Write on Fight on’s Teacher Spotlight closes out the 2016-2017 school year with a very special guest.
The “Mighty” Deb Dauer is a teacher, wife, mother, writer and fighter I’ve been admiring from a distance for some time now.
It’s an honor to have Deb’s story grace these pages. Her courage, honesty and resilience are absolute magic.
I want to thank Deb for sharing her story, for modeling on her blog “Not Going to be a Debbie Downer” what it means to “write on, fight on” and for her relentless dedication to her students and the educational enterprise.
…We would take a break from “the regularly scheduled curriculum” and give students the opportunity to have the whole day to give to others.
Deb Dauer is…
I am blessed to be a daughter, sister, wife to an amazing man, Mom to three incredible kids, friend, teacher, writer, community volunteer, and an advocate. In September of 2016 I also became a person with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Describe your teaching career…
I have taught first grade at Sharon School for the past ten years. Prior to that I taught first grade in Ewing for a year. I also taught self awareness skills through storytelling all over Mercer County schools for CampFire USA; taught pre K at Do & Learn nursery school; Hebrew school at Har Sinai Temple in Pennington.
What’s your favorite lesson to teach and why?
It is VERY difficult to pick just one. I love teaching about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Young kids are so receptive to his message. When we learn about Dr. King we spend some time learning about each other’s similarities AND differences. I love giving my students the opportunity to do watercolor portraits of a classmate and then creating a Venn diagram with that same classmate to see what they have in common and what makes them different, and learn that all of it is okay.
On a completely different subject I love bringing this crazy haired puppet out named Math Madge, who teaches the kids about the less than and greater than symbols. She speaks in a combination of French, Spanish, and English and always ends her visit with puppet kisses. The kids love to learn and laugh with her.
If, for one day, you were in charge of your school what would you do?
I would implement a day of service. We would take a break from “the regularly scheduled curriculum” and give students the opportunity to have the whole day to give to others. And if I really had unwieldy power, I would make standardized tests go away forever.
If you could write one quote on the board for your students what would it be?
“There is nothing more important than being nice.” ~Adam Dauer (my husband) And I do often write it on my board.
If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?
I would want to be children’s book author and foster dogs.
What advice would you give to all new teachers?
I would suggest to new teachers that it is really important to listen, and slow down. When you come out of school you are so gung-ho about jumping in and implementing all these ideas that you have been saving up for at least four years. But you are becoming a member of a team. A team of established colleagues that can teach you important skills; a team of the larger community that you are becoming a part of; a team with your students’ families who know these kids a lot better than you do. All of these team members have so much to offer if you listen.
If the best thing about teaching is the students, what’s the second best thing?
Establishing relationships, with fellow teachers and all of the other fabulous colleagues you get to learn from on a daily basis. Establishing relationships with the families of students – sometimes getting to know them over many years as you teach all of the siblings! As these relationships grow you learn about different cultures and religions, family dynamics and philosophies, and these relationships in turn help you grow as a person.
Who inspires you?
I think my take on this has changed since I have been diagnosed with ALS. At this point in my life I would say I find inspiration in those that can remain positive in the face of great adversity. For example, my friend who was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer yet still goes to work every day as an oncology nurse; or my kids who now live in an ever changing reality of having to help care for their Mom, but still laugh, and go to school, and maintain a normal life. The everyday people who do everyday things when the odds are against them – that inspires me.
My classroom superpower is… because…
The magic that takes over my classroom and my kids when I am reading a really good picture book.
Follow Deb and her inspiring journey with ALS at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Teacher Spotlight will spend its summer sleeping in, watching high-caloric daytime tv and hanging by the pool. The series will resume in September and feature more awesome educators.
Your summer homework– if you know an awesome educator and would like to see them featured next school year on the Teacher Spotlight Series please contact Jay at email@example.com