It’s Michael Kennedy, and Molly!
In this week’s irregular series showing photos of special educators, I’m featuring my colleague, co-author, and pal, Michael J. Kennedy. In the photo he provided, readers also get to see his daughter, Molly, the second of his three children (Megan, the eldest, and Will are not shown... maybe another time!).
Many readers will recognize Michael’s name because they either have seen it in print repeatedly or they have attended a meeting where he spoke. Although Michael is quite young in years, he’s quite old in accomplishments.
He completed Ph.D. studies in 2011 at the University of Kansas and joined the faculty at the University of Virginia that same year (no post-doc!). He taught a summer-school class that year at UVA and lived, briefly, in Pat’s and my “guest suite.” I’d sometimes kick on his door in the early morning and announce that I was going for a run; he’d sometimes join me for a 5-mile ramble.
Michael also studied educational technology at Michigan State University and special education at the University of Delaware. He combined all three of those graduate degrees into studying a method he calls “content acquisition podcasts,” a technology that essentially provides narrated slide shows for teaching some particular content. He calls them “CAPs.”
Educators can focus CAPs on lots of different content. Michael and his co-authors have used them to (a) promote adolescents’ understanding of academic areas such as science vocabulary (and more), (b) prospective teachers’ knowledge about curriculum-based measurement (and more), and (c) practicing teachers’ capacity to perform important teaching behaviors (and more). CAPs are multimedia in action in education (see https://vimeo.com/channels/550360). One would need to set aside a few days just to read his papers about CAPs.
Michael is not, however, a “one-trick pony.” In a broader perspective, he is a teacher educator. I think, in fact, that if he walked into a bar where he was well known, a bar that featured mugs with the names of regular patrons that barkeeps could use to serve those regular patrons, Michael’s mug would read “Teacher Educator.” He is passionately committed to improving the quality of education that prospective and practicing teachers have available to them.
In that regard, he and his team have developed and refined a method for observing classroom lessons that can be used not just for research but also as a means of providing rapid feedback to teachers about how their lessons reflected important aspects of effective instruction. Imagine that a teacher could receive feedback in ways that professional athletes get feedback. Indeed, Michael and his colleagues call this process “COACHED.”
As a consequence of his extensive work, Michael’s been recognized repeatedly for his achievements. Not only has he received funding from university, state, and US national organizations and agencies, but also he has been identified for his contributions by groups and societies ranging from UVA’s Alumni Board of Trustes, the American Educational Research Association, to the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children.
So, I hope that the foregoing indicates that Michael is the real deal in academic circles. But, there’s more! He and Maureen Kennedy are raising a trio of wonderful children. Michael makes pizza and shares with many people at football-game tailgates. He helps his neighbors (for example, giving away a television) He’s coming back to his earlier colegiate running days with pace and distance.
If you get a chance to see a presentation by Michael, seize it. Otherwise, go read some of his papers. And, take the opportunity to talk with him if you have that chance, too. Pizza and beer provide strong oppotrunities. Good guy!