Dan, a Philosophy Major Thanks to Pete Carroll (Part 2 of 2)

I have taken the challenge of Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks coach, to write my teaching philosophy in 25 words or less for preservice teachers.  The emboldened words count towards my 25 words.

Relationships – Success in teaching comes from knowing my students, having them feel valued, and supporting them in a belief that they can succeed in the challenging world of teaching.  One way I build relationships at the university level is by having my students respond in writing to our in-class experiences, readings, and their field work.  I then respond individually to each student.  By building relationships, I can inspire them and give them hope that they can succeed.

PC teaching quote 1

Team Building – Classroom teaching of any age students can be lonely.  To recharge, rejuvenate, feel the life affirming energy from another simpatico adult, teachers need to develop colleagues.   I use group teaching projects so my students learn the give and take of team building.

Experiential Learning – The number one problem with classroom learning is that it is for the most part so boring it would make you want to cry.  To that end, I make the lessons I teach based in active experiences.  Rather than talk about the value of the Responsive Classroom’s Morning Meeting, I model one and then have each student lead a Morning Meeting with a partner to live and feel the experience.

PC field study pic

Field Study – There is so much to learn beyond campus.  My students go out into public school classrooms, participate, and teach with some of our public school’s best teachers.


Demonstrations of Learning – No written tests for Dan.  Written tests can be too much study, test, and forget.  I want my students to show me what they have learned.  They teach a lesson rather than take a test on the elements of a successful lesson.

There it is ten words.  It’s a first shot, but I could take my philosophy to an interview and articulate my vision for successful classroom teaching.

Give it a shot in 25 words or less.  It may be what you are missing.  I’d love to see what you come up with.


Dan, a Philosophy Major Thanks to Pete Carroll (Part 1 of 2) (#5)

PC Win ForeverI am really getting into Pete Carroll’s Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play like a Champion.  Pete is the Super Bowl winning (2014) and losing (2015) coach of the Seattle Seahawks.  Valuing all life’s experiences, not just when things go well, he learns from them and is better for them.  The central premise to Win Forever is that one needs to articulate a philosophy in order to succeed in the workplace.

Without a group of guiding principles as a philosophy, your job, team, group, or mission can be aimless.  Too much seat-of-the-pants decision-making can make success hit or miss.

Win Forever Pyramid

Win Forever Pyramid

Pete’s own philosophy applies to his work place: coaching football players.  Do things better than they have ever been done before.  Respect everyone with great effort and great enthusiasm.  No whining, no complaining, no excuses.  And one of my favorites – Be early.   His pyramid-shaped philosophy continues with the importance of competition, practice, and confidence.  He has lots of crossover points for us all.

He got me thinking of the value of a philosophy would have been for me as a teacher.  As a teacher I had a sense of what I wanted to do.   I trusted my instincts, but I didn’t have the template of a philosophy to refer to that would keep my teaching consistent with my beliefs on a daily basis.

No matter our profession, Pete challenges us to articulate our philosophy in 25 words or less.  Are you with me?  Tomorrow’s blog has my philosophy of classroom learning for preservice teachers; it’s down to 10 words and one is of.  Please post yours on my blog after I take the first step.

Dan, Ping Pong, and Pete Carroll

I gave it away.  I flat out blew it.  It was game point and I smashed the easiest shot I will ever have into the net.  Let me back up and explain what happened.

I’ve played ping pong almost every Thursday with my friend George ever since I retired from teaching four years ago.  One week we bat the ball around at our one-time breakfast room, the next week at the table in his cool basement.    Playing ten or eleven games for an hour or so, we have been pretty evenly matched of late; though some days he wins 8 of 10 and other times I do.

PC ping pong paddles

This past week while playing at his place in Kittery Point, I had a short smash to win the game 21-17; which would have meant we would have split our first six games.  The ball sat up with no spin, two feet above the net waiting for me to blast it into the next room.  I blew the easiest smash I will ever have.  Flat out rocketed it into the bottom of the net.  I had the game and I “gave it away.”  With the score still 20-18 in my favor, I shook off the miss and focused on the fact that I still had two more chances to win.  Despite my focus, I lost those points to knot the match at deuce at 20-20.

Still in the moment, I split the first two points to remain at deuce; and we split the next two as we remain tied.  Then George pulled off two winning shots and took the game.  A sure win was now a loss.  But here’s the cool part.  Even though, I had blown the game, I just played on without any pissing and moaning about an opportunity lost.

Pete Carroll after the Patriot's Malcolm Butler intercepted the Russell Wilson pass on the goal line sealing the Patriot victory

Pete Carroll after the Patriot’s Malcolm Butler intercepted the Russell Wilson pass on the goal line sealing the Patriot victory

Playing evenly in the following games, I eventually won the last two, though George had the upper hand for the day.  And this brings me to Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks (my favorite coach).  Those are  the same Seahawks that “gave away” the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots (my favorite team) because some say of Pete’s play calling.  In the final minute of play, he had the Seahawks pass rather than  use their thought-to-be unstoppable Marshawn Lynch to run the ball in for a touchdown from the one yard line.  To this day, Pete believes he made the right call.

Sports Illustrated for August 3, 2015

Sports Illustrated for August 3, 2015

Pete was skewered for his call.  Mocked.  Lambasted.  Ridiculed.  It has been called the worst coaching decision in Super Bowl history.

But… I learned in Who’s Moved On?  This Guy in this week’s issue (August 3, 2015) of Sports Illustrated that after one morning of lamenting, Pete put the loss behind him.  He used the crushing defeat as a learning experience to lead his team to someplace even better.  When people say that was the “worst possible decision,” Pete says that was the “worst possible outcome.”

How did he move on?  In his own words, You pour everything into your life into something and -it goes right, it goes wrong – it’s you.  It becomes a part of you. I’m not going to ignore it.  I’m going to face it. And when it bubbles up, I’m going to think about it and get on with it. And use it.  Use it!

Last Thursday after putting the easy smash into the net, I called on my inner Pete Carroll to move on.  Thanks coach.