I was recently asked by somebody a series of pre-questions for an upcoming interview and they got me thinking. It was good to answer these questions. I hope you enjoy the questions and my answers.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
I have been humbled and honored to have been given a platform to speak and write to/for educators all over. It still amazes me that people want to listen to me speak or read what I write. I have received awards, been interviewed on major media outlets, been featured here and there…But as I think through your question…. I am most gratified by hearing stories from my students about what they have gone one to be/become. Good education is about relationships and connections. I feel like I have connected with my students over these twenty-four years and am proudest of them.
Can you describe the teacher who most influenced you?
Mrs. Anderson, my Chemistry and AP Chemistry (Sheldon High School–Eugene Oregon). I was a curious kid and she really inspired me by opening the doors to science. She saw something in me, the nerdy insecure kid, something and she brought out my best. In her class I wanted to just learn and learn and learn. She was also approachable yet she always challenged me to do better. She invited us into her home as we were preparing for the AP Chemistry exam. No other teacher had ever done that for me. Much of who I am today came from my two years with her. Probably the greatest testament is that I have spent the past 24 yrs as a high school Chemistry teacher. This is primarily because of her.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education today?
I probably am biased on this one, as a flipped class pioneer. I see the flipped class as a way to really bring some of the great ideas in learning into the classroom. Too many schools/classes are trying to do a one size fits all education. The flipped class allows for differentiation and personalization. It is a new way to look at schools, but not such a big step for educators to make.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make a difference in education?
I believe that the most important thing in education is the relationship between the student and the teacher. Good teaching has always been about relationship. You make a difference one student and one relationship at a time. Though some people are looked up to as educational leaders, the real magic happens when students realize that their teacher is in their corner.
What is your greatest hope for the future of education?
I feel we are in a transition period. We still have vestiges of the old industrial model of education which is being slowly replaced by a dynamic student centered, learner driven education. I think that the flipped class is a way to help us with this transition. I am excited about the future of education. We live in such an amazing time with the explosion of information and the ready access. Because of this, my ultimate hope is that with this information explosion that ALL students everywhere will have the opportunities to a great education.