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Help Me Understand

Help Me Understand

By Bob Dillon
Dr. Robert Dillon interviews a range of fans, learners, and experts surrounding their passions. The podcast is pure learning about ideas and concepts that you may have never considered before.
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Currently playing episode

A Conversation with the Living Now crew

Help Me Understand

A Conversation with the Living Now crew

Help Me Understand

A Conversation with Doug Timm
This conversation provides some perspective of the life of a school principal during a pandemic. We talk about staying connected to families. Helping teachers feel safe in their school space, and how he has worked to continue learning in these trying conditions. Doug is an elementary principal in the Colonel School District in Delaware. 
February 12, 2021
A Conversation with Derek Hoven
Derek and I kick off season five with a conversation about community. Our pandemic year has made being in community difficult, and it has shined a bright light on the power of community. This conversation started from my reading of The Power of Ritual, a book that I highly recommend. Derek is the pastor of Salem Lutheran Church in Bay Hill, Florida. 
February 9, 2021
A Conversation with Sam Chaltain
Sam Chaltain (@samchaltain) is a partner at 180 Studio, a global design collaborative dedicated to advancing people’s understanding of the future of learning — and what it requires. Sam’s writings about his work have appeared in both magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today. A former speechwriter for each of President Obama’s U.S. Secretaries of Education, Sam has also written for Oscar and Grammy Award winning artists. A periodic contributor to CNN, Sam is the author or co-author of seven books; a co-producer of the PBS documentary film, 180 Days: Hartsville; and co-creator of the 10-part online film series, A Year at Mission Hill. Sam has a Master’s degree in American Studies from the College of William & Mary, and an M.B.A. from George Washington University, where he specialized in non-profit management and organizational theory. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he graduated with a double major in Afro-American Studies and History.
December 21, 2020
A Conversation with Dr. Sandra Duncan
With over 45 years of experience and a doctorate in education, Dr. Sandra Duncan has a wide and varied background in early care and education. She has extensive experience in working with young children and parents, teaching at the university level, designing professional development programs for practitioners, and authoring several teacher resource books. In this episode, we talk about how our work around intentional design comes together and her vision for what is possible going forward. 
December 18, 2020
A Conversation with Glenn Barnes on Civics, Democracy and the Future of Social Studies Education
Glenn Barnes is the coordinator of social studies learning for Saint Louis Public School. He is a graduate of Drury University as well as part of the leadership team for Connected Learning. Following Glenn on Twitter @socratesaskswhy.
November 8, 2020
A Conversation with Josh Stumpenhorst- Part Two
Josh and I discuss opening a school library during a pandemic as well as how he is working to keep the maker culture rolling in his school. 
October 18, 2020
A Conversation with Me- Flipping the Script with Derek Hoven
Derek takes over as the host, and I answer some of questions about the future of school, taking care of kids in a pandemic, and what makes me tick as a leader. I hope you enjoy what is destined to be an ongoing feature of the podcast. 
October 15, 2020
What have we learned about school in a pandemic? Part Two
This episode continues our conversation about what we have learned from teaching and learning during a pandemic. This episode and part one of this series was supported by Color Art Interiors
October 13, 2020
What have we learned about school in a pandemic? Part One
This podcast was crafted in partnership with Color Art Interiors. They are helping schools and districts to design innovative spaces in the Saint Louis area and beyond. This episode features a number of educators discussing what is working and what remains a challenge in our current learning environments during this pandemic. 
October 9, 2020
Activating a Master Plan
Joseph Phelan and I come back together to talk about projects on the campus at Saint Andrews (MD). This conversation looks at some of the technical elements of design, and how he is going about bringing new projects to life in a pandemic. Some great ideas for considerations for those that are designing any type of space. 
October 2, 2020
2+3 Doesn't Equal 5
In this mini-episode, I talk about the many impressive things that teachers are doing to adjust to virtual learning as well as how we may take two steps forward and one step back as we move from full virtual to hybrid models of learning. 
September 28, 2020
Impact Learning Podcast Preview
This episode is a preview of my guest appearance on the Impact Learning Podcast. For the full episode, click here.
September 21, 2020
A Conversation with Kristina Ishmael
The episode dives into the changing role of teaching and learning as well as some of the opportunities that schools have to make long-term changes in the way that they support students. 
September 18, 2020
Learning Environments, Living Spaces- CEO of Natural Pod
This conversation starts with us discussing the future of learning spaces in this time of disruption, and then we broaden the scope to talk about how we can positively impact families, communities, and the planet with our work for excellent spaces for all. 
September 8, 2020
Safer Not Safe
This episode looks at some of the issues facing schools as they return for the new year. 
August 31, 2020
A Conversation with Robert Dillon Sr.
This special episode of the Help Me Understand Podcast features my father, Robert Dillon, Sr. We actually recorded the audio for this episode a few years ago as a part of the Mobile StoryCorps project when it came to Saint Louis. This was a memorable conversation for me as we talked about my dad’s childhood, important memories for him, and a bit about how he sees the world. I’m excited to have the Help Me Understand podcast in which to share this conversation, and a special thanks to StoryCorps for creating the environment to make this possible.
May 22, 2020
A Conversation with Jason Michel
Dr. Jason Michel is an assistant principal at Parkview High School in Springfield Missouri. It is a graduate of Drury University. Jason is a true servant leader that puts students and teachers first. In this episode, we talk about leading a school from quarantine, and how schools need to evolve going forward. 
May 19, 2020
A Conversation with Dr. Stacey Ulrich
In this episode, we discuss Stacey's work in emergency medicine as well as how she continues to look for challenges, adventures, and experiences through her work and at home. Dr. Stacey Ulrich, MD is a pediatric emergency medicine specialist in San Diego, CA. She was a graduate of Pattonville High School in 1992. Stacey is the mother of two boys. 
May 15, 2020
A Conversation with Rayna Freeman
Rayna is an amazing educator, and she currently serves as the president for MASSCUE.  Rayna Freedman is currently a 5th grade teacher at the Jordan/Jackson Elementary School in Mansfield, MA.  Rayna has a B.S. in Education from the University of Vermont and a M.Ed in Educational Technology from Lesley University.  She is a Google Level 2 certified educator, a BrainPOP certified educator, Flipgrid Ambassador, Fablevision Ambassador and Wakelet Ambassador. Rayna has presented for ISTE, Ed Tech Teacher, Tech and Learning, Medfield Digital Learning Day, FETC, BPLC, and BLC.
May 12, 2020
A Conversation with Andy Marcinek
Andy Marcinek is a thinker, leader, and educator. He has helped schools continue to rethink what is possible in learning through technology and innovative practices. Andrew Marcinek is currently the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School. Andrew was the first Chief Open Education Advisor for the US Department of Education. In that role, Andrew focused on accelerating the adoption of open education policies within the Department and across the federal government. As part of this campaign, Andrew organized a White House event that launched a national movement called #GoOpen and brought together EdTech companies, district and state leaders, and nonprofits. His ultimate goal is to increase the curation and sharing of open educational materials by educators throughout the country. Prior to that, he served as Director of Technology, Instructional Technology Specialist, and secondary English teacher in schools in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
May 8, 2020
A Conversation with Don Wettrick
Don Wettrick is a leader and educator that supports innovation and entrepreneurship in schools and communities. Don Wettrick is the President and founder of STARTedUP, a nonprofit that provides entrepreneurial events, training, and seed funding for young entrepreneurs. STARTedUP also supports Innovate WithIN, a state wide pitch competition in Indiana. Don is also a podcast host for STARTedUP, which hosts some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs and authors. 
May 5, 2020
A Conversation with Noah Williams
Noah is a coach and head of athlete development for the Williams Racing Academy, He also hosts The Second Echelon Podcast, Noah and I discuss competitive cycling, and how his work as a coach continues to grow more and more technical in nature. Noah has seen and experienced cycling over many years as a fan, competitor, and now coach. More about Noah can be found here,
April 29, 2020
A Conversation with Amber Teamann
In this episode, Amber and I talk about the demands of being a school leader in these uncertain times, and her efforts to understand those around her using the wisdom of the Enneagram.  Amber Teamann is the proud principal of Whitt Elementary in Wylie ISD in Wylie, Texas. During her educational career, Amber’s comprehensive understanding of student learning has resulted in a successful blend of technology and teaching. From a 4th grade teacher at a public school technology center, to her role as a Title I Technology Facilitator responsible for 17 campuses, Amber has helped students and staff navigate their digital abilities and responsibilities. More about Amber can be found at her website,
April 27, 2020
A Conversation with Bill Selak
This episode future Bill Selak. Bill and I discuss the future of learning as well as his passion around sound design. Bill is an ISTE Kay L. Bitter Vision Award winner, ISTE Emerging Leader, Google Certified Innovator, Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified Educator Level 2, Apple Teacher, ISTE Certified Educator, and I’m Leading Edge Certified in Online & Blended Teaching, the Digital Educator, and Professional Developer certifications. He uses technology to shape the experience of each of my students. On this website,, he writes about how technology is shaping the face of modern education. Bill believes that technology empowers educators to better individualize teaching and learning, and empowers students to communicate in their own style.
April 22, 2020
A Conversation with Josh Stumpenhorst
In this episode, we talk about some of the ways that Josh is serving his community during this global pandemic, how to modernize the library learning experience, and some the people and moments that have shaped Josh as a dad, educator, and athlete. More about Josh, his work, books, and how we supports schools can be found at
April 14, 2020
A Conversation with Monica Burns
This episode features Dr. Monica Burns. To learn more about Monica and her work head over to You can also connectwith her on all of these social media channels: Twitter: @ClassTechTips, Facebook: ClassTechTips and Instagram: @ClassTechTips. Listen, rate, and review her podcast, Easy EdTech Podcast:  Don't forget to read: Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom:
April 13, 2020
Help Me Understand- Wendy Kryah
This episode is part of my efforts to feature the contributions of the Pattonville High School Class of 1992, and it was a pleasure or laugh and smile with Wendy. We also explored the  skills that we bring to the work place. The ideas of solving problems, getting things done, helping systems changes, project management, and getting things organized. We even spent a few moments talking about our mutual love of Colorado. 
April 4, 2020
Help Me Understand- Heather Lantz
Heather is a 1991 Pattonville graduate, small business owner, and entrepreneur. We talk about the wisdom that comes from growing your own business, the subjects in schools that have crept back into her work, and the joy that she gets in supporting so many around the country as they expand their businesses. It was insightful to hear how communications, marketing, science, and listening are all keys to her success. Heather is Clinical & Business Development Educator at Jan Marini.
April 4, 2020
Help Me Understand- Michelle Benedict
Michelle and I talk about the importance of caring for students heads and hearts especially in this time of distance learning. Michelle is an SEL Expert, Elementary Educator, Mindfulness Practitioner, National & Tedx Speaker. More on Michele HERE
April 4, 2020
Help Me Understand- Kelly Tenkely
Kelly and I talk about a number of big ideas including her founding a school and how it supports kids. To learn more about Kelly, go HERE. 
April 4, 2020
Help Me Understand- Jane Bannester
This episode features Jane Bannester. Jane is a teacher at Ritenour High School and a 1992 Graduate of Pattonville High School. Check out more about what she does with media convergence HERE. 
April 4, 2020
Help Me Understand- Michele Eaton
Michele and I talk about her new book as well as modern learning and all of its elements.  Michele Eaton is the Director of Virtual and Blended Learning for the M.S.D. of Wayne Township in Indianapolis, Indiana. She focuses on staff and course development for Achieve Virtual Education Academy and provides leadership for the district's blended initiatives. Michele is a CoSN CETL and 2016 Next Generation Leader, 2018 EdWeek Leader to Learn From, President Elect of the ISTE Online Learning Network, IUPUI online instructor, Conference Chair for the Indiana Connected Educators organization, member of the EdTech Heroes, and moderator for the #INeLearn chat. You can follow her on Twitter at @micheeaton and @the411vodcast.
March 18, 2020
Help Me Understand- Joseph Phelan
This is our first of many episodes together as we discuss space design through an operations lens. Connect with Joseph at 
March 18, 2020
Help Me Understand- Dr. Riina Hirsch
Riina and I discuss her work to build schools and systems into sustainable places to serve students. She is an ELA teacher with 16 years experience teaching grades 7-12, but 9th has always been her sweet spot. She is passionate about professional development, instructional coaching and curriculum. Currently, she works for MEERS/Goodwill Missouri as the Coordinator of Professional Development, Curriculum, and Instruction serving four adult high schools on a year round accelerated program that awards a traditional diploma to students who dropped out and are now 21 or older. As a side gig, she serves as the Operations Manager for the Teacher Self-Care conference series ( and writes for both The Educator's Room and The Instructional Coach Academy ( She also facilitates professional development sessions for teachers focused on professionalism as self-care with specific concrete strategies that help teachers cultivate intentional positivity so they can control their thinking and take charge of their classroom practice. I can be reached via email at, via Twitter @dr_riina, via LinkedIn at or via Facebook at .
March 18, 2020
Help Me Understand- Mike Kaechele
Mike and I talk about PBL and how is meshes with SEL and other areas of learning. More about Mike over at You can also follow him on Twitter at: @mikekaechele
March 18, 2020
Help Me Understand- Dan Kennedy
Dan and I talk about serving others, supporting our families, and being genuine leaders. Reach out to Dan at or learn more about Kumveka at 
March 18, 2020
Help Me Understand- Eric Menkhus
Eric Menkhus  is the Associate Dean of New Education Initiatives, Clinical Professor of Law, and Faculty Fellow, Center for Law, Science & Innovation at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. Eric Menkhus is leading the College of Law’s efforts in new initiatives, including expanding online learning and online programs, as Director of New Program Development. Eric can be reached at
March 18, 2020
Help Me Understand- April Vernon
April and I discuss being parents, supporting teaching and learning, and the best of humanity. You can connect with April at 
March 18, 2020
Help Me Understand- Derek Hoven
Derek and I discuss leadership, empowering others, and building a culture of care and support. He is the pastor of Salem Lutheran Church. You can connect with Derek at His instagram account is 
March 18, 2020
A Conversation with Bridgitte Alomes on the Mission of Natural Pod
Bridgitte Alomes, CEO of Natural Pod, joined the podcast to help me understand the mission of this learning environments partner. They work with schools to truly redesign and rethink space.  Check out this TED talk from Bridgitte ( and more about Natural Pod and their work. (
December 24, 2019
A Conversation with Jonathan Martin on The Mastery Transcript
Jonathan E Martin, author of Reinventing Crediting for Competency-Based Education ( joins us to discuss the Mastery Transcript. High school transcripts are a century old device that is causing our education system friction as it looks to evolve. Jonathan helps me to understand more about the power of this next generation transcript and how it hold promise to be a lever of change for all schools. 
December 23, 2019
A Conversation with Janelle McLaughlin on Owning Your Learning
Janelle McLaughlin is an education strategist that supports schools and districts with growth and change.  This episode focuses on how teachers and leaders can take control of their own personal and professional growth to remain energized in their work. Janelle is the CEO of Innovative Education Solutions ( You can connect with her here as well (
December 23, 2019
A Conversation with the Living Now crew
Garreth Heidt is the lead learner of the PVHS InNOVAtionLab. His students have developed an amazing social entrepreneur effort called Living Now ( These students are working to get their fellow learners to lift their head and see the beauty of nature. They are guiding tours to some amazing places, and they are turning their class project into a movement. Follow them and their teacher Garreth (@Ed_by_design) to learn more. 
December 23, 2019
A Conversation with Stephen Himes on Dickens and A Christmas Carol
Stephen Himes, educator and experience learning coordinator, joins the podcast to help me understand more about Dickens and A Christmas Carol. Himes is an expert on curating and supporting student growth about the themes of Dickens. He organized travel abroad programs for schools. In this podcast, we explore the themes and ideas in A Christmas Carol include how the modern day Scrooge story wanders from the messages that Dickens wanted us to consider. 
December 22, 2019
A Conversation with Shannon Pitcher-Boyea on Healthy Leadership
Shannon Pitcher-Boyea, founder of Breathing Room Mindful Personal and Professional Wellness ( joins us to discuss the concept of healthy leadership. She helped me understand the importance of personal growth and wellness for school leaders. Shannon works with schools and districts around the country to support the development of healthy students, teachers, leaders, and systems.  
December 22, 2019
A Conversation with Brianna Hodges on the Power of Story in Teaching and Learning
Learner, Listener, Leader, Storyteller, and Future Author Brianna Hodges joins the podcast to help me understand how she sees the power of story playing a role in excellent teaching and learning. More from Brianna at her website,
December 22, 2019
A Conversation with Talia Kovacs on Joyful Literacy
This episode features Talia Kovacs, CEO of Lit Life. LitLife shapes lives of purpose and joy through literacy. An international leader in professional development for literacy education, LitLife inspires and guides teachers to refine their instruction to provide students with robust and meaningful reading and writing experiences. Our dynamic and experienced teacher leaders provide the why, what, and how of literacy instruction by modeling best practice lessons side by side with teachers and through a combination of in-person and live virtual support. Students and the educators working with them leave LitLife's workshops with concrete steps to implement joyful literacy for the entire school and district community. LitLife's website: Talia's Twitter: @TaliaKovacs LitLife's Twitter: @LitLifePD
December 22, 2019
A Conversation with James Owen on the Art of Reviewing Movies
James Owen joins us to talk movies and being a reviewer. He is the co-founder of and a regular contributors to the Columbia Tribune.
December 22, 2019
A Conversation with Anna Harrison about Biophilic Design
Anna Harrison, ASID, LEED AP, ALEP has focused her work on growing knowledge and understanding about biophilia and biophilic design. She is the Director of Educational Planning at Aedis Architects. Our conversation helped me learning how we can use the positive impact of nature and light o positively shape learning.
December 22, 2019
A Conversation with Kevin Stoller on the Future of Life Beyond High School
The episode featured Kevin Stoller - Co-Founder & CEO ( Driven by his passion for enhancing the learning process, Kevin started Kay-Twelve in 2009. Coupled with his experience in the contract furniture industry, Kevin has a B.S, in Mass Communications from Miami University and a MBA from The Ohio State University. Kevin is married with 3 kids and though Kay-Twelve keeps him very busy, he still finds time to coach his 3 kids in their various sports. Involved in several civic and industry groups, one of these programs works with kids to foster creativity and entrepreneurship. In terms of personal interests he still tries to find time for travel, sports, and getting to local concerts when time permits. The underlying mission and philosophy of Kay-Twelve exemplifies his commitment to improving the learning environment. Personally Kevin feels "deeply passionate about allowing kids to fail and learn how to handle adversity. Learning does not stop once they leave the four walls of a classroom and experience learning is invaluable."
December 13, 2019
A Conversation of Bryan Dean on Designing Effective School Systems
More on Bryan Dean and all his awesomeness can be found here. Bryan Dean, @drrevdean, (Consultant & Designer for DTour Professional Learning, #UDL Coach, +Deviant, EDURebel & Haberdashery Enthusiast)
December 12, 2019
A Conversation with Alexander Salas on The Gap Between Learning Sciences and Classroom Instruction
Our guest is Alexander Salas, a designer and thinker, on how to bring the best instructional design to all learning spaces. Check him out at
December 11, 2019
A Conversation with Sandra Dillon on Grief and Loss
I'm joined today my wife, Sandra Dillon, MSW. She is a specialist in supporting people through grief and loss. 
November 26, 2019
A Conversation with Brett Clark on Chicago White Sox
Brett Clark talks with me about his boyhood team, the Chicago White Sox. He talks the past, present, and future of the organization. 
November 14, 2019
A Conversation with Ellie Dillon on Improv
Ellie Dillon joins her dad to talk improv and how it can support confidence, provide future skills, and be a lot of fun for students. 
November 13, 2019