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Brad Sigler
Noodle Expert Member

October 04, 2021

Loving what I do is a huge benefit to my practice, because I think about it and work on it on my free time. To be really good at something, it takes more than 40 hours a week. Since I love education, the added time doesn’t feel like a burden.

  1. Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn? Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most impressive figures in modern history. What impresses me most are people who see the world through unconventional lenses. Leading Indian independence from the British Empire without waging war with tanks and bombs was certainly an unconventional and successful strategy. If I could spend a year with any teacher, I would choose Gandhi because I believe the courage and skill of seeing unconventional opportunities in the world is what creates real change and success. Though the phrase “thinking outside the box" feels like a cliche, I believe it is more important than ever in our fast changing world. Perhaps Gandhi could help me see things in ways my conventional mind is blind too.

  2. What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life? My grandpa wanted to be a farmer. Instead he became an engineer. He always regretted not spending the days of his life doing what he enjoyed. He would often tell me to make sure that when I pick a career that I pick something that I love. “You have to love what you do" he would say. I ignored his advice and started a career in an industry that I quickly learned to dislike. For over 7 years I hated going to work. I often thought about how I had ignored his advice and that I would be happier if I had listened. One day, I decided to listen and I changed careers to become a school teacher. It was a huge challenge because I was already in my 30’s and had 3 kids… the financial reality of a beginning teacher salary was the toughest part. Still, I have never been happier, because I love what I do. Loving what I do is a huge benefit to my practice, because I think about it and work on it on my free time. To be really good at something, it takes more than 40 hours a week. Since I love education, the added time doesn’t feel like a burden.

  3. Where would you send a student who hasn’t traveled before? There are a number of tempting locations but as a US History teacher I would like to send my students to a domestic location so that they can see some of the historical and cultural experiences available closer to home. New Orleans would be my first suggested destination. There, students will learn about the rich heritage preserved in this region of the US. The food alone would be a very cool cultural experience for students form my area in the Inter-mountain West. The French quarter near Café du Monde and the St. Louise Cathedral is a great place to see the original architecture of the centuries old buildings that are still being used today. I would have them take a tour of the bayou, tour some plantations like Laura Plantation and Oak Alley. I know they would be fascinated by the geographic study of Hurricane Katrina and the human heroism that was expressed after the tragedy. Lastly, I would take them on a streetcar ride up St. Charles Ave so they could see another part of New Orleans’ personality.

  4. When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience? My first day in college I realized that I wasn’t really prepared for the workload that was expected of me. My academic background was not sufficient for success at the college level, but I wanted my degree so I decided I needed to keep trying. I at least needed to work as hard as I could to see if I could be successful. I ended up loving college. I thought to myself, “To be competitive with smart people, I would have to outwork them." I wasn’t outworking anybody, I was just becoming a better learner. I see that many of my students feel that same way. They don’t realize that you can actually become a better learner if you practice the skills required to really learn something. There are a few phrases that I tell students all the time, one of them is that learning is hard, but it can get easier if you put the hard work in now.

  5. Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected? I had some really fantastic teachers and coaches when I was growing up. I greatly appreciated the impact they had on my life. Because of my love for them, I always thought that being a teacher would be a great career choice. I first avoided it because I didn’t think I could support my family the way I wanted to on a teacher salary, and though it’s not easy financially, the rewards are completely worth it. I love being a mentor to students who need it. I love helping them overcome their doubts about their own learning potential. I love to challenge them and watch them gain confidence as they succeed. What is different than what I expected is all of the busy work that teachers are required to do every week. I was at first quite astonished that developing great lesson plans and providing timely feedback isn’t the focus of every teachers every moment. There are so many other activities required of a teacher that lesson plans and grading sometimes get rushed. I know that these other activities are important, but sometimes I think they are given more emphasis than they deserve when the price is lesson planning and feedback to students.