Unfortunately there will be daily problems for you to solve, Fortunately….

Hi everyone. Our daily stories are built upon a torrent of conflicts.

  • How to get rid of those ants.
  • How to motivate the unmotivated.
  • How to share something new.
  • How to stay healthy.
  • How to spend more time becoming a better teacher, while spending enough time with friends and family.

I started #slowchatED last year because I wanted to create a deep pocket of learning in the sometimes shallow pool of Twitter chats. As of now #slowchatED is one of the few regular slow chats on Twitter. A chat that runs an entire week instead of an entire hour. Where other chats are a waterpark ride, #slowchatED is a lap pool. Well, for some people that’s not enough. Some people want to practice scuba diving in our lap pool and go deep. I’m going to blow out the bottom of the pool and allow each of you to explore the story of your problems using a children’s book. This book:

Final Edit Fortunately

Go to this blog post to read more about using Remy Charlip’s book in your class. 

So here’s the technique:

Each day I will pose an “Unfortunately” problem for you to solve. You can solve the problem with words, links, blog posts, songs, videos, photos, drawings… whatever. Once you tweet your “Fortunately” answer then the fun begins. Either myself or someone else will throw an “Unfortunately” at your solution and take the discussion deeper. All stories are a series of conflict, resolution, new conflict, attempt at resolution, resolution that makes things worse, conflicts that make things unexpectedly better and so on.


Who knows where our story will lead?

We will continue this for the entire day. Solutions being provided and new challenges getting in the way of easy solutions. We will add depth to the width of our exploration. Once I throw down the initial “Unfortunately” feel free to play antagonist or protagonist. You can even come to the aid of one of your fellow teachers and save the day… for now.

Then the next day a new “Unfortunately” problem will raise it’s ugly head.


Hey relax…. you’ve got more than an hour to answer these questions. That’s why they call it #SLOWchatED


Can’t wait to see what rises to the surface. Enjoy the moment and get ready for #slowchatED starting Monday Jan. 12th.

The Topic: A chat about how “Unfortunately” the problems in your life are neither simple nor finite.

PS if you have any particular “Unfortunately” dilemmas you would like me to propose for a day please DM or Google DM me your ideas. Thanks…. your faithful skipper and the old man of the #slowchatED sea,  David Theriault 


Monday 1/12/15: Q1 “Unfortunately” Your boss put you in charge of the new [terrible idea] “task force” Your first meeting is this Friday. #slowchatED


Tuesday 1/13/15: Q2: You wanted to create an awesome classroom environment but UNFORTUNATELY you are the traveling teacher this year. #threerooms #slowchatED


Wednesday 1/14/15: Q3: 

Q3bThursday Jan 15th, 2015: Q4


Q5: Friday 1/16/15 Use the #slowchatED to participate


Here is the archive of the entire #slowchatED chat: there was no question six on Saturday because I attended edcampLA. Hope you enjoyed the topic and discussion. See you soon.

Is Politics Still Taboo? – August 4-9


“I have solved this political dilemma in a very direct way: I don’t vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,’ but where’s the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote — who did not even leave the house on Election Day — am in no way responsible for that these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created.” – George Carlin, comedian


Experimentation Week: Get out there and try something new!


You’re out for dinner at one of your favourite restaurants about to order your favourite menu item (which you’ve eaten multiple times before because its delicious!) when all of a sudden the waiter tells you about tonight’s special – something wild and exotic that you’ve never tried before, like octopus ravioli. It sounds enticing and you want to order it, but you’re reluctant to pass on old reliable – spaghetti and meatballs – because you know it will make you happy.

The age old dilemma of trying something different and new, or sticking with what’s comforting and predictable. It comes up a lot in teaching. Do you you pull an old lesson plan out of the file box or play with an idea that’s been nagging you? The latter has more potential for excitement and discovery, but can also result in complete and utter failure.

As I reflected on all my colossal classroom flops from the past year, one thing that struck me was how much – despite hair-pulling frustration at the time – I had gained from every single one of them. In fact, I actually learned quite a lot more from experimenting and failing than I did by succeeding with tried and tested methods.

This made me curious about how other teachers approached the subject. One thing that became clear during last week’s discussion was how unafraid teachers are of taking risks with their craft. For most, experimentation is central to being an effective teacher.

(“Worth his salt” – I like that expression. It sounds old schoool!

Good on ya Barb! I hope I can say the same thing 25 years from now. Thankfully, we have teachers like yourself to connect with on twitter. I loved how eager everyone was to share their own learning experiences with experimentation in their classrooms…

(Well, the ego’s not THAT important…is it?)

(As a perfectionist, something I have to remind myself constantly!)


I’m totally stealing some of these. So many new ideas!

Of course, teachers expressed the need for a supportive environment, where risk-taking is encouraged and failure is accepted…


We even heard from some Ed leaders on how they inspire their teachers to experiment!

(The risk-taker motto!)

(Love the open-mindedness here!)

In the end experimentation is what school’s all about: Imagination, investigation, discovery, learning and FUN!


After all, what does anyone have to gain without getting out there and trying new things!










Week 8 #slowchatED Reflection: Teacher Leadership

Jumping off of Eric Demore‘s week 7 topic, curiosity, week 8 was borne out of my inquisitive spirit. I am oddly fascinated with teacher leadership.  Two of my favorite teachers in elementary school were principals by the time I graduated high school, and two of my favorite high school teachers become principals by the time I graduated college. Meanwhile, in the district where I’ve taught, the opposite was apparently happening: as a new teacher, I was regaled with what I can only call horror stories from past students of some of the leaders in my county. I’ve worked long enough to have my own horror stories even. I have worked with amazing teachers who are legally qualified to be administrators but shudder at the thought of leaving the classroom.

Let’s just say I have a bunch of questions about teacher leadership, okay?

I promise question one wasn’t intended to be a modified typical edchat beginning – you know, the kind explicitly listed in David Theriault’s Things That Suck about Twitter Chats:

No, it had a purpose. I wanted to know a few things: how do we describe our leadership roles? Are we a list of titles? Do men and women describe their roles differently? Do teachers recognize teaching as a leadership role itself? How many synonyms do we have for the same job? Obviously if I asked any of those questions first, I would’ve gotten conscious answers. I wanted to just get your answers and make some observations for myself.

As far as leadership roles go, some described their jobs, some gave titles. An equal number of men and women responded, and the responses were mostly titles, but many leaders shared their role, what actually gets accomplished. There were a few teachers whose only title was “Teacher,” and I surprised myself by being one of them (sort of). As far as synonyms go, we have a lot of words for the same jobs. I even learned that California’s mentors have their own acronym:


Suffice to say, #slowchated is a pretty impressive group of people with a lot of jobs. So with our myriad of experiences, surely we can solve all of education’s ills, right?

Teacher leadership is sort of a beast. Everyone has different expectations for leaders, and that’s including the leader himself/herself, which leads to this problem:

While each leadership role comes with its own expectations and goals, many answers pointed to some universal truths about leadership:

 Randa Hendricks shared this image that pretty much sums up all leadership ideologies: boss v leader

And then there’s this one from B. Buck:

true leaders (Comma splice aside, it’s a good point.)

Eric Saibel‘s answers reflect these ideals:

A3: Admin must be willing to empower TLs as true leaders & decision-makers IF we believe in flattening our organizations. #slowchatED — Eric Saibel (@ecsaibel) March 19, 2014

Also, my  love for Jodie Morgenson was affirmed when she shared this video, essentially about buy-in:

The right attitude is a requirement too:

Jeffrey Farley notes that we are wasting time looking for others to empower us; we just need to act like professionals. (That entire conversation is here and worth your time.)

We also need to quit fearing possibilities:

And, most importantly, leaders must recognize fallibility:

Good, strong leaders have specific internal qualities. How do we nurture them? We discussed what it would take to make certain leadership roles more doable or appealing, such as increased time or pay, but beyond making leadership opportunities less stressful and more attractive, how do we attract and support the types of leaders who delegate well, lead without ego, and sustain personal growth? These are the questions I am left with. (Thanks, Eric!)