Wicked creative content writer & podcaster with a satirical streak and masterful storytelling skill, Kelly Mitchell specializes in well-crafted works to intrigue minds and inspire conversation – at the very least – to find your smile.
TBE: Tell us about your book ‘Clap If You Can Hear Me’. Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Kelly Mitchell: The motivation for me to write the book was after one of my three children had graduated high-school and I was made painfully aware of how ill-prepared he was for life after graduation. After that, I spent a great deal of time coaching him and my other two on life skills and financial literacy. This book is a culmination of the things I learned to elevate education and the resources parents can use immediately to avoid the same fate as me.
TBE: What characteristics does an excellent teacher bring to the classroom?
Kelly Mitchell: I know that a lot of people like to point the finger at teachers, I am not one of them. Granted, not all teachers should be in the profession, but the majority of them go above and beyond the calling and have a genuine interest and passion for what they do. Passion is one of the key ingredients of a good characteristic for a teacher. But, all teachers are limited by bureaucracy.
TBE: How can teachers become leaders in improving education?
Kelly Mitchell: Education is a high-participation event. That means being vocal with legislators, speaking to parents and communities. Above all, it requires being innovative and thinking outside the box and around the rules to teach kids critical thinking—there is no greater purpose in education than showing kids how to think, not what to think.
In your book ‘Clap If You Can Hear Me’, you mentioned a survey on school system and intelligence score conducted by BBC. According to that study US ranks 28th, and top 5 countries are Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Finland. What in these country’s education system do you think would be both desirable and possible for the U.S. to emulate?
The American school system continues to rely on out-of-date, archaic practices that are no longer relevant. We have a bold gig economy and a country full of creatives that is not being addressed. We do not encourage financial literacy – which is a huge problem and perpetuates the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. The other countries are highly focused on relevant education that allows their citizens to enhance their quality of life and prosper. Relevance is everything.
TBE: From your perspective, what is it that children need today in schools that is different from in the past? What should we be trying to design schools to accomplish?
Kelly Mitchell: We are teaching children to become sheeple. Independent thought, critical thinking, financial literacy, community investment, emotional and cultural intelligence, entrepreneurship, and access to cost-effective and meaningful higher education is essential and can be accomplished. All of these things are not being adequately addressed in schools but are found in online programs scattered about the internet because people do see the problem and are contributing resources to try and fix it.
You’ve been critical of measures of teacher quality that include student test scores. What do you think are the most effective ways to evaluate teachers?
Evaluating teachers isn’t my primary concern. The concern is the subject matter that is forced upon them to teach that has no relevance and how teachers are required to navigate a meaningful education for their students. My criticism towards teachers and educational facilitators was in the nonsensical punitive and extremely harsh zero tolerance enforcement rather than restorative justice.
TBE: If you could sit down and speak with President Biden, what would you want to tell him about education policy?
Kelly Mitchell: We do not see eye to eye on educational policy and I believe he does not directly influence education in each state. As illustrated in my book, the state is largely responsible for their own policy. I would ask him to set up a meeting with Senate members. Then, I would meet with them and invite local representatives per county. We are going to need a big room.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Kelly Mitchell: I am currently working on several books. Two that are SciFi, one children’s book, one nonfiction, and one that will be entitled ‘Offended’. Stay tuned!