The Expert Effect: Break Down the Walls of Your Classroom and Connect Your Students to the world
The last year and a half gave some people a great deal of time to engage in projects, both personal and professional. Some became sourdough bread-bakers or houseplant horticulturists. For us, that extra time spent indoors meant putting the finishing touches on the book we’ve written for teachers. After two years of going through the writing process, we are excited to announce that our book is finally here!
We’re so proud to introduce you to The Expert Effect: A Three-Part System to Break Down the Walls of Your Classroom and Connect Your Students to the World—now available for pre-order on Amazon and to be released on May 17th. In fact, to say we’re excited is an understatement. As a lead-up to the big day, we wanted to write a few blog posts to tell the story behind it and give a preview of what’s to come in the book!
This all started in September of 2013 on the third day of the school year when I, (Zach) fresh out of college, entered what I hoped would be the last phase of my final teaching interview. The last hurdle was to teach a sample lesson to a fourth-grade class. I nervously walked into Grayson’s classroom to teach my lesson on nonfiction texts. I guess you could say the lesson went well because just a few days later we found ourselves as grade-level teaching partners. The rest, as they say, is history.
If you would have told me walking into that interview that eight years later, we would be publishing a book together, I would have thought you were crazy, but this book is essentially a culmination of everything that has happened since that fateful September day.
We’ve been presenting together over the past 8 years and sharing our passions in education with other educators within our school district and at conferences and events across Michigan while developing a deeper purpose connected back to the reason we both went into teaching: to ignite a passion in our students to use their learning to enhance their lives and make the world a better place.
The world is changing. The world has changed—a lot. But regardless of the changes that may come our way, we know that educators will always play a pivotal role in preparing students for success now and in the future…we just believe that that pivotal role needs an upgrade. There was a time when the teacher had to be the expert in everything they taught, and many teachers still subscribe to this thinking. But with an entire planet’s knowledgebase at our fingertips in the form of Google, Siri, Alexa, and YouTube (to name a few), we see the role of the educator changing from “sage on the stage” to being the planner and facilitator of meaningful learning experiences for students, helping (as the title suggests) to knock down the walls of the classroom and create authentic connections between your students and the real-world.
In early 2019, we started to put together this philosophy and to build on it. We realized there was a pattern to the most meaningful learning experiences we were creating for kids. We began to ask the question, “Who else, besides us, can they learn from?” “What can they create with their new learning?” And later, “With whom can they share what they’ve learned?” This structure became a regular and integral part of our classrooms, and it’s one that we’ve seen turn reluctant learners into learning leaders. We’ve seen disconnected students ask for time during recess to finish a passion project.
In this book, we hope to make a compelling case that the best way to do this is to empower your class to learn from experts near and far, become experts through project-based learning, and teach like experts to an authentic audience to create the ultimate learning experience.
Here is a short excerpt from Chapter 1:
We believe we are living in the midst of an educational revolution, a true turning point for what school can and should be. We believe It’s our duty as teachers to raise a generation of students who have the essential 21st-century skills like critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication to be leaders, doers, thinkers, and makers that will move humanity forward. So let’s step out and break the mold. Let’s help create the next generation of movers and shakers that will propel our world forward. Even though we can’t clearly define the future, we do believe we can adequately prepare kids for this uncertain future.
The premise of it is simple yet powerful. It’s time to make school look more like real learning: it’s loud, it’s messy, it’s creative, and it’s a beautiful sight! Broken into four parts, this book combines stories, insight from dozens of expert experiences, practical strategies, research, and examples from classrooms to assist educators in transforming their practice. The ideas are organized by the stages of an inquiry model:
Learning from Experts Near and Far
Students Become the Experts through Project-Based Learning
Students Teach Others as Experts
Putting it All Together in Pictures of Practice
Each chapter ends with a “Think & Tweet” challenge designed to do just that: challenge educators to reflect and share in some way their current thinking or professional practices. We are really excited about these and think readers will find great value in them as they will encourage them to actively apply concepts and share results on social media using #ExpertEffectEDU. We hope to grow our PLN far and wide!
WHAT WE HOPE YOU GAIN FROM READING
Readers will come to understand that the true power of this book’s ideas comes from breaking down the walls between what is school and what is the world. Whether it’s learning from experts who come from outside your school or giving kids the chance to teach like experts to an authentic audience outside of your walls, building school-community partnerships is the new necessity. The Expert Effect can help you see how to get started.
We hope that by introducing you to a new way to approach the process of teaching and learning by getting your kids to learn from experts outside of the classroom, become experts through project-based learning, and teach others like experts to an authentic audience, we are setting you up with a winning formula to achieve the desired results—not just the memorization of your curriculum, but the ignition of a passion for learning where students see themselves as individuals who deserve to learn from the best, become the best, and improve the world through their learning. No matter the obstacles, they’re never going to take away the power of the imagination. When we can give kids the chance to learn from experts, become experts, and teach others like experts, it’s the students that become responsible for their own development. It’s their own responsibility.
WHAT OUR STUDENTS HAVE TO SAY
Now it’s time to give you a taste of what the students themselves think of learning in this way because they are the ones we are asking to learn through it. And it is these stories, of our own students, that we want to share with the world.
“Anybody can change the world through the creation of something, like an app, for instance. If they’re an adult or kids like us, they can study, they can learn, and they can use what they know to make a difference in the world.” -Olivia, Class of 2026
“Sometimes it’s hard to make a difference in the world, because there’s a whole big world and you can’t travel to all the countries, but you CAN use your voice, and your voice can be heard all around the world through a podcast or a blog post.” -Bella, Class of 2027
WHAT EDUCATORS ARE SAYING
Below is a small snapshot of what people are saying about the book:
“In this book, Mr. McKinney and Mr. Rondot share instructional methods that guide your students to learn from, become, and share like experts in ways so engaging they’ll be okay with missing recess!” –Elisabeth Stayer, School Librarian & Educator at The Roeper School
“We live in interesting times. This book provides tangible ways that you as a teacher can develop your teaching to improve the outcomes for your learners. The importance of connection is highlighted so that our profession continues to develop and improve.” –Dr. Michael Harvey, Science Educator at Marlborough College Malaysia
HOW TO BUY
We hope that anyone reading this book will walk away inspired and with practical strategies to empower learners to think innovatively in any classroom or school. QR codes and other resources we include are curated using Google Docs, so they will always be up-to-date. We are proud to have partnered with EduMatch Books to publish this book. They offer fantastic bulk discounts, making it perfect for district-, grade level team, or school-wide book studies. Contact them directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking HERE for more information.