2 Things Every Educator Can Learn From My Dad


Adobe Spark (80)

I was born a “daddy’s girl”, that is no secret or surprise to most who meet me or him. But as I have gotten older and wiser more reflective, there are so many ways that I see how being his girl has impacted my life and my practice as an educator.

When I was in second grade I couldn’t believe the amazing dollhouse he had “built” for my extensive collection of Strawberry Shortcake friends. What I didn’t know at the time, is that the three story mansion that stood before me was a discarded shack when he “saw” it for the first time. He saw it for what it could be: new carpet in every room, wallpaper in the kitchen, fresh coat of paint. All I saw was a masterpiece.

In middle school the church that our family pioneered built its first permanent structure. I am not sure how it happened, but my dad found out that a local bank was scheduled to be demolished. He saw this as an opportunity and worked out an agreement for our congregation to go in first to salvage all of the materials that could be repurposed: doors, lights, cove-base, ceiling tiles. It saved thousands of dollars, and built more than just a building-the work we did together built a culture.

My dad always sees the possible

As educators it is our job to see the possible: in students, in strategies, in our community, and in each other. We are in the business of taking students from where they are now to where they CAN be tomorrow. Good teachers look beyond the lack and see lightbulb moments. We invest in our practice and in our peers so we can move toward that possibility together.

Working in the possibility doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge reality. We use data to inform our student-focused decisions. We are reflective about what is working in our classrooms/buildings/districts and make adjustments. We judiciously evaluate resources and strategies to ensure we are making the right choices for each student every day.  We use the now to create the not-yet.

My dad puts in the work to make the possible a reality. 

It is not enough to see possibility, we have to be willing to do the hard work. Igniting and uncovering potential in students requires laying a solid foundation of relationship and trust. Strategies, no matter what the effect size, take purposeful planning and thoughtful implementation to facilitate results for students. Reflective practice is not for the faint of heart-it requires daily self-evaluation, a willingness to try-try again, and the vulnerability to ask for help. We can’t just see possibility, we have to work  for it-work hard, work deliberately, and work collaboratively.

The stories I shared here show what he could do with “things”,  but before these or any other memories I have of him as an innovator-I remember the words to a song he sang to me and with me my whole life:

Adobe Spark (81)

On Father’s Day and everyday, I hope to be like my dad-seeing the possibility and potential every where I go, and in everyone I meet. And I plan to meet that vision with grit, determination, and elbow grease.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy! Love you Train Loads!