Teacher, Administrator, Researcher, Trainer, Instructional Coach & Partner in BTLC Online Academy
I have been blessed with an amazing 40+ year career in education. I’ve had the chance to nurture individual growth as a K-12 teacher (preschool instructor for Head Start as well as an elementary and middle school teacher in public and private schools) and as a university professor teaching teachers how to teach. I have had the honor of being an educational administrator (elementary school principal and two stints as a college level department chair in education) where I could nurture transformational change at the institutional level. I am proud of my accomplishments in the classroom but even prouder of my accomplishments as a parent. Although my kids regularly rolled their eyes when I tried out new-fangled educational practices on them, ultimately they grounded me when I got lost in the world of ideas. The highest honor of my career came when one of my daughters, now a high school principal, introduced me to her staff (I was conducting a workshop on capacity building) as “Dr. Dad.” My teaching philosophy can be described in seven words. They are snippets from a poem by Mary Oliver (“Sometimes” in her book Real Bird): Pay attention / Be astonished / Tell about it. I use this code to assess my teaching and student learning. At the end of each of my classes I ask my students one question: What is your take away, or new learning, from today’s class? Their responses always surprise and amaze me. So it’s fair to ask myself what I take away from my long and varied career. I guess it’s this: that change isn’t just inevitable; it can also be inspirational. The most juicy “teachable moments” for me come when folks are willing to change their mindset or world view of how things are suppose to be. Usually that occurs in unexpected ways. For example, I have always been a strong believer that new possibilities can emerge out of adversity. We live in hectic and harried times. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. People often experience willpower fatigue with multiple demands (career, family, health, self-care, etc.) made upon them. Such exhaustion can get on our last good nerve. Bad decisions can erupt when we are getting through the day on fumes. What we do when we get tired is heavily influenced by the self-standards we develop. I am old enough to recognize that schools today are not as equipped to help individuals develop personal standards as they were when I was a kid. So where do we get those models to parent with dignity? If we are lucky we encounter someone or some event that helps us reclaim the fullness of our humanity. It is my great fortune to be around such positive role models with the good folks at Break Through Learning Center. It’s an absolute thrill to see such inspirational change happen to people who really work with the Dignified Parenting and WHOA (Why Hold Onto Anger) lessons. Good teaching and learning always makes me smile.