Welcome to Teaching That Makes Sense!









Get to Know Me

Who I am, what I've done, and what I believe about teaching and learning

by Steve Peha


For over 15 years, I have combined the best of classroom practice with a real-world results-oriented perspective to help make teaching more practical for teachers and learning more meaningful kids. My unique combination of skills — as an educator, writer, and technologist — allows me to view education in an innovative way that improves the performance of teachers and students alike. Since 1995, I have presented more than 500 workshops in reading, writing, math, assessment, and test preparation at all grade levels K-12. I have also provided model teaching in thousands of classrooms throughout the US and Canada. Early in my education career, I created The Effective Learning Series, a bi-weekly column on research-based teaching techniques for The Seattle Times that won the 2001 Innovators in Education Award from the Newspaper Association of America. I have since written several books and have contributed articles to websites like The National Journal Edcuation Experts Blog, The Principal Center, Edutopia, and The Washington Post. Prior to starting Teaching That Makes Sense, I held top management positions with several technology companies. As founder of Music Technology Associates, a multimedia consulting company, I developed Music Mentor, an award-winning music education program for the Windows Multimedia PC platform.

My Philosophy

The closest thing I have to a succinct philosophy of teaching comes to me by way of a wonderful educator named Ken Macrorie. In the preface to his book, Telling Writing, Macrorie puts it this way:

Good teaching in any field isn’t a matter of employing gimmicks and choosing from a damn-fool encyclopedia of tricks to play on students on Monday, but a matter of setting up a climate friendly to learning and then challenging learners to connect their experiences and ideas with those of the accepted authorities or producers.

I love that little bit at the end about “challenging learners to connect their experiences and ideas with those of the accepted authorities or producers.” I have noticed that it is this connection that makes learning meaningful, and when students find meaning in their education, the rate at which they learn accelerates.

Education is only as successful as it is authentic. For effective learning to take place, the teaching must be real. Children learn to read best by reading real books. They learn to write best by writing about real things that really matter to them. They learn math best by solving real problems they encounter in their everyday lives. I always do my best to make my teaching as real as possible. There’s no better way to help students succeed in learning — and in life.

My Reputation

Below you'll find a selection of evaluation comments I have received over the years. If you'd like a list of personal references, e-mail me at stevepeha@ttms.org.

  • “Steve didn’t overwhelm us with lots of educational jargon, new ideas that we’ll never use, or the current ‘buzz’ lingo.”

  • “The strategies are simple, easy to use, and get good results from students.”

  • “Practical, easy-to-use ideas and tools that reduce paperwork and planning to a minimum.”

  • “Finally! A workshop presenter who treats teachers like competent adult professionals. Very refreshing!”

  • “Steve’s approach to assessment is wonderful. It has improved my planning and helped me communicate much more effectively with parents.”

  • “Steve is non-judgmental. He encourages you to keep the parts of your teaching that you want to keep, and to modify his ideas in any way you can. He just wants to help make teaching easier for you and better for your kids.”

  • “I gained tremendous insight into how my students can perform more successfully on our state tests.”

  • “The workshops are structured so you can move into this style of teaching and learning at your own pace.”

  • “The material is powerful yet easy to understand, and readily applicable to my classroom.”

  • “Steve can take something unwieldy and tell you how to handle every aspect and contingency you will encounter as a teacher. This comes from the vast amount of reading and classroom experience he has had in his career.”

  • “These terrific workshops put into focus all the elements needed to relieve the stress over standards-based teaching.”

  • “Clear and compact, Steve’s workshops present strategies that are really useful in a totally coherent package. This is good stuff!”

  • “Steve has excellent group management skills — he addresses individual issues without letting the group get bogged down.”

  • “Steve is very willing to conference individually if you have a specific problem or question. And he’ll even continue to help you by e-mail if you still have questions.”

  • “Even better than the workshop was watching Steve teach my kids. I’ve never heard of a presenter who will teach any grade and any subject.”

  • “By doing the lessons ourselves in the workshop, we learned how best to present them to our students. The modeling Steve did was extremely helpful.”

  • “These workshops solve the English teacher’s lament: ‘I spend all my time grading papers!’ No more!”

  • “Steve has created practical cross-curriculum workshops that present information clearly and concisely. Conceptually, it all makes sense. He breaks writing down into a manageable process.”

  • “Writing for me is the most difficult subject to teach and I greatly appreciate having something concrete to work from. This was a day well spent.”

  • “Usable strategies that are easily aligned to our district and state standards. It’s about time!”

A Unique Recommendation

Woodring College of Education
Awards Program, MH 218
Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA 98225

To the Awards Committee:

“Here he is!” Some call out, others beam, all pick up their pencils and can’t wait to start writing. Every student in my third grade class at Whittier Elementary in Seattle, WA waits eagerly for the several hours each week that Steve Peha volunteers to facilitate Writer’s Workshop in Room 15. Even those “I can’t think of anything” perennials have bloomed with his animated, humorous, and enthusiastic cultivation. Writing has become the favorite fundamental skill at which my 8- and 9-year olds gladly work three to four hours per week.

Steve’s ability to inspire growth in children is rooted in much more than personality. His philosophy and practice exemplify the principle that self-esteem and future choices for children expand when they develop actual competencies. He challenges their intelligence with his own considerable one, never talking down to them. He expends impressive amounts of effort developing thoughtful, creative, original lessons which have inspired my students to become more skillful writers and more reflective self-critics. He treats them with respect, honoring their ideas so they become able to do the same.

Who is he? Steve Peha is a professional educator whose dedication to his profession extends far beyond the typical to countless hours as a volunteer as well as a busy schedule of paid professional commitments. Certified by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory as a trainer in Six Traits writing assessment and instruction, Steve has led dozens of workshops here in my state of Washington and in many other states as well. Totally committed to making available his expertise to the educational community, and to children in ways that go far beyond what he is contracted to deliver, Steve follows up workshops for teachers with free materials and on-going services like unlimited e-mail support. His work includes teaching model lessons in classrooms, developing curriculum for schools and school districts, and coordinating observations of model classrooms he has worked in. For each day’s contracted training, Steve volunteers at least one day of free guest teaching or classroom observation as requested. As an on-going classroom volunteer, Steve spends an average of 10-15 hours per week providing instruction and support to teachers in reading, writing, math, social studies and science. My classroom has been only one of several to benefit from his generosity of time and abundance of talent.

A professional writer himself, Steve has created exemplary resource materials for teachers which combine prodigious state-of-the-art educational research with his own original ideas. This material includes well-documented strategies in his specialty of writing instruction, and clear explanations of best practice approaches for teachers and parents. A former software developer and executive, Steve has worked in education for just four years but has already established himself as a leader in literacy instruction. I fully expect to one day have “known him when” — not because he is pursuing fame or fortune, but because he is extraordinarily passionate and extraordinarily skillful when it comes to helping teachers and children. He will become known, as he already has, to an ever-widening circle of educators and students, as someone who made a difference, someone deserving a Woodring College Award for Professional Excellence.


Judith Strosahl, 3rd Grade Teacher
Whittier Elementary School, Seattle, WA

My Resume

Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc.

Seattle, WA

  • Created successful education consulting company with more than 100 clients nationwide.

  • Presented more than 500 professional development workshops.

  • Author of more than 190 articles for The Seattle Times’ Effective Learning Series.

  • Winner of the 2001 Innovators in Education Award from the Newspaper Association of America.

  • Creator of more than 40 original workshops in reading, writing, math, assessment, and test preparation.

  • Author of thousands of pages of classroom-proven teaching materials.

  • Expert in research-based “best practice” instructional techniques.

  • National presenter for the Bureau of Education and Research (BER).

  • Developed the Teaching That Makes Sense summer professional development institute series.

  • Provided 50-75 days each year of model teaching in classrooms.

Vice President of Product Development
Exem Company, Inc.

Issaquah, WA

  • Directed feature specification and user interface design for company’s web-based content management platform.

  • Conceived and directed development of first version of company’s content indexing and retrieval system.

  • Created interactive user interface demos for proposed feature-set evaluation.

  • Managed project schedules (multiple projects, simultaneous deliverables) across development and marketing teams in the US and Asia.

  • Delivered high-level sales and marketing presentations to company officers, investors, and clients.

  • Developed business plans for products across a variety of markets and industries.

  • Created marketing requirements documents, product launch plans, sales training, competitive analyses, etc.

Director of Product Development
Midisoft Corporation

Redmond, WA

  • Managed developers creating products in the music, multimedia, and education markets.

  • Responsible for user interface development, feature specification, and overall product line strategy for five products across multiple versions and multiple languages.

  • Developed, implemented, and monitored software testing plans.

  • Created user education materials for the company’s multimedia and education products.

Music Technology Associates, Inc.

Boston, MA

  • Founded consulting company specializing in product development, user education, and product marketing for companies in the music technology and multimedia industries.

  • Developed award-winning products for the Windows Multimedia PC platform such as “Music Mentor for Windows.”

  • Produced and performed “Striving for Glory: The Windows 3.1 Theme Song” at Comdex for Microsoft’s launch of Windows 3.1.

  • Provided technical writing, product development, product marketing, and business strategy services to clients such as Yamaha, Roland, Midisoft, Microsoft, Asymetrix, and others.

Director of Education Technology
The JLR Group, Inc.

Boston, MA

  • Managed company’s corporate communications, multimedia production, desktop publishing, technical writing, and educational software development.

  • Designed the Petrucci PostScript font for the Finale music publishing system.

  • Created content for company’s contribution to Yamaha’s Music in Education Program.

  • Created the Up and Running user education and marketing program for Rolandcorp US.

  • Wrote documentation for Kurzweil K-250 version 6 synthesizer, Kurzweil 1000-series expanders, and MP-1 micro-piano.


  • Bachelor of Arts in English, Boston University, 1986, Boston, MA


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