Jaime Casap is the Chief Education Evangelist at Google. Jaime evangelizes the potential of digitalization as an enabling capability in pursuit of promoting inquiry-based learning models. Jaime collaborates with school systems, educational organizations, and leaders focused on building innovation into our education policies and practices.

In addition to his role at Google, Jaime serves as an advisor to dozens of organizations focused on learning, skill development, and the future of work. He is the coauthor of “Our First Talk About Poverty,” as a way to talk to children about poverty. Jaime helped launch the Phoenix Coding Academy, a public high school in Phoenix, AZ, focused on computer science as part of an inquiry-based learning model. He teaches a 10th-grade communication class at the school. He also guest lectures at Arizona State University.

He speaks on education, digitalization, innovation, generation z, and the future of work at events around the world.

Daniel (00:03): Jamie Casap is the chief education evangelist at Google. Jamie evangelizes the potential of digitalization as an enabling capability in pursuit of promoting inquiry based learning models. Jamie collaborates with school systems, educational organizations and leaders focused on building innovation in our education policies and practices. He speaks on education, digitalization, innovation, generation Z, and the future of work at events around the world. You can follow and reach him on Twitter @JayCasap and watch his YouTube career advice, videos@youtube.com/Jamie.Casap all of that linked up for you in the show notes.

Daniel (00:53): Have an opportunity to succeed with organized binder who equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning. Whether that's in a distance hybrid or traditional educational setting, learn more@organizedbinder.com. Today's podcast is brought to you by teach Fx. It's basically like a Fitbit for teachers helping them be mindful of teacher talk versus student talk. Get a special 20% discount for your school or district by visiting teachfx.Com/BLBS.

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Daniel (02:22): Welcome to the show, Jamie, thanks for being here. Yeah. Thanks for having me excited to be here. When we talked to just get prepared for this show, you brought up two interesting concepts, one being the reality distortion field, and also how your past is your competitive advantage. Can you tell us more about that?

Jaime (02:41): Yeah, so it's one of those things where I remember being young and people would ask me all the time, how are you doing? What you're doing? How are you graduating from college? How are you graduating from graduate school? How are you getting jobs at Accenture? I would hear those things all the time and I honestly didn't have an answer. I no idea what the

Jaime (03:00): Answer was. Eventually I realized that what it really was after I learned about Steve Jobs and his reality distortion field, I'm like, that's what I have. I have a reality distortion field where whatever the scene is, I just don't accept it. I have my own reality of what the world's going to look like. So I just remember being young and seeing myself graduating from college and seeing myself graduating. It wasn't an obstacle. I never had a doubt. I have this reality distortion field and that continues with me today. Whether it's work-related as I think that the Chromebook can be the best computer in education and everyone laughs at you. And then it becomes that or I started my YouTube channel where I'm going to have a million subscribers and everyone rolls their eyeballs at me. My wife rolls her eyes at me, but in my head it's going to be true. So that reality distortion feels kind of sticks with you. I don't know if you can create that. I don't know if you're born with that, but it's definitely something that's helped me along the way.

Daniel (03:59): Yeah. In some respects, I have it too. I remember talking about the vision for this show for the way that I serve school leaders and like you, everybody laughed and I would show them, I wish I had my journal here to show you, but the notes the plan, right? Like this is how I'm going to do it. It's not going to work, Danny. And then it did. Right,

Jaime (04:18): The other question about the competitive advantage is this something that I wish that someone would have told me that I tell all students, especially students who are being raised and growing up the way I grew up. Right? I'm a first generation American born raised in Hell's Kitchen, New York. I grew up with a single mother. All those things. One of the things that I tell students today is not to hide where you're from, and I think a lot of students tend to do that. It's just natural because society tends to equate low income with low ability or low-income with laziness or low income with no skills. Obviously with what's going on in the world today, you can see that that's not what the issue is and I think this will change, but I think what students do is they hide who they are. And then they try to pretend to be someone that they're not. I remember going through that myself. And so what I tell them is not only not hide who they are, where they come from, but actually be proud of it, own it, and realize that that is your competitive advantage. That that is what's going to get you, not only the positions that you're looking for, but it's going to give you a different perspective and a different point of view.

Daniel (05:32): Let's unpack that a bit for the Ruckus Maker, listening. If they're playing a bit small, if they're hiding some of their history or what has gotten them to where they're at and they're not turning it up, they're not amplifying it. What are some steps that they might take to lead and be confident, secure in what that gift of their past has been?

Jaime (05:55): Yeah. I think it starts with some self-awareness. I don't remember being young thinking, like when I say young I'm 52, I think I'm 52. I don't even know how old I am, but I'm in the fifties. I remember being in my twenties, that's what I say when I'm young. I remember trying to pretend like I was the person that I was working with. I would hear conversations like, Oh, after college. I spent a year in Europe or after college, I spent a year on my yachts. I heard stories like that. And I'm like, yeah, after college, I clean carpets. Right? Like, so it didn't fit with the narrative that everyone else had. And so what I was trying to do was trying to find my story like that.

Jaime (06:37): When I realized that my stories were better than those stories. My story is where, I saw my first murder when I was eight years old. I saw destruction. I was there when crack cocaine came into Hell's Kitchen, New York where the first place that it existed. I remember, I know what a drug problem does to a community. I can see that I know what the lack of education does to the community. So those experiences being what I had in my pocket, In terms of what the world was like. Even when I started working and I didn't realize this for a long time. Even though I was a professional working in the professional world, I was trying to be like other people, as opposed to be me and being part of that.

Jaime (07:24): And what I remember even working at Google, working in the electronics and high tech space, like we are, there's not a lot of people who are like me and that made me realize that I had a different view, a different point of view on things and I should take advantage of that. Working at Google in education, when the Chromebook was launched, I would go around and work with school districts all over the country. I would be in these meetings where people would say, yes, we need to use technology to help the poor kids, to help the low, the disadvantaged kids and all these other things. I would look around the room going, wait a second. None of you are black or Brown or have that experience. So let me give you a perspective, right? I think it's recognizing there's some self awareness that you have to do and understand that whatever your experiences are, whatever your life journey is, that that is your competitive advantage. That's what's going to get you going.

Daniel (08:26): What I'm hearing you say Jaime is that society is sometimes, well, a lot of times has this racist expectation of people who are Black and Brown, and they'll say, okay, you're not going to be able to achieve or whatever it is. What I'm hearing you say is lean into your voice and your experiences. Especially if you find in yourself a space where everybody's going on a yacht during the summer vacation, you have such a valuable voice to be heard, and you can help people eliminate those blind spots too, by speaking up.

Jaime (09:00): Also, it's this idea that you, if everyone goes on a European vacation after college, then everyone has the same experience. You have a different experience, you have a unique experience, and that's what makes you, that's what gives you the competitive advantage is that you see things that maybe the majority of people that you work with might not have seen, and you should take advantage of that.

Daniel (09:22): Yeah. If we can go back to the reality distortion field just real quick. So there's the vision, right? The YouTube channel, a million subscribers or Chromebooks,being an amazing tool for kids and then there's the actual reality of it and seeing the fruit, but in the middle, like what does that look like for Jaime to get from here to there?

Jaime (09:43): Yeah. I think that's really where the hard work comes in, right? This understanding that it's not an overnight thing. It's not something that you can just do. So for the Chromebook, for example, just saying it isn't good enough, right? You actually have to take action. The action there was me and one other person we got on the road for six months, every day, going to either offices that we had across the country or conferences and sitting there and doing hard work, working with tech directors in schools and saying, listen, we need you to think about computing in a different way. It's one meeting at a time and a time until the momentum picks up, right? That's what you have to do. You have to do the actual hard work and not pay attention. You can have this vision of what you want it to be, but just having a vision isn't good enough.

Jaime (10:36): You actually have to put the work in. So for example, what the YouTube channel is, I know that just saying, I'm going to have a million subscribers. Isn't what I need to do. It's the actual work. It's not just saying that it's going to happen. It's actually putting in the work that you need to do. So understanding that it's a day to day grind and that you have to put the time in. And so what is that plan? What is that action? What are those action items? What's the first thing that you need to do? What's the second thing you need to do is just do it. And that's the most important part is actually doing the work.

Daniel (11:07): Yeah. Breaking down those big goals and those small steps and maybe celebrating the milestones and that kind of deal. Absolutely. Jamie 2020 has been a hell of a year.

Jaime (11:18): It's been an interesting year.

Daniel (11:20): We've battled, COVID-19, we're battling racism and systemic oppression right now. I think you see hope and optimism. You see opportunity and that's hard. I was stuck in an angry mode for a while and then I've switched gears. And now I'm back to myself. What do you see is the opportunity for us right now in education?

Jaime (11:38): Yeah. I posted this on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, but this idea that Donald Trump is the best thing that's ever happened to social injustice. Everyone is like what the hell are you talking about? And I'm like, look, if I told you in 2012, and these are true stories, but if I told you in 2012 that I think I was discriminated against at work, you would be like, nah, you're reading too much into this. There's no more discreetness. Look, look who we got in the white house. Racism is way behind us. Why do you keep bringing up these issues from 400 years ago? Look at the progress that we've made. And now if I tell you, I think I was discriminated against at work, you'd be like, yeah, probably.

Jaime (12:24): If I told you that I got pulled over by a police officer and he asked me if the woman sitting next to me was my wife, a white woman. And then he looks at me and he's looking at her like waiting for some kind of signal that I kidnapped her and then looking at me and asking me what I did for a living and how much money I made. Right. If I told you that, I think I was a little discriminated against by that officer. You'd be like, no, he's probably just having a bad day or you'll tell me a story about how you are harassed by a police officer. If I told you that that's what happened to me today, you'd be like, yeah, probably that's what happened to you. So I think that now we have awareness. We have an understanding that, wow, we got some big issues that we need to fix, that we've never fixed in this country.

Jaime (13:10): And so I really think that this is an opportunity. Okay. So one of the things that I've been talking to school leaders about is this idea of college and career ready, and not necessarily even talking about preparing for college and career ready, but actually talking to them about preparing students for life, to be influencers, to be people of power, to, to be an influential position, to be in policy positions. Let's not just talk about getting them jobs, because if all we do is get them jobs, then all we're doing is putting them back into the system and we haven't fixed the system, just having a job. Isn't good enough. We need them to actually change things. I hope that that's the opportunity that we have, which is let's not just get, especially students who are growing up the way I grew up. Let's not just get them jobs, let's get them into positions of power and influence so that they can actually change the system. And that's the opportunity I think we have in front of us.

Daniel (14:05): Jamie, you have an interesting idea that our kids are digital natives, but they don't really know how to use technology. Can you refine that idea?

Jaime (14:13): Yeah. We've given this generation a pass, right? We tell them that they're digital natives, that they are, that they're good with technology, that they were just born with technology and therefore they know how to use it. And the truth is that they don't, and you can look after study after study. There's a great Stanford study that showed us that elementary school kids. Can't tell you the difference between a sponsored website and a real news site, or the fame study shows us that high school kids. Can't tell you the difference between a fake story and a real story. And so this is dangerous if we just give them a pass, just because they're born with technology does not mean they know to use these tools.

Jaime (14:52): So I think we need to double down on teaching them how to use these tools and teaching them how to vet information and look for information and making sure that the information that they're seeing is credible and using these tools for lots of different things. I mean, ask a high school kid how the internet works and they can't tell you, ask them how, wifi works and they can't tell you. How are they going to come up with digital solutions if they don't know the basics of visualization? So I think we need to spend some time in the next coming year, just focusing on that. So it's moving them from just a simple, a consumer user to more critical thinking and a designer creator, absolutely. And creating things and critically thinking as part of one of the skills that we need our students to have anyway. So it fits perfectly with what we want them to build anyway

Daniel (15:37): Awesome. Well, Jamie, let's pause here just for a moment for a message from our sponsors. When we come back, we could talk about the number one risk that businesses make in regards to hiring. Okay. Today's show is brought to you by organized binder, organized binder develops the skills and habits. All students need success. During these uncertain times of distance learning and hybrid education settings, organized binder, equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning routines so that all students have an opportunity to succeed. Whether at home or in the classroom, learn more@organizedbinder.com, better leaders, better schools is brought to you by teachers using teach FX to increase student engagement online and in the classroom during an ongoing pandemic

Daniel (16:32): Where the third grade team from general Stanford elementary. And we're going to tell you about our experience with Teach FX. It has been a really eye opening experience for us this year. We know that students who are highly engaged in the classroom achieve a higher level of success. So we use Teach Fx to help us monitor and collect data. Teach Fx has really helped us reach our professional goals to pinpoint students that maybe aren't used to talking as much as well as seeing our balance of wait time group, talk time, student, talk time, and then teacher talk time across the grade level and kind of discuss with each other, what's working in your classroom versus what might be working in mind

Daniel (17:10): To learn more about using teach fx, to support your teachers with feedback during COVID-19 teachfx.com/BLBS that's teachfx.Com/BLBS. Alright, and we're back with Jaime Casap and we're having an awesome conversation about so many different things. The dogs are participating. I love dogs. Like you have no idea. I mean, we could do a whole show about my love for dogs, and if you ever want to do that, let's set that up. But you know, we've talked before in regards to businesses and businesses have risks in innovation and creating products and services and this kind of thing, but when it comes to human capital and hiring, what is that Biggest risks that they're taking?

Jaime (17:57): Yeah. So, so I think that one of the things that we have to think about from a risk perspective for businesses is hiring the skills for the future, right? Future proofing your business. And what that means is I think oftentimes we hire for the right now and what we need right now, as opposed to what we can grow into. And so oftentimes like, you know, look at the businesses that are going through COVID, there's some that are struggling because they didn't hire the right people where a company like Google doesn't necessarily hire for a specific skill. They hire for competency, they hire for content knowledge, they hire for self direction. And so when, even though Google is not a work from home company ever, right, we want people in the offices working face to face with each other, even though we are not a telecommuting company at all, we were able to switch in a second to telecommunity and because everyone has a skill set, everyone we're hiring for people who are self directed, we're hiring for people who focus on skills. So that's part of it. And then the other part of that as well is understanding your vision and your mission and finding employees that actually believe in that mission and know what their role is in meeting those objectives and meeting those goals.

Daniel (19:18): When you hear the idea, Jaime, that education's broken, what do you think about?

Jaime (19:23): Yeah, I think that we need to think about this idea that education is doing exactly what it was designed to do. And it did it really well, right? Education is the reason why we're a super power, right? Education's the reason why we were able to create what we've been able to create so far in this country. And it did exactly what it was meant to do. Did it work for everyone? Absolutely not. Clearly. We can see that right now, but from a systematic perspective, it did exactly what it was designed to do. So now what we need to do isn't necessarily fix education. What we need to do is ask ourselves what's the right model for the future that we face and then create a system focused on that. So that's exactly what we did in the 18 hundreds in the education system. We created a system for that future. Now we need to do the same thing. I don't like talking about education, being broken as it's something that needs to be fixed. That's just too negative for me. I want to start with, what does the system need to look like for the future that we face and how do we take the best ideas that we've been able to build in education? What are the best ideas that we have in education and how do we bring education to the next level?

Daniel (20:30): Yeah. Well, it sounds like hiring too, right? Like in terms of not just what you need right now, but what you need in the future. I think about it too, in terms of second and third order consequences, you make a decision, you could expect that X and Y are going to happen, but then what happens on the secondary level, the tertiary level. Like you need to start considering that. So I appreciate you pushing us to think about the future. I have two questions. I love to ask every guest. So this is the one part that is the same for everyone, but what message Jaime, would you put on all school marquees across the world, if you could do so for just one day?

Jaime (21:11): That's great. I think what I would say on every marquee and every school and this needs a little explanation, but I would put, what problem do you want to solve? Come here. We will help you solve it. Right? Like that, that to me is a calling. It's an invitation to come in and focus on real problems. I don't know why we do simulations. I don't know why we pretend learning. We have an opportunity to start solving problems right now, right? Some of the youngest people in the world are the ones who came up with the best ideas. So we have an opportunity to come in there, especially for older kids, right? This isn't necessarily for kindergarten kids, but for sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade, what's that problem that you want to solve. And come here, let's talk about it. Let's figure out together how we can solve that problem. And I think that would, that would go a long way in education.

Daniel (22:03): You're building a school from the ground up. You're not limited by any resources. Your only limitation is your imagination. How would you build your dream school and what would be your top three priorities?

Jaime (22:16): I've been fortunate enough to actually be part of this experience, right? So the superintendent of Phoenix Union school district came to me and said, Hey, we have money to build a new school. Let's build a Google school. I'm like, what the hell is a Google school? They're like, "Oh, you know, we'll have Chromebooks. We'll use Google apps. We'll bring medicine balls in and we'll paint a wall red. We'll make it feel like a Google campus." I'm like, no, we're not doing that. This is what we're going to do instead. And so in that meeting, I pitched him the idea of building a computer science school, but computer science is embedded into all subjects. So it's computer science embedded in history and in English and in sciences and across the board and across disciplinary ways and where students are learning concepts across those disciplines.

Jaime (23:03): And we did that. And the number one thing, this would be back to the list of priorities. The number one thing that we did is we hired nine teachers, back to the hiring that had that self-directed never really fit into other schools, had some great ideas and we hired them and we basically locked them in a room, we paid them like full time teachers, six months before the school started. And we said, okay, you guys are gonna design what ninth grade looks like. And here are the principles that we want to make sure we focus on. And then we locked the door and we said, good luck. Right. And we let them design it. I think that went a long way to creating that culture in that school where it, so hiring the best teachers you can with the skills and giving them the autonomy, right?

Jaime (23:50): The same three things motivate all of us, purpose, autonomy, and mastery. And you already have purpose with teachers. And so what you really need to focus on is autonomy, giving them the autonomy to really change things and do things the way they see fit. And then obviously mastery has given them the skills that they need. So that's number one. And then the other priority would be around the space and opening up the space as much as possible so that you can configure and do different things. And you can set up places where people can collaborate. So we are able to do that with the school. So even though we have classrooms, it's literally two giant rooms that we can use dividers for. And so we can set it up for 60 students so we can set it up for 10 students. And so having that kind of flexibility in the space is important as well.

Jaime (24:37): That sounds like Dan Pink, the drive in terms of that's where it comes from. Right? So this idea that I often talk about, which is not asking students what they want to be when they grow up, but instead asking them what problem they want to solve comes from that, from that Daniel Pink's book and Daniel and I have become friends from this, right. This idea that, what problem do you want to solve? What's your purpose? How do you want to solve it? Autonomy. And then what do you need to notice all that problem mastery.

Daniel (25:06): Awesome. Well, Jamie, thank you so much for being a part of the better leaders, better schools, podcast of all the things we've talked about today, what's the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember?

Jaime (25:24): I think the one thing to remember is that we have never been in the Ruckus Maker opportunity. Like we are in right now, right? Like this is the status quo is we are no longer going back to the way things are. And I think this pandemic kind of helped us reset things, right. We all have to go back home and kill all our processes, right? I couldn't watch our sports teams. We couldn't go out and do the things that we do on Friday night. It completely threw us out of our routine. And we did it for a long time. And because we did it for a long time, it gave us an opportunity to kind of reset. And then what happened with George Floyd, it made us realize that we have some serious issues that we need to deal with. And so there's never been an opportunity for someone who wants to cause trouble more than right now. And so I think that if we miss this opportunity, it's on us because the opportunity has never been as high as it is. Right.

Daniel (26:16): Thanks for listening to the better leaders, better schools podcast for Ruckus Maker. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, Daniel F better leaders, better schools.com or hit me up on Twitter at alien earbud. If the better leaders and better schools, podcast is helping you grow as a school leader, then please help us serve more Ruckus Makers like you. You can subscribe, leave an honest rating and review or share on social media with your biggest takeaway. From the episode, extra credit for tagging me on Twitter at alien earbud and using the hashtag #BLBS level up your leadership at better leaders, better schools.com and talk to you next time until then class.

Show Highlights

  • Reality distortion field.  Lean into your voice
  • Helping students use their life experiences and circumstances as a competitive advantage. 
  • Vision isn’t good enough without these action items 
  • It is the time of the Ruckus Maker. Are you taking advantage?
  • The biggest risk in hiring.  How to “future proof” your schools.
  • Moving students from a consumer, to more critical thinker, and designer by teaching them how technology functions
  • Curriculum that creates influencers that can actually change the system
Jaime Casap: Your Past Is Your Competitive Advantage

“I don’t like talking about education, being broken as it’s something that needs to be fixed. That’s just too negative for me. I want to start with, what does the system need to look like for the future that we face and how do we take the best ideas that we’ve been able to build in education?”

Jaime Casap



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School leaders know that productive student talk drives student learning, but the average teacher talks 75% of class time! TeachFX is changing that with a “Fitbit for teachers” that automatically measures student engagement and gives teachers feedback about what they could do differently. 

Learn more about the TeachFX app and get a special 20% discount for your school or district by visiting teachfx.com/blbs.


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