September 1, 2003
It is said the apple doesnít fall far from the
tree. My mother, Donna Peha, was an elementary and
middle school Language Arts specialist for 30
years in the Seattle School District. When I told
her in 1995 that I wanted to start doing workshops
just like she had done, she had three important
pieces of advice for me:
(1) Everything you present must be proven.
My mom said virtually all workshops and
classes give teachers new ideas but that many of
these ideas have not been proven in the
classroom. That wonít be a problem here.
Everything in these workshops has been tried,
tweaked, tested, and used successfully in
classrooms for years, up and down the grade
levels, across the curriculum, and across the
country, by real teachers just like you.
(2) Itís gotta be easier for teachers and
better for kids. Thereís no such thing as a
teacher with extra time on her hands, my mom
told me ó every educatorís life is filled with a
million challenges. We have to figure out ways
to make teaching easier than it is. At the same
time, however, we have to be sure that what
weíre doing is better for kids, too.
Accomplishing one goal but not the other is
(3) Teaching doesnít happen in a workshop, it
happens in a classroom. What my mom meant by
this was that it wasnít enough for me to simply
help teachers during workshops. I needed to be
prepared to answer their questions after they
got back to their classrooms. I needed to
respond to e-mails, to send additional
materials, even to go into their classrooms
myself if thatís what it took to help someone be
successful. So thatís what I do.
From the very first day that I set foot in a
classroom as a volunteer in 1993, I have been
driven by one question: ďWhatís the best way to
teach?Ē Over the years, I have come to the
conclusion that there is no best way all teachers
should teach. There is, however, one best way for
you, and thatís what I hope youíll discover in
these workshops. As I like to say, ďThe best way
to teach is the way that makes sense for you, your
kids, and your community.Ē Thatís what these
workshops are all about.
President, Teaching That Makes Sense