We’re all just hitchhikers…passing thru….

The early years

This hitchhiker — raised in New York, educated and lived most of his twenties in DC, then moved to Chicago, where he’s been ever since — has developed an interest or two.  Between the

Doug in black and white

ages of 6 and 28 I was an actor.  My bachelor’s is a BFA in acting.  During my sophomore year I took Foundations of Education because I needed a sociology credit and didn’t want to get out of bed before 10am.  Turns out, I was bit by the ed bug and wound up minoring in education in order to teach my major.  After several years of burning the candle at both ends — teaching by day and acting by night, and realizing I couldn’t continue doing both well — I never would have predicted teaching would win out.  But as my cooperating teacher (and later mentor) said part way through my student teaching, “Teaching is the longest running acting gig you’ll ever get.  And you’ll know you’ve taught well when you leave the classroom each day as exhausted as you do the stage after curtain call.”  Truer words….


Along the way I’ve taught high school in Montgomery County, MD, Jersey City, and the Bronx.  Here in Chicago I’ve taught in Roseland, Englewood, and West Garfield Park.  Subjects include English, humanities, forensics, oral interpretation, and theatre.  My favorite grade to teach is 9th graders.  For some strange reason, many teachers find them to be the least desirable assignment.  I find freshman still impressionable, still into learning, a little vulnerable, and in need of teachers who “get” them.  Not to mention, with all we now know about the importance of freshman year for future success, they need the strongest teachers possible.

First Master’s & the Charter Movement

Somewhere in the late ’90’s I picked up a master’s in English lit from De Paul.  After DePaul I was part of the early charter movement — back when the first charters that opened had missions to serve communities in Chicago most in need and before they became for-profit ventures, opening in predatory ways to gut CPS neighborhood schools.  Technology has changed just a bit since then.

An ah-ha moment compiled for LSE 500…
What used to be high tech the last time I was in grad school.

In the early Aughts, I discovered I am a curriculum and assessment geek.  I spent 8 years as a curriculum and instruction director, shepherding my school through mapping our curriculum and improving instruction through formative assessment practices.


Through the Teens, I’ve been the principal consultant for my own educational consulting business, the primary focus of which is leadership coaching, curriculum, instruction and assessment development.  It’s good work.  Important work.  These days all my client schools are within CPS.  But it’s also solitary work.  So my two year goal is to complete this degree and head back to a single school to teach.  What exactly, I’m not yet sure.  A digitally mediated ELA classroom?  A technology classroom?  Regardless of what I teach, I know I will be a coach and resource for colleagues and be a force for shifting school culture such that students experience their education in technologically relevant ways.

Smattering of Interests

Outside of education, my primary interests are in photography, cooking, and mixology.  I’ve always had an interest in photography.  But back in the film days (and my youth) it was far too expensive to pursue seriously.  Thank goodness for the gains in digital photography (and my bank account, because it is still an expensive hobby)!

People, nature, macro, street, architecture encompass some of my photographic interests. (Hover over pictures for captions. Click to enlarge photos.)

Cooking is my therapy.  Most days, I cook three meals a day.  My husband is the catering director at a major hotel downtown.  So we do a lot of entertaining.  A few years ago, we blew out our kitchen and made a professional chef’s kitchen — of the working variety, not trophy variety!  Since word count is telling me I’m already at 772 words, I’ll refrain from saying much more than #GOCUBSGO!  As season ticket holders, to finally be there for the World Series and the incredible afterglow that followed…still makes me tear up.  I’ll wrap with a confession:  My wannabe self is a bartender.  Ahh, to be creative and social and leave work with no papers to grade or lessons to plan or the burdens of the world on your shoulders!  What a life.  For more on my mixology interests, check out my cocktail blog, Dilettante Cocktailer.  (Yup, nearly all the photos there are mine, too.)  Santé!  Tsin-Tsin!  Huzzah!  L’Chiam!  

That’s a snippet of Doug.  Looking forward to travelin’ thru the next ten weeks together!

Entry #1: Thinking on Hoadley & Salmon & Kelly Ch. 1.

January 13, 2017

The inaugural entry!

And since it is the inaugural entry, I thought I’d play around with Padlet as an adjunct space for additional metacognitive nuggets.  Check it out for a “context” video as well as a quick visual on how different the technology — and thus, no doubt, the thinking —  of grad school is since last I was here.  I’m not sure if these items exactly count as metacognition.  But they’re at least a little fun to ponder!

Through both readings I found my thinking and learning being stimulated and reinforced by emotional responses, contextual relationships, and connections to previous experiences.  

I became a bit nostalgic reading again about Vygotsky & Dewey & Thorndike.  I was a bit of a geek when it came to the philosophy of education in my very first undergrad ed course.  It’s been so long since I’ve read them and yet they still hold up.  While I can very easily dive into details when the time calls for it, global thinking is my default mode.  I can see the big picture and then zoom into the details when the time comes.  Knowing this, I ought to remember to hold these scholars much closer than I usually do when I get bogged down in the weeds of daily practice.  Their thinking fascinates and humbles me.  So brilliant.  Their big ideas and big picture perspectives provide me useful paths through those weeds.

From this higher perspective, I saw pretty quickly what I believe are a few connections this course will make.  An attempt at a quick summary:

As Hoadley summarized Vygotsky, et al., technology is an artifact of culture.  We live at a time that is defined by the development and ubiquity of computer technology.  Computers, mobile, social media are having a huge impact on our culture.  As such, these tools of the culture are changing the way we think, learn and interact.

The concept of the adaptive expert, on the other hand, is a useful one on the road towards making a shift in how we teach using these technologies, especially contrasted with that of the relative expert.  I see so many teachers and administrators either actively resist or benignly — if it is possible any more to describe it as such — neglect the incorporation of digital and mobile technologies.  I have seen students penalized for merely possessing a cell phone.  So in order to engage students who, outside of school, are so immersed in these technologies of (their) digital culture, schools need to develop more adaptive thinking in their teachers for its use.  Educators need to break out of the mere efficiencies of routine expertise in order to create learning spaces that allow 21st century students to think, process information, and interact with others in the ways the technology with which they have grown up have influenced their thinking.  I believe that shift is the one to spark curiosity and a joy in learning again that is lacking in so many of our students.

Concept mapping, then, is a tool to push teachers into a more adaptive stance.  When in the hands of reflective teachers and strong coaches, they can reveal levels of understanding, confusion, misunderstanding, evolving thinking.  In as much as they map how teachers are thinking about a concept, they are also instruments for metacognition.  I am most intrigued by the notion of  using concept maps as a way of engaging in unit/lesson planning.  Finally, all these characteristics make concept maps useful formative assessments. Mapping allows teachers to probe and explore their thinking, wrestle with their anxieties on the path to the adaptive expertise they need to incorporate digital technologies as the now necessary tools of teaching and learning.

Considering the contexts in which I work and my examination of the course materials so far, these are a few of the more global connections I am making through these first readings.  I think I’ll hold of of analysis and assessment for another entry.