Monthly Archives: September 2014

That was Then. This is Now.

classroomOLDApproaching my 35th year as an educator brings me to a place of reflection—a series of comparison-contrast moments. Who was I as an educator then and who am I as an educator now? Sounds like an intriguing exploration.

Then, I acted like I was the sole influence on learning in my classroom. I knew the content. I loved the content. I taught the content.  Now, even on my best day I know that my influence is simply one of many.

Then, being the “cool” teacher was a personal hot pursuit. Now, the hot pursuit is discovering how cool each student is.

Then, I diligently marked up papers with comments and corrections so students could learn from their mistakes. Now, I know that in their drive to gain competence, students crave feedback and most often zero in on the greatest area of growth.

One of the professional habits I have developed over my years in education is to activetechnology_classroomly reflect as I go along. By decreasing the amount of time between my “then and now” comparisons, I am able to adjust more frequently and with a higher degree of effectiveness. It also allows me to model an active reflection process with those I teach. Tracking your own progress and making strategic adjustments as a learner is a hallmark of a professional educator. This is my encouragement to you: set aside a weekly, if not daily, time to reflect on your own classroom effectiveness.

One thing has remained constant from then until now: helping students discover who they are now and who they are becoming. And to think I get to influence that—this could be the most important work on the planet. Wouldn’t you agree?

How I Transformed My Teaching Style—a Superintendent Looks Back

Bregy2I knew I wanted to be a teacher in fourth grade. Years later I realized my childhood ambition by becoming a math teacher. However, the reality didn’t match the dream.

Frankly, I was a horrible teacher—the kind that literally held the geometry book in my hand and read lessons straight from the book. I struggled to make the content come alive. I could see that my passion for mathematics and pretty much every other subject fell flat.

I felt let down and exhausted. Was this how teaching was supposed to be? Was my dream a mere fantasy? Could I still find fulfillment in teaching? I wrestled with these questions and doubted whether I should continue in the profession. I wanted to be an excellent teacher, but I didn’t have the skills.

Around the same time, a colleague told me about Quantum Learning. She had recently attended a five-day program, and she said it had already transformed her practice. I wasn’t sure if it would work as well for me, but I decided to try it anyway.

Bregy3I don’t remember who led the program, but I do know that it marked a turning point in my career as an educator. Unlike my university classes, which were taught in the same dry manner in which I delivered my geometry lessons, Quantum Learning modeled excellent teaching from the moment I walked in.

I returned home determined to apply what I had learned to my own classroom. I felt a little intimidated—the teacher across the hallway had a Quantum Learning background, and I could hear her classroom buzzing with curiosity. But I pressed forward and told my students that things were going to shift in our classroom.

The first thing I changed was the level of input my students had. I became less of an instructor and more of a facilitator. When students realized that they had a voice in our classroom, they began to take ownership for their learning and pay more attention.

I also got to know my students better and started considering their social and emotional development as well as their academic abilities. Students came alive in this environment—and so did I. I felt a renewed energy every day as I walked into class. My dream had become a reality.

Today, I’m a superintendent in the Chicagoland area. The last four years I served District 300 in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago, and Quantum Learning played a key role in my professional and student development plan.

Bregy1When I became superintendent in District 300, one of the biggest challenges was the number of initiatives. The great thing about Quantum Learning is that it pulls so many things together, including the Common Core standards. It gives kids the opportunity to apply what they’re learning, and ultimately it turns responsibility for learning over to the students.

I recently moved to the North Shore of Chicago to serve North Shore School District 112, and I’m looking forward to introducing Quantum Learning to my new staff. It’s unlike any other professional development program out there—it makes a real difference in the lives of teachers and students alike.