Stuck in Your Head and Heart

In this month’s post “revisit” I saw this Facebook memory of a blog titled, “Stuck in Your Head and Heart” which was about the first time I saw the movie “La La Land.”  

As soon as I saw the preview text of the old blog post, I jumped in because a) I love Ryan Gosling and b) this movie is a favorite of mine and my daughter Kallea. Not only could we watch it over and over again, but we could also watch it from any point in the movie, and enjoy it. It was also out the year she was born so it is even more special to me. I only love the movie more over time.

The story.

The music.

The ups.

The downs.

The everything together.


Gosling GIFs | Tenor


But one of the reasons I wanted to revisit this old post was because of this quote I share at the end, which I believe in more to this day.



I believe that an emotional connection to learning is important.

But I also think that it should go beyond that. It shouldn’t be “heart” or “mind” but “heart and mind.” 

This is why I so often argue against the term “data-driven” and encourage the use of the terminology, “Learner-driven, evidence-informed.”  

It is not saying that data isn’t essential, but I do prefer the term “evidence” as outlined in “Innovate Inside the Box“:


“Evidence seems to encompass much more than letters and numbers. It helps us not only look for things that can be measured but also things that can’t be measured, things that have an impact on students’ learning experiences. Evidence can include tests or assignments. It also includes ideas and thinking shared in portfolios, self-assessments, interactions in the hallways, concerts, sporting events, fine arts performances, internships and exhibits, and anything else that highlights and demonstrates learning and growth.

We fail to tell the whole story of a learner when we focus on a narrow view of success in education in the all-mighty pursuit of scores.”


But as I also discussed in “Innovate Inside the Box,” learning should be seen as a purposeful process.


How we assess drives our teaching, not the other way around. Being “learner-driven” doesn’t mean we toss out measurable goals; it means that we focus on purpose-filled learning that has the potential to impact students’ lives well beyond the classroom.


There is a massive difference between the term “learner-driven” and “learning-driven,” which is why the language is intentional. It is not about throwing out tests or no longer measuring things; it is about focusing on making that purposeful connection first and then deepening learning. It is not “either” learners or evidence; it is about focusing on both but knowing the importance of where we begin.

Just some random thoughts before I share this short post from 2016 and now go off to watch the movie again with Kallea!

I hope you enjoy the post and the movie, or both!





On a Saturday afternoon, on a whim, I went to see “La La Land“. When the previews first came out, I was excited, but the more I heard about it, the less I actually wanted to go. As the movie started, I thought the beginning was okay, but all of a sudden, I was swept up in it. Ryan Gosling was awesome in it, and Emma Stone was also quite amazing.

It is not the best movie I have ever seen in my life, but I was smiling throughout (and a few tears here and there). Since I went to see it, I have been listening to the soundtrack (non-stop), and I can’t stop thinking about the movie. Don’t take this as a review, but I did love it.

How often do we create learning experiences that stick with the learners for days or even weeks after? Something that sticks with them and can’t get out of their head?

A workshop on “tools” isn’t going to do that; helping people understand something truly compelling will.

Like any movie, that same “stickiness” will not stay with everyone after. We all have our different tastes and preferences, but it is the pursuit of creating something that resonates with people that is truly noble.

When I think about the learning experiences that I create for others, I have a goal for each day, and the words are attributed to the late, great, Jim Valvano; laugh, cry, think. If that happens in a day, the “stickiness” is more likely to happen, and you are more likely to think about the day and embrace wonder long after the day. The hope is that a light bulb goes off, but to do that, you must connect to the heart, not only the mind. People will have to feel something, not just be stretched in their thinking.

Like the great song that gets stuck in your head or the movie you can’t get out of your mind, it would be a noble pursuit to create learning experiences that are stuck on “repeat” in someone’s heart and thoughts. This is how you not only turn on that light, but make sure it only brightens with time.

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