I’ve had three real passions in my life – my family, the outdoors and teaching.
My family continues to evolve as my kids have grown up, I got re-married and now we have grandkids. You’ll see them in some of our posts and pictures.
I grew up in the Allegheny Mountains of central Pennsylvania running around with the guns and the dawgs. Then the Marine Corps gave me my outdoor fix for 20 years. Now, adventures in retirement get me outside. That’s all covered by this “Off the Beaten Path” blog.
I’ve always felt that my real calling was teaching. My mom was a teacher and I guess I inherited the gene. She always said that good teachers are born, not made. I discovered early on that I was good at it and liked it.
The Boy Scouts, martial arts and the Marine Corps gave me plenty of practice on how to teach and no shortage of subjects . When I retired from the Corps, I never really considered anything else but teaching as a second career. I taught middle school math for five years, freelanced as a Microsoft Certified Trainer for another five years then went back to a different middle school for five more years. During most of that time, I was also an adjunct instructor at a local community college teaching computers and general education subjects. In 2008, I got re-married. Pam and I both retired and became geocaching fanatics.
Teaching was the hardest I ever worked. At times it was more stressful than combat. I had a lot of success in the classroom and was nominated for the Who’s Who of American Teachers three times. Teaching is first and foremost a leadership challenge. Running a classroom is a lot like commanding a military unit. You have to lead by example, establish routines, make your standards known and enforce them firmly but fairly. When a classroom is firing on all cylinders, there’s nothing quite like it. I found it to be very rewarding and satisfying.
I always thought the biggest part of my job was to model successful and responsible adult male behavior since students see so little of it. In TV, movies, video games etc, men are routinely portrayed as losers and idiots. I was determined to change that perception. On the back of my car, I had Marine Corps and recon stickers and my NRA life member sticker. I had a dad come up to me at parent conferences one night and say “We’ve never met, but I could tell from the stickers on your car that you’re the kind of guy I want teaching my kids.” I live for high praise.
Like most teachers, I was a pack rat and never threw anything away. In addition to this “geostuff”, which I used in the classroom a lot, I’ve got a ton of material unique to the teaching side of things. This includes years of accumulated ideas, opinions, forms, sheets, letters, exercises and evaluations. Some of it is on paper, some is on my hard drive and some is in my head. It seemed like a shame to toss it or forget about it, so I decided to give it a new lease on life and blog it.
Introducing “Teaching Kids Math and OtherStuff.” The title is self-explanatory. Most, if not all, of the content in my teaching blog will be useful to parents, coaches, youth leaders and even grandparents (whose ranks I have now entered.) If it gives one good idea or one chuckle to one person, it will have been worth it.
You’ll find some opinions and reflections on this site which you may or may not agree with. You may find my sense of humor a bit wacky but it goes with the territory I’ve been in for five decades. There are several issues in particular that I wrestled with for years without a good resolution. You’ll be seeing a series called “Classroom Capers” where I free write about anything that comes to mind. I hope you find something of interest or value somewhere on the site.
I’ll keep adding stuff until I run out, which will probably never happen. Where appropriate, I’ll cross-link things. I welcome your feedback and ideas.
Click this link Teaching Kids Math and Other Stuff to get started.
Thanks …. Dan