. That is awesome. And if, if an educator listened to this interview today and is inspired by anything that you shared or just wants to have a conversation with you, be the best way for them to get in touch with you?
Michael Kelly (24:26):
So best way would be, you can connect with me. I’m on Twitter at @729Kelly. I’m on LinkedIn as Michael, just Michael Kelly, and then by email firstname.lastname@example.org, always looking to connect with like-minded educators and people in the education space and always looking for another, another interesting guest to bring onto the podcast with Adrian. So always looking to learn more. So that’s, that’s where you can reach me.
Sam Demma (25:12):
Mike. Awesome. Thank you so much for taking time outta your day to come on the show. I really appreciate it. I look forward to listening to your future episodes as well. Keep doing awesome work and, and I’ll talk to you soon.
Michael Kelly (25:22):
Thank you, Sam, for this opportunity and keep up the great work you’re doing a you’re doing such great work and I really admire and respect it. So thank you.
Sam Demma (25:31):
Thank you so much. And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating and review. So other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show. If you wanna meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.
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