I get asked that a lot – and my answer is about to change.
This is interesting because what I really do hasn’t changed and probably won’t in the future. What do I do? I read about new technologies and devour TEDtalks. I engage in personal interaction as often as I can. I show people neat-o things they can do with their phones and computers. I analyze myself and my surroundings to make sense of what I see, often charting, graphing and sketching on a little dry-erase board in our dining room at home. I try hard to thank people around me and take pleasure (though far too rarely) when I give gifts to people. All that, and probably some less-savory habits are “what I do.”
But when people ask “what do you do?” they aren’t really inviting that kind of longwinded introspection. They expect a short answer that fits on a business card and if you’ve seen my resume, you know I’ve had lots of different business cards in my career. That’s why some people reading this think I’m a salt-blooded sailor due to some formative and photogenic sailing adventures. Others know me as an entrepreneur from Newport, RI or Cambridge, MA. Others know me as an MBA classmate who entered business plan competitions. And still others have seen me stand at desks in commercial real estate, a retail accessory design shop, and higher education advancement.
Starting September 6, I’ll be standing someplace new. And for the first time I won’t be the only one standing. There will be an enormous dry erase board on which to try and make sense of math principles and I’ll have twenty students challenging me to articulate clearly and interact authentically. Though I don’t expect to get business cards, if I did they would read 8th & 9th grade math teacher – Pine Point School, Stonington, CT.
To my friends and family who have witnessed my closeted teacher attributes for so many years, thank you for speaking out and encouraging me to take this leap. Your influence is greater than you know. To my wife, thank you for accepting the sacrifices that this change will bring. May I learn to model your selflessness and thank you for the ways you make our family rich.
To my new colleagues at Pine Point thank you for having confidence in me and the humility to invite me to your profession. I intend to learn as much from you as you’re willing to share.
To my new students and their parents (should you be clever enough to find this post) –know that I am a little stunned by the responsibility Pine Point has bestowed on me. It’s not a position I take at all lightly. I know many of you will scrutinize my behavior and effectiveness in your dining rooms each night. I will be judged on much more than my ability to convey math concepts; I hope my best habits of curiosity, inquiry and authenticity will help refine the way my students go on to do whatever they do.
In my own experience, these attributes may set off a lifetime of non-linear development with lots of healthy experimentation and self-awareness. I hope my students will have similarly rich and non-linear growth — perhaps even exponential.