031: Dr. Shaun Woodly – Hip Professor Talks About Urban Education and His Writing Journey

MC Means Move the Class

Download on your computer

Dr. Shaun Woodly is the author of MC Means Move the Class: How to Spark Engagement and Motivation in Urban and Culturally Diverse Classrooms. He is also the host of The Urban & Educating Podcast.

Today, he talks about his journey from music to education, how writing a book is different from academic writing, and the parallelism between being an MC and a teacher.

What We Discuss with Dr. Shaun Woodly:

  • From love of music to a burning passion for both music and education
  • How being an MC is correlated with being a teacher
  • How he found his recognizable voice apart from having an academic tone
  • Different sublevels of culture that result in complexity and misunderstandings
  • Shaun’s realization of the impact he has on his students
  • Why and how Shaun changed his teaching style in 180 degrees
  • Shaun’s advice to those having seeds of doubt with their profession
  • Why Shaun leaped into a university setting
  • Academic writing vs. book writing
  • Creating the book trailer and marketing the book
  • How Shaun leverages his books in his workshops

[00:47] Shaun’s Background in Music and Education

Growing up, Shaun was a musician at the church and member of a band, who has always wanted to become a professional musician, until a teacher changed his trajectory to music and education.

He taught public schools for 10 years and is teaching college level for a few years now.

Being an MC is correlated with the role of a teacher. It’s not just a role, but a responsibility, eventually making it a cycle of energy exchange.

[06:25] Finding the Voice

Shaun was so used to writing and reading in an academic tone that he had to find that recognizable voice that can connect with people.

Being an African-American, Shaun understands that there are different sub-levels of culture resulting in lots of misunderstandings and complexities.

You need to break free from the scholastic paradigms, where you peel back the layers of pre-existing assumptions of a traditional teacher role.

[11:40] Realizing the Impact of Teaching

Dealing with a lot of insecurities being an educator, he admits acting the part as someone very confident. But deep inside, he knew there were some things he had to learn and discover.

It wasn’t until he saw the impact he had on his students and how they looked up to him that he knew he had to make sure he came prepared. After which, he began to learn more, went back to school, and became more engaged in leadership positions.

Previously, he had a different way of teaching — impersonal, with an iron fist, and closed off to any personal relationships. He was very strict and barely smiled. He didn’t feel it was right but thought it was what he had to do in order to “manage” the kids.

Then he got a phone call from a parent saying her daughter was scared of him. That moment just hit him. He knew something needed to change. He apologized and changed his behavior from that point on.

[18:20] Are You The Right Person for This Profession?

Step back and examine your thoughts with that sentiment because there’s a disconnect somewhere. Teaching is not one of those careers many people choose. There was something there that drove you to that.

A lot of those seeds of doubt can be remedied with proper information. Through the book, Shaun explains the four elements of urban education in order to fill in those gaps so educators can learn how to position themselves to be their best and authentic selves in the classroom, enjoy the learning, teaching, and students more, and then be more successful.

[19:55] Leaping Into the University Setting

Shaun talks about why he decided to move to a university setting. Using his nonacademic style, people actually received it very well. He goes to different conferences and workshops as his true, authentic self. He tries to bring an invigorating presence to his presentation and workshops.

[23:20] Academic Writing vs. Book Writing

Writing a book is totally different from writing academically. Shaun describes this as a very refining process. Even writing a fiction book is different from writing a nonfiction genre. It’s about trusting your inner voice as a writer.

[28:40] Dealing with Setbacks

Shaun had to go through a series of setbacks working on his book, but this allowed him to step back and approach things in a more strategic way. Ultimately, it ended up working out better than it would have had things happened as planned.

[31:00] His Process of Doing the Book Trailer

Inspired by the movie, Hitch, where Will Smith was the Date Doctor, Shaun, in this case, presented himself as the Class Doctor. With the help of his friends who are in the film industry, they walked through the nuts and bolts of the trailer, with Shaun’s vision and preference in mind.

[33:23] Marketing the Book

Shaun leveraged relationships and connections to help get feedback on the book. Sometimes, it may feel like you’re pestering someone on social media, but with how fast things are moving nowadays, sometimes you really have to put yourself out there and remind people over and over.

If you care about the book and your message, don’t feel uncomfortable about it since you’re going to change somebody’s life.

If you don’t want to talk about it, how do expect anybody else to talk about it? Not all New York Times bestsellers are even really great books, but they’re just being talked about —  a lot!

Episode Resources:

MC Means Move the Class: How to Spark Engagement and Motivation in Urban and Culturally Diverse Classrooms

The Urban & Educating Podcast

MC Means Move the Class Book Trailer

Visit Shaun’s website, Urban & Educating and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Listen on:

MORE EPISODES