• Andrea Paulakovich

#DBCBookBlog 10/50: The Pepper Effect




I was beyond excited to begin #DBCSummer50 with @iluveducating. She is truly a spark starter. Her touch of genius has left a mark on thousands of educators. I often feel giddy when she shares that she wants to write a book and become a published writer. Why? Because I truly believe she is already a published author. She has single handedly...

1. Poured out her heart and soul in 50 blog posts about 50 amazing books.

2. Received endless followers who are reading her blog posts.

3. Received DM (direct messages) asking when she will have a book published.

4. Ignited passion within others to read and write.

I think you are truly amazing Miss Alicia! Filled with excitement to see what will happen next for you, my friend!


You might ask...I thought this blog was about The Pepper Effect. It most certainly is; however, I can't jump in without tipping my hat at the amazing educator who started my journey to read all 50 #DBC books. My journey is going to take a bit of a spin at this point. When I chose to cannonball into this challenge, I was a Secondary Instructional Coach. Around book #7, I discovered that I was going to support our Assistant Superintendent this year as the Assistant Director of Learning Services. Although I truly believed I could keep up the pace, I quickly realized I was in over my head. Trying to read books, write, start from scratch in a new position, balance my work and home life, and try to focus on my own health, was not going to work. I found myself feeling overwhelmed. Staying at work until 11pm, arriving home at midnight, and then trying to read/write was not a smart idea. I am someone that hates to fail at anything. My inner drive to push forward usually prevails; however, I had to accept defeat. I was not going to manage to read all 50 DBC books by the end of summer. My journey veered off course and brought me to this point. I am still reading the books, writing, and implementing ideas, but my journey will focus on choosing books that will help me to grow in my new position or books that will help my colleagues on their journey.


As I determined what book to read next, I turned to Alicia Ray. I told her what I needed at the moment, and yet again, she pointed me in the right direction. Although I am not a Beatles fan (sorry Sean), I do believe in the message behind this book: "We are building the blueprint for our students to create their own respective masterpiece."


As educators, we have our own journey to success. This journey can be the model that pushes our students forward. Our passion as educators is the mojo that can light fires within our students. We need to realize our impact on students. How does our enthusiasm, our excitement fuel their desire to learn, to grow?


It is so important to intentionally pause and invite our colleagues into collaboration. This collaboration can lead to "...world-changing music in the schoolhouse." As we begin to consider necessary changes, we should begin with four beliefs:


1. Believe in Your Vision: What is your vision of education? Does your belief in the vision compel others to support and sustain it?

2. Believe in Your Masterpiece: What is infinite about the positive imprint you are making?

3. Believe in Your Collaborators: Who brings out the best in you as an educator?

4. Ignore the Naysayers: How do you gain strength from supportive thought partners to overcome the negativity of naysayers?


After we determine our four beliefs, we must face the educational crossroad looming in our path. In order to survive, we cannot remain on the same old track. A radical change of scenery is a necessity. In order to pursue this new journey, we should focus on the innovators. The thought leaders. The educators that are wishing, hoping, and desperately crying out for change. What if we tune into their gifts? What if they lead the change? How could their enthusiasm build momentum and encourage innovation throughout our buildings, our district? As Sean points out in his book, we can build this synergy by truly listening.


L = Look for the gifts of other colleagues in the schoolhouse.

I = Invite colleagues to share those gifts with you.

S = Strategize a plan to build and do something wonderful.

T= Take a risk and commit to do something bold and creative.

E= Enjoy the process of collaborating and camaraderie.

N= Now Make It Happen!


As we begin to listen to unconventional ideas, we can stimulate change. Unconventional ideas will provide courage to walk away from formulas in education. Are there "...meaningless and overused practices..." you need to walk away from? Who are the educators that will be influential in this change? How can they serve as a powerful catalyst?

What are bold and creative ways to provide daily, relentless belief in your collaborators every morning?


Imagine the following:

1. Let's take a different approach to our usual problem-solving strategy.

2. Status quo is not welcome here. Why don't we dream big today instead of sticking to the regular faculty meeting agenda?

3. We are going to apply the EdCamp mindset to all of our math classes this week!

4. How about we see what happens if we pair our art and science teachers together for an upcoming unit on force and motion?


This type of thinking is vital to pushing against the status quo. Even more crucial is the response to these statements. I have learned that statements about innovation are meaningful if there is a favorable response. In other words, someone has to say, "Yes." I love finding bandmates who are willing to go along with those seemingly crazy dreams. No dream is crazy in the schoolhouse when serving a purpose to ignite thought and creativity for our kids. Sometimes it takes finding a willing bandmate who is eager to embrace the random and the whimsical."


As educators, we have been entrusted with the center of someone's universe. As Sean shares throughout his book, we sometimes forget that the very people at the center of our profession are children. They deeply desire freedom, voice, and choice. Thus it should not be a choice to change, it should be our moral imperative. "Students need our collective gifts harnessed at a high volume of collaboration because true collaboration breeds innovation."


Thank you Mr. Gaillard for sharing your wisdom and encouraging educators to create a collaborative masterpiece that inspires our next generation of innovators, thought leaders, and world changers. If you have not read Sean's book, click here and check out an excerpt from his book.


As always, Alicia Ray and I invite you to share your thoughts on the Flipgrid for The Pepper Effect. A shared space to welcome ideas and grow together as educators. My next book is Kim Bearden‘s Talk to Me and I look forward to shaking up my blog with a little collaboration. As Mrs. Ray would say, "Stay tuned y'all!"

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