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Transcript - Episode 77: How To Create Community Within The Classroom, With Shawn Young CEO & Co-Founder Of Classcraft Episode 77

Aug 30, 2022

00:00:00 Shawn

And so, I just clicked one day, like I'm talking about games with these students all the time, we're playing the same games. They get really motivated, they're willing to spend all this time just grinding it out in world of Warcraft, for example - at the time, that was really popular game; spending hours and hours and hours on repetitive tasks.


00:00:18 Shawn

What is it about these games that makes that compelling, but physics homework, not so much? And so, I had the idea to transform the way I was running my classroom as a game by borrowing from all the games that we played and loved and built over a weekend, basically a working prototype of an app.


00:00:40 Christina

The workforce landscape is rapidly changing and educators and their institutions need to keep up. Preparing students before they enter the workforce to make our communities and businesses stronger is at the core of getting an education.


00:00:53 Christina

But we need to understand how to change and adjust so that we can begin to project where things are headed before we even get there. So, how do we begin to predict the future?


00:01:05 Salvatrice

Hi, I'm Salvatrice Cummo, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at Pasadena City College, and host of this podcast.


00:01:14 Christina

And I'm Christina Barsi, producer and co-host of this podcast.


00:01:17 Salvatrice

And we are starting the conversation about the future of work. We'll explore topics like how education can partner with industry, how to be more equitable, and how to attain one of our highest goals; more internships and PCC students in the workforce.


00:01:31 Salvatrice

We at Pasadena City College, want to lead the charge in closing the gap between what our students are learning and what the demands of the workforce will be once they enter. This is a conversation that impacts all of us. You, the employers, the policymakers, the educational institutions, and the community as a whole.


00:01:51 Christina

We believe change happens when we work together and it all starts with having a conversation. I'm Christina Barsi.


00:01:59 Salvatrice

And I'm Salvatrice Cummo, and this is the Future of Work.


00:02:02 Salvatrice

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Future of Work Podcast. I am your host, Salvatrice Cummo. Today, we'll be talking about new methods being applied in education and why they are important to the way students are learning.


00:02:16 Salvatrice

We will also learn about Classcraft, a time-tested, modern approach to education, and why it has become so popular in the world of education. With that being said, we are excited to welcome Shawn Young. Shawn is a co-founder and CEO of Classcraft, an innovative platform that motivates students using the culture and mechanics of games.


00:02:38 Salvatrice

Since its launch, Classcraft has gained incredible traction with educators worldwide, providing tools to transform behavior and classroom cultures. We are excited to learn more about Shawn and Classcraft. And with that, Shawn, welcome.


00:02:53 Shawn

Thank you. I'm really happy to be here. Thanks.


00:02:55 Salvatrice

Thank you. If you don't mind, I'm going to go to my go-to first question, which is always about my curiosity. And so, Shawn, what led you to the work in education, and why is it of interest to you now?


00:03:09 Shawn

There's a lot of ways to answer that one. I kind of accidentally fell into education. I was a teacher for 10 years, but I actually majored as a physicist, and there was just a lack of substitute teachers in my area. And I just ended up doing it, and fell in love with the profession, which was kind of ironic, because I was really not in love with the school. I wasn't bad at school. I just found it quite meaningless and boring.


00:03:31 Shawn

But when I became a teacher, realized that there was a real opportunity here to create meaning for students. And that was really my mission as a teacher was to say, how can I A, respect students' time? They're forced to be here, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't respect that they're giving us their time and their attention, and how can I make this meaningful?


00:03:49 Shawn

And so, so much of my career as an educator was tied to that mission. And my first step into that was around like how can I make really compelling experiences in the classroom from a curriculum standpoint? So, physics, it's easy to make teach it boring, but it's also easy to teach it super fun. It is super hands-on. We were building like cannons and hot air balloons and we had roller skates and all kinds of stuff.


00:04:12 Shawn

And then I realized that this part of making it meaningful is not just compelling, interesting curriculum, it's also the community, the relationships. For a lot of kids, school has a function of learning content and learning the stuff you need to learn, but more importantly, and more emotionally and more meaningfully for them, it's really about like who's their community, what are the social relationships that are being built there.


00:04:38 Shawn

It's a place where they go to be humans and that's how Classcraft came about, and we can talk about that in a bit. But really was quite, quite, quite focused on making that happen; building relationships with students, building relationships between students, and creating ultimately, a school environment that was conducive to that happening.


00:04:55 Salvatrice

Was there a moment when you said this is critical, we're missing this? What was that one moment? And could you recall that one moment?


00:05:02 Shawn

It's interesting because I got into teaching with no teaching experience or training, really. I was trained as a scientist and I ended up doing a master's thesis and a graduate program while I was a teacher. So, I got certified in all of that, but really, started off my career with no preconceptions, I would say, other than my own experiences and what I wanted for school to be.


00:05:25 Shawn

And I think that ultimately, I came into the profession believing that probably and mostly because really that's what made any meaning of school for me. Like I wasn't like excited to go to school to, you know-


00:05:41 Salvatrice

But yet you're a scientist.


00:05:43 Shawn

That's right. No, I had really good grades. Don't get me wrong, I was really good at school, it was just boring. But the relationships that I had with the teachers really made a big difference, like that's why I became a physicist, was because I had a really good physics teacher.


00:05:56 Shawn

So, I think that my own personal journey brought me there in a real way. And I mean, it's so interesting because when you think about school today, anything kids need to learn in school, they can really just learn on the internet from an academic perspective. Like even high school, it's all on Wikipedia.


00:06:14 Shawn

And so, like what becomes the purpose of school? Well, when you think about it, an analogy that I like to give is like music concerts. If you go to a music show, you're getting the same piece of content. It's the same songs that you'll get on a streaming service. And yet, we're willing to pay hundreds of dollars to go to these concerts for the exact same piece of content.


00:06:37 Shawn

And what's different is the experience. And ultimately, the experience is the social one. A concert's pretty boring if you're the only person there and ultimately, it's all the sensory experience that is so much more elevated than just listening to a piece of content through your headphones. And ultimately, that's what school needs to be now because the content is like streaming music, school needs to be like a music concert.


00:07:03 Salvatrice

So, with that in mind, thinking about the experience, Classcraft was created, yes.


00:07:09 Shawn

Yep. Maybe I can jump into the birth of Classcraft. Is that where you're going?


00:07:13 Salvatrice

Yeah, that's where I'm going. Thank you. Thank you, host.


00:07:16 Shawn

Yeah. I'll self-host here. Oh my God.


00:07:19 Salvatrice

Stop, go for it. Go for it. What's Classcraft, tell us more?


00:07:22 Shawn

On my journey of like, how do I make this meaningful, I did my master's thesis on how to use digital platforms to create community in the classroom. I wanted to see if kids interacting online outside of school around course material would create community in the classroom. And of course, no surprise it did.


00:07:39 Shawn

But another part of my personality is I've been a gamer for all of my entire life. And I'm also a developer. So, while I was teaching, I also had a freelance business building websites and apps. And so, I just clicked one day, like I'm talking about games with these students all the time, we're playing the same games. They get really motivated. They're willing to spend all this time just grinding it out in world of Warcraft, for example - at the time, that was a really popular game, spending hours and hours and hours on repetitive tasks.


00:08:10 Shawn

What is it about these games that makes that compelling, but physics homework, not so much? And so, I had the idea to transform the way I was running my classroom as a game by borrowing from all the games that we played and loved and built over a weekend, basically, a working prototype of an app. And it was just for me, it was never going to be what it is today.


00:08:30 Shawn

At the inception, I was really like I'm just going to use what's motivating in games. Kids will have avatars, they'll level up, they'll learn points for doing things in school. Let them experience points that have them progress. They'll unlock real life privileges. So, in a game you have the power to, I don't know, you can teleport yourself. Well, what does that look like in school?


00:08:49 Shawn

Well, maybe teleport yourself is you can go to the bathroom or you can be late to class. We'll use this metaphor, the mechanics of the game, we'll build cooperative collaborative dynamics, just like in these games and apply that to the real life motions of going to school. And so, I just made that.


00:09:06 Shawn

For three years, that was it. It wasn't going to be a company, it was just this thing I was doing with my students. But I was blown away just by how transformative it was for them. Anybody who is listening can go to the website, just type Classcraft, you'll see how beautiful it looks. But in those days, there wasn't even any graphics. It was more like Dungeons and Dragons than it was like a video game.


00:09:25 Shawn

It was just completely transformative in terms of how students were showing up, how they were showing up for each other. Just the concept of being able to see your own progression, getting consistent and continuous feedback. They get points for handing in work, participating, asking good questions, being recognized and seen for the things you're doing as a student, meant a lot to them.


00:09:45 Shawn

And so, I made a little website to just talk about it. And the day that website went online, 130,000 people came to the website. And started trending on Reddit overnight. Like that's a huge amount of traffic for something that wasn't even a company. It was just one page that said like, "Hey, I'm doing this game, maybe you should make your own game."


00:10:02 Shawn

And then sure enough, like requests started coming in of, "Please, how can I download this?" I'm like you can't, you had to code lines of code to give kids points. Like it was really not to be scaled. But at the time, I got together with my brother who's a designer and a creative director and our dad is an accountant and finance person. So, we got together and started the company.


00:10:23 Shawn

Now, we're with 10 million kids in the platform, teachers in 165 countries, 12 languages working with really large school systems, and also really tiny schools. So, all over the place. But yeah, kind of all just started with that lightning bolt moment of how can I get these kids to really care? And the truth is the games are built and designed to make us care. Nobody's forcing kids to play video games, they do it because they want to.


00:10:53 Salvatrice

That's right. Are you finding that the level of engagement is challenging sometimes or ...?


00:11:00 Shawn

You mean in Classcraft or you mean in school?


00:11:03 Salvatrice

Within Classcraft and keeping the students engaged. Everyone has different learning abilities, Classcraft wants them to care, and games get us to care. What's the continuum of that? How do we continue for them to care and stay engaged?


00:11:18 Shawn

There's two parts to that. The first one is that Classcraft is not a video game, so we're not proposing kids or students to, for example play this math video game and in doing so, I'll trick you into learning fractions, that's not what's happening here.


00:11:36 Shawn

But we're saying is games are an experience that is designed to be inherently intrinsically motivating, and the truism there is that almost all kids play games. 65% of North Americans play video games multiple times a week across all age groups, across all genders. Candy crush counts. It's not just shooting games and call of duty. So, it's a very diverse medium.


00:12:00 Shawn

But ultimately, it's designed to fulfill fundamental needs that we have. And so, when you think of games as a cultural medium versus other cultural mediums, games are designed explicitly to allow us to fulfill our potential within the confines of the game. And research around motivation is super clear on this. We're intrinsically motivated by situations that fulfill three fundamental needs. This is called self-determination theory, you can look it up,


00:12:29 Salvatrice

Share more about that.


00:12:31 Shawn

So, it's the prevailing theory and intrinsic motivation. So, two types of motivations; extrinsic/intrinsic. Extrinsic is I don't really want to do this thing, but I'm going to do it because I want to get to a good end state or avoid a bad end state. So, I really want to steal whatever's over there, but I won't do it because I don't want the punishment, or I don't really want to do this work, but I'm going to do it because I want the money.


00:12:55 Shawn

School is really riffed with those types of motivators. And the reason for that, is because they're really effective short-term control mechanisms. Intrinsic motivation is I'm doing something because I want to. What's your hobby, Salvatrice?


00:13:08 Salvatrice

I love to entertain.


00:13:10 Shawn

Alright. So, you love to entertain, nobody's paying you to do that. And in fact, you're paying to do that.


00:13:16 Salvatrice

Yeah, it's costing a lot of money to entertain at the house. Yes, it does.


00:13:21 Shawn

That's right. But why do you do that? You do it because it fulfills fundamental needs. One of the main fundamental needs that we have is social relationships. We're not just motivated by things we do together, we're motivated by things that we can share with other people.


00:13:33 Shawn

So, another example of a hobby that is more solitary, maybe is fishing. You would say, well, that's not social relationships, but that's why they take photos and share them and mount them so that they can share their catches with other fishermen later and talk about it and swap stories and all of that.


00:13:50 Shawn

So, we're motivated by situations where there's relatability with other human beings. The second one is we're motivated by situations that afford us control. So, any situation where we have absolutely no decision-making power is really demotivating.


00:14:03 Shawn

For example, entertaining, if I were to say, "Hey, like you're going to make, I don't know, hamburgers, and this is how you're going to make them. And in fact here are all these terrible ingredients and that's what you're going to serve," you would probably be a lot less motivated to do it.


00:14:19 Shawn

Than if you are picking out "Oh, I know these guests like this type of food and I'm going to match these wines with this food, whatever." And so, being able to make these decisions, have creative control over our own destiny, is super motivating.


00:14:31 Shawn

Now, of course, we're also super motivated. So, the third one is by situations where we feel competency. I'm motivated by situations where I feel like I'm really good at it. So, you're probably are a great host. Or-


00:14:45 Salvatrice

If I do say so myself, Shawn.


00:14:47 Shawn

There you go. I can't wait for you to invite me, but either we're motivated by situations where we're really good at them or we see meaningful progress. That's the same thing that's going on in our mind. Like I don't need to be good, but I see myself progressing.


00:15:00 Shawn

And so, think about games; games are a made-up experience. Like my favorite example is golfing. Golfing, when you think about like the task of golfing, completely irrelevant to anything useful advice. Like take this ball, put it in that hole, like Salvatrice, please do that. You wouldn't think to take a stick and do all those things. You would probably just pick it up, walk over, and you mission accomplished.


00:15:23 Shawn

I'm like, great, now, do that 500 times. And then you would say, "You got to pay me to do that because that's work." And I say, " No, wait, wait, wait, sorry, sorry. I forgot to tell you this isn't work, it's fun. Actually, you need to hit the ball with these sticks. They're called clubs and they're all different ones, but you're going to be able to choose the one you want and you know what? You don't get an infinite number of shots. And by the way, like you need to go home and change. You can't play this game dressed the way that you are."


00:15:50 Shawn

And what I'm doing in doing that is taking a meaningless task, putting conditions around it that make it meaningful. And in doing so, people who love golfing, different types of people are motivated to different degrees by different types of things. But the people who love golfing, they're paying their own money to go do this activity just like you with hosting.


00:16:10 Shawn

It's the same with games. Nobody's forcing these kids to play games, but we're doing it because we are connecting to other people online. So, it's social relationships. Games by definition give you a lot of control versus watching movies for example, and games are really, really, really upfront about communicating your progress and your mastery.


00:16:32 Shawn

And you look at a game that's super repetitive like Tetris, for example; Tetris is a game where you just make lines and you do that until you die. And then you start over and that's basically it; one of the most played video games in the history of humanity, one of the most repetitive experiences. And the reason is you're just trying to beat your own score.


00:16:49 Shawn

So, all that to say that these experiences are the most compelling, motivating experiences that we've ever designed, video games. And with Classcraft what we're saying, is let's take those things, let's take the psychology that's behind that and let's apply it to something that is generally not motivating. And for students, it's seen as an arbitrary, forced task. They see school as work.


00:17:11 Shawn

Let's see if we can redefine the rules of engagement and completely transform the way that they're perceiving, the way that they're motivated. And so, to get all the way back to your earlier question about, do we see engagement drops, for example, in Classcraft, the answer is Classcraft is not this like you're going to be super motivated for two minutes during this day.


00:17:34 Shawn

Like if you were playing a game, it's the whole school year. And so, what we're trying to do is elevate the baseline level of engagement across everything you're doing in school. And so, kids are getting points in the hallway at lunch, during class. We have schools where the bus drivers are giving them points.


00:17:52 Shawn

Yeah, it's like it becomes the whole fabric of school. Sure, nothing is perfectly engaging for every student all the time. But what we are doing is giving teachers the tools and there's a whole suite of like tools they can use to create fun and engaging moments with this backdrop of, I have more control over my day-to-day life.


00:18:11 Shawn

Kids in Classcraft earn powers, like being able to eat in class, hand in assignments late. So, they're able to control their day more. They're playing on teams and we're giving them immediate relevant feedback about what they're doing and how they're showing up. And believe it or not, kids don't get a lot of positive feedback in school. Most kids on average are getting one piece of positive feedback a week, max.


00:18:36 Salvatrice

Wow, it's terrible


00:18:36 Shawn

It's horrible. And why is that terrible? It's terrible because we feel bad for them, but also data shows that positive feedback is the number one thing a teacher can do to help kids stay motivated and on task. And it's normal. Like kids are trying to do their best. They start off their school career as little kids trying to fit in and do what's expected of them. And we don't tell them that what they're doing is the right thing. So, how are they going to know?


00:19:01 Shawn

If you were learning, for example, karate, I wouldn't just show you videos of karate and then let you go out. I would sit next to you and say, practice this punch. And while you're doing it, hey, that's a perfect punch. Keep that up, raise your elbow. I'm giving you feedback so that you can learn and progress.


00:19:17 Shawn

And unfortunately, a lot of the interactions teachers are having with students are negative corrections. And not celebrating their wins, but actually say shut up and sit down, you're off task. You didn't hand in your homework. And in fact, most kids just try to get through school without teachers ever seeing them. And that's a shame


00:19:36 Salvatrice

From the faculty perspective, like do you think that's because it's just the conditioning of the system? Do you think it's professional development? Do you think it's their bandwidth? There's a bandwidth issue - I'd like to get your perspective on that because that really touched home for me, especially with two teenagers in the house.


00:19:51 Shawn

I've been thinking about this question for a decade now and working with schools all over the world. And I think that there's no single answer. So, my number one answer is teaching is a risky job. And by risky, I mean you're in front of a crowd of kids, there's 30 of them and there's one of you. So, at any moment, the tables can turn that you literally have no control over the room.


00:20:13 Shawn

And so, I think for a lot of teachers, their approach to that fact is to command and control. So, they're not thinking about how can I build the best possible relationship with this child necessarily. They're thinking about how can I get all these kids to shut up and listen to me? And the problem with that, is that it's a vicious cycle. Course-correcting works to an extent. If you over-rely on that, what happens is you lose authority pretty quickly and you need to ratchet it up.


00:20:44 Shawn

Like you need to raise the level of command and control. And so, there's this dynamic that happens where teachers are caught in this spiral where the dynamic in the relationship ultimately, is broken between the teacher and the students, but that's a protection mechanism.


00:21:01 Shawn

I do think that there's also history here, unfortunately, still have a legacy of the school system that was founded 150 years ago in which the teacher was the boss, and they could hit with the ruler if you didn't behave. Like that's where we started from.


00:21:18 Shawn

And I think also, there's more and more diversity in student profiles. They're harder and harder to manage as well. So, like the answer to all of that for me is build relationships with your students and they will follow your lead. Even the worst-behaved students, even the students that are struggling the most, ultimately, they need to know that teachers care about them if they're going to do anything for them.


00:21:42 Shawn

So, there's a lot going on, but it's easy to not do it. And just try to stick to the curriculum. There's a really strong pressure being put on teachers as well, around less now with the pandemic that we've kind of said like, oh my God, all this mental health issues, kids are really struggling, like focus on social, emotional learning, focus on student wellness.


00:22:00 Shawn

But up until 2019, teachers were getting - you've got your core standards, you need to get through all of them. There's common core - some states tests students on state tests mandated twice a week. The amount of testing happening in America takes a lot of time away from this human dynamic.


00:22:20 Shawn

So, there's also like a dynamic where we really care about assessment, we really care about academics. And I think that's shifting, I think we're kind of having a bit of a wake-up moment here in 2022 in that regard. There's a lot, it's just a complicated question, but the data's super clear.


00:22:38 Salvatrice

I didn't mean to put you on the spot there.


00:22:39 Shawn

Are you kidding? As you can see, I'm super passionate about this and it's interesting because this is the Future of Work Podcast. And when you think about future of work and what the workplace looks like and Gen Z workers in the workplace, that's what they expect. They expect their employer to build a relationship with them. They expect to be respected and taken care of.


00:23:01 Shawn

And if they don't get that, they walk and we're seeing a lot of young people moving a lot and ultimately, there's a lot of factors at play there. But there is an expectation where the best employers are the ones that are able to build a community. And I think workplaces today and they're morphing more and more into that, are ultimately, defined by a set of cultured and values.


00:23:25 Shawn

It's such a big theme in how to retain employees. Like the number one thing is culture. And ultimately, what I'm saying is it's the same thing in schools. It's true in work, but it is true in schools as well today. And so, I think that there's a shift societally happening where we're realizing that it's not productive. Just like in the workplace, it's not productive to put super hard pressure, not care about employees, be rude to them.


00:23:53 Shawn

They're going to leave, you're going to get less output, you're going to have mental health breakdowns. Like you're going to turnover, all these things that are metrics that are actually attached to these warm and fuzzy things that are human relationship.


00:24:05 Salvatrice

Speaking of human relationships and the culture, that's really important. We forget that the culture within the classroom is just as important as the culture within the institution itself or with another employer. I got to be honest with you; I've never heard someone say the culture in the classroom. I mean, that's how I equated it. It's the experience.


00:24:25 Shawn

I'm sad you've never heard anybody say that. It means we still have evangelizing to do.


00:24:32 Salvatrice

Yes, yes. No one really talks about it. It's more about output, and what's being done for output purposes, but not necessarily what we're talking about like the generations - specifically for community colleges, we have multi-generations within one classroom.


00:24:46 Salvatrice

I had a follow-up question, then I asked you a tangent question. So, welcome to Salvatrice's world. When you say the word "kids," who are you referring to?


00:24:54 Shawn

Yeah, like young people that are in school.


00:24:57 Salvatrice

Like high school, middle school-


00:24:59 Shawn

Like, no, I mean we work across kindergarten all through college. It's the same platform. Obviously, what you get points for changes and the privileges you get change. In elementary school, sitting in the bean bag chair is the privilege. In late high school, it's like handing in your homework late is a great privilege. So, that changes, but the mechanics don't change.


00:25:19 Shawn

Like we need feedback, we need to be positively praised. We need to be in context where peers are helping each other out. Like in Classcraft, there's a feature where students can give each other points; it's called Kudos. And it's basically you write a little note, the teacher has to approve it because otherwise, they could write "You're a jerk or whatever." So, they write a little note, they identify a behavior and they send it to somebody.


00:25:40 Shawn

And can you believe that Classcraft is one of the only ways for students to publicly and in a structured way, give each other positive feedback. It's not just the teachers as well. We're not giving kids - and I'm saying like learners, let's just say learners; we're not giving learners the capacity to recognize each other either. And when you think about culture, like wouldn't you rather be in a classroom where your peers are looking at seeing what you do and celebrating you for it?


00:26:12 Shawn

Like that's how you stop bullying. You make it really cool to praise people as opposed to make it cool to pick on people. And I think that's true for elementary school kids. You mentioned community college, like college classroom in a community colleges is a very diverse group, usually, I would imagine, just like the best workplaces, and everybody who works in a specific company has chosen that company for the most part.


00:26:39 Shawn

Especially in today's workplace, a lot of jobs out there, you've decided to work there maybe because it's convenient, maybe because you care about the mission, maybe because it's nearby, but you picked it and everybody who's there, no matter how different they are, they've bought into that organization. And it's the same thing with a class in a community college.


00:26:56 Shawn

You picked that class, you decided to be there, you have some sort of interest in this topic, and you live in the same neighborhoods or within a hundred-mile radius of this place. So , although these groups are so different, these people are so different, they do have a lot in common. And be it you're at the same place at the same moment, and there's a huge missed opportunity there to create community around that.


00:27:20 Shawn

And when you look at dropout rates in college, online MOOCs is another good example of this, where these are these massively online courses where you can watch a video, take a course from Stanford or whatever, but there's no community. The drop-off rates in a MOOC are like 95% on average. The completion rate of those courses, even if they're free, even if they're world quality are super low, because we need to be part of a community and feel supported as we're learning, we don't learn in a vacuum.


00:27:53 Salvatrice

I would even go as far as saying that that directly affects our enrollment. And so, I had like five different things pop in my head as I'm saying this, so that's why I paused. Enrollment, let's call it what it is; it's an issue across the board.


00:28:07 Shawn

Just like employee retention rates.


00:28:09 Salvatrice

Yeah, that's right. So, it's all across the board, across all levels of education, all institutions, all universities, all primary ... et cetera, et cetera. And we talk a lot about how do we get more students in? How do we get more students in, specifically within community colleges because that's what I know. That's my frame.


00:28:25 Salvatrice

Rarely are we talking about the experience and rarely are we talking about like how are we ensuring that the experience that they receive is a tool for them to onboard with us? We have services, we have resources, a plethora them. I mean, we have an amazing menu of resources and services.


00:28:44 Salvatrice

But for us, I think that for a system of community colleges, I love, love the fact about how Classcraft is initiating, guiding, cultivating this new culture within a classroom that is all the things that you just shared about positivity, about engagement, about how we're learning about motivation, about fill in the blank.


00:29:06 Salvatrice

Like listening to you makes me think if we, as a system, really wanted to have some significant changes in the way we onboard new students and retain the students, we really have to put a lot of focus and intention in the experience in the classroom that we may not have had in the past.


00:29:22 Salvatrice

I share that, putting it on the universe that we as a system really think about the experiences in the classroom, the resources are there, the talent is there, the services are there.


00:29:33 Shawn

Well, in reframing our responsibility as educators, our tagline is "Relationships are everything." And like when I think about, I taught college for a few years as well, I was teaching pre-service teachers how to become educators. And it was so fascinating to me because people were like, "Oh, I used to teach high school, it must be so different."


00:29:55 Shawn

I'm like, you know what? It's not different at all. They're just older by a few years, but it's the same thing, and everything that served me in a high school classroom of putting relationships first and making sure that ... you're going to have bad days. There's days where you are less-motivated, that's normal, but that in general, you want to be in this class.


00:30:17 Shawn

Like if I can make that, I'm going to make sure that most days, you're happy to be here, then I can get a lot done. I can get a lot done, because then I'm not fighting with you. And I could say, "Hey, you're having a bad day, why don't you step out?"


00:30:30 Shawn

And then Lauren will say, "Well, no, I really want to be here." And I'm like, "Okay, well, then make that choice" as opposed to like, "Hey, like you're disengaged, you're not listening to me, like blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I don't want to be here." It's really hard to do anything with that.


00:30:43 Shawn

And when I think about college and when I was teaching these first-year students went on to be teachers and they're still writing me, like, "Hey, look at my classroom." And I only taught them for one semester, but I think that there's just a very real need.


00:30:58 Shawn

And I don't think students know, but that's what they're looking for. They want the degree and they want to learn stuff, but ultimately, they're going there because they want a community. And I think it's our responsibility to acknowledge that and make it meaningful.


00:31:13 Shawn

There's money behind it. So, like why not? Like there's KPIs tied to that; retention rates and turnover, like completion rates. Like metrics we care about are directly tied to this. So, like why are we not making this a priority?


00:31:27 Salvatrice

That's right. Well, I tell you what, this has been a beautiful conversation. Thank you so much, Shawn. And I have to ask you my favorite question because I ask it at every single podcast. Are you ready for this?


00:31:38 Shawn



00:31:38 Salvatrice

This is the Future of Work podcast; I need you to tell me if there's one thing - this might be difficult, and I feel like you've already mentioned it, but I'm not going to tell you what it was. But if there's one thing you would like our listeners to kind of understand about what we've talked about and how it impacts them in their future, what would that be?


00:31:55 Shawn

Oh man, well, there's a lot, it depends where you're sitting. But regardless, for me, and this is true for future of work, it's true for K12. It's true for the present day of work I think no matter where we're going. And I think about future of work and there's like there's AI and there's industry 4.0 and genetics. And so many million jobs are going to disappear in the next five years and so many million more, the upskilling reskilling problem is massive.


00:32:20 Shawn

But at the end of the day, I really do believe that organizations, where human beings that are evolving within organizations and regardless what our job is, and regardless what the future of the structure of those organizations is, the community element built into that, the culture, the relationships at the core of that aren't going to change.


00:32:41 Shawn

AI's going to change things, all these self-driving cars, no more trucking. Like all these different things are going to be coming, climate change. Like there's so much uncertainty, but one thing that is a truism and is constant and won't change is the importance that positive relationships have in how we show up, are motivated individually in how we can motivate and lead others. And I think we need to be thinking about that in how we show up with one another.


00:33:09 Shawn

But more than that, as leaders, we need to be thinking about what experiences are we designing for these human beings? That's what Classcraft is doing for school. That's what Classcraft is doing as an organization internally with our own staff, and every organization should be thinking about what is the experience of my employees, my stakeholders, my community, in regards to what I'm putting out in the world.


00:33:35 Shawn

Classcraft is a B-Corp, and that's super interesting, you can look it up. But it's a certification that we've legally taken a commitment to not just our shareholders, but also, our stakeholders. And that's everybody we interact with. And I think more and more companies, even if they're not B-Corps, need to be thinking about it from that lens; what is your responsibility to the different stakeholders you serve?


00:34:00 Shawn

And that doesn't mean don't go make money. Shareholders are part of your stakeholders, but you're out in the world doing things. There's people at the other side of that, and we need to be keeping that first and foremost,


00:34:10 Salvatrice

What a beautiful way to conclude the episode. Thank you, Shawn. I really appreciate that. Thank you. This has been lovely. And please share our gratitude to Lauren, your co-founder as well. Classcraft is amazing. And I hope that our listener connects with you.


00:34:25 Shawn

So, You can find out all about it. Very easy to find on LinkedIn, and that's probably the easiest way if you want to reach me directly, but so much more about everything I've been talking about is directly available on our website. If you know any teachers, you can invite them to try the platform.


00:34:40 Shawn

Number one reason for teacher turnover right now in America is student behaviors. So, if you know a teacher, they probably need Classcraft.


00:34:50 Salvatrice

Awesome. Thank you so much.


00:34:53 Shawn

Thank you, Salvatrice.


00:34:53 Salvatrice

Have a great rest of the day, and I look forward to chatting again soon.


00:34:56 Shawn

I would love to. Thanks.


00:34:57 Salvatrice

Thank you.


00:34:57 Salvatrice

Thank you for listening to the Future of Work Podcast. Make sure you're subscribed on your favorite listening platform so you can easily get new episodes every Tuesday.


00:35:08 Salvatrice

You can reach out to us by clicking on the website link below in the show notes to collaborate, partner, or just chat about all-things future of work. We'd love to connect with you. All of us here at the future of work and Pasadena City College wish you safety and wellness.