I tried. I failed. I reflected. I rebranded. And I am ready to try again.
Last December, after many conversations and a lot of encouragement from friends, I decided to launch a podcast. I researched, planned a little, contacted two potential guests, and bought the needed equipment. I was ready… or so I thought. Ten episodes later, I realized that I had enjoyed my guests, I had learned many things, and I had failed.
On January 14, 2017, I published my first episode: Episode 1 – Educational Larceny. I was proud of it. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had achieved my goal to start a podcast. I began a journey that would teach me many valuable lessons over the next six months. I am grateful for the experience and grateful for those who helped me. Appropriate to my endeavor, one of the podcast episodes addressed the value of failure: Episode 3 – I Failed. I Learned. I failed. But more importantly, would I do it again? Absolutely. Just wait for Round 2. My second attempt at a podcast will begin in the new year. Continue reading Writing the Wrongs of My First Podcast
One of my favorite travel experiences occurred during my first visit to Rome, Italy, about ten years ago. There was a particular moment on that trip which I will never forget. It was my first glance at the Pantheon. I was not prepared for what I saw, nor the education that this massive structure ultimately provided for me.
On a walking tour along the compact Roman roads, my traveling companions and I visited Piazza Navona. From there, we headed to see the Pantheon. We walked down a narrow road and turned the corner to see a massive building, one that appeared larger still due to the angle from which we approached the square. Having assumed, incorrectly, that there was a walkway to lead tourists to this building, I was unprepared for the sight. I never expected to see a building of this size in such a location. As we entered, I noticed something else unexpected… open space.
Continue reading The Pantheon and That Figurative Space in Schools
This is a guest blog post from a talented educator, Mr. Brendan D. Towell. I hope you enjoy his insights and perspectives as much as I did. We are lucky to have him on our faculty.
By: Brendan D. Towell (Theology Department)
At the end of each academic year, the student body of St. Augustine Prep has an opportunity to anonymously review their teachers. I am not so sure if the Administration ever gets reviewed by the students… but that’s a question for another day! Regardless, our reviews can be quite illuminating. I will spare you the minutia of how the process works, yet I will say that the comment section is by far the most revealing and helpful for me as an educator. I have found that affording a teenaged boy the opportunity to anonymously comment on one of his teachers results in a brutal form of honesty more helpful than any peer evaluation. Through this unfiltered honesty, I have come to find that one recurring point was how genuinely surprised the boys were to find that Theology class could actually be relevant in their lives today. Continue reading Chronological Snobbery: A reminder of the importance of a Liberal Arts Education
This morning I participated in a Twitter chat (#satchat – every Saturday at 7:30 AM). The topic was “Innovation in the Classroom.” It is a great topic, and it was a great conversation. I am thankful to be able to learn from so many other inspiring educators. If you have never tried a Twitter chat, I encourage you to try it. If you need help on how to, just ask me (@DeanofAcademics or Mr.Burke@hermits.com). I would be happy to help get you started.
As I was reading the comments in the chat, I remembered a breakfast conversation that I had over 5 years ago. I was in my second year of administration and was lucky to have the ear and voice of an experienced Head of School sitting across the table. My breakfast companion had been in education for over 40 years and was then the Head of School at a similar all-boys independent school. In the moment, I did not realize how fortunate I was to have been able to pick his brain for an hour. I could have asked so many more poignant questions than I did. Still, I took a lot away from our meeting, and there is one particular comment that I will never forget. I asked a generic question about effective teacher observations, but his response was profound: Continue reading Duck! The Pendulum is Swinging Again
Lunch was over. My stomach was full. My eyes were straining to stay open, and I was going to need a cup (or an IV drip) of coffee to make it through the looming afternoon session of professional development. You know exactly what I mean— you’ve been there. My mind wandered from the PD session. The presenter then asked something that we all, educators or not, have likely been asked more than once in our adult lives. Who are your teaching heroes? Quick Kevin, think of an eloquent and engaging answer about the people in your life who cared for you, who made a difference, who pushed you to be your best…
Wow, it’s a long list.
I began to identify those who impacted me, but this time, for whatever reason, I focused on the why. In this moment, I suddenly realized how this question could help me to be the teacher that I needed when I was younger and how it could help me now to be that teacher for my students. Continue reading An IV Drip, A Brick Wall, and a Dead Man Walking
Continued from Reflections on a Sleepless Year and Being the Educator Our Students Need post.
Consistency is the first of the two essential components of student engagement. Seems simple enough, and for some teachers, it is. The classroom is a haven where all of their outside problems wait at the door. Their moods are unaffected by parking tickets or root canal work. For others however, it is very difficult, sometimes impossible, not to bring their personal struggles into the classroom, and these difficulties manifest as unpredictable moods. Happy on Monday, inflexible on Tuesday, bitingly sarcastic on Wednesday. . . I get it. It is hard. I wrestle with this, and I assume many educators and administrators do too. Sometimes I wonder if consistently crazy is good enough. The inability to not bring personal challenges into the classroom however, creates a disconcerting inconsistency for students. Continue reading Is Consistently Crazy Good Enough?
Our English Department talks often about how to get our students to read— not read more, just read. Read. Something. Anything. I can easily empathize . . . with the students. As a teenager who struggled to find any joy in reading, I understand. Yet, as anyone who loves reading knows, it only takes one book to get you hooked.
Find a book written on a subject you love. Hooked.
Find a genre you love. Hooked.
Find an author who speaks to you. Hooked. Continue reading Hooked
What if every element surrounding the problem was off-base? What then?
At first this question seemed daunting, too daunting. I was spiraling, but I let this thought sink into my mind. Naturally, that led to other ideas and worries, but I forced myself to return to this thought again and again. What if this issue existed because every element surrounding the problem was wrong? A shaky foundation yields shaky results. Continue reading The Productive Struggle (post 2 of 3)
I recently found myself in the midst of a major struggle. I will share the phases of this struggle in my next three posts over the next three days, starting with this one.
As a problem-solving, advice-giving, “It’s all in your perspective. Just reframe!” guy, this is hard for me to admit to myself and harder still to admit in a blog post. Continue reading The Productive Struggle (post 1 of 3)
I love to eat, but regrettably I am not a great cook. Many of my favorite childhood memories start with the smell of my aunt’s cooking at our shore house. My Aunt Eileen is one of my favorite cooks. She makes the best meals and, in particular, the best sandwiches. I often try to replicate them but always fall short. I never know exactly where I went wrong, but what I do know is that something is off. Perhaps I am rushing. Perhaps I am not using the right ingredients in the right amounts. Or perhaps something is missing. Much like my futile attempts to replicate my aunt’s sandwiches, a young man’s future success will not be fully satisfying when something is missing. Continue reading “Faith It ’til You Make It”