Howard Goldberg is an educator in his 23rd year teaching with 18 of those in Loudoun County Virginia. Currently, he teaches United States History in 7th grade and enjoys every moment of it. His search for trying to find a way to make planning easier and ...
Howard Goldberg is an educator in his 23rd year teaching with 18 of those in Loudoun County Virginia. Currently, he teaches United States History in 7th grade and enjoys every moment of it. His search for trying to find a way to make planning easier and better led to Felipe and usage of Scrum in education. Howard said that using Scrum in his classroom has been an eye opener for what is possible.
What Every Team Should Know About Scrum
Agile Estimating and Planning: Planning Poker
10 Reasons to Use Fibonacci Sequence for Story Points
Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
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Felipe Engineer 0:00
Yeah, last night. My son's like, you know, the internet's been really slow down. And so I tried to reset the router using the app. And the apps like, please put in your password and I'm like, Okay, put it in. It's like nope, that's not your password. I felt like it was 20 minutes, but my sunset was like two hours before I finally got it all. Like dialed back in. You know what your problem was? You planned it like a waterfall. And you know, that's that's what happened. You thought this is gonna take me two hours. You didn't you know, get out. Yeah, exactly. Like a waterfall. I know. Yeah.
As you know, the whole guy was I ticket. TLC you know, don't go chasing waterfalls. That's right. Yeah. You know, they were they were onto something in that theater, they were ahead you know, you know ahead of their time. Super. Exactly.
Welcome to The EBFC Show, the easier, better, for construction podcast. I'm your host Felipe Engineer Manriquez. This show is all about the business of construction. Today's episode is sponsored by Bosh RefineMySite is a cloud based construction collaboration platform that applies Lean principles to enable your entire team to plan, communicate and execute in real time. It's the digital tool that works in tandem with your last planner system process and puts it all together in one simple, collaborative ecosystem. This easy to use platform is available in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and French and can be used on desktops, tablet and mobile devices. According to Spencer Easton, scheduling manager at Oakland construction, refined my site in my opinion, is the best cleanest tool on the market for the last time. Here's what our users have to say. We've looked at three other digital scheduling platforms and none compared to the straightforward approach refund my site takes from milestone planning all the way down to daily tasks. This program gives every general contractor and their trade partners meaningful collaboration, accountability and KPIs. Registered today to try refine my site for free for 60 days. Today's show is also sponsored by the Lean construction Institute. LCI is working to lead the building industry and transforming its practices and culture. Its vision is to create a healthy and thriving industry that delivers outstanding project outcomes every time for everyone. Check the show notes for more information. Now, to the show.
Felipe Engineer 2:48
Welcome to the show. Howard Goldberg. Howard, it is my honor and pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much for taking time out of your morning in the lovely East Coast when you're you're fighting things like snow and clouds and and here I have nothing but sunshine. And actually no, it's still darkness because it's so early. But thank you for coming on the show. Howard. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Felipe. It's good to be here. Hello out there in you know scrum world first times former longtime listener
Well, I don't know how much of a longtime listener it's more along the lines of like you do a new a new a new member of the tribe Do you member of the tribe joining and such and excited to spread the word of the scrum gospel. Now to all as best I can being that this is the this was the first week I actually implemented my lessons in scrum format and it actually worked out well and and such an I'm actually almost ahead of my coworkers the project that we're doing and and such and I will say to you personally since I know you are also introduced me to the confetti and my Trello board and that is a Philippe special I have a class who who years and cheers for the confetti. You know what I moved things over to the done there's like it yeah, so
Felipe Engineer 4:26
What grades are they Howard?
They're middle schoolers seventh graders. All right. So they kind of have seen the X little pieces of the board and you know, in this lesson, we actually use the Kanban board and then the kids like it so kind of excited to see how far more goes not just on a group project level but also on a whole class level where I kind of put a kind of a mini Kanban board up on a wall and post it notes of everything that there should be doing and we moved to doing and then done when it is done. That's just common sense. It just makes the mind go.
Felipe Engineer 5:04
Stay hydrated, because time is gonna go, I mean times gonna go fast, but you want to I want to watch see you passing out, because you're talking so much.
be able to go go long, long time without a drink or go into the restroom. Yeah, it's kind of a, it's kind of the, it's kind of one thing that they did not teach us in education school kind of like that, you know, skill set, but you kind of learn it as the job goes
Felipe Engineer 5:37
It was one of those things you learn on the job, let's learn how to create some course curriculum planning for the year, but there's no talk about the biological needs of the human
yes, that and the sarcasm, it's, it's almost next level, that you just can't you just have to sometimes stand back and just be in awe. I had a, I would I was teaching a sixth graders, they had a time where I was passing out a test. And I was going over the instructions and stuff. And I said, if you can't follow these instructions, you will draw my wrath. You know, just trying to be you know, simple little, you know, scary adult GRE, you know, type that. So kids do the test, I handed the papers and you know, and then one child comes up to me with a picture that he drove me now I have it there were kind of other eraser marks. So I guess that was like other attempts at drawing on the same piece of notebook paper, but it's kind of this very tall, kind of like a monster it's gotta who's gonna got the hordes out, you know, like fire brimstone. And he gave me a bit of a kind of give me a bit of a six pack. So I was kind of a little bit happy in regards to that one, you know, maybe a little too much extra on like, you know, the underarm hair. And I was like, today, and he hands it to me, and he and I go well, what is this and it goes your wrath and I'm like, what you. You drew my wrath.
Like, I want to say something good response, but I can't because that's just it was just so good. But that's, that is the team I have to work i that is the team I work with almost on a daily basis. So anyhow, so yeah, so that's back to you back to you. That's a serious mode. Now.
Felipe Engineer 7:30
Back to the show, please tell the good people of The EBFC Show a little bit about yourself.
I am a middle school teacher in Loudoun County, Virginia. It is my I have been teaching for 23 years total. This is my 18th year in Loudoun County. I'm originally from Somerset, New Jersey exit nine ads out there. I believe it is exit nine. It's been a while since I've been back in Jersey. So I've hopefully it's exit nine. When such moved down to Florida, then went to school here in Washington DC at American University, got my Bachelor's in history in 1997, then went back home to Miami to Florida International University, got my Master's in science and social studies education in 1999. Then got a job teaching in Maryland for five years Prince George's County, then Charles County, Maryland. Then I moved in 2004 to the other side of the Potomac. In Virginia. I've been here ever since TCN been teaching in Loudoun County Public Schools for the past 18 years. And such I teach middle school history done everything from the as I jokingly like to say to the students, sixth seventh and eighth grade sixth grade is I'd like to say US History season one, where we go from exploration, exploration up to Robert E Lee walking into Appomattox Courthouse, and then seventh grade is Robert Neely walking out of Appomattox Courthouse, up to the present as as best as as best as possible since the present is always changing. And such then eighth grade is civics. So teaching how the government works or that works and you know, all that good stuff in between. And I've enjoyed every moment of it such and and I wouldn't change anything that I've done, you know, career choices. I love what I do. I work with great people, the kids, the adults and you know what's really great, about a half and it is kind of through that mechanism that I kind of got introduced to the world of Scrum with Yeah, I got a friend, I will have to call the engineer on this one I like okay. All right. She's a fix. Yes, yes, yes. Yeah, I believe it was actually this, I want to say this past October, where I was just I've been struggling, as I said to be getting I enjoyedteaching. It's just I had been to kind of, I guess, to use the vernacular, my flow wasn't going very well in regards to this the fit to the work that I was doing. And I just felt that I wasn't giving my the putting the best quality product out there for my students, which is my job to give the best quality product for the students to learn the content and skills that I am teaching. And I just felt behind in a lot of things kind of feeling rushed to get things done. And such almost kind of taking a as to say you the heroic effort to kind of catch up and not even to get ahead, but to catch up, you know, and such. So she set to set us two together.
Felipe Engineer 11:23
And her genius and like, are people that don't like Ilean is not going to come on the show, but this is not gonna come on the show. Yeah, it
was, I mean, she is brilliant at what she does is awesome. She works for LCI, just for people wondering like, how does Felipe know Eileen to like flip in those people? Thank you for connecting me this is great people like Eileen, who works there. And she said, I think she sent me a note. It's just like, You got to talk to Howard about Scrum. Cuz I'm
so proud of her the work that she has done with LCI and also proud of the work that LCI does as well.
Felipe Engineer 12:02
Likewise, we're proud, proudly sponsored by the Lean construction Institute. So yeah, thank you, Eileen. And thank you, you know, why not give a shout out and people look at the show notes. There's a link in the show notes about LCI if you want to learn more about the Lean construction Institute and the beautiful type of work that they do and putting people like myself and Eileen together and then tangentially putting our together we make the magic happen. So Howard, oh, good Ray. People with people a little bit of context and talk about I think I spent probably 10 ish minutes showing you about the scrum framework, and where to find a little bit more information. And then we would practice in one of my favorite tools. Trello. Er, yes. Which I think you're also used as well.
Yes, it is, it is my go to pretty much almost for everything and such, but it was more on less on a Mac, I guess that a personal matter. In regards to it. I was just kind of like, things were behind. And such in regards to that. Things, you know, things forms that needed to be filled out and turned in for IEPs for child study reports, getting things graded. I'm a matter
Felipe Engineer 13:23
of how I promised my guests every time we throw out an acronym we're going to do it is I'm going to let me take a guess. Let me see if it's the Individual Education Plan, correct.
Individualized Education Plan, just give yourself a dang on that one. Yes, yes, individualized education plans, they are used for when students are diagnosed with learning disabilities, part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to kind of ensure that all students, you know, get taught in the least restrictive environment as possible. And sometimes with teachers, they have to fill out forms indicating what are things that they see going on with a with a child. Sometimes it's data forms because sometimes IEPs have goals that they want the students to be working towards. It could be on an academic basis, it could be on a behavior basis. So sometimes this is information needs to be documented and it needs to be submitted from time to time CSCs or child studies, which is kind of I guess you would say once, one or two steps lowers then an IEP. Child Study kind of is almost like the first step to work towards getting towards a to an IEP, where teachers have a student who may have concerns that they NOTICE parents from home, they notice these things and they have to report in. So like, let's start taking down some observations, some data of what we see. And then let's see if we can implement some supports for the students to kind of help them along. And kind of add if at a certain time report back with what we see. And then what we may see is that you know, the child study plan work. So let's continue on with it. If we feel it's needed, or maybe it seems that maybe we need to take this to the next step. And then we see if an IEP is, is needed, and what accommodations after if an IEP FSA student is deemed to be eligible for services, then we work out amongst the parents, the students, teachers, other other staff, psychologists, and so what accommodations that the student may need to be successful, because that is the whole process to be successful. So, so we got those decoupled out there.
Felipe Engineer 16:05
Like a lot of the stuff that Howard's talking about, just in breaking down the student needs and some of this stuff we, Howard, you and I have talked about, you know, we've got to we got on the phone a couple of times over the course of I guess you're right, some slacks in October, making your scrum transformation, Eileen, in her infinite wisdom thought that you'd benefit from learning the scrum framework that I use every single day. And oh, gosh,
when she right, yes, and this is being recorded. So you could play this back to her that I said I need, right?
Felipe Engineer 16:38
I believe I'm gonna make that the clip from the show. Was Right, that's gonna sound like you know, for a lot of people, Howard, when they don't know what the scrum framework is, and awareness, I've got a whole blog post on awareness for scrum on the BOC show.com. So people check that out awareness is an issue because some of the things that we do in our everyday how we work, and most people were in some type of team environment, like even yourself as a teacher, it's a team environment, we talked about the students are on your team. So there's parts and pieces of the framework that, you know, typically people do, but in order for it to be scrum that you have to close the loop. And there's a couple of extra little nuance things. And then once you make those small changes, and for people listening, if you're already working on a team, you're already you're close to already threatening to do Scrum. You're threatening, it's close. And so like what Howard was talking about these kids and just these different reports that they do these feedback forms that happen on some quasi annual basis. In the scrum framework, there are a couple of key points for feedback. And as Howard knows, now, when we put this concept of envelope, a time envelope, or we call a time box, in Scrum, called the sprint, now, we've radically changed that feedback, frequency, and magical things start to happen. So Howard, I want to let you unpack, you know, tell people a little bit. I mean, you went on and did a great job of saying, you know, where you were before, and you felt like you were behind. And even from my perspective, just in our engagement, that first time, I could see frustration was high. I mean, you're very frustrated, you're also like, too hard on arguably too hard on yourself. Because there's a systems component to how people work, Howard, which I don't think a lot of people appreciate, you know, you know, sometimes people, if you're out there and you're listening to the show, and you feeling like frustrated in the work that you're doing to some of it's actually not your fault, some of it is the system that you're in, but you can't change that system.
It's kind of self inflicted wounds that you kind of give to yourself that you don't realize, or it's such as, or for friends over overseas, its own goals, that you kind of score against yourself, as well. And you are right, it's kind of systematic, where Iris was kind of like, you know, doing things, just habits that just needed to be changed. Like, for example, the concept of multitasking because every now and then they say teachers are great multitaskers you know, because of all the things we have to do it and I'm like realizing, no, sometimes we're we're we're bad at it. It's such an it that I kind of started looking at when you introduced me to the concept of kind of putting things in a to do doing and done and just making sure that when it's something's in the doing pile, you finish it you don't even think about doing anything else and I just started doing that on my own. You know, putting things into doing even though my to do pile was not prioritized, but it was things that I know, would probably need to be done, at least not every day, every single day. But at least I know, in a typical day, that most of these things would need to be done things like, you know, making sure you're updated on your graded papers, make sure any forms that needed to be filled out, were filled out prepped for the lessons for the next day, who were like, you know, parent phone calls that you need to send, that you need to do sent home to everyday things that, you know, needed to be done. So I just started putting that in my to do pile and, you know, moving things over, and I was feeling like, Oh, I got it done, you know, things like that. And so we did a kind of weird way, I found that I was a, getting things done ahead of time, and having free time to do stuff at the end. And I was like, Okay, what do I do now. and such, and it was working out, you know, on a personal level. For me, I actually found myself getting more relaxed, and then kind of getting into, you know, there's that word, again, the flow of things, where even sometimes I wouldn't move stuff from the due to doing but once I started doing something, I made sure I got it done. It's like, you know, if I was grading a set of papers on an assignment, I would make sure I get at least one whole class, you know, don't i Teacher, six classes of seventh graders. So at least if I know, I'm doing a grading run of papers, I'm just gonna be like, I'm gonna read some of these, you know, don't get a grade them all, all of these assignments are good to great and great graded right now. You know, it's like that, or, you know, I know, I have forms that I need to fill out, okay, which ones do I need to fill it up and get to fill those forms out now, you know, making sure everything is done. Now, when I'm starting to do it, because I think that's a lot of times, and I'm pretty sure everybody in every profession has felt this, that, you know, when you're working on something, you know, and then like, the mind tends to get lost, or you realize you have something else to do. Okay, I'm gonna do some of this now, right? I'll do some of this, and I do some of this and, and you just feel like, you just fake doing multitask, it gets everything. No, because the piles still there, you know, it, it's sometimes stares at you, it like, you know, almost a judgment, this inanimate, you know, pile of objects, you know, things that need to get done. And I just found I was getting things done, you know, on a personal level. And then as they did on a personal level, I kind of monitor well wait a minute, this is me personally doing stuff, can I implement this, you know, on a kind of teaching kind of in lesson planning, and such kind of taking ideas of the last planner, system and ideas of of Scrum, and such because it was also, and I have to give a also a shout out to Mr. Christian McHale, who also helped out a lot because he was, he was kind of the one that kind of got me just hooked on the idea of lesson planning is hard. It is the joy of teaching, it is also sometimes the bane of my existence, because of just everything that has to be done in regards to it. Because even though I am teaching a similar subject, across six classes,
so I guess break it down to the fact I have six teams, and each, each teams have their own qualities and characteristics. So the line from A to B is not going to be going the same way. So kind of factoring that in just kind of document getting that like thought process through. So I kept hearing about this. So I talked with Mr. Patel, about this, and I was kind of interested, but then, for unforeseen circumstances it kind of went away and such and I kind of brought it back again a few weeks because I was just like, I'm because I was just struggling with planning, you know, because teachers, we were we were doing the waterfall method. You know, we were like saying by this day, you know, we'll have this done, you know, and as usually, you know, the calendar just goes horribly wrong within a matter of like, you know, a few days. Yeah. And the thing is, though, it's not once again, like you said at the beginning, it's not my fault that the calendar goes off, there are just so many variables that you're dealing with, and it'd be that you're dealing with a team of six classes of 150 kids, so we're talking roughly 25 ish, you know, kids per class, so you're talking about a team of 20 or 26 or more because I'm part of the team as well. And just, I was just finding out so over a few weeks of conferencing, you know, myself and Mr. McHale kind of like started to put the pieces together and I was realizing, as you also said at the beginning I I was kind of doing Scrum, but I was just not doing I was doing bits and pieces are not in the right order. So but I knew hearing from him hearing from you and, you know, all the things that I lead with a sent towards me reading and such and hearing what danfo che would say, is I met Mr. Crochet as well. And he's, he's a wonderful man
Felipe Engineer 25:23
on the show. Yes, it was a great guest on the show as well shout out to Mr. danfo. Che,
yes. And just hearing all the things I go through, I'm like, cuz I always I guess I did a reticle. So who else was I talked about? Mr. P's, James PS,
Felipe Engineer 25:39
when he's just talking to all my friends, I here's what you're doing.
So hello out there to you, if you are listening, but as we were going through, we were just got to work for me. You know, and I guess I was too I guess I don't know, to black and white. And because I was like being construction, this is a construction construction, you know, because that's how I heard about with like Scrum and lean in the concept of construction, you know, and building and then you know, the Cal comes around, I hear planner like this could work. So and then I kind of decided to like, let's dive in. And let's kind of see, you know, where I can make the square pegs fit into the square holes into round pegs into the round hole, I wanted to take a look at a kind of almost take a a 30,000 foot view of it. So I see I could connect the dots. And as I was going through it, and then I kind of followed up with you, in regards is how to work and I'm like, Oh my God, I've been doing this all wrong. And I could have been doing it all right and differently. And I have kind of been kicking myself for that. But then I looked at it. And I found as I was also learning from what you said and what McHale said and he also gave me an introduction to I guess almost kind of the scrum holy grail Art of Doing Twice the work and half the time by the great Dr. Jeff Sutherland,
Felipe Engineer 27:06
see all those post it notes in there. That's how my book looked. When I first met Jeff and I had them autograph it, he was just like, just suddenly he's like, Oh, you really like post it notes. I was like I do Jeff, I do like them a lot
to any of you who are who are just, I would recommend it. Because it is so it is so clear and so concise. And he walks you through every part of the process with clear examples of his experience of going through the different aspects of it, like I just finished the chapter on waiting, you know, and how you prioritize things and how, you know, prior to prioritizing on how long it's, you know, and when you could get it done. It's just like, it's out the window. I'm, in fact, when I start planning out this next unit, I'm going Fibonacci, you know, sequence. See, because I'm like, oh my god, it's so make sense. Because as I would go through and I kind of think about, okay, this skill needs kind of like, you know, the skills a one, because I could realize, you know, things that I probably spent too longer on in regards to teaching was absolute waste, not because what I did was bad, it's just that I could have done it faster, and more efficient than the way I did it. And I think also, that's another thing, being harmed myself, you know, it's more like, I want to do the best that I can. And I don't like settling for, you know, doing things, you know, shortchanged. And then I realized that sometimes as you're planning and you realize when you plan by the calendar, this state's got to have this done. And you know, that time constraint just gets smaller and smaller and smaller, you know, you may have to rush things, cut corners, and such. And as I said at the beginning, develop not a quality product that you feel, but now I feel like I do kind of had been doing some scrub stuff here and there. And such and kind of getting through things quicker. And I think doing a better job developing, you know, a higher quality product because knowing Okay, the kids need a, b and c, how do I do get to A, B and C? You know, not really, oh, I have to do this? Oh, no, because that's not going to help you get to A, B and C. But if you know that you've done this all the time, I'm like, well, it doesn't help. You know, it's it doesn't help in getting to, you know, to where the girls I need it. And then also kind of on the examples of a lot of it reading through his book also, I guess reconfirm that things that I had been doing were actually worthwhile, kind of like in the concept of stories kind of knowing what or being able to To find done, and Teddy teachers, a lot of this stuff we do, we do already or we should be doing in regards to developing good assessments, good teaching, and such, kind of like if to cook to phrase with teaching you the acronyms usually, or the, the phrasing is usually a formative summative summative is are, you know, the tests at the end, you know, the dreaded chapter test, or the dreaded final project that, you know, everyone had to do to assume that,
you know, the content was learned, you know, the things everybody dreaded having, you know, walk again, realize, Oh, my God, we haven't tested it, you know, and freaking out formatives are the tools to ensure that they got it, that they have mastered that they have understanding of the concepts, and I was going to wait a minute, formatives are almost kind of like, you know, the definition of done, you know, it's kind of like if you, you know, if you're kind of doing things on a sprint, those could be those moments where, you know, you test, okay, the formative should be part of the final product, basically, the summative should not be a surprise, you know, by the time if, if formatives are done right, by the time they get to summiteers, there should be no shocks or no surprises. And if there is, then that's something you as the teacher should look at, because your product is faulty in some way. Maybe while they understood the content, maybe it was the skills that were as part of the summative that they needed to do to show that they understood the content they were not ready for. So that should and so then hopefully next time, you kind of realize, okay, not only do I need to check for understanding of the content, I need to check for understanding of the skills because sometimes you have to realize that, if they may not, if a test kind of bombs, at the end, you have to double check to make sure was it because they didn't know the content, or that they did not understand the skills. Now, the tip of traditional chapter test, which does have some of its value, because you want them to make sure they get the content, you know, are usually like you know, your multiple choice fill in the blanks of true false depending upon what you have maybe some writing of and such, but then depending upon how much skills you want to put you put into the summative at the end, how much is there a persuasive, you know, writing to persuade writing to perform or to inform, or, you know, to critique, just different styles of writing require different skill sets. So if they don't know how to do that type of writing, or writing in general, it's depending on the grade level that you teach, or the skill level of your students that you may have. You're setting up for, like you're setting up for disaster at the end. So good, informative, good formative inform good teaching, and those are kind of like your store, those should kind of be like the, almost the store or the kind of the the coda of each story, you know, kind of each chapter. And such. Yes, I got to the story section of Jeff's book. If you could tell
Felipe Engineer 33:25
with the tower, I want to just go back and unpack a little bit when we first connected and, and I tell people like you start doing Scrum iteratively exactly like, it is like it's not flipping a slight switch. Like one day you're doing your own thing. And then we flip a switch after you learn what Scrum is. And now you're doing full Scrum. For most people. It's not a light switch. It's a small series of steps. And so like when you and I got together, right, it was the biggest thing that was hindering your ability to get into that flow state. Was all of that multitasking, which you hit on so lovely. And then then you got we changed your pattern, slightly, super tiny little change so that you get into a habit of One Piece flow as best as possible, you know, adapted for your situation. And then what every everything you just said now, the type of conversation we're having today, night and day, compared to how we talked in October, which was it by this point, like two quarters ago to us. It was like a semester ago when we talked when we when we started and I think right now the people listening that haven't been on all the conversations that we've had together, Howard, it's amazing to hear you talking about how you're now working on the teaching instead of just being in the teaching. And I think that's one of the beautiful things that scrum does is that in the framework when you do the full system, which Howard is now absolutely doing, you have a chance to improve how you work it In addition to what you deliver at the end, so I just wanted to pause on that because you're making my heart sing. Thank you.
Oh, you're welcome, Philippe, I would say a light switch, which I think there's a bunch of switches, I think it was more or less.
Felipe Engineer 35:14
It's a bunch of switches that some people miss Howard. And like I can, I can explain scrum in less than 120 seconds. I can picture and I've done this many times, and I show people all the stuff and the people are like, okay, and then I say, Okay, now I've showed you everything that's there. Let's unpack some of this. It has to be unpacked with your current way of doing stuff.
Yeah. And that's a lot of the conversation I had with with with Christian in regards to that we kind of I took his expertise and your expertise. Did you know
Felipe Engineer 35:48
that Christians also a scrum master Howard?
I did not. I know now. Yeah. I feel like, I feel like I've almost like I almost want to become one now just just because it's, you know, because it's, because if for no other reason, you just hear a lot of I hear a lot of my colleagues, you know, not just in the field, but I'm sure aware, if you look online, it's just a lot just struggling, just kind of struggling. So it's like gets hurt. Because I mean, these past few years, you know, teaching has been very hard, especially if you had to do, you know, virtually like I did. And teaching is just a struggle in particular, you know, forget doing it during a pandemic, it's just a hard job. Now, people kind of like, you know, joke on us kind of, you know, Mark as well, you get the summers off, I'm like, well talk really is, some of it is a lot of it is like, you know, we kind of yes, do we do unwind because tried, you know, dealing with those dealer kids kid is a hard task just to begin with. And we don't really have time for ourselves. So the summertime sometimes is that time for ourselves to rest to recover, to kind of take professional development courses to kind of boost, you know, our knowledge base, or to get recertified. And such and depending upon thankfully, I work in a county where our pay is very well, in regards to it. But some places, you know, people need to kind of work a summer job, you know, to kind of make, you know, make ends meet, which is wholly other complete discussion, whatsoever, the sheer
Felipe Engineer 37:23
numbers of students that you have, it's so I mean, to put in context, you're, you're helping transform, in essence, helping people grow and develop 150 people in a month, right. So for a lot of people like even in large, complex construction projects, Howard, like people don't have that number of people that they're actively engaged with, I mean, you are actively engaged one on one to many, and one, one and a lot of cases. And in construction, even though like the number the project teams can get, you know, there on the mega projects, it's not until you get mega projects north of $500 million, you know, that the teams get to sizes of consistently over 100.
And you also have to realize in regard to those teams, and I tell everybody, especially new teachers, when you're dealing with students, I think of almost kind of a 7020 10 ratio, where as much as you may not think it's 70, roughly 70 to 80% of the students, you know, give or take in that area will do what you want them to do, because they're just good kids, even the ones that you may not think, you know, are good kids, because they want to do well, granted, you may have to ask them a few times, you may have to kind of you know, kicking, screaming, it's like everything else. And such, then there are roughly at the end five to 10% that needs services or assistance that are beyond my control is beyond schools control, for multitude of reasons. And in some instances, they don't want to be in the building, and they will make you and they will clearly make you not let you know that they don't want to be in the building, it's so many words. And such, then you have that 10 to 20 in the middle, who, you know, I guess you would categorize to use your accuracy at risk 30 students, those that are kind of on that edge of, you know, where we need to kind of be at risk of falling into kind of that, that range of, you know, the keys go up and kind of be those kids that you know, will do stuff or kind of fall into the trap where they need those services that, you know, some public schools cannot provide. For them. I'm dealing with 150 kids, whereas about maybe 15 ish to 20 who really don't want to be there. You know, it's not like you know, a construction project where like, you know, if you're not there, you don't get paid. So it's like, you know, you're there because you kind of want to be there. So we're dealing with a lot of things handling and a lot of things that are kind of, I don't know if out of my control is the right word, but things that I may not be whereof or already, I guess I could say, out of my control in such because they come with a lot of baggage, you know, to that the good, the bad, and unfortunately, the ugly. And you always have to remember the school is sometimes the safest place or that and such. So, I'm dealing with a lot of different characteristics of my team on a daily basis. You know, it's, you just have to be kind of aware of that using kind of Scrum though, when I kind of like look at it. Now I kind of, because I've got my Trello board off to the side, that I kind of have, and I kind of now I thought I would start kind of excuse for kind of do kind of my planning one time with the Trello board, just like one big board, and kind of go at it, but then I kind of realized I can't really because I have six different teams, you know, I have six different teams, and they need to be planned accordingly. So I thought, well, you know, what, let's jump in, you know, let's go in full breach, you know, kind of like, you know, all into the D pad did stuff, and I'm finding it actually is kind of easy. You know, it's the flow is just, it's just so working. And such and like I said, kind of looking at it was a lot of help from you and McHale kind of taking that 30,000 foot view of it. And then kind of seeing like, oh, okay, this is where this part fits. Okay, this is where this part fits. I think I think when we started talking, I needed to see I needed to see it first. I mean, I know we talked about yes, there is the theoretical aspect of it. And you know, and that's been it's got its valid points, but then you got to see how it, how does it fit for you. In such an even then I kind of was asking questions of myself about, you know, because I was kind of always thinking on that personal level, how when I put one thing into doing pile, that's the only thing you're doing, and such, you know, another person that's on a personal level, but then like when you're doing on a school level, you can have multiple things in the In Progress doing pile, because while at one point you may have like your lesson that you're doing on that day, you can also have like a semester or a quarter wide project going on at the same time. So that should also be in the kind of the doing pile, because it is still in progress. And I guess I also kind of got, I guess kind of was still systematic in my thinking in regards to the sprint where it's like, oh, I had these parts. What if I still have parts of the sprint? And I get to the end of my sprint? Do you kind of in a very nonchalant way. It's like, Howard, are you going to stop teaching those things at the end of the year? Like, Howard, that was a dumb question. But it was just like, it's like it just one of those things where it's just like, you know, how to see how it fits? It did just really yeah, this works this.
Felipe Engineer 42:39
We had a great call Howard, where you were? Yes. You're arguably way too hard on yourself. And we you had a bunch of questions for me. And we just went through real quick on the phone. And
so for the listeners, there's a whole bunch of post it notes too. And I kind of had like put about like on the porch like, it was like I literally on my desk put above asking to ask ask answered files, like that's how that's how like eighth grade I got. So it's like it was to the point. It's like it you started out at the big so at the beginning. So before you even start asking the questions, you were like, Okay, I could move these four, skip the Gasc answered, you know,
Felipe Engineer 43:18
one of the cool things that came out of that is when we're talking about the team and and the conversation we had this last time was different than the first time because the first time you weren't doing Scrum yet. And then now you've had a semesters worth of practice with it. And so you're so much deeper into the framework. And we expanded the definition on this last call on who was the team? And what is the product?
And that was what that I think as soon as that got answered that was like that was okay, I'm good. I'm good because I was reading Jeff's book. And it was talking about the concept of Team teams teams, you know, teams and teams that work with others. I granted in a middle school, you have a depending upon where you work, you teachers work in teams, you know, can't see someplace it's called called CLTs common learning teams, content learning teams, sometimes some places will call it PLCs Professional Learning Communities. Basically, it's where similar content teachers get together to plan out their subject matter. So it's kind of thinking, Okay, I probably could do the CLT wise, route me I mean, because like, I see the principles in it, I saw the principles in it on my own and personal in my daily board that I do, can I do this, you know, lesson planning. And I was like, Okay, I'm working with teams, then I was kind of like, okay, wait a bit. I'm kind of the only one. You know, on that team, a teacher, my kids, can I really do this? Who else would I be talking to? And then you kind of came and said, Howard, you are the project owner. You are the scrum master. You are that you are everything off the table like I have, and you talk me through it and I was like, Oh, it makes sense now yay. Boom, we're gone off, we're off medic, and I tried it this week in I would just be amazed at I would put in the aspects of the day kind of set my board up for my classes where I have now like my, my yearly backlog, which is in a lot of this was in consultation with Mr. Patel, my yearly backlog, which is the, what my year is going to be the content I'm going to teach for the year that's like the the year. So that's like sprint one, kind of like the yearly sprint so that by the end of by the end of the school year, I should get through all of this, okay, then I break it down into the act of quarter because this is our that I moved the stuff over that I need to do for this quarter, which would take nine weeks. And then you kind of do Danny kind of put in a current sprint backlog, this is kind of what I would like to do for three in these three weeks. And then I have in progress, and I kind of break everything down. If you're familiar with Trello, use the checklists feature to kind of go through and like these are all the things that I'm going to try and do, you know, for this unit. So at the end, I could be like Aha, John, you know, they should be able to deliver the assessments that would show at the end that they are they have understanding of the content, that they have understanding of the skills, and I just started out where I would just move certain things I thought I could get through in that block into the in progress. And as I was going through it, with the exception of a few classes, because a few classes got a little middle schoolers decided to be like middle schoolers, that day, which does happen from time to time,
Felipe Engineer 46:43
which is normal. And then he says,
Yes, and I felt as I was moving things over to the done, I was like, Oh, I was moving everything over. I was like I was getting done. Granted things at the end were that developed into the homework that they needed to do at home. But I felt that was you know, we had set them up for success so that they know, if they decided to do the homework, that they would be able to be successful at it. What are the things I'm sometimes not, I'm not as much in control as I would like to be, but I can if you know, when needed, oh, wow, I'm, I'm moving stuff over, you know, and the flow was working. And this was before I got further into the book, where I got into the concept of before I got to the concept of like, you know, the using Fibonacci, or planning poker, to, you know, plan out a unit and such or concept of the stories, you know, making sure each story was invest quality, you know, kind of like being under being able to kind of see, you know, did they have done is one in such an, you know, got any priority that makes sure I understand the stories because I would also say to teachers, sometimes the story part might be hard to handle. For some math teachers in particular,
Felipe Engineer 48:04
I got this metaphor from somebody I was working with this week, Howard said, you can think about stories, like different containers or cups, they use the word vessel, because they were like way into like ship metaphors, or whatever. And so like Howard's got his cup, and I've got my cup, and his cup is probably twice the size of my cup, which is cool. So like he's got a bigger cup. So some stories are bigger, but it's still just a container that groups similar work together, they're definitely resources out there, I highly recommend just read book, you are doing twice the work and half the time, I'll put a link in the show notes to it. I've read that book, probably six to eight times a year, since it first came out.
It's like, it's like, it's almost like, like, my Torah. You know, it's like, you know, it's like, you know, I'm Jewish. So you know, it's like, it's like I, I was saying to a colleague of mine, I wish I would have read this book earlier, you know, and stuff like that. But now that I have read it, I realized I am not going to now make the same mistakes that I've made in the past, I now know what to do better and to improve on it. And
Felipe Engineer 49:09
the thing to highlight Howard is that you when we first connected and before you're getting help from me and Christian, just like number one, it takes courage to even get help. So I want to just thank you for being courageous. A lot of people don't think about that. But to do something different and to reach out especially you're reaching out to people across industry like Christian and I are typically all of our experiences have been in the construction industry and you're in education. And so we're crossing we're crossing industry boundaries, which I think is fantastic. And that's where in my mind when I started getting into continuous improvement, I had to cross industry boundaries into other industries like software manufacturing, you know, that was never would have come across Scrum or it then and then just to come back to lean construction which is in and of itself its own thing which is like all up in your house with
Unknown Speaker 49:58
Eileen literally and figuratively Like,
Felipe Engineer 50:03
you know, once you you took that first step, which is a big step for people listening, like thinking like, how do I how do I do? Like, how do I be like Howard?
Well, it's more it also depends upon I guess, how you how you view yourself, I always wanted to, I never settled for being where I was, I always how can I do this better because you have to because things change over time, the Eve the education industry, a field has changed over time, you know, I joke with the kids, you know, are universal, I started teaching when like, you know, you had transparencies, you know, had the transparency, you know, projector and such. And, yes, now things are like more digital, and you have to realize, you know, as much as you choke you joke about it, the kids I have, know, a lot more have a lot more access to information than the kids, I started teaching, you know, 23 years ago, and a lot more, you know, they know more, they're exposed to more information, which has its good points, and it's bad points, their level of technology usage is more impressive of what they know how to do. And you can't even take, you know, if you work at a school with like, you know, because now cell phones are more affordable, you know, in such with internet capabilities, you know, you have, you have to think about that now that even if you work in a school with a lot of disadvantaged students that you may not think have that access, they actually do in some instances. So you can't just figure that out, kind of like leave that out of the equation. So I always knew I had to improve, you have to, you have to either adapt or as the saying goes, adapt or die. In that case, but it's so true, it is it is so true. What ways could I adapt how I could change a lesson this way, new ideas to kind of come through. And we were always getting over, kind of will define the stuff that you have to do and know who everyone says like, you know, when, like, now it seems like everything's supposed to be more data driven, and was like, oh, data, just, you know, it's all about day to day to day to day to data, but it's like, take a step back and realize, well, you kind of should always have been dated or you know, data should have been driving because you know, how the kids are doing and certain things that is the data, you know, so a lot of it is I would just say to teachers who kind of are thinking, you know, should I do this, can I do this pause, step back and kind of look at how you do things, and then kind of see how things fit and kind of see how it works in your system. And that's kind of what I was doing all the time. But yet planning out planning always kind of seemed to be that, you know, Grail was like was like getting to every good. We like giving my best in that regard to delivering a final product was I cutting corners and just realizing how I was planning with kind of, you know, the Gantt charts, or the waterfall method and stuff like that. You know, you could tell I've read the book have? Yes, I was fearful that you would give me a test, you know, at the end of the show. Test. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, please. Thank you. Thank you. But it was just
Unknown Speaker 53:30
a formative. Yeah. Okay. Yeah,
go give yourself exactly. But yeah, as I was reading Jeff's book, I would read it and I would put things down. I was like, and I would find myself laughing because it's like, Oh, my God, it's so right. You know, in regards, you know, we stick at planning, we stick like, we could never estimate how long something takes. Because they're just especially when you're a teacher, you're dealing with so many variables. And those variables have to be honored and respected. Because if those variables aren't on and respected, you are once again setting yourself up for a disaster. Thankfully, I work in a school district and a school where are those variables are honored? And those are respected? And I know sometimes teachers may say, Well, I've got one that says we have to do a common assessment where everybody common assessment, basically imagine that if like I'm since I'm a seventh grade history teacher, if I work with two other history teachers in seventh grade, so basically, the tests that we do have to be similar, basically, a kid who gets an A in my class should be getting an A and the other teachers classes, it's kind of to go away from the old adage of like, who's, you know, oh, you're the easy grader. You're the hard grader, you know, kind of like who's easy seventh grade teacher, but that still can work because if you plan it out, right, you know, you've got the common assessment at the end. That's the final product. And as long as and if everybody is on board with it, you know, you kind of know where you get. It's like, oh, and kind of like reading through Jeff's book about all the products that you kind of wanted, I think it was Medco it into kind of like they knew the product at the end. And all these companies, you know, the product at the end, you know, what you want it to do you know what functions you wanted to have. And that's kind of like the same way as a test, you know, the skills that are needed, you know, the content that should be understood, and then you just kind of work backwards, that's kind of what we call backward design, you kind of planned you know, you know, plan with the assessment in mind and work your way backwards. So I was like, once again, that kind of also got me into Scrum, because I heard about like, pull planning, you know, and, you know, you know, and such like that. So I was like, okay, these people are speaking my language. And such, just, once again, how's it fit? So, you pull back, you know, accordingly, you realize, like, if you teach a class of ESL English learners, students who do her English is a second language to them. So, depending upon their skill levels may be you know, a, a part where something is a where for one class, it might be a three, you know, another might be you know, for that class, it might be an eight, not be in, but for legitimate reasons. And, you know, as long as those reasons are honored, you know, it scrubs should work for teachers. And that's what helped me I think, feel like I'm going to be a better teacher, you know, just learning that, ah, I could see how the dots all connect
Felipe Engineer 56:23
you, you also jumped into Jeff's book, and at the end, there's a chapter on Scrum and education and Willie wagons, who Jeff has met. We've got to, really for a second, but people at the at the back of Jeff's book. There's a couple of chapters on Scrum and other industries, which was fascinating. There wasn't one and construction at the time, and still is. Yeah, there's been there's been more there's been more work done on construction scrum Howard pun intended.
Yes. I kind of have I kind of have an inside look at that, you know, so we won't go down that route. So tell people
Felipe Engineer 57:01
about beating Willie and what Willie does?
Well, Mr. wildlands, I believe teaches chemistry in the Netherlands. And he's developed a concept and I've only I've only met him on two occasions. And I need to kind of email so Mr. Whelan's, if you're listening, and such, I will be in contact with you. But soon, for over the summer kind of came up with a concept of edgy Scrum, where it's kind of taking the scrum principles and putting it into education, kind of mixing out and I kind of got was interested in kind of saw what it was. And it kind of got me hooked. Now I tried a project. Once I tried to go full in I need to, I'm hard on myself, because I need to see everything. I am not the type who has to like you know, dip your toe in once then kind of see how it works, it didn't kind of move together, I have to see how the whole thing flows, you know. So I think that's also what kind of attracted me also to scrum kind of like, you know, it's a process. So I kind of have to see the whole process. And he kind of shows how we use his scrum in his teachings. And like with the class do and kind of how they know what they're doing in their projects, and know what they're doing assignments, even kind of working on their own versions of how they show that they are done, you know that they have understanding of their concept. Now, great, I probably could not start that out right now. Because it takes a lot of front end, raining, to do it the front end of the school year. And that's kind of also how it project of mine kind of when I tried to like dive in. Because I thought this is great. Let me try this. And it just blew up in my face. And I kind of realized why it blew up in my face and you know, replanted kind of went back, you know, and kind of redid the unit. I didn't do it with Scrum. But I know what I did wrong. So I know I am not going to do that miss a mistake. Again. It's a
Felipe Engineer 58:49
plus here, you get a point for you for learning.
Thank you. But it kind of goes through every scrim and I know someone say like, oh god, is this like a new concept of like, No, it really isn't. Because moving in education now is towards what's referred to now as personalized learning, where kids kind of learn to more you know, independently and you are more of not the lecture but more of kind of like the coach think of it as more like a Sherpa, you know, the the the guides through the mountains, that's kind of where the role of a teaching is moving towards. And also the idea of project based learning that we're moving away from kind of the traditional tests to more ways where it's like they could take their knowledge and apply it to a certain situation, because those are kind of the skill sets that you know industries are looking for. So we in education kind of have to prepare them for those for those skill sets. So there are a lot of pieces out there already. Where Scrum is going to is good and it can work for you and where you can kind of fit your pieces in, where you're not really throwing all control over to the kids, which you shouldn't do at the beginning, because they have no idea what they're doing, you know, instead, but that's because you're introducing something that is a new concept. So you've got to have to kind of teach it. So there'll be a lot of groundwork at the beginning, but seeing what Willie and his group has done to wetlands, and I'm like, Oh, this just works. You know, this works. And I'm seeing how I could do it, not just did a, you know, when I do individual group projects, I kind of realized now, you know, whatever classroom I'm in, wherever it may be, I'm gonna have a Kanban board set up on the wall. So like, you know, even when we're doing like a group activity, we're doing like a whole class activity like one. Like, recently, I had a class, we were working on the 1920s kind of learning concepts about the 1920s, the Jazz Age, the Harlem Renaissance, those kind of would have the kids, we were doing kind of a choice board activity where when they say, a choice board, it sounds it's exactly as it sounds, where you have kind of a general topic, and you kind of give the students options to kind of get to understanding the knowledge or the content of that topic. So I talked to kids, okay, well, the first thing we have picture like a multi slide, Google slide presentation, where one slide is the Harlem Renaissance one slide is the great migration, one slide is the Jazz Age. And within each of those slides, there are five count of five subtopics. So what I had the kids do is I would tell them, Okay, this is what you're gonna do, by the end of class, taking the class period as my sprint, I would like us to do, I would like you to get through at least the at least two slides of your choice, one topic, and each had the kids write their names, right down, pick two slides, at one topic each inside on the on the on the post it, alright, put it up to the wall. Okay. And then I went through and I explained what that actually physically means, you know, kind of thing. Here are the slides, you can see how the the topics, I would like you to do two of these slides with one topic. And then each, does everybody understand what we're doing or good. I then walked over, who did everybody's over to do it. And you start working. And behold, the kids are doing it. And you can see when they would come up to me and like show that that's like, Okay, go find yours for the tender like, yes, they moved. Yes, that's like, and I was sure was I was individually I was doing it also with a group project. And the kids loved it, because they were saying, you know, kids are saying, you know, it keeps everybody on task. And I think teachers will also love this using a Kanban board. If anything else you don't take away from our discussion of that went off on so many different tangents such every teacher doing a group project should use should research about the Kanban board. That is like if I took nothing else out of learning Scrum, I have found the joys of a Kanban board via the Kanban board or like my best reds. Because for teachers, those who are listening who may not be familiar with the Kanban board you have I basically made it very simple to do doing done, where the groups you know, assign everybody the tasks, they put it in the to do. And then once everybody understands their tasks, once everybody understand what needs to be done,
you start doing it. And what's great is especially school teachers understand this, when you're working on group projects, there's always that one who wants to you know, hide under the radar, one who always wants to hopefully, like kind of be the anchor kind of let the others in the group do the you know, do the work for them. But you see with the cardboard because I tell the kids they can't hide their seat, the kids picked it up if you have a good group and I've been lucky you don't knock wood to have good group of kids will they will enforce on each other. They're either help you out or they will go to the teacher be like so and so's not doing their work. Why? Ah, they're still doing pile. But it's because it's a visual, and it's quick and it's easy. It's not like forms where you know, some teachers have like first where the kids fell. Okay, what are the tasks Who do I like right now chart boss? No, I do not opposed to know who to do. All right. This is what you're supposed to do. There but instead we're good everybody I'm gonna do it. And you know, and I'm just like, I realized once again, I wish I would read this earlier because I would have started trading earlier and I think life would be so much more easier. Granted, it's become easier from our first visit with kind of like getting everything else because like we just had interims and I'm like where I am supposed to be with grading. I don't have a lot of papers to grade, you know, over the weekend because I've been using my scrub board and getting them through as crazy as this may sounds. I am almost want to get to the next school year, because I just want to, like, you know, put this through and just be like, I'm excited for it because I just want to try new things and see how like, you know, new ideas work. And I'm just like looking at this and I'm like, Oh my God, I am just like, I am like, drooling over the possibilities of how this works. And I'm gonna make sure I take like careful notes of what I do. So I could report back to you and Mr. Patel.
Felipe Engineer 1:05:25
Here, the you're not really having to work on the weekends anymore. Like you can get your schoolwork and teaching work done during the five day work period, which was not the case this semester. Go right
on it. Let's just say I was doing it. I guess if I want to say to anybody who's thinking of kind of like, when you're going to Scrum? Am I reinventing the wheel? Did I reinvent the wheel? No, I just found out how to make the wheel spin faster.
Felipe Engineer 1:05:53
And we'll do. Ladies and gentlemen, if you want to get your hands dirty with learning what Scrum is, I just so happen to have a free scrum course, if you click in the, in the show notes below, there's a bio link for me, click on my bio link. And there's a link to a free scrum course. So go there. And it's only 30 minutes, you know, invest 30 minutes, but you will get hands on, get your hands dirty with Scrum and a digital whiteboard. And that's all available for you if you're listening. But Howard, it has been my honor and my pleasure having you on the show. You get the last phrases out. And then we say goodbye to the good people, the VOC show
for anyone who's interested also in doing Scrum, if you look at Trello, and Trello is various, but I know if like Trello is like so overwhelming with all of its bells and whistles. It's just a lot of schools on Google use like a jam board. You could set up, you could set up a Kanban board that way. And in regards to that, and it's very quick. And it's very easy. I had people from our central office of visiting our school to give us this past Thursday. And they came to my class and they saw the Kanban board. So they were like whoa, whoa, that was this is just as impressive I'm like and so they were very impressed with like the productivity, the collaboration that was going on. And when kind of said, you know, I use these we have a lot of projects going on. I'm like this has come just comes from the concept of Scrum. So hopefully, I'm starting to spread the word I like I would highly recommend to any of you to click on that link below to take that 30 minute scrum course if for no other reason you get to meet the wonderful, you get to meet the engineer, you know in itself, who just it's a joy. It's, it's always a joy to talk to you, Philippe and I would I would highly recommend taking this course or reading about Dr. Sutherlands book about Scrum. And you will be so glad you did in you will actually feel better at the work that you do. And also just did physically Yes, a person. And just because you are doing better, you're doing it in less time. And then you're having that odd sensation of personal time for yourself that you have no idea of what to do now. Just to tell you don't tell your significant other because she might add more onto he or she might add more onto your like honey do list like that.
No, but I hope I was helpful to you and your listeners, Philippe and it's always a joy and a pleasure to speak with the engineer.
Felipe Engineer 1:08:31
Very special thanks to my guest. I'm Felipe Engineer Manriquez. The EBFC Show is created by Felipe and produced by passion to build easier and better. Thanks for listening. Stay safe everybody. Let's go build!
7th Grade US History Teacher
I am in my 23rd total year of teaching with 18 of them in Loudoun County Virginia. Currently, I teach US History in 7th grade and enjoy every moment of it. I had been trying to find a way to make planning easier for me and I think I might have found it with Scrum to say that it has been an eye-opener would be an understatement.
7th Grade US History Teacher
Seneca Ridge Middle School