Welcome to another profile in SimpleK12’s Teachers Teaching Teachers — Views from the Field series, where we talk with educators about what they’re doing to train other teachers and administrators.
How and where have you been involved in PD, (including your specialties)?
Chair of Middle School General Music, Fulton County Schools, 2010-2014. Fine Arts Support Team, 2014-2017. Certified Instructional Coach, 2017 – Present
What roles have you played in K-12 education?
Project Manager, Department of Education, State Revision Process for Music GPS. Speaker, Georgia HOR Education Committee, Chair of Middle School General Music, Fulton County Schools, Fine Arts Support Team, Chair of Connections Department HBMS, Superintendent Advisory Council, Nominated Attendee for Seminar of Student Learning Objectives for Fulton County, Choral Director and Music Specialist.
Please tell us about your website(s), books, or links to your other work.
I have a website for my books and public speaking information at Adam Cole.
What led you to pursue teacher PD?
I am happiest when helping teachers to teach well.
What advice do you have for other teachers who would like to create and deliver teacher PD?
It’s very much needed, especially in these days when advocacy for teachers is at an ebb. PD is not only instruction but a way of reconnecting to one’s colleagues and to the mission of the profession.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made and what did you learn?
I tried to push my way into an Instructional Coach Position. I learned that it’s best to get the lay of the land before attempting to change from a role that is considered your identity to one that those in authority may not see for you. Some caution and discretion is advised
If you could go back and give your 20-year old self some advice, what would it be?
Do everything you did, just don’t worry so much.
If your FUTURE self in 20 years could look back at where you are today, what advice might the Future You offer the Current You?
Don’t get so caught up in your success that you forget to take care of the person you’ll be in 20 years.
What are the biggest mistakes you see teachers making in the classroom?
Lack of preparation which leads to an inability to be flexible enough to listen to the students.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of the various forms of PD delivery?
Information is always good. It has to reach the people who are looking for it, and it has to be something they can apply tomorrow. If you don’t know your audience, it doesn’t matter how you deliver the information.
As Master of the Education Universe, what 1-2 things would you change about K-12 education and schools?
Arts instruction (music, visual art, drama) contains exactly what is missing from our ability to think as students and adults. When you teach people to think like musicians, you teach them to think like mathematicians, scientists, and writers in a way that is immensely more powerful. My ongoing mission is to preach to the administrators and legislators that everything they want to happen in education is happening in Arts Educators classrooms, and if they would support them and leave them to do their jobs, many of their problems would vanish.
What would you change about university teacher education programs?
Some are good, some are not. Teachers must be ready for the real-life football game that is teaching. If a prep-class hasn’t made them ten times readier than they think they’ll need to be, they will flounder in the classroom.
What would you change about traditional PD as used in schools today?
Make it relevant. Keep it consistent from year to year. Empower the teachers to make use of it the way they need to.
Do you have a favorite quote or expression you live by?
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” Hillel, Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14
What book(s) — about education or not — do you most often give out?
Several Short Sentences About Writing, by Verlyn Klinkenborg
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do, be, or try?
I am doing exactly what I wanted to do from the beginning. I just took a long detour to get there.
What are the 2-3 most important work-related purchases you’ve made in the last year?
The San Francisco Writers Conference and my MacBook Pro.
Are there specific resources you use that you’d recommend to others?
There are so many sources of information available on the internet. Just take the time to look, and know what you’re looking for.
What’s your next goal?
To get my books into the hands of as many people as possible.
Anything else you’d like to share with other teachers who want to follow in your footsteps?
When we help each other, we help ourselves.
This teacher profile is part of SimpleK12’s Teachers Teaching Teachers — Views from the Field series, where we interview educators about what they’re doing to train other teachers and administrators.
If you have any questions for Adam or anything else related to this topic (and there will be more Teachers Teaching Teachers profiles and stories coming soon), please leave them below in the Comments.