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Lisa Galay – Experiential Learning Leader at the Halton District School Board

Lisa Galay Experiential Lead Learner
About Lisa Galay

Lisa is the Experiential Learning Leader at the Halton District School Board. She proactively seeks out opportunities for her students to gain real-world knowledge through hands-on experiences. This occurs through career fairs, pathway exploration events and programs that she works to implement in her school board.

Her intention is to help students see connections between what they are studying in their high school courses and jobs that use the skills and knowledge acquired in those courses in the ‘real world.’

Before growing into this role as the Experiential Lead Learning, Lisa worked as a science teacher, a guidance counsellor and taught co-op and careers. In this episode, Lisa shares dozens of ideas that you can use immediately. P.S. Her favourite ice-cream flavour is chocolate.

Connect with Lisa: Email

Listen Now

Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.

The Transcript

**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):
Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. This week we have on the show, another very special guest, someone who reached out to me during COVID to do a session for them during take your kids to work day. Now, unfortunately, the session got canceled due to COVID-19 and school board regulations, but Lisa and I still had a wonderful conversation and I thought it would be very valuable to bring her back on the show so she can share some of her amazing ideas with you. Lisa is the experiential lead learner at the Halton district school board, and she proactively seeks out opportunities for her students to gain real world knowledge through hands on experiences. In this episode, she shared dozens of ideas that you can use immediately after you leave this recording. PS, her favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate.

Sam Demma (00:54):
Just know in case you want to ship her a gift. That’s what she loves. Anyways, let’s jump into the episode. I’ll see you on the other side, Lisa, thank you so much for coming on the show here today. It’s a pleasure to have you. We talked a little bit earlier on the phone about different events. You were planning in the school board about chocolate ice cream home. Ken here, can you share with the audience who you are, why you got into the work you do with young people and what keeps you going at it every single day?

Lisa Galay (01:22):
Sure. Hi everyone. My name is Lisa Galay and I’m the leader of experiential learning for grades seven to 12 with the Halston district school board. And the work that I do today is definitely not where I thought I would have landed. You may have heard that before Sam but it it’s such important work. And my role right now is really to work with educators in our board to create engaging initiatives for students that give them hands-on experiences that allow them to reflect on those experiences and then to apply what they’ve learned from their reflection and, and from the experience itself. So that’s really that experiential learning cycle. And you know, in my role before I was, I was in this role, I was a science teacher for many years. I was a guidance counselor. I taught co-op and careers.

Lisa Galay (02:18):
And you know, all of those roles certainly allowed me to work with, with youth, which I knew I always loved. It was something that I did long before I was a teacher. And I think it always gave me this real sense of satisfaction that I was really making a difference. I always knew that I wanted a job where I could clearly see the difference, even if I might not see it for months or years or, you know, who knows how long. But I always found that working with youth was, was a way to, to know that I was making a difference and I felt like I had a lot to give in that area. I felt like I, you know, I inherently enjoyed it. I was good at teaching people, things I was excited about learning myself. And I felt like that could have a contagious effect with students.

Lisa Galay (03:04):
And I think, you know, over my years in the various roles that I’ve had, I saw the impact that caring could, could do, whether it was caring about the quality of the lessons and, and opportunities I was creating for students, whether it was caring for student as their guidance counselor, when they came to you with a serious mental health issue, or now whether it’s supporting a teacher to allow them to do an amazing experience or support their students in a, in a really engaging way. I can see the impact of the work that I do. And I think that’s what keeps me going, because I know that it’s making a difference. And and it’s something that I love doing. And it doesn’t feel like I’m working.

Sam Demma (03:47):
Speaking about creating, engaging experiences during a time. Like COVID, have you worked with any teachers this far to maybe implement some ideas that you thought knocked it out of the park or that the other teacher gave you some great feedback on that you think might be valuable for another educator to hear?

Lisa Galay (04:06):
Yeah, absolutely. So like many educators when COVID struck in March and the school shut down and we were all working from home, it was definitely something none of us were prepared for. And, you know, at that point in the year, in my role as leader of experiential learning, I had tons of initiatives planned for March, April, may, and June that were bringing hundreds of students together, bringing community partners into schools and, and all kinds of initiatives and they all got canceled. And you know, initially it felt pretty devastating thinking about all the work and time and, and the excitement that had been built up around those opportunities. And, you know, I had to scratch my head for a little bit and say, as someone who was directing and supporting these engaging experiential learning opportunities, what does that look like when students are not actually doing any of these things in person anymore?

Lisa Galay (04:58):
So it was a lot of re-imagining to be honest of what experiential learning could look like in a virtual environment. And even now, you know, my school board right now has some students that are totally virtual, some that are partially virtual and partially in class, it’s still a lot of re-imagining. And I think, you know, all of the things that, that I created and did during that time really came back to, you know, we, we can’t just say because it’s, COVID because we’re at home because this is difficult and requires some out of the box thinking, I guess we’re just not doing anything anymore. That’s, that’s interesting or hands-on. So we found ways for students to do things while they were at home in a safe way. So just as an example, one of the initiatives that I helped to support was purchasing these little model home kits for construction students that were using materials and tools that could safely be used without parental supervision in the home, so that when they couldn’t be with their construction teacher, they could still be building something and getting the support of their teacher virtually.

Lisa Galay (06:07):
That’s one example, when I thought about, you know, the massive event for, you know, thousands of grade sevens that, that wasn’t going to happen in, in may, as I had planned, you know, instead we looked at how we could bring the, the virtual or, sorry, I should say how we could have brought community partners to students in a virtual way. So I created a series of what is now almost 40 different community partner videos, where I interviewed partners kind of like what you’re doing now and ask them a number of questions about their educational journey, their career pathway, the impact of COVID on their career and, you know, picked those partners so that they represented a wide range of various career sectors, and also touched a wide range of, of subject areas. So students can see, oh, I’m in math right now. And those are careers that use math on a daily basis. And you know, those, those things, did they take time and, you know, was it something I’d ever done? Absolutely not. But it was, it was a resource that became highly valued as teachers thought, how am I going to help students make these real world connections? So those are just two examples, but I think it really just required an attitude of, you know, this is not an insurmountable obstacle. This is just a challenge. And I need to be creative and flexible and look for the opportunities that I may not have even considered before.

Sam Demma (07:29):
I love that it goes back to changing the story we tell ourselves, right? If we tell ourselves that something’s terrible and not possible, then that result is going to manifest in our life in a short period of time physically. And when we think outside of the box and overcome a challenge, we can impact the student’s life forever. They may never forget it. And I’m, I’m certain in your years of teaching, you’ve had students write you letters and reach out and tell you how much of an impact you’ve had on them. How do we continue to, like you said earlier care for our students during this time, even when they’re not in the classroom like w what do we have to do to show them that we appreciate them during these times?

Lisa Galay (08:15):
Yeah. That’s a great question. So a big part of my role coming into the start of this school year and even last year, when we so quickly switched to distance learning was all about community building, right? Which, which would have been important in normal times as well, but in a virtual environment or in a situation where teachers, aren’t seeing their students every day, because of these different adaptive models that that schools have taken on building relationships is still key. So even though there might be screens between us and we might not be seeing someone face to face, if we want to have a successful classroom where people feel open to communicate to work together, they want to log on. They want to be, you know, engaged in what’s happening in the classroom. And also even in, when we’re in person, we’ve got to invest the time and energy up front.

Lisa Galay (09:05):
And I know in the times that we’re in right now, a lot of teachers feel really pressed for time. They feel like with the new models that we’re working under, you know, gosh, it’s already going to be so tough to fit in all this curriculum, and I’m not even seeing them that often. I don’t have time to, you know, as one teacher said to me, hold hands and sing kumbaya at the start of every, every session with new students. But again, I think it’s that investment of time getting to know our students getting to tell them a little bit about who we are you know, expanding their mind about the possibilities of what the course can offer, giving them opportunities to get to know each other and, and build trust and feel safe in that classroom environment that we’re going to see the biggest return.

Lisa Galay (09:48):
And that’s where students again, feel appreciated. So again, Sam, when I think back to being a guidance counselor, and when students would come down and talk about challenges that they might’ve had with teachers, it was always about relationships. And it was still often, you know, that they felt like someone wasn’t seeing them or someone didn’t care or someone hadn’t put the time in. And it’s those teachers that just remember that, oh yeah, you play soccer. I’m going to ask how your game was this weekend, or that’s right. You said you were getting a new dog. Well, how’s the new family member. It’s all those little pieces, those little attempts to, to make an outreach and get to know your students that I think makes a difference. And it’s a huge difference now because we’re not even seeing each other face-to-face as much as we normally would.

Sam Demma (10:35):
It’s those small, consistent actions as Mike Loudfoot would say.

Sam Demma (10:43):
That’s awesome. Thinking back to your guidance counselor days, can you think of a story where maybe a student wasn’t feeling heard and maybe even had problems outside of the classroom at home or in the community? I’m sure you had students break down in your office. I broke down in my guidance counselor’s office a couple of times, and I was in high school. Can you think of a story though, where the narrative was flipped and that student got appreciated by a staff member, and there was a huge transformation in that student’s life, and you can change the student’s name for privacy reasons, but I want you to share the real authentic story. So another educator listening might think to themselves, wow. I do hold the power to shape a young person’s life. Yeah.

Lisa Galay (11:25):
Yeah. I’ve actually got a great story for this. And, and this happened a couple of years ago when I was still in my guidance counselor role, and that was a student I had worked with her for many years. She was in grade 11 at the time. You know, there had been challenges with her family situation for many years and she had, you know, she would come and see me and then I wouldn’t see her for awhile and she’d come back again. And at that point in the year, you know, I I’d seen her casually, but hadn’t really come in for a big discussion in my office. And that was okay. But another teacher, someone who taught her just notice that she seemed off one day and it had sort of been a bit of a pattern, but the teacher noticed that it was getting progressively more inconsistent with her normal demeanor.

Lisa Galay (12:12):
And so it was literally that teacher just taking a moment at the end of class to pull her aside and say something something’s going on. I feel like something’s up with you. What can I do to help? And it just melted the ice walls that were around her. She ended up coming down to see me and shared some major life altering events that she was ready to share that had really been behind a lot of the pain and difficulty that she’d been facing for years. And also revealed a really serious mental health situation that needed support. So all of the supports and next steps and things that came out of that you know, in the moment I just thought I need to do what I need to do to make sure that she’s safe and protected, but ultimately the student came back and said that those actions from that teacher, and then the follow-up support I was able to offer literally saved her life.

Lisa Galay (13:14):
Because she was starting to think about doing things that, that could have really altered her path. And so again, it’s sometimes just those little connections, those little things we notice, and rather than just letting that student leave and not saying anything, you know, sometimes we’re bogged down with our own challenges and we think, oh, am I really ready to take on another, another possible, you know situation that’s gonna, you know, maybe take up more of my time today and you’re thinking about everything else you have to fit in. And I would always encourage teachers that you just never know what’s really going on for someone. And so that little moment of outreach can make all the difference.

Sam Demma (13:53):
Asking a student, how can I help is a simple question, not do this or do that, but how can I help you? I think it’s a, I think it’s a game-changer and I appreciate you sharing that. Are you seeing, you’re almost like a bird’s eye view of the school board when it comes to who you work with and the scope of students that are under your wings, if you were an Eagle are you seeing any mistakes in education right now, or things that we could improve upon or things that we might want to consider doing differently for the second quad master of education?

Lisa Galay (14:29):
Right. You know what, that’s a great question. And I, I guess I, I never want to think of it like a mistake. I always think of it as us trying things and, you know, learning and when we know better, we’ll do better. So I think I honestly, I’ve been blown away by the things that the teachers have tried to do. And I think if anything, they’ve tried to come right out of the gate being as incredible as they’ve always been and sometimes compromising their own mental and physical health in order to feel like they’re doing everything they can for their students. And, you know, it’s such a tough balancing act. You know, whether you’re a parent or you’re being a good friend to someone, or you’re an educator, you want to give everything, you have to know that you’ve really done the best you can for those people you care about, but you also need to balance that with your own needs.

Lisa Galay (15:19):
And if you can’t, you know, if you can’t take care of yourself, then what good will you ultimately be to those that you’re trying to take care of? So I think if anything, the only, you know, the only challenge that I would say, I hope we all get better at moving forward in these unusual times is that we just give ourselves a little bit of grace and give ourselves a bit of a break that this is new and unfounded territory. We’re all navigating this for the first time. And this is going to be a year of making mistakes and thinking, oh, I should have done it like that. Or looking back and thinking, gosh, like, that seems so obvious now, why didn’t I do it this way? But it’s not so obvious right now because we’re, we’re in the thick of it. So I think we just need to give ourselves a break, do the very best work we can and make sure we’re taking care of ourselves in the process.

Sam Demma (16:11):
You mentioned, we’re all going through this together for the first time. And I think it’s so true. It’s a new experience for everybody. What I want you to think about for a second is the educator who is navigating this for the first time and as also an educator for the first time, maybe this is their first year teaching. And if you could go speak to that person with your years of wisdom, who’s listening, what would you share with them? Because right now they’re getting a picture of education painted totally different than what it used to be a few years ago, or a few months ago, this person might think what the heck that I sign up for a year. I’m so confused, but what would you want to share with that person?

Lisa Galay (16:56):
Yeah. Well, one thing I, I wish I could do and I can’t do is to reassure them that it’s going to go back to normal and that, you know, what they might’ve been used to as a student themselves or what they saw the role of a teacher being, or what schools look like that it, that it will return to that. But no one really knows the answer to that. I think we’re all hopeful that it will, but it’s so hard to say. So I think my biggest advice would be to just remember why you wanted to be in education in the first place and that no matter what circumstances you’re in, you can still accomplish those goals. So if you love your subject area and you’re so excited to impart that knowledge and understanding to other students, you can still do that. If you love connecting with youth, if you enjoy you know, helping them cultivate their gifts, supporting them through challenging times, connecting them to community partners, helping to expand their world, to see the possibilities that are there.

Lisa Galay (17:56):
You can do all of these things, even in these strange times, again, with a little bit of creativity and, and relying on those that have been here before, in the sense that you know, this, this well, again, new for all of us, you know, those who have a little bit more experienced in education will know that there have been different shifts and changes over time. It might’ve been different curriculum. It might’ve been different philosophies around education or, you know, assessment and evaluation. There’s so many different changes that happen. And this is a big change, no doubt. But again, I think if, if teachers stay centered in why they’re doing this there’s always a way to do it. And again, I don’t think it’s going to be quite like the way it is now forever. And so if we can just ride out the challenging times, we’re going to all come through it stronger and with some awesome ideas that we never would have had if this hadn’t happened, right. It’s one of the silver linings of this pandemic experience.

Sam Demma (18:55):
Yeah. Tony Robbins always says, it’s not about having resources. It’s about being resourceful with what you have, and you do a great example, exemplifying that with coming up with ideas, staying positive, looking at the good side of things and not the negative. And I think it’ll rub off on everyone listening. So I want to say, we said, thank you so much for coming on the show. If another educator is listening and wants to reach out to you, bounce some ideas around or Uber eats, or your favorite chocolate ice cream, how can they reach out to you to do so?

Lisa Galay (19:27):
They can absolutely reach out to me at my email address, galayl@hdsb.ca. That stands for the Halton district school board. I’d be happy to, to share ideas, share some ice cream, virtually whatever it might take. I I think anyone who’s been in education for, you know, 20 plus years, like I have, we remember the colleagues that made a difference when we were starting out and the ones that made a difference along the way, even when we hadn’t been starting out for awhile. And we always want to give back. So if I can help in any way, I’m, I’m definitely glad to do that.

Sam Demma (20:06):
Awesome. Thanks so much, Lisa.

Lisa Galay (20:08):
Thank you, Sam

Sam Demma (20:10):
And another interview in the books with yet again, a high performing educator, Lisa had so many ideas to share that blew my mind on our first phone call and on this podcast, if you enjoyed this and got something of value from it, please consider taking two seconds to leave a rating and review on the podcast. So more educators like you who want to hear these things can find this podcast and benefit from the conversations. And of course, if you are someone who has ideas or know somebody who has ideas, please reach out by emailing info@samdemma.com. So we can bring you or your friends and colleagues on the show to share those ideas and expand this network. I’ll talk to you soon. See you on the next episode.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Lisa Galay

The High Performing Educator Podcast was brought to life during the outbreak of COVID-19 to provide you with inspirational stories and practical advice from your colleagues in education.  By tuning in, you will hear the stories and ideas of the world’s brightest and most ambitious educators.  You can expect interviews with Principals, Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, National Student Association, Directors and anybody that works with youth. You can find and listen to all the episodes for free here.

Michael Consul – TCDSB Student Leadership Coordinator & 7 Habits Trainer

Michael Consul student leadership
About Michael Consul

Micheal (@MikeCLeadership) is a DJ, Fisherman, Father, TCDSB Teacher, Student Leadership Facilitator, 7 Habits Trainer, and was the OECTA Teacher of the Year back in 2016. His energy is infectious, and his passion to help students become the best version of themselves is obvious.

In this episode, we talk about the 7 habits of highly effective teens, and how they relate to creating students that have a positive impact on society. When Michael isn’t in the classroom, you can find him on the TV show, CFN Fish-Off.

Connect with Michael: Email | Twitter | Linkedin | Instagram | Website

Listen Now

Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Resources Mentioned

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Workshop)

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens (Book)

Catholic Student Leadership (Website)

I-Lite Student Leadership Conference

Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw

CFN Fish-Off (Tv Show)

The Transcript

**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):
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. Michael Consul. Our guest today is not only a veteran teacher and educator, but also a professional fisherman. He’s a DJ, a father, a Toronto Catholic district school board teacher, a student leadership facilitator, a seven habits trainer, and was the OECTA teacher of the year, Back in 2016. His energy is infectious and his passion to help students become the best version of themselves is evident and obvious. In this episode, we talk about the seven habits of highly effective teens and how they relate to creating students that can have a positive impact on society. And as I mentioned, when Mike isn’t in the classroom, you can find him on his own TV show and fundraiser called the CFN fish off. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did having it talk soon. Michael, thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educator podcast. Can you tell the audience who you are, why you do the work you do with youth and what initially got you involved in it? Wow.

Michael Consul (01:09):
That is three big questions right there. Thanks for having me, Sam.

Sam Demma (01:15):
It’s going to be a great conversation.

Michael Consul (01:17):
So my name is Michael Consul. I work at the Toronto Catholic district school board, and I have the awesome job of facilitating, organizing, and putting together anything to do with Catholic student leadership. We will say, what does that mean? Well, basically, no I’m of the frame of mind that everyone has the potential to be a leader and you’re not born a leader like you grow into leadership. And so whether it’s conferences, overnight camps service trips, abroad PD for teachers workshops for kids, how can we develop something so that our students can reach their fullest leadership potential, find that leader within them? What skills do they have already? And how can we develop those skills and give them more skills so that they can reach their leadership potential? Hmm.

Sam Demma (02:11):
I love that. And what got you into this work? It’s a very specific calling. I would say you could have been just the teacher. Not that that’s any less of a job. There’s so many roles in a school. What directed you specifically to leadership?

Michael Consul (02:29):
Wow. When I look back, I have no idea how I got here, but I love that I’m here. They have the best job in the world. And I do because I, I get to work with amazing students and amazing teachers to try to find that leadership potential in every single one of our students and, and in their teachers. I started out at my old high school and that’s same mother Teresa in Scarborough. And that’s where I started to teaching. I left McGill university with two teachables religion and phys ed. And so those were the subjects that I taught. But while I was in high school, I was also a part of student council in my last year. When we back in the days when we had always see brief your team. So, you know, when I went back to mother Teresa, I said, Hey, who’s the student council moderator.

Michael Consul (03:22):
I would love to be that person because I know my student council monitor moderator, Mr. O’hara. He had such a positive impact in my life, and I want it to be that positive impact on the current student council. And they said, you know what, perfect timing. No one’s running student council. If you want to take it, it’s all yours. And I love that opportunity. And I love that challenge. And through student council, you know, that’s all about putting students in positions of leadership. And from there we developed a leadership course within, within the curriculum and within the day. So now not only did I have my student council like meeting at lunch and meeting after school, but I had a group of 30 leaders meeting me every day, second period. And we, we talked about leadership. We tried to find roles for them within the school.

Michael Consul (04:13):
We learned about the seven habits of highly effective people. And we did outreach to elementary schools. And so throughout this process, people started to say, wow, that that program you did is amazing, or that outreach you did to the grade seven sevens and eights. That’s awesome. I got a phone call from the school board saying, you know, all that we could stop that you’re doing in Scarborough in terms of student leadership, how would you like to come to the board level and not just serve those that pocket in Scarborough, which is the Malvern community, but what if you do leadership throughout the T CDSB and, you know, expand the awesome work that you’re doing in Scarborough. So that’s how I got to the position I’m in now where my whole job is treading, trying to create opportunities for kids to find that leadership potential within them.

Sam Demma (05:10):
Awesome. And you mentioned the seven habits. I know you’re also a facilitator of them. I’m curious to know what, which of the seven habits do you think is the most important during a time like COVID and why?

Michael Consul (05:23):
Oh, wow. I know for myself, sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and I’ll be like, I really need to practice that habit right now. But then there’s other times in my life where I’m really good at that habit. And I need to focus on a different habit. So if we’re talking about these unique pandemic times, what habit, no really stands out that we should really focus on. That is interesting. That is interesting. You know, habit number one is, is be proactive and that’s basically one, don’t be reactive and to take initiative rather than waiting for things to happen. So is that what we need to do during this pandemic and, you know, be less reactive and take initiative. I don’t know, having number two is begin with the end in mind and basically that’s the habit of goal setting. So that’s definitely a habit that, you know, where do we want to be as, as society or as, you know, as a city or as a country come, come may.

Michael Consul (06:28):
So have a number two is important. Having number three is put first things first, which is the habit of time management. So what are the most important things we need to be doing right now versus instead of wasting time on other things. So those three habits are so important and they called those three habits to private victory because you can practice those habits all by yourself. If you’re on a loan on a stranded island, you can practice those three habits. And that brings us to habit number four, which is think when women. Yeah. And that might be the most important in this pandemic because we need to think when we need to think win-win, how are we going to serve our students in school? How are we going to make sure our economy is running? How are we going to, how are you going to serve those who are greatly affected by the pandemic?

Michael Consul (07:20):
Like the elderly or those with existing problems. So thinking win-win is definitely a philosophy that we need to, we need to look at when we’re trying to solve this pandemic crisis. Habit. Number five is seek first to understand then to be understood is the habit of listening. So getting all the information first, before forming your own opinion and then creating a solution based upon all those pieces of information would definitely be important during this time have a number six is synergize, and that’s basically the habit of cooperation. So I can do a lot by myself. But if I have a team around me and we’re synergizing and using each other’s gifts and talents, then that’s what synergy is all about. And I know the only way we’re going to beat this pandemic is if we synergize, you know, whether it’s the government plus the school board, plus the public plus all the other players.

Michael Consul (08:21):
If we work together, then we will definitely come out of this faster than if we work in silos. And then a number seven is sharpen the saw. So taking care of your heart, mind, body, and soul so that you can better practice the other six habits. And I know having number seven is the one I struggled with because I’ll burn both ends of the candle and realize like today here I haven’t ate nothing. And I have this in my bag, it’s a cookie. So I have to be not just a good teacher, but I have to be good to myself in terms of whether it’s praying, eating well, exercising. So having number seven to sharpen the saw, which people often often forget, because unless you take care of yourself, then you won’t be good at the other six habits. So I’m not sure if that answers your question.

Michael Consul (09:12):
I kind of gave you a preview of all seven habits. But yeah, they’re definitely all important. And I know when I took the course and became a facilitator, made me a better parent, made me a better son, made me a better partner, made me a better person. So for those listening that have not read or heard of the seven habits, it’s definitely definitely a book that you should read or maybe listen to the audio book. There’s two versions. There’s the teen version w and that’s the textbook that I use when I teach my leadership class seven habits of highly effective teams. And then the original version, which is seven habits of highly effective people, exact same habits, exact same titles for each habit is just the stories. And the way the authors write it is, is a little bit different ones geared to older people. One’s geared to teenagers. But both amazing. Stephen Covey develop the habits, the late Stephen Covey and his son, Sean Covey said, dad, you know, those habits that you teach in the corporate world, or those habits you teach adults, teenagers should learn those habits too. So he took the book, took the same habits and then rewrote it. So that it’d be easier for teenagers to follow.

Sam Demma (10:33):
He was being proactive.

Michael Consul (10:36):
He was, I wish I learned the seven habits when I was in high school. Oh man. Yeah. It would’ve been a world of a difference.

Sam Demma (10:44):
How do you think as educators, we live out, especially the first habit of being proactive in a time like COVID, especially for principals, for student activity, advisors and directors like yourself, where it’s tough to put on events or it’s a little, I don’t want to say challenging, but it’s a little bit different. How do we still exercise that first habit? Have you maybe made some mistakes that you learned from, or through some spaghetti against the wall that stuck, that you think is worth sharing?

Michael Consul (11:14):
If you asked my girlfriend, I always tell her that I don’t make mistakes and I’m always right. But that is really not true because she’s the one who’s always right. So yeah, being proactive is key. And that’s really, you know, if you’re going to run an event or if you’re going to have students in your building, or if you’re going to run this extracurricular activity, like think of all the different scenarios. So that rather than being reactive and putting a band-aid and dealing with it, when it comes up, you’re being proactive. So that issue doesn’t even doesn’t even arise. So whether that’s making sure if we’re bringing students into this building, let’s make sure that they’re physically distance. Is there hand sanitizer or are we disinfecting surfaces? Is it too tempting for them to socialize if we do this activity? So all those things you kind of have to, you know, troubleshoot before it even becomes something to troubleshoot. And that’s, that’s really what being proactive is about.

Sam Demma (12:21):
You told me about a software before we began the podcast that might be useful for other educators who are thinking about doing virtual events. Do you want to share a little bit about it and your own experience using it?

Michael Consul (12:31):
Yeah. We’ve been using software called stream yard and it’s free. There is a free account, and then you could also purchase a license for a, you know, for the higher level of that an account, but the free account is awesome because you can do so powerful. And it’s basically a software that we’ve been using because now I can’t run those conferences with 500 people, or I can’t run those monthly leadership meetings with 200 people, however I could run it virtually. So streaming mode is a software is a platform that allows you to broadcast a live stream and we broadcast it to YouTube live and you can also broadcast it to Facebook. So it’s your choice, or you can broadcast to both at the same time. And so similar to what we’re doing here, where, you know, I’d be speaking to the camera and I can have an audience of however big I want, because it’s basically a YouTube live link that the participants click onto.

Michael Consul (13:31):
And I think our highest was over 2000 students watching at the same time. So there’s no, you know, there’s no limit on the amount of viewers and there’s also some interaction involved because there is a chat box feature on YouTube live or through stream yard where I can ask a question and say, okay, how many people here? And then the question can be anywhere. And then the chat box will just blow up. Or I could use online tools and say, everyone in the chat box, I am going to put this link, click that link, and now bring you to this website, or I want you to fill out a poll. And in that poll, I can ask whatever I want, but streamlined is a great, great tool because it allows me to have a guest, like, let’s say I’ll have you as a guest and me, and you can be on the screen together.

Michael Consul (14:21):
I’ve had a panel and you can have nine people on the screen all at the same time. And so, you know, I could be hosting the panel and post questions to different members of the panel. So powerful tool. I could show my slideshow at the same time, I can embed a video. I can put up banners or a ticker tape at the bottom. So it’s free. So easy to use. It’s I mentioned before, it’s kind of like an iPhone. It’s very intuitive. Even. You’ve never used it before. If you jump onto the first time, it’s like, so I click this. That happens, oh, that’s easy. Like it happens the way that you want it to happen, which makes it, which makes it easy in it. And it’s free. So it’s an alternative to zoom. It’s a, you know, alternative to Google meets and it’s most powerful if it’s an, if it’s an a, you know, a webinar capacity. So if I’m meeting with 20 students, I wouldn’t use it because I could meet 20 students and on zoom and I could see all 20 at the same time, but if I’m meeting 200 students, I can have 200 little zoom icons. And so streamline allows me to have a larger audience and still be able to interact at the same time

Sam Demma (15:44):
That I think it’s important to share because educators are looking for ways to continue doing events. And there’s someone who was proactive and who’s figured some things out that I thought were valuable to share those experiences, the classic camps, you usually run camp Olympia, your conferences, they change young people’s lives. And I’m sure over the years, you’ve had students reach out to you. Maybe even after they graduated and wrote you letters telling you how big of an impact it had. Maybe some of them are now good friends that you stay in touch with. I’m curious to know if there’s any story that sticks out in your mind about how leadership changed a young person’s life, and you can change their name for the purpose of the story. If it’s a very serious one. And I want you to know, the reason I’m asking is because an educator might be listening and is a little burnt out right now. And I think it’s these stories of transformation through education that reminds educators, why it’s so important, the work that they continue to do.

Michael Consul (16:39):
Yeah, it is. It is important that we do, you know, I might be biased, but I think a teacher’s job is the most important one in the entire world. You know, you might be a doctor or a lawyer or a carpenter or, or, you know, a broadcaster or a utuber, but at some point there’s a teacher in your life that taught you what you needed to know. So without that teacher, where would you be? So I definitely think the teaching profession is definitely the most important profession you could ever enter. And I see like planting seeds because I never know what I say or what I do or what experience I create or what opportunity. And I’m able to make for a student, how that seed is going to grow. And sometimes it’s immediate sometimes next semester because of the cause they went to this camp or because I went to this conference or because they wanted this meeting next semester, it changed person, or it might be five years down the road where the student comes back and says, I never realized is that, that particular speaker that I heard at that conference made such a impact in my life.

Michael Consul (17:53):
So you never know, you never know how big that tree is going to come from that tiny, tiny seed. I remember I was speaking to, I went to a gradient graduation and the valedictorian had a speech. And in her speech, she talked about a guest speaker that we had at our Eyelight conference. And I told this, I told the guest speaker, Hey, I went to this graduation and they S they were talking about you. They were talking about you. And, and the speaker, his name is Andrew. Andrew’s like what, who? And I described the grower. And he goes, oh, I think I remember who it was, but she sat in the back corner and she didn’t say nothing. And now she’s the valedictorian of her grade eight class. And she’s in, I was like, here’s the speech? I got a copy. And she had like three different quotes that he said within that one hour.

Michael Consul (18:50):
And she’s, he’s never met this girl before. And they only had that one hour together at this one conference. And she’s quoting him saying this piece of information has allowed me to X, Y, and Z. And so we never know what we see or what we do, or how much impact our words can have on a particular student. And there’s so many stories. I have tons of reference letters that I’m writing for. Cause cause now, because of whatever influence I’ve had or whatever, you know, whatever experience they had with me now, they want to be teachers and they want to, you know, they want to pay it forward and they want to also be that influence on other people. So I have a ton of students that want to be teachers. I have a bunch of students that said that camp that I went to, oh my gosh, it changed my life.

Michael Consul (19:47):
You know, it sounds cliche and stuff, but I you’re. Right. It’s true. And I never realized how impactful these things are until people come back and, and tell me, there’s I had the best job in the world because not only do I have fun doing it, but it’s extremely rewarding. When a student comes back and says, Hey, I’ve, I’ve entered the police foundations. And the reason why I did so is because when we went to smile camp, you had five police officers there. And they were such a role model to me. And I, it made me want to become a police officer, or I take kids overseas to do work in the Philippines where we, we build houses with, with the poor. And we work in the orphanage and we do a clean community cleanup, but then I’ll get, you know, I’ll get pictures sent to me the year after. And student says, Hey, I went back to the village that we, that we went to or where we were building with the people. And they, they show me all the donations that they’ve accumulated throughout the year. And they went back to themselves to bring it back to the community. So stuff like that is like, it makes you smile and it is super heartwarming.

Sam Demma (21:04):
That’s awesome. That’s so true. And I wanted to ask, because, you know, an educator might be listening and it might be their first year in education. And they’re thinking, what the heck is going on in this, in this world right now, this is not what I was prepared for. And I want you to think back for a minute, to your first year of teaching and with all the wisdom you’ve accumulated over the years. Now, what advice would you give yourself looking back? Because there are some educators that might be listening who are just getting into this profession and are a little bit flustered and not sure what to do, how to manage themselves. And what’s going on.

Michael Consul (21:41):
When I look back, wow, I thought I knew everything. I know way more now than I did back then. One, be yourself, be yourself. You know, everyone has their own strengths. You might be a funny person, used your funny personality. You might be super organized. Use your ability to, you know, be super organized be yourself too, is you gotta get involved outside the classroom in terms of extra extracurricular activities. You can bond a lot with students in the classroom, for sure. But the level of relationship bonding that you can have with a student, you know, on the soccer field, like I know you’re telling me stories of your coaches or in the student council room or at camp, because you’ve decided to become, you know, a chaperone for the grade nine orientation or sitting on the bus three hour drive to camp Olympia, like that level of conversation.

Michael Consul (22:47):
And that level of relationship building can’t happen if you’re only in the classroom, so definitely get involved. And when you have those students that you’ve bonded with in those extracurricular activities, now they’re in your classroom. Those are your biggest allies. Those are the ones that are taking initiative. Those are the ones that are telling everyone else to be focused. Those are the ones that, you know, help run the class with you. So yeah, definitely be yourself, get involved and then number three, and I’m still bad at doing it. And I started teaching in 1999 and it’s, it’s 2020 right now. You gotta take care of yourself. You gotta take care of yourself. Whether that means, you know, a couple evenings or one evening, a week, spend time with your partner and close your phone, close your laptop, no email, no marketing, and just have quality time with your family or the people that you love.

Michael Consul (23:54):
Whether it’s saying no, because as a new teacher, you’re going to always have principals and administrators and other teachers say, Hey, you want to be part of this program. Hey, can you do this? You know, you are allowed to say no. And I know you want to make a huge impression, especially if you don’t have a permanent contract yet, but say yes to everything, but you also have to say yes to yourself. So if you’re finding your way too busy, and now you have to drop going to the gym, you might have to realize, you know, figure a way out that you could still go to the gym. Don’t drop that exercise part of your life. Or if you’re finding, because you’re doing all this stuff, now you’re skipping breakfast. You gotta either say no, or find a way so that you’re not hurting yourself. And I guess that happened. Number seven, sharpen the saw, and you can’t be an effective educator unless you sharpen the saw because eventually if you keep, like if you never stopped to fill up for gas, you’re going to end up empty. So from time to time, you have to fill up that gas. Awesome.

Sam Demma (25:06):
I love that. Mike, this has been an amazing conversation. If there are educators listening who want to reach out to you, bounce some ideas around here about the conferences you’re running, maybe even get involved in some of the virtual stuff you’re doing. What’s the best way for them to reach you.

Michael Consul (25:22):
A couple of ways. You can send me an email and my email is Michael dot Consul@tcdsb.org. So that’s Michael dot Consul, C O N S U L at T CDSB, which is Toronto Catholic district school board that org, or you can check out our website, it’s Catholic student leadership.com. So every time we have a new conference, a new camp or new PD opportunity, we always posted on the website and that’s Catholic student leadership.com. Or if you look up Michael Consul on Facebook, not on Facebook, on YouTube, we’ve got Michael Costa on YouTube, our live stream. So, you know, we have different, we have different live stream events, student leadership meetings, guest speakers, it’s all on my YouTube channel, which is Michael Consul. And on there, you also see, you know, footage from different events prior to COVID, you’ll see footage there from our service trips to the Philippines, you’ll see footage there from camp Olympia.

Michael Consul (26:24):
So there’s a whole bunch of stuff that you’ll see there as well. If you YouTube Michael Consul, there’s two things there to come up. They’re giving you my teaching career and my fishing show. So I also have a a fishing show called the CFN Fisher, which airs on the sportsman channel Canada and the world fishing network on in the states. So know that two things will come up click the one that’s me smiley face without holding a fish. And then you’ll get to my education side. Watch both. You can watch both for sure.

Sam Demma (27:05):
All right. Awesome. This has been again, an amazing conversation and I look forward to staying in touch.

Michael Consul (27:10):
All right. Thank you so much, Sam. You’re doing amazing work and I can’t wait to hear all the episodes and all your amazing guests.

Sam Demma (27:17):
Another interview was done on the High Performing Educator podcast. Mike is a close friend of mine and someone, I really look up to an education. And if you got some actionable ideas, consider connecting with him to bounce ideas around and have a very fruitful conversation. I’m sure he’d be open to it and also consider leaving a rating and review. If you enjoy these episodes, it will allow other educators like yourself to find this podcast and also benefit from the conversations we’re having. Maybe you’re a person who has ideas you’d want to share, or you know, somebody, a colleague who has ideas that they could share. If so, please reach out by email: info@samdemma.com, so we can share your story and inspiration on the podcast. I’ll see you on the next episode. Talk soon.

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The High Performing Educator Podcast was brought to life during the outbreak of COVID-19 to provide you with inspirational stories and practical advice from your colleagues in education.  By tuning in, you will hear the stories and ideas of the world’s brightest and most ambitious educators.  You can expect interviews with Principals, Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, National Student Association, Directors and anybody that works with youth. You can find and listen to all the episodes for free here.